Sunday, February 24, 2013

She's Bookish

Well, it's that time of year again...Book Fair. Most of you know that I have a love/hate relationship with the book fair. I love walking into a room full new books...the beautiful covers, that intoxicating new book smell, with so, so many to choose from, but I hate how that takes away from our classroom order. ...Points! points! I need points....

OK...not really...I am exaggerating, just a bit. But here's the rub: no matter what little part of me hates the book fair, the love of it pulls me more and oh my goodness I snagged up some great deals Friday. I couldn't help myself! I wish I had taken a pic of all of the great additions to our ever-growing library. Whoo-hoo...I found some awesome graphic novels that any number of my kiddos called dibs on.(Often and loud, LOL)  To keep from having a mad rush to the library ~ you know, the kind that leaves kiddos screaming, "I had it first!" or "I was going to read that!" with possibly a few injuries involved ~ I have taken to hiding them in baskets a couple at a time. 

I just have to mention that when I pulled out the stack of books to share with the kiddos and to do some book talks, well a few kids went on and on about how many books I had already bought for the classroom even before the book fair officially opened. One of my sweet kiddos said, "Of course she buys a lot: she's bookish!" If that doesn't bring a smile to your face, nothing will.

I also found a couple of cute picture books, and I have to share one with you tonight. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to get it. It really made me think of that lesson we do at the beginning of the year when we set up our Reading Workshop: How readers choose books.

The cover of this sweet book, Ladybug Girl at the Beach, immediately reminded me of my sweet Freddy boy, and I was drawn to it. There was no question as to whether or not I would be walking out the library with this book in my hand. I would read this book just to see the adventures of Ladybug girl and her faithful companion, Bingo. Bingo is the spitting image of my own precious Basset Hound that we just recently lost, so of course this book pulled at my heart strings. I couldn't wait to share it with the kiddos, and they were so sweet asking questions about Fred. Kids are always so full of the most compassion!

Common themes in literature: Courage

My own sweet Fred with Joshua!

This week is our Literacy week, so we have a ton of great activities planned. More than most kids will probably be able to handle (OK ~ in all honesty, probably more than most teachers will be able to handle), but we will make the most of it all and have a blast learning!

Monday: Paw Pride T-shirt and Crazy Sock Day
Tuesday: Hats off to Dr. Seuss
Wednesday: Wacky Wednesday
Thursday: Wear you favorite college T-shirt
Friday: Story book character day 

Whoop - whoop...who's ready for some fun! I will try to get pics up as soon as I can.

In the mean time, happy reading guys!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dark Confessions

OK...I have to admit something. I almost hate to do so because I have no doubts that I will have some pretty discontented kiddos come Monday morning. I only admit it now half hoping to see how many of said kiddos will read this post and let me know all about it!

I know that I have mentioned that we have stolen a few minutes at the end of each day to enjoy a read aloud here and there. Our latest adventure has taken us into the Dark Life by Kat Falls.

Well, on to confessions...this was my first time to read it, and my kiddos have seemed to like that we were talking through and predicting events together. (Wow! Some deep conversations, for sure!) All the same, after reading it Friday afternoon, the story kept calling to me, and...well, you guessed it: I just could not help but to finish it.

Although my kiddos will probably let me know exactly what their thoughts are on this matter come next week, I can promise you it was worth whatever grief I just might face. I have fallen in love with Kat Falls, and the wonderful world she has created in Dark Life. I cannot wait to continue sharing it with my sweet and excited class! I have a few kiddos in mind that are chomping at the bit to see what will happen next, and they will not be disappointed! here are a few wonderful picture books for you!

The first book is not for the faint of heart, LOL....but it is most surely one to bring hoots of laughter from your kiddos ~ boys more than girls, of course! This new addition to our library was a gift from a student that told me as soon as she saw it, she knew it should be in my classroom. (Not exactly sure what that says about my classroom or my smelly kiddos, hehe)  Pee-ew! Is That you, Bertie? by David Roberts is a hysterical look at something no doubt encountered by all classroom teachers. It also doesn't hurt that it is crammed with (you won't be surprised I am sure) tons and tons of thoughtfully crafted onomatopoeia! Didn't take my kiddos long to notice that!

Looks like Bertie is not the only smelly one in the family!
I also have no doubts that most families have experienced the above. LOL

The next book I want to share is Fiona's Luck by Teresa Bateman. I couldn't tell you exactly why I love St. Patrick's Day or leprechaun books as much as I do, but these books are some of my favorites. Maybe it's because I love to try to throw out an Irish lilt here and there as I read, and while I am under no illusion that it is a good one, the kiddos don't seem to mind it. :) Fiona is a beautiful, smart, and sassy character, and I love that she doesn't wait to find luck but makes it for herself! It doesn't hurt that Kelly Murphy did a beautiful job with the illustrations!

Last, but not least, Our Children Can Soar by Michelle Cook is stunning look at history and perseverance.  I love the story and its message. Michelle Cook did a marvelous job of demonstrating what true inspiration, hard work, and determination can help others achieve. So beautiful!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Empty Nests, Waterfalls, and Sweet Little Valentines

Three of the many stacks of books around
the house, begging to be opened.
Most days I would say that my kids are far from grown, my youngest being only fifteen. But more days than I care for lately, I find myself alone in the overwhelming quiet of my home (sometimes I feel that the quiet is so much louder than the rough-housing banter of a house filled with boys) with only a book to keep me company, Josh being the workaholic that he is and probably will always be. There are so many things I am sure that I SHOULD do as it seems the house wishes to fall down around me (all warranties having long since expired) and the once manicured and often complimented flower beds have been forcibly returned to the wilds of wisteria and trumpet vine or even the incessant worry of new common core standards to wrap my head around constantly eating at me. Yet more often than not, I find myself lost in the familiar and comfortable surroundings of my latest book, always telling myself just one more chapter, just one more page. I suppose there may be nothing as easy to build an empty nest with than the many piles of books that litter my bedroom or office, waiting for the promise of reading. Even now as I type this, the quiet looms around me and pull of my favorite characters call. LOL....Here's to being well-rounded, right?

