Monday, January 15, 2018

No Kimchi For Me: A Design Challenge

It all started off with my wanting to cook with one of our first grade classes and it turned into a super fun design challenge.

How did we start? By smelling really fresh and stinky kimchi. While kimchi isn't new to these kids and many of them love it, very few had ever smelled this much of it at once. It cleared our sinuses right up and we were ready to read Aram Kim's book, No Kimchi For Me! The class loved the story and were thrilled to hear that we would be making kimchi pancakes too.
We began measuring, cracking and stirring. One thing I did in advance was chop up the kimchi in the cuisinart. This way the pieces would be smaller than what they would be if we cut the kimchi ourselves.
Another thing I did that was differet than the book, was make individual sized pancakes versus one big one. This saved cooking time and the kids were all able to have a goodsized pancake.
The kids sure did love them! Many of the kids had seconds and thirds.
I was thinking we were done with this activity when I met with our Ed. Tech teacher. We got to talking and I was sharing that we had made kimchi pancakes and that the kids had absolutely devoured them, many of them not even noticing that there was kimchi inside of them. She started thinking and said, "Why not turn this into a design challenge?" I loved this idea!

Day One: The kids and I talked revisited No Kimchi For Me discussing that the grandmother had hidden the kimchi in something that Yoomi liked, which made it less spicy and easier of her to eat. I told the kids that they were going to do something similar. To start, we had them partner up with their reading buddy to begin the empathy phase. They interviewed each other to find out what foods like liked, what foods they didn't like and why they liked or disliked them, reserving all comments.

They then went off on their own to create a recipe, one that combined one favorite food with one of the foods that they didn't like. They had to name their recipe and draw it out.
Day Two: We had the kids get back together with their reading buddies to share recipes and get feedback. Their feedback was great! "Add more cheese, like a bag full!" "You need to cut the onion really small so that I can't see them."
After receiving feedback they had to go back and improve their recipes.
The classroom teacher and I looked over the recipes, choosing 5 that we would be able to actually create. We had to keep in mind food allergies, cost/availability of ingredients (we had some that involved lobster) and cooking time. The children whose recipe we chose then  met with a small group of their peers and had to come up with a pitch for their recipe which they then presented to the whole class. After the presentations, we voted. The winner? OnMac, macaroni and cheese with onions hidden inside. 
 We had kids grating cheese and others at the stove measuring things out to make the sauce.
Waiting for it to cook was the hardest part! It smelled so good that we just wanted to eat it!
Success! We loved the OnMac!
Thank you Aram Kim for your fabulous book! We love where it lead us.

January Bulletin Boards

Happy 2018!
While it has never snowed on our island, we do love books about snow and thinking about how much fun we could have in it.
Poor Greg, his New Years celebration was a bit wild and he ended up covered in decorations. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

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've gotten super duper lazy about sharing what I am listening to. Oops.

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

Welcome to Wonderland: Home Sweet Motel by Chris Grabenstein
Listening Library

The Wonderland Hotel is going through some trying times and P.T. will do whatever he can to help save the motel from being closed by the bank. With the help of Gloria, a new friend, the two come up with some creative ways to draw people to the hotel. They get a lot more than they bargained for when two gentlemen check-in looking for a lot more than a great hotel with a singing frog. But could what these men are after be the ticket to saving the hotel? This book was a fun listen.

Refugee by Alan Gratz
Scholastic Audio

Three beautifully told stories about children fleeing their homes and countries during some historically trying times. This book is a must read/listen to and will hopefully help children be more compassionate for others and their journeys. The three narrators of this story truly making you feel what these children are going through as their families search for better lives. Don't skip the author's note.

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs
Simon and Schuster Audio

It's not every day that you walk into your house and see a secret agent sitting there. That is exactly what happened to Ben though and he is quickly whisked off to a top secret academy where he will be trained to become an agent himself. To say his start is rocky is an understatement and it just keeps getting worse.
The Spy School series is by far one of our most popular series in the library. The story is great, I just felt the narrator comes off as too mature.

