SOLC: Niece’s Poem

December 20, 2011


I miss that place

Where I used to be:

My childhood land

With the lavender tree.

I miss that grass,

And those golden fields,

The times we used twigs

For our makeshift shields.

I miss that pond,

With the brand-new deck,

Where we’d use a canoe

To make our trek.

I miss that barn,

With the musty stalls,

Which I never minded,

Never minded at all.

I miss the house

On the big, tall hill

With the dark green shutters

Above the windowsills.

I miss our swings

And the climbing tree

That stained our hands

And feet and knees.

I miss the horses

And their comforting smell

With sparkling eyes that

Held my secrets well.

I miss the path running

Through the woods

Where I skipped and laughed

As lively as I could.

I miss my grandfather

and his good ol’ dogs

and doing chores

and catching frogs.

I miss my grandmother

And her sweet smile

As I sat in her kitchen

And did dishes awhile.

I miss those strays,

The cats we had,

Whose kittens we’d catch

And get scratched real bad.

I miss those days

As we lay in the sun

Soaking up all the rays

And just having our fun.

I miss those cats,

And their colorful fur,

Especially Buttercup,

My favorite, her.

I miss dear Grandma

And her warm hugs

And her talent and her laugh

And her homemade rugs.

I miss ol’ Gramps,

And his mischievous ways

and him talkin’ fast

and us balin’ the hay.

I miss that path

That meandered in the trees

Where the branches creaked

And whispered in the breeze.

I miss the horses,

And the bridle leather

And feeding them oats

In all kinds of weather.

I miss the swing,

All knotted and worn,

And the mulberry tree

Where our clothes were torn.

I miss that hill,

With our little house,

That held just us

And sometimes a mouse.

I miss that barn

With the stalls and hayloft

Where the sparrows gathered

And the hay was soft.

I miss the pond

Where my favorite horse died

And I sat next to the water

And I remember I cried.

I miss the grass

That grew thin and tall

And hid all the bugs

And stole our baseballs.

I miss that place

From my childhood,

But I’ll never forget it.

I don’t think I could.

SOL: Grandma’s Cookies

December 20, 2011

Last week, I met with our writing study group Ruth and I are facilitating. I featured the book, Sugar Cookies Sweet Lessons on Love by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, as a springboard for our writing.

Memories of  Grandma flooded my thoughts shaping into a short poem with immense meaning.

Grandmother’s Cookies

Aroma of belonging

Morsels of happiness

Sweetness of endearment


Christmas Books:

December 19, 2011

To find a complete list of books for the Christmas holiday, click on the season/holiday tab and scroll down. I was going to list just my favorites, but as my writing friends say, “They are all your favorites.” I chuckled, because I was only going to list a couple and just couldn’t delete any. Do you have a favorite holiday book?

Some of my favorites are as follows:

Bear’s First Christmas by Robert Kinerk

Christmas in the Country by Cynthia Rylant

The Christmas Sweater: a Picture Book by Glen Beck

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo

A Pussycat’s Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown

Silver Packages:  An Appalachian Christmas Story by Cynthia Rylant

Christmas in the Trenches

December 17, 2011

John M wrote a song called A Christmas in the Trenches after hearing the historical story. Christmas Eve 1914 during World War I, opposing sides had a truce to celebrate Christmas. They sang together and  played a soccer game, sharing pictures and chocolate. For one night, the Great War was put on hold. To hear the song and see historical photographed, view the below video clip (7 min.) 

Santa Duck

December 14, 2011

Santa Duck by David Milgrim: Book CoverDavid Milgrim‘s writing style reminds me of Mo Willems. The animals are talking to each other in an everyday conversational tone with narration interwoven.

Duck heads out on Dec. 24 to share his wish list with Santa. A present has mysteriously appeared on his front step – a Santa red hat and coat. The animals Duck meets on his journey assume he is Santa’s helper and begin sharing the wish lists. Upon meeting Santa, Santa Duck is surprised and blessed with compliments. Santa is appreciative of duck, who sings himself asleep.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Santa Duck:

  • Speech bubbles vs. Think bubbles
  • Interjections – “Whoa baby!
  • Character feeling
  • Apostrophe with possessive nouns
  • Inference – you can sense Santa Duck’s increased frustration with each animal he encounters

I Love my Mama

December 12, 2011

In a rhythmic, narrative, the reader ambles after the toddler elephant in the jungle. Interwoven emotion brings to life the love of a parent and her child in I Love My Mama. Peter Kavanagh presents intriguing facts your young students will comprehend. It’s a creative way to connect a nonfiction text on elephants.

Compare and contrast the relationship, daily events, and setting of the elephant and humans. You can also talk about fact and opinion. This discussion will lend itself to some research. Learn ten facts about baby elephants at this link.

The YouTube video clip (2 min.) shows a baby “Baylor” elephant interacting with his mother at the Houston Zoo.

