Friday, March 30, 2012

Knuffle Bunny: A Bunny book to read all year long!

Looking for a bunny book to put in the basket that can be read all year long?  Look no further!  Check out Mo Willems' Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale.  Enjoy the unique display of cartoon drawings placed upon photographs of Brooklyn, New York and fall in love with Trixie, Daddy and Knuffle Bunny!  My girls can totally relate to how Trixie feels when she realizes her bunny is missing after a trip to the laundry mat.  It is beyond tragic for Trixie, or any other little one, to lose a lovey! Luckily, Knuffle Bunny makes his way back to Trixie, safe and sound.  If you like this one, check out Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity and Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion (Knuffle Bunny Series)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Russell the Sheep

Russell the SheepHave you been introduced to author Rob Scotton yet?  I purchased Love, Splat for the girls on Valentine's day and fell in love!  Scotton has several books featuring Splat, a cute cat that always seems to get himself into crazy situations.  Just this past week, I went to the bookstore in search of Splat.  I just needed more!!  Instead, I found Russell.  I must say, Scotton did not disappoint.  Russell is a sheep that can't sleep.  He tries several different venues and nothing seems to help him to fall asleep.   He then decides to count.  He counts his legs:  He just doesn't have enough.  He counts stars.  Millions later, he's still awake.  He then decides to count sheep.  Still, nothing quite works until he remembers to count one more important thing.
I shared this book with Brynn's preschool class and it was a hit!  After finishing the book, they played, "Are you Sleeping" and fell asleep just like Russell.  What a great way to spend my morning!
Who's it for?  This is a great read aloud for preschool and the early grades.  The reading level is 1.9

Brynn, Mommy and Russell

Taking a nap with Russell the Sheep:)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Young Adult books aren't just for kids!

The Hunger Games movie is out!!  I have been looking forward to a night out at the movies with my nephew who read The Hunger Games per my recommendation.  Actually, a good number of the books that I have read in the last couple years have been young adult books.  It turns out that these books are great reads for moms and dads too!  Here are a few of my favorite YA books!

The Book Theif is a powerful book about a little girl who shares a love of books with various individuals in Nazi Germany.  This story is narrated by death itself and provides such a humorous, tearful and tragic series of events that make this book hard to put down.  I loved the relationship that the main character, Leisel, shared with her stepfather and Max, the Jew hiding in their basement.  We are reminded of the true meaning of family and courage.  This is a definite must read!

Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series.  For the record, I am an Edward fan through and through!  I loved the books as well as the movies (except for the talking wolves) and couldn't wait to start the next book once I was finished with the  last!  The Twilight series is a chilling story of a love triangle involving a vampire, a werewolf and a high school girl named Bella.  If you haven't already picked these up, give them a try!

  Divergent, by Veronica Roth, is another story involving a dystopian society, where everyone at the age of 16 must choose a faction best suited to for their personality.  Beatrice, the main character soon finds that she is not like the others.  I just started reading this book, but if the recommendations match up, I will enjoy this one and you just might too!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The best ways to display your book collection at home or in your classroom

 The best way to display books for children is by placing them in a forward facing manner.  If a child can see a book cover, they are much more likely to become interested and read.  Here are some clever ways to create the most effective reading environment for your kiddos!  I certainly didn't come up with these ideas on my own, although I plan on trying a few of them when we move into our new home!

If your not feeling very crafty, you can purchase these book racks at Land of Nod or Pottery Barn Kids.  My girls have the Pottery Barn Kids book rack in their rooms.  They are a bit pricey, but definitely do the trick!

