RHYTHM AND RHYME - California Reading Association

CRA presentation - November 2011
Presented by
Marsha Diane Arnold
Available for In-person visits and Skype visits
Marsha’s books include:
Included in handout:
Questions we will ponder
Book selection
Writing activities for students
Websites to explore
Marsha’s Bio
*What is an honorable story?
*What kind of stories do we want for our children?
*How will the digital revolution affect picture books?
*What are our concerns and hopes for the future of children’s picture books?
*How can we help create honorable storytellers/writers/readers and have fun
along the way?
Book Selection:
These books have been chosen as “honorable” either by myself
or a writer I respect. There are many more! You may wish to consider these for your
children’s/student’s reading time or Book Club.
Art & Max by David Weisner, Clarion, c 2010
A Balloon for Isabel by Deborah Underwood, Greenwillow Books, c 2010
The Bravest of Us All by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Brad Sneed, Dial Books for
Young Readers, c 2000
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown, Little Brown Books, c 2009
Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier,
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, c 2010
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, Elwyn Books, c 1952
The Chicken Salad Club by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Julie Downing, Dial
Books for Young Readers, c 1998
City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon J. Muth, Hyperion, c 2010
Heart of a Tiger by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Jamichael Henterley, Dial Books
for Young Readers, c1995
I’m Here by Peter Reynolds, Atheneum Books, c 2011
Leaves by David Ezra Stein, Putnam, c 2007
Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann, Putnam, c 1995
One by Kathryn Otoshi, KO Kids Books, c 2008
A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, Roaring
Brook Press, c 2010
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian, Houghton
Mifflin, c 1998
A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Suzanne Bloom, Boyds Mills Press, c 2005
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, Viking, c 1982
Prancing, Dancing Lily by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by John Manders, Dial
Books for Young Readers, c 2004
Roar of a Snore by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Pierre Pratt, Dial Books for
Young Readers, c2006
Puffling by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Julie Vivas, Feiwel and Friends, c 2008
The Pumpkin Runner by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Brad Sneed, Dial Books for
Young Readers, c 1998
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne, c 1926
Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski, illustrated by Lee Harper, HarperCollins, c 2008
Zero by Kathryn Otoshi, KO Kids Books, c 201
Activities for classrooms
The first activities focus on “honorable” actions of book characters.
Most involve Marsha Diane Arnold’s books. Fiar has a unit with lessons on THE PUMPKIN
RUNNER and other stories that can be obtained at http://www.fiarhq.com/fiarold/catalog/fiar4.html
THE PUMPKIN RUNNER – Honorable action activities
Honorable actions - examples and discussions possible:
When Joshua Summerhayes wins the race, he shares his winnings with all the other
runners. He includes Damien Dodgerelle, the runner who cheated, trying to beat Joshua.
In the end, Joshua forgives him and shares his winnings with Damien as well as the other
runners. It is relevant to remind students that Cliff Young, the man who inspired this
story, did, in reality, share his winnings with the other runners in the race.
Damien Dodgerelle was afraid Joshua Summerhayes might win the race. What an
embarrassment that would have been for him! He’d been training so hard and Joshua was
just running for fun. So Damien paid a balloonist to fly him along a short cut. He
Discuss why Damien cheated and what effect cheating has on the person who cheats? On
the victim?
Discuss integrity and honor.
Discuss losing gracefully.
What did Joshua do when his pumpkin energy food didn’t arrive (a result of Damien’s
cheating and crashing into Aunt Millie and the jeep)? How does Joshua handle this
situation? He’s disappointed, but decides to keep running. Why?
Bragging is being overly proud of what you’ve done and telling others about it in a
manner that makes them feel inadequate.
Discuss Damien’s bragging.
How does Joshua react? With humility.
The Tortoise and the Hare:
Some have been reminded of this famous fable when reading THE PUMPKIN
RUNNER. It may be a good opportunity to bring this classic fable to students’ attention
and discuss the themes and similarities.
Another fun link that involves ideas for THE PUMPKIN RUNNER:
HEART OF A TIGER – Honorable action activities
Honorable actions - examples and discussions possible:
HEART OF A TIGER provides a base for discovery of self through writing and
*Choose the name that’s in your heart or What’s Your Dream?
