Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Our Favorite Book Characters

Hello there! We are excited to team up with Katie at Minute Mommy and other amazing bloggers to bring you Summer Reading Stash #4: Our Favorite Book Characters. I hope you enjoy our post and I hope you hop along to read all of the blog posts in this link up. Kelie and I have sure been enjoying them! :) 

Please tell me you have read Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner!? I absolutely LOVE this book. This is the first book, and in my humble opinion, the best book, in a series of books about a Chihuahua. I mean, a Siamese Cat. Hehe. Ok, so Skippyjon has quite the imagination and one day he zooms past a mirror and sees his big ol' ears. In his best Spanish accent he says, "Holy Guacaomole! I am a Chihuahua!" I REALLY get into character when I read this book and love using my Spanish accent. Haha. The kids love it, too! We all laugh so hard we have tears streaming down our faces. And, usually by the time I finish I have to guzzle down some water... using my best Spanish accent really makes my voice hoarse and my throat itchy. But it's SO worth it. Haha. Skippyjon goes on an adventure in his bedroom closet after being grounded by Mama Junebug. In his closet Skippyjon meets a group of Chihuahuas and he ends up defeating the Great Bandito. The first time I read this to my kindergarteners I worried they wouldn't be able to sit through it because it is kind of long. But, it engaged them from the front to the end and they begged me to read it often. If you haven't read this won't be sorry. :)

Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells was a required read aloud in my Kindergarten classroom when we used SRA Open Court Language Arts curriculum and were on the "Stick To It" unit. My students LOVE Ruby and Max. Who doesn't? They are just too cute. Ruby is the older sister and Max is the little brother. Max is always causing trouble for Ruby. In Bunny Cakes, Ruby just wants to bake a special, fancy cake for her grandmother, but Max has other ideas. Max wants to decorate the cake with "red hot" candies so he keeps causing Ruby to lose the ingredients needed for baking a cake. Ruby then sends him to the store and each time Max attempts to get his candies but he doesn't know how to write yet. Each time Max tries a different way to get his request on paper for the grocer. If you haven't read this book yet, I won't tell you how it ends but instead encourage you to read it. Max and Ruby is also a cartoon and my students loved watching this episode after reading the book. And... Max and Ruby happen to be the names of my sister's kids! True story. :)

Next up on our list of favorite characters are those created by Judy Blume. I love how she uses humor and reality when writing books about everyday family life, because it really allows students to relate to what they are reading.  All students can relate at some level as they read about events such as: moving to a new town, making new friends, or mom having a new baby.
Judy Blume does an amazing job of turning these real life events into a page turning novel.  I mean, what child doesn't want to find out if the main character's little brother ate their pet turtle?  Your students will love reading this whole series just to see what crazy things little brother Fudge has up his sleeves, and see how big brother Peter deals with it all.

Need a novel study to get you started? Check out this resource found in my store (*on sale through the weekend!):
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing Novel Unit

Last on our list of favorites this week are the wonderful books by author Roald Dahl. 

I love his magical way of using storytelling when writing books such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG.  He is able to turn everyday things into something extraordinary- peaches the size of houses with talking insects or a finger with the power to turn people into other things. Readers beware- these books are really geared towards a more mature audience (3rd grade on up), as there is a bit of a fear factor built into his novels.  However, in every book, the kids triumph over the evil and  really, you can't ask for more than that!

Hop on over to Ashley's Brainy Centers to read about her favorite book characters.

 Hop on over to Ashley's Brainy Centers to read about more books with her favorite characters.


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Non Fiction Books We Love

Non Fiction Books We Love

Thank you for joining us again this week as we link up with some fabulous teacher-bloggers, hosted by Minute Mommy, to discuss non fiction books we love.

Lets face it, with so many distractions competing for our children's time, often, it can seem like a small miracle to simply watch them open any old book.  However, research is showing us that this alone may not be enough.  WHAT children are reading is just as equally as important as how much they are reading.  It is becoming clear that children need to be reading informational (non fiction) texts, from the earliest grades on up, which makes this week's post even more exciting to talk about.
  Why is non fiction reading so important for children?
*Non Fiction text requires the reader to really focus on what is being read.  
*Non fiction text can not be read by simply skimming a paragraph without understanding what was previously read.  
*Non fiction text can not be read without understanding the vocabulary being used.

