Tag Archives: Todd Parr

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #21 – Mother’s Day Poem

I originally created OLLIs when schools in my province of British Columbia shut down last spring due to Covid19.  While we are now back in class, I know there are many districts still juggling virtual and in-class support.  These OLLIs can be used both in class and virtually person.  Either way, I hope you find some ideas that you can use with your students to lighten your load just a little this year!  

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books in case you missed any of them:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5 – (WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints) 

OLLIE #17  (The Sounds of Snow)  (This post is temporarily unavailable)

OLLIE #18 – Celebrating Women Trail Blazers

OLLIE #19 – The Six Senses of Spring

OLLIE #20 – Thank you, Earth!

THE INSPIRATION:

This Sunday is Mother’s Day – a day to show love and appreciation for all the hard working Moms out there who are trying to juggle work, kids, marriage, and all the other things that moms do! While I recognize that there may be some students who might not have a mom present in their lives, let’s invite them to choose a special grown up in their life they would like to say “thank you” to.

THE ANCHOR:

Last year, my Mother’s Day OLLI lesson, entitled “How to Be My Mom”, focused on instructional writing. You can check out the “HOW TO BE MY MOM” lesson from OLLIE May, 2020 – HERE.

This year, since my head is full of poetry (I’m writing a new book called “Powerful Poetry”), I thought a Mother’s Day poem might be just the thing for this week’s Mother’s Day OLLI!

Jack Prelutsky is a well-known, popular children’s poet. His poem “I Love You More Than Applesauce” has a great rhyming pattern and is also a great mentor poem for teaching syllables. For this lesson, we will be “borrowing” Jack Prelutsky’s rhyming pattern to help us write our own “I Love You More” Mother’s Day Poems Download a copy of the poem HERE

THE LESSON

  • Ask students what special day is coming up this weekend (Mother’s day)
  • Ask them why we celebrate Mother’s Day? (to say how much we love our moms; thank them, make them feel special)
  • Tell the students that moms, dads, and other special grownups always appreciate when we take the time to thank them for all they do and tell them we love them.
  • Explain that we are going to be writing a poem for our Moms or special grown up in our lives.
  • Copy the poem onto chart paper or share on the smart board (Note: you may need to explain “marzipan” and “marmalade”) Download a copy of the poem HERE
  • Tell the students that the poem was written by Jack Prelutsky – a poet who is very good at writing rhyming poems.
  • Read the poem aloud.
  • Ask students what the poem is about (someone who loves sweets a lot but loves someone even more than all those sweets!)
  • Invite students to think of something they really love (soccer, Minecraft, pizza, unicorns). Then ask them to think of someone they love MORE than that! (ie – I love you more than books! )
  • Read the poem again and invite students to listen for the rhyming words in the poem. You may explain that the rhyming pattern is A-B-C-C-B. (lines 2 & 5 rhyme and lines 3 & 4 rhyme) in each stanza.
  • Tell the students that one of the things you noticed is that a lot of the words in the poem have 3 syllables. This is what helps to give the poem have such a great rhythm. Find the 3 syllable words in the poem and clap out the syllables (bubble-gum, lollipop, candy drops, lemonade, etc.)
  • Read the poem again and invite the students to clap each time you read a 3 syllable word
  • Ask students to think of other words or phrases that have three syllables. (soccer ball, grizzly bears, Nintendo, hockey stick, unicorns, Christmas trees) List them on the board.
  • Invite students to try to think of a 3 syllable word or phrase that rhymes – ie soccer ball – waterfall, hockey stick – magic trick, Christmas tree – deep blue sea Write the rhyming word or phrase beside it.
  • Explain that they are going to be writing their own “I Love You More” poem for their mom or special grown-up. You are going to be “borrowing” the rhyming pattern from Jack Prelutsky but use your own rhyming words.
  • Pass out the syllable rhyming sheet. Explain that the students are going to start by listing things they love that have one syllable on the left (ball, gum, dogs) On the right side, they are to try to find a word that rhymes. Continue with 2 syllables words and 3 syllable words. (See sample below)

ONE SYLLABLE

ball – wall

dog – frog

TWO SYLLABLES

ice cream – day dream

rainbow – playdough

THREE SYLLABLES

soccer ball – waterfall

hockey stick – magic trick

  • Explain that these words are going to help them with their poem. Download the Syllable Rhyming sheet HERE (This lesson may take two days so this might be a good start end Part 1)
  • When the students have finished their rhyming page, pass out the I LOVE YOU MORE poem template. Download HERE
  • Re-read the Jack Prelutsky’s poem. Explain that they are going to be using their syllable sheet to fill in the blanks on the page. The small numbers at the end of each line tells them how many syllables should be on that line. Students can use their syllable rhyming sheet to help them.
  • Model a sample, using a “Write Aloud” – talking about and clapping your syllables:

I love you more reading books

Than forests and the beach

Than camping tents

And big presents

And a fuzzy orange peach (I cheated a bit here!)

  • Note: The rhyming pattern in the last stanza changes slightly so ending requires some 1 syllable rhyming words. Depending on your grade level, I recommend focusing more on the syllable count rather than the rhyming. Encourage students to clap their words and read their poem out loud as they write so they can check the rhythm.
  • See student sample below from a grade 3 student.

MOTHER’S DAY ANCHOR BOOKS:

Below are some of my favorite books for celebrating Mothers and Mother’s Day:

What NOT to Give Your Mom on Mother's Day by [Martha Seif Simpson, Jana Christy]

What Not to Give Your Mother on Mother’s Day – Martha Simpson

Online read aloud

How to Raise a Mom Jean Reagan

My Mother's Voice - by Joanne Ryder

My Mother’s Voice – Joanne Ryder

The Mommy Book Todd Parr

The Best Mother – C.M. Surrisi

My Mum is Fantastic – Nick Butterworth

My Mum by [Anthony Browne]

My Mum – Anthony Browne

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! Happy Mother’s Day to every mother, mother-to-be, hoping-to-be, mother in other ways, and mothers who are no longer with us.

Please tag me readingpowergear if you are posting any student samples! Thank you!

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Filed under Mother's Day, OLLI, Poetry, Writing Anchor book

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #20 – Thank You, Earth!

I originally created OLLIs when schools in my province of British Columbia shut down last spring due to Covid19.  While we are now back in class, I know there are many districts still juggling virtual and in-class support.  These OLLIs can be used both in class and virtually person.  Either way, I hope you find some ideas that you can use with your students to lighten your load just a little this year!  

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books in case you missed any of them:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5 – (WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints) 

OLLIE #17  (The Sounds of Snow)  (This post is temporarily unavailable)

OLLIE #18 – Celebrating Women Trail Blazers

OLLIE #19The Six Senses of Spring

THE INSPRIATION:

Earth Day is coming up this Thursday, so I thought it would be a great time to focus on extending our gratitude to Earth and all that it provides for us! It’s also a perfect topic to inspire some great writing!

