Blasting Off to a Great Year Blog Hop

Hey everyone! I am thrilled to be able to join up with some wonderful teacher bloggers for a Back to School Hop! Be sure to hop around to all of our posts because some have freebies, some have giveaways and more, and some might have both! YAY!
So my favorite back to school book is Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. I teach second grade and always read it on the very first day of school. Why is it a first day of school book? I feel like it explores themes of getting along with others, making friends, self-esteem, and of course pride in your name. If you don't know the story, Chrysanthemum loves her name until she starts school and her shorter-named classmates make fun of her. That is, until the beautiful, talented music teacher inspires them to change their ways.

If you want to know more about the book click on the image to see it at Amazon.

I read the book aloud and we stop every so often to discuss. Questions like, "How do you think Chrysanthemum feels? and "Why do you think her classmates are teasing her about her name?" are good for sparking discussion. We discuss that we want to be treated kindly by our own classmates and we don't want to be made to feel like she did.

After the story I actually use the book to make both a connection with math and a getting-to-know you activity. We discuss how many letters were in Chrysanthemum's name (someone always remember -13) and then I ask, "Do you know how many letters are in your name?". I hand out sticky notes and each child writes the number of letters in their name on the sticky. They come up and add their sticky to a class graph so we can see how many students have names with 3 letters in it, how many have names with 4 letters and so on. Then I can ask some fun math questions too: "What number of letters in a name has the most students?" and so on. I wish I had a pic from last year. I will be sure to take one this time around. 

I don't have a Chrysanthemum freebie but there are many free and paid resources around. Here are two to get you started.

Ok this is not academic, but I came across this while looking for Chrysanthemum resources for this post. Check out her tattoo!! WILD! 

And now  I have a freebie for you! Here is a page I call This is My Week. I use it at the end of each day with the class. They write one or more sentences about something(s) that happened today. Most students also LOVE to read their sentences aloud, Then they bring them home at the end of the week and it is a nice way to communicate with parents about what is going on at school. Click on the image to snag it from TPT.

Now, please head over to Curious Firsties to see her Back to School post and if she has a freebie and/or a giveaway for you! Click on the spaceship to do so! Thanks! Have a great beginning of the school year!


  1. Thanks for the freebie - perfect to send home weekly so the parents see what their kids remember about their week.

  2. I love the Chrysanthemum unit link you shared. It's really great! I also think the weekly writing freebie will be great to use second semester as my kinders start to write a little bit. Thanks Bex!

    1. Thanks Carla! I agree. My students basically differentiate it themselves. Those who are ready and excited write 2-3 sentences (at the end of the year some were filling 2 whole sheets of paper - so I had to limit how many sentences they read aloud) and the first week of school those who struggle to write one sentence are able to copy a sentence from the board (we brainstorm 2-3 sentences together each day for the first couple weeks).

  3. I love this book! I still find ways to sneak it in with my 4th and 5th graders (they secretly love it, too), usually for main idea. The graphing activity is a great idea, too!

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late

    1. Melissa - Kevin Henkes rocks! I think using picture books to teach concepts and skills to older kiddos is a great idea!

  4. Yep, Chrysanthemum is a classic with lots of us - love that book, too! and Thank you for that freebie! It seems like it could be a perfect little activity to do during end of the day procedures!
    BigTime Literacy

  5. That book really does not EVER get old! Thanks for the freebie!

  6. Chrysanthemum is such a great read aloud...and that tattoo is over the top! "This Is MY Week" is a great way for students to summarize and share their learning!
    Read With Me ABC

  7. Chrysanthemum is one of my favorites by Kevin Henkes. Thanks for the freebie! Oh, and that tattoo- Crazy! ;)
    Literacy Loving Gals