Which of Kevin Henkes’ characters have you met? Lilly? Chester? Owen? or maybe it’s that guy, Wendell? No matter which you met first, you are sure to agree that they make reading fun. Today, I’d like to share what I love most about Kevin Henkes books and how I’ve used them in my classroom for teaching specific skills.
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
Of Kevin Henkes books, I’d have to say that Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is my favorite. You can’t help be read this book and try to be a teacher like Mr. Slinger, right? Well, I may not have the “cool factor”, but connecting with kids in a special way is the point of this book. I just love Mr. Slinger’s Lightbulb Lab and the special way he greets his students (With a “Howdy!”). I love how he asks his students to sit in a semi-circle and uses other rich vocabulary to ignite the learning of his students.
In my classroom, this book is perfect for teaching character traits, character change, and author’s craft. As the story is shared, the teacher can model finding text evidence of traits and model how we look to character words, behaviors, and feelings to infer character traits. Author’s craft is demonstrated through text examples, plot, and illustrations. Additionally, students can reflect on the themes in the book and share important things we as teachers should know about them. Lilly and Mr. Slinger have a wonderful relationship, and relationships can greatly motivate kids. Through writing extensions, we can learn what’s important to our students.
A Weekend with Wendell
If you’re a primary teacher, then your students will remember what it was like to start school and leave behind their favorite “lovey”. Well, Owen does not want to leave his blanket behind…ever. Over time, his blanket shows it’s age, and it’s time to go to school.
So how can this book be used for teaching? Well, as we look at this book, we might work on sequencing and plot development, and it’s also a great example of problem solving. This book is a great beginning of the year choice as students reflect on starting school and their past school experiences. Included in this unit is a First Day of School Class Book, so you can have your students write about their first sample about your first day.
The last in my collection is Wemberly Worried, and like Owen, Wemberly is anxious about everything, and when she goes to school, it is nearly a disaster. Who knew that she’d find her clone in her classroom!