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Kevin Henkes Author Study
At the beginning of the school year, I read
Chrysanthemum to my 2nd grade students. After we read and
discuss the story we talk about how many letters the
students have in their names. We make a class graph using
the amount of letters in each student's name. I then let
the students title the graph and tell what a visitor
might learn from the graph.
Name Homework File From Lynda (word file)
At the beginning of the year I read this book to my class. On sentence strips I have every student's name. We have a discussion about their name and if they were named after anyone in their family or if they know what their name means. After we this, I have them count how many letters are in their name. We find out whose name hase the most letters and who has the fewest. When we start studying money, each letter is worth 1 cent. They have to see how much their name is valued at. Betty Danielson/Texas
My teaching partner and I had the children
look up the meaning of their name in a baby book. They
asked their parents why they chose their name. The
children wrote about why they loved their name.
After reading the story (which is usually in
the first day or so of school each year) I give each
student a 12 x 18 inch piece of construction paper and a
marker. I place different art decorations in the middle
of the table... sequins, beans, macaroni, glitter,
feathers, ribbon, pieces of wrapping paper, etc. The
students write their first name in large letters on the
paper. Then they put glue each letter of their name and
decorate it however they wish.
At the beginning of the year this book is great for community building. Before reading this book we discuss teasing. Almost every kid has been teased at least once. They share how it made them feel and it gets to be a pretty intense and emotional discussion. I try an emphasize that our classroom needs to be a place where everyone feels safe and that everyone is different and unique and it doesn't make it ok to make someone feel badly. The kids really get into this book and we refer to it all year long whenever we have teasing issues. Annie Diaz/Arizona
I found a great idea for teaching quotation
marks using the text Chrysanthemum. After a reading of
the book, use large chart paper to write out some of the
sentences from the book that use quotes. For ex: She's
perfect said her mother or Hooray! said Chrysanthemum.
I read Chrysanthemum on the first day of school and we discuss names and how each name is special. Then we count how many letters are in each studnets' name and make a graph. For homework, each student are to find out what his/her names means and why his/her parents chose that name. It's a fun activity and my studnets enjoy learning why they have their name. Amy Vahue/Texas
After reading and discussing the story, talk to students about how special their names are, as Chrysanthemum's was. They may even have a story as to where theire name came from. Hand out large grid paper. Have students write their names over and over, until all the squares are filled. Then have them choose a color for each letter of their name. Have them color each square with the color they chose. This activity is great for a get-to-know-you back-to-school activity. Nicole Kuchie/New Jersey
We read Chrysanthemum and discuss
new vocabulary words, make predictions, and discuss the
different emotions expressed throughout the story. After
we finish reading, I write Chrysanthemum on the board. We
count how many letters are in her name, and make a stack
of 13 unifix cues. I write the leader's name on the board
and count how many letters are in their name. We make a
stack of unifix cubes for their name and compare it to
Chrysanthemum's name to see whose name is longer/shorter.
Then I pass out their name cards and unifix cubes for
them to build their own name towers. Then they compare
their towers. We find the shortest, tallest, and students
with the same size towers. We put the class in order from
shortest to tallest towers.
Picture/Name Card Activities
Printable to Match the activities Above!!
In the story of Chrysanthemum let children
We discuss the idea that a name is a gift that is given by parents. I then trace or print the children's names on a piece of construction paper tracing around bulletin board letters. The children decorate their names and we put a bow on them (I use stick on bows). The children have a lot of fun seeing how fancy they can make their name. Cathy Moore / Iowa
After reading Chyranthemum with my students, I let them work in small groups to discuss what they think would be the perfect name for each of them (younger children love to pretend they are someone else with another name). I then gave each student a nametag and let them write their chosen name and decorate the nametag. The children then put the nametags on and those were the names we went by for the rest of the day. I did this activity with a first grade class and they loved it! Donielle Thrash/Mississsippi
Make a class book for your school library. Write the following prompt on a sheet of paper. _____'s _____ ______. Example: Mrs. DeAnda's red purse. Have child fill in their name and color of an item that they can carry their stuff. Have them draw their container on the top part of the paper. With teacher's help they can list/draw any special items they may carry in the container. Bound all the pages and place in the library or send home with a student at a time and share your wonderful authors and illustrators with their parents.
