Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Critter Corner: Why Do Wolves Howl?

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Aug 29, 2013 8:00:00 AM

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Ask any child to pretend to be a wolf, and in addition to scampering around on all fours and growling, the child is likely to throw back his or her head and let out a mighty howl. But why do wolves howl? Scientists learned a little more about that recently, and the results were released last week in Current Biology.

howling wolves 75563236 StayerAs it turns out, part of the reason that wolves howl is for a particularly kid-friendly reason: they miss their friends! Scientists at the Wolf Science Center in Austria discovered that when they took individual wolves out on walks on a leash, the wolves left behind tended to howl. The scientists decided to try to find out why, and they discovered that the closer social relationship a particular wolf had to the wolf being taken on the walk, the more likely the wolf left behind was to howl. Likewise, if the wolf being taken for a walk was higher up in the pack—more popular—the likelier the left behind wolves were to howl.

The scientists wanted to know if the wolves left behind were feeling stressed by the departure of the wolf they were howling for, so they measured their levels of cortisol (the "stress hormone"). They found that cortisol levels were not elevated, so the wolves were probably howling more to communicate with the wolf that left and/or to express sadness or loneliness, than they were to be feeling stressed out or fearful due to the wolf's departure.

You can incorporate this fun fact into your next lesson that mentions wolves, perhaps if you do a unit on Little Red Riding Hood and use the Real World book Wolves in the Wild. It would also be a great opportunity to explain to your students that the nature of scientific knowledge is that it is always changing and being refined. When Wolves in the Wild was published, we didn't know that wolves missed their friends, and now we do!

If you're interested in reading the original article, the PDF is available here. To learn more about the Story World Real World series that offers a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, along with three related informational texts, including Wolves in the Wild, click the book cover below to visit the web page, or click the information sheet to download it and learn about key features of the series. Happy howling!

5337 Wolves in the Wild Cover 180  New Call-to-Action

Photo credit: Stayer

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Topics: Story World, Real World, Critter Corner, Animals

Critter Corner: It's Puffin Time!

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Aug 22, 2013 8:00:00 AM

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describe the imageIt's the time of year when baby puffins start leaving the nest! Puffins living in Canada get a little help from the Puffin and Petrel Patrol.

"The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s Newfoundland and Labrador (CPAWS-NL) chapter launched the annual Puffin and Petrel Patrol Tuesday night," reports Andrew Robinson in the St. John's Telegram. St. John's is the capital and largest city in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, where the puffins live.

“One of the main reasons we’re finding young, juvenile puffins on our highways, roads, and yards is because they’re attracted to artificial light,” said Suzanne Dooley, co-executive director for CPAWS-NL.

“They use the moon for guidance, so on nights (where) the moon isn’t clear, when they leave their boroughs at night ... they end up coming towards street lights, business lights, (and) homeowner lights on the land.”

The Patrol searches for and rescues the baby puffins before they have a chance to come to harm on the road and releases them into a safe area of the wilderness.

Because Puffin Patrol season coincides with the beginning of the school year, it's a great chance to kick off the year by teaching children about volunteering, conservationism, and their favorite topic: animals!

You can introduce them to the puffin through our Zoozoo Animal World book Puffin, which is part of the Arctic Habitat Set. Click the image below to learn more about the book.

Arctic Puffin Cover

Photo credit of puffin (right): CPS Photos

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, K-2 Literacy, Zoozoo Animals, Critter Corner, World Knowledge, Animals, Zoozoo Animal World

Hameray's Critter Corner: Download a FREE Chameleon Coloring Page!

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Aug 1, 2013 8:00:00 AM

critter corner logoToday's Critter Corner focuses on a favorite: LIZARDS! Who doesn't like a scampery, skittery reptile? With a lizard lesson, you can combine the factual with the fantastic! This lesson comes with a FREE downloadable coloring page of a chameleon whipping out its tongue! The lesson can be spaced out over a few days' time, if necessary.

Lesson Part 1:

Ask children what they know or believe about lizards. Write the "facts" on the board or on a large piece of paper in the first of three columns. The remaining two will be for when you divide that information into "fact" or "fiction." Some things that they may believe may end up in the "fiction" column at the end of the lesson (e.g., they may believe that lizards are slimy).

