Wednesday, May 30, 2018

May Bulletin Boards

These bulletin boards have been up all month long but with all that has been going on, I haven't posted them yet. Since we are open in the summer for kids who are attending summer school, it's great to have bulletin boards that I can leave up from May-July.
"Pop Into the Library This Summer" is all about books that have been turned into movies.
"Inching Towards Summer" is all about worms and other critters that inch or crawl there way through the day.
Poor Greg, last month he was confused about April showers. This month he is covered in May flowers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Dolphins and Sea Horses Meet Josh Funk (Via Skype That Is!)

It all started with Emily Arrow's visit. One of the first grade classes wanted to create a song based on a book by an author they loved, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk. Three other classes immediately jumped on board and began to write with them. Once the bridge of the song was completed, by a class who had Skyped with Josh in the past, we were ready to record it. But, what fun is that without an audience?! There was no better audience for this than Josh himself. We quickly got him on Skype and debuted the song. It was a smash hit!  Josh said it was his favorite Emily Arrow song. After we ended the Skype with him one of the kids said, "It was good to see Josh again, I've missed him." That, plus the song, spurred our 3rd Skype visit with Josh.
The kids were beside themselves when they heard that they were going to get the ultimate sneak peek of the new Lady Pancake book, Mission Defrostable (in stores September 4th). The classes were absolutely silent, minus the laughing, and loved seeing what their favorite characters had been up to. I am totally not going to spoil the story, but trust me you'll love it, we did!
The kids were curious about so many things about Josh and his writing, but we narrowed it down to just a few.
1) He didn't really like to write stories as a child, but he did write poems. They were about his favorite sports teams and players. He didn't really write stories until his kids were born and he began reading to them. He read them books like Iggy Peck Architect and The Curious Garden and discovered books for kids were about so many more things than they were when he was a child. He does still write poems and likes to write funny ones and ones that will gross his wife and kids out, like the one he wrote about a cat pooping all over the house. One of his favorite poetry books right now is Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander.

2) The best ideas come to him when he is 1/2 asleep and 1/2 dreaming so he keeps a notepad and pencil by his bed to write the ideas that pop into his head down. He says when we are kids we have the best ideas so we should write them all down now so that when we become old we'll be able to look back at all of our fabulous ideas and use them for our stories.

3) The idea for Mission Defrostable came after seeing the fold down pages in the first Last Pancake book. He saw a character popping their head out of the freezer and wanted to know more about their world in the freezer.

4) Josh played the piano when he was younger and liked books like Sylvester and the Magic Penny, Caps for Sale, Courdery and Cam Jansen. He absolutely loved Charlotte's Web when it was read aloud to him and begged his family to get a copy so he could know what was happening with Wilbur and Templeton.

5) He plays the guitar now and likes to play with his daughter who is learning how to play. His also likes to play ultimate frisbee, bedroom basketball and video games with his kids.

As we were saying goodbye to Josh and thanking him for spending time with us, he reminded us to   thank our teachers. They are the ones who do all the hard work and we should end each day by giving them a standing ovation. You're right Josh! Teachers are amazing people.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Dear Emily Arrow,

Dear Emily Arrow,
It has been a week since you left and we haven't stopped thinking about our time together or singing the fabulous songs that you helped us to write. I can't walk down the hall without being stopped by a teacher who wants to talk about the impact you made not only on their students but the impact you made on them. Teachers were blown away by your ability to breakdown songwriting in a way that their young students could understand. They loved how you rhymed with the kids and helped them arrange their ideas into song lyrics. You held the student's attention in the palm of your hand.  You made each student feel as though they were heard and you honored all of their ideas.  We discovered that we are all songwriters. 

From the moment you walked onto campus the kids were in awe. They raced up to hug you and didn't want to let go. You are truly a rock star to them and will forever be known to them by your first and last name. Na Honu were honored to sing Follow Your Arrow with you in Chapel. Since you've been gone, I've heard the students shouting, "I found an Emily Arrow book!" when they enter the library and then they breakout into the song you wrote to go with that book. The students have been sharing with me how much they adore you, how much fun they had with you and how much they miss you. They constantly ask, "When is Emily Arrow coming back?"

