SOL: I’m Older Than You

September 27, 2011

Patricia Polacco wrote rMy Rotten Redheaded Older Brother. It’s one of my favorites! One repeating line from Patricia’s older brother Richie is “And I’m four year’s older than you…. Always have been and always will be.” Oh, I can just hear the jab.

Children often use the saying, “Yeah, well I’m older than you” as a way of torment or as a trophy as if to imply, “I’m better than you.” My own children couldn’t wait until they were ten to be in double digits;  thirteen to be a teenage; then sixteen to drive. I remember that feeling. Older seemed to be better.

Now, well, age is something I rather keep on the down low. My students want to find out. It’s like a mystery they need to solve. So, I found it rather funny the other day when one of my first grade boys tried to tease me and said, “Well, I’m older than you. I’m twenty-three!” I know my eyes twinkled, but I made a face as if to say, “Yeah you got me there.”

Twenty-three – wow. My husband was surprised to learn his bride of twenty years had regressed in age so quickly. He wanted to get in on the secret. :)

Scaredy Squirrel

September 27, 2011

When I heard Jeff Anderson read Scaredy Squirrel, I  instantly added the title to my must-have list. The voice Melanie Watt uses with her delightful, yet nervous, character grabs your attention. You are hooked.

This summer, I came across another book in the series, Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party. You will quickly learn Scaredy Squirrel is particular. He’s very contemplative and plans ahead for possible disasters. He does not want any surprises.

When Scaredy Squirrel plans his birthday party, he is very detailed. The party schedule makes me chuckle. You can definitely sense his anxiety. The party schedule page could be combined with a math activity. Student could have clocks and calculate the digital time to analog time. It also show a comparison usage of the colon – in time and also in a list.

A surprise gift warms Scaredy’s heart. Even young children will get a sense of how the character changes by an act of kindness (what a lead in to a discussion on community). What a twist to Scaredy Squirrel’s well planned party.

View the YouTube trailer to predict possibly disasters:

Savorings for reading and in writing for Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party:

  • Voice – talks to the reader
  • Speech Bubbles
  • Character Thinking – you can sense Scaredy’s personality
  • Character Change – notice the last page
  • Reading Charts – use the book to introduce nonfiction text that have inserted charts
  • Friendship

Warsaw Community Public Library new (2011)

Author: Margie Palatini

September 22, 2011

Author Tidbits: a Pleasing Bit of Information

Margie Palatini breathes her voice into her books. On her website, she describes her books as the “laugh out loud sort.” Her website is filled with a ton of information. She has a section on her inspiration, using an equation to best describe her ideas. Activities for students are included to have fun and explore their creative talents. For teachers, Margie has included several study guides and reader’s theaters.

On her video below, learn how she became an author and gained her ideas for The Web Files. She shares how the idea for her new book blossomed into  Hogg, Hogg, & Hog. It’s fun to hear her in person.

Patriots as Kids

September 19, 2011

Lane Smith crafts the book, John, Paul, George & Ben, as a storyteller speaking directly to the reader. You become wrapped up in the perspective of our forefathers’ childhoods. Kids will find it interesting to read about the historical persons as children, doing everyday child-like activities. Lane Smith’s humor is refreshing.

John, Paul, George & Ben is a fun background read for American history. Each of the five Sons of Liberty are spotlighted with events that made them famous.

In the back of the book, Lane Smith adds a true/false section to clarify focal points in the short chapters shared. I love the humor and play on words. What a fun way to get a discussion going!

There a brief video advertisement for the book. Scroll to the second video on the link. Another video, below, shows a sneak peek at the book and shares what inspired Lane Smith to create the book.

Savorings for reading and in writing for John, Paul, George & Ben:

  • Magic of 3 – John Hancock (you’ll be laughing)
  • Punctuation – clauses especially names
  • Humor – takes normal activity and creates a twist. For example, Paul rung the bell. The ringing caused his hearing to be back. Thus, he’d yell to the customers where he worked.
  • One day experience – George
  • Power of Words – Tom
  • True/False section in back – excellent background for the Revolutionary War
  • Great teacher resource link


Swim! Swim!

September 15, 2011

Lerch, the fish, seeks a friend in Swim! Swim! by Lerch. Lerch searches his liquid home (a fish tank) only to be rejected. The pebbles, bubbles, and sub man sustain silence, leaving Lerch lonely.

