Monday, August 15, 2016

Picture Books 10 for 10 - August 2016

This is my first year contributing to the Picture Books 10 for 10 community. This annual summer celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning

The theme for my list is WHIMSY - books that I find charming and heartwarming. Whimsy can be a nebulous, hard to define, je-ne-sais-quoi element that defies description. It might be the spark in the characters’ eyes, or the subtle humour or charm in the illustrations. It could be the surprise ending that makes me draw in my breath in an “ah!” Sometimes it’s all of the above. Either way, these books are super fun to share with children. It was hard to choose just ten, and my list kept changing, but finally here they are:

  1. I Need a Snake - Lynne Jonell
  2. Interrupting Chicken - David Ezra Stein
  3. Good Night, Good Knight - Shelley Moore Thomas
  4. Alfie’s Long Winter - Greg McEvoy
  5. Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden - Edith Pattou
  6. Sidewalk Flowers - JonArno Lawson
  7. Good Night, Gorilla - Peggy Rathmann
  8. Those Darn Squirrels - Adam Rubin
  9. Ginger - Charlotte Voake
  10. Big Mean Mike - Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Scott Magoon

I Need a Snake -  by Lynne Jonell  

Robbie’s efforts to convince his mother to get him a snake are unsuccessful, but with a little searching and imagination, Robbie finds several “snakes” at home. Petra Mathers stick-figure illustrations are a perfect match for this charming story.

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

Laugh out loud funny! The exuberance of the young rooster during their nightly bedtime stories is priceless. While father rooster reads several familiar fairy tales, little rooster calls out a warning to the fairy tale character just as father gets to the critical point. Great book for using voices with read-aloud.

Good Night, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas

Technically this is published in an early reader format, but it works as a wonderful read-aloud with the most adorable dragons who are dragging out their bedtime, and a sweet-heart of a knight who has the patience of a saint. Thomas includes lots of repetition for audience participation. Jennifer Plecas’ illustrations are charming.
See also Gell Well, Good Knight; Happy Birthday, Good Knight; Take Care, Good Knight; A Good Knight’s Rest; A Cold Winter’s Good Knight.

Alfie’s Long Winter - Greg McEvoy

I love, love, love this book! Alfie is such an endearing character with his fears about leaping off his branch when the time comes. The illustrations have lots of extra details that add to the fun of this story. And the ending is priceless! Students always give a satisfied laugh on the last page.

Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden - Edith Pattou, illustrated by Tricia Tusa

I love to read this one at either the beginning or end of the year. Every year the principal brings Mrs. Spitzer a new packet of seeds that she plants and tends throughout the year. Students usually start to get it by about halfway through. It always gives me a warm feeling to read this story.

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Sydney Smith

There’s a bittersweetness and a quiet power to this wordless book that tugs at my heart strings. The child is infinitely wiser than her father, far more observant of her surroundings, while the father is distracted by the pressures of adult life. How much of the world do we miss with our faces buried in our devices and our minds in our worries? Hmmm…

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

What makes this nearly wordless book so funny is the complete oblivion of the zoo keeper to the parade of animals that follow him home. The reader is in on the secret from the start when the gorilla breaks the fourth wall and signals for your compliance. Utterly delightful! The zoo animals even make a guest appearance in Rathmann’s 10 Minutes To Bedtime.

Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Old Man Fookwire is a crusty, cantankerous, curmudgeon, and the neighboring squirrels are the recipients of his ire when they keep raiding the bird feeders. Both the story and the illustrations are a riot, and tender, too!

This makes a great read-aloud. The children love to shake their fists and chant in a curmudgeonly way,  “those darn squirrels” even weeks after reading it. Don’t miss Those Darn Squirrels Fly South, and Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door.

Ginger by Charlotte Voake

Ginger does not want to be friends with the kitten that the little girl has brought home. Told with large simple text and double-page spreads, the expressions on the cats’ faces and their body language are hilarious. Maybe it’s because I am a cat owner (dog owner, too), but Voake nails it in my opinion. The ending is sure to get a laugh from the children.

Big Mean Mike by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Scott Magoon

What’s not to love in this wonderful book about misconceptions, bullies, and self-image? Mike is a classic tough guy, and the bunnies are pure fluff and sweetness. Together they’ll melt your heart in this funny and satisfying story.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Day One - Celebrating The Dot

Last week we dipped into a wonderful book called The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. It's a powerful story of a young girl who is discouraged because, as she puts it, "I just can't draw!" Her art teacher gives her the teensy-weensiest bit of encouragement, and what unfolds is a story of discovery, joy, and growth. It's a great story to use to inspire our young learners as they start to shape and develop their own mindset. The message is a strong one: don't believe you can't, just try! So strong that schools across the globe are connecting with each other all week long. "Make your mark and see where it takes you" is the gentle wisdom from Vashti's art teacher.

Connection 1:
     Our first connection was Mrs. Epstein's class with another 2nd grade class with librarian Heather Tucker at Richmond Hill Elementary in Richmond Hill, Georgia, right near Savannah. Their school has only 2nd and 3rd graders!
     Together we looked at a map that showed how far apart we are; more than 1,100 miles! Wow!

Together we took turns reading aloud The Dot to our students.


Students took turns asking each other questions, such as what kind of animals do you have in your state, do you live near the ocean, do you have sharks, and what kinds of books do you like to read. We learned that some of the other children like to read nonfiction, too! The ocean waters have smaller sharks in their area, such as hammerheads, but the children know to stay away from them.

