Sunday, June 29, 2014

What's a Bilibo?

Here's a quick post on a neat toy.  It's great for summer outdoor play... and winter outdoor play... and indoor play for that matter. It's called a Bilibo. It is a lightweight, very sturdy plastic shell. I know they are durable because my kindergartners put them to the test and they really hold up.

It's a Bilibo!

With all the makings of a classic toy, it is very basic and lends itself to a multitude of play options. I took some shots of my kiddos playing at recess this spring. We use them a ton inside, too.

Sitting in it, kids can rock and spin.

Kids can push or pull each other by adding bandanas or jump ropes.

Linking up is fun.

You can even become a turtle!

When it's turned over it can be a stool to sit or stand on. It can also be a tunnel, cave, sled or cradle for toys. And just imagine the fun at the beach when it's a sand and water toy. The possibilities are endless!

Here's a great video that shows all the fun!

You can get one on-line for under $30. I think they have years and years of play value, both at home and at school! Bet your kids love it as much as mine.

Special thanks to Allison at No Time for Flash Cards for her linky highlighting summer activities for kids. Click on back to her site for lots more ideas!

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Funny Kid Friday- Answer Me!

Time for the second installment of Funny Kid Friday– the link-up that let's us share those stories that come from the kids. Thanks so much to my blogging friends who shared last week- hysterical!

I call today's story Answer Me! It happens to be one of my eldest daughter's favorite kid stories– thanks for reminding me, Samuelina, and YES, my dear, I AM writing them down now.

We were out for recess and over came one of my kiddos, rather upset. I'll call her Suzie. And I'll call her friend Johnny, to protect the innocent.

Suzie: Johnny won't answer me! He is ignoring me!

Me: Well, that is annoying, isn't it.

I call to Johnny and he shuffles over, rather scowly.

Me: Suzie, tell Johnny what is bothering you.

Suzie: I keep asking you and you won't answer.

Johnny continues to scowl and looks at me.

Me: Johnny, when people talk to you, you need to listen and respond. You need to answer when they ask you a question. You don't have to say yes, and you don't have to agree with Suzie, but you do need to answer.

Johnny gives a quick nod.

Me: Suzie, ask him again.

Suzie:  Will you marry me?

Johnny: No

A teacher friend was sitting beside me through this exchange and I could feel the bench start to shake as she turned away and got interested in something over her shoulder.

Me: Okay then. (pause. gulp.) Johnny did answer you, Suzie. Maybe you can ask him again in a few years. Now off you go you two.

Oh. my. gosh. The bench was now shaking so hard from the two of us trying to suppress our giggles that I thought I was going to bounce off. We sat marveling after them. It IS always best when a person knows their own mind and can be direct in their intentions... and she sure was.  Maybe Johnny had learned it was best to avoid rather than to disappoint.

Now it's your turn to tell your kid story, anecdote, or quote!
Grab my button and link to this post, then click the "Add Your Link" button to link your posted story

OR Tell your story in the comments below

OR Go to my Facebook page with a click HERE!

And last but not least, Very Special Thanks to Dr. Jean, who let me prattle on about this new linky as a guest blogger on her Friday post! Thank goodness she loves kid stories, too!  Find Dr. Jean and all her great stuff at Dr. Jean and Friends!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Meet My Personal Trainer

All school year, our pooch Popeye is content to dash outside on her leash to do quick work of her "morning business."  But once summer break hits, NO WAY.  Only way business is happening is on a WALK!!!
Are we going now?


It's gotta be NOW!!!!!!!!!
When I put on my socks and sneakers, she doesn't take her eyes off me... in case I do it wrong.

And when I reach under the sink for the poop bag... YAHOO! YIPPEEEE! We happy dance all the way out the door!!!

She's so cute, and SO insistent!  But it's good for her and good for me, too.  Let's hear it for short, hairy, enthusiastic personal trainers!

Click on over to Sugar and Spice to see more things going on with the Wordless Wednesday link!

And don't forget to check back here Friday for Funny Kid Friday.  There'll be a chuckle or two!

Happy Summer!!!!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Maggie B– A Picture Book with Classic Appeal

I love talking about books... what teacher doesn't? Thanks to Deanna Jump and her Let's Talk About Books Linky for giving me a weekly reason to do so!

