Today, we read Balloons over Broadway by Melissa Sweet.
We read the book and created a character trait map on Tony Sarg. (Here is a Character trait map from Laura Candler.) He was very inventive, clever, and creative. There are tons of examples of his creativity and inventiveness throughout the book. After reading the book, they researched the Macy's Parade and designed their own balloon. My students really loved reading about the parade route and looking at the pictures of the balloon line-up on Macy's website. If you go to Melissa Sweet's website, you can download a discussion guide and activity kit for the book. I used the maze and the "design your own balloon" page from the activity kit.
I first read about this book from the blogs: Kid Lit Frenzy and Teach Mentor Texts.
Tomorrow we are going to read You Wouldn't Want to Sail on the Mayflower.
It describes life for the pilgrims, but focuses on all of the gross and unpleasant parts. Students always love it. I am going to follow it up by having them write a letter back home to England from the point of view of a Pilgrim describing their journey and that first winter. Once again here is the interactive letter writer from Read Write Think. Here is another one from abcya.com.