This is a guest blog post by Dana Lester, who writes a blog called Common to the Core, in which she writes about the Common Core State Standards, student reading skills, behavior management, books and products, and more. This post originally ran in 2014. To see Dana's other contributions, you can click here!
I guess I’ve been living under a rock, because I did not know Mrs. Wishy-Washy until just recently. Now that we’ve met, we have become such good friends! In this post, I will give you some lesson ideas for how to use the Mrs. Wishy-Washy books. I've also included a free story summary download at the bottom of the page. But first—a little bit about what is in the stories, and also some things that Mrs. Wishy-Washy and I have in common!1. We both love to clean. Neither of us can stand a mess. In Mrs. Wishy-Washy and the Big Wash, she even loaded up her animals and searched all over town for water when there was none on the farm! I'd Like to Introduce You to Mrs. Wishy-Washy!
Now that you know a little more about Mrs. Wishy-Washy and me, let me tell you five things you’ll love about these books:
1. Each book has a teacher’s guide specific to that book. It’s not a separate document that you’re bound to lose, but actually printed on the back cover. It’s a brilliant concept that I wish all books had! You could easily leave this book for a substitute teacher and just say, “follow the guide inside the back cover” and you’d know your students were going to get a great lesson.
2. The word count for the four books I have averages out to 198—a perfect length for beginning readers. The stories are engaging and humorous. The vocabulary in the books is varied and each one has three to four specific words listed in the guide to pull out and talk more about. Students can take these new words and come up with antonyms and/or synonyms, put them in alphabetical order, or create new sentences using the words.
3. The characters are constant. After reading a few books, children can expect to see the cow, pig, and duck. Stories can be created from one of the animals’ point of view. Predictions can be made about what the animals did to get so dirty, or what they’ll do after their baths. Book summaries are a great thing to do with your students to make sure they understand parts of the story. You can download a story summary chart below to use with any Mrs. Wishy-Washy book.4. These books would adapt themselves well to a Reader’s Theater script. After a shared reading of the book, students can work together to retell the story and create parts for a script as they work.
I have fallen in love with Mrs. Wishy-Washy and all the things you can do with these books. I’ve really just scratched the surface with the ideas shared here. There are two sets of these delightful books written by Joy Cowley. There is the Joy Cowley Collection, written for grades K–2 and then Joy Cowley Early Birds. The Early Birds Collection is written on a lower level.
Dana Lester received a B.S. and Master’s Degree from Middle Tennessee State University and is currently teaching at Walter Hill School in Murfreesboro, TN. Dana is also a Common Core Coach with the Tennessee State Department of Education. She has 12 years of classroom experience and has just begun her role as Library Media Specialist. As a strong advocate of the Common Core Standards and Whole Brain Teaching strategies, she engages her students in hands-on, inquiry based learning and shares many ideas and activities on her blog, Common to the Core. She was named Teacher of the Year at Walter Hill in 2013.
To download the Mrs. Wishy-Washy story summary chart, click the worksheet image below. To learn more about Mrs. Wishy-Washy and see Joy Cowley's books, you can click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights images below to download an information sheet with key features.