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A Photographic Fantasy
Begin by reading in a whispered voice as the children capture the concerned mood of the animals when they become aware of a stranger in the woods. A collective sigh will fill your classroom when they find out who or what the stranger really is. Stranger in the Woods, which is subtitled as a “photographic fantasy," is written and created by Carl Sams II and Jean Stoick. It is a beautifully illustrated winter story for ages preschool through third grade. Use for a winter theme or on a snowy day.
Use Stranger in the Woods-inspired activities to do a sequencing assignment and to discuss ways to help animals in winter.
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After Reading the First Time
Begin a discussion.
Which animal was the first to notice that something was different in the woods? Why did the fawn say that he listens to wind blowing, the leaves rustling and the sounds of the woods? Which animals were too busy or afraid to take the lead in finding the stranger? Which two animals were the first to come face-to-face with the stranger? How will the children know when to stop feeding the animals? List the signs of spring.
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Preparation and Materials:
You'll need white construction paper.
Prepare slips of paper with an animal name on each piece of paper. The animals in the book are: blue jay, Mother Doe, fawn, owl, dove, muskrat, buck, squirrel, porcupine, rabbit, chickadee, mouse, cardinal. You may duplicate some of the animals so that there is one for each student. Put one slip of paper with the word “snowman" on it.
Give every student a piece of white construction paper. Each student may choose one slip of paper from the container. The assignment is to draw and color a picture of the animal. Make it almost as large as the paper. The students may look at the book to get a better look at the animals.
Place the person with the snowman to one side of the room. Then read the book again and as you mention each person’s animal they should come up and “act out" the animal’s reaction to the stranger in the woods.
Then have everyone sit down and ask them to put the story in sequence without you reading it. The blue jay begins. Each person who comes up should tell what his or her animal did.
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Animals in Winter
How do animals prepare for winter? Some curl up for a long sleep, some migrate and some adapt.
Depending on where you live, discuss with your class how you can feed the animals that are in your area. Also discuss safety precautions to take when around animals in nature. There are also tips for what the animals should be given. Some food can do more harm than good. Make sure there is water, especially for the birds, and that the water is not frozen over. They need it to drink and bathe.
Here is a great website to use: The National Wildlife Federation (http://www.nwf.org/) has tips for what to do at home, school and in your local area.
You may want to build a bird feeder. There are many ways to do it. Decide what is best for your yard. Can it hang from a tree or does it need to sit on a tree stump or picnic table? That will determine how you make it.
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Stranger in the Woods showed how two kids stayed involved in nature even in the winter. Stranger in the Woods-related activities may inspire some of your students to do the same. Call you local Wildlife Federation office for other tips. They may even be able to provide a guest speaker to visit your classroom.
Resource: The National Wildlife Federation http://www.nwf.org/
Image Source: www.barnesandnoble.com