Category Archives: Mindfulness

Back to School 2021 – Books for Building Class Community

Well, it’s that time of year again… August is quickly passing by and we are starting to make that mental shift to our classrooms. It might be a good time to start gathering some books to share during those first few weeks back. I love sharing picture books to help to build class community so thought I’d share my latest favorites (and some old favorites as well!)

A Letter From Your Teacher on the First Day of School – Shannon Olsen

Every year, new books are released at this time to coincide with the start of school. And every year, one stands out to me as the “must have” back to school book. A “Letter from Your Teacher: on the First Day of School” by Shannon Olsen (author of Our Class is a Family) is on the top of my list this year! Told in the voice of a teacher, the rhyming text captures the feelings, hopes and expectations of a new school year. What a perfect book for your first week back and a great way to build a positive learning environment in your classroom.

How to Get Your Teacher Ready – Jean Reagan

The latest in the “How to” series (How to Babysit Grandpa, etc.) is out just in time for back to school! This book puts the roles in reverse by showing children getting their teacher ready for their school year instead of the other way around. Great for showing kids that teachers get nervous, too!

How to Be Kind in Kindergarten – D.J. Steinberg

Attention Kindergarten teachers and Kindergarten parents! Here is a wonderful new picture book perfect for back to school! “How to Be Kind in Kindergarten” by D.J. Steinburg is a collection of short poems that spans the entire year of kindergarten, offering simple, practical tips on how to show kindness: sharing your umbrella with a friend; taking turns on the swings, inviting someone to join in a game. Small book – perfect for a backpack! LOVE!

Don’t Hug Doug (He Doesn’t Like It) – Carrie Finison

Doug does not like hugs! They are “too squeezy, too squashy, too squooshy, and too smooshy!” But just because Doug doesn’t like hugs doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you! Fun, light-hearted and upbeat but introduces important topics to younger children about consent and respecting boundaries in an accessible way. Great for discussions and making connections.

Be Strong Pat Zieltow Miller

SOOOO excited about this BRAND NEW book “Be Strong” by Pat Zeitlow Miller, author of Be Kind. A young girl, discouraged she can’t climb the climbing wall in gym, learns there is more to being strong than just physical strength. Such a great book for discussion and includes themes of perseverance, leadership, and caring. SO many things to love about this one! I would recommend it as an anchor for the “One Word Activity” using the word “strong”.

IMPORTANT: if you are have or are planning to order the Primary GearPicks Pack – DO NOT ORDER this book! (You can infer the rest!!!)

Listen – Gabi Snyder

Beautiful, mindful story about slowing down and paying closer attention to nature. I love the soft, quiet tone of the story and the grey-blue pallet. Would make a great anchor book to read before heading outside for a quiet, mindful moment!

Little Fox Has Feelings – Didi Dragon

While there are many books about feelings, I love how, rather than managing emotions, this author focuses on naming and acknowledging them. Delightful, likeable main character and adorable illustrations.

My Unique Name – Chynika Wright

I do love books about names and this new book is definitely being added to my collection! In this story, you’ll meet a little girl who gets frustrated when others cannot pronounce her name properly.  This story sends a strong message of empowerment, confidence, and celebrating uniqueness! Would make a great read-aloud before your students make nametags for their desks!

Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners – Laurie Keller

This book is a few years old but a “go to” for the beginning of the year to introduce manners and the “golden rule”. When a family of otters moves in next door, Rabbit is not sure how to treat them. But Wise Owl gives him some advice to “do unto otters”! This one is quirky and laugh-out-loud funny!

You’re Finally Here! – Melanie Watt

In a Mo Willams “Pigeon” style, this bunny speaks directly to the reader, telling them how LONG he has been waiting for them.   Melanie Watts’ style is fun, playful, and very easy to read aloud because the humour keeps readers engaged in the story. to read with your new class.

Our Favorite Day of the Year – A.E. Ali

So much to love and so many lesson ideas with this book – one of my favorites from 2020. After their teacher tells them the first day of school is her favorite day of the year, a group of kindergarten students get the opportunity to share their favorite day with their classmates. As the school year progresses, many different cultures, traditions, and observations are introduced and shared between each classmate.  A wonderful anchor book for celebrating favorite cultures and traditions.

