Amber Brown Wants Extra Credit

A Listening Library Study Guide Amber Brown Wants Extra Credit by Paula Danziger With her mother’s boyfriend Max entering her life and her school wor...
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A Listening Library Study Guide

Amber Brown Wants Extra Credit by Paula Danziger With her mother’s boyfriend Max entering her life and her school work beginning to slip, Amber Brown feels she should get extra credit, not just at school, but for all the problems life is handing her.

THEMES adjusting to change, problem-solving, parents, divorce, humor, responsibility

Middle Grade Unabridged Audio

I. PRE-TEACHING A. Have the class define and discuss these terms: certificate, computer, hereby, doable, captive, madwoman, cartridge, invisible, plurals, strangled, massacre, critical, gory, gorilla, ventriloquist, restaurants, ketchup, fungus, curable, intentionally, patient, attendance, smirks, motorcycle, handlebars, engine, grocery, journeys, definitely, bribe, chocolate, vanilla, basically, lobbing, ingredients, refrigerator, yesterday, marshmallows, individual, retching, galaxy, divorced, virus, carnival, reasonable, disposal, minuscule, complicated, flexible, cherish, initial, attitude

B. Before beginning the story, discuss with the class the following questions: 1. Do you have a step-parent? What was it like when this person first came into your life? What is it like now? Why is it sometimes hard to accept a step-parent? 2. Have you ever had trouble in school because of personal problems? Why are the two so closely related? 3. What are some major changes that have come into your life? How have you coped with them?

II. PRESENTATION A. Understanding the Story: 1. Begin with Chapters 1-5: What is Amber’s mother mad at her about? What does Amber think it’s really about? How does her mother’s crying affect Amber? What does Amber’s mother insist they do that Sunday evening? How does Amber react to this? 2. Advance to Chapters 6-11: What is Amber most afraid of happening when she meets Max? What bothers her about the dinner at the restaurant? What excuses does she have for not doing her homework? What is the book report supposed to look like? Why does her teacher have Amber stay after school? Why won’t she let her do extra credit work? 3. Complete the story with Chapters 12-17: Why does Amber wish Max weren’t so nice? Why does she tell him her parents are getting back together? At what point is she beginning to like Max? How does she

react when her father calls? What does her mother tell her about changes? Why is Amber able to do better at school?

B. For Discussion: 1. Amber feels she should get extra credit to bring her grades up. What does the teacher say extra credit mean? How is this term used at the end of the story? Why do you think the author chose it for the title? What “extra credit” does Amber get? 2. Amber’s mother says Max is sneaky and Amber agrees. Do they mean the same thing? Why or why not? 3. Compare Amber’s father with Max. How are the games they each play with her different? How do they each handle Amber when she’s upset? In what ways are they alike? 4. Why does Hannah Burton make rude remarks and smirk at Amber? Do you think Hannah might be lonely? If she wanted to make friends with Amber, do you think she could? What would she need to do? 5. At the end of the story, Amber’s mother says, “Everyone in the world has to grow and change in some ways... No one gets a gold star for doing what they should be doing.” What does she means by this? How does this help Amber understand and handle all the changes going on?

III. EXTENDING THE LESSON Give students the opportunity to work with partners, groups, the whole class, or alone.

INTERDISCIPLINARY CONNECTIONS: A. Language Arts: 1. Have students brainstorm a change they’d like to make in the classroom or at school, choose one and do some non-judgmental brainstorming. Tell them to contribute ideas as quickly as they pop into their heads without anyone commenting, either praising or criticize them. Assign a student to write them on the blackboard. Set a minimum number for the ideas, such as 25, and see how many they can come up with. Follow up with a discussion on why it’s important to get all ideas out before making comments about them. Talk about

which ones are the best, which ones could be combined, which ones could be built upon. 2. To avoid saying “Wagons ho,” Amber says, “snogaw.” Have students write words backwards and then make up stories or poems from these backwards words. They might write their own names or the names of friends backwards and then draw cartoons of the characters who would have those names. 3. Have students write about changes in their lives and how they’ve gotten through them. Have them share these with the class. 4. Have students think of something they know how to do and write an instruction sheet on how to do it. They could then have someone in class follow the instructions to see if they work and make adjustments. They might bring in sample instruction sheets from home and discuss them. What’s hard about writing instructions? 5. Because this book is part of a series, the author has to work in information about the earlier books for those who haven’t read them, but at the same time not bore those who have. Have students listen to how she does this and decide if she succeeds.

