Sunday, December 23, 2018

Bagels From Benny Literature Circles

Last month two of my first grade classes asked if we could focus our literature circles on books about gratitude. I jumped at the chance to share Bagels From Benny by Aubrey Davis as
it has always been a favorite of mine. 
As we were reading the book, a lot of food questions came up. One group asked, "What is apple strudel?" We quickly googled apple strudel recipes and videos and found this one. They immediately asked if we could try out the recipe and I of course said, "YES!"
While I was slightly concerned with them coring, peeling and cutting apples, those fears went away the minute I found an apple peeler/corer at Williams Sonoma. The kids LOVED using it and it was so easy to use! I would highly recommend it.
We cored, peeled, sliced, mixed and rolled our way to apple strudel. They ended up making 4 strudels so that there was enough for the entire class. Yummy!
When I first meet with the kids in the second class who had signed up for the book, out of curiosity I asked them was why they had chosen the book. "I'm hungry" and "I love bagels," were popular answers. Before I could say anything else, one asked, "How do you even make bagels?" Since I had never attempted to make bagels, I quickly googled a recipe and found a video. Immediately after watching it, they wanted to make bagels, which none of us had ever done before. I told the kids that I wanted to try it at home first before I agreed to it. That weekend, I attempted my first batch of bagels. 
While they didn't turn out looking so hot, they tasted like a bagel and after doing some more research, I found a way to have them stay together as one piece and not break apart. Bagel making was on! Since our time was limited and the bagel dough needs 2 hours to rise, the kids understood that I would have to make the dough ahead of time. I made the dough the evening before and it had risen, I put in in the fridge where it continued to rise. Some of the recipes I had read recommended this as it gives the bagels a more authentic flavor. The kids  were in charge of the shaping, boiling and baking of the bagels. They did such an amazing job and their bagels turned out way better than the ones I had made at home!
They could not wait to share the bagels with their classmates. They loved them! Their teachers loved them and even wanted the recipe. Success!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Explorers Meet Jeff Mack (Via Skype That Is!)

I've got to tell you that Jeff Mack is the real deal. He is kind, gracious, patient and his love of what he does and who he writes and illustrates for shines through when you are Skyping with him.  Let me back it up though to the beginning. For the last few weeks the Explorers library time and literature circles have been focused on all things Jeff Mack. We even baked, see below. The kids were getting more and more excited each time that we met, knowing that they would soon be meeting the author and illustrator we had been talking about. 
The kids had a long list of questions for him, so we jumped right in with asking them. 
Here's what we learned: 
1) When he was in kindergarten he started liking monster stories.  In second grade he wrote a story about a skeleton who had trouble in school. When he walked down the halls, his bones rattled and when he ate a hot dog, it fell right out of his ribs! His teacher hung the story up in the classroom for everyone to see. He also loved superheroes and drew and wrote lots of stories about Spiderman.
2) He loves illustrating because he gets to show people what is in his imagination.
3) We had noticed that the characters in his picture books were animals and wondered why that was. He chooses to use animals because animals can do things and have things happen to them that people can't. For example in Good News, Bad News, they get chased by a bear and zapped by lightning. It is way less scary to have that happen to a rabbit and mouse than a person. 
4) Speaking of Good News, Bad News, even though it only has 3 words in it, it took him a year to write! When he started it had a lot of words in it, but as he began to make the pictures he realized his pictures showed a lot of what the words were saying. So, he went through the story and crossed everything that the pictures showed. In the end, there were only 3 words were left!
5) We got to meet McGee! McGee loves to be near Jeff when he is writing and illustrating. When he isn't sure how a story should go or what should happen next, he just pets McGee and that helps him to get new ideas. When McGee was a puppy he liked to be near him when he working so he stopped painting on the walls and moved to the floor so McGee can nuzzle up to him.  McGee would get paint on his tail and walk on his art palettes leaving little doggy footprints on the floor.
6) Clueless McGee used to be his favorite character. McGee and a pair of pajamas were the inspiration. But now it is Mr. Monkey! He gets to do interesting things, wears a tie and gets into trouble. We love him too!
7) We were beyond thrilled when Jeff agreed to teach us how to draw Mr. Monkey. He broke it up in easy to follow directions and went slowly so we could all follow along. You can listen to the advice he gave us about drawing in the video below. I am so glad that he talked to us about this.

