Monday, September 18, 2017

Water Themed Literature Circles With the Explorers

I am super excited because this year I am able to spend more time in the kindergarten and first grade classrooms! One of the things we have started to do is  literature circles which is a great way for us to not only discuss amazing books but to also have those books lead us to wonderings and further discovery.

My dear friend and kindergarten teacher R.D. asked if we could start doing literature circles with her students around the theme of water. We divided the class into 3 groups and each teacher shared a different book with their small group.  R.D. shared The Ocean Story by John Seven with her group and M.W. shared Follow the Water From Brook to Ocean by Arthur Dorros. I was super excited to share Ice Boy by David Ezra Stein. If you aren't familiar with this book it is a great way to introduce the water cycle with your students in a humorous way.

As we were reading the book the students began to make connections with the story. They also began to wonder . 
At the end the students each chose the thing that they were most curious about. It was those wonderings that led us to what we would do the next time we met.
We also brainstormed how we would find the answers to those wonderings.
When we met the following week we focused on 4 of their wonderings. 
1. How do we make salt water?
2. How does the ocean get salty?
3. Does salt water freeze?
4. Can ice be flavored?
We started off by making salt water because we needed to get it into the freezer to see if it would freeze. Taste testing along the way was very important as they kids didn't think we could make it as salty as the ocean. 
After we popped the salt water in the freezer, we had to figure out how salt really gets into the ocean because we knew realized it wasn't likely it was made how we made it. After discovering how it gets salty, some the kids really wanted to go outside and collect rocks, pour water over them and try to make saltwater that way, others thought that sounded gross. We moved onto taste testing ice since the kids were split on whether or not ice could be flavored. I had 4 different ices prepared: blue food colored water, apple juice, watermelon juice and lemon juice.

 The kids were able to guess all the different flavors and had so much fun tasting them, some  flavors were more popular than others. They couldn't believe ice could be made out of anything liquid.
A few hours later the kids and I went back to the freezer to check on out ice. They couldn't believe their eyes, the saltwater wasn't frozen! We then talked about why it hadn't, which led to further wonderings.
The kids and I are super excited for our next meeting to see where our wonderings take us.

Friday, September 15, 2017

August/September Bulletin Boards

YIKES! We are 5 weeks into the school year and I haven't shared the beginning of the year bulletin boards.
"This year will be T-rrific" features back to school books as well as school and class shirts.
"You'll shine this year" was made to celebrate the new school year and the solar eclipse.
 Greg is ready to rock out this school year!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

I've Been Walking and Listening, But Not Sharing. Oops!

I've gotten lazy. Not lazy in my walking, that still happens 6 days a week, but I gotten lazy about sharing what I am listening to.

Here's a quick recap of what I've been walking to.

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
Harper Island

This is one of those books that just stays with you. It left me with a bazillion unanswered questions, ones that I ask every child who has read it what they think the answers are. While I desperately want answers, I really hope there isn't a sequel because what if the answers aren't what I think they are or want them to be.
Listen to this one!

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
Listening Library

There have been years where I scratch my head and wonder why on earth a particular book won the Newbery Award. This book is NOT one of those. I get it, I loved it, it's perfect. Well, there was one description that made me want to throw-up, but it was worth it as I had built up such extreme hatred for this character I was thrilled that they finally got their due.

The Dragon With a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

Warning: Walking while listening to this book is quite dangerous. All I wanted to do while walking was eat chocolate due to the most delicious chocolate descriptions. I am having a hard time keeping this book on the shelf as kids are fascinated with the idea of a dragon being turned into a girl all because of a food mage and a cup of hot chocolate.

Restart by Gordon Korman
Recorded Books

Imagine falling out of a window, surviving, yet having no idea who  your family and friends are and no recollection of how you used to treat others. Would your personality stay how it was pre-accident or would it completely change? Chase is experiencing just that and people are having a hard time figuring out if how he treats others now is genuine or if it is all just an act.
I loved the idea behind this and can't wait to start talking about kids about it (our copy just came in on Friday)

Upside Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle and Emily Jenkins
Scholastic Audio

Kids are constantly asking me when the next book in this series is coming out, but I hadn't had a chance to listen to it. So when it was finally available via OverDrive I had to get it.
It's fun. It's light. It's entertaining.

Here are the pictures that I took while walking and listening to these books.

Kayaks on the wall while listening to Orphan Island
Plumerias just opening while listening to Wolf Hollow
Early morning walking and listening to The Dragon With A Chocolate Heart
Shadows while listening to Restart
Cool clouds while listening to Upside Down Magic

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Best Thing About My Trip to Portugal? The Bookstores and Libraries Of Course!

