Shape Stories


WELCOME!  Books of the Month will always have  FREE activities for you to do with your students, + some Story Time TIPS for the featured books.  I hope that if you're new to teaching or parenting, this list of book recommendations will   be helpful to you. They are my all-time favorites as well as proven winners with my Y5's.

When I taught 1st grade I also had my students reading and recommending books. I was working on their speech skills, so I wanted them to really "sell their classmates" on their book. They received extra points if someone read their selection. Because of this, my students had more fun giving oral book reports. Click on the link if you'd like a copy of my Book Report Forms to use with your students.

Old Favorites…

Chicka Chicka Boom BoomChicka Boom

Authors: Bill Martin & John Archambault 

Illustrator: Lois Ehlert 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers

Price: $11.95 


The Gist: The alphabet climbs up a palm tree.

Why I love it:

  • It’s silly and my students adore it. 
  • It’s a rhyming book and the short text is lively.
  • Lois Ehlert’s colorful illustrations pop off the page.
  • I have the short video to go with the book as well as the follow up book Chicka 123 which compliment my lessons and are nice additions to the day.
  • The alphabet is printed in its entirety (upper and lower case letters) in the fly leaves of the book, this is a great help if you want to point to while singing the alphabet song or play a quick game of "What's that?" before or after reading the book.
  • Parents have told me that their young child has quickly learned to chant the story along with them and learned to identify the letters as well. One mom said her 2 year-old asks her to read the “Boom Boom Book”  almost every day.

 Story Telling Tips:

  • I made a colorful set of alphabet letters, laminated them and put a Velcro dot on the back.
  • I put the corresponding scratchy dots on the palm leaves and trunk of a huge 3-D hanging palm tree.
  • I hang the tree from the ceiling in such a way so that my students can reach the bottom of the tree’s leaves and trunk.
  • I pass out the letters to my students as we read the story and come to the letters that are climbing the tree the children holding those letters attach them to the leaves and trunk of the palm tree.
  • I keep the letters in a coconut shell purse that I bought in Florida. The children think this is so cool.
  • They sell these 3-D palm trees at most party stores for around $8. There is also a flat version for around $4 that you could also hang on the wall. I just think that the swinging palm tree has so much more pizzazz.
  • We keep it up for awhile and I dangle a few long-armed monkeys from it. They help me review the alphabet and sing the ABC song with the children; which is a fun way to end the story.
  • I also pass out magnetic letters after the story. The children look at my alphabet border on the wall and decide who goes 1st then they  sequence the magnetic alphabet on our white board.
  • My students enjoy putting on monkey masks and finishing up the story with a little monkey business. We do the Monkey Pokey, sing the ABC song, play Monkey See-Monkey Do What the  Monkey In The Middle Does. It's a nice way to get the wiggles out.monkey_kids, Chicka Boom

 Magic Tricks:

  • I show the children that there is nothing in my change bag. I put a little banana candy in and produce a little stuffed monkey that will help tell the story, sing the ABC song (before or after) or use him in any other way I wish.
  • Or …I show them that there is nothing in my change bag and produce the magnetic letters and then pass them out so that we can do the sequencing activity above.
  • Or…I put several uppercase letters in and change them to lowercase letters and then transition them to an activity where they match uppercase letters to lowercase letters.
  • If you read Chicka Numbers you can do the same thing with numbers.
  • Or…I show them that the change bag is empty and then produce a palm leaf and letter and transition them to the art activity where they will glue their die cut letter to a die cut palm leaf and then write their name on the leaf.
  • I put a piece of paper in the change bag that has the ABC’s written on it and pull out a string of paper letters. We say the letters as they come out one-by-one. (I made a string of letters by laminating 4x5 sheets of construction paper and then die cut the letters of the alphabet. Then I strung them together so that I can easily pull them out by grabbing a pull tab at the end of the string.)
  • After counting the number of children I have in my class. I write down that number on a paper banana and put it in my change bag. I then put my hand in and pull out a little banana candy and give one to each “quiet” child as I count them out. This is a nice “super-duper-shutter-upper” before the story or as an incentive for during the story and a nice treat afterwards. These candies come in bulk at most bulk food and candy stores. I just put on a plastic glove and carefully pick out 20 bananas and have the clerk weigh that many.
  • I put a paper monkey in my dove pan and lift the lid to reveal one of my smaller monkey puppets that helps me tell the story, recite or sing the ABC song etc.
  • I also use the dove pan if my change bag looks too bulky with all of the magnetic letters.

