Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Book Nook

Oh, happy Wednesday. I am happy because I found a new linky hosted by Teacher by the Beach, and it's called Monday Motivation.... err... I guess I am a bit late to the party this time. But I do have some book ideas to share for this week's topic of Classroom Library Organization and Tips.

Any discussion of a classroom library needs to start IN my classroom library, or Book Nook as we call it.

Yep, that is our Book Nook. I'm sorry this photo is a bit blurry. I am doing a whole series on classroom design this summer, and this photo was taken from the video. If you like what you see in this post, be sure to stop back in July for the full video and discussion. Here you see the couch a bit more, peeking out from behind the book buddy basket there on the left.

Ummm.... THERE it is.

The couch is only one of several seating options in the book nook. There is a rocking chair, a wicker chair, a tuffet or footstool, Bilibos, which are a kind of rocking seat, a small set of steps, and the window seat. Then if you were to swing around to the right of this picture you would see our fireplace.

I LOVE our fireplace... built and installed by the DH, of course. I tell you it is a very fun spot to hang out in. And in the winter when the snow is coming down, you swear our little LED twinkle lights are giving out warmth.

The blocks on the mantle say three different messages through the year– We all have stories.

This launches our year with storytelling, both of traditional tales and our own stories. Remember reading starts with the oral piece first and kids need to hear language and use language. Then comes– We live in books.

Because we really are a book-loving bunch and all those little stuffies on the mantle are characters who really do live in books... heehee. Then in the last third of the year I have to change it to– We love to read– because by this time in the year we are reading.

Those three messages can be made from two sets of classic alphabet blocks, by the way. Be on the lookout as Target's Dollar Spot starts getting in the back to school stuff. That is where I found them last year for cheap.

The other great thing about the Book Nook in addition to the fireplace, couch, comfy seating and collection of books, is the window. Here it is in the glorious fall.

But it is even more fun to sit up and look out.

And reading is always popular during free choice time when they could choose anything.

Our Book Nook really sets the stage and gives a daily focus on pleasure reading... even to the Littles who aren't reading yet. The kids really love to be in there and I build in multiple times in the day when they can go in to both work and play.

So what about the book organization part of this post. I am a big believer of all sorts of collections. Collections from which I teach, collections that the kids can choose from, collections that give focus to our current studies. I mean lots and lots of collections. Here is the list of book collections in my classroom.

Factual books
Puzzle books
ABC/Word books
Author study collections
Animal books
Math books
Science books
Social studies collection
Nursery Rhymes
Fairy Tales
Poetry books
Fae collection
Art books
Spanish books
KLP books (Kindergarten Literacy Program)
Rainbow books (leveled)
Book Baggies (leveled)
Big books

Yep. A lot of books. New teachers don't despair. It takes a long time to build up your classroom library, but needless to say, I think it is a very valuable part of teaching. 

Do we get all these books out at once? Noooo. Are we using several collections at once? Yesss. They all have their own specific purpose in helping kids become immersed in literature so we are using different groups of books all the time. If you came into my classroom would you "notice" all these books? Nope, probably not. They certainly don't all fit in the Book Nook! I am a big believer in keeping the visuals of the classroom as clean as possible... a big dilemma for a teacher who has been teaching a long time, has a lot of stuff, and has a small classroom. Most of my books I keep in bins and that is so they can be stashed under, over, and behind... well, everything. Even my couch is on sliders so I can get to the shelves behind it. 

As I said earlier I am doing a series of posts on classroom organization. So if you are interested in keeping not only books, but lots of materials organized and accessible, and keeping an eye toward the elements that make an attractive, brain compatible, and comfortable classroom– color, lighting, alternative seating, creative storage, making spaces do multi-duty... stop by in the coming weeks. It will all be there. 

Hopefully taking a look at my Book Nook gave you some ideas on setting up your comfy reading area. And hopefully I'll see you again soon when I talk further about how I store and use my book collections. Here is the list of topics for Jen R's Monday Motivation yet to come.  

