Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The One About Z - Z is for Moose

This is one of the newest additions to my classroom library.  A cute alphabet book involving a disgruntled moose who's just trying to find his place in the book and alphabet.  When he's skipped over for "M" he tries his best to fit into every other letter's page; much to the chagrin of the narrator, Zebra.

It's nothing super fancy or special, but it is a cute alphabet book.  I typically read my alphabet books at the beginning of the year as we review the letters, their sounds, and the alphabet in general.  However, I recently got this one so we had to read it.  The kids loved it and found Moose's antics hilarious.  They also enjoyed the pictures and clever writing. If you're not familiar with it I suggest you give it a shot.

 I don't have a ton of ideas or activities for this book.  I think it fits perfectly as a simple alphabet book.  At least that's how I plan on using it next year.  What about you?  How do you use this book if you have it?  What are some ways you like to use alphabet books in your classroom?  

Thanks for hopping by!  

Monday, April 29, 2013

The One About Y - Yertle the Turtle

Is this seriously the first appearance of Dr. Seuss on my list?  Shame on me!  How can that be?!

Well, I love me some Dr. Seuss.  I mean, who doesn't?  Especially in 1st Grade.  He's an icon.  The kids love him as much as I do.  We have Dr. Seuss Day and a week full of themed activities.  It's about time he joined the list.

"Yertle the Turtle" is actually just one story in the book Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories.  However, it is the first of the three stories and my favorite by far.  Although "Gertrude McFuzz" comes in as a close second; but we're not here to discuss Gertrude.  

Oh King Yertle.  The power hungry, social climbing, greedy, and selfish turtle king.  He is not a nice man.  He literally steps all over anyone and everyone he can to elevate himself (again, literally) above everyone around him.  However, he quickly learns that a tower made of oppressed turtles is not stable, especially when the base turtle burps.

Like many of Dr. Seuss' stories, there is such a powerful lesson to be learned here.  No one, or turtle for that matter, is any better than anyone else.  We should not use others to get what we want.  Be content with what you have.  I'm sure there are others, but these three are the ones I always cover when I read this.  Obviously it is read and included as a part of my Dr. Seuss unit.  Every year the kids love Yertle.  They enjoy seeing him get his comeuppance.  Plus it mentions burping and, let's face it, when you're 6/7 burping makes any story exponentially better!

I also have a cute activity where the kids state whether or not Yertle was a good kind and why.  They then make a turtle and past their writings on the shell.  Super cute, fun, and easy.  They always hang on our bulletin board out in the hallway for all to see.

So, what about you?  Are you familiar with Yertle?  What do you think?  How do you include his cautionary tale in your classroom?  Can you believe it took 25 letters to get Dr. Seuss on the list?

Thanks for hopping by!       

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The One About X - X-Men and Xerxes

And I though "Q" was difficult.  

Unless you're going to read some X-Men comics or a biography about Xerxes, then you're pretty limited when it comes to reading something with a title beginning with "X".

I don't own a book that begins with "X".  Every other letter?  Sure, even "Q".  But "X"?  Nope.  So, I can't be of much help to you today.  Unless of course you find yourself a fan of the X-Men or Xerxes.

I read X-Men comics when I was a kid, but I don't have any in the classroom.  Time to change that?  I have read that providing comics to kids is a good way to get them interested in reading.  But then again I have also read that it is not.  Hmmmm, I wonder which is true.

Have you ever seen the movie 300?  King Xerxes in that movie is pretty wicked cool looking.  But that pretty much sums up my knowledge of him as I have never read any biographies.  Well, I guess he's mentioned in The Bible, but other than that.

So, there you have it.  2 choices to feel your "X" titled book needs.  Comics or biographies of ancient Persian kings.  Take your pick!

Any good "X" books you know of?  Any?  

Thanks for hopping by!

Friday, April 26, 2013

The One About W - Wombat Divine

Another Mem Fox book. Another favorite. 

Poor Wombat. He so desperately wants to be part of the Nativity play. But he's big. And loud. And clumsy. But worry not, there is a place for everyone and each of us has our own gifts that we can bring. 

Such a great story. I always read this one at Christmas for obvious reasons. But we also talk about being yourself and that everyone is needed. Told you that was one of my favorite themes in books. 

