Monday, August 29, 2011

My Pete the Cat shoes are a HIT!

Here they are, my PETE the CAT shoes.  A wonderful raspberry color and I found them on a great sale.  Why raspberry?  It was/is a fun summer color.  It's warm.  It reminded me of raspberry sherbet.  The price was right.  Also, they are comfy and looked darling with any dress.  Was it worth it?  Yes!  My kids love them.  I wore them the night we met and the first day of school so they could find me.  There was actually disappointment when I didn't wear them the second day of school. 

We've been singing and rereading both Pete the Cat and Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes.  You can hear students singing during math workshop while we explore our math manipulatives.  As I've been reading and rereading my mind started wondering about the writing of these two books.  Is it intentional for Pete to be wearing red shoes while he is rocking in his school?  His white shoes turned red first.  If so, will his next adventure happen while wearing blue shoes?  YES, I'm already requesting a new book about PETE.  I also think PETE and Eric Litwin need to join twitter, I would follow them!

I hope your year is off to a wonderful start, mine has and it's busy.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 10 for 10: Reflection

I just wanted to thank everyone who has stopped by and enjoyed our August 10 for 10: Picture Book event.  If you shared a top ten list, they are just fabulous and a great resource for us to turn to.  I loved reading so many personal insights for the books chosen.  It was fun to see books appear on more than one list.  It was fun to read the different ways people collected their books.  It was fun to meet new people via technology.  With such a wealth of book suggestions I started out handwriting a list of books that were new to me.  I also said I wasn't going to buy any books but could use the public library.  Then I got excited about books and made a plan.  Amazon does a three for four deal on paperbacks and wham! I was over at the website in a flash.  My goal was just one three for four grouping, four new books and this was going to show control.  As I typed in titles many came up only in hard back and I passed right over those.  They made it to the library list.  I was really going to be able to keep to my three for four goal until, one hard cover book was a super deal.  I just couldn't pass it up.  A principal bought it for every teacher in her building, a picture book, a mentor text for student writing.  I had to buy it and if you search the JOG you too will find the one book I got.  I slightly fudged my plan.  A huge shout out to Cathy for helping make this event happen, I couldn't do it without her.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August 10 for 10: Picture Book Event is Here

Good Morning Everyone, it's going to be a great day!  It's August 10th, 2011 and that means Cathy at Reflect and Refine Learning Building a Learning Community and I are here to host our second annual 10 for 10 Picture Books blog sharing event.  I've been thinking a lot about top 10 list.  In the music industry it changes weekly.  I'm not that flexible or fickle.  I like routine, I like what feels good, I like what I know but I am willing to change and seek new ideas.  When I first looked at my list from last year a few days ago I gave a big UGH and closed the screen.  Last year it was interesting to follow other's thinking and read the personal spin they took to a top ten list.  I went shopping to IKEA with Cathy and she mentioned she had a focus for her 10 for 10 but never led on to what that was.  I instantly thought, I don't know if I'm ready for a focus.  To be honest, I don't know if I can change my 10 for 10.  Let's see what happens.

My list is not in a ranking order, I've just numbered them to make sure I stop at 10!

1.  Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Eric Carle changed my life in college and has to STAY!  I was sitting in my reading methods course at SUNY College at Buffalo when Dr. Phelps read this book in class.  I was introduced to a predictable pattern, shared reading, Eric Carle, collage hand made papers, turning the page slightly ahead of the text to encourage student participation and I'm sure much more.  I remember thinking this was much more fun and engaging than the basal readers and reading groups I grew up with.  I've never had a group of students who didn't fall in love with this book.  It has to stay because reading this book is one of my fondest memories to each of my three daughters who are now bigger and I'm sure took turns reading it to each other at some point in our journey together.

2.  Suddenly, is a book I found last fall and knew the minute I finished reading it with my students it would be a NEW additon to my list.  Suddenly! by Colin McNaughton is perfect for helping kindergarten students think about predicting.  The text is larger in size.  The illustrations are very supportive to the text and using our picture clues to understand the story is essential.  The text also has a pattern and would allow us as writers to think about the word suddenly and what happens following that word each time.  The rest of this post was written November 10, 2011.