THE ANCHOR:

Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet – April Pulley Sayre

YouTube Read Aloud HERE

While not a brand new book, this has been my “go to” book for Earth Day for many years. I love that the book is all about gratitude for all that the Earth gives us written in the form of a letter. Filled with stunning photography and lyrical rhythmic text makes it a perfect read-aloud.  The end notes provide suggestions for ways we can help the environment.  I also appreciated the detailed notes about the photographs – which are truly breath-taking.  Great anchor to inspire “Thank you, Earth” writing and poetry and great mentor text for teaching alliteration.

THE LESSON:

  • Ask students what special day is coming up on April 22nd. (Earth Day) Ask students “What is Earth Day”? “Why is Earth Day important?”
  • Explain that the Earth is an amazing planet, but it needs our help to protect it! Earth Day is a day when people all over the world celebrate the Earth and take part in activities to help make our world a happier, healthier place to live.
  • You may wish to brainstorm things that students could do this week to help the earth: turn off lights, turn off the water when brushing your teeth, recycle bottles and cans, pick up garbage, have a shorter shower, put your computer on “sleep” rather than on screen saver, bring re-usable containers for lunch, walk or ride a bike to school.
  • Remind the students that the Earth gives us so much, we all need to work together to try to protect it. Every day is Earth Day!
  • Ask: What are some of the things the Earth gives us? (water, air, trees, soil, animals, rocks, mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, sunshine, clouds, plants, fruit, vegetables, etc.)
  • Tell the students that if a person gave them so many amazing things every day, you would probably be thanking them! Ask them when was the last time they said “Thank you” to the Earth? Explain that it might feel strange to say “Thank you” to earth because Earth can’t really hear us and it’s not really alive. But what if we could say thank you to Earth? What would you thank Earth for?
  • Show them the book “Thank You, Earth“. Tell them this book is someone saying thank you to the Earth for all that it gives us. Read or share the story on YouTube
  • Invite the students to share their favorite photograph or page.
  • Tell the students that you noticed even thought the book didn’t rhyme, there was a lovely sound and mood to some of the words when you read it out loud. Tell them you noticed several were several words that started with the same letter in the book. Explain that this is a technique writers sometimes use called “alliteration“. “Craggy caves” and “majestic mountains” are examples of alliteration because they are two words, close together, that start with the same sound.
  • Read the book again, and invite students to listen for the alliteration. (ie – slippery seaweed and stone; mountains and minerals; bills and bones) They can give a “thumbs up” whenever they hear similar sounds.
  • Tell the students that they are going to be writing “Thank you letters” to Earth, thanking it for all the amazing things. Tell them that you are going to think about using alliteration in your letter.
  • Model this during a “write aloud” Invite the students to help you with your alliteration.

Dear Earth,

Thank you for the tall trees and the green grass.

Thank you for tiny turtles and giant giraffes.

Thank you for red raspberries and green grapes.

Thank you for lakes to swim in and rivers to follow.

Thank you for whooshing waterfalls and cool caves.

  • Point out that you were trying to choose two things on each line that were connected in some way and also that you were trying to use alliteration. The alliteration makes the writing sound a bit like a poem, even though it doesn’t rhyme.
  • Talk about an ending that let’s your reader know you are at the end. Tell the students you want to try to include something about protecting the Earth at the end of your letter. Invite students to make suggestions for the ending. And don’t forget to sign your name!

Earth, you give us so much and never ask us for anything

But if you could talk, you might say, “Please take care of me!”

I will, Earth. I will!

Love, Ms. Gear

  • Students can do a Dear Earth draft in their Writer’s Notebook if you prefer.
  • When they are ready, they can write their letter on fancy paper, or use one of the POSTCARD templates below. Students can use one side of the Postcard to write their message and the other side to draw and color a picture of their favorite thing that Earth gives us (forest, mountains, ocean, gardens, etc.)

Postcard Template 1

Postcard Template 2 (no lines)

Postcard Template 3

Postcard Template 4

More Earth Day Anchor Books (some with YouTube links)

The week leading up to Earth Day is a great opportunity to share a range of wonderful picture books to help start conversations about the importance of doing our part to care for the earth.   While there are dozens to choose from, I have tried to highlight some old classics, new releases, and inspiring true stories.

Hello, Earth! – Poems to Our Planet – Joyce Sidman

Interview with Joyce Sidman as she talks about her book and reads some of her poems from this beautiful new book

HERE

My Friend Earth – Patricia MacLachlan

(YouTube read aloud HERE Note – start at 1.36 seconds)

A celebration of the natural world and an invitation for positive action for Planet Earth. Great opportunities to share life science concepts and amazing facts about the environment with children. Interactive text and lift the flap pictures. Patricia MacLachlan is one of my favorite authors!

If We Were Gone: Imagining the World Without People – John Co

YouTube Read aloud HERE

Is the Earth better off without us?  What has human impact done to our Earth? What a great question and one that will certainly stimulate some great discussion from your students.

Does Earth Feel? 14 Questions for Humans – Marc Majewski

Does Earth feel calm?
Does Earth feel curious?
Does Earth feel hurt?
Does Earth feel heard?

A stunning picture book that asks 14 critical questions to encourage deep thinking and discussion about our one and only planet.

Earth Day Every Day (Cloverleaf Books ™ — Planet Protectors) by [Lisa Bullard, Xin Zheng]

Earth Day Every Day – Lisa Bullard

(YouTube Read aloud HERE)

Not For Me, Please! I Choose to Act Green – Maria Godsey

YouTube Read Aloud HERE

One Earth – Eileen Spinelli

YouTube Read Aloud HERE

Lovely rhyming and counting book for younger readers. Readers can count reasons to love the planet and ways to protect it. Beautiful illustrations in this conservation-themed book.

The Earth Gives More – Sue Fliess

YouTube Read aloud – HERE

A lovely, rhyming story follows the change in seasons and illustrates how we can all be stewards of the Earth.

Our Big Home: An Earth Poem – Linda Glaser

Beautiful and inspiring.  Not only could you use this book for Earth Day but also for acceptance and inclusion – no matter who you are, what race or culture you come from – we all share this world and are responsible for its care.  This book is filled with joy and a sense of wonder at this “home” all humans share.

What A Waste – Trash, Recyling, and Protecting Our Planet – Jess French

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World – Melanie Walsh

I think that one challenge of teaching about Earth Day is helping kids know practical ways they can take care of the earth, besides doing garbage duty at school.  This book gives young readers clear examples of how they can help.  From turning off the water while brushing their teeth, to using both sides of the paper while drawing, kids will enjoy learning simple ways they can care for the environment.   I love the large size of this book, making it great for sharing.  It’s visually appealing and cleverly designed with flaps and includes clear, simple language.

My Green Day – Melanie Walsh

A companion to 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World, this book outlines through picture, simple sentences and colourful illustrations how we can all try to be more environmentally friendly in our every day activities.   Hidden pictures, flaps to lift and holes makes this a fun book for sharing and reading.

The Earth Book – Todd Parr

With simple language and his colorful signature illustrations, Todd Parr describes to young readers how they can do their part to help the environment.  Great concrete examples showing how we can all do our part to make a difference.  Use to inspire younger students create their own “Todd Parr” style Earth Day poster!

