Clever Book

October 29, 2013
Lola Schaefer is a children's book author

Sometimes I read a book and think, Clever. I wish I had written that! What Is Part This, Part That? by Harriet Ziefert fits in that category. I knew when I read the description of the book online that I was going to love it. As soon as I ordered it, I knew that kids were going to love it, too. And they do!

Here are a few examples: A rap song is part TALK and part SING. A bowl is part PLATE, part CUP. These cozy slippers are part SOCK, part SHOE.

I first used this book as a warm-up with a mixed crowd of students and parents at a Literacy Night. The kids were soon making up their own and then asking their parents what they were describing that was . . . part this, part that. Just last week I used it again in a classroom demonstration lesson in second grade at St. Anthony School in Milwaukee. I used the typical modeling design of studying 3-4 examples from the book, then I gave them part of a few and they guessed the rest. And I wrote my own originals on the board. After a few minutes, they were ready to think of their own. And they did. The average 2nd grader listed 5-7 different ones in just ten minutes.

A few of theirs were: A home is part cleaning, part organizing. A pencil is part lead, part eraser. A family is part people, part love. A cat is part purr, part meow.

One of the teachers who was observing that lesson, went back and immediately duplicated the lesson with her second graders. Today she emailed me a sampling of her students' work.

A house is . . . part roof, part bricks. A salad is . . . part lettuce, part veggies. A dime is . . . part money, part metal. A class is . . . part students, part teacher. George Washington is . . . part farmer, part president. I am . . . part skin, part bones. A car is . . . part wheels, part metal.

This is a great exercise to encourage thinking. Even older students could write some of these to warm-up for informational/nonfiction writing. Go ahead and try it. A microbe is part __________, part _________. Government is part ______, part _________. An organ in the body is part ______, part _______. An inventor is part __________, part ________.

Of course, I have to say that of all the second grade offerings, the one that stuck in my heart was: Miss Lola is part thoughtful, part awesome. Who could ask for a better thank you at the end of the day?