I have an oldie but goodie this week. The Maggie B. is written and illustrated by Irene Haas. Margaret Barnstable wishes on a star and wakes up the next morning in her own ship, and so the adventure begins. This story celebrates a child's desire to be independent, self-sufficient, and capable in times of trouble. Margaret proves she is a farmer, cook, artist, loving big sister, and no sissy when it comes to battling a raging storm.

Ms. Haas' accompanying watercolors are simply beautiful and lend a wonderfully warm ambiance to the story. So important for this storyteller teacher, the prose in the book leads to a sometimes lyrical, sometimes thrilling read. I speed up the tempo when the storm comes and give a big unexpected bang on the wall beside me when Margaret slams the door against the wet wind. The kids give a startled jump at this exciting part before they settle down to enjoy the rocking of the little ship on the waves again. And we can almost taste that good sea stew. Yum!

Yes, this is a book that will delight kids' senses, especially their growing sense of big kid autonomy. It was first published in 1975, reprinted in 1997, and is still available today, which gives testimony to it's timeless appeal. I hope you'll check it out.

The only thing I like better than kids' books are stories from my kids... so if you're in the mood for a story with a chuckle, check out this post from last week!

Now click on Deanna's linky below and scoot on back to Mrs. Jump's Class to find more great books!

The post The Maggie B– A Picture Book with Classic Appeal first appeared on

Friday, June 20, 2014

Five for Friday and a New Linky!

Oh! This week I am so excited to share great news! Thanks to Doodle Bugs for hosting Five for Friday and providing me a way to highlight five points about Funny Kid Friday, a new linky I'm sponsoring.

1. All teachers have funny kid stories. I consider them to be a true joy of my job.

2. Not everything teachers note about what kids say and do is funny, of course. Sometimes it can be eye-opening, sad, or worrisome.

3. Sometimes real insight about children, our teaching, and the world can be gained when observant teachers stop to reflect on what kids say and why.

4. Link up each Friday this summer to share your story... come on, you now you have one!

5. Not a blogger? Not a teacher? No problem. A kid is a kid is a kid!  Just share a story about your own child, grandchild, niece, nephew, or neighbor in the comments section and we'll check them out!

Now click on the button to read my funny tale for this week and to tell your own!

And click the Five for Friday button to see what other bloggers are about this week!

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Funny Kid Friday- New Linky Party!

Everybody loves a funny kid story. Given the hours teachers spend with kids, we have tons of them. I live for them and see them as one of the most joyful perks of my job. There have been days when I laughed so hard I cried– sometimes with the kids, and sometimes afterwards with the adults in my life.
We all love funny kid stories!
And let's remember that the things kids do and say are not only funny. Occasionally they are surprising, sad, or worrisome. For the observant teacher, there is sometimes a lot to be learned about children, our teaching, and our world when we reflect on their words.

I created this linky space for us to share our stories. So often friends and family say to me, "You've got to write that down!" And yet I rarely do. So I share one with you here, and you get your turn down below.

This story happened last week, my last of the school year. There is this surprising phenomenon I see each year, and this year was no exception. On Wednesday, I announced it was time to take down the word wall as I strolled over to it.  A chorus of "Noooooo" rang out and one little person threw his arm over his eyes and proclaimed "I can't look!"

Really, there are moments when it is very hard to keep a straight face.

I went on to say that just as we built our word wall together, the next group of kidpeople would need to do the same thing. "And besides," I added, "I'm going to give the words to all of you." I was greeted with big eyes, and another little kidperson squealed out, "To KEEP??!!"

"Yes. Can you believe it??" I said, happy to be the bearer of such fantastic news. I then carefully took off the words, one at a time, and ceremoniously chose a child to receive the, and then to, and we, and play, and...

Now very few of you have ever seen my word wall, but it is not fancy. I cut cardstock into strips, then each Friday handwrite the words we learned that week, trim the end so the length of the card is the length of the word, and staple it to the word wall bulletin board. We have a little routine we do which involves spelling and writing the words on our "magic slates," or in other words, our palms. There are no fancy borders, pictures, or colors on the cards. Lots of teachers do walls like that, I just describe mine so you see that it is truly "not much" that they get with that word on a card.
Useful. Not too fancy.
And yet, ever since the first time I serendipitously took down the word wall when the kids were with me in class, their reaction has been the same. Year after year, whole classes of kids have been saddened to see it come down and VERY happy to receive a few of those cards for their very own.