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What Does It Mean to Be Green?  – Rana DiOrio

A young boy and girl explore all the different ways they can be Green over the course of a day. They discover lots of amazing facts (like our food travels an average of 1,500 miles to be on our plate!)  I like how DiOrio takes the buzzword “green” and explains it clearly to children, giving them lots of ideas for being “green” themselves.

What Matters – Alison Hughes

Great new book for Earth Day!  This is a wonderful look at the ripple effect of how one small act – picking up garbage that isn’t yours – has repercussions to make the world cleaner and better. (Think Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed but for the earth!) I also think this book would be great for introducing the concept of the inter-connectedness of ecosystems.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

Liam is a curious boy living in a drab, gray city. One day, he finds a few dying plants growing through an old railroad track.  Liam waters and prunes the plants until they grow into a lush garden that overtakes the entire city.  By the end of the book, greenery covers the rooftops and pops up in the most unexpected places.  I LOVE this magical story and notice something new every time I read it.  If you haven’t shared this with your class yet – it’s a MUST read!

The Lorax – Dr. Seuss

“UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not!”

Way back in the 1960’s, long before “going green” was a mainstream concept, Dr. Seuss introduced young readers to the impacts of clear-cutting on the environment.  Written and illustrated in classic Dr. Seuss style, but this book focuses on more serious themes of consumerism, economics, deforestation, and the environment.  A great choice for older students that will stimulate some great discussions about environmental conservation.

The Wartville Wizard – Don Madden

This book was published in 1986 but its message will never be outdated.  A cranky old man who spends his days cleaning up the litter left by his fellow townspeople. One day he receives “the power over trash,” which gives him the ability to send the garbage right back where it came from! When the townspeople find their garbage stuck to them, they learn a valuable lesson. Great pictures, great story!  This book is lengthy so would make a great read-aloud for older students.  (Warning – references to cigar butts and beer cans.)

The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales – Dawn Casey

This is a gorgeous anthology of seven traditional tales from around the world, each one promoting a sustainable lifestyle and living green.  Readers learn about the ways that different cultures around the world try living in harmony with the rhythms and patterns of nature.  Included are suggested activities to go along with each story including creating a a song-line painting, cooking “anything-goes soup”, making a cornhusk doll, and growing your own tomatoes.   Love the link of Earth day and cultural diversity.

Thanks for stopping by! Please share this blog post with your teacher friends!

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

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Filed under Earth Day, environment, New Books, OLLI, Read-Aloud, Reading Power, Writing Strategies

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #19 – The Six Senses of Spring

I originally created OLLIs when schools in my province of British Columbia shut down last spring due to Covid19.  While we are now back in class, I know there are many districts still juggling virtual and in-class support.  These OLLIs can be used both in class and virtually person.  Either way, I hope you find some ideas that you can use with your students to lighten your load just a little this year!  

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books in case you missed any of them:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5(WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints) 

OLLIE #17  (The Sounds of Snow)  (This post is temporarily unavailable)

OLLIE #18 Celebrating Women Trail Blazers

THE INSPIRATION:

Spring break might be over for some of us, but the season of Spring is just beginning. I love the freshness, the colors, the sounds, smells and feelings of hope and renewal that comes with this time of year. And since I have been immersed in poetry of late (due to the new poetry book I’m writing), what better way to celebrate the new season than a little poetry lesson?

THE ANCHOR BOOKS:

This week’s OLLI lesson, unlike the previous ones, is not dependent on a specific title. Any book about spring will do! New spring picture books come out every year and this year is no exception (including Todd Parr’s new book!) The first books listed (below the lesson) are new releases (#warmbookalert) and the later ones are some of my favorites from previous years. If you don’t have a hard copy, don’t forget to check YouTube for a read-aloud. (always preview full video before showing your class!) If you prefer, you can always show the video with the volume down and read it yourself! I’ve tried to include some video links for the titles whenever possible.

THE LESSON:

  • Begin with the “ONE WORD” activity. Write the word “Spring” on the board or chart stand. Invite students to think about a connection, a visual image, and a feeling that comes into their mind when they think of this word.
  • Give them 1 minute to think and 2 minutes to share (with a partner)
  • Invite students to share their responses with the class, while you record the words in a web on the board around the word “spring”
  • Explain to the students that one of the things you notice most about spring is how everything feels as if nature is waking up from the darkness of winter – flowers grow, leaves grow, baby animals are being born, grass is greener, it stays lighter longer. Tell them that spring also wakes up our senses – there are more colors and smells and sounds and “feels” in springtime.
  • Choose one of the anchor books (see list below) to read aloud. Invite students to be listening for the “six senses” of spring.
  • Write “Six Senses of Spring” on the chart stand or board. Explain that scientists have 5 senses but writers add emotion and feeling into their writing. Make a 6 box chart and write the name of each of six senses (or draw a symbol) at the top of each box: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, emotion(feeling)
  • Beginning with sight, invite students to brainstorm things they see in springtime (flowers, grass, baby animals, blossoms, rain, mud, etc.)
  • Move into the next box and do the same. Depending on your grade level, complete the chart as a class or pass out “The Six Senses of Spring” and invite students to complete the page either by themselves or with a partner.
  • Download the Six Senses of Spring student template HERE
Sight
flowers
kites
grass
chicks
puddles
Smell
grass
dirt
blossoms
flowers
dirt/mud
Taste
ice cream
jelly beans
chocolate eggs
barbeques
Sound
rain
wind
birds
kids playing
baseball
Touch
rain
grass
Easter eggs
baby chicks
puppies
baseball bat
kite string
Feeling
hope
energetic
excitement
happy

  • Once the chart is complete, students can use their ideas to create a simple list poem. Model how to select three ideas from each box and add a verb (action word) to it. Encourage “triple scoop” verbs! End each stanza with the sense “I _______ spring”. (see below for an example of the start of a poem) Students may “borrow” a few ideas from your example but you would like to see how unique and clever they can be!

The Six Senses of Spring

Flowers blooming

Blossoms bursting

Kites flying

I see spring

Rain splashing

Bees buzzing

Chicks chirping

I hear spring

  • Students can add illustrations to their poem and share them out loud with a partner, their buddy, or with the class.

THE ANCHOR BOOKS

Busy Spring – Nature Wakes Up – Sean Taylor Youtube Read aloud – HERE (story starts at about 1.23)
Happy Springtime! by Kate McMullan: 9780823445516 | PenguinRandomHouse.com:  Books
Happy Springtime! – Kate McMullan
Cover Image
Spring Stinks! – Ryan T. Higgins YouTube Read-Aloud HERE
The Spring Book Todd Parr Youtube Read Aloud HERE
Spring for Sophie Yael Werber
YouTube Read Aloud HERE
Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring – Kenard Pak
YouTube Video HERE
Abracadabra, It’s Spring! – Anne Sibley O’Brian Watch YouTube Here
Spring is Here! Heidi Pross Gray
Toad Weather – Sandra Markle
Worm Weather – Jean Taft
YouTube Read Aloud Here
When Spring Comes: Henkes, Kevin, Dronzek, Laura: 9780062331397: Books -  Amazon.ca

When Spring Comes Keven Henkes

Youtube Read Aloud HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_kNU3XpMew

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And Then It’s Spring – Julie Fagliano Youtube

Read Aloud HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hPa3OqwlOA

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms – Julia Rawlinson YouTube Read-Aloud HERE
Over and Under Book Series

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt – Kate Messner

Thanks for stopping by my blog today. Hoping your students will enjoy writing their spring poems and that you have discovered a new Spring picture book to brighten your classroom or library!