Do we have you convinced on just how important it is for children to be reading Non-Fiction text?
I thought so. :) 
Though it may come off initially sounding like a boring genre of reading, there are so many fun and engaging texts available for children.  Let's start with one of my favorite non fiction series, the ever so popular:

Who Would Win? series by Jerry Pallotta

If you have a child in 2-4th grade, and have not seen them reading these books, now is the time to check these science based books out!  These books are really appealing to the boys in my classroom & I LOVE seeing boys excited about reading!  In each book, children learn about 2 dangerous animals who would most likely never meet in the wild, and what makes each a fierce predator.  The books are loaded with tons of colored pictures and easy to read facts, building on the question- "Who would win?"  Readers can use these facts to come to a conclusion on which animal they think would be the winner. 

The Truth about Bats by Eva Moore

Another one of my favorite non fiction series is the Magic School Bus Books.  This series can be found in easy to read books as well as more challenging chapter books.  I enjoy using the chapter books with my students.  Though these books are not 100% non fiction (the main characters are fictional as well as parts of the plot) there is still a TON of non fiction text for children to devour.  I love the variety of non fiction text features used throughout the book.

 I use this book around Halloween time as a whole class read.  My students really enjoy learning about bats and all the additional informational text activities from this novel study I created to go with the novel- The Truth About Bats.

You can find everything you need to keep your kiddos busy and learning really any time of the year.

My turn, my turn! Haha. Karen here. Let me first say that non fiction has never been a favorite of mine, however I jumped on the bandwagon and made it work for me and my kindergarten students a few years ago when I came to the realization that it's what kids NEED, as Kelie stated above. :) To make it work for my little learners short attention spans, we used Closed Reading techniques and visited the text in small chunks throughout the week. We enhanced our knowledge (and kept our interest and thus engagement high) by tossing in some short YouTube videos relating to our topics which had been previewed and carefully selected beforehand if you know what I'm sayin'. My team asked me to create PowerPoint presentations using a lot of sight words and with a word bank at the end and surprisingly because those were short and sweet, the kids really liked them so we didn't always use actual books but our kids were still getting real, factual information. Anyhow... here goes...

National Geographic Kids: Bats! by Elizabeth Carney

Great minds think alike! I think my favorite non-fiction read aloud was Bats! a National Geographic Reader, Level 2 by Elizabeth Carney. Like Kelie, my kindergarten class would read this book every October. I used closed reading techniques and we visited the text daily throughout the week. There were a lot of "Ohhhhs" and "Ahhhhs" during this read aloud. Bats are simply fascinating creatures. They loved learning about what types of food they eat, where they live, and how they actually feel the vibration of insects and can pinpoint their exact location. We would also tie this into our writing and for the first three days of the week we would do a step-by-step directed drawing (pencils up, eyes on me!) and then write about bats. For our "Fun Friday" time we wrapped up our week long study on bats by making bat hats! Some of my students wrote -at word family rhyming words on their sentence strips. They had so much fun!

National Geographic Kids: Penguins! by Anne Schreiber

Who doesn't love penguins!? They're just too adorable. Before we dove into Penguins!, a National Geographic Kids, Level 2 Reader by Anne Schreiber, I asked my students what they knew about penguins. Surprisingly they knew quite a bit already thanks to some great kids' flicks about them. :) Penguins was always a favorite January topic. Again, we used Close Reading techniques to share this book with our students throughout the week. They really loved all the pictures; National Geographic for Kids are GREAT for pictures! My students found it both interesting and disgusting how the baby penguins were fed regurgitated food.  They also found it really sad that penguins had so many natural predators. This led to discussions about nature taking its course which I'm sure was above many of their heads. Ha-ha. Again we did a directed drawing for the first 3 days of the week, brainstormed a word list, and wrote stories about penguins. For our "Fun Friday" activity, to wrap up our week long study, we made penguins by tearing and gluing construction paper. They all came out so unique.

Thank you for reading, we love your comments!
Please click the picture below to go to the next non-fiction blog post we're sure you will love.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

My Secret Addictions...

Yes, today I must confess to you two of my biggest addictions: crafting & the Dollar Spot at Target. I'm not going to lie- I love the excitement of what new goodies might be waiting there for me to find.  After carefully ogling and probing through every bin, comes the second rush- what will I create with my haul?  

I was super excited to find these cute pencil pendents, but I also knew they needed to be fancied up a bit- that is just how I roll.

So I grabbed about two yards worth of fabric and cut the material into 1 inch wide strips.  I chose bright colors, but you really could use any combination of colors.  Don't worry about measuring the strips when cutting to make sure they are exactly 1 inch wide.  The widths will vary a little and that is okay- no one will even be able to tell once you are done. I used pinking sheers to make give the edges that "bumpy" look.  If your don't own a pair of them no worries, your pendent will turn out just as cute with strait edges cut from any old scissors. 