Why do you think kids react this way? Is it that they are fond of the daily routines we do all year? Is it that they value the word wall as a tool and view it as an old friend? Or is it their love of learning and their love of kindergarten itself that is coming through?  Whatever it is, it is amazing... and yes, funny!

So how about it? How about if you join me as we share the chuckles, the awwws, the oh-nos, and perhaps the insights that our kiddos bring to us in their words and actions. Come on, you know you have some stories in mind right now. And if you're not a blogger, or a teacher, not to worry. Just add your anecdote in the comment section below. Take as much space as you need to tell the tale. We'll all check out the comment section as well as the links.

My plan is to make this a weekly Friday linky party during the summer, and a monthly one after that... I hope it doesn't turn into just a single weekly funny kid story by yours truly... but if it does, at least you'll know where to find a giggle if you need one. Grab this icon and put it in your post with a link to this page. Then link up. Be sure to read a couple other stories yourself and leave some love for those "teacher storytellers."  They'll appreciate it, and so will you when you get some comments. Easy-peasy, as my kidpeople say.

One. last. thing. These stories don't have to be about classroom life with kids, but life with kids anywhere. Your own kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, neighbors... A kid is a kid is a kid, so share away!

Just click on the little button and it will walk you through the steps to linking up your post.

The post Funny Kid Fridays New Linky Party! first appeared on

Workin' On A New Linky!

Special thanks to Kim and Megan at KinderGals for providing the Workin' On It! Wednesday link-up. They don't know it, but I've been following them for a long time and appreciate all they do.

Now I finally have something worthy of posting to their link-up.  I've been working on hosting a new linky party. Funny Kid Friday comes out tomorrow! It's a linky to let teachers share their funny kid stories. Hearing what those kiddos come out with is a joyful perk of our job. Of course, the stories we hear are not only funny. Kids always speak from the heart, and sometimes there is lots for us to learn when we stop and ponder their unique perspectives.

So I'm trying my hand at a link-up to give teachers a place to share their stories, and to hear stories from others. I know I need inspiration sometimes and I'm betting I'll find some here. We often do not write down what kids say, though we should. Kids have as much commentary on life as we do, and we all benefit by hearing it.

Won't you join me?  Come on, you know you've got some stories in mind right now :) Check out the link-up tomorrow.

I'll be looking forward to your tale!

Now click on the Workin' On It! icon up there and head on back to see what everybody else is up to.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

MORE I Need My Monster!!

This post must start with a special thank you to Shari Dash Greenspan, editor at Flashlight Press for leaving a sweet and informative comment on my last post. I published it, but I really don't want anyone to miss the important resources that go along with I Need My Monster, and a slew of other books published at Flashlight Press, so I'm writing a new post.

You've got to check out the book I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll and Howard McWilliam! To know about the book and get my review, click on the book cover below to go back to yesterday's post about it.

I Need My Monster has won over eighteen awards and honors. This book is a favorite with way more than just me! And it has been translated into Korean, German, Hebrew, Polish, Turkish, and Chinese! I'm going to buy a couple of these editions because a terrific lesson on language and world people could certainly come about when my kids get their hands on them! Thanks to Flashlight Press for making so many different editions available. Wow!

Then you need to know about the free stuff on the Activity Pages of Flashlight Press. The activities for I Need My Monster include info on the author and illustrator, reading connections, finger puppets, guided drawing, great monster art projects both easy and fancy (as in Plaster of Paris– ooh fun), monster music and songs, even monster math and science activities! Be sure to click on ALL the links next to I Need My Monster on the activity page, which you can get to by clicking on their icon.

And how great is this??? Rita Moreno reads I Need My Monster for the Screen Actors Guild! (I have always admired Rita Moreno– she was already pinned to my Little Bit Of Life's This and That  pinterest board.) Her reading is terrific and the performance includes just the littlest bit of animation to bring the pages to life. The kids are going to love, love, love it!  And I love it, too– it even makes me enjoy the book more!
Check it out here!

Told you it was great!