Connection 2:
Our second connection brought Mrs. Meehan's 2nd graders together with Amanda McCoy's 3rd graders from Pauline Central Primary School in Topeka, Kansas.

They are more than 1,400 miles away from us and are one hour behind us. Their school has grades PreK through 3rd grade, with the jaguar as their mascot.

Together, Amanda McCoy and I read Ish by Peter H. Reynolds, the second book in the Creatrilogy series.

They showed us a few of the dots they had created and then demonstrated what happens when they open an app named Quiver over each dot. We were astonished when a seemingly flat dot on paper became a 3-D sphere that rotated like a spinning planet. We'll have to try that in our school! It was very cool!

Connection 3:
Mrs. Robbins' 3rd graders connected with Catherine Word's 2nd graders from Episcopal School of Baton Rouge in Louisiana. We did a mini-mystery skype with them, where we gave each other some clues to help us guess which states we are from. Their clues to us were: they have lots of alligators, the state is shaped like a boot, they have lots of seafood, and the state starts with the letter L :  Louisiana.

 We noticed their computer lab behind the children. They have new touch-screen computers this year. Lucky!

Catherine's class had just finished their book choosing, so we asked what are some of their favorite books. Bad Kitty, Flat Stanley, Magic Tree House and Junie B. Jones were mentioned. We have these books, too, in our library, and are some of our favorites!
We were able to share with them a signal that we use to indicate we share a connection with someone else. Extending your pinky and your thumb out and curling your remaining fingers down (looks like you're about to hold a phone to your ear), rock your hand forward and backward between you and the other person. If your friend says he likes the Bad Kitty books, you can silently show him you do too by using this special hand signal.

We actually ran out of time to read to each other, we were so busy asking questions.

Connection 4:
After lunch, Mrs. Clark's kindergarten class connected with another group of kindergartners at Chamberlin School in South Burlington with Cally Flickinger in her library. Their school has grades K through 5, and they have about 250 students.

We noticed when we shared the map that their school is very near the airport. They said the planes are loud at times. We also noticed that we are close enough to each other's school that it would take only 19 minutes to get there by car.

Together, Cally Flickinger and I read Ish by Peter H. Reynolds aloud to our kindergartners. 

Connection 5:
In the afternoon, Mrs. Day's class got to connect with Sherell Stepp's kindergartners from Gilbert Primary School in Gilbert, South Carolina, which is more than 1000 miles away from us. They started school a week earlier than we did, and their school day runs from 7:20 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

                                                                                Librarian Sherell Stepp and I read Ish by Peter H. Reynolds aloud to our kindergartners.  After enjoying the story, we took turns asking each other questions about where we live. They don't usually get snow in the winter time the way we do. They can drive to the beach at the ocean in about 1 and a half hours.

Connection 6:
Our last group of the day, Mrs. Heppner's kindergartners skyped with Mary Priske's 1st graders of Washington Elementary in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Their school is more than 1,150 miles away from ours!

Their school has about 600 students from PreK through 4th grade. Their mascot is a mustang. Their school has a Bernese Mountain therapy dog named Joy.                             

During our time together Mary Priske and I shared the reading of Ish to our students.

It was so much fun to visit them, so friendly and fun!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Celebrating World Read Aloud Day all week long - Day 2

Visit the home page for World Read Aloud Day.

Tuesday... Day 2

Mrs. Thayer's 2nd grade class connected with Andy Plemmons 2nd grade kids. We took turns reading to each other from Peter Brown's Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. Each group formed a line in their own library, and read alternate pages to their cyber guests.

photo from Andy Plemmons, David C. Barrow Elementary


We learned that their school day is longer than ours by about 30 minutes. We joked that they should be smarter than us.

Mrs. Snedeker's 1st grade skyped simultaneously with two other classes: Angie Dickerson's 6th graders from Hillcrest School in Lebanon, Missouri, and Sherell Stepp's 1st grade class of Gilbert Primary School in Gilbert, South Carolina. The 6th graders read Mo Willems' Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! to our two first grade classes. It's so cool to hear the older kids read to the younger ones! Go Readers!

It was the first time any of us had ever connected as a threesome on skype, and we had no problems, fortunately.

Flower Hill is an elementary school in Gaithersburg, Maryland. That's where Mrs. Meehan's 2nd grade class met Melissa McDonald's 1st graders. We took turns reading together Mo Willems' Watch Me Throw the Ball. We also compared a few state symbols, and our weather.

Next, Mrs. Synnott's kindergarten class connected with another kindergarten class with Shannon Hyman at Kaechele Elementary School in Glen Allen, Virginia. Shannon did a fantastic reading of Oh No! by Candace Fleming and had both groups of kindergartners chiming in on the "oh no" part.

Librarian Alice Harwood skyped for her first World Read Aloud Day with Mrs. McNeish's kindergartners. Union Street Elementary is in the southern part of our state in Springfield, Vermont. Three 4th grade students treated us to a read-aloud of Mo Willems' There's a Bird on Your Head!  We loved it!

We looked at a map to see how far apart we are. It would take us about 2.5 hours to drive to their school. 

For Mrs. Seligman's 1st grade class we traveled very far from Essex Elementary to connect with Meghan Nels 2nd and 3rd graders at Turtle River Montessori School in Jupiter, Florida. We read Bob Shea's Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great!

Their school is a PreK through 8th grade and is located just north of West Palm Beach. They were very impressed with our snow (I brought the webcam to the doorway looking outside.).

The week goes on. Read more about Day 1.