Monday, January 25, 2010

A Sock Is a Pocket for Your Toes {Poetry Friday}

I had never really thought about a sock as a pocket for your toes before and was very intrigued with this thinking. I participated in Poetry Friday last week hosted by Liz in Ink. As I was getting ready to post and connect with our host I discovered Liz in Ink is Liz Garton Scanlon, children's author. I explored her site further and found out her words were the foundation for a Caldecott Honor Medal just last week. Needless to say, I wanted to get her books and look at them further.

Who has something to share?, is a question we start our morning meetings with in my classroom. Last Friday before the children could start sharing their thoughts I said, "I do!" I then shared with the students about this blog and how the author of these two books (held in my hand) left me a comment about my thinking about The Swing poem.

For reading workshop that day I read A Sock Is a Pocket for Your Toes by Liz Garton Scanlon. This book is thoughtful and encourages the reader to look at normal every day things in a new way. Thinking outside of the box and I loved it but I wasn't sure how my kindergarten students would react to such thinking. Would they be able to generate some of their own pocket thinking? I knew third graders would be able to easily. As I read the story, they sat intently following along and listening but I couldn't read any facial expressions to know if they were thinking on their own. When I finished, I thought we read it for enjoyment and that's alright...until Z said, "the air is a pocket for birds." I could start to feel the bubbles of excitement in my body and then those bubbles burst right out when G said, "glasses are a pocket for your eyes." That's all it took and the ball was rolling. 20 out of 24 students generated their own ideas for pockets and 4 friends were willing to share their thinking with those 4 friends. We are now illustrating our pocket thinking and making a display for the hallway. Here are a few others I thought were just delightful from five and six year olds.

-a chair is a pocket for you

-your ponytail is a pocket for your hair

-a plate is a pocket for food

-your teeth are a pocket for cavities

-a swing is a pocket for your body

-a tv is a pocket for shows

-a zoo is a pocket for animals

-the Earth is a pocket for people

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Swing {Poetry Friday}

The Swing

How do you like to go up in a swing,

Up in the air so blue?

Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing

Ever a child could do.

Up in the air and over the wall,

Till I can see so wide,

Rivers and trees and cattle and all

Over the country side-

Till I look down on the garden green,

Down on the roof so brown -

Up in the air I go flying again,

Up in the air and down.

Robert Louis Stevenson

"This couldn't be a poem!", was my first reaction when I found this poem. I was a young teacher, flipping through a new poetry anthology in my 2/3 multi-age classroom, it was actually my first year of teaching. This is a SONG my Grandmother would sing to me while she pushed me on a swing. It has a tune. She must of tweaked the words, I know she said something about Leonard's farm. This all ran through my head at the time. See, my grandmother lived in the country, she had some acres, with a garden, cows next door and a swing out back to an old tree just for our enjoyment. I spent so many hours there growing up and the whole image that floods to my mind is as clear as if I was there doing it all again. Poetry is a wonderful text to use for connections, fluency, word work, mental images, but most of all enjoyment. Embrace poetry without dissecting it first.

I currently have this poem in a collection put together by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, Here's a Little Poem. A subtitle for this book is, A Very First Book of Poetry. Which is so true. I bought this for my youngest as a toddler and wish I had it for the two older girls. She would request poetry for her bedtime read aloud as a preschooler. The illustrations done by Polly Dunbar are very delightful, colorful, and whimsical. We should expose our youngest learners to more poetry. I need to think about that more and these thoughts about embracing it without dissecting it in the classroom.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


This is book was one I found and ordered from Cover to Cover and picked up on Monday while visiting with my blogging friends. I'm very excited about this new book. This book is written and illustrated by Tim Hopgood from England and WOW! SAID THE OWL is his first book published in the United States.