As with Mem Fox's other books this one is chock full of Australian-centric animals and terms. I also love this aspect of her books. I mean, how often do you get to read about emus, koalas, and kookaburras?  Well, outside of Australia that is. 

I highly suggest you include this one in your Christmas collection. Don't worry you have plenty of time to find it. You'll be glad you did

What do you think?  A fan?  Of Mem Fox?  Wombat Divine?  Wombats in general?  

Thanks for hopping by!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The One About V - Verdi

Remember Janell Cannon from a few posts back?  Stellaluna?  Well, I'm here to sing her praises as an author/illustrator once again.

Verdi is one of my all-time favorite books.  Yes, another.  I love this book and always have.  The story is fantastic.  Learning to be happy in being yourself is a favorite theme of mine and one that cannot be overdone, in my opinion.  Also applicable is encouraging the kids to enjoy their childhood and not to rush into everything.  Sometimes kids, even as young as 1st Graders, are so eager to be adults that they overlook the joys in being 6/7.  It's a catch 22 though because that is knowledge that comes with age and wisdom.  I also tell that to my kids.  Does it sink in?  I don't know, but at least I try.  Maybe in all of these years it will affect one kiddo and it will have all been worth it.  Throw in more beautiful pictures with a wonderful story and Janell Cannon has done it again.

I read this book fairly early in the school year and always at least once more throughout the year.  The kids love it too and find Verdi's antics and personality hilarious.  As do I.  I wish I had a Book Buddy to go with this book, that would make my day.  I should start a search for one.  A small yellow snake shouldn't be too difficult to come by.

What about you?  Familiar with Verdi?  Janell Cannon?  What do you think?

Thanks for hopping by!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The One About U - Umbrella

A Caldecott Honor book.  So you know it's a good one.  A classic.  

A sweet tale of a little Japanese girl who receives an umbrella for her 3rd birthday and longs to use it, even though it is the middle of summer.  Eventually it rains and she proudly carries her umbrella with her.  Taro Yashima has written, and illustrated, a cute little tale that captures a child's perspective on life perfectly.  

I've used this book when we learn about weather (rain obviously) as well as whenever we have any multicultural studies as it does include Japanese characters for some words.  It's a simple tale.  Nothing adventurous or wild.  However, I think that its simplicity is exactly what makes  the book so wonderful.

Are you familiar with this book?  If so, what do you enjoy about it?  How have you used it?  If you have not been exposed to it, I suggest you give it a try.  It's different than most stories written now, it's over 50 years old, but that just makes it all the more interesting.  The fact that it is something different.  Simple.  

Thanks for hopping by!  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The One About T - There Was An Old Lady . . .

Who swallowed a fly. 

You know the book. It's a classic. I love it. I have a fun Book Buddy to go with it. But it's not the book I'm mentioning here. Nope. I'm talking about the series by Lucille Colandro. 

I case you're unfamiliar with them, they're seasonal/topic books with a twist on the original theme. For example, in There Was A Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow a little old lady swallows many winter-themed items including the aforementioned snow, carrot, scarf, etc. At the end, she coughs up a snowman!  See a twist on the original book with some fun regurgitation. 

The kids love these books because they enjoy trying to figure out what she will be coming up at the end. I love them because they're fun and themed. I love a good themed book. There's the snow one for winter, and Easter one, a Valentine's Day one, and a summer-themed one to name a few. Yes, I own them all. 

I recommend these simply because they're fun additions to your thematic books/units. Also, they promote inferencing and thinking about the book as they're reading. Sometimes skills practice can be hidden and fun!

So, have you come across any of these books?  Way do you think?  Which one is your favorite?  I can't choose, they're all awesome!  Share your thoughts!

Thanks for hopping by!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The One About S - Stellaluna

I love this book!

Ok, so I say that a lot.  But I really do mean it each time.  Where do I begin with this story?  The beautiful illustrations by author/illustrator Janell Cannon?  The heartwarming story about self-discovery?  The suspenseful journey of a lost baby bat desperately trying to find her mother?  A story about how a friendship can grow despite differences?  Yes, yes, yes, and yes.  Plus I have a Book Buddy for this that the kids, boys and girls alike, adore!

There hasn't been a class that hasn't loved the story of Stellaluna.  Like myself, the kiddos always seem to find the story and pictures enthralling.  We go to this book time and time again to enjoy it.  It's just one of those books, there's just something about it.  At least for my kiddos and I that is.

