Friday, September 15, 2017

The Winners and Funny Kid Friday

Whew. There ain't nothing like the start of a new school year, is there? I live, breathe, and sleep in teacher mode, as I'm sure most teachers do. My class this year is full of the most terrific little kidpeople and I look forward to this year with them. I'll just be glad when all the "other" stuff that has to be done at the start of the year is done, and my life takes on just the regular busy rhythm.

I decided to make this a Funny Kid Friday post because we can all use a chuckle.

But first, I need to share a few words about the winners of our book and Amazon card giveaways... yes, I know, that seems like years ago now.

The winner of our second giveaway was Mary who, as a teacher, strives to encourage her students to love reading and become lifelong readers. She plans to use her book for great discussions.

And the winner of our third and final giveaway, winning No More Noisy Nights, was Angela and she shares that she is a kindergarten teacher. She knows her kids will love this book and she looks forward to the discussion that will follow. She also hopes it will spark some creative stories in Writers Workshop.

Congratulations to both! I hope they enjoy their book and a bit of shopping.

And special thanks to my blogger friends who helped spread the giveaway news at:



Now for some funny kid stories. 

This story was shared with me by one of my parents.

Mom: So how was your first day at school?

Kidperson: I made a new friend.

Mom: Great! Who is it?

Kidperson:  It's a girl. She has braids.

Mom: What's her name?

Kidperson: Mmmm..... Braid-y.


And on the third day of school, as the kidpeople and I finished up our closing circle, I said, "Okay, guys, it's time to get your backpacks on."

One little guy said, "How come?"

It takes a while for the Littles to make the connection with "closing" and "end of day," I guess.

I answered him, "Because it's time to go home."

"Awww-man!" he said, which started everyone else protesting, too. "Nooo...Nooo"

A colleague and I just looked at each other, chuckling. I guess it's a pretty good sign if they never want to leave!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Last Week of Giveaways!

This week we have our last week of Teacher Book Talk Tuesday and our last book and Amazon gift certificate giveaway.

Week Three Giveaway! Last One!

Time to focus on moving back to the classroom. You have just enough time to slip into the giveaway. Best of luck to you. This week we have a very new book from Flashlight Press which also happens to be written by Holly Niner, who wrote our featured book last week.

But first I need to announce that last week's winner was Mary L. I sent a happy email to her and when I hear back, last week's book prize, The Day I Ran Away, and her Amazon gift certificate will be on the way.

And remember our winner of Too Much Glue? Well, she sends a word of thanks and let's us know how she will use her book. Tina is a learning disabilities teacher who teaches Math and English to K-5 students in Kansas. Her older students work on reading fluency and she plans on having them practice reading Too Much Glue to the younger set. The K-1 students love that and the older ones get fluency practice and a self-esteem boost in one. She will also use the book to teach gluing rules– anything multi-sensory makes a huge impact on her kids and glue is a part of that. Tina is a regular reader of the blog and says she finds lots of kindergarten ideas here that with a tweak or two she can use with her full range multi-age of students. Thanks, Tina! We are happy Too Much Glue found a good home.

No More Noisy Nights
by Holly L. Niner and Guy Wolek

What do you say about a book which stars a mole, a ghost, a boogey monster, and a Pixie? What?? I say that's a rather unlikely cast of characters, but the kiddos will like 'em all.

Mole has a new house! He works hard to make if feel like home, moving all his things into place. He happily settles in for the night... until he finds his new house is too noisy to sleep in. After making some pretty silly mistakes in the morning because of his sleepy, muddled brain, he decides to take action and that's when he discovers he has housemates. Mole must get creative to keep everyone happy.

This book is a great one to get students thinking about problem solving when things aren't going well among classmates. How can you keep everyone happy when you are all so different and you all like different things? And if you are a parent who wants a new bedtime read, No More Noisy Nights certainly lends itself to that... put qualms about noises that go bump in the night to bed with the friends in this book.

I also think it is nice to see Halloween-ish characters in a non-Halloween book. If you are a teacher who doesn't do Halloween in your class, you might think about using this book to show that sometimes ghosts and monsters have nothing to do with the holiday.

Guy Wolek's illustrations include lots of techniques that kids can use in their storytelling. Cutaways that show what's happening in different places, sound words, and motion lines help tell the tale of the cute and colorful characters. Students will love looking over the pictures, finding details.

