Hi everyone! I told you I'd tell you more about my Skippyjon Jones language arts unit at the end of the week. It went really well! Personally, I think the Skippyjon Jones books can be a little hard to follow. For instance, I am still not really sure what was going on in Skippyjon Jones In The Dog House... a bobblehead was involved, and a very old chihuahua spitting beans out a window... hmm. But I do also think Skippyjon Jones is a very loveable character. And the kids love the rhythm of the stories. In each of the Skippyjon books there are parts where Skippyjon or his friends, the Chimichangos, burst into song. I always sang these parts, putting the words to simple tunes that I thought were kind of Mexican sounding. The kid loved this, and they'd all laugh in delight and try to sing along! They also loved that Spanish words were involved. Rosella and Kite both speak Spanish as their first language, so they were able to translate the Spanish words for the other kids... and many of the other kids just love hearing Spanish words even if they don't understand them. (They are constantly telling each other, "Sientate ahora!" and "Escuchando!" because they've heard one of the teacher's aides, who also speaks Spanish, saying these phrases to Rosella a hundred times.) By the end of the week, almost all of the kids were able to tell me that the Skippyjon Jones books are about a cat who thinks he's a chihuahua, who goes into his closet and has adventures, and who has chihuahua friends called the Chimichangos. The fact that they could tell me that shows comprehension skills that they don't very easily show!
Here are the language arts activities we did for the week. On Monday we did the context clues activity that I told you about the other day. Tuesday we used the reading comprehension spinners. Wednesday we made a character map describing Skippyjon Jones, which unfortunately one of the kids erased before I could take a picture.
On Thursday I introduced them to Venn diagrams. We read Skippyjon Jones And The Big Bones, and then we compared and contrasted it with the book Skippyjon Jones In Mummy Trouble that we'd read the day before. I was kind of excited that almost every single kid... including Starling, the student who is the most severely cognitively impaired... was able to come up with either a similarity or a difference.
Today, we read our final book, Skippyjon Jones Lost In Spice. This time we did a sequencing activity. I made eight sequencing cards. It was a little complicated. I picked eight important events in the book, scanned those entire pages, cropped them and shrunk them down to small pictures, typed a simple sentence underneath each picture, printed them, cut them out, glued them onto index cards, laminated them, and added Velcro circles. I numbered a poster board one through eight, and put the other sides of the Velcro circles under the numbers. After we read the book, each student had to come up, find the sequencing card that happened next in the story, and put it in the right spot on the board. When all eight cards were on the board, one of the students volunteered to "retell" the story in the correct order. Here's our "story board!"
As our final activity, the kids and teachers in the classroom voted on their favorite Skippyjon stories. I made a chart ahead of time, with a picture of each book. I gave everyone one of those little round price stickers, and they had to stick it next to their favorite book. It sort of made a bar graph! Then we figured out which book was the most popular book in the class.
So that was my Skippyjon week!
Afterwards, I set out all of the books on a table and told the kids they could read them during free time or Silent Reading. They were all so excited! They all wanted to flip through the books, look for the singing parts. Its kind of crazy when you have eight different kids begging you to read them five different books, all at once, during free time! I think that, for eight kids with special needs, whose abilities range from below preschool to about second grade level, to be excited about the same series of books, says a lot about that series!
So, thanks, Skippyjon!