I always read this one when we talk about friendship and fitting in.  We discuss how sometimes we are different and then try to hide those differences but it is always best to celebrate and use our differences.  It is also a go-to book when we study bats.  It doesn't have bat facts or info in it, but it just gives me another reason to read it! 

This is the first appearance of Janell Cannon on my list and I cannot wait to discuss the next one with you.  Are you a fan of her work?  What about Stellaluna?  Trust me, give it a try if you're unfamiliar, you'll fall in love!

Thanks for hopping by!      

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The One About R - Ramona

Who doesn't love Ramona?  How can you not love her?

One of my all-time favorite series from childhood.  I remember reading every one of the books when I was little.  When I began building my classroom library it was one of the first series I made sure I owned.  I've enjoyed reading these books again as an adult and read them all again for my Children's Literature class in college.  I love them.

I always read at least one book to my kiddos each year.  I usually start with Beezus and Ramona because I like things done sequentially, I don't like to jump around.  This year my kiddos really took to this book and wanted more so we moved on to Ramona the Pest.  We are finishing that book on Monday and I am hoping they will choose to start Ramona the Brave next.  The odds are in my favor as they are loving the books and whenever I read them they get so into the book they don't want to stop.  It makes me so happy!

It is always fun to read this to kids today because the original series was written in the 1950's so there are many vintage and dates wording and references.  However, the kids don't seem to mind.  Despite all of these things, they actually can still relate to Ramona. The themes covered in the books are universal and timeless.  Active children with even more active imaginations.  The struggles and plights of being a 5-6 year-old.  Plus, Ramona is just pure fun.  She's opinionated and silly.  They love her.  

I wanted to show them the latest movie based on the books, even though the likelihood that they've already seen it is pretty strong; but it is not streaming on Netflix so oh well. Maybe another time.  

One last thing about Ramona.  I have a little girl this year that reminds me of Ramona so very much.  I noticed it the very first day of school.  She fits the physical description of Ramona.  She fits the personality and demeanor of Ramona.  Her name even begins with an "R".  It's uncanny.  There have been several occasions this year when I've nearly called her Ramona, catching myself just in time!

So, what about you?  Did you love Ramona as a child?  Do you give her new life with a new generation?  What do your kiddos think?

Thanks for hopping by!  

Friday, April 19, 2013

The One About Q - Quarters and Queens

Ok, I'll be honest.  Books beginning with Q aren't that plentiful.  Well, at least not in my classroom library.  I guess it's lacking in that sense.  Maybe I should spend some time pursuing books whose titles begin with a Q?

I have 2.  Neither are anything super fancy or special.  I do use them, but I don't have overwhelming feelings for them as I have for the books from A-P.  But, since I'm being honest here, I'll mention them.  

The first is titled Quarters.  Yes, you can guess what it's about.  It's part of a little easy readers series on money.  It's good.  I use it when we learn about money.  But it's a short little book, nothing spectacular.

The other is titled Queen Bee's Scream.  Sure, it sounds fascinating, but its alright.  It also is a part of a Scholastic series on phonics.  This one targets the long e sound.  So, it's great for teaching that and we enjoy it.  But not anything to write home, or to your readers, about.

I Googled books beginning with Q and there are a lot.  Not many look striking at a glance and many are in Spanish with a title that begins with Que or Quien.  I don't teach Spanish.  

So, sorry.  No wonderful advice today on a book.  What about you?  Any favorites that begin with Q?  Anyone?  Anything?  Bueller?  Bueller?

Thanks for hopping by!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The One About P - Pete the Cat

Now I know you are familiar with Pete the Cat.  Right?  I mean he is totally hot right now.  Groovy in fact to quote the laid back feline.

I adore Pete and his books.  They are a fantastic way to teach the kiddos to relax and not stress about little things.  Well, at least that's how I use them.  That and just for fun.  In fact, we read them before our Achievement Tests recently as a reminder to just relax and go with the flow.

Surely you've had, or have now, a high strung student.  There's always one, or more.  Pete can help.  Maybe your kiddos are nervous about something, like a test.  Pete can help.  Maybe you've got some little friends who freak out over little things, making them into giant ordeals.  Pete can help.  Trust me.  Pete can always help.

