Monday, April 22, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading, April 22, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? A weekly themed meme connecting many bloggers around the world and originally conceived by Sheila at Book Journeys. I first learned about it at Teach Mentor Texts hosted by Jen and Kellee. Its a terrific way to post a few of the books that you have recently read and put together a list of what you are planning on reading this week.

An avalanche of great books this week! I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket so I decided to cash some of it in. What joy to bump into a elementary librarian buddy shopping too. We preceded to comb the shelves and compare notes on what we thought would make for great library read alouds. We both opted to buy this fun little treasure:

Open Very Carefully-A book with bite
Created by Nicola O'Byrne with words by Nick Bromley
February 2013 ages 3+

Take a look inside the book-I am sure you will love it too.

Nosy Crow's description:

What would you do if you were settling down for a quiet bedtime story and you realised that a crocodile had fallen out of one story and into yours and was – not to put too fine a point on it – furious? Would you slam that book shut, cram it in the bookshelf for evermore or would you be brave enough to peek?
This crocodile has ended up in totally the wrong book, so he proceeds to eat his way out in this fantastic debut picture book of a very grumpy croc as he tries to escape a storybook that is all wrong for him but is great fun for the reader!

I decided to test run it with my two favorite book critics-J-a 28 month year old, die hard book lover and his cousin-L-who expects me to read mountains of books to him, which I happily do. They both loved guessing whose big green tail interrupted the story of "The Ugly Duckling" and laughed uncontrollably as I tried to read the sentences that were missing all the letters O and S. I must admit I delivered an Oscar worthy performance. They helped me rock the book side to side until the crocodile fell asleep and were shocked to see someone had used a red crayon to draw a tutu on the crocodile. (I am a bit concerned about copy-cat artworks suddenly appearing in our other books). It amazes me how L and J can talk my ears off with their thoughts and opinions on books. They both give Open Very Carefully a Hip Hip Horray!

Open Very Carefully is a terrific example of a good interactive read aloud for the preschool and kindergarten set and possibly first graders. In particular, it would be interesting to have first graders created a similar story with interactive action. 

Oh No, Little Dragon
Created and Illustrated by Jim Averbeck
Agers: 2-6
Simon and Schuster

Click here to view inside the book.

Publisher description: 
With a PHOOSH and a Grrrrrr and a CANNONBAAAALLLLLL! Little Dragon tears through his day (and the house). But even when he gets a little too rambunctious, there’s no OH NO! that Mama’s kiss can’t fix.

I will be pairing Oh No, Little Dragon up with Dragons Love Tacos as part of a Dragons leading up to Mother's Day lesson. I have an amazing dragon puppet and a three dimensional pop up dragon that will help me introduce both books. 

Looking for Alaska by John Green
My World Book Night 2013 Give a Way

description from John Green's website:

Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words–and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

I will have a World Book Night Post up tomorrow with lots of great resources to share. 

My re-reads this week (by popular demand of L and J)

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz

We LOVE this book both at home and at school and never get tired of reading it. I mean we read it a LOT-and act it out too. LOVE IT!

I only have three miles to drive to work each day, so it takes me a long time to finish audio books in the car. I am still listening to the children's classic The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

As usual, I still have a sack of books that we read this week but no time to list them all. Happy reading!

Monday, April 15, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? April 15, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? A weekly themed meme connecting many bloggers around the world and originally conceived by Sheila at Book Journeys. I first learned about at Teach Mentor Texts hosted by Jen and Kellee. Its a terrific way to post a few of the books that you have recently read and put together a list of what you are planning on reading this week.

Here are the books I read this past week:

On D.E.A.R. Day I selected to read "My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother" by Patricia Polacco.

This is an autobiographical look into the relationship between Patricia and her own redheaded brother. I enjoyed it as I do all Patricia Polacco books.

Listen to actress Melissa Gilbert read My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother

Next, I picked up Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri. I was able to read a chapter with each class and found it to be original and very interesting. I chose this book because it is one of the 2013-2014 Texas Bluebonnet Award nominees. I discovered some fascinating facts about the Philadelphia Street Riders while doing backstory research. *Anytime I find a book I really like, I have to uncover its backstory.*  Look here on my Bluebonnet Book Club wiki. I keep my lesson resources on my wiki for quick and easy access.
This is one of my current reads. 

