Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Giant's Sneeze

With Thanksgiving around the corner, our school walls are covered with beautiful fall and holiday-themed artwork. It makes me realize how thankful I am for my artistic coworkers.

One I’m particularly thankful for is Susan Joyer who loves art, loves kids and loves children’s literature. That is a winning combination in my book, in fact that winning combination is in one of my books—The Giant’s Sneeze

I wrote this story to give my students an entertaining way to practice their “ch” sounds, a fairly common speech error. Since my artistic talents are limited, Susan Joyer volunteered to illustrate the story so we could both use it with our students to encourage pre-reading skills along with articulation.

Speech and reading skills are interdependent and children make leaps toward literacy when those skills are taught together. It so happens, this practice fits in nicely with one of the Common Cores Standards—Reading: Foundational Skills (RF.1.3) where students are expected to,

“Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs (two letters that represent one sound).”

Like “ch” for example.

I had a chance to read our book to a couple of classes yesterday. It was fun to watch the kids’ enthusiastic response to Susan’s illustrations and to the story. They chimed right in when the giant gave his mighty warning of several “ch” sounds before each sneeze. They laughed at the blustering sneeze-breeze that turned milk into cheese and scattered millions of bees. They were especially entranced with the honey tornado caused by the gusty sneeze when it, “rounded up the scattered bees, and funneled their honey far into the seas.”
Marcia Douglas' Class - some are showing how to make the "ch" sound.

Gabe, one of the first grade students, wondered if the giant put bread on his honey. That sparked some lively discussions about what the honey tornado might look like with thick slices of bread stuck to the sides. By the end of the story, the students had no problem identifying the sound represented by “ch” and they had no trouble showing me how to articulate the sound clearly. We’ll probably need to review the information after the holiday break, but that should be an easy job. I’ve already heard students say, “Read it again, read it again!”

Thanksgiving will be here soon. I can almost smell the turkey cooking and apple cider simmering on the stove. There will be ten of us around our table and I’m grateful for each one. When I return to work on the following Monday, fall decorations will start coming down and winter snowflakes and snowmen will begin to make an appearance. My Thanksgiving attitude will linger as I watch the transformation brought about by many of my coworkers who use their artistic talents to create an inviting learning environment for our students, and an inviting place to go to work each day. And I feel especially grateful to Susan Joyer for using her artistic talents to bring The Giant’s Sneeze to life.

Happy Thanksgiving! May it be filled with good food, friends and family.


  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! I think reading to kids is wonderful! Being a home-schooled kid, my mom and older sister read to me and my other siblings tons when we were little. I am so thankful for adults who read to kids! (And, I just turned my first published book into an audio book, which is the next best thing for kids who need some help following along still!)

    1. Congratulations on you audio book! I have students who love to read along with them & they certainly can build skills.

  2. I am a parent of child with a speech challenge and I greatly appreciate your book and the concept behind it. I have always read to my children and as a classroom volunteer have witnessed first hand what a difference this makes. Thank you for sharing your wonderful book. Best wishes to you!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Best wishes to you and your child. I hope all goes well as you both face those challenges.

  3. What a wonderful book. I'm so glad that you shared it on the Kid Lit Blog Hop! Gabe had a wonderful question and I love the picture of the students making the "ch" sound. It is fantastic when you find an artist to bring your vision to life. Congratulations and happy Thanksgiving!