Sunday, May 31, 2009

Weekly Blog Plan, June 1-5

Here's the weekly blog plan! Again, please remember this is subject to change and is dependent upon whether or not my materials come in from the library as planned. I realize that this may fall too late for you to use in your classroom this year, but the activities will definitely swing from year-t0-year! If you see something you really want to incorporate into your classroom, leave me a comment on this post or send me an e-mail, I'd be glad to provide you with the links I have, if nothing more!

Monday, June 1 - Finishing Up May New-Release Reviews
  • Mouse Was Mad, Linda Urban
  • Tacky Goes to Camp, Helen Lester
  • Tea with Milk, Allen Say
  • A Chair for Always, Vera B. Williams
  • My Sister, Alicia May, Nancy Tupper Ling
Tuesday, June 2 - National Dairy Month
  • Out and About at the Dairy Farm, Andy Murphy
  • The Milkman's Boy, Donald Hall
  • A Fairy in a Dairy, Lucy A. Nolan
Wednesday, June 3 - Anita Lobel's Birthday
  • Away from Home
  • Allison's Zinnia
  • One Lighthouse, One Moon
Thursday, June 4 - Cynthia Rylant's Birthday is this Saturday
  • Stars Will Still Shine
  • The Relatives Came
  • When I Was Young in the Mountains
Friday, June 5 - Allan Ahlberg's Birthday
  • The Shopping Expedition
  • Mockingbird
  • Previously
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy Birthday to...

Andrew Clements!!!

I never knew what fun books Andrew Clements writes!!!! Did you?

Clements, Andrew.
A Million Dots.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

In this book, Clements give young readers an idea of just how much a million really is! Mike Reed uses a technique that reminds me of looking through a window screen (it's really, literally, a million dots in the all the pictures together) in his illustrations, that depict interesting trivia that's meant to give children a concrete idea of different amounts of items they can relate to that, combined would add up to a million.

If the children (I read in Dora's Diary: Beyond Mist Blue Mountains earlier today, that "kids" are baby goats, so we should only refer to our children as "children," since they are not goats!) are anything like me, they'll enjoy the trivia more than the "million" concept!

Clements, Andrew.
Who Owns the Cow?
Clarion Books.

This book is hilarious... children seem to have an inquisitive nature about them! From the time they can talk in sentences they begin asking "Why?" "Who?" or "Where?" until they receive an answer they're satisfied with. In this book, children are asked, "Who owns the cow?" An elaborate answer is what they get... The farmer owns the cow, he's the one that bought it! But the painter owns the cow because she's the one that paints it! The milkman owns the cow because he sells the cows milk! The answers go on and on, hopefully helping children to realize that sometimes, there are no 100% correct answers to some questions.

If for nothing more than a laugh, this book is definitely worth sharing!

Clements, Andrew.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Haiku's are awesome poems... even Andrew Clements thinks so! In this book, he tells a tale of a stray dog... and the whole tail is told in haiku format! It's really awesome, but definitely worth the read, as at the end of the story, the stray dog has found a new home!

This book would be a perfect complement to a poetry unit as an introduction to the haiku! The lesson plan below includes activities that have children reading Dogku and writing petku... might as well write some haiku about other types of pets, as well!

Lesson Plans/Reading Activities:
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Imaginations at Work!

I've decided to use today for some much needed review catch up! Two great books for you today - both showing the ways in which our imaginations allow us to "run wild"!

Grandits, John.
The Travel Game.
May 18, 2009.
Clarion Books.

Based on Grandits' own life growing up in Buffalo, NY (just a few short hours from me), this book literally takes readers on an adventure! Tad and Aunt Hattie have a standing tradition of breaking out the globe and George P. Smither's 1001 Pictures from Around the World and of course, your imagination! All Tad and Aunt Hattie have to do when they need an escape from the family-run tailoring business is close their eyes, spin the globe, and put your finger down on the globe. Wherever your finger is... that's where they "travel" to. Naturally, they don't actually pack up and head to that location on vacation. Rather, Tad breaks out the trusty atlas and looks up the location of where they've "landed." From there, they learn as much as they can about that city/town!

Love, love, love this book! I could see myself having so much fun "playing" this book, even as an adult! I loved it so much, I went ahead and created a companion activity to be used with the book, so head on over here and download the activity to use with the kids... heck, this might be the perfect summer vacation "getaway" for your family - all you need is the companion activity worksheet, your imagination, a globe, and internet access (I couldn't find a picture atlas that would be conducive to this activity, but if you find one or know of one, please, please, please, let me know!). The book/activity would also be a great "fast finishers" activity in an upper elementary classroom!

Here's what you do.
  1. Get out your globe!
  2. Either print a copy of the activity page, or save/open the file on the computer (I would suggest this, so you can copy and paste the flag and photos of the location)!
  3. Let your child spin the globe and place a finger on it to stop the spinning.
  4. Together, or if older children can be trusted alone, using the internet and the activity sheet, take a virtual vacation and find out all that you can!
  5. Keep your filled in activity sheet and create your own "Travel Game" book, adding each worksheet to a binder. This will make for a great resource reference for schooling/school projects in the years to come!
Also, since the companion activity sheet is a word document, feel free to edit the categories all you like! If they're too complex or not complex enough for the kids, fix 'em up to meet your needs!

Keane, Dave.
Bobby Bramble Loses His Brain.
May 18, 2009.
Clarion Books.

Bobby Bramble is constantly on the move - somersaulting, climbing, bouncing, sliding... you name it, he'll do it for sure! While it's great for a kid to be active, Bobby's activity level is a cause of great concern for his mother... she warns him constantly that fall and crack his head open like Humpty Dumpty. As a carefree child, Bobby takes little heed to her warnings! Then, sure enough... one day, it happens... and when he cracks open his head, we discover that his brain is as active as him! Somehow, the neighbors must all come together to catch his runaway brain before it's too late. I'm not going to give away the ending, but rather leave you in suspense to discover just how much humor is located within the pages of this book!

Children will surely relate to this one (or most of them will, anyways)! However, I highly doubt it will slow down the energetic child... it might actually cause them to be even more daring than they might ordinarily be! This book would be great for story hour at school or the library and would even make a great bedtime story for younger children (4-9)!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A New Anna Alter Release... Spelling Books... AND A Giveaway!!!

No... this post isn't about your elementary/middle school instructional spelling book! It's way better than that! Today is the National Spelling Bee Finals... so I'm featuring books related to spelling bees!

Anna Alter has a new book that was released in late April, Abigail Spells.

Alter, Anna.
Abigail Spells.
Random House Children's Books.

This is a sweet book about friendship that takes precedence over all else! Abigail and her friend George do everything together - dancing and playing musical instruments, painting, telling/listening to stories.

