Sunday, January 27, 2008

Successful library visit

I love to go to the library and I have a favorite one ( Northwest Library ) because it seems to always have the books I need. This library carries a large number of picture books and the children's area is inviting, comfortable and fun. I went to this library with the intention of finding short picture books that I can put in a basket in my classroom. I want to create a basket called short picture books we like to read again and again. These short picture books have repetitive text, rhyming text or text that can be remembered by looking at the pictures. I have titles in my room that I know will go in like Grumpy Bird, New Socks, Bossy Bear, and I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean. I was really on the hunt for some more titles to read aloud and add. I found some oldies but goodies that I was familiar with :

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Where's Pup by Dayle Ann Dodds
A Good Day by Kevin Henkes
SHHHH by Kevin Henkes

and older titles I just discovered:

Joey and Jet in Space by James Yang
The Wet Dry Book by Kate Spohn

While at the library, I ran into one of my students! We chatted for a bit and then she and her mom were off to find books. Knowing she is one of my transitional readers, I was curious what books she would be looking for outside of the classroom. Often parents of transitional readers encourage chapter books sooner that I like but I didn't say anything. My student went for Eric Carle section and then found a wordless picture books. Her mother said to her.."you don't want to read this book, it doesn't have any words." The little girl said, "uh huh, you can infer." Her mother came over and said "good job teach." I said, "You know Hannah deserves all the credit here. She does all the thinking and talking about books.
I helped her find some more class favorites and she and her mother left with a nice variety of books including Knufflebunny, Llama Llama Red Pajama, an Eric Carle favorite and the wordless picture book...all of which she can enjoy and read! Isn't is nice when our students can help their parents understand what is right for them?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

2 New Finds

First Find:
I had a friend share her new favorite primary book called What will Fat Cat Sit On? by Jan Thomas. I read it and immediately knew my students would love it. They did! In fact, my kids (knowing that I keep new books on the cubbies or sometimes on my stool) got their hands on this one before I could even read it aloud. I was glad they enjoyed it! It could easily fit in a "we can read" basket ( you know those books all kids come to know the words to after reading aloud enough). It has great pictures (and memorable text that matches), humor and an ending that reminded me of New Socks by Bob Shea that begs for a sequel.

Second, well not out yet but coming in July 8 is the next Mercy Watson in Kate DiCamillo's series. It is called Mercy Watson Thinks Like A Pig. I pre-ordered it and can't wait!

Oh yea, we did finish off the Weekend for Everyone with an indoor hockey match! I accidently packed the camera cord and can't download my pics to the computer. I have to say it was a memorable weekend and I can't wait to give it a go when we can venture outdoors!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weekend for Everyone: Day 2

Don't we look like we're having fun? It turns out that the activity I was most dreading has been my favorite so far! Yes, Chuck E. Cheese has been my highlight. Here is the picture taken as we tried cramming into at the little photo booth we paid a token for today. My youngest son and I discovered it as we decided to try new games that we hadn't played before ( he tends to want to sit on the toddler rides while I watch). Let me tell you about Saturday and Sunday of our weekend so far...

Saturday: (Mom's choice)
A visit to Tuttle Mall:
First stop Macy's ( ok...I broke the rule about errands as I had a pair of jeans to return that didn't fit my oldest) Turns out our stop to the kids section was productive: We decided to let the boys pick out one sale item and we left with a spider man hooded sweatshirt, 3 pairs of flip flops, and nike warm-up pants (my middle guy loves his name brands) for under $35.

Next stop: JC Penney ( broke the rule again...I need pants) where I quickly tried on 5 pairs of pants while my husband and the boys circled the floor twice. I left with 2 new pair...I couldn't believe I found two pair within 15 mins, it usually takes me a whole day of searching. Yeah!

Third Stop : Lunch in the food court
Each person picked their favorite: Chick-Fil-A for the youngest two, Sbarro- oldest son, Subway-Mom, Clucka doodle doo- my husband...he wanted to try something new ( not at the mall!)

Last stop: The kids play area: Pretend spaceship to explore, planets to climb, space to move
It was the first time my oldest was not able to play ( he is like 2 feet taller than the limit posted at the play entrance) I think it really hit home that he wasn't a "little" kid but he handled it very well. He only asked me 7 or 8 times if he could play and then when I kept ignoring him and changing the subject, he let it go. I don't think he'll be wanting to come back to the mall.

