Friday, November 22, 2019

MY SHAPE IS SAM by Amanda Jackson & Lydia Nichols – A book about being yourself

It’s always wonderful to discover picture books that work on many different levels. Every time I read this book, new connections and thoughts crept into my mind. An excellent choice for a preschool or kindergarten classroom.

Summary from Amazon:

In a world where everybody is a shape and every shape has a specific job, Sam is a square who longs for softer corners, rounder edges, and the ability to roll like a circle. 

But everyone knows that squares don’t roll, they stack. At least that’s what everyone thinks until the day Sam takes a tumble and discovers something wonderful. He doesn’t have to be what others want or expect him to be.

With playful imagery, this story considers identity and nonconformity through the eyes of Sam, a square struggling to find his true place in the world.

Opening:     

Sam had four even sides.
Four pointy corners.
And like all other squares, he was a builder.


My Thoughts as a Writer:

This is a great book to study because it works on several different levels. There is a lot to consider about shapes and their properties, individuality, being yourself, being brave enough to do what you love, and persisting to reach a goal. It was refreshing that the conflict didn't come from Sam's friends making negative comments. The other shapes celebrated his accomplishments right along with him, even though he was doing something different. It was great to have such a positive feeling from a story. 

The illustrations are fun and I loved how the shapes came alive through their expressions. It’s clear that a lot of care was put into the design of this book, right down to the corners of the pages.


My Thoughts as an Educator:

As an educator, I'm always looking for good books about shapes and how they fit together. I really liked the message of being yourself. This book offers many possibilities for discussion, and provides great examples of how to put shapes together to create designs. Another great book for a library or classroom collection! It’s a nice follow up to a book I recently read to my class, Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson. 

Ages: 4-7

Grades: PreK – 2

Themes: shapes, individuality, persistence

Activities:

Draw/Write: Choose your favourite shape and make it your own! Add a face and other details to create a unique character. Write a few words or a sentence to explain what your shape can do!

Share: In the story, rolling makes Sam feel happy. What makes you feel happy? Share your ideas with your friends or your class if you like.  

STEM Challenge #1: Provide pattern blocks or assorted shapes. What designs can you make?

STEM Challenge #2: Provide squares. In the story, it says squares are good for measuring. How could you measure something using squares?

Compare & contrast: Read the book Scribble by Ruth Ohi. How is the shape art in this book different? What is the same?

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