The only difference between the two is that Abigail loves spelling and George doesn't. Abigail spells everything... "b-r-u-s-h" when she's brushing her teeth, "n-i-g-h-t" when she's saying good-night, and even "c-a-r-r-o-t" when she finds one in her lunch box! When she discovers a sign posted about a spelling bee, Abigail can't wait to enter. George even helps her practice, just like a true friend would! However, when Abigail gets up on stage, she learns that there's more to a spelling bee than just spelling words... there's a whole audience out there watching her. Abigail suddenly freezes, overcome with some stage fright that results in her inability to focus on the word at hand, ending with her misspelling "elephant" with an "f" instead of "ph."

She's embarrassed and it affects her for days... George comes to the rescue though, telling Abigail a sweet story about a bear who's worried about his friend, a bird, who's the best speller he'd ever met... Abigail understands the purpose for his story and realizes that George is still her friend even though she didn't win the spelling bee!

This is definitely a book to share with children of all ages who are experiencing a bit of stage fright, as it teaches an important lesson... just because you didn't win, you still have a lot of people supporting you!

And a word from Anna, to her readers...
Abigail Spells is a book I have been working on for several years. When I first dreamed up the idea, I wanted to make a book about how a kid might experience stage fright. As a shy kid I was terrified of standing up in front of a crowd, and I knew from my years teaching that many other kids experience the same thing.

I also wanted to make a book that would get kids excited about spelling. It was certainly not my strongest subject in schook, but I was enchanted by the movie Spellbound, and even attended a spelling bee in my neighborhood while researching the book. The excitement and enthusiasm of the kids was riveting. Watching as the stage became less and less crowded with competitors, everyone in the audience held their breath hoping for each kid to spell their word correctly. When one by one they walked off the stage my heart went out to them.

When these two ideas merged, I had the first draft for Abigail Spells. Like most of my books, it is not about the main character "winning." For me, it is more important to tell stories that show how it is possible to cope with things not going your way, to emphasize the value of trying despite the outcome. I wanted to reinforce that winning isn't everything, and that a good friend can help up to get through just about anything.

Now that the book is at last on bookshelves, I hope that kids will get those messages loud and clear and have fun reading Abigail's story. I've put together a web site (, where readers and educators alike can go to expand on the themes in the book. There you will find a curriculum guide, activity and coloring sheets to download, and fun spelling video games kids can play. I hope these tools, and of course the book, will help inspire young spellers everywhere!
Some other great spelling bee-related books:

Scott, Ann Herbert.
Brave as a Mountain Lion.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Spider is in trouble. He scored 100% on his spelling test and now his teacher wants him to compete in the spelling bee and Spider is dealing with a big case of stage fright - he doesn't want everyone up there looking at him. Noticing Spider's fears, his family works to put his mind at ease,
"Dad, were you ever in a spelling bee?" he asked.
"As a matter of fact, I was."
"Were you scared?"
"I was very scared. I didn't even want to do it. But then my father told me to pretend I was a brave animal, the strongest, bravest animal I could think of. Then I wasn't afraid any more."
Spider decided to take his father's advice - trying to be brave as a mountain lion. Being brave as a mountain lion wasn't enough though, so he enlisted the help of his grandmother.
"Grandma, were you ever in a spelling bee?"
"No, I never was," his grandmother answered. "Are you thinking much about it?"
"All the time," said Spider.
"What's the worst part?"
"Being up on the stage with all the people looking at you."
"Oh, that's easy," said his grandmother. "You can be clever. Clever as a coyote. The coyote always has some trick to help him out of trouble. When you're up there on the stage, you don't have to look at the people. You can turn your back on them and pretend they aren't even there."
Vowing to be brave as a mountain lion and clever as a coyote, Spider heads off to bed. But, upon arriving outside of the gym the next day, he discovers he still isn't comfortable competing in the spelling bee. At home later, his brother Will gives him more advice.
Will nodded. "I remember those spelling bees."
"Were you afraid?" asked Spider.
"I was scared silly," said Will. "I was so scared I was afraid I'd wet my pants. Then I learned the secret."
"What's the secret?" asked Spider.
"To be silent."
"Silent?" asked Spider. "What does that do?"
"It keeps you cool. When I have a hard shot to make and the whole team depends on me, that's when I get very silent."
When he combines the advice of three of his family members, he finally has the courage to compete in the bee, and even though he doesn't win the bee, he realizes he was a winner on his own, for he wasn't even afraid up on stage!

This is a wonderful book to teach children to have the courage to try something they're afraid of and that even if they don't win, they'll be a winner in their own sense of the word, as they're facing one of their fears and standing up to prove to themselves that they have the power to be strong!

McDonald, Janet.
Penguin Group (USA).

Raven is a "project girl," growing up in the Projects of Brooklyn. All her life she's been planning for her senior year of high school... putting money down on the class ring... her graduation cap and gown. Her dreams are put on the back burner when she unexpectedly becomes a mom at the tender age of sixteen. Suddenly, she has to drop out of school, get herself on welfare and sign up for food stamps. When she goes is forced to go out and try to get a job, she's met with the reaction,
"I'm sorry, miss, every applicant must hold a high school diploma. We won't be able to process your application further. Thank you for your interest in National and have a nice day."
Rather than allowing herself to succumb to defeat, Raven takes her sister's advice and applies for Spell Success program which will offer one person the chance to attend a summer prep program for college and then reward them with a full-ride scholarship to attend! Even though she's never been a speller, Raven devotes all of her extra energy to studying all of the words she doesn't know in hopes of winning the spelling bee so she can make something of her life,- land a real job and get herself and Smokey (her son) an apartment in Manhattan. Her hard work pays off, as Raven becomes the recipient of the full-ride scholarship.

This book was very moving. It's not very often that I've read young-adult literature that really allows you to feel as though you're walking along side the character. This novel definitely allows readers that opportunity. I also feel that this book gives a somewhat accurate portrayal of life for "Project Girls" who are dealing with unexpected motherhood when they're little more than children themselves - living at home with parents, dropped by the baby's father, supported on public assistance alone... I believe that this book would inspire teenage mothers to fight for their dreams and find a way to make them come true - to show them that their life is not over and that they still have a chance to make something of their lives - they're not only living for themselves now, but have a child to think about as well... all the more reason to make a name for themselves!

AND now, for the giveaway!!!

Thanks to Random House and Anna Alter, 3, that's right... 3 lucky readers will be receiving a copy of Anna's latest book, Abigail Spells! You've got to work for this one though!
  1. Head over to the Abigail Spells website and check out all the cool resources Anna has provided us with!
  2. As a parent, you're most definitely a teacher! As a teacher, you're probably always looking for different activities to use with literature! If you're reading this post and hoping to win a copy for the kids (either your own or the classroom full of them), browse through the activities Anna has provided and choose your favorite (one you can see yourself using alongside the book with the kids).
  3. To enter the drawing, leave a comment (making SURE to include your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win) about which activity is your favorite.
You have until 11:59pm EST on Friday, June 5th to enter in the giveaway! Winners will be contacted via e-mail!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

National Moving Month... for Middle Grade Readers!

My earlier post today featured books related to moving for young children.... this next review is one I received in the mail about a month ago, but have held off on posting a review until today... because it's perfect for teaching an important lesson to middle grade readers who are dealing with the emotions surrounding a move to a new home/city.

