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Candlewick Press E-Newsletter Excerpt on Cody and the Fountain of Happiness

Using Cody and the Fountain of Happiness in the Classroom

Four second-grade teachers, located in Illinois, California, Alabama, and British Columbia, teamed up to teach Cody and the Fountain of Happiness. They used classroom blogs, Vine, vimeo, Animoto, and Twitter to share their activities, and author Tricia Springstubb was able to comment and participate all along the way. Their amazing collaboration concluded with a five-way Google Hangout.

The activities included:Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb

Visualizing as a comprehension strategy

The students visualized and illustrated these excerpts from chapters one through three: "On her feet were sea-green pumps with silver buckles. They were just the kind of shoes a mermaid would wear, if mermaids had feet." (page 2)
"No one had seen the actual bed in years. It was like Earth, with its many layers. Only in place of an outer crust, the bed had T-shirts and underwear and dirty dishes and books." (page 9)
"MewMew was inching down the tree. Headfirst. Her paws scrabbled on the bark, trying to keep a grip. A wild look lit her eyes." (page 21)

Describing how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges

  • Students acted out how Wyatt might look accidentally eating ants along with his chips.

  • Students created "dream bubbles" of things Cody might wish for or dream of, along with written descriptions. Their teacher then turned these bubbles into a very dreamy video!

  • Students discussed how every life has its ups and downs (laughter and whim-whams), and then wrote and acted out their own personal experiences.

  • One class discussed the passage "Spencer's face got very complicated. Sadness and gladness were mixed together." (page 144) They then talked about their personal experiences of mixed emotions.

Predicting outcomes

Students predicted how things would turn out when Payton Underwood kid-sat Cody.

Students were very interested in whether Payton would ever become Wyatt's girlfriend. This was a topic discussed during the Hangout. One class wrote letters to Payton, either trying to convince her to fall in love with Wyatt or warning her to stay away.

Writing techniques and strategies

  • Noting Springstubb's use of ellipses, students discussed how to read, express, and use ellipses in their writing and daily life.

  • Students found "wacky words"—words they didn't know or that they particularly liked—in chapters sixteen through eighteen. They then wrote definitions and used the words in their own sentences.

  • Students transformed boring sentences by using snazzy words, á la Cody.

  • Students studied onomatopoeia words like click-click and gulp-gulp!

Marshmallow Catapults!

Inspired by Spencer and Cody's catapult, one class built their own. They experimented and adjusted to be able to land the marshmallows at varying distances.

Ant Facts

Because the students live in such different places, they shared facts about local ants. Cody would never play with an Alabama fire ant, that is for sure!


The students wrote up their final observations and reviews of the book. The Hangout was a terrific dialogue, with questions, answers, and comments flying back and forth across North America.

Being able to share so much from such long distances was a particularly unique experience for these teachers, students, and this author. But most of these ideas could also be used in the same way with a classroom down the hall. Send me your ideas and I'll put you on a list to receive an advance reading copy of Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe, coming spring 2016.

Another writing activity Tricia Springstubb has used during live school visits is to draw a big fountain, and as she brainstorms with the students about what makes them happy (with an emphasis on experiences, people, the senses, etc.) she writes their answers on the fountain's spray. The students then assemble these into a group poem, or they each make their own fountain and poem.

Hope you, too, enjoy using Cody in your classroom!

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