And this Flashlight Press book includes About the Author and About the Illustrator blurbs, too. They're such a good way for kids to see authors and illustrators as real people, and learn ways to write their own blurbs. Whenever I need an example of what authors share about themselves, I grab a Flashlight Press book because I know I'll find blurbs there. And as to the end papers– you know I always mention the end papers– well, your kiddos are going to have to think a bit harder about these because it is not obvious. A bit of mystery that can probably be solved by the end of the book.

You can find my Flashlight Press book reviews by using my search lists on the right side bar and see Flashlight Press books by clicking below.

This cozy tale will come to live in some lucky teachers classroom, along with a ten dollar Amazon gift card. Some of my blogging friends are helping me give away the books– The Teacher Desk 6, STEM is Elementary, Peach, Love and Primary, and Kindergarten: Hand in Hand We Grow. You can check out their blogs by clicking on their icons below after they link up to this post. By following any or all of this diverse group of bloggers you can get up to eight entries. Winners need to have a US address in order to win due to shipping costs, I'm afraid. I'll announce the winner next week. Thanks to Flashlight Press for the books and The Teacher's Desk 6 for the Amazon card. (Note- to follow me on YouTube click here.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now I'm off to prep my night before school student gifts so I can deliver them next week. Click on it below if you'd like to see how they work– it is FREE to say thanks for stopping by!

Good luck to you! See you next time!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Giveaway Week Two and Bad News

Week Two Giveaway!

Hello on this happy Tuesday! I'm happy because today is a double duty day– it is my Teacher Book Talk Tuesday and the Show and Tell linky from Forever in Fifth Grade. I'm afraid my Show and Tell this week is bad news– not typical at all here on the blog, but something you must know about.

I get to start out with a congratulations to Tina B, last week's winner of our giveaway. Too Much Glue and a ten dollar Amazon card will be in the mail as soon as I hear back from her. If your name happens to be Tina B, check your email!

While last week's Too Much Glue is on it's way to becoming a classroom classic, this week's book just came out in the last few months.

The Day I Ran Away
by Holly L. Niner and Isabella Ongaro

Have you ever been so mad that you wanted to run away? I have. I think I was about five when I got the big idea to run away to my Nana's house... it made no difference that she lived three hundred miles away, I was going to walk there. I knew it was far but it wasn't the distance that made me give up the idea of walking. No, it was knowing that I'd have to walk over the Ambassador Bridge. It was the tallest bridge I knew of in my young life and it made a huge impression every time my family crossed over. Then I decided I would find someone to drive me to Nana's. The only people I could think of who knew the way, though, were my mom and dad, and since it was mom I was running away from, and dad always seemed do what my mom said, I had to abandon that idea, too. I ended up just writing Nana a letter, which I think I still have in a box in the basement.

In The Day I Ran Away, little Grace decides to run away from her mom, too. The actual story has various twists and turns– some of them quite humorous– but for me it is not the actual running away adventure that makes this book so interesting, but the clever telling as a narrative between our precocious heroine and her dad. The story is told entirely through their dialogue at bedtime, and the recounting from the daughter's perspective, with the dad's supportive responses, is really priceless. Every little kid needs a dad like this one. And every little kid needs a mom like this one, too. Grace's feelings and actions won't surprise kids, and discussion will help them understand mom's reactions, as well– a great text for teaching character point of view.

Another notable technique used in The Day I Ran Away is found in the illustrations– on the lefthand pages we see Dad putting Grace to bed and on the right we see scenes from the day. Half of the pages of the book are spent putting Grace to bed– plenty of time to dance, stretch, hang off the bed, play with the dog, and get tucked in as the story unfolds... ah, the bedtime shenanigans of young kids. Our students will again be able to relate. The reader gains more insight into the feelings and actions of the day as the illustrations on the opposing pages depict many small details that help round out the story.

I can see a variety of purposes for using The Day I Ran Away in the classroom, beyond just enjoying the book. Helping kids handle angry feelings is a good first logical choice. Everyone has moments when they'd just like to run away from the person or situation that is making them mad. Teaching how to write dialogue is another possible teaching point. Katie Wood Ray, in her book, In Words and Pictures, which I reviewed two weeks ago, lists many illustration techniques that can be used to teach the qualities of good writing. The Day I Ran Away is a great example of crafting a backstory, two sides of a physical space, and passage of time. Oh, and last but not least, like all the Flashlight Press books I'm familiar with, this one's book jacket includes an About the Author and About the Illustrator photo and blurb. These help kids feel connected to real life authors and illustrators, and teach students how to write their own author blurbs.