Lesson Part 2:

Read a narrative text with the children that features a lizard prominently. One book you might choose could be Little Red Lizard, part of the Kaleidoscope Collection. Ask the children questions about things that the lizard does in the book—whether they think lizards will really do those things. Using examples from Little Red Lizard, you could ask whether lizards really come in the house (sometimes!), whether they really eat flies (many do!), and whether they will really sit on your pillow (probably not, unless they are a pet!). You could either have your questions and the correct answers (gathered from the internet) to go with your book ready ahead of time or you could make an activity of looking the answers up together.

Little Red Lizard inside FINAL 3  Little Red Lizard inside FINAL 16

Lesson Part 2:

Read with the children an informational text on lizards, such as the Kaleidoscope Collection's book Lizards. Sample pages from Lizards are shown below, so you can get an idea of the kinds of facts that will be good to collect for your chart. Explain to the children that while, in a fiction book, some things can be true and others can be untrue, in a nonfiction book, everything is true.

Lizards inside spreads FINAL 6  Lizards inside spreads FINAL 13

Lesson Part 3:

Take your facts from both the fiction and the nonfiction book, and your fictions from the fiction book, and add them to the correct column of the chart. You can ask children if they remember which things go in which place.

Lesson Part 4:

Make an activity of looking up the information the children suggested at the beginning of the lesson and seeing whether it should fall in the "fact" or "fiction" column.

Lesson Part 5:

Let the children complete the coloring page below, either coloring it to match the chameleon on pages 8–9 of Lizards or you can show them some pictures of some brightly colored, fantastic-looking chameleons, and tell them about how chameleons can be pretty much any color, so they can be creative!

- Tara Rodriquez

lizard coloring page

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, K-2 Literacy, Critter Corner, Kaleidoscope Collection, Animals, Creative Activities

Hameray's Critter Corner - Elephant Lesson Plan!

Posted by Sarah Levin on Apr 5, 2013 2:50:00 PM

Critter's Corner Logo

We love when teachers find creative extensions for their lessons plans, especially when they include making arts and crafts animals! Extending your shared or guided reading lesson with a fun post-reading activity is a great way to reinforce what each student has read while offering an opportunity for oral language interactions.  In the following example, we show a way to add some fun to an elephant lesson. 

The Lesson Plan:  A unit on elephants for small or whole group.  Reading level K-1.

Resource:  Elephant by Claire Vial & Graham Meadows, part of the Zoozoo Into the Wild nonfiction.

Post-Reading Activity:  Set up the activity below in your literacy center or do as a shared classroom activity.


elephants use their trunks and tusks

The above excerpt from the book, "Elephant," by Claire Vial & Graham Meadows, shows how elephants use their tusks and trunk in everyday life. As you read together, note the different ways that elephants interact with their world.


Extension Activity:


elephant arts and crafts


  • 1 paper plate per student with a hole cut in the middle

  • construction paper (this can be pre-cut into shapes for younger children)

  • scissors (if the shapes are not pre-cut)

  • gray paint or pastels

  • glue

  • markers, pens, pastels, crayons, or colored pencils for decorating

  • have each student bring an old sock from home (optional)


Depending on how comfortable your kids are with scissors, you can either have them cut out the ears, tusks, and eyes themselves (safety scissors not pictured) or pre-cut them before class.  You can even substitute googly eyes or simply have them draw on the tusks and eyes if you want. Feel free to make this project your own!

elephant arts and crafts 2
Color in or paint the plate and the eyes.  In this example, I've used gray construction paper for the ears, so I don't have to color that in too.


elephant lesson plan plate

Glue the eyes, tusks, and ears onto the plate.




elephant lesson plan finished

Now, the really fun part!  I'm using an old sock in this picture for the trunk, but bare hands work just as well.  Voilà!   You have your elephant, complete with a trunk!



