Web Sites for Kids

Storyline Online
Listen to a celebrity read aloud from members of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.

Activate your mind through a variety of science and math activities designed for critical thinking.

A virtual world for kids where their character travels through various settings and time periods, where they need to listen, remember, infer, and pay attention to achieve their medals. WARNING: this is very addicting to most adults.

For kids and teachers...a lot of learning opportunities and fun to be had!

Dav Pilkey's Extra Crunchy WebSite O' Fun
"WARNING: This website contains scenes and material which may be considered too silly for grown-ups, small animals, and many varieties of houseplants."

Brain POP
"The more you know, the more you know" 

Interactive learning games for elementary school kids 

"Where children have fun learning to read" 

Game Goo
Kids games..."learning that sticks." 

Free educational games

Kazu Kibuishi

Why haven't I done this before? Last month I pre-ordered almost a dozen books from Amazon that had Fall 2012 release dates. This means throughout the next few months, my students and I will be celebrating NEW book arrival often and we will be some of the first to devour anticipated new arrivals. Today, AMULET Book Five has arrived and don't tell my students but I am so glad I have first dibs on reading this because the line will be looooooooooong.

One more day

GASP! One more day of summer vacation and it will be officially coming to an abrupt end. Three professional days and kids the following Tuesday. I am not a huge fan of change and even less so of saying good bye to things (including seasons). While I am trying to convince myself, or remind myself (I am not sure which one), that each new season offers unique beauties, important changes, and time for mother nature to rest in the stillness of winter darkness. If I close my eyes at any time, I can recall the dawn alarm of squawks, caws, chick-a-dee-dee-dees, and the drilling sounds of Pileated Woodpeckers dining. I have swallowed the sounds and replayed them enough times to not ever forget. Walking barefoot on hot sand, the scent of freshly mowed grass, the taste of salt from the Atlantic on my lips, and cool summer nights in my hoodie and striped socks, are moments that I will miss. Staying up late, waking up early, and not one worry about being tired. I'll miss those things too.

Best of Luck in the 2012-2013 school year!
May we all find success and peace when we need it, by remembering the moments that matter the most.

Common Core

So I purchased my first "common core" teacher resource, The Common Core Lesson Book K-5 by Gretchen Owocki. First, I love how it is bound with a fat spiral, giving it the feel of a daily working and hands-on tool. And that it seems to be. This is a resource that I fully plan to use and feel confident I will benefit from going into a new school year, with a new standards based common core curriculum, with this reading resource. Each standard (anchor) is identified, and shown a grade level scope and sequence. One thing to consider is, even though the headers on the scope are by grade level (K-5), if a child is below or above the grade level standard, you simply move back or forward on the progression. You start thinking about your student's individual goals, rather where they are "suppose" to be. Each standard (anchor) offers: Demonstration, Collaborative Engagement, and Independent Application. Gretchen goes on to include graphic organizers, mini lessons, and instructional strategies. I will keep you updated on how the lessons go.

Reading List

Spent the day setting up my classroom for the NEW school year. When I arrived on the scene at 7:45 am (if I don't get up and go I do not end up going) I was greeted with an AMAZON box. I brought home 6 books I NEED to read and wanted to share the titles with you . 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
I just finished reading Wonder, and can confirm it is one of those books you finish quickly, because you can't step away from it. Auggie Pullman is a character you become instantly invested in and need to stand by his side and feel his experience along side him. Life is beautiful and mysterious, and a pure wonder. What role do you play in that? Choose kind.

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Junonia by Kevin Henkes

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
I read this touching and loving story in one morning. I so appreciate a story that can evoke a demand for animal empathy, compassion, and integrity, while being truthful, but not exposing too many truths, making one feel to sad to be reflective. This is a wonderful story that will touch any animal lover, and make you one if you are not already. This book is a true gem.
The inspiration behind the book & more information can be found on the website 
The One and Only Ivan

Explorer The Mystery Boxes  Edited by Kazu Kibuishi
This is actually a graphic novel anthology. Genius idea! All stories, written by a variety of graphic novel artists, revolve around a mysterious box. Graphic novel fans are sure to recognize a favorite writer or two. Raina Telgemeier (SMILE) and Jason Caffoe (125 pages of Amulet). I absolutely loved them all! Next stop, Flight series.

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel

Doug has made me a fan all over again. My appreciation for his graphic novels Bad Island and Ghostopolis led me to order Cardboard. The illustrations are juicy and they feel so substantial and lively. They have texture and dimension. It feels like you are watching a movie. Doug's characters are well developed and pull you into their setting in the first pages. While reading Cardboard, I heard myself whispering support out loud for the characters. I highly recommend his books.

Cowgirls & Astronauts

Published by Running Press Kids, this non-fiction book about rebels in dresses is awesome! Bravo to writer Sylvia Branzei and also Melissa Sweet for the appealing text and special illustrations. This book feels special to the touch, the pages sturdy, decorative historical feeling textures and end papers. The writers use of non-fiction features is brilliant. She uses things like "sticky notes", photographs, and a variety of fonts to make this book an experience.

An amazing story about 13 women astronauts who battled the government and an unspoken rule at NASA in the 1950s...women can't be astronauts. Well, this story tells the story of 13 flight pioneers who proved to be as heroic, intelligent, tough, and flight ready as any man ever had (as well as surpassing them on many flight test & tasks). Tanya Lee Stone shares an important piece of history that I feel a lot better knowing about.