In fact, I often quote him, "It's all good." in the classroom whenever there is a change in schedule or stressful/worrisome events arise.  WWPS.  What Would Pete Say.  I'll admit it, I've said that to my kiddos a time or two.  Or more.

In addition to the awesomeness of the books, you can go online to the publisher's website and listen to them read aloud by the author, along with an animation of the book's illustrations.  Score!  Check it out.  Before long, you and your students will be jamming to one of Pete's easygoing tunes.  

So, whether it's about Pete's first day at school, his new shoes, or buttons that just won't stay on his shirt, there's always time to slow down and chill out.  Just ask Pete!

Are you a Pete the Cat fan?  I'm dying for a Pete the Cat Book Buddy, maybe I'll find one over the summer.  Do you and your students enjoy Pete and his relaxed and positive outlook on life's little inconveniences?  

Thanks for hopping by!  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The One About O - Olivia

Who doesn't love this vivacious pig?  I have been a huge Olivia fan since her first book and thoroughly enjoy reading them all.  As you can see from the labels, I also have a Book Buddy and she is one of the kiddos' favorites.

While each of the books in this series are wonderful, it's the original Olivia that I love the most.  Maybe it's the witty little piglet herself?  Maybe it's the inclusion of famous pieces of artwork?  Maybe it's the simple and beautiful illustrations by Ian Falconer?  Maybe it's the smart and funny writing Ian Falconer.  Eh, who am I kidding, it's all of those (you know I'm a sucker for author/illustrators).  

I find Olivia hilarious and often laugh out loud when reading them to the kids.  As seems to be the case with a lot of the books I'm sharing, I read these to my kiddos just for fun.  Just for pure enjoyment's sake.  After all, isn't that the ultimate goal we strive for when teaching children to read?  I think so.

Now that the series and character have been booming there are cartoons and other books based upon the cartoon.  These are decent, they're not bad.  But I'm an Olivia purist and tend to stick with Falconer's works.  The kids seem to be drawn to them as well, or is it just my suggestiveness?  Either way they're awesome reads that you should definitely have in your classroom library!

Which is your favorite Olivia book?  Why do you love Olivia so much?  What do your kids think?

Thanks for hopping by!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The One About N - Never, Ever Shout in a Zoo!

Another silly story.  I don't know about you, but every field trip I have ever taken to the zoo is loud.  Maybe there's not shouting, but there definitely is excitement and noisy children.  Everywhere.

Luckily though, the antics that occur in this book have never happened to me, regardless of how loud we've been at the zoo.  One of the reasons I enjoy this story is because it is so outrageous and fun.  What kid doesn't like a story where animals run rampant through the zoo, all because of a little shout?    Another reason is the fact that it is written in a narrative tone where the author speaks to the reader, similar to Lulu and the Brontosaurus.  I find that my kiddos often enjoy this as well because it draws them into the book and helps get them to use their imagination, and this book is certainly one that feeds their active little imaginations.

As for using this in the classroom, I typically read it just for fun.  Sometimes you need a silly story to liven things up or break the monotony of a rough day.  However, you could easily take the surprise/twist ending a step further by having the students respond or continue it.  That would be a great idea for a class story or even individual writing.  I'm not sure if there is a follow-up or sequel to this story, I'll have to Google it, but it does lend itself to one at the end.  Do you know?

What do you think of this book?  Have you read it?  Do you enjoy it?  Any other fun zoo stories that you enjoy reading?  I've also read this prior to a zoo field trip, just for fun.

Thanks for hopping by.


Monday, April 15, 2013

The One About M - The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

OMG!  This might be one of my most favorite books of all-time.  I know I say that a lot, but seriously.  Seriously.

Have you read this book?  If not, stop reading it now and go buy the digital version.  I'll wait. . . . 

Ok, good.  So this book was given to me several years ago by a student.  Clearly above a 1st Grade reading level, but that just means it was destined to be a read aloud.  The first time I read it, by myself, prior to reading it to my kiddos I was mesmerized.  It was awesome.  I cried.  I got goosebumps.  I fell in love.  When I read it to my kids they were enthralled.  I cried again.  I got goosebumps again.  I fell deeper in love.  It has become a staple in my classroom ever since.  It is always the first read aloud chapter book I share with my kiddos.  Every class adores it.  Every time I cry, get goosebumps, and reaffirm my love of this book.  It is seriously that good.

