Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Woo hoo! I got a story clue!

See the smiles on these kinder kids' faces? They were happy because they got to hold story clues during last week's story time. Before reading a book to kindergarteners, I show them 3-5 objects that relate to the story. They try to guess what the story is about using the clues, which helps to develop good speaking and listening habits along with a host of other language arts skills. It's so neat to see the progress they make in their story predictions from the beginning of the year to the end!

Story clues are easy to incorporate into story time and kids eagerly await their turn to hold them. Stuffed animals and inexpensive small toys make up the majority of my story clue collection. 

So how many of you use story clues when introducing new books to your kids? If you do, I'll bet you've noticed that behavior instantly improves with the mere mention of the word "clues". And good behavior paired with a good story will get a "WOO HOO" from me any day!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book Fair Fun

It's book fair time! This coming week the library will be hosting a Scholastic Book Fair and the kids and staff are so excited! 
Hosting a book fair is a huge job because, for starters, it doesn't magically set itself up. In fact, it takes a lot of work to get a book fair ready, as one of my 5th graders reminded me last week. My book fair was delivered on Monday, and on Tuesday this student poked his head into the library. Here's how our conversation went:

Me (looking up from my computer): "Huh?"
Me: "Don't worry, I've got it covered. Now get back to class!"

That thrill over a book fair never seems to go away. Even adults get excited at the mere mention of the the event! Friday afternoon some of my wonderful library volunteers and PTA moms helped me unpack and arrange our school's fall book fair. I think it looks really good. Take a look! 
(Cue the "ooohs" and "ahhhs"...)


I have a big smile here because this was a posed completely spontaneous picture to show the joys of selling items at a book fair. I'll be the first to admit that hosting a book fair is not always sunshine and lollipops. Allow me to present the photo above as exhibit A--note the non-cluttered cash register table--very nice, right?! By Tuesday it will be covered with stacks of books and miscellaneous items to put away because people either: a.) changed their minds about what to buy, or b.) couldn't afford them in the first place. This table will also be littered with a collection of random papers, book fair flyers, sticky notes, trash, and pens. (Speaking of pens, the Murphy's Law of Book Fairs holds that they will mysteriously disappear the exact moment someone needs one to write a check.)

Exhibit B--no long lines of restless students and stressed-out parents here yet, but come Monday morning this place will be a zoo! And let's not forget about clueless kindergartners who can't count money but are laden with baggies full of pennies and nickels. You don't see them in this photo, but they are sure to make an appearance! 
Don't get me wrong; there are many things I like about the book fair. I enjoy the smell of brand-new books and the thrill of finding awesome stories to share with my classes. However, the best part of having a book fair is seeing so many kids get pumped up over books. All the hard work and effort put into running a book fair is worth it when a student says, "Yessss! You have the book I want to read!" 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Library Characters

I'm ba-ack! It has been a while since my last post and my only excuse is that I'm finding it a challenge to juggle family activities/schedules, work responsibilities, and blogging stuff.

Our library has had a few visitors since the beginning of school! One surprise guest in September was Miss Lotty, a.k.a. the Library Dragon!
Yep, she sports a dragon tail and stylish beehive hairdo!
If you're not familiar with the story The Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy, it's about a librarian named Miss Lotta Scales who is hired to guard the books at an elementary school. She starts out as a real dragon by not doing story time or letting the students even touch the library books. Of course, by the end of the story she transforms into Miss Lotty, a more kid-friendly librarian who allows the books to be checked out and even introduces story time in the library! A sequel book, Return of the Library Dragon, was recently published and I feel certain my students will be seeing more of Miss Lotty in the near future.

 Jumoke the baby gorilla continues to make occasional appearances at our library, but most of the time she is "napping" in the back office. Almost every class wants to know where she is and when they'll get to see her again, so to preserve my own sanity this past week I told them that she was away visiting a zoo! Who knows, that zoo trip may turn into an extended stay...