*Extra Credit*

Want to really tie-in the elephant with the reading?  Use some of your leftover art supplies to make active parts of the story.  In the picture below, I've made a tree and little pond so that the "elephant" can use its "big trunk to drink." 

elephant lesson plan extra


To read an entire book from the Zoozoo Into the Wild series, please click here:

Tiger Nonfiction Book Zoozoo Into The WIld
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Topics: Zoozoo Animals, Lesson Plan, Critter Corner

Hameray Herald: March 2013 Issue

Posted by Bernard Yin on Mar 29, 2013 12:21:00 AM

The New Oral Language Development Series is Released

Hameray's new Oral Language Readers

We are pleased to announce the recent release of Hameray's new Oral Language Development Series (OLDS), which is designed to support oral language development through interaction with text. Created after three years of intensive research, this program supports Common Core language standards by providing opportunities to practice simple, compound and complex sentence structures with increasing levels of difficulty. OLDS is a collaboration between Hameray, the Hewlett Foundation and the wonderful educators at the New Teacher Center. More details about the Oral Language Development Series can be found HERE.


The Joy Cowley Classroom Giveaway Announced

Hameray's Joy Cowley Giveaway

Mrs. Wishy-Washy fans! Nominate your classroom for the chance to win The Joy Cowley Classroom Giveaway. Prize: Ninety K-2 Leveled Readers, 3 Audio CDs, & 1 set of Finger Puppets ($400 Value). Click HERE to learn more details and to enter for your chance to win.


Celebrating Animals & Learning with Informational Text

An animal Lover? Check out our weekly installment of Critter Corner. Learn facts about some of the most interesting creatures around and pick up a few great informational topics that you can share with your students. What kid doesn't like Arctic Foxes? BONUS Animal Fun courtesy of Hameray author Rhonda McDonald who shared this video of the Buffalo Zoo's popular new ambassador, a baby polar bear. Watch the video (above) for 10:33 minutes of pure polar cuteness! Rhonda has a soft spot for polar critters and Hameray recently published her book: Polar Bears.


Kid Fuel: Get A Regular Dose of Inspiration

Kids Can Do It!

Kids inspire and if you haven't seen the remarkable story of Conner and Cayden Long, prepare to be inspired! These two boys were named Sportskids Of the Year for Sports Illustrated Kids, and with good reason. Cayden was born with hypertonic cerebral palsy, which has left him wheelchair-bound and unable to communicate through speech. Read our spotlight on this amazing story HERE and keep an eye on our Facebook profile where we love to feature great kid moments.


Yes, Now You Can Flip Through Our Books!

Flip Book

Get to know our materials better! Flip through sample books from any of our series. Click on the image above and explore our flipbooks. This is a fun and easy way to access many useful resources in a paperless way!


The Monthly Round Up is a compilation of the interesting things we discovered and shared on the Hameray Blog, Pinterest, and Facebook Pages in March. If you liked what you read, sign up to receive our monthly e-newsletter: The Hameray Herald. Click the image below to subscribe:




Tell us what you think! Share your comments below or email us at info@hameraypublishing.com with any ideas, suggestions or general feedback you'd like us to know!

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Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, Common Core, Critter Corner, Oral Language Development, Animals, Hameray Herald, Kids Can Do It, Language Standards

Hameray's Critter Corner - Meet The Crocodile!

Posted by Sarah Levin on Mar 22, 2013 8:24:00 AM


Today we explore the world of the Crocodile!  These amazing creatures have mouths full of teeth and are closer in genetics to birds and dinosaurs (extinct, of course!) than any other animals on Earth! Crocodiles like to live in tropical climates where they can swim in fresh water.  Because of this,  crocodiles can be found in multiple parts of the world that meet these requirements, including Asia, Australia, Africa, and America.

crocodile predator


Crocodiles use the natural camouflage of their thick, muddy-colored skin to blend in with their surroundings, while their smooth underbelly, streamlined body, and webbed feet help them swim quickly.  A crocodile won't chase his meal too far.  They are "ambush predators," who prefer to wait, blending in with their surroundings, until their prey happens by.  Then they will burst forward with sudden speed to snatch it.  Although crocodiles eat mostly fish, birds, and other animals in their environment, they still remain a threat to humans, so if you see one: Stay away!  

Don't believe us?  Check out this huge animal, all the way from Green Island, Australia, who is one of the biggest crocodiles in captivity!  Notice that, despite his substantial size, he is quick when going after a big chunk of meat the zoo keepers are offering him and his powerful jaws snap shut with an audible "thud." You wouldn't want to meet him in the wild if he was hungry!