Kate DiCamillo has written a timeless tale.  The main character is a china rabbit with a serious lesson to learn.  The story spans decades and touches on such heartfelt topics such as love, loyalty, life, death, destiny, selfishness, pride, the list goes on.  It never ceases to amaze me how into the story the kids get, despite the fact that it is such a serious and higher leveled read.

Now, I will pause here to say that I know of one person who is not a fan of the book.  Amy.  My own dear wife.  I gushed over it to her as I have here with you.  She read it.  She hated it.  What?!  I still don't see how, but she does.  Maybe hate is too strong a word.  Maybe she'll grow to love it.  Although probably not.  Regardless, it remains, in my opinion, as one of the best books in the world.  Read.  It.  Now.

Thanks for hopping by.      

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The One About L - Lulu and the Brontosaurus

The publish date is 2010, but this book is fairly new to me. I just discovered it this school year. It was on sale through a Scholastic Book Order so I gave it a shot. Boy am I glad I did!

First of all, the way Judith Viorst narrates this is hilarious. Simultaneously telling the story and speaking to the reader. It did take a little explaining to my kiddos regarding this style of writing, but they caught on quickly. A hilarious story about a spoiled little girl who, when denied the brontosaurus birthday present she requests, sets off to get one for herself. Lulu's dominate personality leads to some fun run-ins with jungle animals before finally finding the much sought after dinosaur. I'll spare you any spoilers because the plot just gets more hilarious as the book progresses. You really should pick this up for yourself and your class.

It's short so it's a quick read, it took us maybe 2-3 days to finish it; reading some each morning after Calendar time. I don't have any grand plans or ways in which to use this book in your classroom. I simply read it to the kiddos for fun.  Although it does touch on the lessons of selfishness and kindness.

So, maybe you need a quick read. Maybe you need something for a dinosaur unit. Maybe you are just intrigued by this post. Whatever the reason, head on over to your bookstore, iBooks, or Scholastic and pick up a copy. Trust me. If you've already read it, what did you think?  Great?  Eh?  Share!

Thanks for hopping by. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

The One About K - Koala Lou

Oh my.  Talk about one of my all-time favorite books.  Koala Lou would have to be one.  I adore Mem Fox and this is, hands down, her best offering in my opinion (a close second would be Wombat Divine).  

I use this book in several ways.  First of all, my kiddos' favorite, is a Book Buddy.  You know, a book with a matching stuffed animal.  The kids can cuddle the stuffed animal and hang out with it when they read the book.  Nothing fancy, but the kids adore them.  I've been building my collection and when I found a stuffed koala, I knew instantly that it was my Koala Lou.

The other ways in which I use the story are for talking about family and Olympics (every 2 years that is), as those are themes of the story as well.  The overriding theme is one of family and love, which is one of the main reasons I adore this book!  

In case you're unfamiliar with this book, I will give you a brief synopsis.  A little koala who is the beloved firstborn.  However, after her brothers and sisters are born, over time she begins to feel as though she doesn't matter anymore  :(  She begins to work on ways to win her mother's love back.  It has a wonderful ending and the message is one that any child should hear, regardless of their birth order.

Sounds great right?  Right.  As with all of Mem Fox's books, it takes place in Australia so the animals and some terminology is region specific.  This makes it great is you're doing a unit or study on Australia as well.  Maybe with older students?  

So, Koala Lou?  Mem Fox?  What are your thoughts?  Love them?  Well, once again I highly suggest you check this book out, and her others, if you haven't done so already.  You will not be sorry!

Thanks for hopping by! 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The One About J - John, Paul, George, and Ben

Nope, it's not a book about the Beatles. I know you were reading that and thinking, "Ben?  What about Ringo?"  Ha. Just kidding. 

Anywho. This is a great book for Presidents Day even though the only President mentioned in the title is George Washington. The other founding fathers covered are Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Benjamin Franklin.  So you could also include it when you study patriotism, the USA, and citizenship. 

Not only is this book chock full of great information about these men, but it's written in a way that excites the kiddos and gets them to really understand them.  They're no longer paintings of old dudes, they're brought to life as real people; kids they can relate to.  It's always fun to see the kids excited about history and their country. 

Now, this is a fairly new book, published within the last few years. So it may not be as widely known as others. But let me reassure you, this is one you will want to get acquainted with. One you'll turn to each year and it will become a favorite. 

