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What's Up, What's Down?

Last updated Monday, March 31, 2008

Author: Lola Schaefer
Illustrator: Barbara Bash
Date of Publication: 2002
ISBN: 0060297573
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2008

Synopsis: from Amazon.com: To read this book, children must turn it sideways and then start at the bottom and follow the arrows to the top. Halfway through, they must turn it around and follow the arrows down. In doing so, readers will be rewarded with a fascinating combination of poetic text and artistic illustrations that clearly explain the organization of nature in our physical world. This is high art and a scientific classification that can be easily understood by young children. The book starts with the underbelly of a mole looking up surrounded by reddish-brown earth. Follow his gaze to roots growing in brown earth and then bright green grass. Layer upon layer, readers' eyes move upward to a toad, wildflowers, butterflies, a canopy of towering trees, birds, sky, and finally the moon. Turn the book around and come down through the clouds to the ocean waves, whales, seaweed, sea urchins, sponges, octopus, and fish, to the bottom of the sea.

Note to readers:
•  Note: This is supposed to make the kids think of what is above them (the sky, clouds, etc.) and what is below them (dirt, ants, etc.) There are instructions on how to read this book. Half way through you will turn the book upside down and read from the top down. This is like a game where the kids can guess what is on the next page while you’re reading.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you ever looked up into the sky? What do you see? (Clouds, airplanes, tall buildings)
•  Have you ever looked down? What do you see? (Ants, grass, sidewalk)
•  Imagine you’re a whale. Look down and imagine what you would see. Imagine what you would see if you looked up? (Water, light from the sky, a boat bottom)

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Is what you see if you look up during the day, the same as the night? How is it different?
•  When you are at the beach and look down, what do you see?
•  When you are in the ocean and you look down, what do you see?
•  What would you see if you were a fish swimming in the ocean looking up?
•  If you were on the moon, what would you see if you looked down? What would you see if you looked up? (Other planets–Mars, Pluto, more stars, black holes...)

Craft ideas:
•  Take a piece of paper and fold it in half lengthwise. Have the kids draw what they see above (at the beach, at the park, on the moon, in the ocean) on the top half. On the bottom half, have the kids draw what they see below.
•  Take a piece of paper and draw what they see above on one whole side of the paper. Turn the paper over and draw what they would see below on the whole side of the paper. For fun, imagine you’re a bird, a whale or an ant and draw what you expect to see.
•  Bring ahead option: Go to maps.live.com or google maps and input the address of the school you are volunteering at. Print out an aerial view of the school to show the kids and discuss how the school looks different when looking at it from above.

Special activities:
•  Have the kids stand up and call out items they see at eye level. Have the kids crouch down and call out items they see at eye level.
•  Before you return to the auditorium, go outside a little early. Have the kids look up and call out items they see above. Have the kids look down and call out items they see on the ground.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!