The kids were so focused while they were drawing with them.
Here's just two of their finished illustrations.
Here's Jeff's finished Mr. Monkey.
After drawing together it was sadly time to say goodbye. Thank you so much Jeff for spending time with us. We had an absolute blast and can't wait to see what fun things Mr. Monkey does next.
Now onto the baking!
The Explorers and I read Mr. Monkey Bakes A Cake, which we thought was hilarious. Prior to reading it, I asked the kids what we needed to bake a cake and as we read we checked our ingredient list with his. We couldn't believe how close we were. We decided to try baking a banana cupcakes ala Mr. Monkey. I found a recipe that I thought would work. The kids had a blast adding ingredients, mashing bananas, mixing and measuring.
 They smelled amazing while they were baking. Because of the time of day that we baked them, we weren't able to frost them that day since they needed time to cool.
At snack time the next day, the kids frosted and ate their cupcakes. I had made a simple buttercream frosting, but a cream cheese frosting would have been better. They loved the cupcakes and were picking up each and every last crumb to eat. Delish!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Na Honu Meet Carter Higgins (Via Skype That Is!)

The excitement had been growing for quite sometime. Na Honu kept asking, "Is today the day?" "How much longer until we get to meet Carter Higgins?" and I finally got to answer, "It's time! Isn't it exciting?!" 
We discovered right away that we have some things in common even though we live in different places. What are they?
1) We all have palm trees and can see them outside our windows.
2) We all are authors! We all started being authors in kindergarten! In fact she shared that the best thing about being an author is that we get to make stuff up. Whether we write our stories using words or pictures, we are authors!
The kids love her book, Everything You Needs For A Tree House and they loved exploring the different treehouses in the book with Carter. We learned that she didn't have a treehouse growing up even though she really wanted one. She didn't have the tree, anything to build with or hammer.  We shared with her some of the things we would put in our treehouses and they varied from a purple slide into a hot tub, a ball pit, a coke machine and hot chocolate to peace and calm.
We noticed a picture of a chicken on the wall behind her and had to know if the chicken was a character from an upcoming book. Turns out it wasn't...yet. So we gave her some ideas as to what the chicken, who we named BawkBawk, would do. So if you see a book about a chicken doing backflips on a farm while singing a song, know that we had a hand in that!

We were then THRILLED that she shared with us her new
book Bikes for Sale and she said we were the first kids to ever hear it!  I wish I could tell you about it, but all I can say is buy it when it comes out on April 2, 2019! The kids absolutely loved it and we can not wait to add it to the library collection.

So what else did we learn?
1) She has a pile of books next to her bed and loves to read funny kids books, books with animals and magical books.
2)) You are not going to believe this but she is a character in This is Not a Valentine. She was drawn into the book by the illustrator. How fun is that!
3) Books make her happy. Having an empty bag of pretzels makes her sad and running out of books to read breaks her heart.

Thank you so much Carter for taking the time to Skype with us! We had the best time with you!

Side Note: As we were preparing for our Skype with Cater, we read Everything You Need For A Treehouse. I decided it would be fun for the kids to design their ultimate treehouse. The amount of focus they had while drawing them out was amazing and the details! Holy Moly! Some of the treehouses were over the top complete with waterparks, hot tubs and more living space than their current homes have, while others were simple play spaces that just happened to be in a tree.  They then shared all the features of their treehouses using Book Creator. It was their first time using it and I think they turned out well. Here a just a two of them.


Monday, December 3, 2018

The Flying Fish and Dragonflies Meet Barney Saltzberg (Via Google Hangout That Is!)