Leal, Ann Haywood.
Also Known As Harper.
Henry Holt and Company, LLC, Books for Young Readers.

I can honestly say I've never been quite as touched by any middle-grade fiction novel as I was by Also Known as Harper. This book will allow 9-12 year olds to realistically see how children (much like themselves) are effected daily by poverty. I think children across the board would benefit from reading this touching story and watching as young Harper Lee Morgan deals with the hand her family has been dealt - being evicted from their rental unit while her mother struggles to pay the rent and bills after her father up and left the family one day unannounced, ultimately overcoming their hardships to a certain degree.

Harper Lee Morgan got her name from her mother's favorite writer, Harper Lee, most famous from her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. The book is referred to throughout this novel, almost acting as a constant for Harper and her little brother, Hemingway. It is evident that Harper takes after her mother from the very get-go... she's an aspiring poet who learned her love of words from her mother, who dreamed of one day writing a book. However, life has dealt them from a different deck of cards. Instead of chasing their dreams, Mama, Harper and Hemingway are struggling from day-to-day to make ends meet after being evicted. As if being evicted isn't bad enough, Harper learns she's going to miss being able to compete in the poetry contest at school... However, with the help of her new homeless friends, Harper ends up winning big time - sharing her poetry with the people who will most appreciate it, her mother, Hemingway, Lorraine, Randall and Dorothy.

Despite the hardships they face, Harper learns to make the most of each situation she is dealt. This book will help young readers to appreciate the lives they are living, show them to be thankful for the home they have! This is a wonderful book and I only hope that someday I will be able to share this with a classroom full of children!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

National Moving Month

Did you know May is National Moving Month?
Recognizing America's mobile roots and kicking off the busiest moving season of the year. Each year more than 40 million Americans move between Memorial Day and Labor Day, with the average American moving every seven years. During this month, moving experts will be educating Americans on how to plan a successful move, to pack efficiently, and to handle the uncertainties and questions that children who are moving have.
My post today focuses on those children, so hopefully these books will be of help to you or someone you know!

Civardi, Anne.
Moving House (Usborne First Experiences).
EDC Publishing.

Anne Civardi and EDC Publishing joined together to help children through a whole series of "first experiences" - an airplane ride, a doctor visit, going to a party, going to school, a new baby. The list continues on and almost all of the titles can be found here.

This particular book focuses on moving to a new house. I'd say it does a pretty good job at explaining the basics to children! The simplest explanation, which I'd say is suitable for older children, ages 6-8 perhaps, can be found at the top of the pages. However, the book also has more detailed explanations available at the bottom of each page. If your family is moving in the near future and the kids seem to be confused or struggling with the idea, I think this book would be a good starting point. You can always combine it with more book about the emotions children will face as the move nears and even after the move occurs, to make the most of this book!

Viorst, Judith.
Alexander, Who's Not (Do you hear me? I mean it!) Going to Move.
Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group.

Alexander is back! And this time, he's dealing with more than just a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day! This time, his family is moving - ripping him away from his best friend Paul, the cleaners who save everything from his pockets, the Baldwins and their dog, the Rooney's and their six girls, Mr. and Mrs. Oberdorfer's Halloween treats, Pearson's Drug Store, even his teacher Ms. Knoop... His brothers can't understand why he's being such a baby about the move, but they'll both have new friends their age at their new house.

Throughout the story, Alexander insists he's not going to move. Dad promises he'll find Alexander a new soccer team, possibly even a dog to be his new best friend until he meets some people friends. Mom even agrees to let him call Paul long-distance. Even his brother offers to help Alexander out by offering to let him sleep in his room if he's lonesome in his own room. Eventually, Alexander gives in and begins packing... insisting that it'll be the last time he ever moves... he's never going to move again!

If kids are upset about a move, this may be just the book to share with them... they will sympathize with Alexander, maybe open up and express some of their own thoughts and fears. While I don't entirely agree with bribing kids with a dog, long-distance phone calls might be a compromise. Signing kids up for some kind of extra-curricular activity is perfect to get them with other children in their new neighborhood/school district. Maybe this is the way to get them on the same page with the idea of a move - allow them to choose what kind of activity they'd like to participate in!

MacLachlan, Patricia.
What You Know First.
HarperCollins Publishers.

The illustrations are beautiful - they're simple, but they perfectly convey the moods and feelings in the story! A young girl is upset about her family's impending move away from the prairie life that she's always known. She tries hard to convince her parents to leave her behind, but they work just as hard to convince her how much she's needed to make the family complete.

In the end, the little girl compromises, taking a bit of the prairie life with her - a twig of the cottonwood tree and a little bag of prairie dirt. However, even though she's only able to take those two concrete objects with her, her father reminds her that she'll always have the memories, as,
What you know first stays with you, my Papa says.
Think about it... how much truth is there in this? How much do you remember about your first home where memories were made?
  • I remember the closet at the base of the stair case where we stored extra sheets and towels. I remember playing boogie-man and hiding myself in that same storage closet.
  • I remember no closet in my bedroom. There was a bar about 2 feet long to hang my clothes. The rest were stacked on a changing table that was left over from when I was a baby.
  • I remember my bedroom was dark wood paneling that my parents painted pale pink. And built in book cases above my bed, with a strawberry shortcake comforter.
  • I remember the basement being set up as a play room for us kids, desks set up so I could be the "teacher" while my brothers roller skated around the "classroom."
The memories don't end there... so I'm truly believing what Papa says from What You Know First... What you know first stays with you... this is true for me at least!

If you or someone you know is moving in the near future, here are some other books that might help kids in dealing with the transition:
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Weekly Blog Plan, May 26-29

Here's the weekly blog plan! Again, please remember this is subject to change and is dependent upon whether or not my materials come in from the library as planned. I realize that this may fall too late for you to use in your classroom this year, but the activities will definitely swing from year-to-year! If you see something you really want to incorporate into your classroom, leave me a comment on this post or send me an e-mail, I'd be glad to provide you with the links I have, if nothing more!

Tuesday, May 26 - National Moving Month
  • Moving House, Anne Civardi
  • What You Know First, Patricia MacLachlan
  • Alexander, Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move, Judith Viorst
  • Also Known as Harper, Ann Haywood Leal
Wednesday, May 27 - National Spelling Bee Finals
  • Spellbound, Janet McDonald
  • Brave as a Mountain Lion, Ann Herbert Scott
  • Abigail Spells, Anna Alter
Thursday, May 28 - May Reviews
  • Bobby Bramble Loses His Brain, Dave Keane
  • The Travel Game, John Grandits
Friday, May 29 - Andrew Clements' 60th Birthday
  • Dogku
  • A Million Dots
  • Who Owns the Cow?
  • Big Al
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day!

I just have one quick review for today and it is Memorial Day related! Believe it or not, in my search, I was only able to locate one fictional picture book about Memorial Day... that's kind of disappointing!

Golding, Theresa Martin.
Memorial Day Surprise.
Boyds Mill Press.