After reading Chrysanthemum, I had many
activities that I did with my class. For math, I graphed
the numbers of letters in each child's name. For reading,
I had the children change the ending of the story....,I
also had each child come up with a different name for
themselve. I called it a parade of names.....such as
"My name is Dolphin, Question, etc.... I gave all of
my students a copy of a puzzle or a small 16 piece white
puzzle. They were asked to write their name on the small
puzzle or the paper puzzle and decorate it. Then they had
to share their puzzle (all the piece were in a zip lock
baggie) with a friend. The friend had to put the puzzle
pieces together to spell out their friends name. My class
enjoyed these activities.
This book is part of my back to school unit. First, we use it to discuss treating everyone kindly and not making fun of others. Then we discuss the name Chrysanthemum and how special it is. I tell the students I have a very special name inside of a ziploc bag for them. I give the children a bag that has his or her own name cut up and they unscramble the letters to make their own name. For those who need help unscrambling the letters I help them match it to their desk nameplate so that they see the special name is theirs. Also, to make sure I give each child the right bag, I code them with numbers that match their name. Then the students glue the letters (their name) to a piece of white construction paper and make self-portraits. Later as an integrated math and reading activity we discuss and review consonants and vowels. We identify the name and number of both consonants and vowels in Chrysanthemum's name. As a whole group we tally the number of vowels in our names and make a class graph,How Many Vowels are in Our Names? Sandy/Louisana
I make a large blank graph and write
Chrysanthemum's name on the top line. We graph the
students names. (I ask them to spell it for me which I
also use as a quick assessment.)
I use this book at the beginning of school We
celebrate by graphing the number of letters in each
child's name, we sing the name game song(banana
fanana)with each child's name and I send home a research
homework page for the child and their parents asking why
or how the child's name was chosen, what they like about
their name, do they have a nickname, what does their name
Use Kevin Henkes as Author of the Week. Read one of his books each day. On Friday students can vote and the teacher graph their favorite K.H. book or character etc Visit K.H.'s website and send him an e-mail. Use a venn-diagram of t-chart to compare and contrast two of the books. cindy white/ Tennessee
I teach first grade and this is truly one of
my favorite stories! I always share this story during the
first few weeks of school.
After reading the book, students create their own flowers using various materials and using the small foam letters put their names on them. We hang them in the hall where we make a flower garden. - Melissa Hammons/Mississippi
Last year for the first week of school, I used the book Chrysanthemum to learn and discuss names of children in our first grade. Working with unifix cubes, children selected the amount of cubes that corresponded to the number of letters in their names. We put a dot sticker on each cube and wrote a letter from their name on the cube until they had spelled out their whole first name. Since our chalk board is magnetic, I put a magnetic strip on the back of each name cube strip. Then we began a few days of activities using our name strips. We graphed them on the magnetic board - smallest to largest name. Compared how many names had three leters, four letters, etc. We compared them to Chrysanthemum's name. We took them apart and scrambled them to have a classmate try to unscramble them. We put our names in ABC order. We tried to find how many different words we could make out of our name or if there were words in our name already in order. Frequently, when we would work on other kinds of graphs, we used them to record children's preferences, choices, or responses. If a child left the room, s/he would put her/his name strip in the "Out" box on the board. Throughout the year the magnetic unifix cube names continued to be a part of a math, spelling, writing, or class activity in one way or another. They were fun. Thanks Chrysanthemum! - Anne Hendry/Mass
Click to view a unit by Angie Whitley/ WV
This game/chant helps the chilren learn the names of the other children in their Kindergarten class. I print each name of 2 sets of flash cards. Then I take one set and place them face down on the floor in a circle around the edge of the room. The children walk around the edge of the room chanting "I'm walking, walking, walking. I'm walking all around. I'm walking, waking, walking. Look who I've found." When they say found they pick up the card and look at it. I hold up a card from the other set with a name on it and show them and ask "Who found ______'s name?" Before long they are telling me the name on my card instead of me telling them. Clara Henley/Illinois
Using seed of flower catalogs look for other delightful names of flowers and let the children choose and name for him/herself. - Linda/Minnesota