B. Art and Music: 1. Have students select background music that might be appropriate to some of the scenes. They might find someone singing “School Days” or theme music from TV shows or cartoons about school. 2. Have students make a bulletin board about the story. They could write some papers and put a bad grade on them, include a note from a teacher, add brownie recipes, Barbie dolls in various costumes, a stuffed gorilla, a sample “Dad book” with photographs, or other items mentioned in the story. 3. Have students take the teacher’s book report idea and design a cereal box about a book they have read, or perhaps a cereal box as if it were designed by a famous artist like Van Gogh, Monet, or Picasso. Display these in class.

C. Social Studies: 1. Amber’s father tells her he visited Euro Disney. Have a group of students do some research on this European

version of Disney World and give a report. Students who have been to Disney World or Disneyland might make comparisons. 2. Amber’s friend Tiffani is having troubles with her little brother and her Barbie dolls. Students might enjoy finding out about the history of Barbie dolls. The class could hold a debate on whether or not playing with Barbie dolls is good for youngsters. 3. Brandi is doing her project on American Sign Language. Have students research ASL, how it developed, and teach the class to sign a few simple phrases. 4. Have students find Paris, France on a map of the world and learn about this city.

D. Science and Math:

Theme Related Reading and Listening: Listening Library offers additional titles that explore similar themes and content areas. Use the information below to purchase audiobooks from our extensive list of awardwinning and popular titles to enhance the learning experience for students in every classroom or library. More titles in the Amber Brown series are available from Listening Library. See the catalog for a complete listing of these titles. Other titles students may enjoy:

1. At the supermarket, Max and Amber play “guess the weight.” Have students try doing this with a parent or other adult—pick up an item and see if they can guess how much it weighs. You might organize this as a classroom activity. Have a scale available to check the answers. 2. Have students learn to read a recipe and measure out ingredients for a special treat, like brownies. 3. Amber’s father tells her he loves her “to the farthest galaxy.” Have students find out the distance between stars and galaxies and how they are measured.

• • • •

Chet Gecko - Private Eye: The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse by Bruce Hale Francine, Believe it or Not by Marc Brown Stage Fright on a Summer Night, Magic Tree House #25 by Mary Pope Osborne Viking Ships at Sunrise, Magic Tree House #15 by Mary Pope Osborne

USING AUDIOBOOKS IN THE CLASSROOM When it comes to teaching today’s students, sometimes books are just not enough. In an increasingly technological and information-savvy world, the ability to read will be critical to every child’s success. The value of audiobooks as a learning tool in the education of children is widely recognized by experts. Audiobooks bring written text to life, adding an interactive quality that can ignite a child’s imagination. They encourage reading by broadening vocabularies, stretching attention spans, and fostering critical-thinking skills. Listening to audiobooks in the classroom can effectively enrich the reading experience and aid your students in understanding and appreciating literature, history, theatre arts, and more!

For a FREE school and library catalog of Listening Library’s unabridged productions:

• • • • •

Call TOLL FREE 1-800-733-3000 FAX us at 1-800-940-7046 email us at [email protected] visit our website at www.school.booksontape.com or write: Books on Tape 1745 Broadway New York, NY 10019 © 2007 Listening Library

A Listening Library Study Guide

Forever Amber Brown by Paula Danziger After her best friend Justin moves away, and Max becomes a part of her life, Amber Brown learns that life is full of changes, and that a family is more than just your mother and father.

THEMES family, problem-solving, friendship, romance, divorce, self-esteem

Middle Grade Unabridged Audio

I. PRE-TEACHING A. Have the class define and discuss these terms: glitter, magnet, embarrassing, minimum, thousand, divorce, vacuum, vegetarian, ingredients, giraffe, cyclone, seesaw, mature, recipe, luggage, salon, pierce, language, laminate, mimes, absolutely, concentrate, double-digit, decorated, separated, grits, cannibal, definitely, combination, allowance, medicine ball, bulletin, extension, janitor, fluorescent, terminal, decathlon, bribes, attendant, anchovies, restaurant, virtual reality, Polaroid, pepperoni, gladiators, aliens, commitment, disrupt

B. Before beginning the story, discuss the following questions with the class: 1. What changes have taken place in your life? How do you feel about these changes? 2. Have you ever had a friend move away or have you had to move and leave a good friend? Do you keep in touch? How would you like to visit your friend? Do you think your friend would still be the same? Why or why not? 3. How do you feel about having your picture taken? Do you like the way you look? Why or why not?