Flashlight Press has a bunch of other wonderful books, all of which come with their own resources, too. I especially want to add to my collection Too Much Glue and When a Dragon Moves In... yes, of course, my class does dragon things, including singing Puff the Magic Dragon for our end of year Dessert-Sing... another post, another post, so little time, so much to share...

Thanks again to Ms. Greenspan for letting me know about the publishers site. No one would have wanted to miss out on these great resources!

The post MORE I Need My Monster first appeared on

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I Need My Monster and a FREEBIE

Oh, how I love monsters. As in cute, funny monsters, not like Frankenstein, or zombie kinds of monsters (at least when it comes to the kids.) For our last two weeks in class I chose some favorite books for read alouds, and several of them featured monsters. Thanks to Deanna at Mrs. Jump's Class for providing a linky so I can highlight this great book. And to Molly at Lucky to Be in First, AND to Teaching Blog Addict's Freebie Friday to highlight the freebie aspect. Love, love, love the linkys as a teacher and a blogger!

Love it!
I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll and Howard McWilliam is a funny, yet slightly "shivery" book, which is perfect for the pre-K-2nd grade set. Just about every kid in the world has at least wondered about creatures under the bed, and this story centers on that. Ethan, the protagonist, cannot go to sleep without a monster under his bed, and he has a favorite one that usually hangs out under there.

Terrific illustrations!
But what happens when Ethan's monster goes on vacation? Well, substitute monsters step in, of course. Ethan is rather picky about his monsters, however, and the substitutes and his reasons for rejecting them, will bring a chuckle.

Great monsters!
The story has it's young audience guessing at just who is going to replace old Gabe, the resident monster, so the ending is well anticipated.

I especially love this book because:
• it was such a fine addition to my monster book collection! I felt lucky to stumble across it at my favorite bookstore a couple years ago
• the illustrations are very well done with unusual perspectives and angles, which add flavor and life
• the story is great to read straight, or if you have a storytelling nature like me, it lends itself to a great set-up, and voices throughout. Read ahead to know each monster and what voice you'll use.
• it is not "really" scary at all, in story or colorful illustrations, yet kids easily relate to the scary idea of creatures under the bed. The introduction of each substitute monster can be read in a way to highlight the suspense, build hold-them-in-the-palm-of-your-hand anticipation, and add just a bit of scare to make it extra good. 
Don't look under there!
I always introduce I Need My Monster to the kids by talking about how I love monsters, but when I was a kid I was afraid of what lived under my bed. I used to sleep in the middle of the bed, no arms or legs hanging over, with Teddy on one side of me and Skunka on the other side. These much loved stuffies would surely stop any monsters from climbing up to get me. The kids are hooked! We share a little about the creatures who might live under their beds and what we do to hold them at bay. I always sum up by saying that here I am, "old" and no monster ever got me, so maybe it is just pretend? Yep, they agree. "Pretend," I say "but shivery none-the-less..." I give a wiggle of the eyebrows here, and we're off!  

I like this book so much, I have a FREEBIE for you just for reading the post! It's a downloadable sheet to help kids create their own monster under the bed, and you get it by clicking on it's mini version below. You don't even have to subscribe or follow me, though I sure would appreciate it if you did :) Just click and it's yours right now. And of course, it can be used with dozens of stories that feature monsters under the bed, not just this one.
Download this Freebie just by clicking on it!

As I said earlier, I like monsters, to the point where I have a pinterest monster board with loads of monster ideas and stuff. Have a quick look by clicking on my pin board pic here.

Check out my Monster Everything pin board by clicking
And you can find lots of other good monster ideas on a recent post by Carolyn at Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together.  Click on her button to get there.

Great blog to check out. Click to get there.
I am also working on a freebie or two that you will get for following me... more on that later, so sign up now so you don't miss out. (If you are like me and you visit lots of teacher blogs it's easy to "lose" the good ones.) I have that illustrator husband of mine going to town on various resources that will highlight his skills... though this post's current downloadable freebie is pretty simple. You can find our other freebies at TPT by clicking on the logo.

And now just one. more. good. thing! There's going to be a NEW, FUNNY, KID-LOVIN' link-up coming your way!!! Stay tuned on FRIDAY! I am so excited :)

Time to hop on over to Deanna's linky, and Molly's linky, and Blog Addict's Freebie Friday (after the 20th) to find more good books and treats. Today is a good day!