Lemons by Melissa Savage
Listening Library

Lemonade has gone through quite a bit lately and moving in with her grandfather, who she doesn't know, and to a new town doesn't make things easier. She quickly meets Tobin, a boy obsessed with Big Foot, and a friendship begins to blossom as the two spend their days following up on leads to Big Foot sightings. While they may spend a lot of time looking for Big Foot, Lemonade also needs to find herself and get back to being Lemonade.
I love how Ms. Savage describes Lemonade's feelings in a way that children can understand and how they might describe them (such as volcanoes, quicksand, lumps). The narration was lovely, it sounded child-like, expressed emotion beautifully. This book stayed with me.

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Listening Library

If you enjoyed The War That Saved My Life, you'll love its sequel as it picks up a week or after the first book left off. Listen, it's worth it.

The Warden's Daughter by Jerry Spinelli
Listening Library

Cammie's mother died when she was quite young and while she has misses her, she hasn't longed for a mother figure until now. Cammie's longing is in overdrive and in looking for that mother figure, she is lashing out at those around her, pushing boundaries and doing things she normally wouldn't. What will it take for her to come to terms with all that has happened in her life.
While I liked this book, it hasn't been flying off the shelf and I am not sure how many of our my students it will appeal to.

Jacky Ha-Ha: My Life As A Joke by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Jacky is spending her summer working at a carnival booth to help the family make ends meet. She loves having the chance to perform daily, drawing people to the booth and is excited to be performing in an upcoming Shakespeare by the Shore show. If that isn't enough, she has to navigate friendships, crushes and more. It's a lot of fun, but man it's exhausting. A light book.

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schiltz
Recorded Books

Princess Cora's parents want her to be a certain way, push her to do things and behave in ways that she doesn't want to be. They won't even let her have a pet. After sending a letter to her fairy godmother requesting a dog, she receives a package, containing a pet she didn't quite request, a crocodile. Uh-oh.
A really quick listen.

Here are just some of the pictures I took while out walking. I just realized I didn't take pictures while listening to all these books. Oops!

Peering through the branches while listening to Lemons.
Lililoi vines while listening to Refugee.
I encountered this guy crossing the road while listening to Spy School.
A rainbow after some sprinkles.
 The sunrise while listening to Princess Cora

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

December Bulletin Boards

With only one more day left of school before we head off to break, I figured it was time to share our December bulletin boards. They are all holiday themed starting with "Oh Christmas Tree"
 While this one doesn't have a saying attached to it, it is still based on Christmas trees.
 Poor Greg, he had some difficulty wrapping gifts this year and even with his snazzy hat and glasses he's still doesn't have the holiday spirit.
 Every year the P.F.A. donates a tree to the library and the kids always have so much fun decorating it.
On a side note I got my first ever holiday card yesterday from an author/illustrator! I was beyond excited to receive it. Do you know who it's from?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Dragonflies Meet Dev Petty (Via Skype That Is!)

