Alma Flor Ada: Author Study

alma floor booksOur little ones have been learning about Alma Flor Ada for our author study. Alma Flor Ada is an award winning author of notable children’s books of poetry, narrative, folklore and non fiction. As an educator, I am a huge fan of her work, especially of her work in promoting immigrant students and parents to recognize how powerful their family stories truly are. Alma Flor Ada, Professor Emerita at the University of San Francisco, has devoted her life to advocacy for peace by promoting a pedagogy oriented to personal realization and social jus­tice.

We began our author study by watching parts of this video. After getting a visual of what Alma Flor Ada looks like and sounds like, my little ones had a host of questions. One of them was, “Is she a grandma?” To which another student answered,”Yah, because she has white hair.”

Since Alma Flor has written over 200 books, we narrowed them down to the following:

After the Storm, How the Rainbow Came to Be, The Kite,  In the Cow’s Backyard,

Friend Frog, Jordi’s Star, The Rooser Who Went to His Uncle’s Wedding,

The Unicorn of the West, The Three Golden Oranges

I had never read Jordi’s Star, and my heart just fell in love with this story. During our book discussions I asked what had transpired in the story. A student said,”Jordi didn’t notice things (his environment) but when he started to do things just because he started to notice how beautiful things were around him.” What a wonderful book to use to emphasize how important it is to do things with love and to be present and mindful of NOW.

We also did a Reader’s Theater based on the book, After the Storm.

With the help of the Sun and the cooperation of Wind, Clouds, and Rain, a little seed grows up to be a beautiful plant. This story about the cycle of growth also lends itself to discussions of cooperation and interconnectedness.

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We performed for our third grade buddies and we will perform for our families our last week of school. The students also made animal masks using left over material from the visual arts room (keep your should pads!). Every student had a line and with much support, they were able to retell this beautiful story. The students noted that Alma Flor Ada’s books had many “juicy words” and her books were often about nature and magical stuff.

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The students also got inspired by Alma Flor Ada’s books. This little kinder blew our minds when she wrote this story. This student even wrote on the top – INSPIRED BY ALMA FLOR ADA – How special is this!

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We have enjoyed the magic of Alma Flor Ada’s stories.  Again, the hope is for students to see the magic of words, pictures and the sense of belonging to something bigger.

Alma Flor Ada, thank you for your stories. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Magical Day: Book Review

the magical dayThe over arching K/1 social studies theme in class this school year is the World of Work, an investigation of how different community systems work together to keep them thriving. Since we have been discussing and investigating at length, the essential components necessary to maintain a thriving community, I was eager to read The Magical Day, by Sandra Elaine Scott and Illustrated by Jasmine Mills.

Prior to reading this beginner chapter book, we have read several books that lend themselves to discussing the concept of community. Students listed what they believed to be important factors in having a well run community.  They noted that shelter, health, education, safety, water and food were important components of a thriving community.

When I read, The Magical Day, my little ones quickly made many types of connections. In this story, 8 year old Donovan visits his cousin in the US and spends a day connecting with several community members who teach him various life skills. Donovan, an 8 year old who is multi-ethnic, curious and independent visits with a firefighter, a soldier, a graffiti artist, an athlete, a nun, a librarian, and a gardener.

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As I read the book, my students made the connection with the firefighter since we had recently visited the fireboat station. Another student said, “This reminds me of the book, Pink Fire Trucks. It’s about being brave!” When we read the chapter of the little girl in a wheelchair who was practicing to be in the Olympics – my students said the little girl had grit. And what I found most amazing was what they had to say about the gardener. In previous book discussions we learned that some communities don’t have access to healthy fruits and vegetables, also known as food deserts. Students said that food deserts are a broken system and that they would like to do something to remedy the problem. They are now doing odd jobs at home and earning money to support SoLa Food Co-op (South Los Angeles Food Co-op).

We watched this video and 5th graders even did some research on food deserts. The students compiled a powerpoint and shared their findings to our little ones. It was a wonderful and organic example of community, and how we are all interrelated and dependent on each other.

The Magical Day was a great addition to our study, the World of Work. It sparked great conversations, connections and motivated our students to be agents of change. I really liked the last page where students were able to use the diagram provided to retell the story. This resource is especially beneficial for struggling readers since the chart provides some support in retelling the main ideas of the story. I also really appreciated that the characters in the story showed varied and diverse members in our communities.