Sunday, March 16, 2014

Empty Nests, Normal Weeks, and Critic's Corner

Oh is so quiet here this rainy Sunday. The quiet of my house without my kiddos can certainly be just as deafening as a house full of rambunctious teenagers.

This is Joshua after he completed his first job interview...see the thumbs up? He got it!

And this is him, my baby boy, ready to head out to his first day of work. I dropped him off and headed home to an empty house with all of my kiddos at their very own jobs. Goodness, where does the time go? I should be trying to write this amid sounds of laughter or teenage games or songs played too what's for dinner or mom can so and so come over...

If anyone has a way to slow time, please, please let me know. I am NOT ready for an empty nest! LOL...

Alright, enough whining about my impending empty nest...on to more fun things!

Mark it on your calendars, ladies and gents, because we had a full AND normal week last week! Can I get a hallelujah? I know I sure was ready to be back to some sort of structure and routine, so I can't imagine how the kids felt. 

It was busy and productive; just the way I like it!

We are truly enjoying The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. You know when you hear a chorus of, "NO! Don't stop!" while reading a book, it must be a pretty good one!



This is one of my favorite things...walking around listening to my kiddos read and discuss their thinking together. I would have let them do this all day if I didn't have to keep to a schedule!

The habitats in Mrs. Whitt's room are growing by the day! Here is one of the latest additions. Isn't he cute. :) I stopped by this weekend to get some work done and to feed this little fellow...I could have watched him for hours. 

Thank you for sharing your sweet turtle with us!

A few more additions included quite a few tiny, tiny crawfish!. They were added to the tank with the tadpole eggs  (or we are thinking possibly fish eggs) and fellow crawfish. I am curious to see how all these little fellows enjoy each other's company. And secretly, I am just wondering who will get to take all these lovelies home at the end of the year....haha.

Our kiddos got to take home the sculptures they did in art. I cannot say enough how amazing our art teacher, Mrs. Lashbrook, is with all of her kiddos. Kudos to her for sure.

Students were to combine two different animals and here are a few really cool examples...

This one is a cat and a fish...haha

Ahhh....just look at that...nothing more gorgeous than a new shelf full of books. Well, this one isn't exactly new. It is one borrowed and returned. I didn't have the heart to get rid of it, so I made room for it. It sure didn't take me long to fill it!

With over 10,000 (and growing...yes, I have a problem) books in our room, I could not make it without an awesome library assistant.

These silly boys stayed behind to help me clean one day... I think they spread more dust than they actually picked up, but goodness they are so sweet and cute...and well, I know they created a fun memory for always!

And now what you've been waiting for...

Critic's Corner!

This little cutie is the ultimate horror fiction fan, and she wants to share with you one of my all time favorite Mary Downing Hahn books!

"In Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn we meet 12 year old Molly and Michael. They have never liked their step-sister, Heather, because she makes their lives miserable. Molly and Michael try to put up with her, but it is very hard to get along with her because she is always telling lies. When Heather starts talking to a ghost, Molly feels she is in danger. My favorite character is Molly because she is fearless, and she saves Heather. I don't want to tell you how because that might spoil the ending. I loved this book because it gets you on the edge of your seat. I liked everything about it because I love horror fiction. This is one of my favorites by Mary Downing Hahn, and it was hard to beat The Doll in the Garden! I recommend this book to Emily, my best friend. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!" ~ Genna

This is my adventure lover! He is all about survival and adventure. In all honesty, I have been meaning to share this book with you for weeks, but he asked if he could be the one to share it. I think you can tell by the smile on his face just how much he loved this story.

"Endangered by Eliot Schrefer is about Sophie, a half American and half Congolese girl. Sophie visits her Mom at her bonobo sanctuary in the Congo. On the way there, she is riding with one of her mom's workers when she sees this scrawny man leaning on a bicycle with a crate attached. Sophie was curious and yelled for the driver to stop. Sophie opens the car door and runs to the man and the baby bonobo. Sophie buys the bonobo and names him Otto. My favorite character was Otto with his cute little face and soft, kind murps. I loved this book enough that it made me cry. Plus, I'm the guy who loves adventure and survival books. I recommend this book to Georgia with her love for fast paced books. This book is definetely 5 out of 5 stars." ~Austin

This beautiful girl is our historical fiction lover! She immediately knew just which book she wanted to review and knew just which basket to pluck it from.