Marco and his mother have a big day ahead of them... it's even too big of a day to stop and visit Abuelo (Grandpa). It's Memorial Day and the pair is headed off to the city's Memorial Day parade, at which Marco's mother promises a surprise. As they arrive on the main street, Marco finds all of his mother's favorite stores closed and the street lined with people in anticipation of the parade. As the parade begins, we watch as Marco continually questions his mother about the surprise?
Marco wished Abuelo could have heard the music. Maybe it would have made his legs tingle again. "Was that the surprise, Mama?" Marco shouted, "Was it? Was it?"
But the surprise wasn't the band!
Marco waved the flag at the noisy fire truck. "Was that the surprise, Mama?"

Mama shook her head. "No, Marco. The surprise is even more special than meeting a real firefighter.
And the surprise isn't the fire truck or real firefighter...
"Mama, look!" Marco opened his fist and showed her all the sweets he had collected, "That was the surprise, wasn't it?"
However, the candy wasn't the surprise, either!
"Abuelo!" Marco shouted and waved his hands.
"Why is your grandfather in the parade?" Jenna asked.
Marco stood tall. "My grandfather is a hero."
Have you figured out the surprise yet?!?!
Marco did not have to ask Mama. He knew this was the best memory day surprise of all.
This book is perfect for introducing young children to the importance of Memorial Day. It doesn't go into any lengthy detail about the holiday, but rather shows children that the most important part of the Memorial Day parade is honoring the soldiers, like Marco's grandpa, who appears in his fatigues.

I would think children as young as age 3 or 4 would walk away from this book with some understanding of Memorial Day! A must have for the children, especially for teachers or parents who want to expose their children to the more historical aspect of a parade!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Literacy Work Station 1 - Dragon is Coming!

A little over a month ago, I received a box of children's ARC's, of which contained Valeri Gorbachev's latest, Dragon is Coming!. It was released earlier this month and is a must have for the early elementary classroom and/or the home library! I enjoyed it so much, I was inspired to start a weekly post of Literacy Work Stations. This book is one of two that will be highlighted in the Literacy Work Station later on in this post!

Gorbachev, Valeri.
Dragon is Coming.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Children are going to love this one! I loved this one! If your children have big imaginations or if they need to start developing big imaginations, this book is perfect for fostering that!

Dog is laying on his back enjoying the bright blue ski that is filled with fluffy white clouds until a dark cloud rolled in and a small field mouse wakes him up by screaming,
Dragon is coming!
As mouse attempts to outrun the "dragon," he passes by geese, sheep, a cow and pig, providing them with believable reasons to prove that Dragon is coming -
Did you see that flame?
Run, Geese, run!

Dragon is coming!
He'll swallow the sun - and
we're next! Did you hear
his stomach rumble?

Dragon is coming!
Did you feel that drop?
He's licking his lips!
As all of the animals hide from Dragon in the barn, Dog shows up,
Why are you all here in the dark?
The thundercloud is gone, and
the storm is over!
Mouse is relieved! Oh, how I love it!...

Shaw, Charles G.
It Looked Like Spilt Milk.
HarperCollins Publishers.
Guided Reading Level: E

White images set against a blue background, allow the imaginations to flow as readers are gently shown how sometimes an object can appear as one thing and turn out to be something entirely different! For example,Sometimes it looked like a sheep. But it wasn't a sheep.At the end of the story we learn that it was really just a cloud in the sky!

This was one of my favorite books as a child. In my five years spent between student teaching and substitute teaching, I have used this book a handful of times and children of all ages love it every bit as much as I did! It's definitely worthy of a place on the bookshelves, especially coupled with Valeri Gorbachev's Dragon is Coming!

Literacy Work Station #1
Theme: Imagination

Monday (Day 1) - Read Aloud both stories and as a whole group, create a Venn Diagram depicting the similarities and differences between the two stories. I would be sure to make mention that one central theme of both of these stories is imagination - a person/mouse is imagining what the clouds look like!
  • Dragon is Coming by Valeri Gorbachev
  • It Looked Like Spilt Milk, Charles G. Shaw.
Tuesday (Day 2) - Listening Station (as part of classroom centers)
  • *AHEAD OF TIME* Using a program similar to "Sound Recorder" (I found it on my computer under the "Start" menu, "All Programs," "Accessories"), record your voice reading both stories. The files can then be saved. Burn the files to 2 audio CD's - one of each book.
  • Split students into groups of 4. Those groups will then be split into groups of 2. One group will listen to the audio recording of Dragon is Coming!. The other group will begin with It Looked Like Spilt Milk. When they have finished listening to one book, have the groups switch and listen to the other story. *Allow enough time for children to listen to both recordings.*
Wednesday (Day 3) - Comprehension/Assessment Activity

Whole Group
  • Either purchase a pre-made It Looked Like Spilt Milk Felt Board story set or create your own using white felt. To make your own, enlarge or shrink the story illustrations to either 8 1/2" x 11" or 4 1/4" x 5 1/2", depending on the size you wish to use with students (If space is aplenty, I would suggest the larger size for ease of visibility). Cut out the white "clouds" and trace onto the white felt, then simply cut out the felt and you'll have your own story set!
  • Explain that you want students to "retell" the story and put the events in order according to how they happened in the story.
  • Pass out the white felt "clouds" to each student. If there are more students than clouds, pair students up and have them work together to decide where their piece belongs in the order.
  • Read the first page of the story and then ask students to stand and add their felt clouds to the felt board when they feel it is their time. Ask students to reiterate the idea, "It looked like... But it wasn't... "
  • Once all pieces have been placed, have students return to their seats and on a piece of scrap paper, write what it "really" was. Collect the papers to see if students have understood and are able to recall the ending to the story.
Independent Seat Work/Center Activity
  • To assess comprehension of Gorbachev's Dragon is Coming, have students independently complete the sequencing activity found here (it is a download). This could be completed either as morning seatwork or as part of an independent work center activity.
  • Supplies needed: Scissors, glue, crayons
Thursday (Day 4) - Whole Group (May Require Aide or Parent Volunteer) - White Clouds and Thunder Cloud Paintings
  • Supplies Needed: 9"x12" Construction Paper (Blue, Gray) - One sheet of each for each student, White Tempera Paint, Black Tempera Paint, Pencils
  • Have students write their name on 1 side of both sheets of construction paper.
  • Ask students to fold their construction papers in half (either way works) and then open it back up.
  • Start with blue construction paper and white tempera paint. Grey construction paper should be on floor underneath student seats. Teacher, aide, and/or parent volunteer should squeeze dime/nickel sized portion of white paint along the where the fold on the construction paper is. Student then re-folds the paper and presses gently on the paper, allowing the paint to "spread." Open up the construction paper. Place on drying racks or wherever paintings dry in your classroom/home. (It's up to you how you wish to control movement of students/papers to drying spot!)
  • Repeat this procedure with the grey construction paper and black paint.
  • Be sure to create a teacher example for Day 5 instruction at the time students are creating their cloud paintings.
Friday (Day 5) - Whole Group, Independent Writing, and Circle Time