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose. Thank you to the very generous and King of Book Talks, @MrSchureads, for sending this survival themed novel in verse little gem to me. I loved it. Survival stories and historical fiction are my favorite genres. I am looking forward to the Twitter #SharpSchu Book Club that will take place on April 24th at 8 p.m. EST. Please  join in the chat that also includes author Sharon Creech and her book Love That Dog. Learn more about it here on Mr. Schu's blog.

Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes

Penny finds a marble as blue as the sky in a neighbor's yard and after taking it home she begins to feel guilty for taking it without asking for permission. It reminded me of the Highlights magazines that usually included stories with good moral lessons. Remember those magazines? They were always in Doctor and Dentist offices.

I just finished listening to Messenger by Lois Lowry, the third installment in the Giver series. It is my favorite in the series and I now look forward to reading the final book-Son. The audio version was due so I pulled the print copy from the library shelf to finish off the last three chapters. The library was very busy when I walked in but one of the librarians had to flick the lights on and off to alert us late stayers that it was time to close. As I was wiping the tears off my cheeks (it was beautifully written) I was shocked to see the library had emptied out. That is how removed I was from the world around me. I was swept away with the story. 

Current audio book:

I am listening to Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. I needed a refresher because another Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee, The Humming Room by Ellen Potter,  is the retelling of The Secret Garden. Click here to view   The Humming Room on my Bluebonnet Book Club wiki. You can find books trailers, lesson plans, and more. 

Project Gutenberg: Read the Etext version of The Secret Garden (27 chapters)

These were my pre-school and kinder class reads this week. We were learning about shadows and using your imagination. Bear Shadow is a wonderful book about a bear trying to get rid of his shadow and all the kids loved it. I brought along my handy dandy crank flashlight and we made shadows. I read a poem I had written about shadows and I even found a terrific little video to share. I played the music as they walked into the library.

I love Ame Dyckman's Boy + Bot and had read it before to the kids but they always beg for it and it was the perfect book to pair with the clever Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon. In Molly's book, we learn the wonders of cloud watching and creating toys out of flowers, twigs, and cardboard boxes. I brought out my special little robot head made out of a re-purposed diaper box (thank you Maddy) and used my best robot voice to introduce Boy + Bot. They kids went wild. I just know they went home and scrounged up old boxes and made their own robots this weekend. Or at least I hope they were lucky enough to be able to do so.

So this week, I will continue to finish Ghetto Cowboy and The Secret Garden on audio. I also picked up these titles at the Neyland library.


Happy reading ya'll!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

D.E.A.R. Day, Shadows, and Using Your Imagination

On April 12, 2013 readers of all ages took a few minutes to Drop Everything And Read. To learn more about D.E.A.R. Day click HERE

We had a fun time in the Library. Before DEAR Day, I had re-purposed some large printer boxes that I recently found discarded in the hallway How could anyone not see their potential? I wrapped them in green butcher paper and stacked them up knowing they could be used for a multitude of displays. This week DEAR Day,  next week Poem in Your Pocket Day.

                   Here is how they look next to a book shelf.

When students arrived for their library class, books were quickly checked in and a new set checked out, then students had an opportunity to "Make Your Best Fruity Guess" at the Estimation Station, a library center. I had loaded our good old Teddy Bear jar up with 176 rubber fruit pieces and two kids came close with estimations of 180 fruit pieces. We always end up with a tie so I made sure to have two prize packages ready.

The prize package was a Joke Book double pack. This was to make a point because a teacher has been telling her students that reading a Joke Book is not really reading. Of course it is! Joke books provide an opportunity for shared social reading opportunities. Joke books are best read with a friend or classmate and help form a community of readers through shared experiences.

Occasionally, a kid will think back to a joke and say "hey, remember that joke about...." and everyone laughs. Which reminds me of a very funny video created by the authors of Guys Read: Funny Business.  It is a pieced together retelling of "The Joke" and well worth watching.

After recording their estimations, we did the real DEAR thing. We stopped and had 15 minutes of silent sustained reading. I decided to read the 2013-2014 Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri. Visit my Bluebonnet Book Club wiki for teaching resources: Ghetto Cowboy. This is a terrific book and I love the background research that I have been doing since I began reading it.