"Kristiana Gregory's Across the Wide and Lonely Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell, 1847 is  all about a girl named Hattie, and her life on the long Oregon trail with her friends and family. The ride is very long and many people die. If they didn't die, they got new land. My favorite character is Mrs. Big because she is caring to everyone, especially Hattie. The story begins with Hattie having to leave her best friends. Hattie forgets about her friends when someone in the camp steals pots and blankets. See which camper does it in Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie. I loved this book because you get to see the lives of the Lonesome families. You will love this book. I recommend this book to historical book lovers. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars." ~Olivia from me!

Oh my how I have become a big fan of Kathi Appelt...I already shared this one with you...

My latest chapter book venture has been a precious little fantasy fiction by Kathi Appelt. I actually picked this one up for a former student because I knew that Ms. Appelt was one of her favorite authors. Then I picked it up for myself and started reading... The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, and I am so glad that I did. This is the colorful story of the myths and legends of Sugar Man Swamp and its true blue scouts, raccoons Bingo and J'miah. Lots of beautiful language in this beauty!

You can read the entire post here. 

This weekend I finished up this beauty....

Again, this was a recommendation from my last year's Savvy...thank you sweet girl. I loved it.

Kathi Appelt has a way of weaving the past and present, her characters, many myths and legends, and amazing fantasy into one beautiful and moving story. You can't help but root for Ranger, Sabine, and Puck as they struggle to make their way back to each other after being separated from each other and the Underneath. And even more, you can't wait to see exactly how each piece will come together to be the perfect story you know it will be.

And get this...I mean just check out the illustrator...I know right....the one and only David Small. LOL...I promise you I am not a stalker, but I couldn't believe it when I saw this. You already know my love for this illustrator if you have read this, this, or this.  Again, not a stalker...I promise.

But check these illustrations out...



Ranger, Sabine, and Puck are in the last illustration, and I will be rooting for them!

This is just for fun...we got such a kick out of this video. The kids are all about Disney's Frozen right now, much like these cute parents. The dad reminded us of one of the boys in our class. :) If you need a giggle, just watch his great expression as he lip syncs. 

Well, with that I am going to say goodnight...I just picked up my boy from his first day of work, and I am off to find out all about it. Oh...and fold all the laundry I have been piling on the bed all day! Night Night...

Happy Reading, friends!

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Currently loving penguins

Goodness... it is already time for another Currently! I cannot believe it is already March. I am seriously wanting time to slow down. Most teachers are dying for summer, but not this one. Nope...not me at all! I don't want to give away too much because that would tell you what my secret question is. If you have followed me for long, I am sure you will know exactly why the month of March and April can take their sweet, sweet time!

We had a busy week last week, and I have a lot to share, including a few great Critic's Corners. So you have to be sure to stick around until the end. :)

Since I am so late as usual, I thought that not only would I hook up with Farley for her super fun Currently linky, but I would also join my other fave Doodle Bugs for her Five for Friday!

Because I have been working on this one post forever now, and I do mean like FOREVER, it will most likely be a long one....just getting you ready.....

The big hit this past week has been the little
guests in Mrs. Whitt's room.

The kiddos are having so much fun watching these little eggs make their way to tadpoles.

A great support for this fun is the picture book Polliwog by Tammy Carter Bronson. The illustrations are so beautiful, and Polliwog has such a sweet little story as she comes to understand her transformation. This book also has a great timeline for tadpole growth in the back. The kiddos have really been checking that out, and I'm pretty sure I've seen Mrs.Whitt studying that timeline a time or two.


Mrs. Whitt being all scientific ;)

We took some time last week to look at our reading habits. Check out all those tally marks! Whew.... I am so proud of all the nonfiction my awesome readers have tackled this year. My nonfiction library has always been a weakness, but I can see that all the titles that I have added in the last two years have really paid off!

I love to see my kiddos become lost in their reading.  I know you can't tell, but this cutie pie is just on the verge of tears as she reads the final installment of the City of Ember series. See her review of City of Ember here

Before the latest winter event that left us all iced in at home...we managed a few days of spirit-lifting warmth last week. I couldn't help but take us outside for a bit of reading in the sun! When I was a kiddo (you know like a million years ago according to the kiddos in my class), I loved taking a book outside, so I try to find a chance to do the same every spring.




Our school is so blessed to have an amazing art teacher that goes above and beyond for all our kiddos. In celebration of our Literacy Week and Parent's Night, she helped arrange for Arkansas Arts Center's Artmobile to pay us a visit for the week. I was so impressed and enjoyed it so much! What an awesome program!


Enjoying the art discussion and storytelling.

This was Jonah's favorite exhibit...
hmmm...wonder why?

I cannot express enough how wonderful this program was!
Loved it!