After cutting the material into strips, you will be ready to assemble your pendent. You will need a piece of twine, (you can usually pick this up in that magical dollar spot as well) that measures a little longer than the width of the area you plan to hang it.  You want your twine a little longer to leave room to make a knot to hang it with on both ends. A little Command hook or several staples on each end will work to hang your pendent to the wall. 

To assemble, simply tie knots as shown.  You will want to alternate colors, but this too does not need to be perfect- no one will notice if your pattern changes- I promise!

Step 1: Fold the strip in half. Place the fabric under the twine.

Step 2: Take both ends of the fabric, and bring them back towards the twine to make a loop and pull the ends through. 

Step 3: Pull the ends through tightly. 

Continue adding strips of fabric and pencils until you have your desired length.  I try to use as little fabric as possible, simply because the pendent will start to get heavy and harder to hang with the more fabric you use.  **Insiders tip: you don't need to tie the pieces super close together.

And that is pretty much all there is to it my friends!   I can't wait to hear how awesome your pendents turn out!!!


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Seasonal / Holiday Books We Love

Seasonal / Holiday Books We Love

We are so glad to be a part of this Blog Hop again this week where we will discuss books that relate to the seasons, holidays, and/or classroom celebrations. We hope you enjoy our selections. :) Thank you Katie and MinuteMommy for organizing this. Click the logo at the bottom of this post to hop on to the next teacher-blogger. :)

Stink and the Midnight Zombie Walk

If you are looking for a book that is a little gross, creepy, yet still hilarious, then of corpse, Stink and the Midnight Zombie Walk by Megan McDonald, is the perfect book for you! This easy chapter book (grade level equivalency 3.3) is a great choice for 2nd-4th grade readers.
In this book, Stink and his crew of friends, can't stop thinking about the Midnight Zombie Walk, set to take place at their local book store.  With the thought of Zombie's on their minds, Zink (Stink), starts to wonder if he is really being hunted by Zombies.  The author does an excellent job of combining the right amount of suspense to keep readers on their toes, while not making the story so scary they can't sleep at night. 

Ready to read this book with you class this year?  You can find this complete study guide in my store (link below).  The study guide contains comprehension questions for each chapter, vocabulary activities, grammar games, graphic organizers, and writing activities that your students will LOVE!

Thanksgiving on Thursday

Who doesn't love a good Magic Tree House book? In this easy chapter book, Thanksgiving on Thursday by Mary Pope Osborne, readers are taken on an adventure back in time to visit the first Thanksgiving.  I love this book because of the nice blend of fantasy and realism.  Children get so into the story line,  they do not realize they are actually learning about the Wampanoag Native Americans and what life was really like for early settlers.

Sneezy the Snowman

I love Scholastic Book Clubs; who doesn't? I picked up Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright as a dollar deal a few years ago. My kindergarteners loved this comedic character and the fun, playful illustrations and so did my daughter and I. In fact, I pulled this gem from my bookshelf earlier in order to blog about it and when I was ready for it the book had gone missing! Yep, you guessed it... My daughter had it!  This book has a grade equivalent of 2.5 but as mentioned before, my kindergarten kiddos also greatly enjoyed this read allowed.  Sneezy is freezing, literally, and everything he does to try and warm up causes him to melt. The kids laughed at how silly Sneezy didn't realize things like building a fire would make him less of a snowman. 

This is a fun read aloud to celebrate winter. I usually read this in January. We would do a lot of snow related activities that month, including writing about how to make a snowman, painting, and more.

Froggy's First Kiss

Oh, Froggy! First of all... I love, love, love Froggy. He is such a cute, lovable character. Maybe it's his clumsiness that I find so appealing. Well, Froggy's First Kiss by Jonathan London is a must read around Valentine's Day. Froggy's in love! This book is geared towards K-2 but I think people of age will enjoy it. Click the picture below to see what I have in my store that relates to Valentine's Day.

The Night Before the 100th Day of School

All kindergarten and First Grade teachers celebrate the 100th day of school, don't they? My kindergarten team and I loved planning out a day FULL OF FUN activities! In Natasha Wing's The Night Before the 100th Day of School a boy is scrambling to figure out what he can bring for his 100 Day collection. I always had my kindergarteners bring in a collection of 100 items. We would then use big sorting mats to put them into ten groups of ten. Another fun activity was counting out 100 snacks. Don't tell the Obama's but I would bring in Cheerios, M&M candies, Gummy Bears, and other goodies ;) and we would rotate around tables counting ten of each snack into our little baggie so that at the end of rotations each student had a collection of 100 snack items! I recommend this cute read aloud to add to your celebration.

Click below to hop to the next blog post by Sara at Lovin' Little Learners!