Chuck E Cheese:(Curly's choice)
I mentioned above that it is one of my least places to go but then I thought about how I had only really visited during birthday parties. I thought through what made it so enjoyable:
It met every one's needs. Here's how:
1. Everyone was happy playing games and activities at different levels. There are smaller rides and games for young kids like my Curly who are happy when a ride moves after you put a token into it. There were more physical games likes ski ball for my Moe who is very active. There were video type games that appeal to older kids that my husband and Larry enjoyed.
2. I was shocked to find that Chuck E has a salad bar! I like to try to eat healthy when I am on the go with the kids and the kids were happy with pizza and my husband and I enjoyed the many choices at the salad bar.
3. The space is very secure and each person who enters the room gets a hand stamp and you can't leave without checking out with an employee at the gate. This safety feature allows kids to be independent without parents worrying about losing them.
4. Because it allows kids to be independent, it allowed my husband and I to give my kids individual time too. I played air hockey with Moe, explored new rides with Curly and my husband and Larry enjoyed time on the "big" kids games like the Let's Make a Deal video game.

Sunday Afternoon
Recreations Outlet (Moe's Choice)
This place is worth the $8 if you have active kids or have been missing the outdoors. My husband and I watched as the boys played basketball, jumped on the trampoline's, rode the big wheels, swung on the swings, climbed the play sets and more!!!

Now...nap time! See you soon to wrap up the weekend.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Weekend for Everyone

We are in the midst of a Weekend for Everyone! With our recent move, visiting other family during the holidays and the jumping back into school, my husband and I were feeling our holiday vacation wasn't much of a vacation. Inspired by an article in February's Family Fun magazine (my husband's idea after reading the article called A Day for Everyone...I know what inspired him to pick Family Fun off the coffee table?) in the Family Traditions section, we decided to create our own Weekend for Everyone!! The idea is that we take the gift of a long weekend and allow each family member to pick one activity they would like to do--anything that doesn't break the bank and is indoors (because of the wind chill advisory, will be fun to do this again in the summer). Part of the ground rules include no errands, phones off and all must participate in each complaints! The no complaints seems to be our biggest obstacle.

Here are our choices:

Dad- bowling

Mom- movie (Enchanted...I heard it was worth seeing. I have already heard moans and groans about it being a girl it?), trip to the book store, a trip to the mall ( I am totally breaking the rules and suggesting all the things I haven't done in a while)

Larry (8yr old) everyone playing hockey (indoors with a mini set he received for Christmas)

Moe (6 yr old) Recreations Outlet (indoor playground)

Curly (4 yr) Chuckie Cheese ( I refuse to go on Sat during all the b-day parties...this will be my least favorite but I'm not complaining!)

What we've accomplished so far:

Friday night- Bowling!! Picture the five of us taking turns and cheering one another on, laughing a bit at Curly who was determined to bowl on his own and loved dropping the ball at the end of the lane (his average ball speed being 3 mph). Big success with the exception of few tears from my six year old who hates losing (you know he was the least dependent on the bumpers). We couldn't go home on an empty stomach so it was Steak n Shake for dinner and home to bed. Overall, a great night!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Finds

Tanka Tanka Skunk by Steve Webb
Older book but new favorite in my room!
This book was recommended to me by my Kindergarten teacher friend Maureen. It has rhythm, rhyme and it just asks kids to participate in reading. My early readers are loving a break from guided reading books and can pick this up on their own. This book would also be a great way to introduce syllables or beats in words. The author invites you to clap the beats in cat-er-pill-ar. I went back and review beats in our names after reading this aloud and we talked about how beats (syllables) help us read and write words. The pictures are wonderful too!

Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis

Have you read Not a Box? Well if you haven't, you should! Both of these not- a books are all about imagination. The pig in not a stick pretends he's a painter, a rider and a weightlifter meanwhile insisting his stick is simply not a stick. Ready to practice predicting...the pictures in this story insist that you guess pig's next imaginary adventure. My first graders can't get enough and are asking for more. I've been suggesting they write their own Not A Book!

Children First

Hi! It has been another month again but I accomplished quite a bit while I was gone. We sold our house, moved (three days before Christmas) and have settled in with family until our new home (under construction) is finished. It was fast and furious but I don't think I would have had it any other way. My classroom accomplishments include some reorganization in my classroom and my assessment files. It was a great two week holiday!! I am hoping you had a peaceful break...I am anxious to check in with all of you bloggers!

As I was dropping off my four year old at his fabulous school (Smoky Row Children's Center) I noticed a sign that had not caught my attention before. It was a small plaque sitting on the front desk that read, Children First. I began thinking about how those two words are really what Smoky Row is all about. The director, the staff and the atmosphere of the school breathes love. Children are accepted for who they are and are helped in the areas where they struggle and are lead in the areas that they excel. The community has compassion and understanding for 3-5 year olds. I thought also about how many of my students still need that, you know to be put first. Each one of them needs to be looked at individually. I have been really thinking about how as writers, I want to put them first. I am reminding myself that I have to recognize their accomplishments first as a writer...compliment and build them up so they want to keep writing! I am reminding myself to look at where they are struggling and help them take the next step. I am reminding myself that not every kid will get the mini lesson. I am reminding myself that not every kid may have needed the mini lesson. No two kids are the same. I am reminding myself to listen. The more I listen to their stories and to their lives, the more I put them first.