Last week's story Porkenstein, by Kathryn Lasky, brought out my inner scientist/inventor persona:
This is a great Halloween story that I read to pre-k through 4th grade classes. After the story, we had fun with science experiments. Please note that I use the word "science" loosely here, as the experiments involved water-filled beakers, cake sprinkles, an old TV cable, and a singing pig stuffed animal! Suffice it to say that I probably won't be awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry any time soon.

That's all of the library characters for now, friends. I'm signing off but am determined to do a better job of keeping up with the blogging world from now on. Who knows, maybe my next character will be called Super Blogger!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Wild Library Orientation!

The library finally opened to students last week with a "Wild about Reading" theme. My new library aide, Jumoke the pet gorilla, helped to make the lesson super fun for the kids!
Look closely at my right hand--it is totally a fake! My real right hand is shoved up inside the gorilla to operate the puppet. 
 I named her Jumoke because it is a real gorilla name and means "loved by everybody" in Nigerian. Although she didn't say a word, the kids were fascinated by her and wanted to know if she was real!  Jumoke and I led the kids around the library to check on the animals and make sure none of them had escaped from their cages.
For each cage there was at least one animal that had "escaped", which the students had to help find and return to the cage. Of course all of the escapees were discovered reading books not too far from their cages! This activity served to give the students a tour of the different sections of the library and a chance for me to go over rules and procedures. 
Wild animals have taken over the library! These 5 cages are placed in different sections of the library and will stay out all year long.
This has been a fun theme to decorate for because animal print is so popular and easy to find. I did have to make the cages (with a little help from hubby). We used 1x2 boards to make the frames, then primed and painted them. 

Once they were painted black, it was time to add the "bars". We cut pieces from a 1/4 inch soaker hose (50 feet per package) and stapled them to the cages. 

They were fairly easy to make and inexpensive, although I have no idea where I'll store them next year! Here's a close-up of a finished cage:

The kids fell in love with Jumoke and begged to touch her. She was a big help with behavior management--if a class was too noisy she would hide her head down into my side until they got quiet. 

Jumoke was such a hit with the students that she'll definitely be coming back to visit. So far we're off to a great start, and hopefully with Jumoke's help my students will be WILD about READING this school year!


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Wild about Reading!

TA DA!  My bulletin board is finally done. Every year I embarrass showcase my teachers on the library's bulletin board. Students love to see their favorite teachers promote reading by flying, cooking, or, as is the case this year, squeezing into child-sized animal masks! (I have to add that my teachers are such good sports! There was hardly any grumbling at all about taking a picture while wearing a silly mask. I think they secretly liked it...)

Can you "spot" my pigeon-loving bloggy buddy Reagan Tunstall?

This year our whole school has adopted the popular "wild about learning" theme, and I already have some fun surprises up my sleeve for the students and their teachers! Classes will experience a wild library orientation lesson beginning the first week of September, where my goal is for kids to totally go BANANAS for BOOKS! Be sure to stay tuned--I have a feeling that some "wild" pictures from that orientation will be posted here soon!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bow Wow! It's a Puppy Palooza and a Huge TpT Sale!

What do you get when you mix puppies, learning to read, and learning to write stories?
These two great books!
Click here to learn more about Tad Hills and his awesome books!
Some of you will remember that I've recommended Tad Hills' "Rocket" stories before, but with the start of school right around the corner for many of us, I wanted to remind everyone about these fabulous books. They are perfect for the beginning of the year! And what kid doesn't like puppies?

Even before the first "Rocket" story was published, we were mixing puppies and reading here at my house.
That's my daughter (in 2008) reading to Butterball and Samson, our brand new Labrador puppies!
Samson and Butterball were birthday gifts for my kids, and were featured on my daughter's 8th birthday invitation in this picture from four years ago:
Two high-energy puppies, a hammock and one 8-year old girl made for a fun photo shoot!

When Samson and Butterball were about 6 months old, we took them to our church for Animal Blessing Day. And believe me, they needed all the blessings they could get because, let's just say they were not always on their best behavior!