There is no better way to start your week than with singing, laughing, drawing, wearing crazy hair, and sharing stories with Barney Saltzberg. Two of our kindergarten classes got to do just that. The kids were in full crazy hair wonderfulness for our Google Hangout.  Their heads were filled will all sorts of amazing colors, multiple rubber bands, ribbons, toys and all other sorts of other accessories. One student had turned her hair into a Christmas tree and another a bird's nest.
We started off singing A Little Bit of Oomph, which was a lot of fun. Barney then read to us Cornelius P. Mud Are You Ready For Bed?  This is a book that you can not read with your eyes closed, if you skip the pictures, you miss the most important part of the story. The kids loved seeing the story that pictures told because they sure didn't match the words. 
We were thrilled that we got a chance to see Barney draw. He started off drawing by drawing Stanley from Crazy Hair Day  and Star of the Week.
We then watched him erase most of Stanley, just keeping his eye, and then turn that eye into so many amazing and hilarious characters. The kids were truly in awe. Here are just 2 of the pictures he drew, but he seriously must have drawn at least 20 and he was so fast!
He started to draw a cat, but "Oops," he made a mistake  He talked to us about how we shouldn't crumple that picture up and throw it away. We can still turn it into something amazing. Just play with it, turn the paper around, you never know what it can be turned into. Here's what he turned his "Oops" into.
We got to sing along with him as he played Shopping With My Dog.
After he read Hug This Book and Crazy Hair Day to us, we had the chance to ask him so questions.  So what did we learn?
1) His favorite place to write is in his studio, which is where we met him.  It could be the moon but he's never been there so he's not really sure.
2) Stanley is a hamster, not a football.
3)He plays the guitar, a little piano, the bass and the banjo.
4) His dogs are always in his office and we got to meet Ollie who licked his face over and over. He is so cute!
5) One of the kids had wanted to know what makes him happy, what makes him sad and what breaks his heart. We found out that dogs make him happy, not having dogs make him sad and when Arlo passed away, his heart was broken.

Thank you so much Barney for spending time with us. We had such an amazing time with you and learned so much!
One More Thing....

Before we met Barney, we read Arlo Needs Glasses. The kids thought the book was hilarious and loved how Barney got the idea for the book.  They also loved the song and video he made to go along with it. They began to create their own Arlo's using oil pastels. They were so focused on making them and they turned out amazing!
If you are interested in creating your own Arlo's, there are great directions here and I got the template for the glasses here
Ok...Make it Two More Things!
On June 7th, Barney will be coming to Hawaii to speak at the Read to Me International Conference! Mark your calendars! Save the date, you won't want to miss it!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

December Bulletin Boards

While it's not quite yet December, we have already decked the library out in full holiday spirit!
Seasons Readings to you all!
Happy Hanukkah!
Poor Greg! He's gotten himself all tangled up in holiday decorations yet again!
I was so excited to get my first holiday card of the year and for it to be from the amazing Deborah Freeman is even more thrilling! The artwork is from her upcoming book Carl and the Meaning of Life. The illustration is stunning and I love seeing a friend from Shy in it. I can't wait for it to come out in April!
I'll post pictures of our library Christmas tree as soon as it arrives! Our fabulous PFA will be donating and delivering one to us this weekend!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

November Bulletin Boards

While our students are too young to vote, it is never to early to let them know how important it is to do so. 
My least favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because I can't stand turkey. I would much rather gobble up a book that that.
 Poor Greg. We don't even have fall here and he still somehow managed to get covered in leaves.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Little Free Libraries

I am beyond excited because in May we are shutting down our temporary location and beginning the process of moving into our newly built library! In anticipation of that there has been a massive wedding of the library going on. Why box up and bring over books that they children are no longer reading? After offering the books to the teachers, students and area schools, what do we do with what's left?
I have been filling up the Little Free Libraries in my community. After I did it the first time, I drove or walked by and saw that most of the books were gone. I grabbed 4 more bags full and made another delivery.
 The library below had a really great selection of children and adult books.
 I may have gotten scolded for parking in the driveway while stocking up this one, but once they realized what I was doing they were fine with it.
 I stuffed as many books as I could fit into this one. There was only one book left from my last donation 2 weeks ago.
There are still two more Little Free Libraries in my community that I didn't get to fill up on this go round. When I get to school tomorrow, I am packing up more books and planning on filling those too.
Follow-up: After adding books to libraries I hadn't been able to fill last week, I stopped by the libraries I posted above to add some more books. I was told by one of the libraries, that they "had concerns" that it was "too much" and that they didn't want anymore of my books. Hmmmmm.....I'm not sure how I feel about this. Are they upset that people have been visiting their library? Is it the quality of what I have been leaving behind or is it where the materials are coming from? I'm not sure, but I will not be loading this one again.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Na O'opu Meet Adam Lehrhaupt (Via Skype That Is!)

