Professional Development & Resources

A Try-fold of Big Ideas for Young Minds

lion zebra bear elephant monkeyPicture Books & Critical Thinking –
I review five books for Children’s Literature each month. I can’t cross-publish the reviews, of course, but since I do spend a lot of time with each title, I wanted to do something more with those picture books that amuse or inspire. I wanted something readers would find quick and playful ways to enjoy the story further by way of  critical thinking and academic skills practice. All while crossing the curriculum, of course.

The result? Printable, multi-topic, fold & go kid-lit learning for each book called:

A Try-fold of Big Ideas for Young Minds

I put some thought into that title. I think it gels nicely with my cross-curricular core:

  • Kids need to know they are thinking about thinking. My ‘Big Ideas for Young Minds’ brand on each Try-fold underscores that activity details are part of a bigger picture.
  • The student sheet (yep, just one 2-sided 8.5×11 page), folds into thirds. This is a physical example of how varied concepts, skills, and activities can overlap within a greater context. In this case the context is a great picture book.
  • Try-fold is a pun. I’m all about the puns; they are critical thinking in a nutshell.

My first Try-fold of Big Ideas for Young Minds is for Zebra on the Go! by Jill Nogales.

As Peachtree Publishers says, “Fierce Lion and speedy Zebra are stepping into the [circus] ring to perform their act – but wait! Things aren’t going quite according to plan…Zebra is on the go – with Lion in hot pursuit!”

Zebra on the GO Try-fold COVER square

I’m announcing my Try-fold series here for several reasons:

  1. To be blunt:  self-promotion. Yes, I hope anyone using this book in any setting will help children explore it with my Try-fold. Sure, that gets me a bit of profit, but it also gives readers the pleasure and benefit of exploring kid-lit with what I am (self-)promoting as good, easy-to-use learning experiences.
  2. A Try-fold is a real-life example of the abiding theme of this blog:  cross-curricular activities are efficient and fun stimulation that nurture critical thinking alongside key academic skills practice. Nothing is rote, boring, or isolated because it all relates to a really great story.
  3. I mentioned it already, but cross-curricular integration isn’t just for students. I used it to parlay the book (mentor text) study skills I employed to write my reviews as a jump-start for creating learning materials. It’s not just two birds with one stone (though I’ll take that efficiency). It’s combining two sets of processing and detail work to further my overall understanding of kid-lit and enhance my career goals.

Next in queue (I’ll post and/or tweet when they’re ready):

  • Mosquitoes Can’t Bite Ninjas by Jordan P. Novak
  • Monkey with a Tool belt:  Silly School Mystery by Chris Monroe
  • The Storybook Knight by Helen & Thomas Docherty
  • …and many more!

I take requests! Seeking a Try-fold for a particular title? Just let me know in the Comments, via Twitter (@KTOEngen), or email katie(dot)engen@verizon(dot)net.

Oh, before I forget (…disclaimer alert):  My brand, products, and I are not formally affiliated with any of the picture book creators. Try-folds are made to supplement their clever work and facilitate its use by educators. I cite the books’ author, illustrator, publisher, etc. on the Try-fold so there’s no confusion about who did what. I design all aspects of each Try-fold or use Creative Commons (free) images. Of course, the content and some graphics are inspired by (never copied from) the original picture book.


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