1st graders make Penguin PDF books

Autumn ZaminskiCase study, Elementary / Primary, English / Language Arts, Pre-K / Kindergarten, Science

Good questions lead to good projects. Want to know more?

Where do I start???

Question words

It all started when my class came back from Christmas break. We started to learn how to question before, during, and after reading, and set about putting our skills into practice with fiction texts.

I have to admit I’ve fallen in love with teaching about penguins. I wanted to go beyond just labelling the parts of the penguins and reading facts to the children. I wanted the kids to take part in the process.

My sweet friend Kheila from Two Friends in First told me about something she has done before called ‘Rainbow books’.

It took some time for me to get a solid handle on it, but now that I have done it from start to end I am in LOVE with this process.

I am by no means an expert on this, but this is how I managed to make it work in my classroom this year!

The Rainbow book process

Post-it note - can penguins swim?We started by writing down any questions we had about penguins on Post-it notes and then stuck them all up on the board. It was a large sea of questions! They had so many things they were curious about!

After all of our questions were written down we grouped our questions into larger sets. I used our “schema” folders to do this. We knew we would be finding the answers to these questions and in effect we would be adding schema to our brain!

Before we started reading up on penguins, we decided on a colour-coded system that would allow us to code the answers to the corresponding question colour. For example, any information in the book that related to what penguins looked like would be tabbed purple.

So we pulled out all of our books on penguins and set to work!

Colour-coded research folders

First I read 2-3 penguin books to the class and we practiced how and when to add the colour-coded tabs. I wanted to do it as a whole class first so that there would be less questions when they set to work independently.

I assigned a folder to each of my reading groups. Then I pulled out books that I felt each reading group could handle reading on their own. Believe it or not there are good penguin books on the lower levels like E and F. I have 4-5 that they were able to look at independently.

There were one or two books that we did as a “shared reading” during guided reading and we all just worked together. My other 4 groups did a wonderful job and were able to read most of the books. I also remind my students that text features give you lots of clues about what the page is all about.

They absolutely loved doing the research!

Researching the penguin facts

Once we had finished the research it was time to get writing. We spent a few days during writing block to talk about text features and how they help you to tell a story. We referenced other non-fiction books to learn from expert authors.

I met with my students in groups and we looked at each section of our folders and decided how we could break that question down so that everyone could contribute to the book. I created these layouts for each group so that they could remember their topic. These pages were great for keeping organised!

Organising the penguin research into topics

At first they created their own page independently so I could see what text features they decided to use and what information they were communicating to the reader. Together we looked at their writing and we figured out how to make it better and adjust it. The page with blue pen (like the one below) is the page we did together.

Once the rough drafts were done it was time to create our book!

  • Penguin play page (rough draft)
  • Penguin play page in Book Creator

Why we chose Book Creator

We used Book Creator to do this project. I’d heard about Book Creator at the KDP 2013 Convocation during a session on creating in your classroom using iPads.

I chose this app over the many others out there because…

  1. My students absolutely love this app!
  2. It is easy for the kids to use
  3. It allows them to draw into the app
  4. It allows you to record their voice reading the text (an extra fun way to make it personalised)
  5. It can be put into your iBooks library or exported as a PDF for printing!

So, with some help from a very kind class mom, all my students we were able to create our very first digital class book!

Here is the book, exported as a PDF (so no audio, sorry!). It’s been embedded with an online PDF flip book maker (Issuu).

3 Comments on “1st graders make Penguin PDF books”

  1. I absolutely love your book! Most of all I love the process you went through with your students. As teachers it is important to remember that it’s not just the product, but it’s the process that matters! Excellent job! And after only 3 years in the teaching profession; you are to be commended!

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