So, interested?  Think you'll want to give it a shot?  Do you have any favorite books you use for Presidents Day and/or citizenship?  Share!

Thanks for hopping by!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The One About I - If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

Surely you're familiar with Laura Numeroff's If You Give A Mouse A Cookie and her subsequent books written in the same fashion?  They're modern classics.  

Obviously they lend themselves well to sequencing and ordering activities.  This is always what I do with them.  They are great for teaching the sequential words: first, next, then, last.  I also (as I am sure many of you do) use them to write class stories, both orally and written down.  You know the drill.  Student A comes up with the first part, If you give a _____ a _____.  Then the next student adds on.  This continues with the class until everyone has a part in the story and it circle back around to the beginning.  

These are always fun and silly when written.  I'll be honest though, there are times when I have done this and the kids find it hilarious but I am lost in how anything relates to each other or where the comedy comes into play.  But, as long as it gets them excited about the book and writing.  With First Graders it may take a time or two before they get the hang of it, but repetition is a good thing right?

I am always surprised about how many animals have followed in the Mouse's footsteps.  The Moose and his Muffin (my second favorite), the Pig and his Pancake, the Cat and the party.  Each one is great for teaching the same ideas but my favorite remains the original.  I also love these books because the illustrations are wonderful (I'm a big picture/art fan).  That and since they are sequential and the pictures done so well, even struggling readers can enjoy them and feel successful.  Score!

So, what are you thoughts on the Mouse and his cookie?  How do you use this series in your classroom?  Any new ideas that you want to share?

Thanks for hopping by!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The One About H - Howliday Inn

Surely you've read Howliday Inn?  Ok, I won't call you Shirley (a little Airplane humor). It is a part of the Bunnicula series which I love, but this one is my favorite. I remember reading this when I was in elementary school and I loved it then. So doesn't love a good mystery book that involved talking dogs, monsters, and a vampire rabbit?  

Now, since this is a higher level book, around 4th-5th Grade, it's obviously a read aloud. But I love reading higher leveled books to my kiddos. It's true what they say, their listening comprehension and interest can be way higher than their reading comprehension.  Anyway, my kiddos have always loved this book and find it to be a good read. 

I don't have any activities or lessons that go along with this book. It's just a chapter book that I read to the kids. My hope is that they'll read it later in life and remember it (and me) fondly. Maybe it'll get them hooked on the Bunnicula series. Maybe it'll get them hooked on James Howe. Or maybe it'll just be another little building block in their love of literature. Whichever the case, it's a great read that I always enjoy adding into my classroom. 

Are there any books you remember reading as a child that you read to your students in the hopes of getting them hooked on it?  What about Howliday Inn and Bunnicula?  Fan?  Give it a try, what have you got to lose?

Thanks for hopping by!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The One About G - Groundhog Gets A Say

You know the "G" post would be about Groundhog Day. I've gone on before about my love of the much overlooked holiday.

Groundhog Gets A Say is all about a groundhog that shares my love of the holiday and his attempt to properly educate everyone on the awesomeness that is the groundhog!  I will give you a disclaimer though about this book. It is one of the ones with a lot of dialogue bubbles in it in addition to the story (like the Magic School Bus books).   Now, this isn't a problem really, it just makes reading it different. 

I have this book on CD so it is always included in my Listening Station during the week of our Groundhog Day celebrations.  The kids love it because it is pretty humorous. I love it, in addition to that, because it gives so much great factual information about groundhogs, much of it we cover in our studies. 

So, have you read this book? What do you think?  Have it on CD?  What do you think about it if you're familiar with it?  Do you have any other great groundhog books you like to use? Yikes!  That's a lot of questions, I just really like Groundhog Day. And this book. Check it out. 

Thanks for hopping by. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The One About F - Flat Stanley

Surely you've read Flat Stanley?  Right?  I know there is now a whole series of books detailing the adventures of Flat Stanley, but my favorite remains the original. 

What kid, or adult for that matter, wouldn't be fascinated with being flat and traveling in the mail?  That's a pretty cool idea. 

As I am sure many teachers do, I use this book when we are working on learning how to write letters. We read the book, write a letter to a previously chosen family member/friend who lives far away, make and decorate our own Flat Stanley, and then send him off on his own postal adventure. Then the waiting game begins as we check the mail each and every day, waiting for a reply that details everything our flat friend has been up to. 