Whole Group
  • Supplies: Teacher Example from Day 4, Student Organizers (2 per student), Teacher copy of Student Organizer for class use, Sentence Strips (1 per student, cut in half so they have 2 pieces)
  • Gather students on a carpet/meeting spot. Using one of the teacher paintings, brainstorm with students what the painting looks. Draw on the board an example of the student organizer to fill in. Allow each student to give one of their thoughts about what they "imagine" the painting to look like. Add their ideas to the organizer.
  • Explain that at their seats, working independently, they will be filling in their own organizers, one for each painting, about what they imagine the painting to look like. Each student should come up with 4 possible ideas for each of their paintings.
  • The organizer can be found here. Again, it is a download!
Independent Writing
  • Pass out 2 organizers to each child.
  • Monitor progress as students work on these, giving them a check or whatever you prefer once they have completed and have had the organizers approved.
  • Using their organizers, students will then choose their favorite "It Looked Like..." from each one and circle it.
  • They will then write the sentence on the sentence strips - one sentence on each strip! It looked like... (and then whichever choice they made from their organizer).
Circle Time
  • Once everyone has had ample time to complete their writing, gather students for circle (sharing) time.
  • Each child should pick 1 of their 2 paintings and the sentence that matches to share with the class.
  • Allow questions to be asked... I'd go with 1 question per child depending on the class size and the amount of time sharing takes.
Culmination (the following week) - Displaying Student Work
  • Create 2 displays of student work: One bulletin board and one class book.
  • Bulletin Board - Choose one of the two cloud painting sets (white on blue, black on grey). If choosing white on blue for It Looked Like Spilt Milk, title your display, "But it was a cloud in the sky..." (Perhaps you could you draw a cloud and write the words on the cloud with blue marker). If choosing black on grey for Dragon is Coming!, draw a small mouse standing next to the pig, who is holding a sign that read, "Mouse, a thundercloud is big and scary, but it's not a dragon!" Leave the work on display for a week or so and then allow children to take their work home!
  • Class Book: Staple students' work together into a book and add the final page for whichever book is put together... "But it was a cloud in the sky" for It Looked Like Spilt Milk or "Mouse, a thundercloud is big and scary, but it's not a dragon!" for Dragon is Coming! The class book can then be added to the class library for students' reading pleasures!
Okay guys and gals, that's it for Literacy Work Station 1!!! I hope you enjoy it! Please feel free to leave me any feedback that you may have, I'd love to hear from you!

P.S. I've contacted Valeri Gorbachev's publisher to try and receive permission to use his illustrations on the Dragon is Coming! sequencing activity. If that permission is granted, I'll change up the worksheet and then leave an update so you can all download the new worksheet!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Weekly Blog Plan, June 22 - 26

Here's the weekly blog plan! Again, please remember this is subject to change and is dependent upon whether or not my materials come in from the library as planned. I realize that this may fall too late for you to use in your classroom this year, but the activities will definitely swing from year-t0-year! If you see something you really want to incorporate into your classroom, leave me a comment on this post or send me an e-mail, I'd be glad to provide you with the links I have, if nothing more!

Monday, June 22 - National Rose Month
  • Wanda's Roses, Pat Brisson
  • A Sweet Smell of Roses, Angela Johnson
  • The Rose in My Garden, Arnold Lobel
  • September Roses, Jeanette Winter
Tuesday, June 23 - Gay and Lesbian Pride Month
  • Uncle Bobby's Wedding, Sarah S. Brannen
  • Molly's Family, Nancy Garden
  • And Tango Makes Three, Peter Parnell
Wednesday, June 24 - Fairy Day
  • Alice the Fairy, David Shannon
  • Fairy Houses, Tracy Kane
  • How to Find Flower Fairies, Cicely Mary Barker
Thursday, June 25 - Eric Carle's Birthday
  • The Very Lonely Firefly
  • The Very Quiet Cricket
  • The Very Busy Spider
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Friday, June 26 - Charlotte Zolotow's Birthday
  • William's Doll
  • The Storm Book
  • Seashore Book
  • If You Listen
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

National Egg Month

An unexpected event prevented me from finishing this post yesterday as I had intended. My brother's dog was hit by a car and I ended up driving to his place to pick the little guy up and bring him to my house for a few weeks of recuperation... The whole day was tied up by these events and I apologize for the late finish of the post - things have not settled down much, if any, as our dog and his put together = hellacious scrambling, but I've got to have some resemblance to normal if I'm to survive these next few weeks!

It's National Egg Month!
May is National Egg Month. More eggs are sold in America during the Easter season - usually in April - than at any other time of the year. Then, sales go down, but the hens keep on laying eggs. After Easter, because the supply of eggs is normal but the demand for eggs is less, their price ordinarily goes down. Starting in May and running through the summer, eggs are usually an even better bargain than they are the rest of the year. Through the American Egg Board and other groups, the American egg industry celebrates National Egg Month in May to remind home cooks how good eggs are. Egg farmers want cooks to remember that eggs are nutritious to eat and simple to make in many different ways. . . plus eggs are especially easy to afford from May until the end of summer.
Gregory, Valiska.
Sunny Side Up.
Macmillan Publishing Company.

Mr. Poggle and Scamp meet daily for breakfast. Mr. Poggle has planned eggs, served sunny-side up for today's meal! However, as the yolk breaks in Scamp's egg, his smile turns sunny-side down. The toast burns... They forgot to make the orange juice... breakfast seems to be a disaster until Mr. Poggle comes to the rescue and shows Scamp how to enjoy it and make the most of it!

This is a cute book and despite its being published 23 years ago, it definitely passes on an important thought to kids in a way they will be able to connect with!

MacDonald, Elizabeth.
Mr. MacGregor's Breakfast Egg.
ABC/The All Children's Co.

In this book, children will be able to see how one event can impact all others in just a single day. Before the day can officially begin and go off without a hitch, Mr. MacGregor must have a fresh egg from the little brown hen that lives on the family's farm. However, when Mr. MacGregor's son Jamie goes to fetch the egg, the hen won't lay it because there is no feed. Mr. Cameron can't deliver the feed because Mr. MacGregor won't whistle to Shep until he's had his breakfast. Shep won't herd the sheep to the hillside because Mr. MacGregor hasn't whistled. The sheep are blocking the man on the motorcycle, who's blocking the drummers in the van, who are blocking the boys who are trying to go camping, who are blocking the cattle from getting to their grazing ground, who's preventing Mr. Cameron from delivering the feed, which is the only way that Mr. MacGregor's day can begin! Jamie comes to the rescue though, running to Mr. Cameron's truck and asking for a handful of seed to take back to the hen.

It's a funny adventure that definitely shows children how a cycle of events takes place!

Friend, Catherine.
The Perfect Nest.
Candlewick Press.