Little Four’s journey portrays the classic road to reaching a goal. First he has a dream,
then he finds a mentor to learn from, and finally, he does what is perhaps the hardest step
of all, he takes action. He does not give up when others laugh at him. He does not give
up during his trials. Older students can write about or discuss their dreams, who their
mentors are, and what steps they will take to reach their dreams.
*If you could name yourself:
Have students write an essay based on this question: “If you could name yourself, what
name would you choose and why?” After the students write their essays, form small
groups where they can share their writings and thoughts.
*What Will Your Name Be?
Younger children enjoy choosing a name for themselves and perhaps drawing a picture of
themselves as that animal or doing that activity. Ask them, “What Will Your Name Be”?
Some examples of names that have been chosen by students are: “Rhyming Singer”,
“Racing Cheetah”, “Ballerina Girl”, “Basketball Champion”, “Silly Monkey”.
Many languages, many sounds – one rhythm:
Children love rhythm, repetition, and rhyme, and, if we allow them, they love the magic
of other languages. Whenever we can bring other languages and other cultures into the
classroom, we have given a gift to our children.
When I come to the end of HEART OF A TIGER and read the kittens’ names in English
and Hindi, children are mesmerized by the magic of it. (A pronunciation guide for the
Hindi names is in the front of the book.)
When I ask them if they want to learn a little Hindi, they all say after me “Bangali Sher
Ka Dil” (Heart of a Tiger) and a bit of magic is left with them, forever.
THE BRAVEST OF US ALL – Honorable action activities
To find THE BRAVEST OF US ALL for iPad and iPhone go to
To find a unit for THE BRAVEST OF US ALL, written for homeschoolers, but
wonderful for all teachers. Fiar (Five in a Row) has a fabulous “digital” unit with 60
pages worth of lessons on THE BRAVEST OF US ALL. It can be obtained for only $9
at the FIAR Digital Download Store:
Courage doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid.
It means something else is more important than your being afraid.
What was more important to Ruby Jane than being afraid of the tornado?
What was more important to Velma Jean than being afraid of the storm cellar?
What are you afraid of?
*Different types of courage:
There are different types of courage. What are some of them?
It takes courage to tell your parents you told a fib.
It takes courage to try out for the soccer team.
It takes courage to help someone being bullied.
It takes courage to be a fireman or policeman.
*What does having courage do for you?
Discuss how it lets us try new things, like swimming or giving a report in front of class or
making a new friend.
*ROAR OF A SNORE 2 – Building storytelling skills
In my ROAR OF A SNORE the main character is Jack Huffle, the plot involves Jack’s
search for a loud snore that keeps him awake, the setting is the farmhouse and barn.
Discuss briefly with your students what character, plot, and setting are and the
importance of setting and how it can affect a story.
Now, ask students to write ROAR OF A SNORE 2. They will use Molly Olsen, the last
character in my story, as their main character. The plot will be the same as in my book,
the search for the source of a loud snore. But the setting will be up to them. You may
want to brainstorm possible settings, to allow the students’ imaginations to soar. A
setting for ROAR OF A SNORE 2 might be the ocean, a zoo, the jungle, a haunted
house, or Candyland.
Whenever a child uses an existing story and changes it slightly to make it theirs, they are
choosing their adventure plus building their storytelling skills.
Kids love sound of all types, including rude sounds.
Snoring is a fairly tame rude sound. For young children it can be a springboard to rhythm
and rhyme.
*Are you Snoring (to the tune of “Are you Sleeping”)
Builds rhyming skills, community, and imagination.
Go around the classroom so everyone can share his or her favorite snore. After everyone
shares, the teacher can sing, “Are you sleeping? Are you Sleeping? Classroom 8?
Classroom 8?” and the children can respond all together with their individual favorite
Or the entire classroom can sing the question, moving around the class:
“Are you sleeping? Are you Sleeping?
My friend, Kate. My friend, Kate.”
Response from Kate:
“I am only snoring. I am only snoring.
Snore. Snore. Snore. Snore. Snore. Snore.”
(The child can share a real snore or say their favorite snore words from “Roar of a Snore”
(huff, puff, grumble, whistle, etc.) or make up their own.)
*The Rhythmic Snore Choir
The Huffle family snored different types of snores that, at the end, made one giant snore.
Snores can be very rhythmical.  Have each child choose their favorite snore and as
conductor, conduct a short five to ten second snore chorus with your family or class.
