Little Pickle Press publishes children’s books that present relevant topics of the times, and help parents and teachers begin conversations with their children about subjects like the environment, ethnicity, entrepreneurship, and other values that children and parents worldwide can embrace. To help adults further guide children through the basic concepts introduced in the picture books, the publisher also offers free expanded lesson plans available for download at their website. These are a great help for busy educators as each offers three exercises to reinforce the book's concepts, as well as many Internet links to related topics and information!
Today we welcome, Meredith Moran, who is a Ph.D. candidate in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education at Stanford University. Meredith researches and writes the lesson plans that complement the LPP stories. The latest project is for BIG (written by Coleen Paratore and illustrated by Clare Fennell), which was just released and kicks off its blog book tour with this very post!
Dani: Welcome, Meredith. Tell us a little a bit about your teaching experience, and why you chose to get a Ph.D.
Meredith: Hello, and thank you for having me. I taught elementary school for nine years, one year in third grade and eight years in kindergarten. The longer I taught, the more fascinated I became with the process of how young children learn to read. Eventually I decided that pursuit of a Ph.D. would provide the best avenue for me to develop in-depth knowledge of the reading process. It was an extremely difficult decision for me to leave the classroom and I still hope to return to teaching in some capacity once I finish my doctoral work. My long-term goal is to pursue literacy-based research that can easily be translated into promising instructional practices that increase children’s enjoyment of and success with reading.
Dani: When you set out to create the lesson plan, what do you do first?
Meredith: The first step in the process involves getting to know the book in detail, as well as the key messages conveyed within the text. Dani and I schedule a phone conference in which we read the book together and brainstorm ideas about themes and activities that are both relevant and engaging for children.
Dani: After you have an idea of the direction and the projects, how do you craft them? Are there certain themes or values you focus on for each lesson plan?
Meredith: Once I have an idea about the general direction of the projects, I like to design the learning activities next (it’s the teacher in me, still!). After I’ve mapped out the learning activities, I have a better idea of which character-building skills and additional resources best tie in to each project. In terms of themes and values, they tend to vary according the text itself, though most of the plans center on a theme of encouraging children’s physical and emotional well being, as well as successful interaction and participation in an increasingly global environment.
Dani: What is the Common Core Initiative and how does it fit into the lesson plan? Why is it important?
Meredith: The Common Core is a set of national learning standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics for students in kindergarten through grade 12. The goal of the standards is to ensure that all students in the United States receive a quality, equitable educational experience that will prepare them for a successful future and a lifetime of learning. The Little Pickle Press lesson plans include activities that help elementary school students work toward achievement of the Common Core standards for listening and speaking. These language skills provide a critical foundation for literacy success.
Dani: Do you create the artwork, too?
Meredith: I wish I could say that I did, but we have a talented team of graphic designers at Little Pickle Press who work wonders with the format of the lesson plans once the writing portion of the plans is completed. I am always amazed at how the designers bring such beauty to what starts out as a text-on-paper document.
Dani: Thanks for sharing with us, Meredith! Readers, you can download all the lesson plans at the Little Pickle Press website here. Click here for the BIG lesson plan. And of course you’ll want to buy a copy of this beautiful book which is printed on recycled papers with soy inks in North America. It’s all part of the Little Pickle Press commitment to protecting the environment. You can also download a Kindle version of the book by clicking here.
If you have questions for Meredith, please leave them in the comments. What do you think of writing lesson plans for teachers and have you done this for your own books?