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Filed under OLLI, Poetry, Seasons, Springtime

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #15: 100 Things That Make Me Happy

Hello, everyone!  Well, it’s mid-January and the January blues may be creeping in!  Time for another OLLI and time to spread a little happy in your class!  For those getting ready for 100th Day – this lesson will be a perfect fit! For those who aren’t – there is never a wrong time to focus on gratitude for simple things that bring us joy! 

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5(WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

THE INSPIRATION:

As primary teachers prepare to mark the 100th day of school, I thought this lesson would be one way to mark the day by finding and spreading a little “happy” (x 100!) in your classroom!  Mid winter blues, Covid, (will it ever end???) – we could all use a little happy in our lives!  Finding joy in everyday things and demonstrating gratitude is something can all practice.  Even if you don’t celebrate 100th Day in your class – this lesson can be adapted to any grade and great chance for you and your students to “find some happy”!  

THE ANCHOR:

100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz

100 Things That Make Me Happy – Amy Schwartz

A lovely, charming, rhyming list of things that make most of us happy.   I love this book for so many reasons: the abundance of gratitude for simple things in life, the whimsical rhyming that makes it easy for kids to read and reread, the feeling of joy that comes from thinking positive thoughts with our students, and, of course, the connection to “One Hundredth Day” celebrations.   You can find the online read aloud – HERE

The Lesson

  • Begin with the “one word” activity by writing the word “happy” on the board.  Invite students to think about the word. Specifically, ask them to make a connection, create a visual image, and attach a feeling connected to the word.  (because this is a feeling word, invite them to think of other words that might be connected) 
  • Invite students to share their connection, visual image, and feeling with a partner.  Ask some to share and record their ideas onto the chart, around the word “happy” to create a class web.  
  • Tell them you are going to read a story about “happy”.  Invite them to pay attention to their thinking because you will be coming back to the word after you have finished reading
  • Read the story or show the video of the read-aloud.  You can find the online read aloud – HERE
  • After reading the story, invite the students to “re-visit” and “re-think” the word “happy”.  Has anything changed?   (you may want to steer them in the direction that this book made you think about how easily happiness can be found in small, simple things.  This book also made you feel thankful that there are so many things in the world that can bring us joy – we just have to notice them)
  • Invite the students to brainstorm a list of things that make them happy.  Remind them that the happiness in the book was found in things other than material things (toys, video games, etc.)  Encourage them to include experiences, places, and people as well as objects on their list.  
  • Invite students to share their list with a partner and then invite them to share out as you record their ideas to make a class list.  
  • IF you are celebrating 100th Day – this could be the start of creating a class list “100 Things That Make Us Happy”.   Students could contribute their ideas as you record them on a large class list.  
  • Pass out the template Things That Make Me Happy.  Model your own, showing how you draw a picture and write about it underneath.   
  • You can download the Primary Template HERE 
  • You can download the Intermediate Template HERE 
  • You can download additional Happy Lists HERE (short list) and HERE (long list)
  • Depending on your grade, this could be incorporated into a writing lesson, using “magical detail words” (See Powerful Writing Structures – page xxx).  After students write what makes them happy, they can add a detail using the word “Once, When, If, or Sometimes”    example:  Reading a book makes me happy.  Sometimes, I sniff the pages to fill my lungs with book joy.   OR  My dog Maggie makes me happy.  When I come home, she always meets me at the door and wags her fluffy tail.
  • Students can share their happy pages with a partner.  
  • Create a class book or display on a bulletin board: “Div. 5 is Finding Happy!” 

Additional Books About Happiness and Gratitude: 

Below are some of the other recommended books that encourage us to “look for happy” and be grateful for the little things.   

Taking a Bath with a Dog and Other Things That Make Me Happy – Scott Menchin

100 Things I Love to Do With You – Amy Schwartz

  100th Day Worries – Margery Cuyler

The Favorite Book – Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Hap-Pead All Year – Keith Baker

My Heart Fills With Happiness – Monique Gray Smith

A Good Day – Kevin Henkes 

This book is also great for TRANSFORM for younger students.  What makes a bad day?  What makes a good day?  

All the World – Liz Garton Scanton

Thankful – Eileen Spinelli

The Thankful Book – Todd Parr

Thanks for stopping by! I hope this lesson brings a little happiness into your classroom and into your heart!

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Connect, Feelings, Gratitude, Gratitude, Lesson Ideas, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book, Writing Anchors

GEARPICKS Holiday Book Gifting 2020 Part 1 – Toddlers, Beginning and Early Readers, and a little Festive Fun!

Give Books

Stuck trying to think of something to buy that baby, toddler, or young reader in your life? Why not gift them with some BOOK JOY????   Welcome to the 2020 edition of my Holiday Book Gifting post!   I hope you find one or two books to gift to a special reader in your life this holiday season!  (Book Gifting for Tweens coming out soon!)

Happy reading and gifting everyone!

For Toddlers

The Babies and Kitties Book – John Schindell

Anyone who is looking for a board book to give to a new baby – this is it!  ADORABLE photographs and rhyming text celebrates all the ways babies and kittens are alike.  Off the chart on the cuteness scale.   This is the follow up to The Babies and Doggies Book (which I had never heard of but it’s beyond cute as well!)

No More Naps  – Chris Grabenstein

Look at this cover!!! Can you stand it?  How can you not make connections to that face?  With  just a few words and simple drawings, this story captures the emotional highs and lows of a toddler, as well as the poor folks having to deal with them.  LOVE this one!

Delightful Picture Books

The Box Turtle – Vanessa Roeder

Terrance the turtle is born without a shell so his parents strap on a box.  All is well until the other turtles tease him and Terrance begins a search for a new shell.  Another off the chart on the cuteness scale but also a lovely message about being yourself and loving who you are.  Not preachy – just sweet.

Find Fergus – Mike Boldt

Hilarious story of a bear who is VERY bad at hiding.  This one will have you and your kids laughing out loud!

The Barnabus Project – The Fan Brothers

One of my favorite picture books of 2020, The Barnabus Project is a stunning story both visually and emotionally.  Barnabus is half elephant and half mouse (think Island of Misfit Toys in Rudolph) so is banned to the basement of the Perfect Pet Shop with the other “Failed Projects”.  Love this story.  Hug this story.  Share this story.  