NEW Books for Classroom

I couldn't resist the SALE picture book section...and I was just going to take a quick peak and resist temptation too. Well, I partially met the standard, as I found and  bought 4 random picture book treasures for the classroom library! The following grabbed my attention for various reasons.

The illustrations are made from vinyl engravings, watercolor washes, and printed wood textures. Yes, please! Besides, who doesn't want to know all about the Sea Horse (Hippocampus)? The end papers are decorative and informative, displaying different types of Sea Horse. The text features bold words and an index, and there are facts throughout the text.

While we are talking about beautiful illustrations, Philip creates his illustrations by hand, through a layered process of painting, collage, and ink drawings. The type for this book was hand-lettered using rubber letterpress sets salvaged from junk shops across the country! Amazing art work, and the story is fantastic too. The text has rhythm and fluency, making it fun to reread and read aloud. Interesting word choice with words like wheezed, brandished, chiseled, and complained.

I LOVE Emily Gravett's books, so to discover one of her books I haven't seen before and find it on sale...SCORE! The cover and the illustrations inside are lovely and magical. If you collect books to model art or illustration styles, you would want this book for your collection. I had a group of students who liked to write SPELLS and I was thinking this could serve as a mini lessons on writing spells, and spells gone wrong for our Writer's Notebook. I'll let you know how it goes!

The first book I have read where the main character is a clam, and I live in Maine! The illustrations are acrylic and ink and remind me of paintings. Really cute story about a wiggleskin who knows the rules, "Necks out to eat and necks in to hide!" but Edwin's mother always reassured him, "Stick your neck out for adventure like you always do". This advice might come in handy when Edwin's family gets dug by a rough clam digger! I plan to use this as a model for summary vs. theme or the "inner story". The inner story in this book is about individuality, self-confidence, and going for adventure.

I am a true graphic novel fan, and I share that love with a large amount of my students. I found this treasure today. Super lovable and cute characters, vibrant colors, and engaging adventure & chase story line. This is a graphix from Scholastic. Highly recommend..

I have been introduced to Matt and Dave's Yuck books. I got two of them, this one shown and Yuck's Slime Monster. Each book has two short stories that are about 50 pages long and include humorous illustrations. I read about Yuck's amazing underpants. YUCK, Gross, OMG!...all appropriate responses to Yuck's relationship with his unwashed, germ riddled, foul underpants. The underpants become an impressive pet of their own! These will be a hit.

Literacy Backpacks

 My 5th grade students completed a Service Learning Project,
A Literacy Backpacks Lending Library for their pre-school buddies at the local children's center. Each backpack has a non-fiction book (or two) and activities to go with the theme of the pack and book. Local people and business' sponsored the pack and chose the theme too. Museums, school staff, libraries, and local companies invested in promoting reading in their community sponsored backpacks. The backpacks were given to the pre-school and will serve as a non-fiction lending library to encourage family literacy and interest around non-fiction.

Our amazing art teacher and his middle school building team built this book shelf to house all the literacy backpacks that were put together. We hope to continue this project this year with the new 5th graders. We put together 10 literacy backpacks last year and hope to put 10 more together this year. The pre-school students are thrilled to be able to borrow the backpacks, learning about topics and community resources at the same time.


Students "tweet" and display their "apps".

Using an animation app on the ipad.

I gave my students a Face Book Home Page Template for them to make a character page. They really demonstrated their character understanding. The Ads were even relevant to the text. The modern book report is here and the motivation extreme! Fun and relevant expression of reading comprehension. We also each have our own "Laminated ipad Twitter Page" that students tweet about the days events and use as a tool to share their day with their families.
Find the templates from this web site:


A Reader's Notebook

This school year I am going to try something different than the 3 ring notebooks. Each student will receive their very own Fountas & Pinnell Reader's Notebook (sold in 25 and 5 packs):

My students participate in a variety of reading groups & book club activities, and I plan on documenting those events with photos too, that students can add to their Reader's Notebooks.

Scholastic Books has some fair deals on multiple copies of books.

Student's favorite topics, genres, and authors of interest might change over time.

A Genre Reading Bingo goal could be used for student personal reads or class read aloud picks. 

FEVER 1793 is an excellent choice for historical fiction. Compare to non-fiction resources to enhance knowledge.

The "FEVER" reading group invited the rest of the class to a time period Coffee House modeled after the one in the book.

Hot chocolate and ginger bread, YUM!

The prices were amazing and the service the best!

Ruby Lavender was well received by a group of my 4th grade girls.

Like Ruby, the readers wanted to write letters to their own grandmothers. This brought me great joy, as I have fond pre -email memories of how I would write letters to my family and friends...and of course to both my grandma and memere'.

Detective Club - Navigating Mysteries

Each Mystery Reader gets a Case File. Detectives keep track of clues, suspects, red herrings, and other important information as they read through the mystery with their detective club peers.

Elementary students seem drawn to the mystery genre while reading and writing. This Detective Dictionary is in the case file and really supports vocabulary development.

Two 4th graders share what makes a good mystery, demonstrating an understanding of both the vocabulary and story elements of a mystery.

A student gave me this  book Power card on my birthday one year. I thought it was pretty awesome cake.