I just gotta say now, having reviewed over half a dozen Flashlight Press books at this point, this publisher has a terrific eye toward picture books chock full of teachable elements. The subject matter, the writing and illustration style, even the book design make each book a good mentor text to use in class. You might want to cruise their selection to see for yourself– click the image below. You can also click Flashlight Press in my search lists to the right to find my reviews.

The Day I Ran Away would be at home on any classroom shelf. We'd like to help one copy on it's way– maybe yours! Teacher Desk 6, STEM is ElementaryKindergarten: Hand in Hand We Grow and Peace, Love and Primary are helping readers win a copy of The Day I Ran Away.  And to sweeten the deal Teacher Desk 6 is throwing in an Amazon gift card of ten dollars. Follow in any of the ways listed below in the Rafflecopter, or if you already follow us, write ALREADY instead of the follower number and we'll find you in the lists. This giveaway is open through Sunday night, so tell your teacher friends. The contest is limited to U.S. addresses only I'm afraid because of international shipping costs. We'll announce the winner next week. Very Special Thanks to Flashlight Press for donating the book!

Last week I realized that some people had a difficult time subscribing to the Kidpeople Classroom YouTube channel. When you search in YouTube it is sometimes hard to find the little guys, which includes me, so I include a link on the YouTube button. When you get to my channel you will find two videos– a classroom tour for teachers and a video to use in the classroom about a bird on my head... you just gotta look at that one to understand. grin. Click to go.

And now I have to share something very important, which is the bad news of this post. I just found out, though it happened months ago, Indiana passed legislation that allows for "virtual reality" PREschool. With just 15 minutes a day on an app, four year olds will be ready for kindergarten, says Indiana. This online program is targeted to the neediest, low income kids. And it takes one million dollars of the four million dollar state preschool budget AWAY from real brick and mortar preschools. I just cannot believe it. I don't want to believe it– time in front of a screen equals a preschool experience??? SOMEone is making big bucks off our youngest, most vulnerable children, and taking away the REAL experience of a quarter of the kids who get it now. I not only fear for Indiana's children, but for all the other children who will be impacted if this bad idea spreads to other states.

I found the news on Teach Preschool. Deborah does a great job of describing the situation, and even more importantly, points out so many reasons why this is such a bad idea. As I commented on her post, how many years, millions of dollars, and missed opportunity to grow a whole child will it take for this LUDICROUS idea to GO AWAY? I have to keep faith that our country will swing back to solid thinking, implementation, and funding for education SOON. If any of you know signs of this happening, please share below. It is really hard not to be utterly dispirited over what we are doing to our children right here in the United States. It seems that throughout my long career there has always been a strong need for advocacy for our youngest kids, but our voices have never been needed as much as right NOW.

Click on the bee to read Teach Preschool's post on Indiana legislation. 

Sorry to end on this frustrating note, but I bet you'll read happier news when you click and check out what others are sharing at Forever in Fifth Grade. Thanks to Stephanie for the link-up. 

AND don't forget to check out the book reviews by my blogging friends. Their links are below. I have purchased or reserved at least a half dozen books from their linked up reviews this summer, so I thank them all again from my own happy reader heart.

So glad you stopped by. Next week I'm reviewing and giving away No More Noisy Nights–it's a new one. I left this favorite for our last giveaway. See you soon.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Giveaway Week One!

Oh, this is a very happy Teacher Book Talk Tuesday indeed because today starts our first week of giveaways!!!!

Week One Giveaway!

We are giving away three terrific books, all published and generously donated by Flashlight Press. The first one will be Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre, illustrated by Zac Retz– I review it below. The second week's giveaway will be The Day I Ran Away, by Holly L. Niner, illustrated by Isabella Ongaro. And the third week's giveaway will be No More Noisy Nights... this might be my favorite... again by Holly L. Niner, illustrated by Guy Wolek. Each of these books lend themselves to teaching points in the classroom, and are engaging books that your students will love simply for fun. I am so happy I get to give them away!

The lucky winner of each book will also win a $10 Amazon gift card donated by Teacher's Desk 6... who doesn't need one of those this time of year! Thanks, Angela! You can enter below on the Rafflecopter after this week's review. Now, let me tell you about this week's prize book.