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We Don’t Eat our Classmates – Ryan T. Higgins

Oh my goodness – SUCH a funny book!   Yes, there are many “back to school” books to choose from… but this is definitely one I recommend.  So fresh and funny, but teaches empathy so beautifully.  A perfect read-aloud or gift for that young one who might be experiencing “back to school jitters”.

Germs vs. Soap – Didi Dragon

This book was released last summer but it might be another good reminder to reinforce the importance of handwashing. Love the clever, memorable language, playful illustrations and humour.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you found one or two titles that you are excited about sharing with your new class this fall. Happy reading, everyone and remember – if you want your students to love to read, then read amazing books aloud to them every single day!

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Filed under Back to School, Connect, Cultural Celebrations, Diverse Children's Books, Emotions, Feelings, Friendship, Mindfulness, New Books

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? – Fantastic Fall Favorites (Part 1)

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Ooooooo…. I just can’t help myself!  The new picture books that have been coming out in the last few weeks are SOOOOOO good – I am bursting with book love!   There are so many that I have decided to share a few each Monday this month.  Here we go with Part 1….

Steve, Raised By Wolves – by Jared Chapman

LOL!  This book is hilarious and would make a brilliant back to school read-aloud for any grade! Young Steve is literally raised by wolves.  Mother wolf sends him on his first day of school with this advice:  “Just be yourself!”.   So Steve proceeds to do just that – howling in class, shredding homework, marking his territory, drinking from the toilet and pouncing on his classmates!  His behavior does not go over well!  In the end, Steve saves the day and helps to find the class pet.  Great book for discussing appropriate school behavior as well as what it means to “be youself”.

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We Forgot Brock! – Carter Goodrich

A charming take on the imaginary friend story with delightful illustrations. Heart-warming and funny. A must read for anyone with an imaginary friend or for anyone who ever wanted one! Great story for making connections with younger students. 

I am YogaSusan Verde

Yoga is a wonderful practice to incorporate into your weekly classroom routine.  This book, written by a certified yoga instructor, would be a wonderful book to introduce your students to this calming, strengthening practice.  In this gentle introduction , children are encouraged to explore the world of yoga and to open their hearts to the world.  A child-friendly guide to 16 yoga poses is included in the back.  Icing on the cake are the illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds.

Words –  Lora Rozler

Wow. This book. So clever. So visual. So emotional. So provocative. So powerful. So transforming. I am almost speechless it is that good. It is the story of a lonely letter who sets off on a journey to find meaning. Through his various encounters, he combines with different letters, forming different words:  some hurtful and some helpful – eventually leading him to make a choice which word he would like to join.  On one level, it is a book about how letters become words and words become meaning but on another level, it is about the power of words and how words can build up or destroy. It is also about belonging, about making choices, about discovering and an underlying theme of anti-bullying.  This book is definitely one I would use for transform.  Watch a trailer for this book here.

Job Wanted – Teresa Bateman

This heart-warming book tells the tale of an elderly dog who shows up on a farm, inquiring about getting a job.  The farmer tells him he doesn’t need a dog because they just eat and never give anything back.  So the determined dog comes up with very creative ways to persuade the farmer that he is a useful addition to the farm.  A great read aloud with a subtle message about being determined and valuing others.  I fell in love with this dog – an adorable, creative, persistent hero.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox – Danielle Daniel

Wow – I was not expecting this book to be SO full of wonderful, teachable connections! It is introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals told through young children who explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver or moose. Delightful illustrations show the children wearing masks representing their chosen animal.  Simple text written as simple poems with a gentle reminder of how there are elements of all these animals in each of us.  In an author’s note, Danielle Daniel explains the importance of totem animals in Anishinaabe culture and how they can also act as animal guides for young children.  After reading the book, students could chose the animal they identify most with.  Also a wonderful link to a Social Studies, Art, Drama and Writing lesson.