This is a really really cute book! Jack the Cat has one great plan in mind! He's going to build the "perfect nest" to attract the perfect hen who will then lay the perfect egg so Jack can have a perfect omelet for breakfast! He sets to work and builds the nest. The nest is so perfect, in fact, that it attracts not only a chicken, but also a duck and a goose, all of which lay eggs in the nest. Jack is excited! He has not one egg, but three, which will make three omelets... or so he thinks! The three birds begin arguing over who the nest really belongs to and all wind up sitting on the nest. Jack goes to extreme measures to try and rid the nest of the three birds, claiming a fire, a flood and even "wolf." But nothing works. Instead, he tricks them away from the nest by claiming at the next farm there's an even better nest. Just as Jack reaches the nest to claim the eggs for himself, they begin to hatch! Suddenly, Jack becomes the mother of these three new babies and he's not at all amused! As time progresses, Jack realizes that his new job of "mothering" the babies and sitting on the nest with them does make it a "perfect nest" even though he never saw the "perfect omelet!

This is definitely worth the read!!!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Monday, May 18, 2009

Non-Fiction Monday!

I've had both of these books sitting around for some time now, waiting for a non-fiction Monday review... however, they've all passed me by until today!

Woods, Michael and Mary B.
Seven Natural Wonders of North America.
Lerner Publishing, Inc.

This book is a great resource for middle-grade children doing research projects about one of the Seven Natural Wonders of North America of for teachers of youngers students to use as a read aloud when focusing on one of the seven natural wonders.

There is much to be learned about each of the Seven Natural Wonders of North America:
  1. Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada
    Readers find out about:
    • ancient reptiles
    • dinosaur boneyard
    • sedimentary rock where bones are encased
    • paleontologists finds
    • preserving this natural wonder
    • what a visit to Dinosaur Provincial Park might consist of
  2. The Grand Canyon in Arizona
    It's gorgeous to see and almost as fun to learn about:
    • What makes the Grand Canyon Grand?
    • How was the Canyon carved?
    • The Canyon is a "storybook" of the Earth's history
    • Various groups who have resided in the Canyon
    • Worries about this natural wonder
    • What/How to explore during a visit to Grand Canyon National Park
  3. Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada and New York
    Also known as the "Honeymoon Capital," readers of all ages will enjoy discovering Niagara Falls:
    • learn about the natural history - dating back to the Ice Age
    • the importance of location in its popularity (only 2 1/2 hours from me!)
    • tightrope walking and barrel dropping stunts
    • the source of power that the falls provide
    • positive/negative of the falls
    • visitors attractions/activities
  4. Pacific Rim National Park in British Columbia, Canada
    Readers can learn about:
    • dangers faced by ships trying to cross the rim
    • rescue and hiking trails built by the government
    • the rain forest located within the park, as well as lakes, rivers, beaches, forests, meadows, mountains and valleys
    • the Broken Group Islands, a part of the park
    • what is/can be done to preserve Pacific Rim National Park
  5. Paricutin Volcano in Michoacan, Mexico
    Learning about Volcanos:
    • What happens when a volcano erupts?
    • Destruction caused by volcanos
    • Volcanos as a tourist attraction
    • What makes a volcano erupt?
    • What is Volcano Country?
    • Settlers in/around Paricutin
  6. Redwood Forests in Oregon and Northern California
    Children will love learning about:
    • the age of redwood trees
    • the ability of redwood trees to withstand very high winds
    • the home for plants and animals within these trees
    • the various uses of wood provided by the redwood trees
    • what is being done to protect the Redwood Forests
    *** Couple this section of the book with Jason Chin's Redwoods for a well-rounded lesson on the Redwood Forest!
  7. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho
    Exploring Yellowstone (through literature):
    • Where did the name "Yellowstone" come from?
    • Wonders within this Natural Wonder - Old Faithful, Giant, Giantess
    • Wildlife located within the Park
    • Protecting this tourist attraction
As you can see, there's a great deal that children will learn when browsing this book. It's not only great for children though... if you're a traveler, why not try and visit all of the Seven Natural Wonders of North America and create a scrapbook of your travels? Heck, this book even encourages readers to "Choose an Eighth Wonder" after reading and/or visiting the first seven!
Now that you've read about the seven natural wonders of North America, do a little research to choose an eighth wonder. You may enjoy working with a friend.

To do your research, look at some of the websites and books listed on pages 76 and 77. Look for places in North America that:
  • are especially large
  • are exceptionally beautiful
  • were unknown to foreigners for many centuries
  • are unlike any other place on earth
You might even try gathering phots and writing your own chapter on the eighth wonder!
How cool of a project would that be for older children, perhaps in the 4th-12th grades?!?!

Jenkins, Steve.
Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Steve Jenkins does not disappoint in his latest non-fiction children's work! Readers are given a brief introduction about the ocean before setting sail on a virtual submarine of sorts, exploring the ocean to its greatest depths, The Marianas Trench, located 35,838 feet below the surface.
Oceans cover more than two-thirds of the globe's surface and well over half the planet lies beneath water more than a mile (1 1/2 kilometers) deep. We have explored only a small fraction of the oceans. In fact, more humans have walked on the moon than have visited the deepest spot in the sea.
This book is perfect for any child who loves the ocean and sea-life. It is very factual and will provide children with the chance to test your knowledge of ocean life!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Literacy Work Stations!

Yeah! I've gotten a new children's book in the mail and after reading it, I've become inspired to try out a new weekly feature... hopefully I'll be able to keep on top of it and actually post a different literacy work station each week! You can look for this post sometime on Wednesday afternoons... That'll give you just enough time to collect the materials and have everything in place come Monday morning!

For those of you not familiar with literacy work stations, the ones I post on my blog will be similar to what Debbie Diller defines as a "literacy work station" in Literacy Work Stations: Making Centers Work:
A literacy work station is an area within the classroom where students work alone or interact with one another, using instructional materials to explore and expand their literacy. It is a place where a variety of activities reinforce and/or expand learning, often without the assistance of the classroom teacher. It is a time for children to practice reading, writing, speaking, listening and working with letters and words.
My post will feature five activities, one for every day of the week and will have some sort of central theme, which I will clearly post for all!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Hamburger Heaven Winner!

Thanks to those of you who entered the Hamburger Heaven giveaway contest!

The drawing, completed by pulled Staci, from Momma's Gone Over the Wall, as the lucky winner. I've sent an e-mail your way Staci, but if you happen to see this first, e-mail me your snail mail address and I'll get the book on the way to you!

Check back again, I'll have probably one more giveaway this month... maybe more!

Weekly Blog Plan: May 18-22

Here's the weekly blog plan! Again, please remember this is subject to change and is dependent upon whether or not my materials come in from the library as planned. I realize that this may fall too late for you to use in your classroom this year, but the activities will definitely swing from year-to-year! If you see something you really want to incorporate into your classroom, leave me a comment on this post or send me an e-mail, I'd be glad to provide you with the links I have, if nothing more!