Polar Bear in the Snow – Mac Barnett

So, so clever! A perfect combination of words and illustration pulls the reader in and makes them pause at each spread.  Simplicity, beauty, and wonder – this is picture book perfection!  LOVE!

The Snow Fox – Rosemary Shojaie

A charming story about cherishing old friends and making new ones that takes readers quietly through the four seasons.  Gentle and calm and with beautiful illustrations.  This is a cozy-curl-up-and-read-together kind of book!

The Grinny Granny Donkey – Craig Smith

Another sequel to the wildly popular, viral sensation “Wonky Donkey” series.  This one is about Grandma Donkey and, like the others, is filled with cute, tongue tied rhythms.  Lots of fun!

Grumpy Monkey Up All Night – Suzanne Long

Love this new edition to the Grumpy Monkey series.  This one will have you laughing at Monkey who is determined to stay up all night!

Attack of the Underwear Dragon – Scott Rothman

This is a fun, rhyming tale of a young boy who loves the Knights of the Round Table and dreams of one day joining their ranks as an assistant Knight.  Perfect for anyone who loves Knights, dragons and underwear!

Not Me – Elise Gravel

“Who’s responsible for this mess?”…”Not me!”  Hilarious book all parents will relate to!  The “Not Me” monster comes to life in Canadian author Elise Gravel’s new book.  Available in French.

New for Beginning Readers

Cat Kid Comic Club: From the Creator of Dog Man by [Dav Pilkey]

Cat Comic Club – Dav Pilkey

Dav Pilkey is back with a new graphic novel series about a cat who starts a comic writing club.  Such a great book for inspiring creativity!  Why not gift your budding cartoonist with this book and a blank comic book (see below) so they, too, can draw comics like Cat!

Blank Comic Book for Kids

A perfect gift for your budding cartoonist.  An entire book filled with blank comic book frames and empty speech bubbles!  LOVE this for home but a great one for having on hand at school!

The Bad Guys in THE ONE?! – Aaron Blabey

For the BAD GUY fans in your family, here is the latest in the series.  Soon to be a major motion picture!

Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure  – Jeff Kinney

For Wimpy Kid fans, here is a new series by Jeff Kinney.  This one is filled with adventure, fantasy, quests and LOTS of LOL moments.

Fun Facts

The Book of Mythical Beasts and Magical Creatures – DK Publishing

Calling all Unicorn and Dragon lovers!  This one is packed full of “facts” about all the mythical creatures you can imagine.  Beautiful illustrations

400 Minecraft Tricks – Jimmy Wong

This book would likely not appear on any of my GEARPICKS recommended lists – but for the obsessed Minecraft player in your house, this one might be a big hit!

Two Truths and a Lie – It’s Alive – Ammi-Joan Paquette

Perfect family fun for the holidays.  This book is jam-packed with stories that are too crazy to be true and asks readers to separate the facts from the fakes! Also available in a Histories and Mysteries edition.

For the Family Foodie

MasterChef Junior Cookbook – Christina Tos

A perfect book for the budding foodie in your family.  Filled with great recipes, tips and tricks, nutrition, and amazing photographs.  Yum!

A Little Festive Fun

Would You Rather? – Christmas Edition

Great stocking stuffer and perfect for engaging the whole family with hilarious festive “would you rather” scenarios. Perfect for sitting around the table between courses!

I Spy Christmas Book

For a little quiet time or lap snuggling, this book is perfect for toddlers who might need a little calm as they search for hidden Christmasy things!

Jack and Santa – Mac Barnett

Mac Barnett is such a clever writer and his Jack series is just hilarious for beginning readers.  Here is the latest that has Jack worried when he finds himself on the Naughty List.  Great twist at the end!

Happy Narwhalidays – Ben Clanton

I adore Narwhal and Jelly stories – simple graphic novel format for your beginning reader.  This one is filled with more delightful and funny adventures wrapped in Christmas cheer.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s 8 Nights of Chanukah – Eric Carle

Beloved author Eric Carle brings everyone’s favorite little caterpillar along to introduce the littlest readers to Hanukkah in this colorful counting book.  This simple board book takes readers through the 8 nights of Hanukkah and the wonderful traditions and symbols of the Festival of Lights.

The Joyful Book – Todd Parr

Todd Parr never disappoints and his delightful new book looks at all the simple things that brings us joy.  Signature illustrations – his books always make me feel good when I read them!

Mistletoe by Tad Hills

Mistletoe: A Christmas Story – Tad Hills

Such a sweet story about a mouse who loves to play in the snow and an elephant who prefers to stay inside.  A gentle, funny (the last page is HILARIOUS!) story about friendship and gift giving, just right for the Christmas season.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you were able to find a special book for that special someone!

Stay tuned for Book Gifting Part 2 for your Middle Grade Readers – coming out soon!

Happy Reading and Holiday Gifting, everyone! 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Christmas, Holiday books, New Books, Picture Book, Winter Books

Top 10 (okay, 14!) Back to School Picture Books for 2019

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Well, it’s that time of year again.  Time to face the fact that summer is drawing to a close  and school is right around the corner.  Some of you, in fact, have already started teaching.  But there is an excitement that comes at this time of year – the anticipation of a new students to get to know and a new class community to build and nurture.  But while the start of school brings excitement for some, it can bring anxiety for others.  Sharing books about starting school and all that that entails is a wonderful way for making your students feel safe and connected. Here are my top new “back to school” picture books for sharing during “back to school”  week.

The Proudest Blue – Ibtihaj Muhammad

While it doesn’t appear to be by the cover, this is a powerful story about the first day of school that turns out to be so much more.  It is about rites of passage, the bonds of sisters, overcoming classmate cruelty and taunts, and the importance of culture and faith.  This book will be released on September 10th and I highly recommend it.  Gorgeous illustrations!   An important book to share about acceptance and pride in who you are.  (Great anchor for “Who Am I?” lessons from Powerful Understanding!)


Clothesline Clues to the First Day of School – Andy Robert Davies

You will have a lot of fun with this interactive book during the first week back.  Catchy rhymes and clear visual cues introduce young readers to the people they’ll encounter on their first day of school.  Perfect for Pre K – grade 1.

The School Book – Todd Parr

Todd Parr has done it again! With his signature bright, bold illustrations, “The School Book” is a must read for back to school this year. Positive and affirming step-by-step guide to a school day, from morning routines, to meeting new people, to learning and playing together. Love the way he weaves in a cheerful, child-friendly message of sharing, inclusion, and community. A perfect book for parents and teachers to read with any little one starting or returning to school.

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All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold

A warm, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids starting and returning to school.    All children need to know they are welcome in their classrooms and feel a sense of belonging.  In rhythmic phrases, this story emphasizes the inclusiveness, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures.  The perfect book for the first week of school to promote a positive classroom and school community.