*Animal Poetry Bonus*

Has your classroom heard the wonderful poem from the book, Alice in Wonderland,  by Lewis Carroll? 

How Doth The Little Crocodile

How doth the little crocodile

Improve his shining tail,

And pour the waters of the Nile

On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin,

How neatly spreads his claws,

And welcomes little fishes in

With gently smiling jaws!


What are your students' favorite animal poems?  Let us know in the comments section!


Do your students want to learn all about he crocodile? Check out the book, Crocodile, by Lee Waters:


cover big

See an entire book sample from the Zoozoo Animal (Killer Whale Book) by clicking here.


Sign up for our FREE Hameray newsletter here and keep up to date on all your favorite titles, giveaways, and more:





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Topics: Zoozoo Animals, Critter Corner, Animals

Hameray's Critter Corner - Meet The Barracuda!

Posted by Sarah Levin on Mar 14, 2013 12:00:00 PM

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This is "B" Week for the Letter Buddies, so we decided to make Hameray's Critter Corner all about an animal that starts with the letter "B."  Which animals that start with the letter "B" do your students like to learn about?  Let us know in the comments section.

Beware the fearsome Barracuda! This creature is not so cuddly and has the huge teeth to prove it!

8105 Fish Barracuda Jetty Kapalai Mouth Opened P9150012tkcrpsm

 When hunting, Barracudas hide to surprise their prey and can reach speeds up to 27 mph for a short period of time when they rush out of their hidey-holes to grab a tasty fish.  They are attracted to the light that reflects off the scales of their natural prey, so if you're swimming in an area where Barracudas like to live, don't wear anything shiny, like a watch or bracelet.  Although they seldom attack people, they've been known to cause some serious damage when they do.

You may be surprised to learn that not all smaller fish end up as a snack for the Barracuda.  In this video by Robert Yin, you'll see long, thin, little fish called, Cleaner Wrasse.  Notice how the Barracuda stays perfectly still and lets them dart among his knife-like teeth, picking at parasites and little bits of dry skin.  This is what's called a "mutualist" relationship, where two creatures (who might have had a very different relationship had they not been useful to each other) work in harmony, each benefiting in a different way.  

To learn more about the Barracuda, check out the book, Spines, Stingers, and Teeth, by Elizabeth Cook, with photography by Robert Yin.

Barracuda Book  


 Read a sample book from the Underwater Encounters series here:

Hide & Sneak Sample Book


And, request a 2013 Hameray K-8 Catalog (click the image below):

Hameray 2016 Catalog Request

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Topics: Critter Corner, Animals, Underwater Encounters

Hameray's Critter Corner - Meet The Arctic Fox!

Posted by Sarah Levin on Mar 7, 2013 12:52:00 PM

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If you're a teacher or parent, you already know that there's nothing kids love more than animals! At Hameray, we love animals too and feature them in our books as a method to not only teach children about how different species live and play, but also as a path to the exploration of the entire world.

In this spirit, we have created the "Critter Corner," where we will highlight animals and stories that feature animals. Which animals is your class studying? How do animals make learning fun at your school? Please feel free to tell us your classroom's favorite animals and we might just feature them at the "Critter Corner!"

Arctic Fox 1Today's animal is the Arctic Fox.  This amazing little creature sports a thick, pure-white or gray coat that not only keeps it warm, but also acts as camouflage in its snowy environment. The Arctic Fox's thick, bushy tail is not only used for balance, but also as a built-in blanket when the weather is especially chilly.  Primarily a carnivore (although they do enjoy vegetables from time to time), the Arctic Fox hunts rodents, fish, and will sometimes even follow around Polar Bears to snack on their leftovers!  


For more fun facts about the Arctic Fox, please check out "Arctic Fox," by Lee Waters, from the Zoo Zoo Animal World Collection here:  Arctic Fox




Here's a fun video from the BBC that shows how baby Arctic Foxes learn by playing!



For more great titles from Hameray, please check out our catalog by clicking here: 


Hameray 2016 Catalog Request
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Topics: Zoozoo Animals, Critter Corner, Animals

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