3.  Me Hungry! by Jeremy Tankard is a complete delight to read and use with students and has to STAY.  I reviewed Me Hungry earlier last year and it was a hit in our room right away.  I instantly thought this book would be great for my boys and found out boys and girls would both enjoy it.  I find it's easy for me to pick books in general for the entire audience and easy for me to pick books for girls in mind.  My three daughters make that easy.  However, this is probably the first picture book that wasn't nonfiction I thought my boys would like.

4.  The Three Bears by Byron Barton has to STAY.  I just enjoy reading this book to students.  The text is simple and repetitive and for whatever reason my inflection  I think the simple collage technique is an easy one for students to see and replicate.  I love to help children figure out there's one color for each character that gets repeated in clothing and objects.  My two classes shared creating retelling murals this year using Byron Barton has a mentor and then we interactively wrote our text.   These were beautiful pieces of collaboration and fostered so much literacy learning. 

5.  I feel a bit risky putting a NEW book on my list I've  never read to students but I have that much faith in this book to say it's going to be a top 10.  I've been to New Hampshire five times and each time I hope, wish, and actively look to see a moose in the wild.  I've seen moose crossing signs and my hopes get higher.  Each time to be slightly disappointed when I realize another trip has gone by and I haven't spotted a moose.  So, imagine my excitement and overwhelming joy when I found this just right book I could highly connect with!

Looking for a MOOSE by Phyllis Root is hysterical to someone in my situation.  After reading the first two pages, I bought this book to share with my students and my family, without reading more.  You can read the rest of this original post from July 9, 2011.

6.  Cornelius P Mud, Are You Ready for School?  by Barney Saltzberg has to STAY.  As we reread this book together we really notice humor within the illustrations and have to infer.  We can do so much thinking within what appears a simple emerging reader text.  Cornelius is a great character for young students, they can connect with him.  He has three books, a little series for young readers. Which opens doors for more books for my readers.

7.  NEW!  Pigs to the Rescue by John Himmelman is funny and had my young readers laughing.  This laughter was a sign of comprehension and enjoyment.  What a great combination to achieve together.  Farmer Greenstalk and his family are having all kinds of problems on their farm.  Each day of the week presents a new problem for the farmer, his wife, and their son.  When each problem happens a group pigs come to the rescue with creative solutions.  For example, one day Mrs. Greenstalk found a leak in her garden hose.  When the reader turns the page they discover pigs in bathing suits carrying buckets of water and a swimming pool above their head filled with water.  My students loved the repetition on every other page, "Pigs to the rescue!"  The pigs continue to get funnier as the story progresses.  The Greenstalks run out of milk for their last problem and they freeze hoping the pigs don't come to the rescue.  The pigs don't come but someone else from the farm does.  I'm excited to share there is a Chickens to the Rescue and soon to be released, Cows to the Rescue

8.  Big Mama's by Donald Crews is one of my favorite mentor text for writing and gets to STAY.  He writes about things from his own life and turns it into a story for others.  Visiting Big Mama is a pretty normal thing to do and our children need to see writing about everyday things can be just right.  It's also a great book that easily fosters conversations for students.

9.  Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is about older people, it's about spending time with them, it's about memories.  I want it to STAY.  Memories give us ideas for writing.  As in this story, memories help us remember.   I think we need to work harder and bridge the gap between our young and old.   I think we need to work harder as a profession helping students make writing easier by writing about memories and what is known. 

10.  Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin was on my list last year and has been slightly moved over by this NEW Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes!  (Both titles link you to my original posts for these books.)   I honestly had a dream two nights ago I went to school and the room was filled with parents and students.  The room was set up but I had no handouts, no sign up sheets and really no introduction to kindergarten speech planned.  It bordered a nightmare and as I conclude this list I know just like Pete the Cat says, "because it's all good." the next couple of weeks will all work out, it always does. 