Look for some more Monday posts from me, and check out By the Beach each Monday to see what others are posting. You can click that pic up there to go right to the linky now and find more book tips. Big thanks to Jen for hosting the linky! And thanks for stopping by today! Don't forget to Pin the ideas you liked... what would I do without my Pinterest! 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Teacher Book Talk Tuesday– Farts, Butts, and Dads

Today I post to two linkups– Teacher Book Talk Tuesday AND Forever in 5th Grade's Show & Tell Tuesday.

I hope you are in a lighthearted mood because I am... in case you couldn't tell from today's title. Maybe this has something to do with it.

All wrapped up... or should I say covered up

Although my last day was Friday, I spent some time Saturday, Sunday, and Monday sorting and packing, covering and shoving everything into one half of the room so they could clean and wax the linoleum floor which is usually covered by carpeting. sigh. But at least it is done now.

And this poor teacher husband helped.

Yes, that's him there in the middle. He was SUPPOSED to be putting the Bilibos away, and instead I hear a strange sound and this big-headed, helmeted creature was bumping around in the book nook area. sigh. again.

But it was Father's Day after all... yes. How bad am I?? My DH was in the classroom on Sunday. He had a rather poopoo Father's Day, but we did go to the movies afterwards, where his super dad fantasy came to life.

I love photo prop movie promos

See that shirt? It came from our eldest, and it was a perfect Father's Day gift for her to give him. She would call him to come all the way to Seattle to kill a spider if she could. And he would go if it wasn't so expensive.  How did I find such a lovely, goofy, accommodating man, always so tolerant of his arachnophobic daughters (yes, both of them) and his workaholic wife. Here's to all the classroom helper, spider killing men in our lives! May we remember to appreciate them every day and not just Father's Day.

Here's what my students took home for Father's Day this year.

What are those?? Well, they are dads in beds. And inside the cute decorated paper bag beds was a muffin so each child could serve their dad breakfast in bed on Father's Day. We made muffins on the last Thursday before school was out, going into the teachers' lounge right after the morning bell– I was afraid we'd be scolded for heating up the lounge with the oven as it was a hot day. But there is AC in the lounge, one of the few rooms in the building with it, and it wasn't too bad. We had morning meeting in there while we waited for the baking... and of course, we made a few for our own snack... Banana Chocolate Chip, if you please. A little baking to round out our last crazy week was just what we needed and the kidpeople loved it.

I got the idea from Dr. Jean. She includes a cute little poem, which I put on the tag along with directions to refrigerate or freeze until Sunday morning. Then the kids wrote I love you on the tag. I took two pieces of crumpled up scrap paper to help fill up the bag and make them more bedlike. You can read Dr. Jean's post if you click on the picture up above or Pin to your Pinterest board to remember for next year.

Now on to a book or two.

Jurassic Farts by P.U. Rippley and Evan Palmer

P. U. Rippley. snort. Okay, so this is not the typical book I read to the kinders. I found it last summer while on vacation and knew that I would be big hit with the kiddos. There is some factual info, with great pronunciation guides for saying dinosaur names, and some goofy info about dinosaur behavior and farts... but hey, as I tell the kids, every living thing needs to eat, every living thing needs to poop, and every living thing probably needs to fart. Scientists make a lot of educated guesses about dinos, so why not details of their farting, too.

And see those ten little red buttons on the book there? Well, those are fart sound effects, and some of them are very good. We were awarding them titles by the time we were done- the longest fart, the juiciest fart, the scariest fart, the most humanlike fart... you get the idea. Fun and giggles were part of this story session. When is there time to read fart books if not in the last week of school? We ARE supposed to cover all book genres, after all. I gave this book a four star rating, the kidpeople gave it a five.

Whose Butt? by Stan Tekiela

No animal unit is complete without this book. It contains the MOST interesting details about animals. And the book is set up to keep you guessing who each butt belongs to. 

I tell you sometimes it is tricky to know an animal by its butt. My kiddos are experts at it, even if we don't test them on it. And it certainly is a very engaging topic. No one is going to snooze through this book. Even my English language learners were highly participatory– lots of good animal vocabulary was gleaned. Better add this one to your wishlist... don't forget to check out sources for used books, too. I am all about having millions... well, thousands of books in the classroom, but I am sure not all about spending my millions.... hahahaha, thousands, on them.