Espresso Bin There Done That Floor Book Bincatalinabookrack.jpg
If you're looking for a cheaper, DIY job, try gutter bookshelves!  Apparently gutters carry more than leaves!  Buy a gutter, cut it down to your desired size, sand down the edges and attach to your walls with gutter brackets.  Put the gutters in spaces on the walls that are usually wasted, like behind doors or under windows.  I can't tell you how excited I am to try this!
3d Orange Man Roof Worker Working on Gutters
On Pinterest, I just recently saw the idea of using a deck or window flower box.  Just attach to the wall and add books!
Signature Wrought Iron Window Box - holds 3 flowerpots
Purchase this spice rack from Ikea for just $3.99 and store books in these!  Purchase a few and hang them side by side or vertically down the wall!  Just make sure they're low enough for your little ones to reach.
  BEKVÄM Spice rack Width: 15 3/4 " Depth: 3 7/8 " Height: 3 1/2 " Width: 40 cm Depth: 10 cm Height: 9 cm

Monday, March 19, 2012

Z is for Moose

  We made our first trip of the year to the zoo this week.  What an amazingly beautiful family day it was!  The weather was perfect and the animals cooperated with us wonderfully!  A polar bear even pooped right in front of's the little things.  I love finding books to go along with family trips.  It's always a great way to start a conversation or relive memories of fun filled days.  I couldn't resist the newly released, Z Is for Moose, by Kellly Bingham.  Zebra begins to take us through the alphabet, page by page.  Everything seems to moving smoothly until Moose tries to sneak onto the D page.  This is where the fun begins.  Bingham and Zelinskey take us through a hilariously funny adventure including Moose's temper tantrum when he finds out that MOUSE is taking over his M page.  After much frustration, tantrums and laugh out loud illustrations and text, Zebra saves the day for Moose.

Who's it for?  Although this is an alphabet book, it is entertaining for all ages!  It's great for letter recognition and a laugh!

Lesson Plans/Activities:
1.  Go to your local zoo after reading this book and take a look at some real zebras!
2.  Make your own alphabet book using pictures of the animals that you saw on your trip to the zoo.  If you can't make it to the zoo, create your own alphabet book with your favorite items.  After all, Z is for Moose isn't all animals!

Lions, tigers and bears! Oh my!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Night Before St. Patrick's Day

Cuddle up tonight with this St. Patrick's Day story written to the tune of T'was the night before Christmas.  The kids decorate the entire house with various green decorations, shamrocks and shiny items galore!  Then it's time to get the traps ready!  Catching a Leprechaun means lots of GOLD for everyone!  The kids are so excited that they just can't fall asleep!  But when they can't stay awake any longer, something happens!  Did they actually catch a leprechaun?
Who's it for?  This book is geared towards children ages 3 and up.  It makes a fun read aloud!
Check out our very own Leprechaun traps made by our friend Troy!  I sure hope the luck of the Irish is on our side tonight!

The boxes will fall and trap the Leprechauns when they reach for the gold coins!  Clever, huh?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Books for St. Patrick's Day

My husband and I may be one of the few couples left in this world without an ounce of Irish in our heritage.  Nonetheless, we both just love to jump right into the festivities on St. Patrick's Day.  Enjoy these books on St. Patrick's day, whether or not ye kiss the Blarney stone...

Tales from Old Ireland HC w 2 CDs is a collection of 7 favorite Irish folk tales, including some familiar ones similar to Cinderella and some a little less recognizable.  The illustrations are quirky and entertaining.
Who's is for?  This book is best suited for children, ages eight and up.  However, some stories are okay for the younger child.  Just take a quick preview of the story.  The reading level is 5.4.

Eve Bunting takes us on a little trip up Acorn mountain with a little boy who is still too small to attend the St. Patrick's Day parade in the morning.  He decides to prove to himself that he's absolutely NOT too small to make it all the way up the mountain.
Who's it for?  This book is recommended for children ages five and up.  It's a great read aloud. The reading level is 2.7.

This is a cute flap book for the tiny Irish ones in your life.  Each page includes a hidden leprechaun waiting to be found and tells a bit about the many traditions celebrated on St. Patrick's day.
Who's it for?  This book is for children ages 2 and up.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tips on Tuesday: Creative ways to point out words in stories

It is so important for new readers to point to words while they are reading.  It helps with word to word correspondence and helps to keep their place in the text.  While it is not necessary for kids to continue pointing to words once their reading improves, pointers are fun for so many other things!

