Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fox In Socks

100 Books In 100 Days Update

As I'm sure most of you have noticed, I've long since given up on doing a book review a day during my '100 Books In 100 Days Challenge'. But what you haven't seen-well, unless you've secretly placed a bug/camera in my home-is that I'm still pluggin' along with the challenge. Every day I read a book, as stipulated in the challenge. And often times, I find myself reading more than the required book a day.

So stay tuned for the '100 Books In 100 days' tab. In it, I will list the 100 books that I've read, along with a book rating.

'Is My Idea Good?' By CBI Clubhouse

Ramp Up Your Tension By CBI Clubhouse

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Read Across America Activity #5

Playing dress-up isn't just for girls, and it isn't just an activity for the home. Try having a dress-up week at school to go along with your week's worth of book selections. Below is my schedule for 'Read Across America'

Monday-Read The Cat In The Hat and have Silly Hat Day

Tuesday-Read Fox In Socks and have Silly Sock Day

Wednesday-Read Green Eggs and Ham and have a Green Day

Thursday-Read There's A Wocket in My Pocket and have Wacky Outfit Day

Friday- Read The Sleep Book and have Pajama Day

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Read Across America Activity # 4

Create a who.

A who?

A who.

Wait. What do we do?

Create a who!

One of the things that is becoming increasingly important in education these days is cross curricular teaching. Simply put. You need to cram as much as you can into one activity to maximize a child's learning potential.

'Why?' you ask. Well, because a teacher's/child's day is getting shorter and shorter due to state mandated EXTRA stuff. And as a result, the days of teaching one subject at a time are gone. Instead, we are replacing them with activities that incorporate a lot of subjects at once a.k.a cross curricular teaching.

A great activity for cross curricular instruction during 'Read Across America Week' is creating a who. Below are the instructions for the activity, and a list of subjects/skills that you are practicing.

1. Read a Dr Suess book featuring a who OR have your students read a story independently or with a buddy. (comprehension, vocab, phonics,and fluency)

2. Create a who or whos on Suessvile. (art)

3. Cut it/them out and glue them to one or more writing papers.(art)

4. Write a story that goes along with your whos OR retell the story that you read in your own words. ( writing lesson or comprehension lesson, depending on writing or retelling)

Read Across America Activity # 3

Head over to the 'Read Across America' site on Suessville, and download your free activity booklet.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Read Across America Activity #2

Have a weekly read-a-thon in which your students graph their progress with little Cat In The Hat 'Hats'. This activity will double has a Math and Reading Activity, and push your kids to read as much as possible.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Activities For Read Across America

With Read Across America quickly approaching, I'd thought I'd share an activity a day that you can use in your own classroom or household (I haven't forgotten about you homeschoolers). So here's activity #1: Have an entire day or week of dressing up as characters from Dr. Suess' most beloved books. This will REALLY kick off your reading celebration, and get everyone in the mood to read.

At my school, the kindergarteners all make their own iron-on Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts and wear blue hair. It's a really cool tradition. The teachers buy the iron ons and hair, and the parents donate the red shirts. Which reminds me, I need to buy my own little one's red shirt. Guess who's the last 'who' to buy their kiddo's shirt? Yup. Me. Mrs. Responsible.

Above is a picture of myself and former intern, Ms. Jessie, posing in front of our bulletin board/reading graph. I'll talk more about the graph tomorrow. And, hopefully, I'll get down to my little kiddos Kindergarten classroom to take pics for you guys to see my little Thing 1 or Thing 2. SQUEE! I love Read Across America!

Want To Inspire Your Child To Become President...I Do

As a parent, teacher, and writer I believe that my children can be anything that they want to be when they grow up. Heck, I can be anything I want to be when I grow up, for that matter. But how do we inspire a nation of children to believe that they can become more, especially in a time when all they want to be is a rapper or an actor?

Well, by reading to them, ofcourse. And below are some books that are aimed at inspiring our children to apply for the top job in our country,the US Presidency.