Savorings for reading and in writing for I Love My Mama:

  • Bookends – love between mama and her calf
  • Setting Lead
  • “inging” words (word part vs. present participle verb) – morning, nothing vs. stomping, playing
  • Theme – family’s bond
  • Poetic narrative



A Nature Preserve

December 9, 2011

After reading On Meadowview Street, I thought of spring and decided to save the post for April. While researching and writing the author post on Henry Cole, I decided to add in this cheery book. Besides, Florida is not experiencing the snow and cold we are, which I am looking forward to in three weeks. 🙂

Henry Cole persuades his readers to observe and enjoy nature in his book On Meadowview Street. He invites you to linger in the sun, feeling the grass through your toes and a gentle breeze patting your skin. Enjoy some sunshine while you read his book.

Caroline arrives at her new home on Meadowview Street. Each of the houses look similar with a plain, normal front yard. As her father begins to mow the yard, she notices a lone wildflower in her yard. Preserving it, her patch of garden grows into a meadow. Her family plants a tree for shade and a pond for water. Their normal front yard transforms into a nature preserve, inspiring the neighbors.

Savorings for reading and in writing for On Meadowview Street:

  • Character Thinking
  • Nature Connection – observing the world around us
  • One day story – set in the middle of the narrative for emphasis, a turning point
  • Plural Possessive – Jacksons’
  • Every Day happening

Author/ Illustrator: Henry Cole

December 8, 2011

Author Tidbits: a Pleasing Bit of Information

Henry Cole is better known for his illustrations, but is an author as well. Henry has a created a lusciously illustrated chapter book in  A Nest for Celeste. The story takes place in the 1820s in Louisiana where Audubon and his assistant spent time observing birds in their natural setting.

On Henry’s website, you will find a fun tab for your students in Elmer’s Art Room. Henry Cole has collaborated with author, Pamela Duncan Edwards, on several books.  Your students will enjoy meeting Henry Cole during his video clip.

Henry Cole illustrates Celeste the mouse in a minute and a half. Wow!

In an interview, Henry explains how the theme of A Nest of Celeste is about friendship. He use to have field mice as pets when he was a boy and he loves animals. View a short interview (almost 5 min.)  for a Florida Book Award 2010. Henry shares where his ideas came from and some of the pages of the book are seen.

Santa’s Stuck

December 7, 2011

Children welcome Santa with their plates full of cookies and other goodies. Santa is nearing the end of his Christmas Eve venture Santa's Stuck by Rhonda Greene: Book Coverand is lured to have one more tasty treat. As he relaxes in a comfy chair, Santa’s one dessert treat leads to another. Rhonda Gowler Greene use of vivid verbs and rhyme creates a fun read your children will be delighted with.

Henry Cole draws the reader’s attention to specifics in the scenes – Santa’s belly, a button popping off, the reindeer waiting above. In each wide angled scene, another view is shared with a zoomed-in-circle overlay.

With too many treats eaten, Santa’s attempt to leave is stopped – he’s stuck in the chimney. Each animal comes to the rescue – the reindeer, a dog, a mother cat and six kittens, and finally a mouse. With the use of teamwork, they push and pull Santa out.

Savorings for reading and writing for Santa’s Stuck:

  • Voice – a question to the reader the author answers with you: “One more cookie? Couldn’t hurt.
  • Vivid Verbs – nestled, gathers, shrugs, entices
  • Rhyming Text
  • Stair-step structure – one more thing is added to the prior scene
  • Sound effects – onomatopoeia but also the font adds to show effort “No -o -o -o luck

Bucket Filling Philosophy

December 4, 2011

The other day, I posted about bucket filling. After some lovely comments (thank you, thank you! comments fill my bucket!), I decided to post how I learned about the bucket-filling philosophy.

In the fall of 2007, our school staff read the book, How Full is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and for Life by Tom Rath with Donald Clifton. The theme is focusing on the positives in interactions with others. I try to be positive and look at the good, but this book really helped me to see how even the littlest smile can affect others and “pay it forward” to others. As a staff, we began to intentionally fill each other with positive actions and comments.

The spring of March 2008, I went to the Michigan Reading Association Conference (MRA) and attended a session on bucket-filling for kids. The room was packed. Carol McCloud shared how to teach children to be bucket-fillers. She read her book, Have You Filled a Bucket Lately? and I was hooked.

Carol presented at the AllWrite!!! Summer Conference in June 2008 and then came to our school on October 31, 2008. Our school was filled with excitement and children went away with smiles. We continue to share the philosophy each year by reading the books and talking about how to fill each other up. Kids get it. It has helped decrease bullying issues as well, another positive effect. 🙂

To stay current, I receive weekly newsletter from the Bucket Filler Team. You can sign up for it on their website. Short articles of slice of life moments encourage you. When I first began to practice this philosophy, I shared a story with Carol via email, which then was published on June 15, 2008. During the Slice of Life Challenge, I posted a story that warmed my heart.

Dear Fellow Bucket Fillers, 

Daily bucket filling is the simplest, easiest and most important part of bucket filling.  This holiday season, be sure to spread extra holiday joy by filling buckets with special acts of kindness – and it will fill your bucket too!

 The following link will download our latest e-newsletter:    Week of November 27, 2011

To end, I encourage you to read, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch. The following link is a video clip of Hector Elizondo reading the book on Daily Motion. Although a picture book, the message will touch students and adults of all ages.
I look forward to hearing about your bucket-filling experiences.