Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Song - So Glad I'm Here

So Glad I'm Here is my new favorite song and the song I now play to transition from our book look time to our morning meetings. Elizabeth Mitchell is an artist I didn't know but just discovered and love her voice and beat to be used in the classroom. She is a bit of rock, a bit of folk, and a bit pop all rolled into one. This track is found on her album, You Are My Sunshine.

So Glad I'm Here has a fun beat and a tamborine which the kids like to clap along with. The refrains are repetitive and have three simple messages.

-I'll sing while I'm here.

-Love brought me here.

-Joy brought me here.

and who could resist starting their day thinking, So Glad I'm Here. I could easily seeing all grades enjoying this song at some point within their day. It's even good for adults to hear in our busy days.

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Mary Had a Little Lamb by Sarah Josepha Hale was just what I was looking for and I should of known photo-illustrator Bruce McMillan would be part of my answer. To help promote early literacy nursery rhymes are high recommended by several experts for children to learn and work with language. There is also a growing concern that are children are not being exposed to them as much as they once were before coming to school. So, I've been searching and wondering if there are nursery rhymes done as single picture books without much success. The collection books often found are hard for young children to navigate with their early literacy needs.

From what I am finding at the moment there is not a lot of single nursery rhymes in picture book format until now with Mary Had a Little Lamb by Sarah Josepha Hale. Bruce McMillan as he always does captures remarkable photographs to tell this story. In his afterward, you learn the colors in the book were chosen after the outfit for Mary was chosen, yellow overalls with bright pink and yellow striped shirt underneath. The Mary in this version wears glasses and Bruce McMillan felt it important for children to see more children wearing glasses so he worked his photography magic with filters and lighting to not have a reflective glare. I also liked how he used a male teacher. You also learn, to help with the coloring in the photos the sheep had a bath each morning in the farm house sink.

The afterward provides a history for the poem, Mary Had a Little Lamb. It was first published as Mary's Lamb. The verse has gone under some changes, it was published by William McGuffey without credit to Mrs. Hale. The history was interesting to read. If you know of any additional titles of nursery rhymes found as a single picture book I would love to have you share in the comments.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Blogs and Website Linked

I was playing around on my new laptop this weekend and found some new links to add that I thought were worth sharing. They are listed over on the right but I thought I would point them out more directly here.

All-en-a-Day's Work - thoughts about teaching, learning, and life. I love his sense of voice with experience.

The Write Brained Teacher - loved finding a blog focusing more on writing and loved the play on words for the title.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lily Brown's Paintings

Lily Brown's Paintings by Angela Johnson was a book I had placed on my book fair wish list last week and my wish was granted. It was granted by someone I would of never suspected, a former student now in fifth grade. She walked into my room one day last week, as she would of done as a third grader two years ago and gently handed me this book. I was so surprised and filled with joy.

The book begins with Lily Brown a little girl who loves her family and when she paints, "her world starts to change." Isn't that a great notion for children to think about? That painting can open doors and creativity can change how things are. Each page is a painting by Lily Brown with her own creative spin explained through the illustrations and the text. For example, when Lily walks to school the trees are wearing hats and drink tea on cool days, bowing to her. A few pages later, Lily paints a path in the park where antelopes are lounging and alligators are on the phone. I think this would be a great model for children to see and hear to encourage creativity within their work.

My favorite page goes like this,

"In Lily Brown's paintings
the colors of people,
places, and things
change with her heart.

People walk upside down,
and the buildings on streets dance
with airplanes flying above.
And it's another world.

Lily paints all that she sees and feels her own way.
She puts her world of color
and light on anything she can find.
It's magical."

