Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Mitten: Compare and Contrast

I am a huge fan of Jan Brett - her illustrations are amazing - their attention to detail and all the background research she does to make her designs authentic make her books unique and captivating! Jan leads her readers through her books with side panel illustrations that show what happened on the page before and what is coming next! Each page is extraordinary!

I have used many copies of her book, "The Mitten," over the years with all ages of children - from little ones in Preschool all the way to older students in primary grades.  There are so many lessons that can be planned and shared around this timeless story... you can focus on the parts of the story, beginning, middle and end, as well as on the use of descriptive, interesting language. Examining stories and discussing them helps children learn what makes a great story so that they can use these strategies down the road when they begin writing.

"The Mitten" is actually a retelling of an old Ukranian folk tale - I have another version by Alvin Tresselt that I like to use with my children to compare the different versions of the story. We chart how they are the same and how they are different, which animals appear in each story and in which order. They take so much interest in the story and get so involved in checking out all the details!

You can find lots of resources on the internet to use in retelling each of these stories - coloring cards and outlines to make all sorts of mitten projects. There are great black-line illustrations for the Jan Brett version at I couldn't find one for the other version but it would be fun to make!

Have your children work on a way of retelling each story and ordering the sequences of events - it helps them with comprehension! You could do a comparative sequencing with character cards or a Venn diagram to sort it all out - all have met with great success with my kids!

Have fun!

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