Art Project Idea:

  • If you have access to an Elison Die Cut machine they have 2 different size palm leaves, otherwise simply use my master and run it off on green construction paper. You can have your students cut it out or have the leaves pre-cut for younger children.
  • Likewise, die cut their upper and lowercase initial. If you don’t have access to a die-cut, simply make initials by typing them on your computer. Cut them out in the shape of a circle so that they will look like a coconut.
  • For added pizzazz I also die-cut little monkeys. You can let your students glue things where ever they want, or you can use this as a spatial direction activity and have them listen and follow directions as you tell them where to place items.
  • For more projects to monkey around with, click the link for my September MONKEY MANIA Unit, and/or click this link for my cute MONKEY BOOKLETS. scroll down to see the complete collection. While there, you can click on the photo button to see my "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Welcome To Our Classroom" hallway decorations.
  • I also gave you some great Chicka Boom Boom links in my August Back -To- School Blog

Reading & Writing Extension Project

Chicka Boom Boom Look Who’s In Our Classroom!

Make a Big Book of your class. Here’s how:

  • Run off the COVER.
  • Write your name in the blank with the year of this particular class.
  • Run off “X” number of pages for the Letter pages that you will need that have your students’ initials, and X number of the letter pages that don’t have your students’ initials. You will have 26 letter pages in all.
  • Cut out X number of brown coconuts (one for each one of your students.)
  • Glue their class photo on the coconut.
  • Glue the Coconut on the tree letter page that matches their first initial.
  • Write their name on the “friend” line at the bottom of the page.
  • Type up colored upper and lowercase letters and cut them out.
  • Glue them on their designated letter page “climbing” up the coconut tree.
  • Fill in the upper and lowercase letters in the blank space at the top using a variety of colors like in the book.
  • Have someone take a picture of you as if you were peeking behind a tree and glue it to the teacher page.
  • I like to glue my pages on a variety of different colored construction paper then laminate the book.
  • My students LOVE seeing themselves as the stars of our own Chicka Boom Boom Book.
  • You could shrink the size of the book down so that you could get 2 on a page and run off a copy of the book so that each of your students could take this cute keepsake home to “read” to their families.
  • It’s a nice way for them to learn their new friend’s names.
  • I do make a copy of the booklet for my students. So that it is an extra learning extension, I make dashed upper and lowercase letters on the bottom right hand side so that my students can practice tracing and writing the letters. I have given you a sample of the A page so you can see what I mean.

Click on the link for the Chicka Boom Packet.  This will remain free through July 2011 and then it will be only .99 cents.  Chicka Boom Packet

For more Chicka Boom ideas click on the link.

Another  Favorite…

The Kissing Hand raccoon, the kissing hand

Author: Audrey Penn

Illustrators: Ruth E. Harper & Nancy M. Leak

Price: $9.95

 The Gist:

  • Chester is a baby raccoon. He doesn’t want to go to “night” school because he will miss his mommy. She kisses his hand so he will know he will always have her with him. He can feel the warmth of her kiss on the palm of his hand and as he holds it to his cheek and he’s not afraid anymore.

 Why I love it:

  • It’s heartwarming and the children really identify with it as my students are 4 turning 5. For many of them, this is their first time at school too.
  • The illustrations are adorable.
  • I love raccoons and it’s a great story to tie in with our science study of nocturnal animals as well as a great September back-to-school, or beginning of school story.

 Story Telling Tips:

Discussion: Getting the children involved.

  • I have a heart pillow that I toss to each “quiet” child. I ask them how they felt about coming to school the first day. Because we are all learning our friends’ names, we catch the pillow and say our name. When they say something, they get to toss the heart to someone else. If children are quite young they sometimes need some one-word examples: happy, excited, scared, nervous etc. Or simply a thumbs up or a thumbs down if they don’t want to talk, but still want to share how they felt. Thumbs up meaning good, thumbs down meaning bad.
  • I do a magic trick where I produce Chester the raccoon out of a duck pan. He introduces the story and whispers in my ear to tell the children how much he loves school, but how he was a little scared at first. The children take turns giving him a pat.
  • At the end of the story is the sign language symbol for “I love you.” I teach the children how to sign “I love you.” so that they can sign it to their parents when they get home.
  • Because this is one of our first stories. I define what an author and illustrator are and do. We make this part of our vocabulary. I let them know that I will be asking them about these 2 new words every day during story time and I expect them to know them. I give Smartie Coins as incentives and show them one. I’ll ask a question that I know someone will know the answer to, and then reward a Smartie Coin to show them how the process works. 10 Smartie Coins =’s a trip to the treasure box.
  • We also discuss what a character is, what the cover of the book is as well as the title and that the story has a beginning, middle and end. Concepts of print are part of our report card standards and very easy to cover with a few questions at the beginning of any story time.

 Magic Tricks:

  • As stated above I produce a raccoon puppet from a duck pan. I write Chester’s name on a piece of paper. Put it in the pot, & put the lid on. The children say the magic word nocturnal which I explain to them is something that stays awake at night, and wahla out comes Chester the nocturnal raccoon.
  • To further my lesson of nocturnal animals I have several other books that I read and then we list animals on a day or night comparison grid.
  • I show the children that the change bag is empty. I put in the wrapper from a candy kiss. We count how many children are in the class. We clap and count that many times blowing kisses at the bag, finally saying the magic word nocturnal and wahla I pull out a chocolate candy kiss one at a time, counting as I go, giving them to “quiet” children. I tell them that they can eat the kiss after they do the Kissing Hand table top activity that they transition to.