II. PRESENTATION A. Understanding the Story: 1. Begin with Chapters 1 - 4: What games does Amber make up while she waits for her turn to bowl? What words does she hate the most? Why? How does she feel about Hannah Burton? How does Amber’s class picture turn out? What is wrong in the class pictures? Why does she call Brenda her “Amber-sitter”? Describe Brenda. What two things does Amber decide are wrong with Brenda? 2. Advance to Chapters 5 - 8: Describe the game Amber makes up for her book report. Who are some of the authors in the game? Describe Amber’s room. Why won’t her mother let her redecorate it? How does Amber feel about her mother’s reason? Why does Brandi announce things with the words, “Bulletin, bulletin” in front? How does Amber feel about Brandi’s

latest bulletin? How does Amber feel about her mother’s news? Give the reasons Amber lists for her mother marrying Max. Give the reasons Amber lists for her mother not getting married. 3. Complete the story with Chapters 9 - 12: How does Amber feel about seeing Justin and his family again? What things have changed? What things haven’t changed? What is the next news her mother tells Amber? What is her mother’s final decision about Max?

B. For Discussion: 1. Amber says she is “of two minds” about Max. Discuss why she has different feelings about him. What does her mother decide to do about Max? 2. Amber notices her mother has changed from the mother she used to know. Have students find examples of how Amber’s mother has changed and things she does differently. Why has she changed? 3. Amber has trouble accepting all the changes in her life. Have students list some of the changes that have taken place. What things have changed? What things have remained the same? What does Amber finally decide about change? 4. Amber still hopes she can talk her father into coming back. Why does she cling to this hope? At what point does she decide it won’t happen?

III. EXTENDING THE LESSON Give students the opportunity to work with partners, groups, the whole class, or alone.

INTERDISCIPLINARY CONNECTIONS: A. Language Arts: 1. Amber’s mother likes to make up “knock-knock” jokes. Have students make up their own “knock-knock” jokes and hold a joke session in class. Have the class vote on the top three. 2. Have students write about changes in their lives and how they felt about them at the time and how they feel about them now. Have them share these with their classmates.

3. Have students make up games for reports they have to do the way Amber does for her book report. Discuss how making it a game makes it more fun to learn. 4. Amber loves to make-up puns. Have students listen to the tape and write down her puns, such as how she finds other meanings for bowling terms like “strike,” “spare,” and “turkey,” or when she talks about a “speeding bulletin.” Discuss what makes a pun funny. Have students come to class with puns they have heard or made up to share with the class. 5. Have students read or listen to books by some of the authors mentioned in Amber’s game, like Bruce Coville, Judy Blume, Walter Dean Myers, and Gary Paulsen.

B. Art and Music: 1. Assign a group to select background music that might be appropriate to some of the scenes. They might look for Percy Grainger’s Handel in the Strand for the bowling scene, banjo or bluegrass music for the trip to Alabama, or other music. 2. Have students make a bulletin board about the story. They might bring in their own class pictures, pictures of authors, a Barbie doll, an airline ticket, pictures of English muffins, or M&Ms made into a smiley face. 3. When Brenda describes her father getting his tie caught in the laminating machine, she does it in mime. Have students come up with a short scene to do entirely in pantomime. You might find a video of the famous mime, Marcel Marceau, for the class to watch. 4. Have students go through magazines and come up with ideas for redecorating their bedrooms. 5. Amber makes up a game about the kind of bowling shoes her favorite book characters would wear. Have students draw pictures of their favorite book characters wearing appropriate bowling shoes. What shoes would Stuart Little wear? The Grinch? Chicken Little? Little Red Riding Hood? The Three Little Pigs?

C. Social Studies: 1. When Brenda puts the face mask on Amber, Amber compares herself to the faces on Mt. Rushmore. Have students find out about Mt. Rushmore, what it is, and how the faces were carved in the mountain. They might discuss what other famous people might have their faces carved in the mountain.

2. Have students find out how bowling originated and how it has changed in recent times. 3. On the way to Alabama, Amber think about “grits” and other Southern foods her friend Justin might be eating. Have students research Southern cooking and make some simple recipes to share with the class.

D. Science and Math: 1. Have students learn how the game of bowling is scored. What is a perfect score? 2. Amber thinks there must be a magnet in her bowling ball. Have students find out how magnets work. What are some of the uses of magnets today? 3. Amber’s friend Tiffany has become a vegetarian. Have students find out what vegetarians eat. Do they eat healthy meals? Why or why not? Have them find out the reasons why someone becomes a vegetarian. 4. Have students find out how a Polaroid camera works. Who invented it? How is it able to develop the film in the camera? Are they still in use, or have other cameras taken their place?