1.  Point to words that rhyme.
2.  Point to the beginning of the sentence.
3.  Point to the punctuation at the end of the sentence.
4.  Find words that are repeated in the text.
5.  Point to picture clues.
6.  Point out high frequency words.

Here are some creative ways to point to those words!  You may even have some of these things lying around your house!

You can make a homemade hand with a stuffed garden glove and a stick!

A popsicle stick and a puffy star sticker!

If you have princesses in your house, I'm sure you have one of these!  Any wand will do!

Swirly straws!  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kitten's First Full Moon

My daughter's birthday is coming up and I can't help thinking about how time has flown by!  I am going to have a six year old very soon!  It seems as though lots of little people are born in the month of March.  In fact, five of my very good friends all had babies within weeks of Kylie's birthday.  Know anybody expecting a bundle in the next couple of weeks?  If so, try picking up this sweet book Kitten's First Full Moon, by Kevin Henkes.  I am not a huge fan of kittens, but I am a big fan of Kevin Henkes.  This book tells an adorable tale of a kitten who mistakes the moon for a bowl of milk.  The shimmery black and white photos are stunning and add to the magic of the book as the kitten makes various attempts to take a lick of that milk.  Sticking his tongue out won't work.  Running after it only makes it move further away and he just can't seem to leap high enough!  After an exhausting evening, he returns home to a bowl of milk...lucky kitten.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fingertip Island: The Vincenzo Adventure

Just imagine a time when your imagination went wild...a time when you just couldn't stop thinking about the what ifs and worries of your life.  Rudolph Vincenzo, the main character in Ned Rauch-Mannino's  FingerTip Island: The Vincenzo Adventure certainly has one wild head full of thoughts!  Our family really enjoyed the paper airplane ride to a tropical island full of adventures and obstacles created by the imagination of Ralph, his brother Gus and his older sister, June.  At first, Fingertip Island is a great escape from the troubles in Asbury.  There's no trouble with school on Fingertip Island and there aren't any mean neighbors causing trouble...or are there?  Ralph and his siblings learn about the power of imagination.  It can take you on tub flying, tiger talking, lava flowing adventures, but it can also help you to solve the most important problems in life.  Fingertip Island was a perfect way to show my daughters just how fun life can be when we let books take us through all types of adventures and many different our imagination!

Who's it for?:  This book is geared towards middle grade children.  However, it is a great read aloud for even the little ones!

Lesson Plans/Activities:
1.  Get your own imagination flowing and have your students create an alternative ending to the story.

2.  Have your students create an island, using their own imagination.  Have them draw a picture of their island or create brochures about the many different features.  Time to get those creative juices flowing!!

Disclosure:  I received this book for free from the author/publisher.  All of my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tips on Tuesday: 5 Ways to Keep Read Alouds Effective, Fun and Engaging

Tomorrow is National Read Aloud Day.  Here are some tips on how to keep your kids engaged and happy during your special read aloud time!  

1.  Turn off and remove all distractions.  Cell phones, TV's and video games should be far from story time!

2.  Vary your voice throughout the story.  You don't have to go crazy with squeaky voices or scary monster voices.  Try these:
            * Switch your voice from high to low
            * Speak softly and then loudly, depending on the text
            * Speak quickly and then slowly
            * Pause or drag out words or phrases to emphasize important parts of the book, especially the
               first and last sentence of the book!

3.  Pay attention to gestures while you are reading.  Use hand motions to help describe words, raise eyebrows dramatically when you are reading something surprising and remember to smile or frown at appropriate points in the story.

4.  If you have active little hands and bodies during reading time, don't assume that the children aren't listening.  Allow them to color, play with play-do or fiddle with a small, quiet toy.