 Art Project & Writing Extension + Skill Sheet:

  • Elison has a die cut of the “I love you” hand print available. I use that and have my students glue it to the center of  a ½ sheet of construction paper.
  • They put a red heart sticker in the middle and then write under the hand: ________________ loves you.
  • Because it is difficult at this early stage for them to copy this sentence from the board, I have it written on their paper so they can give it a shot, or simply fill in the blank with their name. Some of them can’t even write their name, so we just go with wherever they’re at.
  • On the top of the paper I have written: We read The Kissing Hand today. Ask me to tell you the story about Chester the raccoon.
  • If you don’t have access to the die cut have children trace their own hand, have children partner up and trace each other’s hands, or you and an adult helper go around and trace the children’s handprints.
  • Depending on how much time you want to spend on this activity, you can give the children a heart sticker to put in the middle of their hand like the picture in the story, or you can have them draw a heart and color it, or you can have them use my template and cut out a heart and then glue it on the paper, or you can pass around a tube of lip gloss and let them apply some to their lips with their fingers and then kiss their paper. My little girls LOVE doing this, but it’s “Ugh!” for the boys.
These activities will be free through July 2011 and then they can be found in the shopping cart for only .99 cents. Teaching is a cute site that also has some great suggestions and links for additional ideas on Chicka Boom and The Kissing Hand. Click on the link to check out Colleen's site; you'll be glad you did! She has some cute Back-To-School activities too.

  NEW Book Selections:

     This month’s new book recommendations were purchased from Costco. They are only $8.49 so of course I had to buy them all. I didn’t feel too guilty though, because my mom sent me a check for my birthday. I have a personal library filled with books and it’s still one of my favorite gifts. I started “collecting” alphabet books even before I had a teaching job! I’m rather picky tho’ so if you see something listed in my “Books Of The Month” section, you know it’s top notch.


Publishers; Reader’s Digest Children’s BooksSeptember back to school books, ABC book, Shape book, counting book

  • IBSN #'s:
  • Shapes: 978-0-7944-2042-0
  • Counting:  978-0-7944-2041-3
  • Alphabet:   978-0-7944-2043-7

Illustrated and Designed by: Maureen Roffey

Why I had to have them:

  • They are unusual. I like different things that I don’t already have, that I know will grab my students attention.
  • One only has to open any of these books and see the brightly-colored, very bold pictures of animals, shapes and numbers.
  • Each has a special foldout flap that when flipped downward reveals a graphic representation of the letter, number, or shape. The letter is especially ingenious, as it is incorporated in some way with the original picture  (Look at the sample photo of the alligator.)
  • ABC book, A is for alligatorMy students will LOVE this as they try and recall what part of the alligator the letter A was.
  • The number book is super for one-to-one correspondence, groups/sets of things and counts up to 20, which is great because most counting books stop at 10
  • This book takes it one step higher and adds a page of  25, 50, 75 and 100. This is wonderful because we dabble with 2-digit numbers as we learn to count to 100 by 10’s, and of course we all count to 100 Day.
  • The shape book also includes ovals, stars, and hearts which you don’t find in every shape book.
  • The inside cover also shows all the numbers, shapes, and letters in a beautiful poster-like presentation, which makes a perfect review before and after the story, or a wonderful page to Xerox for game boards, flash cards or a skill sheet. ABC book, A is for alligator
  • They are also very sturdy. Each page is heavy duty, almost like cardboard, but not quite like a board book, and all of the pages have a high gloss finish so if little hands are sticky, the pages would be easy to wipe clean.
  • All-in-all it's a great read and a super buy.
  • So if you're looking to add a few more books that introduce and review 3 of the early elementary report card standards you'll get a lot of bang for your buck right here! And as one of my little ones once told me with a big smile: "...And we were learnin' and we didn't even know it because we were havin' so much fun!"

                                                READ ON!


     I teach around several themes for September.Click on each link for a list of my favorite BACK-TO-SCHOOL themed books,  TRAIN books,   DINOSAUR books,  APPLE books, and MONKEY books.

     To get my parents involved in reading to their children, I have a RAH-RAH program. It stands for "Read At Home." Click on the link for directions, poster, bookmarks, certificate, reading logs and a letter home.

        Each day we have a WOW day. It stands for Wonderful Outstanding Word of the day. It helps build my students' vocabulary. Click on the link for a mini-poster You can also get a mini-poster of  ZIPPY to remind your  students that it's time for reading and you need a Quiet Zone.

    I hope you have fun reading to your children this month. I ring a set of chimes that hangs from my ceiling to announce to my Y5's that Story Time is about to begin and we'll be going on a magic carpet ride somewhere special. The hanging beach ball globe will tell us what country we're off to.

    And so the excitement and adventure begins...

Train books, back to school books, The little engine that could

I use PUPPETS to introduce many of my stories. Here's my set of COLOR puppets made out of SOCKS!


Click here for a bigger pdf pix