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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Engaged Listeners

Second graders are listening to Puffling Patrol by Ted & Betsy Lewin. The husband and wife team have traveled so many places to learn about the natural world, and they share their experiences so wonderfully in word and art with readers. This 2012 book is based on their 2008 visit to Heimaey, an island off the coast of Iceland where thousands of puffins nest each year. Because the lights of the town confuse the young birds (the pufflings) as they take off from the high cliff, the townspeople rescue them from the streets and transport them to the ocean (where they will live for two years).

My students are enchanted with the book, most notably by three things. The first is the artwork. Both Ted's and Betsy's work illustrates the text, and the children quickly notice which were created by him and which by her. The second is the collective noun for puffins: raft. Before reading the book, I ask the students the terms that describe a group of cows, geese, fish, and sheep and then share the term raft. The final thing is the back matter that describes puffin characteristics, a volcanic eruption on the island, and the decline in the puffling population (most notably due to the decline in sand eels, due to the rising ocean temperature). The children sigh and make disappointed sounds when I read the statistics.

Next on the list to read to them: either Gorilla Walk or Elephant Quest by the Lewins.


  1. I loved learning that young puffins are called pufflings (and their collective noun is raft). It reminds me of first learning that baby porcupines are called porcupettes. All those wonderful words out there, waiting to be discovered!

  2. Love what you choose for each group and, like Joyce (above), love learning the words 'pufflings' and 'raft' - and also in the above comment, 'porcupettes'! ho!