Meeting Chris Van Allsburg

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Free graphic organizers that focus on story elements and sequencing

Over the weekend, I had the chance to meet Chris Van Allsburg.  He was at a small independent book store in the area.  We waited in line for awhile but it was fun to see him up close and personal.  He was very quiet and reserved.  I didn't really talk to him too much as I knew there were lots of people waiting.  Plus I had K with me so I was focused on her.  She talked to him and watched him sign the book.  She asked me what he was doing and all of a sudden I realized what it probably looked like to a two year old...writing in a book.  So I tried to explain that he wrote the book so he was allowed to sign his name in it.  Hopefully, she doesn't try autographing her books at home!!

We had our copy of The Polar Express signed.  I also bought Jumanji for K and The Z was Zapped for M.  He was promoting his new book, The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie, but I didn't buy it because my mom was with us and she was buying it for the girls.

Cool teacher gift alert!!

My sister in law and nieces from Chicago were with us and I told them what a great idea it would be for a teacher gift for Christmas.  Even if their teachers have the book, there is nothing like a personally autographed book.  Am I right?  So they got a book for each of their teachers and then we took a picture of the girls with Mr. Van Allsburg for them to give their teachers.  What a unique and thoughtful gift that won't be the same as any other gifts they are getting this year.

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

One of my favorite Chris Van Allsburg books to use in the classroom with younger kids is The Polar Express.  It was fun to read it and watch the movie in December.  But my favorite book of his to use with older students was The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.  

If you haven't seen this book yet, it is very different than your average picture book.  Each page has one picture and in the picture, something unusual is happening.  On the other page is a title and start to a sentence.  Each page and picture are unrelated so it really doesn't tell a story.  When I taught 4th grade, I would make a transparency (yep that was before we had document cameras in the classroom) of the page and project it with the overhead.  We used it as a writing prompt.  I would show them the picture and title and they had to write a story about the picture.  It was so fun to see what they would come up with.  Such a great creative writing activity.  

Freebie Alert

I've included 3 different comprehension graphic organizers as a freebie for my readers.  You could use these with a Chris Van Allsburg book, or any fiction text.  They focus on mapping a story and sequencing a story.  Enjoy!