Jan Brett Rocks

Recently, first grade and I studied author’s craft in a month-long unit. I chose texts by Jan Brett from a variety of ecosystems so that we could discuss how authors research to write their stories. However, reading the text and then discussing the story is a lot of sitting for my first grade darlings. Enter the most amazingly simple, yet profound strategy for engaging readers. I learned this tip during a session at AASL 2009 in Charlotte. I always appreciate a strategy that will be a tool in my box of differentiation strategies and help diversify my lessons.  

It’s so simple, but if you haven’t stocked your desk drawer with badge clips, then you should think about it. The only other thing I needed for this lesson was Jan Brett and her finger puppets for The Umbrella.

I made enough copies of the finger puppets that I would have enough so that each student in my class would have one character. I did this batch at the last minute, so I wrote the character names in the space and did not color them. Quickly cute the shapes out, zip them through the laminator, and then re-cut them.

My cousin was a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator for a number of years, so I dashed off a note asking her if there was a hole puncher in badge-clip size. (I know very little about scrapbooking supplies!) There was! She ordered one for me and it has been worth the $12 I paid for it. When I need to clip stuff to kids, I have my badge hole puncher ready.


I can store the character cards in my files with a copy of my lesson plan and other materials from the unit. The badge clips are always in my desk.

The kids were excited to choose their own character for the story. Because of the character cards, students made stronger connections to the animals in the book. It was fun to learn some new animal names and to learn more about the rainforest ecosystem these animals inhabit. It made sitting for the last few minutes of the discussion easier for students because they had been more active during the story as they stood up when their character was called upon in the book.

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