Monday, May 18 - Lillian Hoban's Birthday (1925)
  • Will I Have a Friend?, Miriam Cohen
  • Bread and Jam for Frances, Lillian Hoban
  • The Little Brute Family, Russell Hoban
Tuesday, May 19 - National Egg Month
  • Mr. MacGregor's Breakfast Egg, Elizabeth MacDonald
  • The Perfect Nest, Catherine Friend
  • Sunny Side Up, Gregory Valiska
Wednesday, May 20 - Anniversary of the Homestead Act (1862)*
  • Wagon Wheels, Barbara Brenner
  • Dust for Dinner, Ann Turner
Thursday, May 21 - Saturday is World Turtle Day!
  • Old Turtle and the Broken Truth, Douglas Wood
  • Look Out for Turtles, Melvin Berger
  • Emma's Turtle, Eve Bunting
Friday, May 22 - National Barbecue Month
  • The Teddy Bear's Picnic, Jerry Garcia
  • We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past, Jacqueline Woodson
  • Picnic at Mudsock Meadow, Patricia Polacco

*I may fore-go this post... I've had a difficult time locating related materials. It will all depend on how relevant I feel the two books are!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

National Day of the Teacher

Some books to honor the teacher on National Day of the Teacher!

Winters, Kay.
My Teacher for President.
Dutton Children's Books.
Guided Reading Level: J

One child obviously appreciates his teacher, going as far as to write a letter to a local television station in hopes of nominating her for President. The side-by-side illustrations that we see show a child's perspective of the election, while at the same time, allowing children to get an adult's perspective on what different aspects of the Presidency involve.
My teacher acts quickly when there's an emergency. And she says health care is important.
The child sees the teacher acting quickly in the emergency when the class pet escapes its cage... that illustration is countered with a picture of the teacher (as President) passing out food to those in need. The following page shows her bandaging up injured children on the playground (as teacher) and participating in a ribbon cutting ceremony at a new pediatric care unit (as President). The book ends with the child closing the letter by asking that the teacher not leave until the current school year has ended.

Not only does this book honor the works of a teacher, it also would double as a resource when teaching children about the President. Definitely worthy of a spot among the classroom library!

Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky & Lane Smith.
Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!
Alfred A. Knopf.

This book is truly hilarious! Started by Dr. Seuss, it was completed in 1998 with help from Jack Prelutsky and Lane Smith... they did Dr. Seuss justice, I'd say and kids are sure to love the story!

Tribute is paid not only to a beloved teacher, but to the entire Diffendoofer School, which focuses teaching children how to think.
My teacher is Miss Bonkers,
She's as bouncy as a flea.
I'm not certain what she teaches,
But I'm glad she teaches me.

When a test similar to today's standardized tests must be administered at the school, Principal Mr. Lowe, fears that the children won't be able to apply what they've learned and that the school will then be closed and children will be sent to nearby Flobbertown where,
They dress in just one style.
They sing one songe, they never dance,
They march in single file.
They do not have a playground,
And they do not have a park.
Their lunches have no taste at all,
Their dogs are scared to bark.
Miss Bonkers gently reminds students that they are capable of passing the test...
Miss Bonkers rose. "Don't fret!" she said.
"You've learned the things you need
To pass that test and many more -
I'm certain you'll succeed.
We've taught you that the earth is round,
That red and white make pink,
And something else that matters more -
We've taught you how to think."
and they do, with flying colors! The children and staff celebrate by declaring Diffendoofer Day and sing the Diffendoofer Song.
We love you, Diffendoofer School,
We definitely do.
There surely is no other school
That's anything like you.
You're gribbulous, you're grobbulous,
Each day we love you more.
You are the school we treasure
And unceasingly adore.

Oh, finest school in Dinkerville -
The only one as well -
We love you, Diffendoofer School,
Much more than we can tell.
You are so diffendooferous
It gives us joy to say,
Three cheers for Diffendoofer School -
Greene, Rhonda Gowler.
This is the Teacher.
Dutton Children's Books.

If the kids love Simms Taback's This is the House that Jack Built, they're sure to enjoy This is the Teacher, as it follows an almost identical telling. Teacher are sure to get a kick out of it, as this teacher's day starts out very similar to their own, and in many instances, ends the same way - passed out in bed, exhausted from a busy day!
This is the teacher with books in a bag
who walks from the building, beneath the tall flag,
leading the line
past the mural they made
near the kid who got sick
by the fountain that clogged
as the bad bee went buzz
and the raindrops fell - plop!
after - whack! - the ball soared
near the room where they munched
and that hamster that kid
by the books that fell - oops! -
near the tooth that was found
and the cupcakes that flew
by the scared girl who shrieked
at the long snake that climbed
toward the ants that were spilled
by the students who rushed
and toppled the teacher...
... all ready for bed!
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Limerick Day

It's Limerick Day!

A limerick is a five-line poem written with one couplet and one triplet. If a couplet is a two-line rhymed poem, then a triplet would be a three-line rhymed poem. The rhyme pattern is aabba with lines 1, 2 and 5 containing 3 beats and rhyming and lines 3 and 4 having 2 beats and rhyming.

Limericks are meant to be funny. They often contain hyperbole, onomatopoeia, idioms, puns, and other figurative devices. The last line of a good limerick contains the "punch line" or "heart of the joke."

Who knew limericks could be so fun?!?!

Pearson, Susan.
Marshall Cavendish Inc.

A whole book full of grimly written lyrics? This would make for perfect reading near Halloween or if the kids love scary stories. It's a different take on limericks, but still gets the idea across... would be an interesting addition to a poetry unit in the classroom!
Dear Reader, please lend me your ear.
If ghosts, ghouls, and goblins you fear,
don't open this book.
No- don't even look!
There are spooky things hiding in here.
That pretty much sums it up! My favorite limerick was,
When Howard the Goblin caught sight
of Gertrude the Gremlin one night,
he fell in a swoon
that lasted till June.
It must have been love at first fright.
Silverstein, Shel.
Don't Bump the Glump.
Harper Collins Publishers.

Silverstein's latest book of poetry is not only humorous, it's also his only book available with fully colored illustrations! I only found one limerick within the pages, but the book is definitely worth having in the classroom's poetry section!
In the undergrowth
There dwells the Bloath
Who feeds upon poets and tea.
Luckily I know this about him,
While he knows almost nothing of me.

Lear, Edward.
A Book of Nonsense.
The Viking Press.

If you're looking for an entire book about limericks, this is the one for you! If this doesn't get across the notion of limericks, nothing will! Even though it's an older one, it's no less great! My personal favorite is,
There was an Old Person of Dover,
Who rushed through a field of blue clover,
But some very large bees
Stungs his nose and his knees,
So he very soon went back to Dover.
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Monday, May 11, 2009

[Sort Of] Mother's Day Books

My regular daily post will come later this afternoon, but... these book reviews were supposed to be completed for Friday's post... and I'm sure many of you noticed the post looking a little funky and not up to par! I was very busy all last week trying to get things finalized for a benefit bake sale and the further the week went on, the more time consuming that task became, hence the reason for my lack of posting! However, now that I've had time to sit down and read all three of these wonderful books, I have decided that 2 of them were not at all what I had in mind as a "Mother's Day" book posting! Because of that, I thought to go ahead and post my review... after all it's National Children's Book Week, so I may as well get in as many as possible!

Great Baby Shower Gift!!!