On the first page the reader meets a young and curious little owl. I think children will be able to connect with owl because she tries something new and something she isn't suppose to do. Instead of staying up all night, she naps and wakes up just before dawn. She is hoping to see the things she sees at night during the day. As you can guess the owl is seeing things for the first time in color and finds it amazing. "The sky was a warm and wonderful pink", is just one of the phrases using descriptive language to describe a color. "WOW!" said the owl", is a repeating refrain which is perfect for a shared reading experience. I also think the students could make their own color books thinking about colors being represented in every day life and connecting the description to rich language. You might be happy to know that after seeing all of the fantastic colors the owl realizes the night sky is filled with the most beautiful stars. Maybe there's a message there that the things we see daily do hold beauty if we stop and look.

Look for something today that might appear a bit different and see it's beauty. I do hope we see more from Tim Hopgood come our way!

PS - Katie at Creative Literacy has a few more color books you might want to know about.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Central Ohio Bloggers Gather

Yesterday the Central Ohio Bloggers gathered to celebrate and chat about books, but in particular the winners that were announced from the Association for Library Service to Children awards. The winners can all be found here incase you somehow missed it.

I couldn't join the group for breakfast with it being Martin Luther King Jr. Day because I was blessed to have a day with my three girls. However, I didn't want to miss seeing this group of professionals and friends for a bit of time so the girls and I stopped by Cover to Cover on our way for a day of excursions. This group helps me grow professionally, inspires me, and we share an interest in books. This group gave me the nudge needed to start my own blog and I thank them for that. I also wanted to stop by yesterday because I've followed Mary Lee Hahn through her blog and her book, Reconsidering Read Aloud but hadn't actually met her yet. While I was busy juggling the shopping of my six year old and didn't actually talk with Mary Lee but a hello, I can say I've been in the same room with her and have had my photo taken with a great thinker in education. She is just so cute! (as are the rest of my blogging group).

Wherever you may be, I hope you are able to find friends and colleagues who enrich your life and enjoy talking about things you do.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Playing with Poems {Poetry Friday}

Day and Night

The sun went up,
the sun went down.
The children slept
all over town.

I found a great poetry resource, Playing with Poems Word Study Lessons for Shared Reading, K-2. Zoe Ryder White had word study goals she wanted to achieve through poetry and found it hard to find poems to match her word study goals. She began to write her own poems which resulted in this book and encourages others to do so. The introduction provides a great section explaining and reinforcing the importance for shared reading. There are four chapters all together with the first providing a collection of teaching methods one can use with poetry in the classroom. This list was very helpful to think through with a mix of old and new ideas for me. I feel many things this year are a crash refresher course on emergent literacy. One idea I read about which I think the students will love is the mystery sight word bag. Several sight words from a poem are placed in a brown paper bag. Students pull one card out and match it to the word for each time they see it in the particular poem. The next three chapters correspond to literacy work found in kindergarten, first, and second grade.

Each poem provides many entry points and learning targets for literacy. You will find a list of beginning and ending letter sounds, blends, spelling patterns, and sight words. Curricular goals follow with lessons ideas for introducing and revisiting. Each poem closes with a From the Classroom....a piece of writing reflecting and documenting class room organization. I was pleasantly surprised when the ending of the book provides tips for the reader to write their own poems, collect poetry, and using student poetry. This book guides and empowers teachers to think on their own, enjoy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Silly Suzy Goose

When I saw Silly Suzy Goose at the library, I instantly knew I wanted to use it with my students! Suzy is a goose, just like the others in her flock with ambitions and dreams to do other things. She wishes she could hang upside down and flap her wings like a bat. She wishes she could squawk like a toucan. She wishes she could slide like a penguin. She wishes she could jump like a kangaroo and so much more. Suzy continues to show us the different things she wishes she could do with various animals even a lion. However, she doesn't quite roar like the lion. The lion ignores her at first and then he doesn't, resulting in the lion chasing her. She returns to her flock where she can blend in and is saved from the lion, "perhaps it is better to be just like everyone else, thought Suzy Goose."

I can visualize my students immediately on a second read, if not the first, acting out the different movements right along with Suzy. They find movement fun, engaging and I know learning and the brain are stimulated with movement. This is a win win situation for everyone. The book also uses a repeatable pattern for each page, "If I was a ___________, I could __________. A pattern that will help us participate as a shared reading, possibly a mentor for our own writing individually or a big book of our own. It might become a word wall word for if. This book has multiple possibilities and benefits for emergent readers and writers.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Word Wall Literature - From Head to Toe

I began reading From Head to Toe because it was another book written by the great Eric Carle and children could participate in it as a shared reading. If you are new to this book, each page begins with an animal doing an action with their body and asking the child on the right side of the page, if they can do it. Here is a sample of the text from the two page spread.

