We’ve been loving the Otis books, by Loren Long, in my kindergarten classroom lately. I bought the first book to do a few lessons with, and the kids fell in love with the characters. When I spotted the Otis 4-pack at the Scholastic site, I had to snatch them up. It’s hard to decide which Otis book is our favorite.
We read Otis and the Tornado yesterday. This was the only Otis book we had not read yet. Before we even started reading, kids predicted that Otis would come to the rescue somehow and that he would be a good friend to others. This was the perfect opportunity to talk about how readers make predictions in books, use their schema, and make connections to other books they have read to help them understand the story better.
When we finished reading, we had many things to discuss, but I also wanted kids to get painting. Each child picked their favorite Otis book (even though it was really hard to pick just one) and starting painting their favorite part of the story. I asked them to be sure they included a character, setting, and significant event. This tied in very well to our kindergarten writing too, because these are three things we have really been working to add to our stories.
I love the kids’ paintings, but I loved the conversation even more. They are getting so good at telling a story, and not just pointing out part of their pictures. Instead of saying, “This is a tornado and this is grass.” kids are saying, “Otis was down in the mud with his friends when the tornado swooped down and they closed their eyes because they were scared.” Their ability to retell a story, identify story elements (character, setting, events) and their oral language development has come so far in just a few short weeks!
These are great books for kindergarten, or any age for that matter!