If I Built a School – Chris Van Dusen

Chris Van Dusen’s If I Built a House is one of my go-to read-alouds to inspire imaginative writing so I was thrilled to see his new book about an imaginary school!  Told in a bouncy rhyming text, a boy describes all the fantastic and amazing things he would include if he was building his own school – money and reality no object!  Puppies and zoo animals would greet you at the door, students would have movable hover desks, every library book would come to life when you opened it, you’d race on submersible bikes in the school’s pool!   What fun!  A perfect anchor book for some inspiring back to school imagination pocket writing and art!

Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten! – Lisa Robinson

Very sweet story about “Pirate Emma” transitioning from preschool to kindergarten and getting to know new classmates, a new classroom, a brand new teacher, and a new routine.  Packed with pirate language and lively illustrations, this story is a perfect “connect” book for any buccaneer that might not be feeling very brave when starting a new adventure.

Lola Goes to School – Anna McQuinn

A simple, comforting story about a little girl preparing for the first day of school.  While many similar books begin on the actual first day of school, I like how this one focuses on the preparation day before – choosing clothes, packing backpacks and lunches.   This one leaves you with such a positive, uplifting feeling that gently eases any worries young readers may be feeling about starting school.

Sorry, Grown-Ups!  You Can’t Go to School – Christina Geist

This book is an entertaining story with some reverse psychology intended to make kids want to go to school.   The role reversal outlines all the fun things that a child would be excited about – new backpacks (with secret pockets), playing games, reading on the cozy carpet, science experiments, and recess, all of which drive the adults nuts with longing!  Bright, playful illustrations. (the lack of diversity is my only criticism)  This book is fun and would certainly help to ease nerves as the school year begins.  

Butterflies on the First Day of School Annie Silverstro

Rosie is excited about the first day of school but then when the day actually arrives, she discovers she has “butterflies in her tummy.”   As the first day unfolds, each time Rosie opens up and talks to a new classmate or her teacher, butterflies – which only she can see – escape out of her mouth and fly into the sky.   As the butterflies fly out, Rosie’s confidence begins to grow, and new friendships and experiences are forged; she even finds the courage to help another shy little girl with butterflies of her own.  I love how this “butterfly” metaphor is developed into a clear analogy for kids – opening up to others to let the butterflies out.

The King of Kindergarten – Derrick Barnes

A gentle, joyful introduction to what to expect in a Kindergarten classroom and a sweet story about making friends, playing together, loving school, and putting positive energy into the world.  Such a lovely message in this one!   The artwork is stunning and the story is charming and uplifting.  Love this one!

The Pigeon Has to Go to School! – Mo Willems

Mo Willems is back with another pigeon book just in time for back to school! The Pigeon Has to Go to School is a laugh-out-loud hilarious story focusing on fears about going to school for the first time. Not preachy and a great ending. A perfect back to school read! LOVE this!

How To Read – Kwane Alexander

While not specifically about starting school, this ode to reading by the amazing team of Kwane Alexander and Melissa Sweet would make an excellent first week read-aloud.   I so loved the “how to” format filled gorgeous poetic language and literary techniques: “Once you’re comfy, peel its gentle skin, like you would a clementine…Next, did your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and POP the words out.”  Vibrant, collage illustrations but I did find the busy layout and embedded font sometimes difficult to follow on some pages.   Great for read-aloud and wonderful anchor book for writing similes, personification and imagery.

Back to School: A Global Journey – Maya Ajmera

I so love this beautiful, joy-filled book filled with stunning color photographs of children around the world studying, learning, exploring, and having fun together.  A perfect book for any lesson on global education and includes back notes and maps about each photograph.  Seeing children’s joy about school and learning is so inspiring!   I would pair this book up with The Way to School by Rosemary McCarney.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found on or two “Back to School” books that caught your eye!  Happy “New Year”, teacher friends!

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Filed under 2019 releases, Back to School, Connect, New Books, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Celebrate Earth Day With Great Books!

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

The week leading up to Earth Day is a great opportunity to share a range of wonderful picture books to help start conversations about the importance of doing our part to care for the earth.   While there are dozens to choose from, I have tried to highlight some old classics, new releases, and inspiring true stories.

Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet – April Pulley Sayre

WOW!  This amazing new  book is filled with stunning photography and lyrical rhythmic text – perfect for reading aloud.  A “Thank you” letter to the earth, celebrating all of the wonderful creatures of natural wonders.  The end notes provide suggestions for ways we can help the environment.  I also appreciated the detailed notes about the photographs – which are truly breath-taking.  Great anchor to inspire “Thank you, Earth” writing and poetry.

Giving Thanks Jonathon London

I love this book and have previously shared it at Thanksgiving.  On a walk through the forest, a young boy learns from his father how to show gratitude for all the beauty he sees.   His father thanks the earth, sky, frogs, crickets, hawk and deer, the trees and the mushrooms.  The boy feels embarrassed by his father’s ritual of thanking everything he sees, but after trying it himself, realizes the power of gratitude.  Gorgeous fall painting illustrations by Gregory Manchess.

Our Big Home: An Earth Poem Linda Glaser

Beautiful and inspiring.  Not only could you use this book for Earth Day but also for acceptance and inclusion – no matter who you are, what race or culture you come from – we all share this world and are responsible for its care.  This book is filled with joy and a sense of wonder at this “home” all humans share.

 

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World – Melanie Walsh

I think that one challenge of teaching about Earth Day is helping kids know practical ways they can take care of the earth, besides doing garbage duty at school.  This book gives young readers clear examples of how they can help.  From turning off the water while brushing their teeth, to using both sides of the paper while drawing, kids will enjoy learning simple ways they can care for the environment.   I love the large size of this book, making it great for sharing.  It’s visually appealing and cleverly designed with flaps and includes clear, simple language.

My Green Day Melanie Walsh

A companion to 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World, this book outlines through picture, simple sentences and colourful illustrations how we can all try to be more environmentally friendly in our every day activities.   Hidden pictures, flaps to lift and holes makes this a fun book for sharing and reading.

The Earth Book – Todd Parr

With simple language and his colorful signature illustrations, Todd Parr describes to young readers how they can do their part to help the environment.  Great concrete examples showing how we can all do our part to make a difference.  Use to inspire younger students create their own “Todd Parr” style Earth Day poster!

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What Does It Mean to Be Green?  – Rana DiOrio

A young boy and girl explore all the different ways they can be Green over the course of a day. They discover lots of amazing facts (like our food travels an average of 1,500 miles to be on our plate!)  I like how DiOrio takes the buzzword “green” and explains it clearly to children, giving them lots of ideas for being “green” themselves.

What Matters – Alison Hughes

Great new book for Earth Day!  This is a wonderful look at the ripple effect of how one small act – picking up garbage that isn’t yours – has repercussions to make the world cleaner and better. (Think Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed but for the earth!) I also think this book would be great for introducing the concept of the inter-connectedness of ecosystems.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

Liam is a curious boy living in a drab, gray city. One day, he finds a few dying plants growing through an old railroad track.  Liam waters and prunes the plants until they grow into a lush garden that overtakes the entire city.  By the end of the book, greenery covers the rooftops and pops up in the most unexpected places.  I LOVE this magical story and notice something new every time I read it.  If you haven’t shared this with your class yet – it’s a MUST read!

