Saturday, April 20, 2013

Donald Crews

I love using Donald Crews'  books for an Author Study with my Kindergarten class and revisiting the books throughout the year.

 The children are very quick to see the patterns and same techniques a certain author  and/or illustrator uses and can quickly name the author or illustrator without me telling them.  They love to write books just like the author we study.

My class loves  hearing about different authors and how the authors got their start writing, because my children see how the authors we study used  their own experiences and interests to write books- just like we are doing!  They are fascinated when they realize that Eric Carle started writing books at five, in kindergarten,  and that Donald Crews uses his experiences as a boy for ideas in his books.
Eric Carle at age 5 with his mother

Donald Crews' books are some of my favorites to use as mentor texts when we begin Writer's Workshop,  because the illustrations are so bright, bold, and detailed.  Spending time on illustrations is many of my students' favorite part of writing, and how most of the children begin writing books.  I think I am extra partial to Donald Crews because my daughter Ellie LOVED Freight Train when she was little.  We couldn't read that one enough! 

Donald Crews also  uses labeling, sound words,  motion lines and movement, and fun text (BOLD PRINT!)  His use of the ellipsis is a favorite in my class. We LOVE that ellipsis...   :)

I found this Author Study chart that Melissa Clancy did in her classroom  on her blog,
Joyful Learning in KC . 
Melissa does a lot with Author Studies on her her blog.  I spent a long time there!  I feel like I know her  now!   Thank you, Melissa!

Although his illustrations are perfect for my students who love to study the detail he uses for ideas of their own, Donald Crews'  books also use lots of descriptive words that my children pick up on and try to incorporate as the year progresses.  I use his books all year long for so many different teaching points.

Crews uses so many small moments from his life as ideas for writing his stories.  This has really helped my class realize that they can write about anything! At first, coming up with an idea can seem overwhelming to a child. Seeing how the authors of the books we read can take a small moment or memory in life and use that to write a story helps  open up a world of possibilities in a child's mind! 

I found this poster on Pinterest and think it is great for helping to explain how to use "small moments" for writing a story.

The book Shortcut is a great mentor text for using a small moment to write a story, a great follow up to Freight Train, and also a great opportunity for teaching about safety!

In the beginning of the year, I use his book Ten Black Dots for a simple and fun activity.
I have all sizes of black dots cut out and on each table.  The children can choose how many dots and what size dots to use to create whatever they decide.  We brainstorm together on the rug, and I show some examples I have made- one dot for a bowling ball, four dots for wheels on a car, BIG DOTS for wheels on a monster truck, tiny dots on wings of a ladybug, etc.  On the paper where they create their masterpiece,  they fill in the blanks for the sentence I have written: ___________ black dots can make a ____________.   We always do this activity on "Black Day" during the first two weeks of school when we review one color each day.  Some years I laminate the pictures and make a class book.  This year, we hung them up and I sent them home. 

I made my Author Prezi so that I had the information about the authors that I use most frequently for my  Author Studies all in on place and easy to access.  I put a picture, link or video to biography information, author interviews if available, videos of their work, and then links to all the best Pinterest boards with TONS of ideas for activities for each author. I looked at LOTS of possible videos and picked the ones I thought were the best and most appropriate. 

The featured authors include: Jan Brett, Norman Bridwell, Eric Carle, Donald Crews, Theodor Geisel, Laura Numeroff, Robert Munsch, David Shannon, Shel Silverstein, and Mo Willems.

On the left of the title, under "Author Interviews" are two sites with LOTS of other author interviews included. Under the title are two of my favorite sites with very inclusive author site links, and a link to a listing of wonderful mentor texts and topics for Writer's Workshop lessons.   I hope you find this helpful for your classroom, as well!

Thank you for visiting! 
Happy Teaching,


  1. Where can I find your author studies? I would love to use them!

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