Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Day the Crayons Quit

We recently read a very funny book, The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt.
September 30th was designated Support the Crayons Day. The crayons are tired of being overworked and over-used, and are finally speaking up. Each crayon writes a letter to Duncan, the owner of the crayons, encouraging, pleading or cajoling him to consider using them to color different objects than they usually do.

This hilarious book happens to be one of the 10 nominees on this year's Red Clover Award list, Vermont's children's choice book award. Click here to see the other nominees for this year.

The book ends with a wonderful mural by Duncan who manages to make all his crayons happy:

This inspired us to have our K, 1st and 2nd graders work on creating their own murals.

Here are the completed murals being hung in the cafeteria for all to see and enjoy!

Kindergarten Mural Based on Drew Daywalt's book The Day the Crayons Quit
Kindergarten Mural based on the book The Day the Crayons Quit from Carol Scrimgeour on Vimeo.

1st Grade Mural part 1 from Carol Scrimgeour on Vimeo.

1st Grade Mural part 2 from Carol Scrimgeour on Vimeo.

2nd Grade Mural Based on Drew Daywalt's book The Day the Crayons Quit
2nd Grade Mural based on The Day the Crayons Quit from Carol Scrimgeour on Vimeo.

2nd Grade Mural Part 2 based on the book The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt from Carol Scrimgeour on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Celebrating International Dot Day All Week Long...

We had an amazing week in the Learning Center celebrating International Dot Day during the week of September 15 - 19. We connected with schools in eleven states and one province in Canada: Alabama, Georgia, California, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Ontario.

It all started with this diminutive book The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds. 
Dot Cover
Now schools worldwide celebrate this book and its powerful message on and around September 15th.

We have celebrated Dot Day before but only within the walls of our school. This year I was able to connect with librarians and teachers all over the U.S. and Canada as we compared our schedules and made plans to coordinate our classes.

~ ~ Monday ~ ~

On Monday we connected with 5 different classes in four schools. Mrs. Rotach's 1st Grade class connected with Mrs. Sheahin's 4th Grade class at Flower Hill Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland. As did Mrs. Yandell's 2nd graders connect with Mrs. Ibrahim's 1st graders at Flower Hill. All thanks to their librarian, Melissa McDonald, who collaborated with me to coordinate our visits. 
Flower Hill Elementary School, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Melissa McDonald mentions our school in her blog posting about her Dot Day connections. Click here to see her pictures and to read more.

Mrs. Tracy's 1st grade class connected with Mrs. Williams' class at Willard School in Shapleigh, Maine.

Ms. Rowley's kindergartners skyped with Mrs. Hilgenkamp's Kindergarten students from Prairie Hill Elementary in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Mrs. Day's kindergartners skyped with Art teacher, Kimberly Sunkel, and her kindergarten class at Morton Ranch Elementary School in Katy, Texas.

~ ~ Tuesday ~ ~

Mrs. Thayer's 2nd grade students connected on Tuesday morning with Mrs. Halici's 4th graders at Flower Hill Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Mrs. Meehan's 2nd graders skyped with Mrs. Bohan's 1st graders. Their teacher librarian, Melissa McDonald, worked with me to coordinate our visits. It was fun to compare how far apart our two schools are; it would take longer than the school day to drive there.
Flower Hill Elementary School, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Mrs. McDonald read Press Here, a fun interactive book by Herve Tullet to Mrs. Meehan's class. Here they are moving and grooving:

Mrs. Snedeker's 1st grade class got to skype with another 1st grade class in their library with Teacher Librarian Tobey Rhodes in Woodruff, South Carolina. We noticed their accents sounded different from ours.
Woodruff Primary School in Woodruff, South Carolina

Our next video chat took us all the way out to Parker, Colorado, just outside of Denver, at Pine Grove Elementary. Mrs. Synnott's K-students met another kindergarten class, with the help of Kimmarie Lee and Mrs. Tuggle.
Pine Grove Elementary School in Denver, Colorado

Mrs. McNeish's kindergarten class connected with Angie Harrison's K-class at Lake Wilcox Public School, in Keswick, Ontario, north of Toronto.
Lake Wilcox Public School in Keswick, Ontario

Mrs. Seligman's 1st grade class got to skype with Karen Gelles' 1st graders way south at Bear Creek Elementary in Euless, Texas. We discovered that they were having really hot weather, while we had had frost at the beginning of the week. 

Bear Creek Elementary School in Euless, Texas

~ ~ Wednesday ~ ~

Mrs. Waldo's kindergarten enjoyed connecting with Mrs. Synthia Howell's kindergartners at Julian Newman Elementary in Athens, Alabama. We read The Dot together and asked each other questions about our schools.

Julian Newman Elementary School in Athens, Alabama

Nicole Czarnecki's 2nd grade class from Valley Road Elementary School in Clark, New Jersey, skyped with Mrs. Varricchione's 2nd graders. We were having a great visit but unfortunately the internet connection in our school hiccuped and we lost the connection. When we reestablished contact we could no longer hear them so we ended up having to say goodbye.

