Sunday Salon: A Busy Year – First Grade Thoughts


I love the author/illustrater Leo Lionni. I use many of his books in my classroom. The book, A Busy Year, is a story about the months, seasons, and friendship. The synopsis on Barnes and Noble states:

Here is Leo Lionni’s joyous celebration of the rhythms of nature. A tree changes month by month, watched over by twin mice who admire her on their frequent visits. “Oh, Woody, you are beautiful!” they exclaim in May, when her leaves are full and blossoming. And at Christmas, after a full year of friendship, the mice and tree rejoice together, looking forward to the next busy year.

a busy yearI often use this book at the beginning of the school year because we are studying trees, seasons, and working on building our community of learners. I have a variety of written responses that I use with this book. I don’t use them all, I use whichever one fits in best with our current study. However, all of the responses have the children going back into the text to show support for their thoughts.

The response I was using this year focuses on how the twin mice (Winnie and Williw) and the tree (Woody) are good friends. After reading the story, the kids and I work on creating a list of “signs of friendship” in the story. Well this year’s group of first graders had a much different perspective of the story compared to past classes.

One example, is how the class reacted to the August pages in the book.

August was vacation month. The twins went to the seashore with their parents, but first they went to say good-bye to Woody. Woody was sound asleep. “Let’s not wake her,” Willie say. They hung a note from her bark. It said: “Going to the shore. Goodbye Woody!”

Usually, the kids add this part to our list of signs of friendship. This year’s group made the observation that this was not a sign of friendship because the mice had hung this note by nailing it to the tree (you can the nail in the illustration)! They pointed out that was not a good thing to do to Woody.

Another example from this year’s group is from the September page. In the picture, Woody’s tree is full of big, red apples.

When they returned in September, Woody’s branches were full of fragrant, juicy fruit. “How busy you’ve been!” the twins exclaimed.

“Take as many as you want,” said Woody, and the twins ate their bellies full. Nothing had ever tasted so good.

I looked at my class, and several of their faces had a look of horror! I asked them what they were thinking and they said that this page was so gross! You don’t eat parts of your friend! Usually my kids say how nice it was for Woody to share the apples with the mice.

I’ve never had kids react to A Busy Year this way – I just love it! And now that I think about it, I agree with this year’s class.  Each day I eagerly look forward to our book discussions. I am having so much fun with this group of kiddos!

Check out Sunday Salon to join in or to read other Sunday Salon posts. Have a good week!


6 Responses

  1. Hello, Nan! Did you celebrate Banned Books Week with your students?

  2. I always loved Leo Lionni. This is one of his I never heard of!

  3. Don’t you just love how kids surprise you! I find that all the time in my library!

  4. I’ve never even heard of this author…

  5. Peter – I did not celebrate banned book week, only because we had so much scheduled this week. The kids also had 2 early dismissal days so teachers could meet with parents for parent/teacher conferences.

    Jeane – It’s a cute one, and now I’ll never look at it the same way again.

    Debnance – I just love having kids share their thoughts and ideas. I bet you hear some great ones in your library!

    Amanda – I also love Swimmy, A Color of his Own, and Frederick.

  6. I never heard or read this author before.

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