And you thought I was joking that fart and butt book reviews would be in the series. snort.

Now don't forget to keep cruising by in the coming weeks. In addition to the Teacher Book Talk Tuesday Linky this summer, I am also going to post a series on classroom design complete with plenty of photos and a video. Just gonna take a few weeks to morph into summer mode now that school is finally out, and give myself some time for video editing. The posts will come out over the month of July.

Now click Stephanie's button for more Show and Tell links, and do scroll down and see if other bloggers have linked up some book talks. Bloggers, remember we are talking about kid books, teacher books, and books just for fun. Grab the book talk button and link on back here.

Thanks for stopping. Be sure to Pin books you want to pick up. And if you want to be sure not to miss a post this summer, click on the Bloglovin' Follow Button to the right over there and get notice of new posts in your email. Or there is an email option, too.

See you next time!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Funny Kid Friday

Happy Friday, for lots of reasons. It's a half day for me! It's the last day of school!! AND I have a funny kid story!!! I actually have lots of things to post about, but I am so darn pooped, I will just share this.

We have several quick rituals that we do each time someone has a birthday. The birthday kid wears the birthday cake top hat. We sing Happy Birthday, of course, spelling Y-O-U after we say you each time. The three beats fit in there nicely. There's even time to finger spell it with American Sign Language. We clap the number of years they are old. We give three hip-hip-hooray cheers, like in England. We "throw" the birthday kid up in the air the number of years they are old like they do in Israel... actually we don't, but I hold their waist as they jump that many times. And one chosen person gives the "lucky ear tug" like they do in Spain.

To tie in science we also talk about how the earth circles the sun once a year, so if you are five years old the earth has gone around the sun five times. I have a paper laminated sun that goes on the floor and the birthday child walks around the sun that many times.

Well, yesterday was a birthday. We went through the whole nine yards... heaven forbid you forget one single step of the routine. We got to the part where I put the sun on the floor and said,

Me: "Remember, each year the earth goes around the sun one time. You are six years old now, so that means if you have been on the earth the whole time, you have traveled around the sun six times. You haven't left the earth at all, have you, Liz?"

Expecting a no from her and a chuckle from a few of her classmates, I paused.

Liz: "Well... um... yeah, I have... I've been Up North."

Gotta LOVE this job!

Now you GOTTA come back here TUESDAY for Teacher Book Talk Tuesday linky party AND I'll be linking up with Show and Tell Tuesday, too. LOTS going on. See you then!

Happy, happy summer to you... and to ME, too!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Teacher Book Talk Tuesday for June 13

Hello Teachers and Book Lovers everywhere! Today is Teacher Book Talk Tuesday!

Teacher Book Talk Tuesday is a weekly post running through August 22. Each week you'll find favorite kid books, teacher books, and books just for pleasure and a bit of escape. This is a blogger linky, so join up and share your books, too! Here we go.

Master Pieces by Will Lach

This is a way cool book. I got it to teach the concept of portraits. The book is large and easy to see, and includes some of the most important portraits by the art masters.

A bonus is that you can have some fun with it. Each portrait is cut into thirds making it possible to turn sections of the page to mix up Mona Lisa with George Washington and Vincent Van Gogh. The pages are extra thick so they can withstand the handling.

Here is one possible progression:

You get the idea. The kids have great fun with it. And it is amusing to hear them talking about Mona Lisa as is they knew her. Hee.

And why do I want to teach the concept of portrait to five year olds, you ask? Well, in addition to exposing them to art masterpieces, it helps us with our self portraits.

This particular style of self portrait starts with a photo... well, half a photo... and as we create our other half with a bit of directed drawing, we truly learn the concept of symmetry. Those photos were from last year. Here are this year's. 

I just love our hallway display this year. Each year I define a space for each student and then change out their work or creations. Look for a tutorial on the photo bobblehead kid display coming up in a couple weeks. You might want to use the idea on your bulletin boards next year. They has been a hit with all who visit our hall.

But I digress... this is supposed to be book reviews!

Learning with Lego, 100+ Inspiring Ideas by Danielle Buckley, et al. 

