Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Own Reading Life

I decided over Spring Break I wanted to read an adult book for enjoyment.  I've had a few books in my Kindle wishlist but I always compare the prices for the same book in paperback and hardcover and strongly believe if I'm going to read it paperless, the Kindle version should NOT be more than the paperback version.  Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert was more money via my Kindle so I decided to borrow it from my local public library.  I was surprised at my reactions while reading for enjoyment via a real book format.

-The book seemed so thick and heavy.
-I found the actual ending to feel so far away.
-I missed being able to look up the definition within the Kindle as I was reading.
-I missed underlining some thoughtful words I might enjoy reading later.
-I had something to share with my reading friends via Twitter and couldn't.

I think I'm enjoying my Kindle reader more than I knew.  I think I like the ease of carrying it around, having resources at my fingers to help my thinking as a reader and the idea of sharing things from my reading with friends.  I also saw the movie for this book and I have to say it's the first time I think seeing the movie first helped me with my reading.  I think being able to visualize the setting and events in the story helped my stamina when the content was unfamiliar.  The journey through India and Indonesia are filled with information I am not familiar with and the movie visuals have helped me understand a little bit more.  I also realize the movie may not always be accurate for I have not traveled to either location but I feel I have a better sense for a few things.  Until now, I would of been and have been against ever seeing a movie first.  I think reflecting on my own reading, will help me understand my student's or my own children's reading habits.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken, Chicken, Duck!

Chicken, Chicken, Duck! by Nadia Krilanovich just came out last week and what a delightful new book for young readers.  Duck and his barnyard friends are up to something.  Set against a crisp white background the animals are the main focus and objects on each page.  The animals are labeled with either their names or the sounds they would make.   I think young readers will delight in reading these labels and love the interaction of the reading the animal sounds.  This will be a great book for a shared reading experience.  It's also going to be a great book to talk about questioning with.  What are the animals up to?, will be asked as the animals move around and stand on each other.  In the end, the readers find out what the animals have been up to and it's a great example of teamwork.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pigs to the Rescue

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. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Jump, Splash, Swimming

If the title had you thinking I went somewhere warm and lovely with lots of water for spring break, I didn't.  Those words describe another wish, dream or adventure I've been thinking about lately.  I purchased a smartphone!  I'm really trying to advance my own technology skills and a few things happened to lead me on this journey.

One, my husband and daughter are on their second phones since we all went to texting with her first phone.

Two, There are times when I am away from home I wish I could check my email for important things.

Three, I've had phone envy for some time with my blogging friends.

Four, I wanted to be part of the app discussions.

Five, I was still using a PDA to organize my life.

Six, I got a new van without a gps. 
(Gasp, trying to save $ for future college bills.)

Seven, My new van wouldn't bluetooth with my old phone. 
(Isn't that a great marketing strategy between the phone company and car manufacturing.  I can't complain though "we" work for Honda.)

Eight, I need to improve my tech skills.

Nine, I need to become more tech independent and not co-dependent.

Ten, I wanted to be hip!  (and not physically hip-pi-er)

After much debate, thinking, researching.  I never would of thought I would be reading PC World!  Nudging from friends in both the Iphone camp and the Droid camp...I got the Droid X.  I seriously had anxiety just getting started and feeling overwhelmed.  As my highschooler watched and said, "I knew this would happen." I decided on baby steps and to stay focused with learning and purpose.

I started with some of the basic personalizing, the anxiety started to descrease.  I loved entering phone numbers via Google contacts and having it automatically set up on my phone.  I couldn't give up my only email account to switch to Gmail but maybe that will come.  I then got a bit frustrated with setting up my Google calendar but with help I now love it.  My next goal is to enter my snail mail information and more contacts.

However, I did something my husband was urging me to do and I was semi refusing and that was to use it for music as I ran or should I say try to run.  While waiting at soccer practice I downloaded music recommended in Run Like a Mother with success!  Then I got my first app, for free - RunKeeper Pro.  I set it up with my GPS via Google Maps and I loved it!  At every half mile it tells me the running time, distance, and my pace while my music is playing.  It was 35 degrees, I never run outside when it's cold and I was happy.  Just a side note, RunKeeper Pro can keep track of different kinds of exercise besides running.  I think the girls and I will enjoy using it for biking this summer.

I am looking for a to do app to help with my productivity.  If you have any favorite things I should know please share and help me on my journey.  I don't want to start treading water with this adventure.

A big shout out to my patient friends who endured questions, nudging, and encouragement - Cathy, Franki, and Betsy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


YOU'RE FINALLY HERE! by Melanie Watt is her latest addition of published books with a new character I hope we will read more about.  An oval head with two large eyes with thick straight eyebrows and two short rabbit ears are features to describe this new rabbit.  The facial expressions and eyebrow location are carefully crafted to show emotion, thinking, and frustration.  Rabbit begins the story very excited, quite joyful someone is here.  Then the reader is taken on a question and think aloud journey with this delightful rabbit.  While excited someone is here Rabbit is determined to find out where they were.   We read about things he did while waiting because it took so long.  We read about how bored he gets waiting.   Then he realizes he might need to start over and celebrate they are here.  Only soon to share why is was unfair to keep him waiting and examples of how annoying it was.  It's also rude to make him wait and we read examples of being rude.  The whole time I am reading this I'm question who is he excited to have finally here.  Well we find out only to then watch Rabbit become busy talking on the phone.  This book could foster a lot of life conversations in a fun and humorous way.

