Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World
Written and Illustrated by Christy Hale
Published in 2018 by Roaring Brook Press
Grades PK – 6
Author/illustrator Christy Hale employs geographic terminology and cutouts to offer an inventive exploration of land and water forms in her latest nonfiction picture book. The text is as spare as it possibly could be, consisting of the name of common land and water forms, while the images speak volumes. Double page spreads explore the lines and shapes of how water and land meet. A pattern is established as the pages feature first a water form and then a related land form. For example, the opening spread depicts a blue lake surrounded by golden land. The lake is a cutout and the page turn shifts the focus, revealing a golden island surrounded by blue water.The presence of pirates, whales, tugboats, and beach umbrellas will surely invite close study. The back matter of this clever title offers foldout pages that reveal more information about these land and water forms and examples of where they can be located around the world, including a very large map. An obvious choice for units on geography and water, this title will also inspire creative image making.
Water and Land Forms Near You. Following a read aloud of Water Land, use Google Maps to view the bodies of water near to you and then moving out toward your nearest coast. Invite your students to use the terminology introduced in the book to label the land and water forms they see. If possible, visit a body of water near to your school. Ask your students to make sketches of what they observe. Discuss the difference between the aerial view offered in Google Maps and their view from on the ground. Examine the perspectives in Water Land. If time allows, collaborate with your art teacher to use print making techniques to turn their sketches into illustrations of this area.
Where Land Meets Water. Use Water Land to launch an exploration of shoreline habitats. If possible take a field trip to explore a shoreline near you (fresh water or ocean water). Equip students with digital cameras, iPad, and sketchbooks to record their observations of plant and animal life at the water’s edge. Collaborate with a local naturalist to learn more about the unique features of a shoreline environment. Suggested titles to expand this exploration include: Over and Under the Pond, High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs, Trout are Made of Trees, On the Way to the Beach, and Song of the Water Boatman and Other Poems.
Illustrating Land Forms. Discuss with your students how the cut outs in Water Land help them to visualize the land and water forms that they depict. Discuss other land forms not represented in the book and challenge your students to use art to depict and define these landforms. Provide a variety of materials so that students can use their creativity to full effect.
Exploring Cut Outs. Gather a collection of titles that use cut-outs / die-cut in their illustrations. Include titles such as Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s First the Egg and Lemons are Not Red, Petr Horacek’s Choo Choo, Claudia Rueda’s Huff & Puff, and Lizi Boyd’s Inside Outside. Read through the titles together, discussing what purposes the cut out serve and how they enhance the meaning of each book. Next provide students with a variety of art materials and invite them to play with using cut outs to tell a story or to explain a concept.
Storytelling. So much is happening in the imagery of Water Land. Provide your students with the opportunity to closely study these illustrations. Partner your students and create a rotating schedule so that students can select a page, work together to develop a storyline around the images on the page, and then tell the story orally to the rest of the class.
Worldbuilding. Ask your students to demonstrate their understanding of the land and water forms by creating a map. Students can work individually or in small groups to create a continent that includes all the land and water forms featured in the book. Consider providing students with interesting materials such as blue and yellow paint, and sand to create color and texture in their maps. Invite students to add details such as those included by Christy Hale. If you are working with older students, consider having them add additional landforms, such as mountains, valleys, canyons, hills, etc.; provide materials that will allow them to make their maps three dimensional.
Water Text Set. Include Water Land in a text set exploration of this important natural resource. Create an anchor chart with the class that gathers what students know and want to know about water. Read-aloud texts that explore this topic in a variety of ways including Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre, All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon, Rain School by James Rumford, One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss, A Drop Around the World by Barbara McKinney, A Cool Drink of Water by Barbara Kerley, A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder by Walter Wick, and Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul . After each read-aloud, return to your class anchor chart to have students add what they learned.
Vocabulary Text Set. Water Land could also be used in a text set of titles that explore vocabulary terms. Some suggested titles include: Carmine, A Little More Red, The Word Collector, A Tower of Giraffes: Animals in Groups, and Words. Consult with your local school or public librarian to find additional titles that feature vocabulary. Compare how each title presents and defines its featured words. Are the words conceptually related and how? This activity could serve as a precursor to students composing their own vocabulary centered text.
Boyd, L. (2013). Inside outside. New York: Chronicle.
Cole, H. (2003). On the way to the beach. New York: Greenwillow.
Horacek, P. (2008). Choo choo. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Kerley, B. (2006). A cool drink of water. National Geographic Children’s Books.
McKinney, B. (1998). A drop around the world. Dawn Publications.
Messner, K. (2017) Over and under the pond. Ill. by C.S. Neal. New York: Chronicle.
Morrison, G. (2006). A drop of water. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Niemann, C. (2016). Words. New York: Greenwillow.
Rueda, C. (2012). Huff & puff. New York: Abrams Appleseed.
Rumford, J. (2010). Rain school. Boston: HMH Books for Young Readers.
Sayre, A.P. (2008). Trout are made of trees. Ill. by K. Endle. Cambridge, MA: Charlesbridge.
Sidman, J. (2005). Song of the water boatman and other poems. Ill. by B. Prange. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Seeger, L.V. (2007). First the egg. New York: Roaring Brook Press.
Seeger, L.V. (2004). Lemons are not red. New York: Roaring Brook Press.
Sweet, M. (2005). Carmine, A little more red. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Wright, A. (2015). A tower of giraffes: Animals in groups. Cambridge, MA: Charlesbridge.
About Erika Thulin Dawes
Erika is a professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former classroom teacher, reading specialist, and literacy supervisor, she now teaches courses in children’s literature, early literacy, and literacy methods. Erika is the co-author of Learning to Write with Purpose, Teaching with Text Sets, and Teaching to Complexity.
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