April 29, 2014

7 New Poetry Books

Ah poetry! Thanks to the NYPL's List of 100 Titles to Read and Share, I have some new poems to celebrate:

#32 Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard

 3 Cheers!

Poems for the mechanically minded. This collection features titles like Tow Truck, Cheery Picker, and Skid-Steer Loader. Endearing illustrations and lively verse are great for young readers.

#33 Forest Has A Song: Poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater 
 4 Cheers!

Maybe it is because I had a student named Forest, who I adored (I know, not supposed to have favorites . . . ), and I think he would have loved this book. Regardless, I loved it! I will definitely be reading each poem to my 3rd graders.  I particularly enjoyed “Forest News”—just enough rhyme, just a enough description, just enough fun. :)

#34 Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Other Poems by Jack Prelutsky

3 Cheers!

Jack Prelutsky is most likely already a classroom or family favorite of yours, and his newest book is equally delightful, though geared to an older audience (5th grade or higher, I would think). Each poem is a wordplay, with eclectic illustrations. Next time I am near the ocean I will be on the look out for some Jollyfish . . .


#35 We Go Together: A Curious Selection of Affectionate Verse by

3 Cheers!

Absolutely whimsical, tender, and tiny! Grab a friend to enjoy this book.

#36 What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings by Joyce Sidman

3 Cheers!

I didn’t know what to expect from the title—I was anticipating maybe Irish rhymes that I have seen cross-stitched on linen. But these poems are straight from the heart of the poet, a collection of words meant to draw out the best and guard against the worst that life throws our way.

She says it beautifully: “I wrote these poems for comfort, for understanding, for hope: to remind myself of things I keep learning and forgetting and learning again. They’re about repairing friendship, slowing down time, understanding happiness, facing the worst kind of loss. They are words to speak in the face of loneliness, fear, delight, or confusion.”

#37 When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders by J. Patrick Lewis

 2 Cheers!

This book goes around the world in search of those who have made an impact, from Gandhi to Sylvia Mendez. Although it was well written, I would not read this book to my 3rd graders—history can be graphic and this is not lower elementary material (for example, the case of Emmett Till).  As for me, it was a glimpse into areas of history that I may not have discovered otherwise (like baseball).

#38 Your Skeleton is Showing by

3 Cheers!

If Tim Burton’s film The Corpse Bride, and Jack Prelutsky’s book of poetry A Pizza the Size of the Sun had a baby, it would be this book. It’s delightfully gruesome! I have no bones to pick with this great collection of macabre verse. (And if you only share ONE poem from this book with the children you love, I would recommend ‘Joe Shmif’, a cautionary tale of a remorseful skeleton who wishes he had flossed his teeth.)

 Next week we start on Stories for Younger Readers (age 6 -8), with Call Me Oklahoma!

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April 22, 2014

Educational Documentary You Won't Want to Miss

Ken Burns has a new documentary that made me smile AND cry. Got to love PBS :) The 90 minute film follows a school of boys age 11 to 17 who all struggle with some type of learning disorder-- and documents their successes and triumphs as they learn, understand, and publicly recite the Gettysburg Address. Makes me proud to be an educator!

Watch The Address.

April 21, 2014

Sharing the Love: Teacher Times Two is Hosting a Giveaway!

Hip Hip Hooray for Janet over at Teacher Times Two, for reaching 1,000 followers! :) I am celebrating right along with her-- check out the 2 to 3 Language Arts Pack!

April 17, 2014

New Find: The Grudge Keeper

Thanks to Tina at Mommynificent for hosting Booknificent Thursdays! One of the links led me to an interesting review at Chat with Vera, all about a book called The Grudge Keeper. An entire town keeps no grudges--all their spats are handed over to the Grudge Keeper! Of course, you can imagine that one day something goes quite wrong . . .   Visit Vera's blog to read the review! One more picture book to add to my reading list!