~ ~ Thursday ~ ~

Ms. Badore's 2nd graders got to connect with Jennifer Reed's 2nd grade class in their library at Mason-Rice Elementary School in Newton, Massachusetts. We noticed they used a cordless microphone which really made it easier for children to have a turn speaking. I think we could hear them better that way, too! Mrs. Reed and I took turns reading The Dot.
Mason-Rice Elementary School in Newton, Massachusetts
Jennifer Reed reading to her class - our class is on the screen
You can read teacher-librarian Jennifer Reed's post about Dot Day week by clicking here.

Mrs. Robbins' 2nd graders did a Google Hangout with Melissa McDonald and a 1st grade class in her library at Flower Hill Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland. They shared some of their dot artwork and we did too. They also shared pictures of some of their state symbols. We learned their school has a mascot, a falcon!
Flower Hill Elementary School, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Our North Carolina skype partners came from Copeland Elementary School in Dobson, with Rebecca Bennett's 4th grade class video chatting with Sonia Clark's kindergartners.
Copeland Elementary School, Dobson, North Carolina

Gail Heppner's kindergartners had already had some previous experience doing a group skype when they connected with Vanessa Lugo Acevedo's kindergarten class at Fairmont Elementary School in Denver, Colorado.
DCIS at Fairmont Elementary School, Denver, Colorado

~ ~ Friday ~ ~

Mrs. Pariseau's 1st graders connected with Mrs. McDonald's 4th graders, while Mrs. Epstein's 2nd graders got to cyber-visit with Mrs. McDonald's 1st graders, each time in the library at Flower Hill Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland. We shared this map so everyone could see how far apart we are. They are really close to Washington D.C. so it's quite easy to go there for a visit. Lucky them!
Flower Hill Elementary School, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Mrs. Acanfora's class had to wait a full week to reconnect with their skype partner, due to a miscommunication. We did get to speak to Mrs. Rhodes, the librarian, but we had just missed the children. So, on Friday the 26th we returned once again to Woodruff Primary School to skype with Tobey Rhodes and a first grade class in her library in Woodruff, South Carolina. This time we had an opportunity to ask each other questions to compare our two schools. Students took turns speaking in front of the camera, saying their name, and asking a question of the other school. We learned that they are exactly the same grade levels as EES, including 3 year old and 4 year old preschools, but they have more than 850 students in their school. Their kindergarten classes typically have 30 students each, with one teacher, one assistant, and one half-day assistant. That is very different from how it is in our school. This first grade class had 25 students in it. Together we looked at the map showing the distance between our two schools.
Woodruff Primary School in Woodruff, South Carolina

And, now for something completely different, Mrs. Ayers' 1st graders skyped with Andy Plemmons' students at Barrow Elementary School in Athens, Georgia for a little pirate talk to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day. Andy and I took turns reading No Pirates Allowed, Said Library Lou by Rhonda Gowler-Greene. Andy was decked out in full pirate regalia! We also compared the weather in our two states, and discovered that they have Krispy Kreme donut stores in their area while we do not. That Friday the Krispy Kreme stores were giving a dozen donuts free to anyone who came in to the store wearing a pirate costume, in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day. Read more of what Andy Plemmons wrote about by clicking here.
David C. Barrow Elementary School in Athens, Georgia

Heather Jensen and her 2nd graders skyped with Mrs. Joecks' 2nd graders near the end of our day, but because of the time difference we learned they hadn't reached lunchtime yet. Their school is in Oxnard, California, 3 hours earlier than us. They reported that sometimes they can smell the smoke of the wildfires and sometimes ash falls out of the sky where they are. Their state is so big, they told us that it can take around 14 hours to drive from one end to the other, north to south. That's huge!

St.John's Lutheran School in Oxnard, California

This was a powerful experience for our children. A week later they were able to recall many details of our cyber-visits, more than I could! 

A huge thank you to all my Dot connections. I could not have done this without you!

  • Synthia Howell of Julian Newman Elementary School, Athens, Alabama
  • Heather Jensen and Lorie Hochberg of St. John's Lutheran School, Oxnard, California
  • Kimmarie Lee and Theresa Tuggle of Pine Grove Elementary School, Parker, Colorado
  • Vanessa Lugo Acevedo of DCIS at Fairmont Elementary School, Denver, Colorado
  • Andy Plemmons of Barrow Elementary School, Athens, Georgia
  • Alyssa Calhoun of Prairie Hill Elementary, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Julie Williams of Willard Elementary School, Shapleigh, Maine
  • Melissa McDonald of Flower Hill Elementary School, Gaithersburg, Maryland
  • Jennifer Reed of Mason-Rice Elementary School, Newton, Massachusetts
  • Angie Harrison of Lake Wilcox Public School, Keswick, Ontario, Canada
  • Nicole Czarnecki of Valley Road Elementary School, Clark, New Jersey
  • Rebecca Bennett of Copeland Elementary School, Dobson, North Carolina
  • Tobey Rhodes of Woodruff Primary School, Woodruff, South Carolina
  • Kimberly Sunkel and Nidia Casillas of Morton Ranch Elementary School, Katy, Texas
  • Karen Gelles of Bear Creek Elementary School, Euless, Texas

I am excited to celebrate Dot Day again next year, but I won't wait that long before I connect with other classrooms around the world. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Here come the books...

