Books to Pre-Order

This cover just draws me in and David Shannon has a way of perspective that lends himself to cartoon style as well as many others. Look at that fish! This will serve as an excellent model for an author/illustrator study on Shannon.

Check out my Chris Van Dusen post for more information and stay tuned for future exciting information about Chris and his new book and his partnership with Island Readers & Writers.

The Amulet is the perfect graphic novel fantasy series for readers of all ages. I am so glad it is not over...I just pre-ordered the NEW 5th book in the series.

Scaredy is the ideal squirrel for a character study. The traits of organization and voice are modeled clearly too in Melanie's books. I also love her Chester books and highly recommend them.

The anticipation for the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid is like a birthday for all the fans. Jeff Kinney is the master at encouraging reading engagement.

Candlewick Press is now Anthony Browne's publisher in the United States. This is fantastic news. I love Candlewick Press and I love even more the fact that Browne's books will be more well known and read by US readers.

Like Kinney, Lincoln Peirce knows how to build a character that fans can not get enough of. Go Big Nate!

My 4th and 5th grade girls (and some of my boys) love Dork Diaries.

Cynthia Lord

Cynthia Lord at an Island Readers & Writers  event, A Summer Morning in Maine (2011).

I have sent a copy of Cynthia Lord's book RULES to each of my new 4th and 5th grade students. This will serve them as a summer read option (I encouraged reading it aloud with family). Cynthia will be visiting in September to talk about her book with students and sign their book. So exciting!
For the racing and hamster fan in all of us!

"Touch Blue and your wish will come true."

Back to School Dream

BONK! I had my first back to school "dream". In my dream I was rushing to the first day of school early because I had forgotten to set up my room and the kids would be arriving that next morning with visions of Disney World as their NEW classroom. First I couldn't find any doors to get me inside the building, rows and rows of out of reach windows, but no doors. After a sweaty panic I find an over-sized, chain locked, Gothic style door. After I somehow manage to get through the fat metal links, padlocks, and combinations, I find myself inside the school building and dashing towards the staircase that leads upstairs to my classroom. I am halted in my sprint as I come face to face with a barbwire fence and a sign that reads...

I woke up to realize it was still summer!

Stuffed Animal Day Care

Stuffed animal food. Animals need a measured cup in the morning and their second cup in the afternoon. It was one of the ways math was seamlessly integrated into the Stuffed Animal Day Care.

The stuffed animal morning responsibilities are in addition to other morning responsibilities (signing in their name, daily graph, etc). This resulted in enhanced print awareness and the building of fine motor skills by signing in two names each morning! This is a nice model for units of study How to Writing genre.

I made some checks  so students could pay for their day care each week. They had to write the name of the day care, the amount, and write their own name too. Some kids tried a "cursive signature".

Stuffed Animal Day Care Corner (notices, art work, sign in, checks, photo/name stuffed animal book).

A stuffed bunny's mom shows her a photo she drew for her.

Tiger got a book to look out while his parent does her morning work. I love watching the children pick out books for them.

Stuffed animals taking a nap after a busy morning.

They kennel up when they have breakfast and lunch served to them.

This Stuffed animal is nurtured and read too.
A child looks through the photo album of stuffed animals learning how to spell all their names by using this "word wall book" as a writing resource.  They also learn to read their friend's names.

A record of growth over time for student's handwriting and spelling understanding.

Students started to write about their stuffed animals.

Writers of all ages and skill do their best work when they have meaningful and self driven reasons to write. When things are meaningful, risk taking improves, and that is how writers get better.

This student is stringing letters, showing the understanding that a group of letters represent a word and that text under and illustration helps tell the story.

Make checks payable to Stuffed Daycare.


After a bug expedition, everyone found all the specimens they were looking for.

Close up of a bug box.

Exploring, sorting, counting legs...

A perfect bug center for independence and high interest. Add a paper journal with a few pages so students can document discoveries. A few guide books or bug books would make a nice addition to this center too.

Build a mutant bug.

Books about War

Set in Lebanon during the civil war (Beirut in 1977).

An orphaned elephant named Marlene, during World War II

It is important for students to think critically about the causes of conflicts and how to problem solve. After reading books with themes around war, readers reflected on their reading by making reflection collages. The conversations around the art and their reading demonstrate their comprehension.

I made this collage. It expresses how I think about war making people faceless and interchangeable, but not voiceless or any less personal.

I encourage my students to use collage for things like, illustrating their books, as a medium for posters, or for designing new book covers for one of their favorite books. Ask families to donate old magazines to your classroom for students to cut up and start using.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys comes highly recommended. This is on my short list of must read books.

Eric Carle

One of my favorite mentors for cut paper collage.

Beautiful medium for children to illustrate their own books. First we make the paper! A collaboration by all!

When budding illustrators want to illustrate their books using hand-painted cut paper collage like Eric Carle, they have a bin with a variety of prints and colors all ready to go (and handmade by them).

I went to the Eric Carle Museum and I took this photo of the tile in the bathroom. This would be so cool in school bathrooms and of course the home bathroom too.