April 15, 2014

Share the Love

It is a good indication of how busy these last few weeks have been, that I am only just posting this great news: my little bookandbliss project is getting off the ground, I love writing about these books, and the blog has been nominated for the Liebster Award :) Not once . . . not twice . . . but THREE times by fellow bloggers who I am happy to get to know! A huge thanks to Mrs. S at The Organized Plan Book, Mrs. Smith at Performing in Fifth, and Susan at Lopez Land Learners.

Basic info about the Liebster Award (aka The Rules):
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted for me by my nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about myself
5. Contact my nominees and let them know that I nominated them

The following 11 questions are a mix of the questions asked by Mrs. S, Mrs. Smith, and Susan (it’s an S fiesta!)

1. What is your favorite children's literature book to read aloud?
Only one? How can I possibly choose? There are so many that I adore. Currently I am reading the BFG (one of my all time favorites). I love to start out the year with either Matilda (instilling a love of books and knowledge, and a little mischief) or The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (because every year is a new journey).

2. How many students are in your class? What do you think would be the best class size to have?
I am very lucky to teach in a Dual Immersion Public School, which means that I teach language arts to 2 classes for a half day each (one in the morning and one in the afternoon). They spend the other half of the day with their Chinese teacher. I love getting to focus on writing and English, while still teaching some math review concepts. I have 20 in one class and 24 in the other (which is the lowest class size I’ve had—it’s great!) I think the best class size would be 18 or 20, because it is enough to have a strong class dynamic, but still be able to give individualized attention.

3. How do you de-stress from an exhausting day at the "office"?
Netflix. Yoga. Chocolate. Sleeping.

4. If you could teach any subject all day long, what would it be?
Language Arts! I am so lucky that I get to teach so much of it!

5. What is the one country you would like to visit?
I would LOVE to go back to Australia, to visit dear friends as well as enjoy the culture. It is one of my favorite places.

6. What is one supply in your class you just can't get enough of?
PENCILS. I think my students eat them whole. I have put hundreds of them into our pencil bin, and there are only 2 left!

7. How long have you been teaching? Do you imagine retiring as a teacher?
This is my 4th year of teaching. I spent one year in 2nd grade and the rest in 3rd, which I love. If there is one thing I know about plans, it’s that they CHANGE, however, I plan to teach until my husband and I are blessed with kids and then I will be their teacher.

8. What is your favorite store or website to shop for school related items?
TpT has always been my go-to place for lesson plans, especially for math concepts that I don’t feel as strong in. It is nice that other teachers’ strengths can fill in the gaps for me!

9. What is your favorite part of your classroom?
The classroom library for sure! I love my books (over 1100 of them, and still colleting).

10. What is the best piece of advice you would offer to newbie teachers?
My best advice is to go home at the end of the day and leave work at work. That is HARD to do, but it makes life much more balanced. If you are healthy and happy, your students benefit from it.

11. If you could meet anyone for a day, who would it be?
I would love to hang out with Julie Andrews. So elegant!

11 Facts About Me
  1. I have a stash of chocolate and Starbursts in my desk drawer.
2. Mornings are hard.
3. I absolutely love the first few days of spring.
4. My favorite water bottle is the glass Voss bottles . . . 1.5 pints  . . . refilled with tap water J Gotta stay hydrated!
5. I still hate driving next to semi trucks on the highway.
6. My degree is in Elementary Education . . .
7. AND I also took enough English classes (favorite!) to get an English minor as well.
8. Calvin and Hobbes taught me how to read. And my mom. She should get credit too.
9. My car is sunshine yellow (I was living in the cold heart of winter when I chose it).
10. I am the oldest of 5 siblings.
11. Counting down the days until Downton Abbey Season 5 . . .

Questions for my nominees to answer:
1. What is your favorite children's literature book to read aloud?
2. How many students are in your class? What do you think would be the best class size to have?
3. How do you de-stress from an exhausting day at the "office"?
4. If you could teach any subject all day long, what would it be?
5. What is the one country you would like to visit?
6. What is one supply in your class you just can't get enough of?
7. How long have you been teaching? Do you imagine retiring as a teacher?
8. What is your favorite store or website to shop for school related items?
9. What is your favorite part of your classroom?
10. What is the best piece of advice you would offer to newbie teachers?
11. If you could meet anyone for a day, who would it be?