Any~who... I did manage pull my hubby away from work long enough to spend the day together. (I even talked him into listening to one of my favorite audio books on the way, hehe.) We hiked beautiful Petit Jean Mountain and visited the falls. It was such a wonderful day! We have been to Cedar Falls often, and I enjoy it more each time. You might think however that it would get easier and easier but goodness knows that climb down still takes my breath away.

I know I mentioned in my last post how much we were looking forward to our Lightning Thief unit, and now that we have dived in, we are simply beyond loving it! When the kiddos are begging to read on, well you know you've got a great book! The touch of humor sure makes it a bit easier for us to connect to the mythology. It doesn't hurt that Percy has just a tinge of hard-headed sarcasm, and it cannot be surprising that many of my sweet and sassy kiddos are connecting with that little character trait. Hmmm.....

Here is our Valentine's Day in pics! I hope you enjoy...I sure do enjoy my sweet group of kiddos. Even on our worst days, I could not love what I do  or our class more! I just adore my sweet little Valentines.




Of course I have a couple of picture books for you. I am pretty sure that by this point, I am pretty far off my goal of sharing a picture book a day, but here are a few more in my effort to catch up. :)

Rotten Teeth by Laura Simms is another Catrow masterpiece. With the turn of every page, I just don't know where to look first. I love that about Catrow's illustrations. This is an easy look at common themes in literature: believe in yourself, courage. Sweet little Melissa learns the gift of show and tell when she discovers the "tell" is the best part.What a great look at storytelling! LOVE it!

Three Hens and a Peacock by the amazing Lester L. Laminack is a new favorite. I couldn't tell you why, but as I read this story aloud when I got to the hens, the voice of Blanche from the Golden Girls popped in my head. Of course I had to read it that way ~ the thicker the southern accent, the better! I love this one for teaching dialogue and point of view as the hens think the peacock has the easiest job, and the peacock think the hens have it easy. It doesn't take long before they realize they each have an important place on the farm, and you just really shouldn't judge or assume. Pretty important lesson for us all to learn I think

I couldn't tell you why I love Grumpy Gloria by Anna Dewdney so much: other than maybe we all have Grumpy Gloria moments. This is a very simple story, so it makes it an easy read in a pinch. But I must say  the adjectives and synonyms make it just as important a lesson to teach. Besides, Gloria's face cracks me up!

OK...those of you that know me well, know that I am a sucker for a Caldecott winner! This beauty is not an exception. Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine is wonderfully illustrated by Kadir Nelson! He is such an amazing artist! Not only do I value this book during African American History month, but all year through. Such a great look at literary nonfiction and strong character traits.

Happy Reading!

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Best Thing

I thought I would start this post as I do so many others. A new selection of books will join our ever-growing collection Monday morning. I just LOVE Books-a-Million and their great sales (thank you, Sarah!) ~ tons of nonfiction for $2.00 and buy-one-get-one free! Whoop ~ Whoop! So excited ~ not only for the great new nonfiction but for the fun new little picture books to add to our collection. I just love a good picture book!

Our class is so pumped to start our next unit Monday morning! We will be immersed in the world of mythology as we read Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, and the kiddos have been waiting on pins and needles for us to start this one!

We have some great lessons and activities ahead of us! As we have built this unit, I have found a few other texts to help us with our journey. The Ultimate Guide and The Lightning Thief graphic novel will be great additions to our fun study of mythology. As soon as possible I will share some of the fun!


Our kiddos experienced the double-edged sword of finishing an amazing book! We completed Jack Gantos' Dead End in Norvelt last week, and while we anticipated every word till the last just to see what adventures Jack would encounter next, we were just as sad to say goodbye to the strong, round characters of Jack and Miss. Volker. Dead End is so full of mystery and history that each day the kiddos could not wait to get to the carpet to listen! 

As happy and sad as we were to finish, we are just as excited with our latest read aloud. Dark Life by Kat Falls has captured us whole before the end of the first chapter. I cannot wait to see where Kat takes us, and Ty and Gemma,  with this one! 

I have a few picture books to share of course... 

I want to start with an amazing Caldecott winner that is so beautifully perfect. Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier, is a touching memoir of American history. My sweet kiddos had no problem understanding exactly what made Dr. King's words big!

I cannot wait to share with my kiddos one of the fun little picture books that I found this weekend. Hieronymus Betts and his Unusual Pets by M.P.Robertson is chock-full of adjectives and descriptive details! Sibling love, more-or-less, fill the pages, and no doubt we will have many connections and comparisons. I can almost see a morning meeting game come out of this one. :) Common Themes: the love of family and friends.

One last picture book to share with you tonight. I could not even begin to tell you where I picked this one up a number of years ago, but I can tell you that each year it is a favorite of the kiddos. The Magic Crystal by Brigitte Weninger is a true lesson of believing in ourselves and being happy with what we have. The illustrations by Robert Ingpen are wonderful and mysterious all the same.

Last to share is the wonderful weekend I have had... Mr. Dunn and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary on Tuesday and we have spent most of the weekend in an early celebration of sorts. It seems just yesterday that we were married. Twenty years can pass in a wink. Josh surprised me with a pretty little anniversay band. Such a sweet man he can be. ;)

I made this video a few years ago, for another anniversary, but I still love it just the same. 

Well, thanks for indulging me.

Happy Reading!