I LOVE this teacher book! Talk about a source of hands-on, engaging cross-curricular activities... WOW! Some of those 100 ideas you will have heard about, but most of them will be new. It opened up new and easy ways to not only use Lego, but THINK about using Lego.

Like with water:

Or for math like this:

All of a sudden adding and subtracting with the number line becomes VERY popular.. snort! We're talking science, math, reading... all in this book. And even if you were to already know every idea inside... you don't... the book makes an easy way to remember and use them all... sort of like a Lego Pinterest page in your hand. Oh, and lots of the ideas work with the Duplo size legos, too... yes, I KNOW every kindergarten boy says they love Lego, and only LEGO, but sometimes, some days, the ease of the bigger size is better for that fine muscle development, which makes it even better for some kindergartners. Just sayin'.

As time goes on, more and more "curriculum stuff" is heaped into the kindergarten. I just want to scream STOP!!! But if hands-on learning can be a regular part of center work, with Lego no less, it makes it so much more appropriate. If you feel like play is getting harder and harder to work into the day, then I HIGHLY recommend this book to you. Gold mine, people, gold mine!

Well, for this number two post in the series you only get two books! You see this is the LAST week of school for me... you know all those teacher memes about no tired like end of year teacher tired? Well, I'm trying not to be those one of those meme teachers, even as I can relate. I want to give my all to my kiddos in our last week together, so that is why I sign off and head to bed.... BUT just. you. wait. until next week, when I'll be on summer vacay and as free as a bird to blog all I want. I'm lining up books along my window ledge to snap photos of before I pack up the classroom... including the fart and butt books I promised last week. Hee!

Oh, and while I have you here, if you are interested in classroom design, hidden storage, flexible seating, brain compatible learning spaces... well, you gotta stick around. This summer I'm doing a series... photo and video... with LOTS of ideas.

Thanks for stopping by and see you next time!

Grab the button and link up below!

Thanks for stopping by!!!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Teacher Book Talk Tuesday #1– Whoot!

Whoot! Whoot! It is the first Teacher Book Talk Tuesday!!

Teacher Book Talk Tuesday is a weekly post starting today and going through August 22. That's right, twelve posts on favorite kid books, teacher books, and books for pure reading pleasure taking place in the summer when teachers can actually READ. And to make it better, this is a blogger linky party, so any teacher blogger can join up and share the good news about one of our FAV things in life– BOOKS! So let's GO!

I'll start with a couple kids' books first. 

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo.

I don't know how this one escaped me for a whole year but I'm so glad to have found it. A little boy has a tiny elephant as a pet... what kid wouldn't like that! They are great friends and that little boy knows how to be kind. 

But there is a problem.

My kids were oh so engaged when we read this to see how the little boy was going to solve his problem. It gently lead to a wonderful discussion of what it feels like to be left out and how one can push back against exclusion. This book allows teachers to  broach the age old issue of "you can't play" in a time when the lessons are needed more than ever. I think you'll really like this one.  

This next one is just for fun.

Polar Bear's Underwear by Tupera Tupera.

Each year I save a couple special, silly books for the last weeks of school. Oftentimes they feature five year olds' taboo subjects, like farts, butts or underwear (stop by next week for the fart and butt books...). The kids are so off the wall by the end of the year, I say you might as well go for it. This one was an instant hit, as you can imagine. 

In the photo above I show that the book comes wearing underwear... the kids were delighted as I slid the book's underwear off. And that underwear sets the kids up to look for red underwear... which hides the punchline of the book. There are some rather silly animals with even sillier underwear hanging out in this book which features strategic cutouts. 

Super silly and super fun! Your kiddos will love it. 

This week my "teacher" book selections are for teachers to share with parents. 

Reading Magic by Mem Fox. 

Some of you may know Mem Fox as the children's writer of such hits as Koala Lou, Possum Magic, and Time for Bed, to name a few. Some of you may know Mem Fox as the reading guru from Australia. In this book, she is a parent educator, sharing her experience and expertise with children learning to read on their parents' laps. She doesn't just give the oh-so-valuable advice that parents should read to their children, but she describes the whys and hows so parents can help their kids love books and learn to read. I recommend this book at start of year parent-teacher conference time. It is not a Jim Trelease-esque list book of children's books (though Mem did indeed dedicate it to Jim Trelease), but it gives ideas that any teacher would pay to have parents follow. 