We map out the travels on a big map. We learn a little about whenever the Stanleys have been.  We learn how to write letters and address envelopes. The kids always love this and one of my favorite parts of this book and project is the fact that, even though the idea and plans are always the same, the outcome is always different from year to year. Different kiddos. Different letters. Different locations.

What about you?  What are your feelings on Flat Stanley?  Either the original or the series?  Do you do something similar with this book or another one?  If not, you should definitely try it out, it's a lot of fun!

Thanks for hopping by!

Friday, April 5, 2013

The One About E - Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct

Run, do not walk, to get this book if you do not have it already!  

I love this book and tell my kid it is one of my all-time favorite books!  It is the first appearance here of Mo Willems, one of my favorite authors. 

Now, I'll admit, I don't necessarily use his book to "teach" a concept or lesson. Not that it can't be used, I'm sure it could. However, I think this is just such a fun read that I have it filed under a section titled "Fun". You know, those books that you just enjoy reading. Maybe you have a few free minutes to fill. Maybe you are just in the mood for a good book. Whatever the reason, a book from my "Fun" category is sure to bring a little bit of laugher and love of reading for fun into the classroom. 

Edwina. She's sweet. Everyone loves her. Not the scary Jurrasic Park dinosaur who will eat you. Quite the contrary. She's a friend. She'll bake you chocolate chip cookies!  But not everyone. I won't go too much into the story in case you've never read it, but suffice it to say that the plot plays out in a funny and and silly way.

Mo Willems also illustrated this book and I do love a good author/illustrator. My kiddos always seem to be fascinated by the fact that a "real" author can write a story and draw the pictures for it, just like they do!  The story and the pictures are entertaining and fun. Trust me. Read the book. 

So, are you familiar with Edwina?  What is your favorite "fun" book that you read just for the pure joy of reading?  Mo Willems, are you a fan?   Hurry and get aquatinted or reacquainted with Edwina!

Thanks for hopping by!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The One About D - Days with Frog and Toad

Come on, you know Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel.  It's a classic.  And yes, I am aware it is also a part of a series!  :)

If you don't have your own copy, I'm sure you've seen it in a Reading curriculum as it is often included in many different ones.  I know the curriculum I use has it.  It's the next lesson in fact.  Well, after our 2 weeks of Achievement Testing.  But that's a topic for another post.  Back to "D".

Frog and Toad.  Two friends.  Always together.  Always there for each other.  This is always one of the first "chapter" books that I read to the kids.  The "chapters" are short and easy to read, each like a little mini-story within the actual book.  This also makes for a quick read with easy places to pause if needed.

Now, I'll be honest with you.  I enjoy this book, but it is not one of my all-time favorites.  Gasp!  I know.  I do like it, very much.  But I include it more because it is a classic.  They're also a good read when you're talking about friendship and what that means.  Frog and Toad are different.  They look different and they act different.  But that doesn't keep them from having fun together as friends.

So, what about you?  Your thoughts on Days with Frog and Toad or any of the Frog and Toad books.  Yes?  No?  Classic or pass?  Is there a book that you enjoy but is not your favorite, yet you include it because of its "classic" status?

Thanks for hopping by.        

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The One About C - Chrysanthemum

See, I told you today's post would be about an actual book and not a series!  A promise is a promise!

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes.  One of my all-time favorite books.  I love this book and read it multiple times every year.  I'm a huge Kevin Henkes fan and this is by far, in my opinion, his best work.

A little girl with a fascinatingly different name who marches to the beat of her own drummer.  She loves being herself.  That is, until she starts school.  There she finds out that her different name is just that, different.  Little mouse children can be so cruel.  She's crushed.  She begins to lose the joy she has in herself.  She begins to ignore that little drummer that she once marched to.  Until a special teacher saves the day!

Ahhhhh, a valuable lesson is once again learned.  Different is different.  It is not bad.  It is not good.  It is what makes us unique.  God has created us all individually and we have our own personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and abilities that we bring to life.  Can you tell I love this book?  Can you tell how I use it?  

I always bust out Chrysanthemum when my kiddos notice and point out, sometimes not so kindly, their differences.  Whether it be the color of their skin, their hair, their grades, or whatever.  This book gets the point across in an awesome way.