In one of Lily’s letters to Mamoo, she writes:
I paddle rolled and shuffle hopped.
I tapped so hard, I couldn’t stop.
I scraped my nose. I skinned my knee.
I don’t think cruising is for me.
Have you ever been anywhere or done anything that just didn’t feel right for you?
Make up a rhyme telling us about it, like….
I caught the ball and away I sped,
Then tripped and fell right on my head.
Maybe football’s not for me.
I think I’ll brew a cup of tea.
Now let’s get positive. Later in the story Lily writes:
Guess what! I know the place for me.
And a dance that fits us perfectly.
We’ll dance a line with drum and bell.
I’m coming home now. All is well.
Write a four-line rhyme about what fits you perfectly.
I like animals. They like me.
Chimps and dogs and…. even fleas.
When I grow up, brave and tall,
I want to be like Jane Goodall.
If a cow can rhyme, so can you!
from Prancing, Dancing Lily by Marsha Diane Arnold
I often have families write this together on Literacy Nights. On those evenings
I call it a 4 LINE FAMILY POEM.
I ask them to choose a person or animal that’s very special in their lives.
Then we use the MAGIC 3, 3 lines of vivid description. The phrases might be things you
like most about the person or animal or the phrases can be a description or a silly thing.
On the fourth line, we NAME the person or animal, giving recognition, respect, honor.
Here’s my poem about someone special to me:
“A muddy paw,
A wagging tail,
A slobbery kiss,
My dog Ali”.
The 4 LINE POEM condenses the subject and shows us the essence of it. Thus, it can be
used to condense things in the classroom as well. Have kids write a book review as a 4
LINE POEM or use it in geography class to describe a people or a country, like:
Jeweled birds flit in a humid swamp
Red macaws wing across a blue sky
Green layers of mountains. HOWLER monkeys.
Costa Rica!
Often when we use alliteration, there is a rhythm that surfaces. Having fun with
alliteration is an easy way to nudge students toward rhythm, rhyme, and poetry, and even
to get ideas for story characters and themes. Ask for a brave volunteer, use their name,
and describe that name in a silly way, using alliteration.
Alice, the awkward alligator, argued with anteaters at the art auction.
Sammy, the silky Snake, slinked with his silly friends in the sun.
Lauri, the lovely lettuce lass, liked lollipops and loved laughing beside the lake.
Bertrand, the brainy boy, bounced back and forth beneath the bridge.
Challenge your students to find alliterative names in THE PUMPKIN RUNNER:
Damien Dodgerelle
Mr. Manning
Cockatoo Canyon
Platypus Pond
Ask your students to choose something, maybe something they are studying in class.
Make it more specific depending upon the age of the student and the area of study.
Have the students write a four to six line list poem.
They can use free verse or a simple rhyme,
Things you would do if you were a giraffe?
Things you would eat if you were a giraffe?
Interesting things about the country of Australia.
Things you wish you’d done.
Example: Things you would do if you were the wind.
Whisper in the leaves.
Turn the mighty windmills.
Capture Andy’s new hat.
Knock at your front door.
These poems can be used as a simple writing exercise, but also for family history projects
or remembering things done on a field trip.
They can also be used for students to remember what they liked most about last school
year. This is something you could have them write on the first day of this school year, to
help you get to know your students.
The day my baby sister arrived.
The day I got my pet.
The day my Grandpa died. – If you use this, my book HUGS ON THE WIND would be
a good complement.
The best Thanksgiving ever.
Nature is the source of all rhythms. Take time to listen to the rhythm of our world.
Here are sites to explore:
1) http://museumca.org/collection/library-natural-sounds ( “Listening to Nature”) or
directly to http://museumca.org/naturalsounds/index.html
2) http://www.wildsong.co.uk/index.html (Lots of wonderful links.)
3) http://www.findsounds.com
Short Samples of sounds, musical instruments, animals, collected from the web.
4) http://www.allaboutbirds.org This is sponsored by the famous Cornell Lab of
This site includes lessons, standards, web resources and student materials.
Two Lesson Plans that drew my attention were:
A Bear of a Poem: Composing and Performing Found Poetry (Grades K-2)
A Race with Grace: Sports Poetry in Motion (Grades 3-5)
*A Rhyme a Week
This "A Rhyme a Week" site has close to 100 nursery rhymes ready to download and
print, complete with illustrations. They are traditional rhymes.