"I am a penguin

and I turn my head.

Can you do it?

I can do it!"

As the reader continues you meet a giraffe that can bend it's neck, a buffalo that can raise it's shoulders, a monkey that can wave it's arms, a seal that can clap it's hands, a gorilla that thumps it's chest, and more. If you have spent any time with kindergartners than you can imagine all the movement THEY actually do while listening and interacting with this book. After I moved it to our buddy reading box I was wondering why our reading time seemed a bit louder than normal and realized while they were reading this title they are doing each of the actions. I believe they were more successful with their own reading because they were moving. I've been doing some more thinking about movement and literature and will share that with you soon.

This book was a great book to revisit and use when we were studying the word can for our word wall. It's located in two repetitive phrases, one on each page. The illustrations are done in Eric Carle's classic style and it's interesting how he shows the action the animal and child do.

Friday, January 8, 2010

When Lucy Goes Out Walking {Poetry Friday}

is a book of poetry and so much more! When Lucy Goes Out Walking, A Puppy's First Year by Ashleigh Wolff is book showing the reader how a puppy grows during a year. Each month is represented in a poetry format beginning with January.


When Lucy goes our walking

In January snows,

she leaves a trail of puppy prints

Everywhere she goes.

"Frosty fur!

Brrr, Brrr, Brrr!"

In January snows.

As you read this book and travel through Lucy's first year, the reader is taken on a journey through weather and seasonal changes. Both of these science concepts are shown through text and illustrations. Each poem is on the left side of a two page illustrated spread. The top left corner and bottom right corner of the two page spread appear to have their corners folded up display the previous and next month. As the children and I were reading the book and they noticed this feature we were able to discuss the sequence of months in a year, mathematical concepts. Each poem begins with the same line, offering an easy entry point for our emergent readers to join in. The italized print could provide the opportunity for the poems to be read in two voices. As I continued to reread this book, I discovered how carefully the words were chosen using description and rhyme. This book is a gem for any classroom.

Here's a warmer month to enjoy, especially if you are buried in cold and snow.


When Lucy goes out walking

One afternoon in June,

A storm is coming form the west -

She hears the thunder BOOM!

"Time to hide!

Safe inside!"

One afternoon in June.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Another book I discovered on my recent trip to the library is perfect for our classroom to participate in a shared reading, buddy reading, and using our picture clues to read. Cat written by Mike Dumbleton and illustrated by Craig Smith is written with the emergent reader in mind. The text is simple, repetitive and uses sight words within short phrases. Here's a sample of how it starts...



Dog. Cat.

Tall tree.

Thank goodness for that!"

Cat then crosses paths with a mouse, sprinkler, bird, bike, milk, and a mat. Did you notice how the order of cat and dog are repeated and reverses in order, Dog. Cat? This pattern continues throughout the book with each thing the cat comes across. The phrase, "Thank goodness for that!" is repeated throughout the book and will be a fun way to engage the students with the text. The more I read this book I am quite impressed with the illustrations and how supportive they are to the text. The students will easily be able to figure out the text because the illustrations truly and precisely match the text. The author and illustrator team are from Australia, a leader in early literacy instruction. It's no surprise Mike Dumbleton is a literacy consultant currently and worked as a Literacy Coordinator. This book is worth a peek for any K/1 classroom.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hurry! Hurry!

I've been thinking about books that make a great shared reading and that I can move into a buddy reading box during reading workshop. I've also been thinking about modeling and showing students how to use picture clues and teaching our early readers one to one monitoring. I think Hurry! Hurry! by Eve Bunting may help all these things.