Fourth grade took a quick trip to see the high school kiddos' (Can I still call them kiddos if they are in high school?) production of Beauty and the Beast. Every year I am so impressed with the wonderful job these talented students do. 

Of course this is all I could think of :)

We are wrapping up our One School One Book Program with Mr. Popper's Penguins. The school has had so much fun with this, and the family involvement in this program has been so energizing to witness. 

All of our activities for this book have led up to our Literacy Week and Parents' Night. 

For our great event, fourth grade hosted The Penguin Toss...

We made penguin eggs, (rolled up socks to be donated to the nurses station afterward) and the kiddos had to toss them into a basket for a prize.

Our helper for the night! 

We sure had tons of fun, and it was great to see so many parents and kiddos hanging out with us little ol' teachers!

Well....Lord knows that I have to say all that fun sure left me one tired teacher! Mrs. Hitchcock and I skedaddled on out of there as soon as it was time to head home, and I promise you that as ashamed as I am to admit it....this is what my desk looked like! I am NOT even playing at just how overwhelming it was to walk into my classroom this morning with this desk leering at me from across the room. I was secretly hoping for some magic desk fairy to come and clean and organize it for me.

Well ...any who....the really big deal was our stinkin' cute little visitor today....

Mrs. Hanna getting the kiddos ready for our visitor
Please meet Laura, the African penguin!

I want a penguin now! :)

Was I telling the truth or what? So sorry for the long post, but keep holding on because now we need to get a little bit bookish! But don't forget to visit Farley at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade and Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday! 

With no further ado....

Critic's Corner

This book lover had me cracking up with her responses to this one. I can't wait to read it myself!

"This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy J. Cavanaugh is about a girl named Rachel, called Ratchet. Her mom was in a car wreck when she was 5, and her dad takes care of her. I don't know if I would say good care of her. Her dad has to do community service. He helps kids build race cars, and they get to race! Moss Tree Park is turning into a strip mall, and they have to save it. My favorite character was Rachel because she loves her dad even though he sometimes can't control his anger or doesn't listen to her.  Rachel was so confident when Moss Tree Park was being turned into a strip mall, and she wrote about it. Her friend, Hunter, sent it in to the newspaper. I really didn't like her dad too much because he couldn't control his anger. When Rachel read a note from her mom saying she was leaving him, he got really mad and threw a tool. It almost hit Rachel in the head! I would recommend this book to Mrs. Dunn because I know she would love it because she is awesome like the book! I give this book 5 out of 5 stars." ~ Chloe

This reader is surprisingly new to graphic novels, but he has definitely fallen in love with them!

"Amulet The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi is about a girl, her brother, and mom trying to make it through the difficulties of losing their dad that died two years back. My favorite character in this book is Emily because she is one of the toughest in the whole series and is brave through the whole series. I liked this book because at first I thought the whole series was just going to be about a rock, but they proved me wrong! It's a book that you would want to read for years. I would recommend this book to my friend, Christian, because he loves these types of action book series. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars." ~ Will

This cutie took on one of my all time favorite can't go wrong with Judy Blume!

"Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume is about a little boy, Fudge, who likes to ride his bike, and Peter who loves his turtle, Dribble. People call Fudge, Fudgie, but Peter calls him a holy terror. My favorite character in the book is Fudge because he always gets attention, and one day he fell off the monkey bars. He was crying, "Birdie, birdie, birdie," and trying to fly like a bird. I liked this book because it was quick and very funny. I was always turning pages and responding! My favorite chapter was chapter 10, Dribble! I liked this chapter because Peter's turtle, Dribble, gets out, but you won't even believe what happens to poor Dribble. You will have to read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to find out what happens next! I give this book 4 out of 5 stars." ~ Grace

Just one last book for you....

I stumbled across this picture book this week, and cracked up laughing...way out loud laughing...enough to destroy the peaceful quiet of my reading students laughing...

Oh my...I am so loving If I Had a Dragon by Tom and Amanda Ellery! Cutie patootie story and hysterical illustrations...

Of course the AAAWWUBBIS was screaming, "Think of all the fun writing you can do with me!"


Check out any of the plethora of posts about Jeff Anderson and Mechanically Inclined here, here, here, and here

So as the grammar teacher in me is reading...I turned the page....and the kid in me busted out laughing, and I knew I had to save this one for a fun writing project later!

"If I had a dragon, I would teach him to ....

Ha's the little things that make my day!

I actually had more to share with you, but because I am sure I am on the verge of blowing up your laptop, or computer, or whatever....I will say goodnight and happy reading for now!

Happy Reading, friends!

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