James Proimos creates a fun read that will tickle your students. Lerch thinks he’s found a new friend finally, but you kids may think differently. Enjoy this read. You won’t be able to keep it in your library.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Swim! Swim! by Lerch:’

  • Speech bubbles
  • Action in each comic frame
  • Friendship
  • Persistence
  • Inference

SOL: Want Your Notebook?

September 13, 2011

My children are learning that I like to capture funny comments and stories in my writer’s notebook. When my daughter had her friends over, my shorthand couldn’t keep up with the hilarious conversation they were having. My notebook holds some great snippets of laughter.

Recently, my oldest son had several friends over. As I was fixing snacks in the other room, one of the teens began an elaborate story about his previous night’s dream of being a wedding planner, something totally off for his personality.  As he began to share one bizarre, elaborate detail after another, the group interjected their ideas. The story grew and grew and grew.

My youngest son came into the room, looked at me chuckling and said, “Hey mom, do you want your notebook?”

The Listening Walk

September 12, 2011

The Listening Walk invites children to notice the world around them. It’s a great introduction to onomatopoeia with the many nature sounds weaved in throughout the text. Each page illustrates possible sounds children can hear around them when they are take the time to focus. Paul Showers also shares snippets of action dipped in sensory detail. Aliki’s colored drawings provide children with an example of how to capture the setting around them.

Class Activity: read the book and then take your class on a listening walk outside. Each season provides different sound opportunities. You can extend this activity by creating a sensory chart. Have your children focus in on the smells and sights around them as well.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Listening Walk:

  • Onomatopoeia
  • Writerly Life – noticing life around you
  • Everyday Happening
  • Descriptive
  • Compare/ Contrast

September 11th: A Day to Remember

September 11, 2011

Rembering this tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacked,  I appreciated Stacey Shubitz’s reflections on Two Writing Teachers. I remember where I was the day America was attacked. My heart was shocked, angered, concerned.

Today has been a day of reflection. The date “September 11th” fills my heart with mixed feelings. Today is my youngest son’s 13th birthday. He’s full of energy and excitement and embraces this day as something special. He has compassion for others and does not forget to honor those who served on his birthday ten years ago. He’s mindful of others, and I believe this day has touched his heart.

I have several books I share to help children connect with this memorable day. I posted about Fireboat:  the Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman in 2009. People made the decision to get involved, do their part, and intervened during a crisis.

I had planned to post the book 14 Cows for America by Carman Agra Deedy in detail, but due to my dad being in the hospital this week, time slipped away. I highly recommend reading the book to you students this week. Our country united during this time and we need to remind our future generation how necessary compassion is to keeping a great nation. Carman shares how others had compassion for a hurting nation. It will allow your students the opportunity for discussion on what they can do for others in need.

SOL: Brain or Feet Tired

September 6, 2011

My oldest son started working at a restaurant as a host this past week. He’s able to go to school for three hours in the morning and then work. During his training he’s been working four hours.

One day, his manager asked him to work nine hours. “No problem,” he said.

When he came home, he changed into casual clothes and plopped on the couch. “I’m so tiiirred,” he said.

“Do your feet hurt?” I inquired.

“No, my head. I’m tired from saying with a smile, ‘Hello! Welcome to Applebee’s. How is your day going?’ ‘Wonderful. I hope you enjoy your dinner.’ Or the occasional customer who was forlorn,”Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Well I hope you will find your dinner enjoyable.’ over and over and over again for nine hours. My brain is tired.”

I chuckled. Who would have thought being nice would wear a person out so much?

My Farm Friends

September 5, 2011

On the book jacket, Wendell Minor shares a photo of himself as a youngster sitting near chickens. As I share the book with children, I would show this picture and allow them to wonder about where the author is and how it relates to the book. This little feature connects the story with the seed idea the author used.

My Farm Friends begins with an introduction to the farm, enticing you to explore the farm. This test would support students who live in an agricultural setting,  sparking ideas to write about. For those students living in an urban setting, the pictures will bring the farm to them.

Nine animals are featured. The text has a repeated structure, describing characteristics of the animals, rhyming lines (ABCB pattern). A fun fact is added in. For example, did yo know that turkeys purr when content?

For a sneak peak at the book, view the YouTube video:

At the end, each animal is featured in a two page fun fact spread. It’s a great example for a nonfiction unit of study. Six internet sources are included for further research. A favorite is

Savorings for reading and in writing for My Farm Friends:

  • Magic of 3 – in the introduction
  • Repeated Structure
  • Adjectives – great for young children to learn and understand
  • Character descriptions
  • Everyday Happenings – on the farm

Warsaw Community Public Library – new book


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