Our last DEAR event was to create DEAR bookmark that reflected a favorite character, book, or that demonstrated why reading is enjoyable. Kids did a terrific job. One of my favorites created by Madison was a bookmark that also was a mini-book. Leslie gave me my favorite quote for the day: Love, peace, and books. I wish I could show their projects but I used my phone camera and can't find images now.

For the three year olds. We read books about shadows in support of their Prekinder guidelines and then played shadow games. I made up a little poem while brushing my teeth this week so I shared that with them too.

I have a little shadow
That always stays with me.
Sometimes my shadow gets so big
as tall as tall can be.
Sometimes my shadow is so small
that I can hardly see.
I have a little shadow
a friend that sticks with me.

Next, I read "Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon" and talked about how much fun it is to use your imagination. Then I put on a Robot Head that my daughter had made out of a discarded diaper box and pretended to be a robot. This got a lot of giggles. Now all book lovers know that the perfect book that goes with a robot costume is Ame Dyckman's Boy + Bot.

It was a pretty terrific DEAR Day.

Monday, April 8, 2013

It's Monday! What are You Reading? April 8, 2013

OK, Something very fishy is happening to my blog today. Earlier my entire post vanished! So, I fixed it. Then as dark clouds began to loom overhead (not really but it helps my mood) today's Poetry post mysteriously jumbled itself up. I think it is crazed garden gnomes tampering or my fonts have gone ballistic and have taken over my blog. Woe is me.

I will try one more time to correct it.

I recently jumped on Jen and Kellee's bandwagon over at Teach Mentor Texts and started writing a weekly blog post for It's Monday! What are You Reading? They were inspired by Sheila at Book Journeys.

This past week, I introduced a poetry unit to my Pre-Kinder three year old class - Kinder class.

Poems that Rhyme

I began with the stunning poetry book "In the Wild" and I asked the students to listen for words that rhyme. Sometimes I would pause before the end word in the rhyming pattern and the kids would shout out their best guess. They did a great job. If you do not have this book in your collection, get it asap! It is visually stunning and a great way to introduce poetry to young readers.

In the Wild by David Elliott
Illustrated by Holly Meade
Publisher: Candlewick Press

Publisher description: From the lion standing alone on the African savannah to the panda in a bamboo forest, from the rhinoceros with its boot-like face to the Arctic polar bear disappearing in the snow, the earth is full of curious and wonderful animals, each more extraordinary than the next. David Elliott’s pithy, lyrical verse and Holly Meade’s stunning woodcut and watercolor illustrations reveal a world of remarkable beauty and wonder — and offer an enticing introduction to both favorite animals and poetic forms.

Lyrical Poems

Mother Goose and Friends
selected and illustrated by Ruth Sanderson
Publisher: Little Brown and Company

Next, we reviewed some nursery rhymes we have been reading this year. I wanted to include lyrical forms of poetry and nursery rhymes were familiar to this age group as I had already provided them with a good foundation in the genre. We formed a circle and held hands and sang "Ring Around the Rosy" ending in a big tumbled heap on the carpet as we "all fall down" amid an avalanche of giggles.

Next, I plopped down a big old fake bush in the middle of the story-time carpet and we walked in a circle singing "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush". I threw them a bit of a challenge by alternating the direction of the circle with each changing verse. We pretended to wash our hands, wash our faces, brush our hair, and brush our teeth along with each corresponding verse. This movement and song activity allowed us all to shake some wiggles out and prepare for our next few books.

Non-Rhyming Poems and The "awwww" Factor

Then I hit 'em with a powerful weapon. Nothing gets a kid quicker than a cute little puppy face and the next two books had major "awww" factor.

I Didn't Do It by Patricia MacLachlan
and Emily MacLachlan Charest
Illustrated by: Katy Schneider
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books

After wowing the kids with the puppy faces, I spoke to them about poems that do not use rhyming words. Instead, these poems make you think about what is happening in the poem. Poems where you need to use your imagination and think like a dog. They loved pretending to think like a dog. The favorite poem in this book was Pretty Puppy. I was very impressed that even the three year olds were able to grasp that Pretty Puppy was looking into a mirror.