Milord, Susan.
If I Could: A Mother's Promise.
Candlewick Press.

This book pretty much sums up the goal of motherhood for many! I realize that not all mothers feel this way, but those who are interested in books and sharing literature with kids... they'll definitely find appreciation at receiving this as a gift... either at a shower or when baby's born!

A raccoon mother shares with her baby all of the things she would do for her child if she could... including loving the baby more than she already does. My personal favorite promise was,
If I could,
I'd rouse the sun

and make it shine
till day is done.
Everyone (at least me, of course) knows that sunny days are the best days!

Great Graduation Gift (Preschool, Kindergarten, High-School, Even College)!!!

McGhee, Alison.
Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

The reason that I feel this would make a great graduation gift is because of the potential that it has to show a child just how much they have to look forward to... someday. It will also act as a constant reminder that Mom is right there behind you, always looking at you and cheering you on!

A mother shares with her child all of the dreams of "first" events that will take place over the course of a lifetime in a simple, yet moving story!
Sometimes, when you sleep, I watch you dream, and I dream too...
Great Mother's Day or Birthday Gift!!!

Browne, Anthony.
My Mom.
2009 (2005).
Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

This book would make a great gift for a child (of any age) to give a mother (of any age)! To tell your mom, quite simply, how much she means to you is priceless. This book approaches (and accomplishes) just that with only a few simple phrases... and remember, with a little care, books can give a lifetime of memories! I think I might just be putting this one away to give my own mom as a Mother's Day gift, come next Mother's Day!

A young child (male or female, I'll be calling the child a her) we do not know, shares with the whole world just how important her mother is by focusing on all that Mom does for her and all the things that Mom is great at. The part of the book that most makes me think of my own mom,
And she's a good fairy;
when I'm sad she can make me happy.
Of course, Mom's not a fairy, but she is fairly good at cheering me up and making me happy when I'm sad! I don't think this book will be a disappointment for Mom at all, in fact, it'll make her quite happy!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Weekly Blog Plan - May 11-15

Here's the weekly blog plan! Again, please remember this is subject to change and is dependent upon whether or not my materials come in from the library as planned. I realize that this may fall too late for you to use in your classroom this year, but the activities will definitely swing from year-to-year! If you see something you really want to incorporate into your classroom, leave me a comment on this post or send me an e-mail, I'd be glad to provide you with the links I have, if nothing more!

Monday, May 11 - Children's Book Week
  • Dragon is Coming, Valeri Gorbachev
  • Tacky Goes to Camp, Helen Lester
  • Bobby Bramble Loses His Brain, Dave Keane
Tuesday, May 12 - Limerick Day
  • Dirty Beasts, Roald Dahl
  • A Book of Nonsense, Edward Lear
  • Don't Bump the Glump, Shel Silverstein
  • Grimericks, Susan Pearson
Wednesday, May 13 - Day of the Teacher
  • My Teacher for President, Kay Winters
  • Hooray for Diffendoofer Day, Dr. Seuss
  • This is the Teacher, Rhonda Gowler Greene
Thursday, May 14 - Get Caught Reading Month
  • I Can Read with My Eyes Shut, Dr. Seuss
  • Wild about Books, Judy Sierra
  • Read All About It, Laura Bush
Friday, May 15 - National Pizza Party Day
  • Pete's a Pizza, William Steig
  • The Princess and the Pizza, Mary Jane Auch
  • Pizza for the Queen, Nancy Castaldo
  • The 100th Customer
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Thursday, May 7, 2009

National Bike Month

Those of you who suffer from them, know how much a sinus headache is capable of taking away from a perfectly productive day... I went to bed with it last night (hence the reason for not having the post ready ahead of time) and woke up with an even worse one this morning. Most of the day was spent avoiding bright light (it only intensified the headache) and the computer, as I tend to strain my eyes and make the headache worse.

So, I apologize for not having much for you in the way of a post for earlier today, but I have managed to pull it together for late tonight... and since it is just a National Bike Month you still have lots of time left to enjoy these books!

Mollol, Tololwa M.
My Rows and Piles of Coins.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Guided Reading Level: P

This book would make a perfect fit in a classroom where the emphasis is on multicultural education. Not only does the story depict another culture (Tanzania), it does so in a way that is likely to appeal to children and allow them to see how children across the world (no matter their culture) really do, for the most part, lead similar lifestyles... I think it's a wonderful book and well worth the read!

Saruni, a young Tanzanian boy, sets off to the market with his mother every Saturday, and sometimes on Wednesdays as well. For his help, his mother gives him five ten-cent coins, and allows him to go buy himself something (its an allowance of sorts, much like today's children receive). Saruni has different plans for his money - saving it in his secret money box so that he can buy a red and blue bicycle that he's spotted at market. He wants the bicycle so that he can help his mother carry more of her goods to the market, in hopes that she will be able to sell more. When his mother and father learn of Saruni's attention, they "sell" him his father's old bicycle and then give him back all of the money from Saruni's secret money box. However, now that he's got a bike, he realizes that he wants a cart to pull behind the bike and starts socking his hard-earned money away for that!

The story shows children the pay-off of hard-work and determination, and this is a valuable lesson to be had!

Lesson Plans/Reading Activities:
Best, Cari.
Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Guided Reading Level: P

During times when money is tough and summer is nearing, this is definitely a book that families should share with children. Perhaps, it could even be turned into a summer-long project for kids (it has the potential to keep kids busy and keep Mom and Dad's pockets happy)!

The story follows Sally Jean from age one, when she's sharing a bike with her mother, through age 8, when she outgrows her own bike and so desperately wants a new one. However, money is scarce in the family... Dad needs new glasses and Mom is still trying to figure out how to pay the dentist bill. A new bike for Sally Jean is the last thing the family can afford. Disappointed, but not brought down, Sally Jean sets to work to find her own way to raise money for the new bike. However, as the story progresses, Sally Jean must settle, realizing she can't buy a new bike. Instead, Sally Jean asks the neighbors to recycle. In doing so, she's able to collect enough spare parts to put together a bike of her own - one that she's more proud of than she would be if she had just bought the bike because she realizes how much hard work and effort went into her bike.

If the kids are lacking a bike this summer, why not encourage them to try and build a bike of their own (with guidance of course) rather than just rushing out to the store to pick up a brand new one?

Lesson Plans/Reading Activities:
Say, Allen.
The Bicycle Man.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Guided Reading Level: O

This book is definitely worth of a spot on the book shelves. Not only does it provide insight into Allen Say's own childhood, it also provides readers with a great deal of information about Japanese history - the feelings that Japanese expressed when occupied by American troops - the Japanese holiday Taiiku no hi (Sports Day) - and some brief geographical information about Japan during that time period.

In a small village in American-occupied Japan at the end of WWII, two American soldiers provide a group of school children with a few bicycle tricks as a culmination of the school's sports day activities. The children were at first hesitant of the American troops, but quickly realize they were there on good terms, as the bicycle tricks do their part in providing entertainment.

This book serves many purposes and I am definitely recommending it to you!

Lesson Plans/Guided Reading Levels:
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to