Friday, November 27, 2015

Reading in a Winter Wonderland

Hello and welcome to our second annual Winter Wonderland link up!  Last year, The Reading Crew sponsored a winter literacy hop, but we decided to run it a little different this time.  Instead of hopping with the potential of dead links, we decided on a closed link up.  What this means is that there is a "map" of the blogs at the bottom of each post, so you can hop through them all at once, visit some today and some later in the week, or see what best matches your literacy needs.  

On each blog, you will see a word in blue font.  This is the blog's mystery word.  Please be sure to record them because you will need each word for a five point entry in our raffle.  To help you keep track, you can print and use the recording form.

"Run, run, fast as you can!  You can't catch me!  I'm the........"

As a child, we learned to end this refrain by saying "..Gingerbread Man!"  Did you ever learn a different way to end the refrain when you were younger?  Luckily, our children now have the opportunity to read so many different versions of the gingerbread man.  Too many versions to read in a year!  I love teaching my third graders several ways to end this refrain.  And I am so excited to share one of my favorite gingerbread versions with you!
The Matzo Ball Boy is written by Lisa Shulman and illustrated by Rosanne Litzinger.  This 2005 fictional fairy tale is a Jewish version of the gingerbread boy.  On the morning of the Passover seder, a lonely grandmother, or bubbe, decides to make a delicious matzo ball boy for her soup.  Before long, the matzo ball boy runs away from the old woman, the schneider, the yenta and her children, the rabbi, and hungry fox with a dream to see the world.   

This familiar story of the gingerbread man is an updated twist which will leave your students wondering how this version will come to an end.  Plus, this book offers a way to introduce and teach your students about a Jewish holiday which is celebrated by many around the world. 
I look forward to December every single year.  It's not just because the holidays are around the corner.  It's because I spend the whole month exposing my third graders to different versions of the gingerbread man.  You won't imagine how many versions there are of the gingerbread man!!!  The Matzo Ball Boy by Lisa Shulman is definitely a must to have on-hand!

I start the month with reading the traditional version....the version that most people are familiar with, The Gingerbread Man by Eric A. Kimmel. Each student is given a story map graphic organizer at the beginning of the lesson to record the characters, setting, refrain, and ending.  Next, I like to read The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires, The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst, or The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett.  These versions are closely related to the original.  While reading the versions, the students continue to complete their story map while I fill in my giant story map gingerbread house.  Next, I like to model how to compare and contrast the two versions using the cookie jar venn diagram.   By modeling this activity, my students are more comfortable completing the venn diagram independently or with a partner when I read The Matzo Ball Boy.

After reading the more traditional versions, I like to introduce my students to versions that they have hopefully never read before.  Such versions include The Cajun Cornbread Boy by Dianne De Las Casas, The Runaway Rice Cake by Ying Chang Compestine, and The Musubi Man by Sandi Takayama...etc.  BUT one of my favorite gingerbread books is The Matzo Ball Boy by Lisa Shulman.  I have the same story map from above copied for the students where they can record the characters, setting, refrain, and ending.  This year, my students are comparing and contrasting the The Matzo Ball Boy (Jewish version) and The Musubi Man (Hawaiian version).  With a partner, the students use their story map to compare and contrast the two versions using the cookie jar venn diagram from above.  This lesson is not just for teaching compare and contrast.  Below is another freebie that help practice another important skill. 

Once the students have become familiar with The Matzo Ball Boy, they are ready to identify some cause and effect relationships.  Teaching cause and effect has never been my favorite skill in third grade to teach....(never!)  But it must be done!  By December, I have already exposed the students to cause and effect, so this activity is more of a review to practice the skill.    Below is the cause and effect freebie! 

Once the students are familiar with the story, this cause and effect activity freebie can be a great way to practice the skill.  I have done this activity two different ways.  I have had the students complete the cause and effect t-chart while I am reading, in partners, or as a whole group.  I have also made a few different versions, depending on the level of your students.  On the first two pages, the students only find the cause of each effect.  In the second version, the students are to find the cause and effect.  The third version has the students draw a line (match-up) the correct cause to the effect.
To extend on this lesson, students can continue reading more versions of the gingerbread man.  The list keeps growing every year!  I also have my students complete a gingerbread persuasive writing piece.  The students convince the reader (Mr. Fox) that they are not a gingerbread man and do not want to be eaten.  They have to convince Mr. Fox they are something other than a cookie.  Plus, the students get to decorate their gingerbread man to match their writing.  

Before you go, I will remind you that my mystery word is gingerbread. You can enter it onto your sheet or into the rafflecopter below. Good luck to you, and I hope you'll come back soon.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love reading different versions of The Gingerbread Man story to my class this time of the year! I have never seen this version but I am excited to add a copy to my class!

  2. I haven't heard of this version of the Gingerbread Man story. I love it! I also love all of your ideas on how to use the book with students.

  3. Love reading all the different versions of the Gingerbread Man! You mentioned several that I have never heard of. Thanks for all the ideas and joining in the hop!

    Literacy Spark

  4. Sarah...I can not believe all that you have shared in your post. I feel so guilty downloading and not leaving you feedback somewhere. You've laid out the plans for an entire month here! Thank you so much for all of these great Gingerbread options. I have a Gingerbread Pinterest board and am pinning all of these fabulous ideas to it. Love your post!!

  5. What a super post. You have included so much great info and I will really enjoy using some of your ideas in my classroom. Especially the persuasive letter. Thanks for the freebie and the excellent list of Gingerbread Man versions. I'm happy to be a new follower thanks to this "hop"! Have a wonderful Christmas season.
    Always Primary