Emily, you awakened something in each and everyone of us. 
We will be forever grateful for the time we spent together and hope that you will come back again some day soon.
Your Friends in the K-1 Omidyar Neighborhood
P.S. Turn South!

Here are just a few of the highlights from our visit with Emily. 
Starting off our visit with a performance in our Community Room was the prefect way to start. We had a blast singing and dancing with Emily.
All of the kindergarten and first grade classes had a chance to work with Emily. While each class worked on a different part of the song, they all learned the various parts of the song.
Storytelling, rhyming and trying various melodies and lyrics came next.
While we can't share the finished songs, we were able to write 3 amazing ones in just 3 days! They were based on Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk and Shy by Deborah Freedman. The songs are so catchy that they are playing on repeat in our heads. We were lucky enough to have share our final version of Shy with Deborah Freedman via video and we got to sing to Josh Funk via Skype.
Emily made learning the parts of a song super easy and we enjoyed identifying all the parts by singing Be A Friend with her. Jazz hands forever!
Emily answered a bazillion of our questions and made us laugh.
Needless to say fun was had by each and everyone of us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

April Bulletin Boards

Since April is Poetry Month, why not pick a poem instead of a flower?
The wind is blowing this month as we are soaring to new heights.
Poor Greg. He missed understood the saying, "April showers bring May flowers." He didn't realize it was referring to the rain and he got ready to take a shower.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Best Things About My Trip to New York!

For me, a trip to New York isn't complete without a stop at Books of Wonder. I'm always looking to see what amazing author and illustrator events that they are having and dream of being able to attend one on day.  I was thrilled to see that there was going to be an event while I was there featuring 5 Caldecott Winners. As soon as I saw that, I scheduled my day around it. Each author/illustrator spoke of their latest project which, totally unplanned, had the theme of  worrying if they aren't good enough.
Diane Dillon spoke of I Can Be Anything! Don't Tell Me That I Can't!  She shared what the illustration process had been like with her husband, how they worked in thumbnails, the third artist concept and how she draws inspiration from a variety of sources like art nouveau, sculptures and paintings. Emily Arnold McCully, spoke about Caroline's Comet and how she is always looking for little known women of importance to write about. 
Chris Raschka spoke about his illustrations in the poetry book The Death of the Hat. He read one of the poems out of the book about trees. He found out that he won the Caldecott for Yo! Yes? from a message on his answering machine and didn't quiet know what it was. When he looks at other peoples illustrations he thinks "That's beautiful" and "That's fantastic" and is currently really enjoying the style of Seth, a Canadian cartoonist.
David Ezra Stein read his newest book Honey to us, which is a sequel to Leaves. He shared that he often wonders if his work is good enough, but that he just keeps going and then things just seem to click. He takes inspiration from everywhere and everything. He was eating a bowl of oatmeal when he received the call that he had won the Caldecott and shared that that win really put him on the map.
David Wiesner shared his latest, I Got It! which he called "wordy," since there are 3 words in it. It's all about a boy in the outfield and that moment when the ball is falling, which while is only a second, can feel like an eternity. He pointed out to us that when he is sharing all the thoughts racing though the boy's head as he's trying to get the ball, he eliminates the clouds and sky and uses just white space. He said it can be a challenge to find the visual equivalence to words. He's inspired by Virginia Lee Burton and Melissa Sweet. When he won the Caldecott for Flotsam, he thought, "This can't be happening." 
One interesting side note: When I asked them all about the moment they got the call from the Caldecott Committee saying that they had won, many thought it was a prank and didn't really understand what the Caldecott was. They also brought up their experiences on The Today Show and while I am not going to go into specifics, they were not entirely positive experiences.
What else did I do besides visit Books of Wonder? I was lucky enough to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Because of #KeeptheSecret, I won't say much other than 1) You need to see it! The acting, the story, the effects are phenomenal. 2) Every person I encountered who works at the Lyric Theater went above and beyond. They were kind, welcoming, gracious and extremely attentive. As I left the theater after Part One they said, "See you tomorrow" and I was greeted with a "Welcome back," when I returned the next night for Part Two.
A visit to the New York Public Library is also a must visit. While I think the children's section could use some sprucing up, I do enjoy seeing the stuffed animals that inspire Winnie the Pooh.
 Fortitude was doing fantastic job keeping watch over the library.
I love booktalking Manhattan Mystery by John J. Bonk and every time I do so, I read an excerpt that talks about the Whispering Gallery at Grand Central Station. The kids always ask about it and I make a mental note to visit it the next time I go to New York and every time I go, I forget to visit it. But this year I didn't! I did however forget to take a picture. It's amazing! It works just like the book said it did, is right by an oyster restaurant as the book says and kids were having a blast playing with it while I was there. I can't wait to share this with the kids at school.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Explorers Meet Lauren Castillo (Via Skype That Is!)