The illustrations are done in watercolor with bright and subtle tones. A bonus with this book is a note from the illustrator. She tells the reader how her work has been influenced by trips with her father to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the artists that have inspired her. She incorporates her early experiences into her work.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Read Signs

I Read Signs by Tana Hoban is perfect for early literacy and showing children they can read signs found in their everyday life. Recognizing and understanding words and signs is one way children work on acquisition of vocabulary. We are still familiarizing ourselves with our school and I read this book to set the stage for a sign walk and big book making later this week. I'm thinking of being Tana Hoban with my camera in hand and capturing all the signs we find around our school digitally. Our conversation was very interesting today and so many children were sucessful readers because they have seen or could make sense out of the signs in Hoban's book. Reading signs at school will help familiarize them with their school and then I think we can collect signs from home we can read.
Addition: Today as I walked out with my students, M got all excited to find an exit sign for our photography on Thursday and a no smoking sign. Yea!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ghoulish Goodies

Ghoulish Goodies by Sharon Bowers is a great little cooking book for this time of the year. A and I were at a local bookstore that has 32 rooms, if you are local hopefully you know about The Book Loft found in German Village. I think A just likes the fact she can wind through several rooms right to the children's section. We had just spent time during a doctor appointment flipping through my file on Halloween gathering ideas for crafts and treats at home.

Finding this book was just perfect and the table of contents was quite intriguing. There are six chapters with recipes organized in this manner; candy and goodies, cookies, cakes and cupcakes, party food, snacks, and drinks, halloween supper, and scary party food. This book is about 8 x 7 inches with fun fonts to help set the theme of halloween and beautiful full color photographs showing most recipes. The first recipe for Monster Eyeballs had A's eyes glistening with excitment and she hasn't realized it but they are very much like our OSU Buckeye treats we make. YUM!

I'm not sure how anyone could look at this book and not get in the mood for Halloween and making treats. I had an extra surprise with this book. All three of my girls want to use it. My girls are each three and a half years apart, with the youngest and oldest being seven years apart. Sometimes, finding things in common can be challenging. A and N flipped through the book right when we got home and made a shopping list. Then, N and B made Cup of Worm together on Saturday and it was so nice to see them interact together and having fun. I think the next two weeks will bring more fun in our kitchen.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Are you excited for kindergarten?

Yes, I am. Back on August 4, my friend Katied from Creative Literacy asked me this question in the comment section. It's taken me over two months to reply. Not because I was being rude or ignoring her, I just didn't know how to answer it. I felt a lot of uncertainty when she asked this question. Uncertainty about the set up of my room, rearranging my classroom library, gathering and organizing math manipulatives, organizing two classes and figuring out a daily schedule. The uncertainty is much smaller now. Now, it's related to things that come with change. As we all know, change is good and change is making me think about new things, in new ways and old things in a new way.

To answer Katied, yes I'm excited now that I'm in the trenches but more so after two small events last week. E and I were having a writing conference over a story he had written in his Drawing and Writing Notebook, at first I saw a group of stick figures gathered together and his name was written in a speech bubble. E says, "Look Mrs. Robek, that's you and you are reading Old MacDonald to us at the carpet." Yes, it was me. I was sitting in my rocking chair surrounded by E and his peers reading. E is a child who has been writing about things important to him since school started and I was included. I was just beaming inside and out at this moment.

On the same day, N was last in line as I took the children out to recess before lunch and he stopped before entering the playground area and called to me, "Mrs. Robek, I'll see you real soon, I'll see you when you come and get us from lunch. Right Mrs. Robek, real soon." I'm not sure what provoked N to tell me this, but maybe he knew I would stop and think. N is a confident student and has handled adjusting to kdg. I got to thinking how it takes time to connect with a new class and new students, each group is different. I walked away feeling connected to N and thrilled he looked forward to the time I would pick him up from lunch. My students are only on day 17 of school, but we've connected.

I think I couldn't be excited before school because I didn't have any connections. Everything was new. I've connected with my space and it feels like home but more importantly I've connected with 45 students and to me you've got to connect and have a relationship to learn. I hope you've found some connections.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Harriet's Halloween Candy

Is the perfect book for the month of October and for any math learning with sorting. Author Nancy Carlson uses the character Harriet the dog to tell a story of sharing after the event of trick or treating. Harriet doesn't really want to share her candy. She sorts her candy, counts, her candy, hides her candy, and eats her candy. After eating too much candy, which most children hope to do with their treats she decides she isn't feeling so well. She then thinks sharing with her baby brother Walt is a better feeling than a queasy stomach. What makes this book great for mathematics is just one page.

" When she got home, she laid it all out carefully on the floor. Then she organized it. First by color. Then by size. And finally by favorites."

Harriet reminds the reader sorting can be flexible and there is more than one way to sort objects for success.