Island Morning – Brenda Jones

A gentle story of a girl and her grandfather’s early morning walk through the fields of Prince Edward Island.  Beautiful descriptions of the scenery make this a perfect book for visualizing.  I also loved the special relationship between the grandfather and granddaughter as they enjoy the beauty together.

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West Coast Wild – A Nature Alphabet – Deborah Hodge

I am extremely fortunate to live on the West Coast of British Columbia. It is a majestic, magical place. This stunning alphabet book by local author Deborah Hodge explores the fascinating ecosystem of the Pacific west coast, from ancient       rainforests, to rugged beaches and a vast open ocean.  The book also explores the interconnectedness of the rich marine life found in and around the shores and forests.  Breathtaking illustrations, gorgeous descriptions, fascinating facts – this book is a must have for any West Coast teacher!

That’s all the books for this week!  Check out my “Part 2” next week!  Thanks for stopping by and I’d love to know which book caught your eye!

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Filed under 2015 releases, It's Monday, making connections, Mindfulness, New Books, Picture Book, Social Studies

Top 10 Tuesday – Ten Books about Paying Attention and Noticing the World

top 10

I’m excited to join the Top Ten Tuesday posts, a meme created by The Broke and Bookish and inspired by my bookish-teacher-blogger friend, Carrie Gelson – There’s A Book for That. (I realize that I am breaking rules as I am not following the Top 10 posted categories and instead creating my own!)

In the hurriedness of our lives, we often don’t hold on to small moments or pay attention to what’s important.  Recently,  I have noticed this theme emerging in new picture books – books about pausing, noticing and appreciating the world around us.  With many children (and adults!) highly dependent on technology, these books can be gentle reminders to look up from our screens and pay attention.  Here is my top 10 list of books about paying attention…

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1. The Man and the Violin – Kathy Stinson

This award winning book is based on the true story of world renowned violinist Joshua Bell’s “experiment” in Washington D.C. subway station.  Dressed in street clothes, he played his priceless violin while 1000 of commuters rushed by and only 7 people stopped to listen.  This is the story of a little boy who stopped and noticed.

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2. Wait – Antoinette Portis

A gentle reminder that sometimes it is more important to wait and see the world through the eyes of a curious child.  Wonderful wordless book.

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3. Last Stop on Market Street – Matt De La Pena

An encouraging grandma helps a young boy see the beauty and fun in the world around them.  Love the Ezra Jack Keats-like illustrations and the lovely intergenerational theme.

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4. Sidewalk Flowers – Jon Arno Lawson

While on a walk, a dad focuses on his cellphone while a young girl pays attention and gives back in small ways.  Subtle message within this gorgeous and poignant wordless picture book.

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5. Breathe – Scott Magoon

Sparse text, lyrical and gentle words, gorgeous illustrations.   We follow a baby whale on an underwater adventure as he pays attention, notices and BREATHES.  Perfect quiet story time read for K-1 students to introduce the idea of intention and mindfulness. 

6. The Listening Walk – Paul Showers

Shhhhhh…. We’re going on a listening walk. Do not talk. Do not hurry. Get ready to fill your ears with a world of wonderful and surprising sounds.  Not only is this book excellent for teaching children to pay attention to their surroundings but is one of my favorite books for visualizing through our senses and introducing onomatopoeias.

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7. Blackout – John Rocco

When the power goes out, a family takes the time to enjoy each other’s company and notice the world in the dark.  Gorgeous illustrations.

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8. What Does It Mean to Be Present?  – Rana DiOrio

An excellent introduction to mindfulness – and a gentle reminder to focus on the present moment. 

9. Take the Time – Mindfulness for Kids – Maud Roegiers

A quiet, soothing book that encourages children to slow down and take the time to observe the world around them.

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10. Step Gently Out – Helen Frost

Poetic text and stunning photographs – this book inspires us readers to look more closely at the world around them with a focus on nature and insects.  Would be an inspiring read before a class nature walk.

What are your favorite books about noticing and paying attention to the world?

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Filed under Mindfulness, New Books, Paying attention, Top 10 Tuesday, wordless