Drumroll please! My nominees are:

Diane has lots of great ideas for teachers to try in their classrooms! Her posts are very visual and her ideas are fabulous.  After reading her blog, I want to try them all with my own students. :)

Shannon is a 4th grade teacher with a engaging writing style. You’ll love reading about her class!

Jessicca is a 3rd grade teacher—just like me! Her post about growing plants in the classroom is a must-read.

Sara is an experienced teacher with so many great classroom ideas. Her blog also has freebies section that I could spend hours in!

Natalie has a lot of experience teaching, and you’ll love her differentiation-based approach. Great blog!

Thanks and much love!

April 11, 2014

Infographic: Why We Should All Be Learning Mandarin

Check out this interesting infographic I stumbled upon at redlinels.com.

Language is important :) These numbers deepen my admiration for the diverse nature of our planet. And I love teaching English :)

most widely spoken languages

April 8, 2014

8 New Folktales and Fairytales

I'm no Einstein, but I DO know that stories like these help kids to make sense of the world, BECAUSE they are fictional.


I am LOVING each new book on the New York Public Library’s List of 100 Titles to Read and Share.
On to #24 through #31!

#24 Aesop in California by Dough Hansen
3 Cheers!
The best stories always come home with you, and Doug Hansen brought a handful of well-known fables to his home state of California. The details are rich and well-researched—it shows in the illustrations and the wording that reflects a very local interpretation of the age old classics. The introduction is also a must-read, and it gives you clues about hidden objects to look for in each illustration.


From the author:
“I especially chose fables that offered opportunities to illustrate the gloriously diverse animals and habitats of the Golden State.”

Each story takes only one page and will capture your imagination.
This was a welcome glimpse into the wildlife of my neighbor state.

#25 Can’t Scare Me! by Ashley Bryan

3 Cheers!
A lovely rhyming rhythm tells how a giant slowly tricks a boy and how the boy out wits the giants in return.

#26 Demeter and Persephone by Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden

3 Cheers!

It is about time I read this story. Somehow I managed to make it through high school AND college without having it assigned. This story is written with younger readers in mind (about 6th grade) but can be read out loud to 4th and 5th graders.
Get ready, because the illustrations are gorgeous.

The NYPL also suggests two other titles by the same author, in the same series:
Theseus and the Minotaur
Orpheus and Eurydice

#27 Grandma and the Great Gourd: A Bengali Folktale by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

3 Cheers!

I loved this classic story of a women who outwits the ravenous beasts in the forest. 
Full of beautiful colors and creatures.

#28 Grim, Grunt, and Grizzle-Tail : A Story from Chile by Fran Parnell

3 Cheers!
Whether your kids are like princesses or little monsters, this book is for them!
Students in 3rd or 4th grade should be able to read the text on their own, which makes this a great choice for learning about folktales.

#29 Hansel and Gretel by The Brothers Grimm, Illustrated by Sybille Schenker

3 Cheers!
Transparent pages, block cut pictures, a good dose of black and white contrast, and a fair amount of dread makes this a great rendition of the classic story Hansel and Gretel.

#30 Nasreddine by Odile Weulersse
3 Cheers!
Every page of this book is a picture I would put up on any wall in my home. Beautiful and engaging, Nasreddine paints the perspective of a young boy who listens to all the laughing voices instead of his own heart.


#31 Whiskers, Tails and Wings: Animal Folktales from Mexico by Judy Goldman
3 Cheers
This collection of folktales is best suited for older readers with a longer attention span.  There are 5 stories in this collection, each including the folktale itself, a historical/cultural guide, and a glossary of native terms found in the story. Great resource for a study of Mexico.

Next up is a list of new poetry books :) Stay tuned!

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