Theme Related Reading and Listening: Listening Library offers additional titles that explore similar themes and content areas. Use the information below to purchase audiobooks from our extensive list of award-winning and popular titles to enhance the learning experience for students in every classroom or library. More titles in the Amber Brown series are available from Listening Library. See the catalog for a complete listing of these titles. Other titles students may enjoy: • • • • • • • •

USING AUDIOBOOKS IN THE CLASSROOM When it comes to teaching today’s students, sometimes books are just not enough. In an increasingly technological and information-savvy world, the ability to read will be critical to every child’s success. The value of audiobooks as a learning tool in the education of children is widely recognized by experts. Audiobooks bring written text to life, adding an interactive quality that can ignite a child’s imagination. They encourage reading by broadening vocabularies, stretching attention spans, and fostering critical-thinking skills. Listening to audiobooks in the classroom can effectively enrich the reading experience and aid your students in understanding and appreciating literature, history, theatre arts, and more!

Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo: Anyone But Me by Nancy Krulik Freckle Juice by Judy Blume Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat Disney Fairies: The Trouble With Tink by Kiki Thorpe Arthur Accused!, #5 by Marc Brown Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Dinosaur Bones by David Adler Chet Gecko - Private Eye: The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse by Bruce Hale Polar Bears Past Bedtime, Magic Tree House # 12 by Mary Pope Osborne

For a FREE school and library catalog of Listening Library’s unabridged productions:

• • • • •

Call TOLL FREE 1-800-733-3000 FAX us at 1-800-940-7046 email us at [email protected] visit our website at www.school.booksontape.com or write: Books on Tape 1745 Broadway New York, NY 10019 © 2007 Listening Library

A Listening Library Study Guide

Amber Brown Sees Red

I. PRE-TEACHING A. Have the class define and discuss these terms: canceled, rhinestones, guidance counselor, megaphone, ancient, eradicate, emergency, procedure, seminar, embarrassment, escort, permission, abuser, fiancé, chauffeur, arcade, cassette, jukebox, dolphin, bond, continuing, hula, volcano, diamond, amethyst, colorful, privacy, ballistic, celebrating, responsibility, transferred, financially, custody, microphone, imaginary, apprehended, culprits, attendance, league, misunderstandings, portable, apartment, torture, disaster, fluorescent, magenta, counseling, nervous, regulations

B. Before beginning the story, discuss with the class the following questions:

by Paula Danziger With her mother engaged to marry Max, Amber already has enough on her mind, but when her father announces he’s moving back from Paris and wants Amber to live with him, Amber learns it’s not just kids who have trouble coping with change.

THEMES change, problem-solving, family, friendship, responsibility, divorce, self-esteem

Middle Grade Unabridged Audio

1. Do your parents sometimes fight? How do you feel when they disagree? What do they do that makes you mad? 2. Have you ever been let out of school unexpectedly? How did you feel about that? 3. What are some of the changes that have happened to you in the past year? Do you ever wish things would stay the same? What would you like to stay the same? What would you like to change?

II. PRESENTATION A. Understanding the Story: 1. Begin with chapters 1-5: What does Amber notice when she looks in the mirror? Why does she tell Gorilla she wishes things would stay the same? What changes have happened to her in the past? What is the only thing that hasn’t changed? Why doesn’t Amber like to think of Max as her stepfather? In what ways is her father becoming her “unreal” father? 2. Advance to chapters 6-10: What does Brandi suggest Max do? What makes Amber think about her father just then? What will she call Max after the wedding? Why doesn’t Amber want to tell her father she has a good time with Max? What news does her father have? How does she feel about it? How does her mother take the news? How does Amber use her Dad Book? What special skill does Hal Henry, the new boy, have?

3. Complete the story with chapters 11-14: What does Amber’s father want her to do when he comes next week? What does he promise to do about her new room? Why does she feel weird about it? How does she feel about the way her parents are acting? What happens when she has her hair cut? What nickname has Hal Henry made up for her? What happens when Amber tells her mother she “sees red”?

B. For Discussion: 1. Why is Amber confused about her mother and Max getting married? 2. Why is her mother angry at her father for deciding to come back? How does Amber feel about how her parents are acting? How does she get them to stop fighting? 3. Amber uses Gorilla and her Dad Book to sort out her feelings. What are some of the things she confides? Why doesn’t she talk to her mother, Max, or her father about these things? 4. In what ways can Amber’s life be compared to bowling?