Too Much Glue
by Jason Lefebvre and Zac Retz

I bet a lot of blog readers remember when this book came out with a big splash several years ago. It is the story of Matty and how he LOVES glue. When the teacher says "Glue raindrops, not puddles" OOPS, it's too late. Matty also likes doing belly flops... I bet you can imagine what happens next! 

This is a terrific book to read at the start of the year when your class is making and learning the rules for using glue. I love using books to launch discussion, and Matty's glue adventures will give your kiddos lots of opportunity to think about what to do, and what not to do, with glue. I bet you get a few text-to-self connections, as well. Good problem solving and an ever-growing refrain that is fun to read and say carries the story along.

We all have a wild glue squirter
and a wild glue squirter wannabe in our classes, don't we? 

The illustrations really make the book. They capture the feelings and humor throughout the tale in a lively way. The illustrations drew me right in, and they'll appeal to the kids, too. And, of course, like all good Flashlight Press books, there are interesting endpapers. Regular readers know I think endpapers are the BOMB! I love when they give clues and truly make the story go from cover to cover.... if I ever publish that picture book.... I mean WHEN! When I publish that picture book the endpapers are going to be terrific. Take a look at the back cover endpapers below... can you make a guess why a book about glue has endpapers featuring tape?.... hmmm.... won't the kids have fun with that small detail.

I did NOT put masking tape on the book.
That is super well illustrated masking tape
and I'm not telling why it's there. Nope.
There are many follow-up projects that can be done with Too Much Glue,  just search Pinterest. Elmer's Glue has picked up Too Much Glue as an Elmer's Teacher's Club teaching tool for all things sticky. They have several follow-up activities based on the book. Elmer's also offers a 22 page downloadable teacher's guide, Cross-Curricular Investigation of Adhesives, with activities for K-5. You can get there by clicking on the picture below. 

You can even join the Elmer's Glue Teachers Club for all sorts of free resources. One of the freebies is a 32 page STEAM resource ebook! Cool Biz! Check it out by clicking below!

You definitely want Too Much Glue, right? You know you do! Well, you have lots of chances to win. Each time you follow me or one of my fellow bloggers you'll get a chance. Going in on the giveaway this week are:

Angela from the Teacher's Desk 6                                   Julie from STEM is Elementary


 Corrie from Peace, Love, and Primary                                            Janet from
                                                                                       Kindergarten: Hand-in-Hand We Grow    

All together, our blogs focus on different grades and different subjects, so you are bound to find some good stuff no matter where your current interests lie. After the Rafflecopter you will see their links to this week's posts. Each is reviewing a book or two for Teacher Book Talk Tuesday.

Each way you choose to follow gives you an entry. If you are already following that particular way, you can still enter and type ALREADY in the blank and we'll see you on our lists. I'm sorry to say that entrants are limited to people in the continental US due to shipping costs. The winner will be notified on the blogs by first name, and via email next Tuesday. Winners have five days to respond to email with shipping address or the prize will move to the next person on the list. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now you're not quite done because all the giveaway bloggers have a Teacher Book Talk to share with you, too. Click on their links below.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Do come back in the next two weeks. To enter those giveaways you'll only need to put in "ALREADY" if you sign up to follow this week.

See you next time!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Giveaway News and a Book on Writing

It's Teacher Book Talk Tuesday! Today I bring you a review of a teacher book, but before I begin I want you to know that starting next Tuesday, three weeks of book and Amazon card giveaways begin!
Starts Next Week!
The Amazon Cards will be for ten dollars each, and Flashlight Press is generously donating the books. Our first book prize to win next week will be Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre and Zac Retz. This book has made a big splash among the kiddos and was picked up by Elmer's Teacher's Club.... I'll review it next week so you know more about it before you enter the contest.

Four of my bloggy buddies will be joining me to spread the word and give you extra chances to win!

Angela from The Teacher's Desk 6                              Julie from Stem is Elementary


Corrie from  Peace, Love and Primary                           and Janet from Kindergarten: 
                                                                                              Hand-in-Hand We Grow

NOW on to today's book review.

In Pictures and In Words–
Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study
by Katie Wood Ray

I have been meaning to read this book for a long time now and I finally put it on my to-do list this summer. A good friend and teaching colleague read it years ago and was very excited about it. When I read the title I pointed out to her that we already do Lucy Calkins Units of Study and we love that program. She replied that this book could very easily be used in conjunction with Lucy. Based on her enthusiasm I said I would read it, and indeed I did buy it from Heinemann right then. It wasn't until this summer, however, that I took a good look.