I love to loan Reading Matic to parents who think that reading to kids has become a bit cliched. I have copies to loan out– there is a newer version than the one I show which includes a chapter dedicated to boys and phonics. I love flipping through the pages of my worn copy as I talk about it because parents see all the highlighting and checks in margins that show it is a favorite of my own.  I highly recommend it to teachers to share with their school parents and I also recommend it to teachers who have young children of their own. Such a strong testimony to the power of parent-child bonding over a book.  

Here's the other book I recommend to my classroom parents. 

Raising Lifelong Learners by Lucy Calkins.


Yes, this is the same Lucy Calkins who heads up Teachers' College Reading and Writing Project and who authored Units of Study in Writing that so many districts use. 

This is also not a new book, but it is as pertinent today as ever, and unfortunately I find not near enough teachers and parents know about it. It is Lucy's only book written for parents. I found it years ago when I was a parent educator. I thought I had read every book on parenting and then I found this one. Lucy articulates what all parents want for their children, and she gives much food for thought AND very practical tips for raising kids to BE lifelong learners. I found it when my own kids were still pretty young and I LOVED it. I copy one chapter of to give to parents– the chapter on beginning reading– and the parents who actually read it rush out for their own copies. Just terrific. Teacher parents out there– grab this one for yourself, too. 

And since this is the kick-off post of the new Book Talk series, I'll share just one more... or eight.  

Yes, that is the whooooole Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. It is one of my favorite book collections of all time. My aunt read the books as they came out, and then she started watching the Outlander series on Starz. I watched a few episode of the first season with her and I. was. hooked. I had a bunch of bookstore gift cards and I used them to buy the whole series in one fell swoop. A customer behind me, seeing my tower of books said, "Oh, I envy you. I wish I was just now reading them for the first time. You are in for a HUGE treat." And she was SO right.

Quite frankly, these books helped me make it through school last year. It took me about almost the entire school year to finish them– there is always SO much other stuff competing for a teacher's time September thru June, isn't there? I could only read them ten minutes each night before the book fell on my face as I read at bedtime. They provided the perfect distraction, letting me drift off to the 18th century to escape my everyday problems. WonDerFul. It is a complete bonus that the TV series is so well done. The casting is spot on... and yes, I too, am among the throngs in love with Jamie Fraser. To show you how rabid a fan I am, this was my Christmas gift this year.

DH Jonathan managed to get his hands on the oh-so-rare Funco Pop Vinyl figures of Jamie and Claire... and in the typical Jonathan style, he managed to craft a standing stone as well. 

 I can hardly wait for the next season that starts in September... quick! You have time to get far enough into the books, and to binge watch the two seasons thus far, so you can jump into the new season in September. I am not a TV binger and we only buy Starz for the months that the show is on, but it is TOTALLY worth it. Ahhh. Can hardly wait.

There are no affiliate links in my posts and that is because I know what it is like to be so addicted to books that I can't waste a dime. There is always the library, but sometimes I hate to wait. Luckily Jonathan and I see books as so essential we have a books line item in our family budget... so to speak... we don't really have a family budget... but we do buy lots of books. So when I shop, I shop for the best prices. That takes me into stores, on line, and always checking online at Abe Books for used copies. I love used book as much as new, and most books there are less than four dollars with fast free shipping. I also own a Little Free Library and frequent other LFLs in town. I have found some of my best treasures there.

Abe books and LFLs are greener ways to feed my reading addiction, as well, which makes me feel a little better about it. The books I don't LOVE, I pass on.   

Check below to see other bloggers who are sharing books today. And bloggers, to link up with Teacher Book Talk Tuesday, click on the inlinkz link, then be sure to grab this button below for your post and link it back here so everyone can find all. the. books!!!

Thanks for stopping by. I have 8.5 days left of school *sigh* and after that I hope to be blogging more... this summer's topic will be classroom design with tips I bet you haven't seen, so stick around. See you next time! 

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