Maybe I was destined to like this book.  I mean, with a name like Dusty, I can certainly empathize with dear little Chrysanthemum.  I've had my share of issues with it.  In fact, it's only been in adulthood that I have actually come to enjoy my name.  So there's my personal connection with the book.

Then there's also the simple fact that the writing, the story, and the illustrations are just so great.  If you have never read Chrysanthemum it is quite obvious that I highly recommend it.  Use it as a gateway into the world of Kevin Henkes.  Many of his books teach great social/moral/emotional lessons in a similar fashion.  Check him out, you will not be disappointed.

So, is Chrysanthemum one of your go-to books to teach about differences?  How else do you enjoy this book in your classroom?  Are you a Kevin Henkes fan?  Hopefully after this post you will be!

Thanks so much for hopping by!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The One About B - Berenstain Bears

Yes, I know.  Again.  The Berenstain Bears, much like Arthur from yesterday, are part of a series.  Not an actual book.  I know.  But could I really pass up the letter "B" without mentioning the genius that is The Berenstain Bears?  I mean both Berenstain and Bears begin with "B" so I think not!

As is the case with Arthur, there is a Berenstain Bears book for nearly every situation under the sun.  However, in nearly every book the bears, aptly names Brother and Sister, learn some valuable, often moral, lesson.  All neatly wrapped up within the confines of a picture book.  

Greedy?  There's a book for that - The Berenstain Bears and the Green-Eyed Monster.  New addition to the family?  Then there's There Berenstain Bears's New Baby.  Teaching reducing, reusing, and recycling?  Bring on The Berenstain Bears Don't Pollute (Anymore).  Then there are the obligatory seasonal stories, The Berenstain Bears and the  Prize Pumpkin (a personal favorite) and The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear.

Whatever the issue, topic, or lesson, you can guarantee that Stan and Jan Berenstain (how cute is it that their names rhyme?) have already thought about it and published a book about it.  Throw in the fact that, again much like Arthur, there is a vintage cartoon series (thanks again PBS) based on them and you have a winner!

So, do you like the Berenstain Bears?  Again, they were one of my favorites growing up and I have continued to share that with my kiddos each and every year.  I'll be honest, part of the reason I enjoy them is the fact that I like saying the name Berenstain.  It's fun.   I spent much of my youth mispronouncing it Bernstein so maybe that's why I get a kick out of saying it, correctly, now.  Anywho, what's your favorite Berenstain Bears book?  Wow, 3 "Bs" in a row, that's hard to say!  How do you incorporate it into the classroom?  

Well, tomorrow I promise I will have an actual book rather than a series.  Promise.  So, head back and find out what "C" will bring!

Thanks for hopping by!    


Monday, April 1, 2013

The One About A - Arthur

Ok, so technically Arthur isn't a book, it's a series.  But let's not split hairs here.

The Arthur series by Marc Brown.  Well, most are by him.  I am sure that there are ones that are related to the TV series that are written by others.  Those are alright too.  But I'm talking about the original series.  Arthur.

I love Arthur.  He's an anteater (which also begins with "A") but I prefer the name aardvark (also beginning with "A") because it's more fun to say.  I know he doesn't look like your typical aardvark, mainly because of the lack of the long tubular nose, but if you  look back at the original, more vintage, editions of the stories you can tell he is in fact an aardvark.  Or anteater, whichever you prefer.

But I'm not here to talk about aardvarks.  Nope, I'm here to talk about Arthur.  I use these books in so many ways in my classroom.  From just fun reading to more topical storylines.  I remember reading Arthur when I was young and I think I bring that nostalgia and excitement to the reading which, in turn, gets the children excited.  At least that's what I tell myself.  :)

Arthur's Halloween, a staple during October.

Likewise is Arthur's Thanksgiving during November and Arthur's Valentine during February.  The kids love this one because of the idea of a Secret Admirer.

Arthur's Tooth and Arthur Tricks the Tooth Fairy both fit in with a dental health unit.

I always read Arthur Writes A Story when I begin teaching my students about the Writing Process.  

See, no matter the occasion, there's an Arthur story to fit.  What about you?  Are you an Arthur fan?  I know my wife Amy turns up her nose at Arthur, but maybe this post will convince her?  :)  What's your favorite Arthur book?  How do you use it in the classroom?  What are you waiting for?  Grab an Arthur book, or two or five, and add them to your classroom library!

Thanks for hopping by!