Katie Wood Ray suggests that teachers can support students as they make meaning both visually and verbally, in words and in pictures, and that both these abilities can be strengthened. She explains that the key qualities of good writing can be taught in the context of illustrations, and that students can gain lots of experience planning, drafting, revising and editing as they compose illustrations for their books.

As I read Katie Wood Ray's words I was prompted to look at and think about ALL that students put on paper, not just the writing. By not only noticing all their work, but teaching into illustration, using picture books that we already love and read in class, teachers can help kids develop as writers. Her first point is that as children make picture books of their own, over three or four pages, they are doing so with an "exploratory spirit" which they bring to all sorts of play. People who read my blog know that I am a big supporter of play and push back as it is being squeezed out of kindergarten. It is through play that children learn not only self-regulation and social skills, but also language and cognition. It makes sense to me that making a picture book is like all the other open creation that happens in play on many levels.

There are lots of writing samples included in the book

We all have students for whom writing is very difficult. The process of putting letters on the page, making the letters approximate words, remembering what words they were even writing to tell the story in the first place are huge tasks as children first learn to write.  But these same students can tell stories– which is why oral storytelling practice is so important, too... but that is a topic for another day... When our struggling writers are supported in making illustrations to represent their stories, so much more becomes possible for them as writers. Support of illustration teaches them to make meaning. It also makes sense that students start "writing instruction" by making picture books because picture books surround them in their classroom. Picture books are what beginning writers are most familiar with, be they fiction or informational.

Sometimes teachers are lead to feel that we need to move kids out of drawing and into writing as soon as possible. But Katie Wood Ray points out that we can shift our ideas and think about teaching into the illustration part of composing. We can encourage students to stay with the illustration and expand the story by intentionally composing the pictures. Teachers who do this do not value word making over image making, but value them equally and see that students can move to writing instead of drawing when they choose to. Teachers can see illustration as true practice in composition, planning and meaning making– that illustrating in this way is doing with pictures exactly what a student could be doing with words.

Katie Wood Ray also cautions against thinking that teaching into illustrations is just letting kids draw. Teaching into illustration must be very intentional. Teachers need to teach into all sorts of texts, thinking of both the process of illustration and the final product. Different illustration techniques allow students different ways to represent meaning, just as words do.

There are two sections to the book. The first section is broken into six chapters in which Katie makes an argument for why teaching into children's illustrations builds a foundation for strong writing and how it helps children develop as effective communicators. I think this gives justification to all those teachers whose gut says there is more to the pictures that children draw when writing, but who want to be sure they are really teaching writing. The topics of the first chapters in section one will be familiar to teachers who use writing workshop– building stamina, reading like writers, learning qualities of good writing, planning and implementing a unit of study in illustration. Katie Wood Ray gives practical advice in these chapters with instructional tips for supporting students while teaching the topics.

Section two of the book is made up of fifty illustration techniques and the qualities of good writing they suggest. There are five broad categories that the illustration techniques fall into– ideas and content, precision and details, wholeness of text, tone, and layout and design. Each illustration technique is discussed in a predictable format that helps us think about illustrating and writing as parallel composing processes. Each write up contains– something to notice, an illustration example or two, an understanding for young writers and illustrators, an idea for trying it out, and a writing connection. The layout of section two makes it very user friendly to teachers and I predict that within a few lessons, the teaching becomes very comfortable.

Last but not least, Katie Wood Ray includes an extensive picture book bibliography. I think most teachers will find many of the books familiar and already on the classroom shelves. And the techniques are described so well, I don't think it would be hard to find similar books already on hand that could be used instead of the ones she describes if need be.

Just having read about some of the illustration techniques and their examples, I already have a new appreciation and understanding of what pictures do for children's books. I will look at picture books from a new angle, thinking of the writing lessons contained in the illustration style. This is a bit of bonus learning that I did not expect to receive. It really is a great book with a wealth of information which helps a teacher grow and shift lenses. I recommend it as a good read, even if you are not going to follow every page as a curriculum. You will become a better teacher of writing, I am quite certain.

Like all good Heinemann books, there is notice of other similar books on the last pages of this one. Doggone it... off I go to Heinemann again.

Well, then. I hope you have a better understanding of In Pictures and In Words and I hope I gave you enough info to decide if it would be valuable to you and your teaching. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Don't forget to come back next week to enter the giveaway– you'll get several chances to win! Bloggers, link-up your reviews below to give our readers a bit more good teacher book talk!

Thanks for stopping by!

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