There truly is no better way to start your day that with Adam Lehrhaupt. You are guaranteed to laugh, learn and if you are lucky, have a wild rumpus.
All of our students are huge fans of his books, but this class reaches a whole nother level of fandom. So when I told them they were going to meet him via Skype, they freaked out.
Prior to meeting us, Adam had been on his couch (his favorite writing spot), working on his upcoming book. I am not sure if I am allowed to tell you about it, so all I will say is that there is a bear in it and we are dying to read it.
The kids were shocked and excited to learn that there was only one book of his that they didn't know and that was Word Play. He shared with them that he started off with only 6 sentences and that he revised it 53 times to get to the book it is today! The more he revised it, the prouder he was of his work. Here's a snippet of him reading us the beginning of Word Play.
He doesn't revise all of his books that many times. He typically revises them between 25-30 times. These revisions are important because the book gets better every time, making it more fun for the reader to read. The kids had a ton of questions for him. Here's what they found out.
  • The idea for his chicken books come from 2 books/movies, Don Quixote and Baron Munchausen. Which are basically about characters whose friends love them so much that they go along with whatever crazy story/thing they come up with. Zoey has crazy ideas and Sam goes along with them.
  • Mistakes are super important and he's not afraid to make them. He tried to learn how to surf when he was visiting Hawaii and fell off, got bonked on the head by the board but that didn't stop him from trying and eventually he stood up on the board. He doesn't give up on his writing either. When he was in first grade he wrote his first story called The Little Red Airplane which he read to us and said was a terrible story. Why? There was something missing from it, a problem. He didn't give up though, he kept trying. The more he wrote and learned about writing, the better it got.
  • His favorite book as a child was Where the Wild Things Are. He likes that Max really wants to go to a place where there are no consequences for his misbehaving and when he gets there, he's not happy even though he gets to be the king. Plus who doesn't love a book with a wild rumpus in it?! The kids were thrilled when Adam suggested we have  a wild rumpus with him.
    Thank you so much Adam for making the time to meet, laugh and wild rumpus with us. We had the best time and are counting down to March when Chicken in Charge comes out.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

October Bulletin Boards

I love decorating the library for Halloween! For the "Carve Out Time To Read' bulletin board, I took a giant dot that had been created for a Dot Day bulletin board a few years ago and turned into  a pumpkin. There was a group of kids who wanted to help and they added all the pieces of tissue paper.
 "Caught Reading" features spider books
 Greg loves a costume and is part witch and part Dracula this year.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Fourth Graders Meet Tae Keller (In Person That Is!)

It's not everyday that an author comes into town and speaks to our students. It's even rarer to have that the author be an alum of your school! The kids could not believe it and the excitement and countdown to Tae's visit began. Tae had a busy week at our school, meeting with high school classes, being filmed for our school news program, conducting assemblies for 5th and 6th graders and giving four presentations to our fourth graders. What a week!
From the moment Tae began to share her writing journey with us the kids were hooked. They laughed as she told them stories of how her sister tortured her Barbie dolls and were in absolute shock when she explained the reason why she stopped writing in middle school. I am so glad that she shared that with us as it is an important reminder to kids that our words can have a powerful impact on someone.
The Science of Breakable Things started off as a single scene, frog dissection. She wasn't sure she should write it, but after encouragement from her sister, she began to write After only a month she had her first draft! One year and 20 drafts later....she had a finished book! She later read us that scene, which is chapter 3, of the book. There's a snippet of her reading it a little further down.
What else did we learn from her?
1) She aspired to be a macaroni noodle at one point in her life.
2) She would join her mom, author Nora Okja Keller, at her book signings and Tae would sign her name in the books alongside her mom. Her mom was on hand to introduce her at a few of the presentations.
3) The character Twig is inspired by her sister and there is a part of her that is like the main character Natalie.
4) Kate DiCamillo inspires her and she loves Because of Winn Dixie. When she was in school she loved reading Magic Tree House books
5) Her favorite genres are realistic fiction and fantasy.
6) If she wasn't an author she would be a teacher or a scientist.
7) She has a dog named Spike.
Oh! One more super cool thing! She shared with us that she is currently working on her second book which is inspired by the Korean folktales that her grandmother would read to her as a child. I don't know if I can tell you what the book is about, but it sounds amazing. She and her editor have been going back and forth on titles, they have gone through 50 of them so far! She shared 3 of them with the kids and they chose their favorite. We can't wait to see if their pick is what she ends up going with.
Thank you Tae for taking the time to meet us, share your story and answer all of our questions. We are so grateful and can't wait to see what's next for you!