I'm uncertain if Rabbit is a he or she, if you figure it out let me know.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Little Mouse's Big Secret

Little Mouse's Big Secret by Eric Battut is a delightful new book with charming illustrations done with oil paints.  The organization of the pages are quaint, simple, and allow the reader to focus on the message easily.  The left side of a two page spread has the text in  a smaller font and then the right side of the page holds the illustration both set against a soft cream/yellow background.  Little Mouse finds a delicious treat and keeps it a secret because he hides it.  A series of animal friends come and ask the same question, "What are you hiding?" and Mouse always replies, "It's my secret, and I'll never tell, answered Mouse.  I know my students will love this repetitive phrase turning this text into a shared reading.  My careful young readers will enjoy the illustration on the right as the treat grows behind the Mouse's head without him knowing it.  His secret gets out when the fruit falls to the ground and then Mouse decides his secret his better shared with friends.  Enjoy this great new find.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tillie Lays An Egg

Tillie Lays An Egg by Terry Golson and photographed by Ben Fink is a photo essay about seven chickens sharing a chicken coop.  They have nesting boxes, they lay one egg a day, and Tillie doesn't like to wait for a nesting box.  Tillie wants to explore the farm and ends up laying her eggs around the farm.  We follow Tillie's journeys each day of the week and the reader is always asked, "Where has Tillie laid her egg?"  Some of Tillie's adventures are funny and young students will just giggle.  On Saturday it is wet and rainy which nudges Tillie enough to use the nesting boxes.  The photography in this book is just charming and bit nostalgic.  This book is also based on a small farm and you can actually check in on the animals via a webcam.  I took my class to the farm this week and we actually got to see nesting boxes, pet a chicken, feed the chickens greens from the greenhouse, collect eggs and enjoy the raining, chilly air.  I can't wait to read this as a follow up to our trip and a sneak peak without them knowing to our chicken eggs arriving after spring break. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Pencil

The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg begins with a lonely pencil that one day makes a move.  The pencil then gets creating with a boy who then needs a dog, who needs a cat.  The reader then watches as these two animals chase themselves around drawn scenes, all in pencil.  I think too often color is emphsized and I love this text as a mentor for pencil drawings.  However, the animals ask for more things and they can't eat a black and white apple, so the pencil draws a paintbrush.   Then the text takes you on a journey with the pencil drawing and the paintbrush adding color.  The characters that have been drawn become a bit grumpy causing the need for an eraser.  The eraser is helpful in fixing things until he gets too excited and erases too much.  Children do this, they erase too much and this eraser did until there was just a pencil.  The pencil draws things to stop the eraser; a wall, a cage, a river to name a few with no success.  The pencil does find a solution and one I'm sure your children will enjoy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Cow Who Clucked

The Cow Who Clucked by Denise Fleming is about the journey cow takes through the farm looking for it's moo.  Cow visits with many animals each time leaving using this repeatable pattern, "It is not you who has my moo," said Cow.  And on she went."  My students and I have been talking about and recognizing repeatable patterns in text and discussing how they help us read.  I know they will want to join in, making this a shared reading experience.   After Cow travels far and talks to lots of animals he does find his moo, creating a happy ending, which always satisifies young readers.  The illustrations with handmade papers are whimsical, detailed, and warm.  Living up to the quality we've come to expect from Denise Fleming.  We are going on a field trip to a farm next week, I can't wait to share it with my students.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Little Black Crow

Little Black Crow by Chris Raschka is a must have for anyone collecting books about wonderings! A little boy continuously asks questions about a little black crow.  One right after the other.  Here are a few examples.

-Where do you go in the cold white snow?
-Little black crow, where do you fly in the stormy sky?
-Little black crow in that tall tree, are you a boy like me?

The questioning/wonderings come back around with the boy asking the crow if he ever wonders about a boy like me.  I think this is a great model for children asking and thinking with stamina about one thing.  The illustrations are soft and subtle in warm brown watercolor hues.  We are setting up an observation window with bird feeders outside and I can't wait to use this text to model questioning/wonderings we might have.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Red Bike

New Red Bike by James E Ransome is a great new book to read this spring in any primary classroom.  Tom gets a new bike and is a great role model for safety.  He rides it holding both handlebars and wearing a helmet.  We watch Tom ride his bike for the next few pages; up, down, and around.  Tom is excited to show his friend Sam his bike.  While knocking on Sam's door his bike disappears.  Tom looks around, under, and behind the house for his bike.  Soon to find out Sam took it for a spin.  The story ends with a great solution for sharing the bike.  The illustrations are created on crisp white papers which allows the reader to focus more on the watercolor and pencil drawings.  As I read this book I thought my students could easily use this as a mentor text for their own writing.  It's also a great story lead a discussion on sharing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pictures from Our Vacation

Pictures from Our Vacation by Lynne Rae Perkins instantly caught my eye this weekend.  Two children running down a dock, wearing bathing suits, at a lake felt like home to me.  I grew up in a tiny town where I spent summer days at my grandmother's house on the lake.  I was fortunate to live on a hill overlooking the lake.  The book begins with a family packing for a summer vacation.  The mother gives her daughter and son each a camera that sounds much like a Polaroid camera my other grandmother use to use when I was growing up.  There's something magical about peeling the paper off the back and watching the photo appear without being in a dark room.  The mother also gives each child a notebook to hold the pictures.  This is my kind of mom!  The text is involved for emerging readers but the student photo notebook entries are great models for writing.  There is a photo and one sentence about the picture.  The text is a good read aloud and I found myself enjoying the memories the dad shares with his children of places around the family farm.  It's interesting to find out the family is actually there for the funeral of a great aunt.  As the children look at their memory books they made, they realize their photos don't really remind them of much.  The photos were often of random things that seemed important as little children do.  I'm hoping to find some time this summer to spend on a lake and make sure my girls have a camera in hand.