What grabbed my attention first was the simplistic text on each page, one word repeated twice. The lead for this story also grabbed my attention and wanted me to read more, "HURRY! HURRY! the rooster is crowing. I think with just one word to remember it might be helpful for the early readers to then locate and find the text repeated and think about monitoring. Each page in the story has another farm animal, usually a parent and baby pair appearing to go somewhere. This story also uses sight words to help our early readers, for example go and yes. As the story continues there is an urgency within the illustrations and the text. As you see all the animals gather in the barn you read, "I'm here! I'm here!"

I'm thinking about using this story whole group but also breaking the traditional format of guided reading with each student having their own copy and using this beautiful picture book to help nudge some of my beginning readers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Word Wall Literature - My Car

I had to pick a few books up at the library one evening and thought I would quickly browse the display shelves in the children's section and joyfully found, My Car by Byron Barton. This book was published in 2001 but is new to me. I immediately picked it up from the shelves to explore my word wall children's literature thinking further and found it to be a perfect reading for the word my. The collage pages against a yellow background are simple and match the text. The text interested me more with the use of short sentences I thought my children would easily pick up on and read independently. For example, "This is my car." As I was reading along, I stumbled upon a diagram with the sentence, "My car has many parts." What a great opportunity to introduce a nonfiction feature to my younger students. As I used this in class the next day, I was surprised when the students began reading right along with me on a first read. I knew then we were growing since we met in August, that was a great feeling.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Word Wall Literature - My Elephant

My students and I are building a word wall together which is a literacy practice that has been around since I started teaching. A lot of progress has been made and as I returned to the early literacy community I've seen a lot of "fabricated" materials for word wall use. I've wanted to keep our learning authentic and rich with children's literature so I've begun to search and use what I would call, authentic children's literature. Literature written with the purpose of enjoyment and not contrived by sight word language.

My Elephant by Petr Horacek is a new book just published in 2009 is perfect for the word my. The story begins with a little boy looking for someone to play with. Grandpa and Grandma are both too busy to play, "So I asked my ELEPHANT if he wanted to play with me." Now, before we go any further I have to describe the illustration for the elephant. The pages are against a crisp clean white background with the elephant appearing to be done in a strong black pencil outline, cut out of gray paper and then the skin is sketched with a multitude of lines to show the wrinkly skin elephants have. This is my best observation, I was disappointed with the description found in the front of the book, "The illustrations are done in mixed media." This is something children could easily do as they capture what they would do with their own elephant.

As you can imagine, the boy and elephant do many things together and sometimes a mess is made which as grandma and grandpa inquiring about the origin of the mess. Each time the boy replies, "It was my ELEPHANT." This phrase was just enough repetition needed to have my students participate as a choral read. The boy apologizes to his elephant for telling on him and then the ELEPHANT is the originator of their events together. The ending is charming, the boy wakes up in his bed wondering how he got there and grandpa replies, You were tired, So you ELEPHANT carried you to bed!" Children are very creative and their imagination carried their own connections throughout this story.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

One Little Word

Instead of creating a New Years Resolution and always wanting to have many I've chosen to participate in the One Little Word project and ideas from scrapbooker/storyteller Ali Edwards. The first year I chose enjoy and last year I chose aware. This year I've spent time looking at what others are thinking about and you can too via twitter, #onelittleword.

This year I'm choosing nurture and really felt this visual thesaurus map of the word nurture was just right. I needed a word to cover many things, without making a to do list. First, I need to nurture my own children with care and love. They are 13, 10, and 6 with each requiring different things and tweak in my relationships with them. I sometimes need to step back and remember to nurture their needs first which may go against my own nurturing. Of course, I could take more time to nurture my adult relationships including my friends and husband. I hope to nourish and take the time needed for my own creativity, fitness and health. I think using the word nurture and having this as a focus will help guide many decisions for provide the guidance I need to stop working a bit too much, sometimes.

However, teaching is a big part of who I am as a person and I need to nurture this part of me too. I need to continue reading and creating a kindergarten classroom that will promote and foster my students socially, emotionally, and cognitively. I find spending time and connecting with colleagues who share similar thinking nurturing, as a person and a teacher. I started this blog not really sure where it would go or what would become of it, I'll continue to nurture this and see what comes my way in 2010. Happy New Year everyone.