Sunday, May 11, 2014

Growing Imaginations (and Lollipops)

One of the books I love to use as a mentor text for Writer's Workshop is The Gumdrop Tree, written by Elizabeth Spurr and illustrated by Julia Gorton.

 Here is a review from Amazon:

A little girl plays with a bag of gumdrops given to her by her father. She can't bear the thought of eating them, because if she does, they'll be all gone. Then she has an idea. She will plant the candies and grow a gumdrop tree. She then waters and cultivates them patiently. Finally one seedling sprouts. After a while, she gives up.  The tree is doing well, but it bears no sweets. She still checks on it now and then and, one wonderful day, it is literally covered with sugary drops. Of course, she eats them. In the final illustration, readers see that a couple of gumdrops remain painstakingly tied to the branches with white thread (presumably by two loving parents).

The book is absolutely perfect for helping the children realize that if they have an imagination, they can write ANYTHING at all.  You can use it when you introduce Writer's Workshop, and then again during the year, just to remind the children how important imaginations are to their writing.
Great writers who use their imaginations write the best stories with lots of details, clever ideas, and different topics.  Some really famous, brilliant people think imaginations are pretty important...

The Gumdrop Tree  has so many wonderful text features to talk about with the children.

And it has great ideas for illustrations!

 Look how it shows the passing of time as she waits for her gumdrop tree to grow.

Plus, who doesn't love to think about growing a gumdrop tree?!

After we read the story and talked about the text features and fabulous illustrations, we talked about what type of book this was. The children quickly knew it was fiction. (I was secretly hoping someone might say nonfiction, and may just believe enough that you could grow a gumdrop tree.) We talked about how if you planted a penny, you wouldn't be able to grow a money tree either. However, when you use your IMAGINATION, anything at all is possible.  The best authors and illustrators have wonderful imaginations. We never want to lose our imaginations! 

I had each child think about something- anything at all- that they would like to plant so that it would grow into a tree. We shared some of our ideas. If you want to grow a cat, just plant a piece of cat food!

I told the children our imaginations needed a little workout, so we could keep being great writers. This is where the topsoil comes in. You have to practice using your imagination to keep it strong and healthy!

Here was my conversation with my husband when he got home from work last night.
Me:  Do you have any topsoil?
Jeff:  How much do you need?
Me:  Not much. We are planting Smarties and growing lollipops.
Jeff: ...  Will there be magic involved?  

That isn't normal, is it?  Just checking.  

I just happened to have Smarties, so I told the children that since they were Smarties, it was a perfect "seed" for them to plant.

I had each child plant a Smartie, and believe with their wonderful imaginations that it would grow.

Well, sure enough, after specials and before snack, (yes, that quickly) our Smarties grew into lollipops!

I wrapped each lollipop base in aluminum foil before I put it in the topsoil, so when we took it out, the sticks were clean.  (You can just imagine they are clean if you want to...)

I  noticed that somehow when the Smarties grew, they grew into DumDums.  hmmm.  That doesn't need to be mentioned to anyone- although it sort of made me smile inside.

If you have gumdrops, perfect! If you have Skittles, they will grow into anything you want, too. If it is candy- the kids will WISH it into something wonderful.  Except Reese's Pieces. They don't grow well for me.  HA- only kidding. I'm sure they would turn out the best.

Hopefully, the children will remember that lesson, and remember that when you use your imagination, anything is possible!
While each child came up to plant a Smartie, I had the others draw and write about what tree they would like to grow.  I made this paper that you are welcome to download if you would like it.

Here are some of their ideas...
I love how he is growing a glasses tree! He will never have to worry about losing those glasses again!

Kittens and brownies... what else do you really need?

If you plant a chocolate chip, it may just grow into a cookie!

His best buddy is Logan, so apparently he would like a tree full of Logans.  So sweet.

I love this one!  He planted a wooden plank and grew... a tree house!  This little guy is  a perfect example of how fabulous activities like this are.  He gets frustrated sometimes writing, but has such awesome ideas!  Look at the details he just let spill out onto the paper.

They love to share their ideas.
Another book that  the children always LOVE this book, If, by Sarah Perry. Adults think it is a little odd sometimes, but kids just can't wait for the next page. 
 Here is a review from Amazon:

A diving board to creative wordplay, the fascinating picture book If... offers a surrealistic view of the natural world. The two-page spreads present artful watercolors paired with such strange possibilities as "If zebras had stars and stripes...," "If the moon were square...," and "If worms had wheels...." Although some of the ideas and pictures are whimsical to the point of being downright creepy ("If caterpillars were toothpaste...," "If toes were teeth..."), the hypotheticals will surely inspire flights of fancy for readers of all ages. What could be more appealing for a 5-year-old than imagining the silliest suppositions and seeing them come to life in realistic paintings?
Sculptor Sarah Perry creates a world to make us stop and think. One of her best illustrations depicts a large, hairy warthog with a sparkling crown and the text, "If ugly were beautiful...." With every if idea, the author encourages the kind of mental double take that comes naturally for children.
Here are some of the sample illustrations:

This books is PERFECT for a writing/drawing activity where the children come up with some of their own "If" possibilities.

Here are some other fun books  that tap into the children's imaginations.

Nancy from First Grade W.O.W. shared the pattern for this great activity to go along with What If You Had Animal Teeth?

Learning to the Core shared some sample illustrations from the book and a darling freebie to go with What If You Had Animal Hair.

Thank you for stopping by!


1 comment:

  1. The gumdrop tree book sounds like fun! Our theme this unit is great ideas and I think I'm going to see if I can find it somewhere! I love, love, love the idea of planting smarties and growing lollipops! Your kids are going to remember that forever!!!!!! I especially like that they grew into dum made me laugh out loud!! :) Have a happy week!!!!


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