*The Real Mother Goose
Visit "The Real Mother Goose—Homepage" and turn the pages of this lovely old book to
enjoy the nursery rhymes we all remember.
Ideas & examples for using chants, rhymes, cheers, and rap in classroom
Street Rhymes Around the World –Edited by Jane Yolen(Boyd Mills Press, Wordsong)
(Each rhyme is presented in its native language, along with a translation in English.)
R is for Rhyme – A Poetry Alphabet – by Judy Young, illustrated by Victor Juhasz
The Bat-Poet – by Randall Jarrell, pictures by Maurice Sendak
Ana Banana 101 Jump-Rope Rhymes – written by Joanna Cole, Harper Trophy
Many books by Alma Flor Ada – visit her website at www.almaflorada.com
A Poetry Handbook – by Mary Oliver, winner of National Book Award & Pulitzer Prize
Roar of a Snore – written by Marsha Diane Arnold, Penguin (Dial Books)
Illustrates rhythm and rhyme
Prancing, Dancing Lily – written by Marsha Diane Arnold, Penguin (Dial Books)
Illustrates rhythm and rhyme (rhyme compliments of Lily, the Ayrshire cow)
Websites for you to explore along the honorable path
New publishers and other sites exploring the honorable path:
*Little Pickle Press: A new publishing company “dedicated to helping parents and
educators cultivate conscious, responsible little people by stimulating explorations of the
meaningful topics of their generation”.
*The Woodbury Poetry Room at Harvard University has poetry readings by many poets,
from Gary Snyder to Edna St. Vincent Millay.
*The Success of Finnish Schools:
*A video from the Happy Planet Index:
To travel the honorable path, sometimes we have to go there.
Places to explore Skyping with authors and other book lovers:
Social networks for educators, authors, WHOever loves to read.
Goodreads: Like to read? Goodreads is the largest social network for readers in the
world. There are more than 5 million members who have added over 160 million books
to their bookshelves. www.goodreads.com
Bookigee: Bookigee is still “in the works”, but it promises to be a new kind of platform
for exploring books, authors, and related media. You can sign up to get updates and to be
part of their first closed test community. www.bookigee.com
inReads: inReads is the first website and online community dedicated to “social readia”.
The content focuses on books, technology, and culture and how the three influence each
other. www.inreads.com
Marsha Diane Arnold’s Bio
The media has called Marsha Diane Arnold a “born storyteller” and a “magician of
literary innovations.” Her literary pathway began with the much-loved, award-winning
newspaper column “homegrown treasures.” Soon Marsha was writing for kids’
magazines and in 1995 came her first book, Heart of a Tiger, for which she won the
Ridgway Award for Best First Book by a New Author.
Other awards include Smithsonian Notable Book for The Pumpkin Runner, Junior
Library Guild Selection, IRA Distinguished Book, and state Children’s Choice awards
for Heart of a Tiger, Kansas State Library’s 150 “Best” Books for The Bravest of Us All,
Notable Social Studies Book for The Chicken Salad Club, and a Family Choice Award
for Hugs on the Wind. Roar of a Snore was twice selected for Dolly Parton’s
Imagination Library and her early reader Quick, Quack, Quick has sold over half a
million copies. Her stories have been called “wacky,” “whimsical,” “inspiring,”
“beguiling,” “heartwarming,” “uplifting,” “great read-alouds,” and “a must-have for all
Marsha enjoys visiting schools internationally, nationally, and through Skype, sharing her
love of books and writing through presentations and writing “funshops”. Highlights from
some of her visits can be found at her blog, www.storymagician.com. She’s often a
speaker at writing conferences and young author festivals and has been an instructor and
manuscript consultant for Media Bistro and the Institute of Children’s Literature. In 2008
Marsha was honored as one of seven artists invited to be part of Sequoia National Parks
Foundation’s Artists in the Back Country, the only children’s author ever invited. The
program’s goal is to rekindle the American tradition of enhancing public appreciation of
our natural world through the arts. She shares her adventures in the high Sierras at
When not creating imaginative worlds and wacky characters at her home in northern
California, Marsha enjoys traveling the world, scuba diving, and (like her characters)
always trying new things. To learn more about Marsha’s books or to contact her, visit
www.marshadianearnold.com or email marshaoak@mac.com.