There are so many fantastic authors of children’s literature that you would have enough books to teach for a week by one author, and one of those authors is Chris Van Allsburg. His books are outstanding for teaching inferences and mysteries, and excellent for generating good writing samples.
Read the book The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg. Use this book to introduce inferencing and instruct students to create a chart to record the inferences made about “The Stranger.” Stop periodically to allow small groups to make predictions about the character.
After the lesson, place the book in a center. Download the app Jeffy’s World HD, and assign small groups to reread the story and create another chart. Students will record the clues for the seasons from the book and then use the app to correctly represent the earth placement in relation to the sun. The students will then sketch the diagram next to the clues for the seasons.
In another literacy center, students will answer the prompt: What would happen if the seasons didn’t change when they were supposed to? Write a story about the trouble this could cause (Adapted from Houghton).
Chris Van Allsburg, like many great writers, has a wonderful website (although I am not too crazy about the material provided in a tiny on-line box). Several years ago, a teacher friend used his book, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick , to generate writing samples using only a picture and a title to get started. Each month a Harris Burdick picture is uploaded on the Van Allsburg site, and Van Allsburg features one student story written about the picture on his website for that month (picture link for Harris Burdick) . Or post the picture and student samples up for everyone to enjoy.