Once I Ate a Pie
by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest
Illustrated by: Katy Schneider
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books

Browse inside "Once I Ate a Pie"

My favorite poem to perform was Wupsi because it was so darn cute. The kids loved Pocket, an adorable poem about a little dog so small that he could fit inside a coat pocket. They thought it was hilarious when I whispered the repeated word "tiny" throughout the poem. The text was normal size but each use of the word tiny was written in very teeny tiny text. Pocket the dog was so sweet looking and she doesn't understand why everything she owns is so tiny because she sees herself as HUGE!

Haiku Poems

Dogku by Andrew Clements
Illustrated by Tim Bowers
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Dogku grabs you from the very first page. A lovable stray peers through a kitchen door at a pink bath-robed mom cooking the morning breakfast for her family. Will she shut the door and send him away? How could anyone refuse those precious eyes begging to be loved?

"There on the back steps,

the eyes of a hungry dog.

Will she shut the door?"

This charming dog's tale is the perfect book for introducing the poetry form of Haiku. In fact, every page with text is made up of a haiku. After explaining what a Haiku poems was, I asked students if they knew how to count the number of syllables or word parts for the word "puppy" Yes, they knew how to count word parts and puppy had two word parts. We then practiced sounding out syllables of commonly used words and then I read the first page as kiddos held up a finger for each syllable they heard. We counted the syllables in the first line and sure enough we counted five syllables. Next, we counted the second line and heard seven syllables. Then we listened carefully as I read the third line and we were back to five syllables. We all agreed that the first page was a Haiku poem. We then read the second page with text and applied the same test again determining it was a haiku. Rather than drag out the lesson with such young children, I read the rest of the story straight through and focused on other aspects of the story. I just wanted to provide a brief introduction to Haikus.

Really terrific Dogku resources:

Use this Eduscapes Power Point slide show for teaching the process of Haiku.

Visit Simon and Schuster's site for a peek into the book. Dogku

dogku ppt

Found at

Here are some other books that I finished this week:

I really enjoyed Scarlet, the sequel to Marissa Meyer's Cinder.

Which is Round? Which is Bigger?

by Mineki Mamada
Publisher: Kid Can Press

I really loved this surprising gem of a book. It was originally published in Japan and has been translated into English. Terrific for Preschool lessons. So many good literature connection activities come to mind.

Miracle Mud
Lena Blackburne and the Secret Mud that Changed Baseball

by David A. Kelly
Illustrated by Oliver Dominguez
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group

I really loved the bright bold illustrations and the story was very entertaining. Kids will be searching their yards digging up their own miracle mud after reading this one. Hmmm, I think a possible science experience in the library might be in order. Messy yes, but cool.

I actually read a ton of books this week but it's hard to keep up with them all. I have added 217 new books to our school library since March 1st and manually cataloged and processed them all. Today, I stopped in at Barnes and Noble to pick up a book for my son and ended up with ten more books for the library. Here I go again!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Fun with Molly Lou Melon

Stand Tall, Molly Lou MelonStand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon is a terrific read aloud book supporting themes of self esteem, believing in yourself, families, friendship, and dealing with bullies. Molly Lou's grandmother encourages Molly Lou to believe in herself and to appreciate and value the qualities that make Molly Lou the person she is. It is Molly Lou's strong sense of self that helps her to deal with a school bully and to earn the respect of her classmates and the bully too. Wonderful story. 

View all my reviews

Molly Lou Mellon Literature Resources: (see literature connection activities further down)

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon Lesson Plan

Scholastic's Molly Lou's Special Qualities lesson plan and resources

Penguin's Read Aloud Activity Guide (various titles)

Have Fun, Molly Lou MelonHave Fun, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Molly Lou Melon sits in a room overflowing with toys and whoseywhatits of all kinds when her grandmother tells her that back in the old days she made her toys of things she found. Molly Lou soon discovers that using your imagination can be more exciting than any store bought toy. Then Gertie, a new neighbor moves in next door and Molly Lous overhears her telling her mother she is bored, bored, bored. Molly Lou invites Gertie over to play and introduces her to tin can phones, cardboard racecars and the beauty of skywatching.

Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon is a wonderful read aloud highlighting the power of using your imagination. Tie this read aloud in with making crafts from recycled materials, or items found in nature. Try the tin can phones, dolls made from twigs and flowers, cardboard racecars or robots and of course take a walking trip outdoors to lay back and watch the sky. You never know what you will see in the clouds.