Read the book to the children. Explain that everyone's name is different and special to them and their family. Have the children write an acrostic poem using their name. Then the children ask their parents why the named them what they did. Finally provide a baby's name book and invite the children to look up their names and find out what their names mean. - Sherri Woodie Virginia
At the start of the year, we do a mini unit on names. It helps build our community and celebrate our new friends. One book we read is Chrysanthemum. After reading, each student gets a set of white dot stickers. On each dot they write a letter in their name. Then, they put the dot stickers on snap cubes to spell their name. Then, we graph how many letters are in our names. What a great way to integrate math and literature. Tracey Morton/Missouri
As a way to get to know every child and thier family better at the beginning of the school year I send home as a literacy bag the book Chrysanthemun and the Family Name Journal. The first page of the journal is a letter to the student's family giving directions. A family member is suppose to read the book to the (Kindergarten) student and afterwards talk about how the child's name was chosen. Mom or dad writes that information in the journal and everything is returned the next day to school, where that child is the Special Student of the Day. I read the journal entry to the class and we talk about the child's name, how many letters, vowels, etc. The child is interviewed by his/her peers. We make a puzzle of of thier name, and they lead us in a cheer for each letter of thier name. Everyone draws a pic of the child and writes thier name, the Special Student's is saved and the others are given to the Special student. I make a book out of the saved pages after they have been displayed,(nice for the hallway for Parent Teacher Conference. Heather Dunn/Oklahoma
I teach first grade. At the beginning of the year, we have a day for each person's name in my class. If the class is large, we do two names per day. I take two small pieces of poster board, wider than a sentence strip and a little shorter. I glue the top and bottom sides together leaving an opening on each end. It is called our "Magic Mystery Name." I print each child's name on a sentence strip. I put the sentence strips inside the Magic Mystery Name Board. I pull out one name at a time, showing only the first letter first to see if they can guess who it is. Then I show the next letter and so on, until they have guessed whose name it is. Then we count the number of letters, how many vowels, how many consonants, etc. and then ask that person questions about themselves so I can write a story about them for our beginning of the year picture book. We always talk about how many letters are in Chrysanthemum's name. Judy Coleman/Illinois
Using various sources on the web, I created two poster/transparency templates for Chrysanthemum. I also created a letter home to parents asking their for their help in an extension activity.
We trace Chrysanthemum from the book, color/decorate her, laminate her, staple on a popsicle stick and "plant" her in our class garden the first week of school (early August). She is soon replaced by the really thing in a variety of colors from Wal-Mart. This begins our year together, produces our first character study, shows students how to trace characters out of books for trioramas created throughout the year and introduces my students to our garden. Jennifer Brandon/Tennessee
I teach second grade. Each year I read
Chrysanthemum to my new class. We talk about our names,
spell them, and write them on paper. The children then
draw their names on white construction paper. They use
stickers, markers, crayons, and whatever else they can
find to decorate their names. I then send home a family
project to investigate each child's name. Each child has
to interview their family to find out how they got thier
name. They work with family members and create a 4 page
book, (the name on construction paper is the cover for
On the first day of school I like to read this book and then share our names so students can get to know each other. Then we each write our first name on a piece of paper, count the letters, and finally graph our names by letter. Who has the longest name? Who has the shortest name? Do more students have five letters in their names or six letters? Etc. - Kimberly Wilson/Tennessee
I love to read the story Chrysanthemum by
Kevin Henkes at the beginning of the year. It's a great
story to read when you would like everyone to learn their
names. After reading the story Chrysanthemum with my
class, I always start a discussion about our names and
what our names mean to us. I explain that at times, our
names can even describe us. I model a free form map on
the board with the name of Chrysanthemum,,,, or even
better "Mickey Mouse".(They seem to know that
character well.) Then, I have the children give me ideas
of things they think of when they think of Mickey Mouse
or what describes him. Immediately, the class starts
participating and calling out...little mouse, friendly,
pluto, Disney World, etc... On the board I write the name
in the center and then I map out from the name. I tell
the class they can either write words around the name or
draw pictures that describe the name. Once I'm done
modeling how to do a free form map on the board, I pass
out a big sheet of white construction paper to the class
and have them create a free form map around their names.