The Lorax – Dr. Seuss

“UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not!”

Way back in the 1960’s, long before “going green” was a mainstream concept, Dr. Seuss introduced young readers to the impacts of clear-cutting on the environment.  Written and illustrated in classic Dr. Seuss style, but this book focuses on more serious themes of consumerism, economics, deforestation, and the environment.  A great choice for older students that will stimulate some great discussions about environmental conservation.

The Wartville Wizard – Don Madden

This book was published in 1986 but it’s message will never be outdated.  A cranky old man who spends his days cleaning up the litter left by his fellow townspeople. One day he receives “the power over trash,” which gives him the ability to send the garbage right back where it came from! When the townspeople find their garbage stuck to them, they learn a valuable lesson. Great pictures, great story!  This book is lengthy so would make a great read-aloud for older students.  (Warning – references to cigar butts and beer cans.)

 

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever –  H. Joseph Hopkins

This is a beautiful picture book biography of Kate Sessions, the woman who transformed dry San Diego into a beautiful, tree-covered city.  Lots of text-to-text connections to Miss Rumphius!  A passionate, inspiring celebration of nature.  Gorgeous illustrations.

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia – Miranda Paul

This is the true story of a Gambian woman who was troubled by the plastic garbage bags littering her community. Not only did the bags make an ugly mess, but they also caused illness and death among people and livestock. Isatou and other women cleaned the plastic bags and recycled them into plastic purses. Such a great book!

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The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales – Dawn Casey

This is a gorgeous anthology of seven traditional tales from around the world, each one promoting a sustainable lifestyle and living green.  Readers learn about the ways that different cultures around the world try living in harmony with the rhythms and patterns of nature.  Included are suggested activities to go along with each story including creating a a song-line painting, cooking “anything-goes soup”, making a cornhusk doll, and growing your own tomatoes.   Love the link of Earth day and cultural diversity.

Thanks for stopping by!  Happy Earth Day, everyone!

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Filed under 2018 releases, Earth Day, environment, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Good-Bye Gift Books for Teachers and Colleagues

As our school year draws to a close, there may be staff members who are moving to other schools, retiring or going on leave.  Gifting your colleague with a special book is a meaningful way to say “Thank you” and “You have made a difference”.  Here are my top 10 books to give as good-bye gifts to teachers.  (Thank you Amber Romero for this great Top Ten Tuesday idea!)

  1. A Letter To My Teacher by Deborah Hopkinson

A heartfelt picture book about a girl who prefers running and jumping to listening and learning—and the teacher who gently inspires her.  Written as a thank-you note with gorgeous illustrations.  This one is inspiring and may require a Kleenex.

2, Thank You – A Book for Teachers – Sandy Gingras

This is a charming little keepsake book features soft, sweet watercolor artwork and thoughtful original text celebrating teachers and all they.  Please note this book is very small – like something that would fit into a purse –  very sweet, but tiny.

3. Last Day Blues – Julie Danneburg

A very sweet story that follows a group of students on their last day of school.  The kids are so worried that their teacher will have nothing to do during the summer (LOL!) so they make her a very cute present to help her remember them.  Love the surprise at the end!  (Similar to First Day Jitters)

4. Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden – Edith Pattou

A metaphor for teaching –  tending a garden – planting, nurturing, growing.  Simple, moving story and whimsical illustrations celebrate all that teachers do, year after year, to help children grow and blossom.  A great teacher gift.

5. Because I Had a Teacher – Kobi Yamada

“Because I had a teacher, I have whole new worlds to explore.
I discovered that what I can imagine, I can make real.
And now I feel like I can do anything.
Because I had you, I learned to believe in me.”

This heartwarming book is a thank you gift for great teachers everywhere. Adorable illustrations.

6. Teachers Rock! – Todd Parr

You can never go wrong with Todd Parr!  Summary:  Teachers are amazing!  They help you find new talents, learn new things, and watch you succeed.  A wonderful ode to teachers.   

7.  The New Yorker Book of Teacher Cartoons Edited by Robert Mankoff

For those teachers for whom a picture book is maybe not the best fit – here is a hilarious collection of cartoons that capture the fun, terror, excitement, anxiety, bedlam and joy that teachers experience every day.  Hilarious!

8. F in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers – Richard Beasoa

This book is hilarious!  Full of apparently real-life wrong answers to various test questions. Perfect for anyone who has ever taught high school or middle school who will make many “connections” to these creative wrong answers to test questions.

9. What Teachers Make – In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World – Taylor Mali

At a dinner party, teacher Taylor Mali was asked by a dinner guest, who happened to be a lawyer, what teachers make.  Tired of being asked this question, he wrote a poem which he later performed at a poetry slam.  The poem got such attention, he turned it into a book.  Heartfelt and filled with inspiration, this is a perfect gift for every teacher.  I did not know about this book but was inspired by Taylor Mali’s reciting the poem on YouTube. 

10.   Thank You, Mr. Falkner Patricia Polacco

No list of inspiring books for teachers would be complete without this one.  A beautiful, touching story of a girl struggling to learn to read and the amazing teacher who “unlocked the door and pulled [her] into the light.”   Kleenex definitely required for this one – I cry every time I read it.  This special book is for that special teacher who just finds a way.

Teachers:  There is No Such Thing as Hot Coffee and Other Teacher Truths -Bored Teachers

This book has not yet been released (July) but I’m including it as a “one to watch for”.  I enjoy following Bored Teachers on Facebook so am looking forward to this one as I’m sure it will be very funny.  Here’s the summary:

Is it Friday yet? Get ready to go behind the desk with this insiders look at a year in the life of an everyday educator. Written for teachers by teachers, this hilarious snapshot into the lives of the overworked and underpaid will have you laughing so loud, you’ll worry it might get confiscated.  Full of administrative frustration, madcap humor; and heartfelt love for the most underappreciated profession of them all, Teachers is the perfect gift for that special someone who spends all day with your kids.  

What are your favorite teacher gift books?

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Filed under New Books, Teacher Books, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Last Gems of 2015

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

Well, it’s been quite a fall!  Many weeks have passed since I last wrote a blog post as I have been busy (oh,so busy!) teaching, presenting, traveling, writing, not to mention parenting two teenage boys!  But I now am grateful for some much needed time to catch my breath and enjoy this festive freedom!

Not blogging does not mean I have not been reading!  So I’m happy to share some of the final “new releases” of this year and hoping you will find one or two titles that catch your eye….

The Only Child – Guojing

Breathtaking wordless picture book told in a similar style to The Arrival (Shaun Tan) and The Snowman (Raymond Briggs).  This is the emotional story of a young girl, lost in the winter woods, who is trying to find her way home. Following her magical journey is an emotional rollercoaster: from loneliness and longing to love and joy.  Interesting author’s note explaining this book came out of her experiences growing up lonely under China’s one-child policy (recently reversed). 

Nerdy Birdy – Aaron Reynolds

This is an adorable book about tolerance and acceptance that every teacher should read to their class!  Great message about what it means to be cool and that it’s not just about being accepted by a group, but being true to yourself and including people that are different.  Pop-culturally relevant and very funny. 