Summer books get returned
We have checked in literally hundreds of books in the last few days.  I am so pleased that the Summer Check-outs were a success! Last Friday I drove over to Founders Memorial School to collect six boxes full of books returned from our former second graders. And the bags keep coming...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer Check Outs and Summer Library Hours!

     My role is all about getting kids to read and keeping them reading. It simply doesn't make sense to close up the library for the summer. All those books sitting and waiting for the children to come back... So sad for the books and the children. Why not do things a little differently? 

I decided to try Summer Check Outs with my students for the first time.

I ordered bags from Demco: 

This has been done before by our sister school, Founders Memorial School, as well as other neighboring districts. It was time to try it ourselves.

A letter went home in late May giving families the option of not participating. During the last week of school, each class came to choose their 5 summer books. Each student received a bag for their books, plus a print-out of their checkouts.  
2nd graders with their bags o'books!
But why stop there with summer checkouts?  Why not be open during the summer? Our principal, Peter Farrell, approved my proposal. Letters went home advertising our hours. It was posted on our website, and we used a sandwich board on the roadside to advertise.


     The school library was open for six weeks on Wednesdays. I choose an early opening time to accommodate parents who might stop by on their way to dropping off their children at camp. Each week we had between 30-40 children and parents stop in, which was pleasantly surprising. I had so much fun! It was a great time to get to know the parents and younger siblings better, talk about summer plans, and even what adult books were being read.

     I think it would be worthwhile to do this again next summer. However, what I would really like to see happen for the community of Essex is the establishment of a book mobile that would bring books right into the hands of children who cannot make it to the public library or our school. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Eileen Christelow - Vermont Author & Illustrator

Eileen Christelow visited our school on May 22, 2014, thanks to a grant from our generously supportive PTO.

     Having an author visit your school is always a treat; you get to bask in their light and absorb their wisdom and experiences for the day.  It proved true with Eileen! On their way to their classrooms when they first arrived in the morning, the kids peeked into the library .  All the shelves have been pushed out of the way and the space looks cavernous.  "Whoaaaa! Is she here yet?" they whispered.  Not yet, but soon!, I told them.  The excitement in the air is nearly tangible.  The whole school has been reading Eileen Christelow's books for the last month or so.  I have raided nearly every public library in my county of their copies of Eileen's books, so that we have lots available for my big school.  We have read, we have laughed, we have noticed, we have explored, we have adored.  I think we are ready for her!

     As an aside, Eileen has two great websites.  Visit them here and here.  They have lots of fun activities and cool comic strip interviews by the adorable Emma dog to read. (Make sure to see the pictures of Emma and her felted look-alike further down the page.)

Our second graders love Eileen Christelow's books!

Eileen Christelow has had a very prolific career, writing more than 30 books.
Eileen's first published book - 1982    and      most recently published - 2013

Some are inspired by true stories:

Some are mysteries:

Some are just downright fun:

Some are nonfiction:

And all of them are laugh-out-loud great!

Multiple times the children would exclaim at the end of the story, "Thaat was a good story!"  I absolutely love to hear children say that.  In this age of digital everything, I am thrilled when a seemingly old-fashioned technology pulls the rug right out from under us.  Eileen is a masterful storyteller.  She knows how to put a twist at the end of the story that takes everyone by surprise, completely undoing our predictions.  And her illustrations?  So much fun!  There's a lot going on in her pictures, and readers soon learn they have to keep their eyes peeled for those details that give clues to the story.  

We learned about Eileen's early years as a writer.  The slides were drawn by Eileen and particularly engaging.

It is so cool to watch
 an artist draw!

How to add expressions with eyebrows
Eileen shows the students how to change a character's expression with a few simple lines.
Signing books after lunch


Lulu the Babysitter comes to life before our very eyes!

What does Lulu see when she opens the door?  It's a great writing prompt. You take the story from here!

Our Main Hallway display of The Art of Hope and Healing from Vermont authors & illustrators

The Desperate Dog Writes Again (2010) - gift from Eileen Christelow

Five Dog Night (1993) - gift from Eileen Christelow


And here is the felted Emma modeled from the books

top view

Thank you, Eileen Christelow, for coming to our school.  We were honored to have you visit us!  We are looking forward to your next story.  Whatever it is, we know it will be wonderful!