Literature connection activities-crafts, recycle projects.

Recycle projects: Make a Paper Cup Phone to Talk to Your Friends


2 empty, clean paper or plastic cups
1 nail and hammer or ice pick (adult supervision is a must!)
10-20 feet of white cotton string, fishing line, or sewing thread (the shorter the line, the better the reception)

  1. Take 2 paper or plastic cups
  2. Turn the cups upside down with the bottom end facing up.
  3. Use a nail or ice pick to punch a hole through the flat surface of the end of both cups (adults perform this step).
  4. Measure out a length or string or sewing thread about 10-20 feet.
  5. Thread one end of the string through one of the holes. Make a strong knot in the string on the inside of the cup, so that the string remains attached.. Repeat with the other cup and the other end of string. The two cups are now connected to each other.
  6. Stretch the two cups apart until the string is taut or tight.
  7. Speak into the mouth of the open end of your cup (Transmitter) while a friend holds an ear up to the opened end of her cup to listen (Receiver).
Optimizing a Tin Can Phone: Why it's better to use paper cups and sewing thread for tin cup phone project

Monday, April 1, 2013

It's Monday, Who Are You Fooling? 4/1/2013

Inspired by Teach Mentor Texts. Be sure to click the link and see all the great posts every Monday for "It's Monday, what are you reading?

It's April Fool's Day and what pranks are up your sleeves?

Don't have time to plan the perfect prank? You are in luck because today I am featuring a couple of terrific books to make your April Fools Day a hilarious success but I am also including a few good pranks for you to try out.

It's Your Lucky Day!
Take a few coins and superglue them to a high traffic sidewalk area but make sure it will not cause any hazards. Enjoy watching people struggling to pry the coins up off the sidewalk. 

Did you drop that dollar?

Take a dollar of print out an image of a dollar and attach it to a retractable cord activated by a button push. I have a couple of these I picked up at a technology conference to attach to my school ID lanyard. Reel out enough slack in the cord line that sets you a distance away from an unsuspecting friend and say "Hey, did you drop a dollar?" when they reach for it--ba-zing! You quickly reel the cord back in bringing the dollar right to you. Great for a laugh. 


If you have the type of sink that comes with a spray attachment, wrap a rubber band around the handle so that it will begin spraying once the tap has been turned on. The next person to turn on the tap will end up with a good soaking. 

Visit this April Fool's Day Pinterest Board for more pranks and jokes. Don't you just love how there is a Pinterest board for almost every topic?


The Kids' Guide to Pranks Tricks & Practical Jokes (Kids' Guides)

You might expect to get a little backlash for having this one in your school library but Capstone Publishers are one step ahead. They have provided documentation showing how The Kids' Guide to Pranks, Tricks & Practical Jokes can align with Common Core State Standards. Now that's what I call proactive thinking!

This clever book can entice even kids who claim they hate to read. They will soon be pouring over step by step instructions plotting perfect pranks to pull on their unsuspecting friends and families. It is a short 32 pages and schools can order a library bound versions using their Scholastic dollars. I would suggest ordering more than one copy and librarians should read it cover to cover so they will be prepared just in case scheming students decide to make them the object of a practical joke. Better yet-pull one on your students and then discuss the wiser decision to pull pranks away from the school setting. Interest level grades 3-9.

See how this book aligns with the Common Core State Standards

National Geographic Kids "Just Joking"

This is a hot book in my school library. Nat Geo's Just Joking is filled with 300 belly laughable jokes, silly riddles, and not so easy tongue twisters. Kids gather round and listen to each other read the jokes aloud and they roar with laughter. There is no shushing in my school library! Reading is a shared experience much of the time but we do value our quiet reading corners too. It is available in a paperback format and is best suited for grades 2nd-6th (and some grown-ups who still appreciate kid humor).

If you don't have it, get it!

April Fools Day in the Classroom
  • Have students research the history of April Fool's Day. 
  • Creative writing: Have students brainstorm the perfect April Fool's Day prank and then write about how they would pull off the prank and what consequences they might have to face. 

That's it! Short, but sweet. Now go pull a few pranks on your pals and have a terrific Monday!