For the last few weeks The Explorers have been pouring over Lauren Castillo's books, studying them both in the library and during our additional literature circle time. They have been making amazing connections with the books and making discoveries about the pictures as they talk and look over them. Because of this, they couldn't wait to meet her via Skype and ask her a bazillion questions.
Lauren started off by sharing Nana in the City with them. She shared with them her inspiration behind the story. You can hear that story below.
They were thrilled to hear her read the story, especially since the first question they had for her was about Nana in the City. The kids knew that Nana was inspired by her own Nana and wondered why she wasn't the child in the book.  It turns out that she didn't want to draw herself into the book and since the little boy is a mix of herself and her brother, she drew a little boy that looked like her broiler did at that age.

What else did we learn?
1) She creates texture when she enlarges her pictures. All her pictures start off small and when they get enlarged, the lines get thicker and grainy. When she adds the watercolor to her pictures, which is her favorite medium to work with, she can create texture by adding layers of paint and then she adds salt into the wet watercolors. We tried this out later that day. You can see our results at the end of this post.
2) When thinking of new characters she is inspired not only by her memories but by her brother too. Some of her characters personalities come from her dogs. For example in the hedgehog book that she is currently working on the mole is based on one of her dogs and the beaver on another.
3) When she put Nana in Yard Sale that was the first time she had ever put one of her characters into another book. We are hoping that she does it again because we loved finding her.
4) She shares a studio with another illustrator and she has 2 desks there, one for writing and another for illustrating. When we met her she was working from home because it was quieter and she was working on the writing portion of her new hedgehog book. We can't believe we might have to wait 2 years to see the finished hedgehog book!
5) The next Nana book, Nana in the Country, is kind of on hold right now since the hedgehog book has taken over. Fingers crossed that it will come out in 2020.
At the end of our time together we asked if she had any tips about being an author or illustrator. She shared that whenever she travels she carries her sketchbook with her because she never knows when she will see something that she wants to record. She might see an idea that she might want to turn into a story one day.
She also told us to write, draw and read a lot. Reading can give us ideas and expose us to things that we had never seen before.
Thank you Lauren for spending time with us. We learn so much from you.

Here are some of our pictures inspired by Lauren's characters and using her watercolor and salt method of creating texture.
We discovered that the less color we used and the more water we used changed our results. 
We also learned that if we had to sprinkle the salt quickly, before the watercolors could dry and that if we used too much salt, it wouldn't dissolve, just stick to our paintings.
We had so much fun experimenting with this and love the results.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

March Bulletin Boards

WooHoo! Our March bulletin board are already up! With so many holidays this month, it was easy to decide what books we were going to highlight.
"Books Are As Good As Gold" focuses on St. Patrick's Day and Ireland.
"Every Bunny Loves A Book" is all about Easter and bunnies.
Greg is having a bit of an identity crisis this month. He can't decide which holiday he likes better so he is dressed for both!