Read and Discuss Chrysanthemum
After reading Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes aloud to the children, ask the following discussion questions.
- How did Chrysanthemum feel about her name in the beginning of the book?
- What happened that made Chrysanthemum change the way she felt about her name?
- How would it make you feel if someone teased you about your name?
- When Chrysanthemum’s class met Mrs. Twinkle, everything changed for Chrysanthemum. What did Mrs. Twinkle think about Chrysanthemum’s name?
- Does anyone have a favorite doll or stuffed animal? What is its name? Did you chose the name? Why?
- Does anyone know why their parents chose their name? Is anyone named after a relative? Encourage the children to ask their parents why they chose their name.
For other excellent discussion ideas for Chrysanthemum, see Chrysanthemum, Chrsanthemum, Chrysanthemum by Laurie Patsalides right here at Bright Hub.
Compare and Contrast
If possible, bring in two or three potted plants including a chrysanthemum (“mum”). Tell the children the names of the plants and allow them to touch and smell the plants. Ask them how the plants are the same and how they are different. Are the leaves pointy or rounded? Are the edges jagged or smooth? Do the plants have flowers or not? Are the flowers the same color or different colors? This is a great activity to boost vocabularies by focusing on describing words. After comparing and contrasting the plants, have each child tell which plant they like the best and why.
If you are unable to use potted plants, pictures can work as well. By accessing images here you’ll have oodles of photos from which to choose.
Print Awareness and Phonological Awareness
In Chrysanthemum, Victoria points out that Chrysanthemum’s name is spelled with thirteen letters. This is a great opportunity to explain that words are made up of letters. Give the children a copy of their names in printed form and ask them to count the letters. By a show of hands, ask how many children have two letters in their names. How many have three letters? How many have four? Children with either especially short or long names tend to get a particular kick out of this activity.
You can extend this activity by explaining that words are made up of word parts called syllables. While counting letters involves using our eyes, counting syllables means we use only our ears. Clap out the name “Chry-san-the-mum” and explain that Chrysanthemum has four syllables. Make four large signs with the numbers one, two, three, and four on each one. Have the class help you clap out each child’s name. Then send him or her to stand beside the sign with the appropriate number of syllables. If the group starts to get wiggly as this lesson progresses, you can switch it up and have the kids jump for each syllable instead of clap.
A fun craft tie-in for Chrysanthemum is to plant seeds in small pots. Have each child decorate the pots with paint or markers prior to planting the seeds. Make sure they write their names as part of the decorations. This will give you one more opportunity to have them count the letters.
Watching the seeds grow over the next few weeks will be the perfect way to cap off your discussion of this endearing book.