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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Explore the Wild Side with Sylvan Dell

I am not a lazy teacher; far from it. That's exactly why I appreciate a publisher like Sylvan Dell that has so much to offer students, teachers, and parents.

The award-winning science and nature books which define their niche are extremely colorful and well-designed. As a teacher who often reads books upside down (so that younger students can see the pictures more easily) I definitely appreciate the no-nonsense fonts!

What I especially like, however, is that each Sylvan Dell picture book features an educational section called For Creative Minds which features a number of teaching ideas and resources. For example, Sort it Out!(obviously intended for lower grades than this blog's target audience) features two pages of sorting cards which can be used for classification (a table is included for this) or Memory. But what teacher would want to cut apart such a beautiful book? Here's the good news. Each book's For Creative Minds is available for pdf download from the publisher's site. Check out the quality of the pages that accompany Sort it Out!.

How the Moon Regained Her Shape is an example more appropriate for fourth grade. It's a terrific Native American-influenced folktale which can be used to study that genre, or the phases of the moon, or even bullying. As you can see, the teaching materials for this book are a little more elaborate and mature. Turtle Summer: A Journal for my Daughter is on one level deceptively simple as a picture book, and yet on another level incredibly insightful as a journal of scientific observation of nature. Again, the For Creative Minds section provides parents and teachers with ideas which are as simple or involved as you choose. This kind of resource instantly increases the value of this book as an instructional tool in the classroom.

This, however, is just the beginning of what Sylvan Dell offers as educational supports for their books. At their site you'll also find Teaching Activities (30 or more pages!) for each title. These guides feature questions, cross-curricular activities, charts, vocabulary lists, games, glossaries, cloze activities, maps, and more. For the teacher who wants to take the picture book experience beyond the read-aloud, these Teaching Activities are priceless. Check out the Teaching Guide for Ocean Hide and Seek. Dozens of options (yes, options; don't try to do them all!) to support a simple, beautifully illustrated book which students will want to view over and over again.

Still need convincing? How about online, self-checking, interactive quizzes? Alignment to state standards? Online Ebook previews of each title?

I'm impressed. This is one publisher that definitely fulfills their end of the bargain. Go and see for yourself what an amazing website this young company has created, and explore some more titles while you're there.

I love it when my job is so easy!


saradobie said...

WHOA! Keith, thank you for this. What an amazing write up. And all the attention paid to the free resources? WOW! Thank you! Thank you! Glad to know we're doing some good for all the amazing, hard-working educators out there!
Sara Dobie, Public Relations
Sylvan Dell Publishing