III. EXTENDING THE LESSON Give students the opportunity to work with partners, groups, the whole class, or alone.

INTERDISCIPLINARY CONNECTIONS: A. Language Arts: 1. Have students begin a journal about things that concern or interest them. Encourage them to write in it regularly, to paste in pictures, to draw in it, and find other ways to make work for them. 2. Amber is fond of puns. Have students listen for these, such as when Jimmy Russell and Bobby Clifford act like skunks and Amber says she always thought they were “little stinkers,” when Mr. Levine says, “That’s using common scents” when talking about the skunk evacuation, or when Hannah says, “Hair today, gone tomorrow” about Amber’s new haircut. Have students discuss what makes puns funny and collect or make up some of their own. 3. The expression “seeing red” uses “colorful” language. Have students think about other expressions that use

color, like “feeling blue” or “green with envy.” Why do these particular colors fit the mood they describe? 4. Have students read other Amber Brown books and trace the ways she grows and changes. How does each book relate to the previous one? What do they think might happen in the next Amber Brown book? What would happened if they read the books out of order? Would they still enjoy them? Why or why not? 5. Have students write a series of letters Amber and her father in Paris might exchange.

B. Art and Music: 1. Have students select background music that might be appropriate to some of the scenes. Saint-Saen’s Carnival of the Animals might capture the scenes where the skunks appear. 2. Have students make a bulletin board about the story. The background could be a bowling alley with everything in the story as a metaphor for bowling. For example, the characters could be ten pins with Amber about to throw a winning ball. Have them include the skunks, maybe even walking through the bowling alley. 3. Amber’s mother and Max design T-shirts for the bowling team. Have students look at logos for various teams or companies, then design a logo for a team they play on or for a club they belong to. 4. Have students use clips from magazines or catalogs and design a new room for Amber that fits her age better. They might come up with ideas for their own rooms as well.

C. Social Studies: 1. When Brandi offers to help Hal Henry adjust to the new school, Bobby Clifford says she can’t because she’s a girl. Have students discuss this. Can boys and girls be friends? Why or why not? They might write about experiences they’ve had making friends with someone of the opposite sex. 2. Have students learn about the history of bowling, the rules, and the scoring. 3. When school is dismissed, the administration has to organize how to get everybody home and be sure a parent or guardian is there. Have students think about what would happen if suddenly their classes were dismissed. How would they organize the picking up or

busing of students? How would they be sure a parent or guardian was home? Why is it important to do this? 4. Tiffany is a vegetarian and belongs to animal rights groups. Have students learn more about animal rights groups. Why do many of their members become vegetarians?

D. Science and Math: 1. Have students learn about skunks. Why do they stink? What could be done to make a skunk into a pet? Would a skunk make a good pet if it didn’t smell bad? 2. Amber feels she’s going through a growth spurt. Have students find out about how children grow. What is a “growth spurt”? Why do some children grow faster than others? Taller than others? Why isn’t growth more even? 3. Amber mentions that she’s had the chicken pox. Have students learn about this and other childhood diseases. Which diseases do children no longer get that they used to get? Why not? 4. While waiting outside while the janitors to clear the skunks from school, one of the kindergartners cries because she’s afraid they’ll give her rabies. Have students find out about rabies. How can we get it? How is it cured? How can we protect ourselves from it? Why do our pets need rabies shots?

Theme Related Reading and Listening: Listening Library offers additional titles that explore similar themes and content areas. Use the information below to purchase audiobooks from our extensive list of awardwinning and popular titles to enhance the learning experience for students in every classroom or library. More titles in the Amber Brown series are available from Listening Library. See the catalog for a complete listing of these titles. Other titles students may enjoy: • • • •

Chet Gecko - Private Eye: The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse by Bruce Hale Francine, Believe it or Not by Marc Brown Stage Fright on a Summer Night, Magic Tree House #25 by Mary Pope Osborne Viking Ships at Sunrise, Magic Tree House #15 by Mary Pope Osborne

USING AUDIOBOOKS IN THE CLASSROOM When it comes to teaching today’s students, sometimes books are just not enough. In an increasingly technological and information-savvy world, the ability to read will be critical to every child’s success. The value of audiobooks as a learning tool in the education of children is widely recognized by experts. Audiobooks bring written text to life, adding an interactive quality that can ignite a child’s imagination. They encourage reading by broadening vocabularies, stretching attention spans, and fostering critical-thinking skills. Listening to audiobooks in the classroom can effectively enrich the reading experience and aid your students in understanding and appreciating literature, history, theatre arts, and more!

For a FREE school and library catalog of Listening Library’s unabridged productions:

• • • • •

Call TOLL FREE 1-800-733-3000 FAX us at 1-800-940-7046 email us at [email protected] visit our website at www.school.booksontape.com or write: Books on Tape 1745 Broadway New York, NY 10019 © 2007 Listening Library