Lenny and Lucy – Philip C. Stead

Philip C. Stead and his wife are amazing.  A quiet, comforting story of the joy of a budding friendship wrapped up in a story of moving.   Love the simple language that says so much, so beautifully. 

The Whisperer – Pamela Zagarenski

Amazing celebration of stories.  A little girl borrows a beautiful book from her teacher.  On her way home, the words seem to fly out.  When she arrives home, there are no words so she makes up her own stories for the pictures.  We get the beginning of each story for each page… stories within stories.  Gorgeous illustrations – this book is magical.

The Good-bye Book – Todd Parr

Classic Todd Parr – the “feelings man” – has created a sensitive, touching look at loss as told through the eyes of a fish who has lost his friend.  Important reminder that even though we may not have all the answers, we will always have support from those around us.

The Tea Party in the Woods – Akiko Miyakoshi

A magical winter tale that combines The Little Red Riding Hood with Alice in Wonderland in its own unique way.  A wonderful story about caring and friendship.  Japanese tone – slow, simple and fragile.  Illustrations are gorgeous.

The Bear Report – Thyra Heder

Many connections will be made to this book about a young girl who thinks researching Polar Bears for her report is “BO-RING!”  That is until a Polar Bear shows up and takes her on a tour of his

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour – Anne Michaels

16 cats acting like humans, magic, lots of tea and cakes, delightful illustrations – and lots of triple scoop words!  Adorable.. sweet… charming!  (early novel)

Crenshaw – Katherine Applegate

Magical middle grade novel is a story of friendship, family and resilience by the author of The One and Only Ivan.  Crenshaw is a loud, out-spoken imaginary cat who helps Jackson, a young boy living on the edge of poverty.  Beautiful, heartbreaking and amazing.

Thanks for stopping by!  Would love to know which book has caught your eye!

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Filed under 2015 releases, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Celebrating Family Day with Books

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

Today is Family Day – a day in February observed in Canadian provinces.  This holiday celebrates the importance of families and family life to people and their communities.  In British Columbia, Family Day falls on the second Monday of February.  In celebration of Family Day, I have put together a collection of some of my favorite books that celebrate families, from picture books, nonfiction books and chapter books.  I have even included a few favorite titles from my childhood! These books would be a wonderful addition to your unit on families and are perfect books for making connections.

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The Family Book – Todd Parr

In his signature bright and colorful style, Todd Parr respectfully celebrates the many different types of families.

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The Great Big Book of Families – Mary Hoffman

This interesting book showcases all aspects of family life – from houses, holidays, schools, pets and family trees.  Each double page spread is filled with charming illustrations and fascinating facts to pour over.  A perfect book to compliment a unit of study on families at the primary level.

All Kinds of Families!

All Kinds of Families – Mary Anne Hoberman

This picture book uses rhyme to talk about the different kinds of families that belong to not only people, but to animals and objects as well.   The rhyming text makes it a great read-aloud for younger students, and while it is not one of my favorite Hobberman books, I still enjoyed the celebration of different families and the retro-illustrations.

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Families Around the World – Margriet Ruurs

This is an excellent book to use for a unit on cultural diversity.  In it, we visit fourteen children from different countries around the world to learn about their families, homes, customs and family activities.  Each two-page spread is told in first person and begins with a greeting in the child’s native language. Bright, detailed illustrations and lesson suggestions are included in the back.

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You and Me Together – Moms, Dads, and Kids Around the World – Barbara Kerley

This is one of my favorite books for practicing making connections.  Short, sparse narrative and stunning photographs by National Geographic photographer Barbara Kerley, this book shares the simple joys of families being together and the message that no matter where you come from around the world – we all share a special bond with our family.

Families, Families, Families!

Families, Families, Families!  – Suzanne Long

This brand new book takes on the topic of the diversity of families in a charming , humorous way.  Funny cartoon animals illustrate the idea that families come in all different forms.  Delightful, charming, clever!  

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 I Love You Like Crazy Cakes – Rose Lewis

Author Rose Lewis brings to lifer her true story of adopting a baby from China.  The story documents the adoption process, beginning with her letter to Chinese officials and ending with her bringing home a baby girl.  Touching and heartwarming.

The Snow Globe Family

The Snow Globe Family – Jane O’Conner

I loved snow globes as a child so was immediately drawn to this book.  It tells the parallel story of two families – the old-fashioned “big” family inside their Victorian house and the almost identical little family inside the snow globe.  Both families are longing for a snow storm.  Charming, clever and a fun ending.

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Charlie Anderson – Barbara Abercrombie

This book is one of my all-time books for reading and practicing questioning and inferring.  While you think this story is about a cat who spends the days in one house and the nights in another, the message is really about children from separated or divorced families who live part time with one parent and part time with another.  Like Charlie the cat,  having two homes and two parents who love you is a good thing.

 

All-of-A-Kind-Family – Sydney Taylor

I could not complete a list of favorite family books without including this classic from my childhood.  I LOVED this book when I was young and read and reread it over and over again.  I loved reading about the adventures of five sisters (Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie – yes, I still remember their names!) from a Jewish family living in New York’s lower east side at the turn of the century during the turn of the century.  From bags of penny candy to searching for buttons in the front parlor  – I put myself into this book and lived every adventure with this family.

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Finn Family Moomintroll – Tove Janson

Another blast from my childhood past, these quirky, slightly strange collections of whimsical stories are centered around the magical Hobgoblin’s hat – which has the power to change things into something else.  I loved the characters – Moomintroll, Sniff, Snufkin, Thingummy and Bob and all their magical adventures and I still think about those floating clouds when I throw my eggshells into the garbage!

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The Borrowers – Mary Norton

The Borrowers—the Clock family: Homily, Pod, and their fourteen-year-old daughter, Arrietty are tiny people who live underneath the kitchen floor of an old English country manor.   As a child, I was fascinated at the thought of this tiny world of this tiny family who lived by “borrowing” things.  It was magical and whimsical and I wanted to be tiny and live with the Clocks!

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Year of the Dog – Grace Lin

Wonderful contemporary story of family and friendship, Year of the Dog chronicles a year in the life of Grace Lin’s Taiwanese/Chinese American family in upstate New York. I love using this book for Literature circles as there are so many connections to family, school and friendship that students will make. 

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The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher – Dana Alison Levy

Saving the best for last…. this is a brand new novel and I LOVED it!   So many wonderful themes are included in this fantastic story of a family with four boys including taking risks, caring for each other, making choices.  This would be such a great read-aloud to share as  the book stimulates so many connections that would lead to great discussions.  I loved how each chapter begins with a short note -a little clue of the misadventure that’s on the way.  I loved how much I cared for each of the characters.  I loved how this book made me smile.  Basically I loved everything about this book It is charming, funny, heartwarming, beautifully written and my favorite new chapter book of the year so far!

Happy reading and Happy Family Day everyone!

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Filed under Family, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections