Monday, December 16, 2019

Sweep by Louise Greig {Mental Wellness}

I love how Sweep by Louise Greig begins with identifying two groups of moods; good and bad.  Ed the main character is in a bad mood and when he's in a bad mood we learn he isn't nice.  The next page describes a bad mood in such intriguing ways; tiny whirlwinds or a raging storm.  His mood starts small and grew - gathering speed.  He knew it had gone too far and he didn't know how to stop it.  His mood keeps brewing and hovers over the whole town with a looming darkness.  A new wind brings change  - moving things and shifting things for Ed.  A kite comes to Ed and makes him look pall while connecting with others over kite flying.  The end of this book acknowledges the bad mood might return and he thinks through the what if. 

This book addresses our emotion mind and I love how Ed is mindful of his current emotion, in the moment.  I feel like Ed does take time to understand his emotional experience.  Illustrator Julia Sarda uses a fall day - leaves and more leaves piling up; showing Ed's bad mood just brewing bigger and bigger.  Then it a wind from a different direction and it feels like opposite action.  

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Benny Doesn't Like to be Hugged by Zetta Elliott

I was recently talking with my friend, a counseling graduate student about a few things going on in our classroom community and he recommended Benny Doesn't Like to be Hugged.  Zetta Elliott wrote the text and Purple Wong illustrated the book - this is their fifth collaboration.   A little girl narrates the story and describes her friend and their relationship.  

The reader will discover rhyme and a repetitive phrase. We the reader begin the story by learning about a few things that Benny does like and then we learn, "Benny doesn't like to be hugged."  Then we learn about things Benny likes with a small attribute he doesn't like related to what he likes; "Benny likes clothes that don't have any wrinkles."  Then the readers learn about behavior things Benny does that might appear a little bit different.  

These two pages make this a must have book.  "If he needs things done a certain way, I don't give it a second thought.  Because true friends accept each other just the way they are."

Neurodiversity.  Such a rich word and a new word for me thanks to the author's note.  Zetta Elliott was inspired by her friends that have children with autism and realized while she had diverse books, she didn't have one about promoting neurodiversity.  She hopes this book will offer readers a model of compassion and understanding, just what my community might need to continue the great work they are already doing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Waiting Brings Engagement {Slice of Life}

This past Sunday I attended Ted Talk Columbus Women and heard about many brilliant opportunities and thinking happening in our city.  One speaker I would love to spend more time with was Paula Penn - Nabrit.  She was sharing about Biodiversity in Gardens and had started a church garden community in memory of her husband.  She had the biggest smile, I started taking more notes, and then I felt like a writer again.  She said three words and I started jotting notes about something from the day before; collecting seeds.

Paula Penn - Nabrit said, "waiting brings engagement."  I had to pause and think.  I wouldn't not of thought about this before and began to ponder if it was true.  My first reaction might have been waiting slows me down or waiting is annoying.  Then I ponder the last twenty four hours and by goodness gracious, she was right.

The day before I was in JoAnn's collecting some must have door buster items when the checkout line was SO long.  I had to wait to get these great prices.  As I waited, I practiced some breathing and noticed a mother daughter pair ahead of me.  I can't remember our first reason for engaging and soon we visited about our daughters in school, knitting, a new idea for a simple tree skirt, her plans for tonight and how she was going to modify the bustle of the evening ahead.  We even talked about if a recipe prep was really going to be five minutes and how she could probably hop in the shower while the dish baked.  Yes, waiting brought engagement.

Later that very same day I was in line to return something at Target when a young boy ahead of me sneezed three times.  I said my usual bless you and his mother said thank you.  I over heard her share with her son she always sneezes in threes.  I had to share my husband does too and I never heard of anyone else doing this.  We chatted with her own children about the sneeze quantity each time for them and I shared no one else in our family of five do a three in a row sneeze event regularly.  We then started wondering why and considered asking, "Dr. Google."

I don't know either ladies names or where they live.  I have no plans to connect with them again.  I'm not sure why I connected with strangers this day.  I think Paula Penn-Nabrit gave me more than motivation for gardening with others.  She made me stop and realize waiting brings engagement.  I enjoyed these conversations.  I smiled.  I felt in the moment.  Engagement fosters connections and connections is needed to our lives and world right now.  I'm going to be on the look out for more waiting opportunities.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community each week.

Friday, December 6, 2019

AnimalArk - Celebrating our Wild World in poetry and pictures {Poetry Friday}

Hello Friends - I'm excited to dust off this writing space with my most recent book purchase and join the Poetry Friday community.  I started volunteering at our local zoo this summer and never visited the gift shop until tonight.  I'm going to need to add this to my list of places to discover great books.

AnimalArk - Celebrating our WILD WORLD in poetry and pictures is going to be read this morning as we start our day with Poetry Friday.  The photographer Joel Sartore and poet Kwame Alexander have created a stunning collaborative text highlighting 32 species that are endangered.  Together this author and photographer duo are bringing awareness and fostering readers to care about creatures.  In the author hope from Joel Sartore he says, "And once we love something, won't we do anything to save it?"  I love this found in the author note from Kwame Alexander; "Joel Sartore's photographs are exquisite visual haiku that capture something even words cannot, and yet the combination of the two creates a landscape, a third language only the heart knows."  Kwame uses haiku for its focus in less is more.  This book was created to help us pay closer attention to species we share our world with.

Here's a video with Kwame Alexander that will help you get a better feel for the book.

Thank you Tanita Davis  for hosting Poetry Friday this week at {fiction, instead of lies}

Thursday, October 17, 2019

How to Walk an Ant by Cindy Derby

In How to Walk an Ant we meet Amartyah an expert walker.  An expert walker is someone who walks things and doesn't walk perfectly themselves.  She doesn't walk what you would normally assume one might walk; she walks ants.  She shares with readers her nine step guide for walking ants.    Each step is named, has a tip, and concludes with a rule.  Do you know you should politely introduce yourself to an ant?  I don't know anyone who does this.  I certainly don't.  Here's a tip for teaching ants how to walk with you; "reward the ant with one lick of candy cane every 7 centimeters.  The book concludes with two appendixes; how o conduct a funeral and then an ant anatomy and glossary. This a great mentor text for how to writing!  This is Cindy Derby's first picture book.  She's a puppeteer first and I can't wait to see and hope she writes more!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Just Because by Mac Barnett

Just Because by Mac Barnett embraces wondering and the repetitive phase of questioning children have.  The book follows a question and answer format.  A discussion at bedtime between a young girl and her father.  In my first read of this book, I found myself anticipating very scientific answers and had to reread the answers the father provides.  They are a stretch of the truth and filled with humor.  I wonder if my second grade readers will question the answers from the father.  They certainly made me smile as I reread each one to understand there was humor.  I think the answers provided could result in some research for readers.  

There's a two page spread with sixteen questions.  I love the various question stems and the idea of having lots of questions to explore.  I also wondered as I read the story how would the questioning end for the little girl.  She finally asks, "Why do we fall asleep?"  and the father replies with, "Because there are some things we can only see with our eyes closed."  I think this book will help parents embrace the questioning phase with humor.  I hope the book inspires children to keep asking questions and to question the answers given.  Questioning fosters thinking and keeps us actively engaged in life.  I worry questioning can be seen as a negative and hope people see it as a vehicle for deepening one's own thoughts and understandings.

Isabelle Arsenault illustrated this book and gives it the feel of a cozy bedtime situation.  Each bedtime seen is done in a gray/black monotone collection on the right side of the two page spread with the question being asked in a large circle of color on the left side of the page.  Then the answer is found on a two page illustration using the blend of the circle color and the gray/black monotone hue. This really enhances the text.  

Thank you Candlewick Press for the copy of this beautiful new book.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

We heard you are sick...{Slice of Life}

My second appointment for the evening arrived and had a little insulated lunch box with them.  I greet them at the door with a barely a raspy voice and forced smiled.  They began to sit down and said, "We heard you are sick and had to get you some vitamin water with Vitamin C."  The mom pulled out a bottle of water and vitamin water.  I asked her about going to the store in between her own teaching day and coming to see me and she said, "Of course, M is worried about you and we always bring water to our teachers - I know how long tonight can be."  I wasn't feeling well at all and really appreciated the kind gesture.  The day had been long.  I felt worst as the day went on and just wanted to make it through eight parent teacher conferences before heading to bed.  Drinking my vitamin water gave me something to focus on while I continued parent teacher conferences and hope I would feel better.  It was so nice to be thought of with something so simple.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Being Edie Is Hard Today by Ben Brashares {Mental Wellness}

Being Edie Is Hard Today by Ben Brashares and illustrated by Elizabeth Bergeland is a story about emotions.  Edie doesn't want to go to school and her mother gently urges her to get on the bus.  It's sad to see her pigtails being pulled on the bus ride to school by other students.  The first time I read the story I didn't notice the smiley face emotions, almost like emojis above the various characters.  These really add to the comprehension for the reader.  Edie uses her imagination to thinks to herself about an animal and others being animals in various scenarios.  Sometimes we have to find an escape for our emotions and it's helpful.  After a really hard day at school, interacting with others Edie talks to her mom and cries.  There's a great comparison for tears here to the sky.  After the clouds let go of the rain, the clouds feel fluffier and perhaps after we cry we feel a little lighter.  Tears are often assumed to be a sign of weakness.  Someone once said to our family, tears are a sign of strength.  The next morning Edie's day starts off easier and she goes to school with more confidence.  The illustrations are drawing in pen, black ink outlines with soft watercolor backdrops for a warm soft feeling throughout the book.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Be A Maker by Katey Howes

Be A Maker by Katey Howes is the perfect book to show possibilities for being a maker.  I often think we think about creative people we picture artist and grand pieces of work.  This new picture book shows readers the day to day things that might seem ordinary that are actually making moments.      Some ideas included in the book include natural play with toys a child might have, drawing a blueprint or a map, making a snack, having a lemonade stand, and a neighborhood playground.  As you might imagine the main character starts by making things on her own and then she includes a friend.  From their lemonade stand the community becomes involved to build a new playground together.  Making doesn't have to be done in isolation.  I love this idea.  Illustrations provide many details if we take the time to stop and notice.  Elizabeth Vukotic was clever and inserted the names of strong mentors in book titles and posters on the walls; F. Kahlo, da Vinci, Mae Jemison, and a chalkboard sketch of Einstein.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Comparing School to a Disney Cruise {Slice of Life}

It's after lunch.  It's during a transition time as we wrap up one activity to another.  Which means some of us are up and moving or trying to finish up the current work quickly to start that moving.  Her sweet smile approaches me and says, "Mrs. Robek - school is better than a Disney cruise."  My mind starts racing and replaying what she just said.  I know her family went on a Disney cruise near the beginning of summer so this is a recent comparison.  She then proceeded to share how the pools weren't really that much fun.  If I remember correctly, they weren't deep enough.  As she shared more about the pool, I kept repeating her initial sentence.  This is quite the compliment.  "Mrs. Robek - school is better than a Disney cruise."

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, September 30, 2019

You Are Your Strong by Danielle Dufayet (Mental Wellness)

You Are Your Strong by Danielle Dufayet discusses a wide range of emotions.  Emotions that can be hard to manage; worry, scared, sad, and mad.  Each emotion has a different pair of characters.  The child feeling the emotion and then the adult who helps the child see the opposite emotion and overcome those initial feelings.  My favorite line from the book is, "Inside you, your Strong is a light that shines like the sun."  The same set of characters return and this time they are able to share ways they independently find something different to change their feelings to an opposite emotion.  For example a little girl is afraid of monsters and the dark and tells funny stories to get her thinking to being brave.  There's a fabulous two page spread at the end with a note to parents and caregivers with advice and suggestions for helping children and the many emotions they can feel.  These tips also apply to our classrooms where children spend a great deal of their day during the school year.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Thinking as a Parent and Teacher Intertwine {Slice of Life}

The parking lot is full and I find a spot in the grass to park.  My schedule for the night is on my phone and I'm ready to walk the high school hallways as my junior does.  As I walk through the parking lot, I remind myself I'm here as a parent.  I make a plan to listen as a parent; resting my teaching brain. Not too long into the first session I start taking notes.  Notes as a parent, notes as a teacher - the lines are intertwined.  Each role influences the other.  I hope these lines tug at your heart as they did mine as a teacher and educator.  I'm excited for a more relaxed high school year this year.

"I"ll love your kid and get maximum effort."

"I've never had a boring day, if I do it's my fault."

"Keep school at school."

"One goal is to increase tolerance  - wisdom about people."

"Your child will read 10 minutes every day without fail in class."

"Reading for joy helps heart health and personal health."

"Grading system is flawed."

"I have a lot of room to grow."

"Not much outside work."

"Every kid needs somebody - I'm willing to help."

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Silence Slips In by Alison Hughes {Mental Wellness}

When I read, The Silence Slips In by Alison Hughes I was instantly reminded that picture books are not just for children.  The book reminds us and shows us different ways silence can be with us.  I love how the words give us clues about the different forms silence can take and illustrations confirm what the form is.  The words shy, soft, shaggy and still leads the reader to think about silence and holding a puppy.  The book goes on to describe life events that aren't filled with silence and how we can discover it as we work through busier moments.  The author lets readers know they can call the silence back during moments of noise and encourages readers to do that via a deep breath.  Last week, my students and I were introduced to snake breathing by a colleague.  Snake breathing is when you take a deep breath in and hiss as you push the breath out.  My students loved snake breathing and I think this book will be read tomorrow to talk about why we need to pause and breathe.  Pausing helps settle our bodies and our minds.

"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (  

Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.  If you are looking for more resources Nationwide Children's Hospital here in Columbus, Ohio has valuable resources and  to transform children's mental heath.  #OnOurSleeves

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Ten Years - 1 Book Each Year {Picture Book 10 for 10}

When Cathy and I met and Picture Book 10 for 10 began I never envisioned ten years later I would be gathering and writing posts about my must have picture books.  I am grateful for Cathy.  While she maintains a huge spot on my mentor/teaching hero list she has become a colleague, confidant, and friend.  I can't wait for school to start next week because it means our Tuesday Talks via Voxer will pick back up.  I am grateful for Twitter and how that plays in a role in all of us sharing great book titles and connects us with kindred spirits.  I am grateful for you - readers and participants who make this project even possible.  This project isn't about Cathy and Mandy.  It's about the community and sharing that will happen today.

So, without further ado - here's my list for 2019.  Just one book from the previous lists.  I have 100 books to narrow down to 10.  I was teaching kindergarten and now I'm teaching second....I might need a crystal ball.

1. (2010)  Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Eric Carle changed my life in college!  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.

2. (2011) Cornelius P Mud, Are You Ready for School?  by Barney Saltzberg is a book while simple in text the inferring and ah ha moments expand primary grades.  As we reread this book together we really notice humor within the illustrations.  Cornelius is a great character for young students, they can connect with him.

3. (2012) Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is about older people, it's about spending time with them, it's about memories.  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 to help students make writing easier by writing about memories and things they have done.  I just love the relationship between these two characters.

4. (2013) I can't believe I removed this book for a year and am glad it's the one making it to the top ten in ten years. Ish by Peter Reynolds is a must have for any classroom to embrace the arts and the differences between artist capabilities.  It encourages the reader to look at things in a different way, with a different lens.  Looking at things with a different lens is essential for 21st century learning.  Glad you, stayed, Ish!

5.  (2014) Once Upon a Time Niki Daly shows us how Sarie doesn’t mind the hot sun in the South Africa and worries about being at school and learning how to read.  The reader follows Sarie’s journey and how she does learn to read.

6. Oh no, 2015 I actually didn't write a post.  This always falls during the changing of summer to getting ready for school seasons and I could only find hosting/sharing post for participation.  Life gets busy and that's okay.

7. I Wish You More (2016) by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Wishes aren't just for birthdays or seeing the first star at night.  I usually read this story at the end of the year but I'm thinking about starting the year with it and then revisiting it at the end of the year.

8. (2017) Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard has a very grumpy character who doesn't really want  to interact with others.  However, his friends think differently and decide to join him on his walk; it's a way to spend time with him.  The walk turns into a little simon says in a way and changes one grump to happy. 

9. (2018)  I am a Warrior Goddess by Jennifer Adams gives us guidance for tackling your day and affirmations for how you can help others and tackle your day.  I used this book to guide students in writing affirmations to hang with their self portraits.

10.  (2019) I Will Be Fierce! by Bea Birdsong is an empowering new picture book with our main character ready to tackle her day.  I love the very first page.  Our main character sits up in bed, raises her arm up high with a fist and declares, "Today, I will be fierce!"  The following pages and illustrations show the reader examples of what being fierce can look like.  

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Picture Book 10 for 10 is COMING!

Dear Cathy,

I was very worried about you here in July.  I wondered if you would return from the beautiful sites I saw on Instagram and I did notice you weren't sharing any book titles.  Which makes me wonder if your list this year will have anything new on it.  I hope our participants realize their list doesn't have to completely change each year.  Mine doesn't always.  This is a challenging day and event for me.  It started with you wondering my ten must have books.  How is this even feasible with so many wonderful books published each year?  We both enjoy reading and buying books.  I do think you are better about using our public library and I've been trying to do that more and more.  Maybe my list will have to be books I actually own.  Maybe my list will be my all time favorites with a title or two swapped out.  Maybe my list will be about repetition or emotions.  I have ten more days to make a decision, thank goodness.

The Basics
Want to join the conversation? 

  • What:  10 picture books you can't live without.
  • Hashtag:  #pb10for10
  • Hosts:  @mandyrobek (you're here), 
  •              @cathymere (Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community)
  • Who:  Anyone interested --- educators, media specialists, librarians, parents, and book lovers.  
  • When:  Saturday, August 10th
  • Where:  All posts for 2019 will be linked to Cathy's blog:  Reflect and Refine

Here's how you can participate:

  1. Grab a Badge (just copy the URL address of the one above or take a screenshot)
  2. Choose Your Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme or thread to connect their selections.  We'll leave this up to you.
  3. Narrow Your List to Ten:  It isn't easy, is it?  We've seen some crafty ways to get around that number.  
  4. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share the link to your collection here, at Reflect and Refine, on August 10th.  
  5. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one --- or there are a million digital ways to join.  You could post from a Google page, create a S'more, share in Twitter (and copy the Tweet link), or any other creative idea you may be considering.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.    
  6. Comment:  On August 10th (and maybe for a week --- there are a lot of posts) take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three.

Monday, July 29, 2019

I'm Worried by Michael Ian Black {Mental Wellness}

I'm Worried by Michael Ian Black has a fun twist in my collection of worry books.  There are three characters; a potato, a flamingo, and a girl.  The potato states, it's worried.  Sometimes I think it's helpful for something completely different than yourself have the same feelings you may have.  The girl and flamingo do some probing and discover the potato is scared of the future.  The future worries are giant - anything can go wrong.  I enjoyed reading the girls guidance as she took both characters on a memory walk revisiting slightly bad things that happened to each of them;  potato rolled off  table and flamingo stuck her/his beak in a jar of peanut butter.  She even has her own slightly bad memory and she points out they were okay in time each time.  Then potato and flamingo have an idea that will protect them from worries and in reality it's silly and doesn't last long.  The book ends with a big life idea.  "Since we don't know what's going to happen in the future, maybe we should just enjoy the now."  This book isn't just for children and there is a humorous ending to bring readers giggles haven't some that reflection on life.

"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (  

Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.  If you are looking for more resources Nationwide Children's Hospital here in Columbus, Ohio has valuable resources and  to transform children's mental heath.  #OnOurSleeves

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Fantastic Elastic Brain Stretch It, Shape It by JoAnn Deak

Last week I attended a two day workshop on Whole Brain Teaching.  One of my favorite parts was learning about the brain and how all the different parts come together and a chant with motions to help students understand.  I fear that over time my students are sitting way too much and need to move and groove.  I'm so lucky my friend asked if I knew about The Fantastic Elastic Brain Stretch It, Shape It by JoAnn Deak because I didn't.

I've reread the book several times and I'm wondering how did I miss this one!  The book begins by defining what the brain is and what it does; highlighting the different parts.  The Amygdala is fascinating.  It's in the center of our brain and controls our emotions while the Prefrontal Cortex helps us make plans and decisions.  The book shares information about practicing and stretching our brains.    I often tell students we learn the most when we make mistakes and this book confirms my thinking.  There's a page discussing the different areas of the brain that are needed to learn how to play the piano and could launch a great discussion about their own learning interests and how they are using different parts of their brain.

I'm so happy to have found this book for the first month of school.  It's a great introduction for Whole Brain Teaching and of course, growth mindset.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Her Haircut Leads to Much More.... {Slice of Life}

She started pacing.  She called her oldest sister for advice and probably reassurance.  She had a friend come over to go with her for support.   They left early to get a drink at Starbucks without caffeine.  I met them at our one and only favorite hairdresser.  She walked in taking deep breaths and shaking her arms, "I've got this."  She shows nervousness, anxiousness, uncertainty, and then she says - "Let's do this."  Our one and only favorite hairdresser makes a ponytail and measures the length.  My daughter grabs her friend's hand and snip.  Ten inches are cut for a donation.  Two more inches are cut while shaping and redesigning.  Joy ends our session.

As I watched all of this transpire, I thought about those feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, and uncertainty.  Feelings that can really be prevelant as a new school year starts for everyone.  What I noticed was my girl riding the wave of these emotions and reaching out for support from her friend - verbally and physically.  Let's remember to pause and take in what we feel and reach out for help.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers 
for fostering this writing community called A Slice of Life.

Monday, July 22, 2019

I'm Happy - Sad Today by Lori Britain {Mental Wellness}

I am so happy author Lori Britain reached out to me and sent me a copy of her new book.  I'm Happy - Sad Today embraces and guides readers with the many emotions they can feel in the same day and most likely very close in time.  Lori refers to these as Mixed - Together Feelings.  The book begins by identify emotions and how they feel different based on the situation.  Then Lori begins sharing mixed - together feelings.  For example; going to school on the first day of school can feel scary and brave together.  Another example is when a baby sibling is born and the big sister can feel proud and jealous.  I love this combination - frustrated and determined.  My favorite part of the book is when the sweet main character acknowledges she can feel more than one feeling at a time.  The book ends with ways the main character can handle these emotions and they involve talking, listening, sitting, being active, using her imagination, movement, art, and word play.  That's right - why not mix emotion feelings together!  Try these on for fun - mad, happcited, loveappy, and glappy.

The illustrations by Matthew Rivera are set against a bright white background and the colors hues are just right for helping this story be told.  They are vibrant and yet subtle.  They show diversity in a time we need diverse community examples and mentors.

The book has a lovely ending for caregivers and parents.  There's a guide for talking about feelings and strategies for supporting social emotional growth.  

"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (  

Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.  If you are looking for more resources Nationwide Children's Hospital here in Columbus, Ohio has valuable resources and  to transform children's mental heath.  #OnOurSleeves

Friday, July 19, 2019

In the Past by David Elliott {Poetry Friday}

I spent this past school year collecting books about dinosaurs.  When I met my readers last year I had two avid dinosaur book readers with not one single book in my huge collection.  Dinosaurs had been an interest in my early days and over time they weren't looked at I weeded them out.  I was so glad to learn there's a new interest from readers and then to discover authors and publishers are recognizing this new need.

In the Past by David Elliott and illustrated by Matthew Trueman is beautiful and part of the nonfiction poetry collection in my room.  I do not know much about dinosaurs and found this book to be a perfect amount of information and didn't make me feel overwhelmed.  Each poem is about one type of dinosaur and describes things about their physical traits, behaviors, and/or habitats.  The dinosaurs shared are also organized in a timeline starting at the Cambrian Period to the Quaternary Period.  

As a non dinosaur reader, I found the illustrations so supportive and needed for my own comprehension.  There's a note saying the illustrations were done in mixed media and I wish there was more.  The monotone shades used really make the book flow nicely.  

The book ends with a note from the author that is just lovely.  I enjoyed his honesty in admitting at the time of publications his facts and information is current and that our information about these creatures is constantly evolving.  The book does conclude with a blip about each dinosaur mentioned with your traditional nonfiction fact format.

I shared this book with a rising third grader during a softball game a couple of weeks ago and he loved it!  He knew he liked to read about dinosaurs and really enjoyed the poetry format.

Thank you Carol at Carol's Corners for hosting Poetry Friday this week.  
It feels good to be back sharing poetry and blogging again.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Gradual Release at the Dog Park {Slice of Life}

It's sunny.  It's a perfect summer day - not too hot and warm enough to swim.  We load the car with two legged humans and our four legged friend.  Honestly, the dog park that's free with water access seems a bit of a drive and I tag along because they all like going.  I get there and do some self talking.    I'm a bit spoiled when it comes to water spots.  I grew up on a Finger Lake in Upstate New York.  I love pebbled lake fronts and love the sand at the ocean.  Today the sand seems gritty and dragged in replicate something much nicer.  There's wet four legged friends chasing each other around and I flinch each time they pass hoping to not get sprayed with that wet dog shake.

My husband and girls are all in.  They find a stick and start throwing it and Winniee leaps through the air landing in the water with complete joy.  A younger couple drift our way with a black lab puppy and we learn it's his first time at the water.  He's probably between six months and year old.  He watches Winniee come back and forth; in and out of the water.  He begins to wade in and darts back out; still keeping an eye on Winniee.  Maybe fifteen minutes in to our time together he takes the plunge and follows her out to her stick.  He's swimming!

