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26 September 2011

26 September 2011 - Amazon review

"Teach with Calvin and Hobbes? Sure! Why not!
By L. Jobe (REAL NAME)

"My daughter is a little younger than the age this book is intended for, but she is very much a Calvin and Hobbes fan so I thought I'd give it a try anyway. Her school psychologist told me that Calvin and Hobbes could be used to teach several things which led to a google search and then an Amazon search, where I found this book.

"Now, this book had a shocking price tag and not in my budget so like any mom with a plan, I got it from the library (there are not that many libraries that have it, but a few do- I've been frightened the entire time I've had it that I would damage it and end up with a 1k library bill). However, I've had so much fun playing around with it in the month and a half I've had it!

"Now, enough of my rambling and on to the book. The book is intended for grades 4-8 in the regular classroom or lower elementary for gifted programs. The book is fairly short, and comes in at under 200 pages, but the entire book is packed with no filler. The book has five units with six sections each. Each unit starts with a Calvin and Hobbes strip.

"The first section of each unit after the strip is presented is Vocabulary. Some vocabulary sections contain colloquial terms and figurative language, while others deal with more traditional vocabulary words. There are 3-4 activities in this section.

"The second section of each unit is Comprehension. The comprehension section is pretty traditional and asks questions relating to the strip. This also has a few sections.

"The third section of each unit is Behavior. Starting with the third section of each unit, the text starts to diverge from traditional texts. As anyone who has read a Calvin and Hobbes strip knows, Calvin isn't exactly the model of perfect behavior. The author tries to get students to think about why Calvin approaches situations the way he does and foster discussion over choice.

"The fourth section of each unit is Humor. These sections deal with themes such as language, sarcasm, slap-stick, stand-up, and teasing. These activities relate extremely well with the Behavior section and I can see why this follows it.

"The fifth section is Suggested Activities. These are varied and have a ton of items to work with. They are extensions of the topic that unit's strip talks about. For example, one strip's unit is about bug collections and one of the suggested activities has to do with finding out more information about insects. The great thing about this section is that there are two or three main suggested activities in each section that are spelled out for you. However, the author also gives a list of other activities. These activities range from small to large. In the bug collection unit, she gives suggestions as small as surveying and graphing everyone's favorite and least favorite insects to suggestions as large as making your own insect collection or reading James and the Giant Peach. Each unit is similarly full of suggestions.

"The sixth and final section of each unit is Creative Writing. Since I talked so much about the bug collection unit in the last section, I will just give examples from that same unit for the type of Creative Writing assignments the book has. In the bug collection unit, the students get to write poetry. They write a cinquain and a haiku. Next they write about a time they forgot to complete and assignment or chore and the feelings they had. They also write a journal about Bug Collection day from the viewpoint of one of the people in the story. Last, they summarize the strip. The writing assignments in each unit are different, but there are several in each unit and they are similarly varied. Like in the Suggested Activities section, the author gives more creative writing suggestions in a list.

"It's a fun book and if you are able to get your hands on it, it's got a ton of teaching suggestions."


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