Thursday, 22 April 2010

FBA--Pete the Cat

Man alive, I love when a book is just so fun that I feel compelled to share it with every single kid that comes to see me during the week! Franki, from a Year of Reading, has a list called "Books I Could Read a Million Times," and Pete the Cat falls into that category for me.

The problem is that we don't even have the book in our library, but no matter! This youtube video has the author, illustrator and guitar player performing the fabulous story/song.

Thanks a million to Katie from Creative Literacy for sharing the book idea. Her blog is filled with great stuff, and I am constantly learning from her.

I dare you to watch the video and not find yourself singing the tune hours later.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Celebrating Characters We Love

A while back, a small group of 4th grade boys approached me and asked if I would help them start a Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief club. We sat down during a few lunch recesses and mapped out what they wanted to do, and before we knew it, their club idea morphed into what will hopefully be the first of many of our Celebrating Characters We Love events in the Hub.

We got many of our ideas from Rick Riordan himself at his site. (scroll down until you get to Percy Party Event Guide). Please note that because of the mature content in the book, we are only offering this event to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders--we felt like the little ones would have little connection to the book.

This is what ours is going to look like:

*Kids can come in costume if they want. I am planning a fabulous Medusa outfit!

*We will have 5 different activities that the participants will visit during the hour-long event. The plan is to have it be very organic and let kids move at their own pace, with teachers and/or parents supervising the areas.

*Activities will be in various areas of the Hub. The students have named the areas and we will have big signs directing partcipants.

1. Poseidon's Home-Make your own name tag in Greek letters (borrowed from the Rick Riordan site)

2. Hephaestus' Workshop/Tech zone-play games about Greek mythology (borrowed from this Rick Riordan site)

3. Mt. Olympus-Take a Percy Jackson quiz and try to be the person with the most correct answers for a prize (adapted from the Rick Riordan site)

4. The Underworld-Make a craft activity of either Medusa or a cyclops (borrowed from the Rick Riordan site)

5. Camp Half Blood-watch a short movie on Mt. Olympus

*Ambrosia (apple juice) and cookies will be served after the activities. If I am feeling really ambitious or find a parent who is, I'd love to serve the cupcakes above!

Mind you, it hasn't taken place yet, but it still seems to be stress-free, simple and fun from my perspective. Exactly how I want it to be.

Ours is on May 14! Can't wait. Here is the promotional video we are sending out to kids. Still loving Photopeach

yummy image from here

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Spilling Ink

There has been so much talk in the blogosphere about the new book by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter, Spilling Ink, that I knew I couldn't possibly wait to read it until August when our overseas book orders arrive. to the rescue! As luck would have it, the book was delivered mere minutes before I headed out the door to start my spring break vacation.

I blazed through it--dog-earing pages, nodding my head, all the while wishing I were a classroom teacher again. To go through the whole book with kids to see what resonates with them as writers. To share the 'realness' of Anne and Ellen (such voice these two have!) and how hard writing is but how good it also feels.

But mostly, I'd love to watch them dive into the chapter endings of 'I DARE YOU' ideas. My plan is to do more than a few of them myself and see what happens with my own writing.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

A Culture of Reading

Ever since discovering Donalynn Miller's The Book Whisperer last summer, I have become a better reader. Kid lit is the main ingredient in my reading diet, and I am surrounded by many, many rich stories. Even better, I have more to talk about with kids, and more books leave in readers' hands. A few months ago, I started to notice that students were bringing me their own personal books from home for me to read. It was after a few books arrived on my desk that I realized that the kind of authentic reading connections I wanted to have were beginning to take place.

Because this is what lifelong readers do--we love a book ourselves, rave about it and want someone else to read it so we can talk about it. I see the pride in a student's face when he or she volunteers their personal copy of Wimpy Kid to me. I feel the same when I know a book off my shelf will bring joy to a friend.

This kind of authentic connection also tells me that we have a culture of readers at ISB. Reading is cool at our school. It's a magical combination of awesome teachers giving them lots of choices, implementing readers and writers workshop, and a library chocked full of what they love.

Onto the picture I posted of Baby Island, the newest book brought to me from a home bookshelf. I was recently sharing with a group of 2nd graders how much I appreciate when people give me recommendations and how a parent had come in and told me how much she loved the book Princesses are Not Quitters! I confessed to them that princess books are not my favorite, but that I know I need to branch out as a reader, and I wound up loving the book (so did they!). Just then, a sweet girl said, "That's just like Baby Island for me." She told a bit about it and said she would bring it to me the next day.

And so she did. She brought me this book, published in 1937, that might have been the softest book I've ever held. I was perplexed and fascinated by this tale of two girls, aged 10 and 11, who are shipwrecked on a desert island with 4 toddlers. That's right--FOUR! The best part of it was that these girls were not stressed out at all, not for being shipwrecked nor for the prospect of entertaining 4 toddlers for an indefinite period of time. It was like a big playtime for them, which made me smile the whole time I was reading. Perplexing to me, but what a blast for a second grader.