5.  Make connections throughout the story to keep students engaged.  Connect events in the story to life events, events occurring in other stories or personal experiences.  For example, when reading The Three Little Pigs, ask a question like, "Has a stranger ever knocked on your door?" or "What kind of house do you live in?"

Happy reading!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Top 5 Read Aloud books for Children

It's National Read aloud Day on Wednesday, March 7th.  Have you thought about the books that you're going to share?  Here a some of my favorite read alouds of all time!  I have read tons of books to children through the years, but these are the five that provide the most valuable discussion.

The Children really get into the characters and learn a lot from a little spider hanging from a barn wall.  E.B. White provides discussion on many topics involving friendship, loyalty, love and death.  I don't ever get tired of sharing this book with the little ones.  Splurge on the large read aloud version of this book.

Bill Martin, Jr. hit a home run with this one!  Not only is this book educational in the fact that it introduces all of the letters of the alphabet, he sets it to an amazingly catchy, rhythmic format.  The kids never tire from hearing the silly rhyming phrases and gazing at the simple illustrations on each and every page.  Chicka chicka boom boom, will there be enough room?  I don't think so!

   The Empty Pot, by Demi may not be as popular as the rest, but serves as a wonderful read aloud leading to meaningful discussion in honesty and determination.  The Emperer of China was getting old and needed to find a successor to the throne.  He gave a seed to each and every child and asked them to "show their best."   Everyone's plant seemed to grow perfectly except for Ping's.  Little did he know that by sticking to  his true core values, he would be chosen to become the next Emperor.  Love, love, love this!!!

 How could you not fall in love with this lovable, little bat named Stellaluna?  In a tragic event involving an owl, Stellaluna gets separated from her family and is taken care of by a bunch of birds.  Stellaluna quickly realizes how different she is from the rest, but instead of feeling alone and left out, Janell Cannon celebrates the differences.  This book emphasizes the fact that differences should be acknowledged, accepted and celebrated.

 This classic never fails to be a favorite with all types of children, big and small.  Not only is the man's funny way of selling his hats (piling them on top of his head) and his foot-stomping, fist shaking temper tantrums hilariously entertaining, children learn a lot more from this book.  It's simple text and format make it easy to recognize and discuss the making of predictions,  event sequencing and  recognition of patterns.  This is definitely an oldy but goodie!

Other favorites:  The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary, James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl, Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes, First Day Jitters, by Julie Dannebrg

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Lorax

We just saw The Lorax. I think Dr. Suess would be very proud!!

A Celebration of Dr. Suess

  In celebration of this special "Read Across America" day, I am sharing five of my favorite books by our birthday boy, Dr. Suess.  I love sharing these stories with my students as well as my own little girls.  You really can't go wrong with Dr. Suess!

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish:  I love using this book as a read aloud and then turning it into a little book skit.  Assign each child a fish and have them decorate it to go along with the story.  A little memorization and a lot of fun!

Hop on Pop:  This is one of those books that's easy enough to read and long enough to foster tons of confidence!  My little girl can read a "LONG" book!

If I Ran the Zoo:  We love everything zoo!  Imagine if someone really unlocked every cage and let the animals run wild!  Crazy fun!

I Can Lick 30 Tigers:  I loved tying Dr. Suess into math class on his birthday with this one.  Read this book and then have your students create their own math equation to equal 30 Tigers.  You'll be amazed at how many ways your students can get to 30!  some will be cautious and go the 1+1+1 route.  Others will show your some great math skills!  Have them illustrate to go along with the equation and create your own book!

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back:  Doesn't everyone wish they had a Cat with a hat to blame for all mischievous behavior?  We just laugh and laugh at all of the trouble the Cat in the Hat brings!

What's your favorite Dr. Suess book?  Use this checklist to record all of the wonderful books you have read by the great Dr. Suess!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Take the Reader's Oath in Honor of Dr. Suess!

It's Read Across America Day tomorrow!  Take the reader's oath with your little ones and then let them sign and decorate the paper!  Put them all together in a book and revisit often!  Happy reading!!

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