Their maps always come out super nice, and bright. I tell
the children that their maps must be in color and full of
details. I tell them to draw or write things like where
they were born, their hobbies, pets, friends,
personalities, siblings, favorite color, etc... Here is
an example of a free form map I made with my name just so
you can see it and have an idea of what it looks like.
Hope you like my idea, my children always seem to love
it. It works great with 2nd and 3rd grade. I just wish I
would have kept a sample from the ones my kids from last
I teach a K-1 Multiage class. At the beginning of the school year I read Chrysanthemum and graph the number of letters in our names. Later on I reread the book again and use math concepts same, more, and less. Using Chrysanthemum's name as our model I take the children's names and ask the children if the name has the same number of letters as Chrysanthemum, less or more. Then each child receives a sheet of graph paper that has all the children's name written on (a letter per square). Next, the children receive a piece of construction paper which we fold into thirds (horizontally), in the center column the child writes the word "same" at the top and glues his/her name under that word. In the first column they write the word "less" and in the last column they write the word "more". Now they begin to cut out all names and place their classmates names in the correct column. Afterwards the children write about their findings. I enjoy hanging a lot of the children's work in the hallway. There always seems to be someone admiring and reading not only the name graphs but their math summaries as well. Chris Diaz /Arizona
I read Chrysanthemum to my class the second day of school (we do The Kissing Hand on the first day). We talk about everyone's names and I use a pocket chart graph to graph student's names. The have to put a card with their name on it above the number of letters in their name (i.e. 'Jennifer' would place her card above the number 8). Then we see who has the most letters, least letters, etc. After that each child makes a name card. Ahead of time I have cut out diecut letters for each name and put them in a plastic bag. They get a piece of black construction paper 5"x 18" (or longer for longer names) to glue the letters of their name on. I laminate these and they are hung up for the entire year; it is also where I hang their art projects up so they always know where their work is (and so do any parents who visit). I love this because the letters are glued on crooked or backwards and it shows how far they've progressed by the end of the year when it goes home. - Julie Rogers/Nevada
I use this story with my first graders on the
first day of school, it's a great book to show how each
student is special in their own way. After reading the
story we discuss how to treat others, how they would feel
if this happened to them.
I would use both Chrysanthemum and Lilly's
Purple Plastic Purse at the beginning of the school year.
I would introduce my students to the idea that everyone
is unique, and their names all have special meanings, by
reading Chrysanthemum. After discussing the story and how
Chrysanthemum felt, I would ask the students how they
would feel in Chrysanthemum's place. We would then draw
our own self portraits and look up the meaning of our
names to add to the self portrait.
As we learn about each other at the beginning of the year, we include learning about on another's names as we use those for a multitude of literacy activites. We read the book and then I send home a sheet with an explanation of what we'd like families to share with us. The stories are always fun to read and you learn something about the way a child's parents think just by hearing their name story!
To give students a visual of what saying hurtful things or making fun of someone can do out of white paper cut out a basic outline of a person. Have students sit in a circle as you read Chrysantemum. After reading the story and discussion pass the outline around and have each student crush the paper in a ball and say something that they may have had said to them, something from the story, or something that they have heard before, then flatten it back out again (be sure to give an example first, be sure students understand what is not acceptable to say, ex. bad words). After each student has done this flatten out the sheet as much as possible and use the figure as a lesson to show students that when you say hurtful things that no matter how much you may apologize the wrinkles are still there, just as the persons feelings are still hurt and the words never really can go away. This can be the beginning of discussions on feelings and how hurtful things make you and others feel and even though someone says they are sorry the words can't be taken back. - Melody Sarmento/SC
Create a "new" Chrysanthemum story!
After we read the story I have each child's name on a paper plate (we use this paper plate from an earlier activity...students decorate plate and I use them for lining up and I sing/throw the plates on the floor, "If your name is on the plate pick it up, if your name is on the plate pick it up, if your name is on the plate then you are really doing great, if your name is on the plate pick it up!"). We all count the number of letters in our names and graph each number. I usually have a large graph that I color in at the same time the students do.
Catherine Baublitz - Georgia
Make a handprint flower by stamping the child's hand four times in a circle with palms of hands to the center of the flower. Then have the child using a small mirror take a peak and draw themselves using the head of the flower for their faces and they can add a stem and leaves for their limbs. - Linda Cutshall
I use this book at the beginning of the year
when we are learning each other's names and the
importance of putting letters in the right order to spell
words. We talk about characters such as Clifford the Big
Red Dog and Max and Ruby (Rosemary Wells) because the
children know these characters from the books as well as
from the TV. We talk about how many letters are in their
names and the importance of putting the letters in the
right order. Then we write the names of these as well as
other characters on two sentence strips and then have the
children cut up one of the stips and put the names in
order. We talk about capital letters at the beginning of
the names, also. This book then is read and we talk about
her long name. How many letters are in this word, what
are the letters, etc. Then the children have two sentence
strips with her name and cut and we put her name back
You take each child's name and have them do a
poem with the letters just like in Chrysanthemum's name.
Make a name graph for students to take home to graph the number of letters their family members have. Make the graph with 13 squares across and 8/10 or so squares down. Write the name Chrysanthemum at the bottom, one letter per square, to give family members a model to use. See how many names your students come up with.
I always begin each year by reading this book
during the first day of school. When I finish, we talk
about the rules in our classroom. As a group, we
brainstorm as many rules as we can think of to make each
day run smoother and we focus on the theme of fairness
from the book. We pick our favorite rules as a group and
it becomes our classroom constitution for the year.
After reading the story have students go home that day and interview their parents about how they got their own name. The next day let students share with the class. Then let students change their name based on the characteristics. (A scholastic student might choose sage ... a child who likes gymnastics might choose tumbleweed, etc.) Then have students write about their new name and why it suits them. - Jessica Rogers/Texas
After reading Chrysanthemum and doing various activities with their names-graphing, how much is your name worth (a = $.01, b = $.02), etc. each then made a coat or arms with their favorites-1) favorite color 2) favorite pet 3) family members 4) favorite book 5) favorite candy 6) favorite food. We hung them in the hallway after they were lightly colored for everyone to see.
Joanne Griffin - Texas
Chrysanthemum lends itself well to a working with words lesson. There are so many words within this name, ant, mum (also an opportunity for vocabulary), the, etc. It also has two digraph combinations ch- and th-. Teaching about the multiple sounds of ch are opportune - connect to Christmas. The sound of -y- in this name is also unusual. We look for other words that use the letter y in the same manner. The name is so much fun to say aloud. I use it for syllable identification and expression. There are many other phrases used in the book by Chrysanthemum's parents that children have never heard. This is also a great opportunity for additional vocabulary learning. Teri/Colorado
I make a graph at the beginning of the year, I have the students to put one letter in each square. We choose a color and color each person's name in to make it colorful. Next we compare the letters in each name. We compare longest, shortest, same, how much more, how much less, and I introduce even and odd to my first graders. - Karen Pyatt/SC
More Ideas From Teaching Heart and Links to other Pages!
We read Crysanthemum by Kevin Henkes on the first day of school. We talk about how important & special our names are. I usually do a fun art project using each child's name. One year we took black paper, I wrote each child's name with chalk and then they stuck down little pieces of paper to cover the chalk...it looked like a mosiac (kind of anyway...) Posted by Abs on 7/13/02
I use Chrysanthemum the first week of school, too. After we read it I give them an interview sheet to take home and interview their parents about how their names were chosen, what were you going to name me if I was a girl, who was I named after, etc. Then we share the results and everybody (including me) picks a new name for the afternoon. I write the name on name tags and everybody has to be called by their new name for the rest of the day. mjf/2
I do a name glyph the first day (of third grade). I write the students' names on sentence strips, and then they complete theglyph on these strips.
I was looking for a literature piece, and "Chrysanthemum" sounds perfect. I usually read "ON the day you were Born, but may savethat for the first day of another project I do right away. Thanks. Paula
we do a name glyph after reading Chrysanthemum, too. We add a little twist to it though. The name goes in a circle middle piece. Then the student glues petals around the circle (one petal for each letter in their name). They color craft sticks green and make the stem for the flower (one stem part-craft stick for each syllable in their name). They glue one leaf on the stem for each vowel in their name. I have a real flower box and put florist foam in the bottom covered up by easter grass. We then stick each flower in the flower box and place it on the window sill. Sharon1st/AL
Click for a Guided Reading Lesson
Click for a 1st Grade Guided Reading Lesson
After Reading Talk about Chrysanthemum's feelings. Everyone sits in a circle and you have a large paper cutout of a girl. Everyone gets the "girl" and wads or folds a piece of her. At the end, needless to say, she's in bad shape. Explain that every time they do this to her it's the same as saying something hurtful to her. Try to smooth her out and explain that even though she can be smoothed back out the wrinkles are still there, just like even though someone can apologize and be forgiven, the hurtful marks are still left on us. It was a big hit. I hope my explanation is clear, kind of hard to put into words.
Link this activity to OUR feelings and how we feel. Does anyone have any stories to share?
the Author's Site
Since the story is about Chrysanthemum's name, you might want to look up the names of your student's to find out what they mean.
Also, after we discussed the book, we also discussed how our parents came to give us our names and then also went on to discuss the names we wished we had been given. (Not my original idea. Someone here, on t.net, suggested it.) About a week into the new school year, we all got name badges and wrote the names we wanted to have, and called each other by those names all day! That was fun! I had lots of teachers do double takes when they read my name tag! (I was Ms. Lisa for a day!) ===>Sylvia/CA
First Names and what they mean
I just came back from A.C.Moore (a craft store in Jersey). Without even looking I stumbled upon unpainted wooden handprint shapes. At 40% off, they cost .15 each!! I also found 15 count packages of 1/2" wood cut hearts for .53 per package. Not sure what to do with these, I looked around further and picked up a flat wooden wreath, also on sale for $1.79. I'm going to have the kids paint their wood hand any color they choose and paint the small heart red. I'll write their names on the hands with a Sharpie marker and arrange them on the wreath with fingers pointing out. For a grand total of $5.55, I think this will make a lovely addition to the classroom door and a nice reminder of "The Kissing Hand" story!Barbara
I write all the students' names big on a large piece of manilla paper. Then the students outline one letter at a time with glue. They glue on fruit loops, different kinds of asta, beans, cheerios, etc. on each letter. Each letter has to be different. We hang them in the hall when we are finished. I have not had a problem with bugs because I don't ve them up for very long. I went to visit a student at her home one time and she had her decorated name hanging on her bedroom door! Hope this will help some. Rene
After we graphed our names by length, we figured out the halfway point for the name lengths...say it's 6 letters. Each child with a name longer than that had to find a partner with a name shorter than theirs. (Daniel can pair with Sue; Patricia can pair with Kevin, etc) Then I give them a sentence strip that says "______ is longer than _______." They write their names on the strip in the correct place, and draw a little picture of themselves. (You can also have their names pre-printed and just have them glue it to the strip.) I collected all the strips and used a hole punch and book rings to assemble them into a sentence strip book. They loved to read each others' names so much, we ended up making 2 other strip books: "_______ is shorter than _______" and "_______ is equal to ______."
Another day I took the names off of our first graph (their names had been written on 1" square manilla paper) and had them cut the letters apart. We glued the letters on an ABC graph to find out what letter was used the most in all the names of our class (total number of a's, b's, c's, etc.) Hope you can use these ideas... Posted by Barb on 8/24/02
We used this book last week and did the name graph as mentioned above. The next day I took out the linking cubes and gave all the students 10 cubes (our longest name is 8 letters)...first I let them just play with them, then they made a name train that was the same number of cubes as letters in their name. Then, we linked all the names together for a long train...they discovered it was longer than me. :) Finally, we counted the cubes and found our total to be 89. On the 89th day of school I'm going to give them a little treat. :) It was fun and they enjoyed working with the cubes. HTH - Rhonda
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