Ahhh...summer! My favorite thing about summer is traveling around the world and visiting different bookstores and libraries. This summer's adventure took me to Portugal. In Lisbon I came across Bertrand, which opened in 1732, making it the oldest operating bookstore in the world. 
There was a great selection of children's books that are popular in the United States translated into Portuguese. Based on what I saw translated, it is clear that the Portuguese have a great sense of humor.
I wonder if the bookstores in Portugal have as much trouble as I do keeping these three titles on their shelves.
If you happen to make it to LX Factory, you need to check out Livraria Ler Devager. The children's section is just one shelf and isn't fantastic, but the printing press and hanging art are definitely worth a peek at.
In another part of Lisbon I stumbled upon their version of the Little Free Public Library. I loved that it resembled a phone booth. 
In Sintra, Portugal I followed the signs to the public library. Unfortunately, I was the only person in the library besides the staff. It may have been because there was no air conditioning in the library and while every window was wide open, it was still unbearably hot. The children's section was huge, colorful and very welcoming. It's a shame no one was using it.

If you are a Harry Potter fan, than Livraria Lello is a must stop when you are in Porto.  Yes, there is always a line to get in and yes, you have to pay 4 euros to do so, but the bookstore is just stunning. The outside of the building is just as beautiful as the inside.
Rumor has it J.K. Rowling would come here to write and as you walk around you can see little things that wound their way into the Harry Potter books. The staircase that appears to be floating and the book cart on tracks are defiantly in the books and movies.
The stained glass ceiling is gorgeous.
Yes, you can buy Harry Potter books there and if you purchase a book in the shop, you can get your 4 euro entrance fee back.
As I traveled from bookstore to bookstore, I noticed there was one author/illustrator that without fail was in each and every bookstore. I'm not talking one or two books by him, but it was practically every picture book that he has written, all of which have been translated into Portuguese. Who was it? Oliver Jeffers! This is just a sample of what I saw in one store. I couldn't fit all the books of his they had in stock into one picture.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Walking and Listening to "as brave as you"

as brave as you by Jason Reynolds
Simon and Schuster Audio
7 hours and 2 minutes

Narrator: Guy Lockard

Spending your summer with your grandparents in the Virginia countryside isn't high on many people's list of fun things to do. That is exactly what is happening to Ernie and Genie though, as their parents are heading out on a trip to try and save their marriage. From the moment they arrive, Genie is unsure of the situation, questions flood his brain and he makes misstep after misstep. But even with all of that going on, he is having the time of his life, learning about country life, exploring and building an amazing relationship with his grandfather. Soon what seemed like would be forever turns into a summer neither boy will soon forget.

I hate to say this, but when I first saw this book I wasn't drawn to it. The cover didn't scream, "Pick me up and read me!" The cover also gave me the false impression that it was a historical fiction book, which I like but wasn't in the mood for. But once I saw that it was by Jason Reynolds, I decided to give it a whirl and I am so glad that I did. I loved this book. There are humorous aspects to it, honest and touching moments and was one of those books I wanted to go on forever. I enjoyed watching the relationship unfold between Genie and Grandpa and seeing how much they each grew from their time together and seeing what they gained from their relationship. I loved Genie's questions. He would drive me crazy if he was my kid, but as a reader I loved the non-stop flow of them.

I have listened to quite a few books narrated by Guy Lockhard and I love his narration. His voice is very expressive, honest and pulls you in. The voices that he chooses for each of the characters are amazing and match their personalities beautifully. Listen to this book!

I was walking to pick-up my car from getting repaired and went by this construction wall, covered in sign language.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Walking and Listening to "Save Me A Seat"

Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
Scholastic Audio
3 hours and 58 minutes
Narrators Josh Hurley and Vikas Adams

This is the type of audio book that stays with you. While I finished listening to this book a little over a week ago, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I had an amazing discussion with the student, Kate, who recommended the book to me which brought up even more thoughts and feelings.

Told via alternating chapters, we meet Ravi who has just moved to town from India and Joe who has lived there his entire life. Both boys are starting fifth grade in the same situation, friendless and misunderstood. However their attitudes about it are completely different.  Ravi has always thrived at school and thinks he will fit in no problem, he's smart and eager to make friends. Joe dreads it because he is bullied, has an auditory processing disorder and his mom has begun working in the cafeteria. While Joe and Ravi sit next to each other in class, they don't hit it off. If only these two boys would talk to each other they would discover they have a lot more in common than they realize.

Side note: While it is rare for me to hate a book character, I found myself beyond hating Dillon. Yes, I get that this is what good writing is, but I just wanted to call his mother and scream at her. Kate didn't like him either and hated how he tricked Ravi into eating meat. She told me that calling his mother wouldn't make a difference because his mother was probably the same way and gave an example. Kids are seriously amazing.

Josh Hurley and Vikas Adams do a phenomenal job narrating this story. Every single character, no matter who they are, has their own very distinct and unique voice. You hear all the excitement, joy, humiliation, disappointment, sadness, shyness that the characters are feeling, but they do such an amazing job expressing those that you feel those emotions too. There is truly not one thing I would do to improve upon this narration. You have got to listen to this story.

The rock walls surrounding our school campus are covered in night blooming cereus. They are just stunning. Too bad they don't even last 24 hours.