I start reflecting on the gradual release model and find myself questioning modeling.  I modeled projects in the classroom when I was younger that became direct replicas when my students tried the independent piece.  I'm often cautious about modeling something completely, if it's a physical product.  I find discussions to be different.  However, watching two dogs work through the modeling, gradual release model in a way has me pondering and revisiting what is needed for the gradual release model to create independent and success at the end and with ease.

for fostering this writing community called A Slice of Life.

Monday, July 15, 2019

I Will Be Fierce! by Bea Birdsong {Mental Wellness}

I Will Be Fierce! by Bea Birdsong is an empowering new picture book with our main character ready to tackle her day.  I love the very first page.  Our main character sits up in bed, raises her arm up high with a fist and declares, "Today, I will be fierce!"  The following pages and illustrations show the reader examples of what being fierce can look like.  Together the words and the text show us she can drive back dragons which are really puppies, walk among the giants which are really grownups, and she will break away from the ordinary.  She paints herself riding the shell of a turtle while her classmates paint just an animal.  Another favorite part in this book is when she's checking out a huge stack of library books and refers to them as a mountain of knowledge and the librarian as the guardian of wisdom.  This story is about overcoming your fears, seeing things differently, and ends with needing some rest while being your own hero.

This book could be used to to help students "Turn the Mind" and think about the opposite action of their current feelings.  "I also think "I will be fierce!" is an affirmation that could be used to help our mindset when we get stuck.

"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (  

Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.  If you are looking for more resources Nationwide Children's Hospital here in Columbus, Ohio has valuable resources and movement to transform children's mental heath.  #OnOurSleeves

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Don't Worry Book by Todd Parr {Mental Wellness}

As soon as I read, The Don't Worry Book by Todd Parr I wanted to somehow find funding to put this book in the hands of every classroom and home.  We all worry and Todd validates that on the first page and then defines worry on the next.  He then shares examples of when we could worry with his bright drawings that show detail for those worry emotions.  His worry examples cover all ages; from when you are trying to sleep, use the bathroom or have too many things to do.  I love the two pages where he address technology usage; "when watching TV or from looking at screens too much."  

The second half of the book shares ways to help overcome your worries; talking to someone special, dancing, and why not put a pair of underwear on your head.  I can just imagine my second graders bursting out with giggles.  Another suggestion that I imagine being a good list to write down is to remember the things that make you strong.  He closes his story with an image of different people.  The people who love you and will take care of you.  We all need to remember we have others to reach out to and that okay.

"Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." (mental I hope you find this post helpful in supporting mental wellness. "Wellness is an approach to preventing illness and prolonging life as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." (  

Let's be proactive in and out of our classrooms.  If you are looking for more resources Nationwide Children's Hospital here in Columbus, Ohio has valuable resources and movement to transform children's mental heath.  #OnOurSleeves

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Hello Summer and the Transition, {Slice of Life}

Hello Summer,

You've started off just right and in full swing.  I came home Friday night and packed my busy bag for an hour and fifteen minute car ride for a day of three softball games.  In that bag, I packed; my kindle with a book to finish, my knitting project, a craft magazine, walking shoes, an early reader chapter book, bullet journal and pens, walking shoes, and socks.  We arrived at the ballpark and I began my summer softball rhythm.  During warm ups, I walk anywhere from one to two miles.  I return for some reading time and once the game starts I have to put away my reading.  It's hard to read and watch the game.  I brought out my knitting - a simple dishcloth pattern that goes back and forth with a couple of stitch variations.  I watch.  I cheer.  I might question something.  I soak up the sun and sitting.  We had three games and this routine becomes a pattern for the day.  

I finished my book.  I finished off two dishcloths and started a third one.  I read my magazine and felt crafty inspired.  I connected with people and might have gotten a small sunburn.  I logged 20,000 steps which is a small miracle - softball for me is a lot of sitting.  It's all good.  I discovered a day like this snaps the hello summer transition phase.  It thrust me into a different schedule.  It forced me to do different things and preplan those different things.  It reminded me to sit and allow for space to be in the moment.  

I find the transition to summer can be tricky and take a few days to let go of that go, go, go pace of life.  I find taking a vacation right away or now even a day trip can speed up the process and let my body and mind rest more.  I hope you enjoy your transition to summer - it's here or it's coming.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.