Our Own ‘In November.’

It might have taken me two weeks, but I’m finally going to show you what we did as our own little response project with Cynthia Rylant’s [amazon text=In November&asin=0152063420]. If you missed the original post, you can catch up on that here.

After a simple rereading and discussion of the book, we headed out for a jaunt down the street. It looked a lot like this.

In November Cynthia Rylant lesson plan

You see now why I felt a sense of urgency. Here in Atlanta, we only get color like this for a short amount of time, and it only takes one good rainstorm to take it all away. I knew if we were going to finally accomplish this project, today was the day!

Here are our trusty photographers in action.

using cameras with kids

Clara is using a 35mm Barbie “camera” that we bought for 59 cents at a thrift store. She loves it, does not give a flip that it doesn’t actually take pictures, and feels comfortable carrying it around. I love it because I don’t care how many times it hits the ground. Bethany has [amazon text=this camera&asin=B004WNIT3G], which is not quite as awesome as promised. Obviously, it’s meant for durability rather than picture quality, but we’ve already had to replace it once. She does like actually getting to see some version of the image she’s captured, so it works for now.

Before we set off on our short (about half an hour) voyage, we talked about what we have seen outside all month. Overwhelmingly, they talked about leaves. Unlike what you see in Rylant’s book, here, we have no blanket of snow to preserve animal tracks. There’s also not nearly as much visible animal activity. That left us focusing on plants and the sky, which was plenty.

In November Cynthia Rylant lesson planWe walked and talked, trying to notice fall colors and things that we don’t see during other times of the year. This went pretty well, especially considering the temperature was dropping and there was a fairly stiff breeze.

Using cameras with kids  Camera girl








When we got home, we downloaded the pictures to the printer, quickly chose our favorites, and printed a few on plain printer paper. We whipped up a simple cover out of cardstock, and used packing tape to affix our favorite leaf from the walk. Obviously, if you were a better planner than I am, you could have the pictures printed and take the time to press some leaves to include. We do not plan ahead that well around here.

In November Cynthia Rylant lesson plan

We roughly organized our printed pictures in the order the girls wanted them in the book. We talked about each picture, remembering why we had taken it. Then, we started gluing pictures onto pages.Cynthia Rylant In November lesson plan activity

Cynthia Rylant In November lesson plan activity

I did my best to transcribe what the girls were saying, within reason. My goal here was to get them to notice things that were fairly unique to November (or at least autumn) in our part of the world. For the picture of the tree above, all Bethany wanted to write was “leaves.” I encouraged her to stretch out this idea, and explain what she saw in the photo, and what she remembered thinking about when saw the tree on our walk.

Cynthia Rylant In November lesson plan activity

Here, you can see there’s only one sentence, but I was so excited that Bethany used the word “bare” that I didn’t want to trample on her thoughts. This is a photo directly inspired by a page in Rylant’s original book.

Cynthia Rylant In November lesson plan activity

This is a [amazon text=great book&asin=0152063420] to use when you need to inspire some writing, and can be adapted to many different purposes. For my girls (at ages 2 and almost 4), I wasn’t too worried about creating a coherent overall narrative. If you’re doing this with 8 or 9 year olds, I’d think about having them write their thoughts out in draft form before making the book, in an attempt at organization. Equally, you could focus on just one or two pictures to practice writing meaningful and accurate descriptions.  If you do this in your part of the world, we’d love to see the results!

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