Saturday, January 24, 2015

CAM's First Book Report

CAM has a book report! She's in second grade, so it's probably about right. When I was in second grade, I made up my own book report assignments because I felt like my teacher didn't give us any and I wanted them.  Yes, I really did, and yes, my parents still have them. I think I wrote a story, too -- about a parakeet. I am glad to see some accountability over reading and not just daily reading logs. But that's just me being me.

I like the style of this first project. It's a "brown bag" book report. Students had to read a biography and then create a report based on that, using a brown paper grocery bag.

The front of the bag had to say the title, author, and illustrator, and could use drawings and printouts.

The back of the bag had to relate the most important part of the book through an illustration (no printouts).

One side panel had to say what you liked about the book, and the other something you disliked about the book.

Inside, there had to be five "props" related to the book, which will help for an oral presentation the kids have to do when they return to school.

CAM picked "Who Was Anne Frank," which has led to countless conversations about concentration camps, Nazis, our ancestry, and so many things. It has been awesome.

We were gently admonished to let this be our kids' work. My only worry is that someone will think it isn't!  CAM's illustration of the hideout in Amsterdam is pretty fantastic.

Hard at work drawing the three-building scene with the Amsterdam hideout in the middle. If you look carefully, you can see she's basing her drawing on a similar sketch in the book she read.

I helped her by drawing the initial two lines and teaching her some ruler tricks -- marking the ruler to know how long to draw each segment, lining it up with the top windows to draw the bottom windows perfectly in line with them, and so on -- but I think there are fewer than 6 lines on that paper that I drew. She really ate it up.
But this wasn't without issues. Getting CAM to faithfully bring home her book from school has been pulling teeth. Finally, she realized this Wednesday that she had almost no time left to finish her book and do this report (which is due Monday) and that I would absolutely let her drop the ball if she was going to drop the ball.

Thursday after school, we went to the grocery store specifically to get brown paper bags. We spent a moderate amount on groceries, got all the way home, and realized we'd forgotten to ask for paper bags.

I texted Mick at work and he brought home two bags.

It didn't much matter, though: CAM had left her book at school again!

She read the rest of the book yesterday (Friday), after I told her that we could not write a report without her finishing her reading, and that I would not bail her out in tears Sunday night.  After hockey today we found ourselves unexpectedly without plans. It is snowing here in New England, and our plans for the afternoon and evening changed with the weather's unanticipated severity. So we were home, WHM was entertaining himself with Legos, and CAM and I sat down at the kitchen table to attack this report. To her credit, she wanted to finish it all today so there would be nothing to worry about tomorrow. She did a great job!

The colored-in drawing. I regret not taking a snapshot before she started coloring, because the pencil drawing was really impressive, and I think the coloring actually takes away from what a good job she did. I also wish she'd WAITED to color, because the buildings should not be black -- but we'll just say it's nighttime. Anyway, this is clearly done by a child, but I am worried that the teacher may think I drew the houses first -- which is absolutely not the case.

The front. Title, Author, Illustrator, and then some "creative" elements, including a printout of the image of the book. 
The props in the bag need to help the presenter give an oral presentation about the book, going from the birth of the subject to their death/the present.

We chose (and yes, we chose these together):
  1. A photo of Anne Frank
  2. A felt Star of David
  3. A leather journal to represent Anne's diary 
  4. A "map" of the hideout
  5. A photo of Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp

The kids are not allowed to use notecards. So here is where my devious brilliance great idea gives CAM an advantage: we put the props on card stock with a secret code to help her presentation. The props go in the order of the rainbow. To anyone not in the know, we just used different colors. But actually, the first photo of Anne, which introduces the whole book, is on red. We skip orange and then talk about the yellow star and how the Jews were persecuted and how Anne's family moved to Amsterdam. That leads to green, which is the map of the hideout, and it's easy to remember to talk about the diary. Finally, blue -- the concentration camp where Anne and her sister died (a month before the Allies liberated the camp, a detail CAM keeps mentioning). Red-(orange)-yellow-green-blue. CAM's been singing a song about the colors of the rainbow since she was three. She's got this 100% under control!

The hardest part of the project -- other than getting CAM to bring home her book -- was trying to differentiate between something CAM liked/disliked about the book versus something about the story the book told. In the end, I thought that if I gave too many examples ("I wish the pictures were in color," "I wish there were more examples of Anne's actual diary entries," "I liked the photos," etc.) that it would not be CAM's original thoughts anymore. So, I let her interpret it as things she liked about the story, not about the book, and didn't fret too much.

I think that's quite alright for second grade. And if not, well, we'll keep working on it. In the meantime, what a great job she did, working almost 100% on her own!



  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! She was pleased with it.

  2. Awwwww! My son is a senior now, but I do still remember his first brown bag book report!

    1. Did you save it? I tried to snap photos so we don't lament its eventual loss. :)