AFTER the 20th!

Whew! That's a lot of clicking, but hopefully you found really good stuff. Let me know in the comment section, 'kay?

P.S. NEWS FLASH!!!! After I posted this review the publisher of I Love My Monster contacted me to let me know of the great resources for this book at Flashlight Press. There were so many resources that I did a second post! Either cruise the site to find my next post, or click HERE to see!  

The post I Need My Monster and a FREEBIE first appeared on

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Summer Bucket List Top Ten

Summer, summer, glorious summer! Mine started yesterday and I am so looking forward to it. Thanks to Deanna Jump at Mrs. Jump's Class for this great Top Ten Things I Want to Do This Summer linky. Although these are my top ten, they are not in any particular order.

1. Our summer break starts a little late in Michigan so I am already behind with yardwork. Another cleaning of the pond and planting of a few more flowers are in order. We put up a pergola on the deck last year just before the snow flew and I need to plant some viney things to grow up on it, hang some outdoor curtains to keep the setting sun out of our eyes, and string lights, lights, lights. And I'm giving vertical gardening another go this summer. More on that later.
Some started as plants, some as seeds
2. Storytelling gets some quality time this summer. I'm slated to tell for a non-profit preschool in town. Looking forward to telling for the even-shorter-than-usual short people. I'm hosting a book club for the storytelling guild and am excited about the book we're reading... more to come. And I'm hosting Campfire Tales. There's nothing like telling 'round the fire and there's nobody who can do it like my storytelling friends. I'm really looking forward to that... and it's incentive to get the afore mentioned yardwork done, and the following book read :)
That'll be us!
3. Read, read, read. The stack is tall, but this has to be a first one so I'm ready for the book club.
Storyteller Donna Washington is a featured author, and I've heard her speak, so I know it'll be good.

4. I've vowed to really keep up with blogging. This is not work, as I really enjoy it. It's just hard to find time. I'm also looking into how to give away a present for subscribing. You might want to subscribe now to get in on it
One for subscribers coming!
5. I'm going to Colorado to visit my brothers and families, especially my three year old niece who is one cute and funny kid. And I'm looping through Seattle to see the sights again, though the sight I want to see more than any is that of my sweet almost grown daughter, Samuelina. She's doing an internship at Boeing. Thank goodness she has one more year of school to go here in Michigan before she's off for parts unknown next year.
Here I come
6. There are a couple fun things on the agenda with Jonathan and Delaney who are right here at home. Dinners on the deck and campfires in the yard to begin with. Ah, summer.
Maybe try some new recipes
7. Working with Jonathan on some TPT resources. I have a long list to work on. Keep watching.
Adding more soon...
8. Walking, walking, walking. Summer is exercise time. Should be all year, but you know how the school year goes. I'll cling to the notion that some is better than none.
Put one foot in front of the other
9. Long term planning for school next year. Michigan's participation in common core kicks in and with it come lots of changes. I'm working with my district to bring about those changes, and then thinking about how I want to do things differently in my classroom.
Here it comes, ready or not
10. And last but not least, I'm slated to do some fun writing. I have a twenty two chapter middle grade novel in manuscript form. I have an agent who is interested, too. I sort of went into stall mode with it until recently– a new internet magazine is starting up and they want to feature a series of short stories based on my characters! It's time to go back to the keyboard again. I am thrilled and scared to death at the same time.
Rough sketches for the series
Notice that cleaning is not on the list. It's just not a top ten thing to do, even as I must attack my office, my closet, the garage... It is necessary, but I'm not highlighting it on a list– nope!

It's sort of good to see this in list form. Thanks, Deanna. Be sure to click to see what others are up to.

p.s.  As I sit here writing this at five a.m., the deck door is open. I hear my Screech Owl friends trilling back and forth to each other. YIPPEE. This is the first time I've heard them this season. They are fantastic to see, very small and cute and usually in a family cluster of four to six. Dawn is approaching and that is one of the best times to spot them. They are rather friendly... well, for owls... they are raptors, after all. So happy they live in the neighborhood.
This shot was from last summer– my friend at dawn.
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