The Dragonflies and I have spent the last few weeks talking about author Dev Petty, looking at her books and wondering where her ideas come from. We were so excited to get a chance to meet her and ask her all the questions that we had. We learned so much!
Did you know that when she was younger she didn't write stories but she wrote poems and drew funny characters. She didn't start writing stories until she was an adult. The students had learned that she likes to think her stories completely through before she writes them on paper. The kids wanted to know where her favorite thinking spot was. Here is her answer:
We found out that she has an idea book and will put all sorts of things in it, tiny ideas, observations, everything because she doesn't want to forget them. If she doesn't have her notebook with her, she will talk into her phone so she doesn't forget them. She also told us that she gets ideas from kids because kids are so funny and you can learn a lot from them.
But what does she do when she runs out of ideas?
What else did we learn? 
1) She uses speech bubbles because she likes to write in dialogue and thinks it is a fun way to to read a book. Mike Boldt, the illustrator of the Frog books, decides where the speech bubbles go. 
2) Frog doesn't have a name! Why? Because she doesn't know if Frog is a boy or a girl, and she also likes not knowing if Frog is a boy or a girl. This is great because then Frog is someone that everyone can relate to. We offered some name suggestions and our favorite out of all of them was Art.
3) Dev tries not to get bored. She likes to go hiking, gardening, she draws and paints. She even plays with Lego's! She loves to make cars and Star Wars things out of them. So cool!
4) She has 2 dogs named Pickles and Oscar, a cat named John and a snake named Boots! We got to meet Pickles and think Boots is the best name for a snake ever. 
5) There is another Frog book coming out! It will be called I Don't Want to Go to Sleep. Her husband will be writing a new song for that book.  If you haven't heard the Frog songs that her husband wrote you have to check them out. They are amazing.  She has 3 other books coming out but they are top secret!
Thank you so much Dev for taking the time to meet with us. We had so much fun and can't wait to see all the new books you have coming out.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Dolphins Meet Tim Miller (Via Skype That Is!)

The Dolphins and I laughed, drew and asked a lot of questions to author/illustrator Tim Miller. It was a blast!
We got to take a peek into his idea book. It turns out he writes in it first thing in the morning every day, putting in whatever comes to mind. Everyday is different and he never knows where an idea is going to take him. He shared with us that creating in his idea book is just like playing and is a lot of fun. We also got to see an idea book that he started just a few days ago and that no one else had seen before, not even his wife to cats. We were the first! The illustrations were beyond amazing.
The kids were curious to find out what he did when he ran out of ideas. Here is the answer to that question.
We also learned that he wrote his first book when he was the students age. It was called Silly Willy and he still has it. The kids thought the title was hilarious and that it was so cool that he still had it.
Easter eggs are something that he liked to discover in books when he was younger and it all started with a book his aunt gave him called Miss Priscilla's Secret. After he read the book he went back and discovered the mice in it and all the silly things that they were doing. He puts Easter eggs in his books too. For example when Snappsy, of Snappsy the Alligator fame, goes grocery shopping one the jar of pickles is called Johnny Mac pickles. He named that brand after his friend who makes pickles! We also now have confirmation that it is Mr. Quackers at Snappsy's party and not some ordinary duck.

He shared with us that as we write we are going to make mistakes and that those mistakes are perfectly fine and that we need to make them. That's how we get better. He also told us it is important for us to know what we like so that we can write and draw about it. These are great tips that we are going to be reminding the students of throughout the remainder of the school year.

The kids were dying to learn how to draw Moo Moo. We had so much fun learning how to draw her and the directions were so easy to follow. Please note that noises while drawing are essential.
The kids did such a great job drawing Moo Moo that they all ended up getting jobs as Tim's assistant when they were all done. No more school!
What else? Well, we know what he is working on right now! We got to see some of the pictures and hear what the story is going to be about. I am not going to give it away, but I will tell you that the kids and I can't wait for it to come out and are beyond excited to read it.

Thank you so much Tim for taking the time to Skype with us. We learned so much from you and had the best time.

Side Note: Prior to the Skype session the kids and I had watched Tim draw on an episode of Ready, Set, Draw. I loved how easy he made drawing, creating his characters out of basic shapes.  He encourages his audience to create their own characters using shapes as he had demonstrated.  I decided it would be great to have the class do this. When I told him we were going to be doing this prior to meeting him, he shared that he had improved upon his idea and thought it would be cool for the kids to create characters using cut-out shapes as it is more tactile.  I ran with that idea! I cut out a wide variety of shapes in all different colors and sizes. The kids started out by shopping for shapes.
They then began to put their shapes together to create their characters.
Here are some finished products
But we didn't stop there. I thought it would be cool for them to also draw the character that they created and name them. They came out amazing! Here is just a small sample of them.