Monday, February 25, 2013

First and Second Grade Book Club: Frog and Toad are Friends

I think I might take this neglected, little blog in a new direction. 

I may have mentioned this before, but just in case I haven’t, I’m a children’s librarian. My friends and colleagues often ask me where I get my ideas or how I implement my programs, so I figured that this would be a good way to share them with anyone who is interested.


I just started a new job recently, and one of my first tasks was to re-instate First and Second Grade Book Club.  I’d never done a book club before, aside from one with my friends, so doing one for kids was going into previously uncharted territory, but I was super excited to take on the challenge.

Book: I ended up choosing Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel as our first book, because I figured most of the kids would probably have some familiarity with the characters, and if they didn’t, they’d enjoy their zany antics.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to gather enough copies for everyone in my book club, so I decided we’d read the book as a group the day of the program.

Program: Frog and Toad are Friends is broken into five distinct, short stories that explore the theme of friendship. To keep the kids engaged, I decided to read a short story, pose some discussion questions to the group, and create some sort of activity around each story. Much to my relief, this format worked really well, and the kids had smiles on their faces throughout.

After the first story, Spring, I asked the group some comprehension questions, and then we talked about what happens when frogs and toads hibernate. I also gave them some cool facts that I found while doing my research, like why frogs don’t freeze in the winter and how frogs’ eyes go down into their head while they’re eating to aide in swallowing (which got collective “ewws” and giggles from this group.)

The next story, aptly titled The Story, has Toad trying to cheer up Frog by telling him a story, only he couldn’t think of what he wanted to say and used all kinds of wacky means to try to remember. This story got a round of laughs from the kids. After asking them discussion questions, I had them compare and contrast the characters Frog and Toad, since we had got to know them a bit better by that point.  The kids did a great job with this, and the whole room agreed that, personality wise, they were most like Frog. If you had more time than I did, another great activity for this story would be writing a story about another adventure Frog and Toad could have.

The Lost Button was the next story, and as I read, I had the kids work in teams to find Toad’s lost button from a pile of buttons I placed on each table. One of the kids found the button right away, and as each clue was read off, she shouted “Yes!” and held her button in the air, and her enthusiasm made me smile.

The Swim was the next story, and our activity was to make an origami frog.  I found instructions here:  A few of the kids had trouble folding their frogs, but they didn’t seem flustered by it and had no problem asking for help.  If I had to do it over, I may have saved this project for kids that were just slightly older, but they did love their finished products, even though they did need just a little bit of help, so maybe I’d keep it the same.

The final story was The Letter, which was my personal favorite because it was so sweet.  Toad is bemoaning the fact that nobody ever sends him mail, Frog decides to write him a letter stating that he’s glad their friends, and the story ends with them both being happy. After our questions for this story, I asked the kids if they wanted to write their best friend a short letter on “frog stationary” (which was colored paper that they could put a foam frog sticker on), and the girls were all about it.  The boys, however, did not want to write a letter at first, but once they saw the girls doing it, they joined in, too.

Outcome: Ultimately, I’d deem this program a success. I asked the kids if they’d like to read our next story beforehand next time, and they said they actually liked reading it as a group, which really surprised me. 

The button finding activity, along with the cool frog facts, were definitely the kids’ favorite activities/things, but honestly, there wasn’t any resistance to anything I did, and they all left with smiles on their faces.

I might end up picking another book of short stories in the future because it was such an easy way to break up the sections and hold their attention.

These kids are super smart! I was completely impressed by their collective ability to remember facts from the story and provide thoughtful analysis in their answers, so I’ll definitely be stepping up my question game next time.
Have you ever done a First and Second Grade Book Club?  What did you do?