When It comes to picture storybooks that inspire children to want to become president, my top pick goes to 'Grace For President' by Kelly Dipucchio. This book is at the top of my list for so many reasons: 1. The story starts out with a little girl realizing that we have never had a woman president in our country, so she sets out to become class president of her school. And at first, the boys laugh at Grace. But by the end the story, no one doubts that Grace can become president when she grows up. I practically tear up every time I get to the end of the book, and Grace is grown-up and being sworn in as president. My students actually think that it's quite funny. 2. This book is also awesome because it teaches children about electoral votes. And believe me, kids don't get that concept easily. But after reading Grace For President, that concept always seems to click. 3. This book shows that hard work will help you achieve your goals. And any book that inspires to children to want to work is ok by me.

'Duck For President' by Doreen Cronin comes it at a close number two on my list of top president themed books, but for entirely different reasons: 1. This book is just funny. In this story, Duck is fed up with many things, so he runs for one office after another. And the HILARIOUS thing about it all is that he's not even really qualified to do any of the offices that he's running for, but he just keeps climbing up the political ladder. Sound familiar to anyone? In the end, however, Duck realizes that being back at the farm is where he should be. So he ends his political career and goes back to being a duck. 2. 'Duck For President' is also a good story because it shows students that they really need to work hard if they want to acquire the top spot. And, again, any book that inspires kids to work hard is fine by me.

Rounding out the list of top three books that inspire small children to want to become president is 'My Teacher For President' by Kay Winters. And it's probably not going to come as a surprise as to why I like this book so much......uhmmmm...I'm a teacher. For years, I've ranted about how putting a highly effective teacher in the top position would totally solve our country's problems. And, apparently, Kay Winters also thought the same thing. Her book is adorable. Throughout the entire book, she lists the qualities that a president needs to possess in order to do a great job in office, and lists the qualities that most(not all) teachers already possess: kindness, being able to stop a fight, etc. All in all, this teacher gives 'My Teacher For President' an A++.

What is your favorite presidential themed book? Is it one of these books? I'd love to hear your comments.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Creating Life Long Readers

For some kids, reading is worse than doing chores or homework. And asking them to get out a book becomes a daily fight, a battle of the wills. 'Do I have to?' they whine. 'But I already read a book today!' Or my all-time favorite, 'But I've already met my AR goal, why do I have to read another one?'

For me-a writer and a teacher-it pains me to hear such things. Reading has been a hobby/obsession of mine since I learned how to blend letters into words, and I've got the library fines and borrowed/kept books to prove it. The library was like a second home to me. Stories have always fascinated me. Tales have always thrilled me. And I just love to READ! I simply CAN NOT imagine NOT wanting to read. So when I hear kids whining about reading, it's like telling me that you don't want to breathe, or drink, or eat. Simply put, it's unnatural.

So it got me wondering, what happened to these kids early on that made them so disinterested in reading? And how can we-the writers, parents, and teachers-encourage our children to become lifelong readers?

Below is a list of things that we can do to create an interest/spark in young readers. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments.

1. Read a book to your child every day. To me, this is a given. If you want your child to be a reader, then you should read to them daily. And not just for the sake of becoming a good reader, it's also a really great way to reconnect with our kids at the end of a busy day. A lot of snuggling and a bit of reading, can mean a WHOLE lot to your child. So just do it:)

2. Take your child to the library for books, readings, performances, author visits, etc. Your local library is a mecca of all things entertainment nowadays. Gone are the days of just books and quiet zones. Today's libraries are bustling with activities and awesomeness. So enjoy it! After all, your tax dollars helped paid for it. And sometimes hearing a book read and acted out by a pro can go a long way in the eyes of a child. So it's win-win for both parent and child.

3. Buy books as presents. Sure. Your kid wants the new wii game more than he/she wants to read a book. But in the end, what's going to provide your child with the necessary skills in life, reading or playing wii? Well, unless you said that your child is going to be a video game developer/creator, books are the way to go. Sure, they might whine a bit. But in the end, they'll read their books and be happy. And most of the time, we as parents, can afford to buy a little bit of both. So that's the way to go.