I'm so glad you stopped by.  If you are joining us this year please let us know.  You can let us know by leaving a comment on our blogs.  You can let us know via twitter @cathymere or @mandyrobek.  We will then connect all of our list via a Jog.  Make sure you settle in with a large class of water to stay dehydrated, I think the Jog will be a long one with lots of interesting things to view. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pooh filled with Poetry {Poetry Friday}

What shall we do about
poor little Tigger?
If he never eats nothing he'll
never get bigger.
He doesn't like honey and haycorns
and thistles
Because of the taste and because of
the bristles.
and all the good things which an
animal likes
Have the wrong sort of swallow or
too many spikes

I am so excited for the upcoming school year for my B.  She is going into third grade and is definitely a transitional reader.  She found the book, The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne at the library and wanted to read it before going to see the new Pooh movie.  We have previously read Pooh stories organized as individual picture books or early readers when she was younger but not in this true chapter book format.   I was surprised she was interested in Pooh but not really when I see the organization of this book and have had conversations with her.  It's not an easy text and the characters are really fun to talk about.  It's filled with poetry via songs Pooh creates and B loves to write her own songs and sings to anything on the radio.  She also began walking around the house saying, "I feel like Pooh."  Which lets others know she is feeling a little bit hungry, Pooh is always hungry for honey. 

I also found some poetry writing advice from Pooh I'm going to save to share with students.  "It's the best way to write poetry, letting things come."  That is a little writing gem from A.A. Milne.  Thanks for letting me discover it with you B.

Thank you to Libby for hosting at A Year of Literacy Coaching.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes

I just can't withhold my excitement!  Today in the mail Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin arrived at our door.  Tonight for bedtime we downloaded the song, listened, read, and were rocking to the beat.  Eric Litwin has done it again.  He has created a jazzy tune about a blue cat that captures the hearts of readers.  I didn't think anything could be better than the original Pete the Cat, until now. 

I instantly knew I've found THE book to read to my students the first time we meet on August 18th in the evening.  My students will come with their parents to see the room, do a scavenger hunt, and listen to Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes.  Then I do a little orientation with parents.

In this new adventure, Pete the Cat is rocking at his school.  Pete the Cat rides the Cat City Bus with his orange backpack and green lunchbox.  Two important things needed for that first day.  I think children will find comfort in this book.  Pete has never been to the library.  Pete has to eat lunch in a loud big room.  Lots of kids are on the playground running.  Pete does a few other things our students will do in school.  On his journey the reader wonders, "Does Pete worry?  Goodness, no!"  

At the end of the story we get to meet Pete's Mom and I love how she comes into the story, like all moms do at the end of the day.  I have my black dress already picked out for this evening but now I have to shop and get my own Pete shoe's for school.  I borrowed gray shoes from my daughter last year but this is going to need something a bit splashier.   We will be rocking in our school shoes this year.  My head is already thinking about collaboration with our music staff and literacy extensions. 

I was a little bummed I missed the release date for this book but am grateful to my friend Franki.  I also thought her post, PETE THE CAT:  ROCKING IN MY NEW SHOES was so well done I didn't need to do one but my excitement won out.

Monday, August 1, 2011


RRRALPH by Lois Ehlert was a great book I picked up the weekend before school got out and one I found kindergartners really enjoy.  It was a great book for me, since we had just rescued our second dog, C.  Lois Ehlert is an author I'm always drawn to with her collage illustrations.  She is a mentor for children with her written work and illustrations.  She uses paper but also other objects often thrown away for details.  Have you ever thought about crumpling paper and then flattening it out for texture?  Have you ever thought about tearing paper for a torn edge look?  Have you ever thought about getting a tool that corrugates your paper, there is one at your local craft store.  Have you ever thought about using a pop can tab as the nose of a dog?  RRALPH will give you these ideas and more.

RRRALPH is the story of a talking dog.  The narrator shares different things they do for Ralph or Ralph does.  Each time a question is asked and Ralph answers in typical dog sounds.  My students LOVED figuring out how the question matched each typical dog voice, making this a great book for readers to play with words and language.  Here's a one example -

I think Ralph needs a long walk in the woods.

How's the path feel on your pays, Ralph?