2 dogs + holidays = FUN!
Halloween 2008

Christmas 2008
But out of all the "kids with dogs" pictures, these two are my favorites:

Now that's some serious Puppy Love!

It's obvious that kids and puppies are a good mix. Look what happens when you share "How Rocket Learned to Read" and then introduce your class to a basket of puppies (the stuffed animal kind):
 Adopt us!

Choosing a name collar for puppy

 We're gonna be best buds!

 Reading to puppy

"Teaching" puppy to read important words

All ready for a Puppy Reading Parade!

See all the cool stuff that can happen when you add puppies to your classroom? Go out and buy "How Rocket Learned to Read" and "Rocket Writes a Story" by Tad Hills and then head over to my TpT store and pick up both "Puppy Palooza" units for a whole lot of fun, educational activities to go along with the books. The units are only $4.00 each, but TpT is having a gigantic sale August 12-13, so you can get them (and everything else in my store) for nearly 30% off!

While you're there, take a look at a few other "puppy" items in my store you might be interested in as well:
Puppy Palooza Transportation Bracelets $2.50

Puppy Palooza Student Desk Tags (5 different designs) FREE!

Here's hoping that you find enough goodies in TpT's Back to School Sale to say "Bow WOW"!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Help! I've (bloggy) fallen and I can't get up!

Yikes! Is it August already? Seriously? Where has the summer gone? I have less than 2 weeks left before district meetings, work days, inservice, etc. start up again and I am NOT ready, people! I didn't get all the things checked off my summer "to do" list yet, and I have been an absentee blogger to boot. 

What happened to June and July? You didn't ask for it, but here it is--my summer in pictures: 

JUNE ~ We kicked off summer with a marshmallow roast in the backyard!
I listened to the sounds of summer in June. A LOT. This noisy bug evidently loves Texas and was out in force. Multiply him by like a gazillion and you have so much noise you can't hear yourself think! 

I met (and melted) with a Squirrel at the Central Texas Blogger Meet-Up!

Went to Mexico with the family, but left early due to a family situation back home. Definitely the low-point of my summer.

More melting! Fun in the sun at Six Flags Fiesta Texas with Reagan.

I played a lot of Words With Friends and even got a word worth 143 points! Can you say "word nerd"? How sad is it that this was a highlight of my summer?!

Umm, speaking of words, I learned some new ones. I found time to do a little summer reading (and blushed 50 shades of RED)!!!  I'm pretty sure if I had an "inner goddess", she'd be blushing, too.

I finally got a new car! Well, new to me, anyway--it's a 2010 Acura MDX. Here I am trying to be patient while filling out all the paperwork. 
And here it is in my driveway--ain't she purty?!!

Did you notice that there was no mention of school? That's crazy because I have a ton of stuff to prepare for this year and I haven't really worried about it, at least not until I got this text from an over-achieving friend yesterday:

I love her last response! "Forever" isn't much of an exaggeration--that girl has been working hard and her room is looking so good! In fact, while I've been writing this post I got another text from her about going up to school to work! I'm sure many of you, like Reagan, are  spending your time off working on school projects--I just haven't fully gotten into "school mode" yet.

The only school-related project I have worked on is another Puppy Palooza unit for my TpT store. Puppy Palooza 2 is based on the book "Rocket Writes a Story", which is a sequel to "How Rocket Learned to Read" by Tad Hills.

This is a great book and perfect for primary-aged kids just beginning to write! Even if you don't get the unit, consider buying this newly-released book--you won't regret it! 

If you are interested in fun activities to go with the book, click here to go to my TpT store. For some reason, there are glitches with downloading the preview file from TpT that haven't been resolved yet, so I've included the preview here:
Are you wondering about all the owl stuff in a unit called Puppy Palooza 2? Rocket's new friend in the book is a shy owl, so there you go...

And here I go--off to soak up the summer sun and NOT think about school!