4. Read in front of your child. Every single time I get out a book, my sons try to get behind me and make out some of the words in my book. And often times, they'll run to their own bookshelves and grab some of their books for me to read aloud. While this annoys me sometimes because I'm totally reading my own book, I put my book down. Because at that moment, my kids are excited about reading. And even though I may be in the juiciest part of a new novel and dying to finish it, my kids are more important. So it's worth it! Not to mention, that one minute of being a role model might ALMOST make-up for the bad example that I set when I tripped and accidentally said a 'bad word'. Their words, not mine.

5. Turn off the t.v and dedicate some time to reading.
Saying that I LOVE television may just be the understatement of the century. In fact, I probably watch a little more than I should, if I'm being totally honest. But every night, we have the t.v off during certain hours. And honestly, my kids don't even miss it. They're just happy about reading the newest book from the library or cuddling with mommy. And twenty or thirty minutes a day is plenty of time to read a few books with your children. It doesn't even have to be every single day.

6. Find books that are right on their reading and interest levels, and then check them out with a frequency. If you're checking out books for your child that are of absolutely no interest to them or are too difficult for them to read, then you're setting your child up to hate reading. And reading will become a form of torture. So think about what your child likes when checking out books. Involve him/her in the checking out process. Let them look around the shelves themselves. If you do this, your child will be picking something that they are more likely to read. If you don't, your child may never even crack the cover open. Well, unless you force them, that is. And then, that kind of defeats the purpose of trying so hard to get them to WANT to read.

7. Enjoy reading. Have reading themed parties. Go to Reading Festivals. This is super fun for kids and moms. For Halloween, throw a book themed Halloween Bash. At the beginning of the school year, throw a Harry Potter themed back to school party. A friend of a friend did that last year, and it looked AWESOME. When my boys are old enough, we're totally doing that. The kids wore Hogwarts uniform/costumes, learned how to make potions and cast spells, watched the movies, and ate Hogwarts themed desserts. It was a huge success!

8. Create a reading zone. Set up a comfy chair and book shelf somewhere in your child's room. Use the space often. Make the space fun. With a few fun decorations, reading can become something that your kids will relish, not something that they loathe.

Do you know of any tried and tested reading tips? I'd love to hear them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Poem For Those On A Budget

Roses are red.
White is our door.
This poem's your gift
because I am poor.

* My husband really enjoyed his homemade card and poem.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Four Eyes

When I was just a little girl
my mama said to me,
that eating carrots every day
would help my eyes to see.

I chomped and slurped my vegetables,
and gave up eating sweets.
Instead of eating candy bars,
I gobbled healthy treats.

And all the while I hated it,
but somehow I got through.
I listened to my mom’s advice
and swallowed all that goo.

But then one day as I looked up,
I couldn’t see the class.
My teacher handed me a note-
a dreaded nurse’s pass.

She made me read a tiny sign
with blotches and ink drops.
I guess I didn’t score that well
because she called my Pops.

He took me to the eye doctor,
who said a dreaded word.
“Your daughter can not see at all.
Her vision is so blurred.

If you report to our front desk
they’ll give you what she needs,
a purple pair of reading specs
to wear each time she reads.”

And that’s the day I learned the truth
about my mother’s lies.
I know she thought that it was best,
but still I got four eyes.

So when your parents say “Eat up!”
and list the reasons why.
Remember, kids, it’s just a scam,
and eat your apple pie.

*This poem is based on true events.

And 22 years later, I'm still mad!

* And to all the kids who might be reading this,
spinach does not make you have muscles like Popeye.
That is a lie too!

Hommage To A Sunbather

There was a young gal who loved fun.
So she moved to the land known for sun.
She surfed and she swam,
And she baked like a ham.
Now she looks like a fresh toasted bun.

My New Obsession

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ironic Limerick

There was a young lass who loved words;
And the way they took flight, just like birds.
She read and she read
Til’ a book smacked her dead.
Then the mourners came calling in herds.