March 24, 2018

Everyday we have opportunities to brighten the lives of others.

On my first reading of Ellie by Mike Wu, the story line seemed to be a simple story. The setting and characters are set with a zoomed-in lens with white background. Ellie’s eyes capture your heart and you are drawn in to her emotion. It was the scene of Ellie first trying her painting, giving it her first try after Walt had modeled the basics, that I made a connection. Ellie explored her talent and surprised her “teacher” with the unexpected. Ellie’s talent shined because Walt: 1) celebrated her accomplishment; 2) brought her the needed tools to thrive; and 3) honored her contribution.

We are like Walt. At the moment Ellie had self-doubt, he encouraged and supported. And like Walt, we equip our students with tools to create, explore, and flourish. We have the power to propel our students forward to paint their masterpieces while we celebrate alongside.

Show this book trailer to your students to introduce the book.

Click this link to hear the video online. The story pace allows the children time to admire the illustrations. This link would be a wonderful eLearning book to share with your students. You could have them write a response to the book sharing about what they are good at, a time they helped someone, or maybe a special trip to the zoo. You can then discuss the deeper meaning of the book with your class.

Savorings for Ellie:

  • Introduction to Story Elements
  • Internal Conflict
  • Repeating phrase -“If only…”
  • Making a Difference
  • Teamwork

What About Moose?

March 22, 2018

Fox is ready to build a tree house with her friends: Skunk, Bear, Frog, and Porcupine. All of a sudden, Moose arrives on the scene and he begins to shout orders. Teamwork seems to go by the wayside as Moose disrupts the groups’ plans.

“But what about you, Moose?” Fox asked with a glare. “You’re tromping about but not doing your share.”

View the book trailer with the class and predict what may happen. As a class talk about how this story compares with group work in class. You could possibly create guidelines for teamwork on projects.

View the book being read online. On Corey Rosen Schwartz‘s website, you will find a curriculum guide for activities in all content areas and STEM activity too. For language arts, this book has numerous words ending in -ed (28 different ones).

Savorings for What About Moose?

  • Rhyming
  • Problem Solving
  • Verbs
  • Teamwork
  • Being in charge
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Friendship
  • Clauses

The Thing About Spring

March 11, 2018

Image result for The thing about springRabbit is worried he will miss snow and winter activities with spring coming. His friends present several different perspectives to persuade Rabbit that spring will be great too. Daniel Kirk shares his passion for writing on his website at this link. See a preview of The Thing About Spring and some teaching ideas at this link.

What are you doing, Rabbit?” Mouse called.

“Saving snow, while I still can,” Rabbit grumbled. “We won’t see any more of this until next year!”

“But spring is coming,” Bird chirped. “Aren’t you excited?


Savorings for The Thing About Spring:


  • Repeating PhraseThe thing about spring is …”
  • Persuasion – seeing a different perspective
  • Magic of 3words in a series, sentences
    • There are buds on the trees and new colors in the sky, and I feel warm and happy.”
  • Community Buildingfriendship; notice the positive
  • Character ChangeRabbit notices the surprises spring can bring
  • Science Connectiontalk about the changes in the seasons.
    • Pair it with another book about fall to winter; compare changes

The Story of Charles Atlas: STRONG MAN

February 9, 2018

Angelo Siciliano came to America as a boy, immigrating from Italy. Who knew he was going to become the World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man? The Story of Charles Atlas: STRONG MAN will stir kids’ heart and challenge them to make good choices.

Image result for the story strongmanAngelo was skinny and weak, but he wanted to change. He was tired of being bullied. By observing lions at the zoo, he invented a routine that increased his muscle size. Through perseverance and determination, Angelo grew stronger. His nickname was Charles, and his friends added, Atlas, after the Greek god who was said to have strong shoulders holding the heavens. Atlas promoted exercise, fitness, and good character.

Meghan McCarthy invites kids into the biography of a man who still impacts us today. I love the author’s note, sharing a memory from her grandfather and giving an insight into the America folk hero.

Listen to the audio story on this link from Meghan McCarthy’s website.

Savorings for The Story of Charles Atlas: STRONG MAN:

  • Overcoming Difficulty
  • Perseverance
  • Exercise Fitness
  • Determined to Succeed
  • Character Counts – strong and honest
  • Comic Frames

March – In like a Lion?

March 1, 2015

The forecast today is between coming in like a lion or going out like a lamb. I definitely know more sunshine is needed and less cold would be appreciated. Thinking of a lion, a book came to mind by Michelle Knudsen (illustrated by Kevin Hawkes). The cover of Library Lion emulates warmth, reading pleasure and friendship.

The lion visits the nearby public library. He enjoys hearing a good story (don’t we all?) and roars when it is finished. Miss Merriweather is particular about her rules in the library. Lion knew he could follow the rules and became a big help to Miss Merriweather. One day, she has an accident and the only way to get another employee’s attention was to roar. Knowing he had broken the rules, the lion left. In the end, the lion is found and an explanation about the rules was shared:

Sometimes there was a good reason to break the rules. Even in the library.

I love how we can discuss with our children that rules are necessary, but sometimes exceptions happen for the good of those around us. As you begin your school year or even as a refresher, Library Lion opens the opportunity to discuss how rules are guidelines for a classroom, school to run smoothly. But, sometimes the circumstance changes the rules for the good of the person.

To hear the book read on Storyline Online, click the video below.

Savorings for reading and writing for Library Lion:

  • Love of Reading
  • Friendship
  • Community Building
  • Varied Sentences
  • Character Traits

Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution

January 28, 2013

Dear BONS,

It’s January and I have been thinking about goals, a New Year’s resolution of sorts. I know Ruth has shared her goals with us. Any others? Me – I’m going to set a time limit for myself to write daily instead of just being arbitrary about it. So I find it fitting that the book Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller happened to catch my eye. It’s super cute and Tammy, I think your first graders would like it. Tam, your gran kids would enjoy it too.

Squirrel wants to know what a resolution is, so he goes to the best place ever to research it – the LIBRARY. Of course, my favorite place! The definition he finds is as follows:

A resolution is a promise you make to yourself to be better or to help yourself.

As squirrel thinks of resolutions for herself, she helps others along the way. In the end, her friends remind her of how she helped them in their time of need.

Isn’t this a great book to share with a class and talk about community building and how each person in the class can help support the goals for the class? I also thought of you with the encouragement to keep writing. So hooray for writing!

Resolved to create,


Savorings for reading and in writing for Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution:

  • Bucket Filling -“I resolve to help someone every day!
  • Apostrophe usage – contractions vs. possessive
  • Narrative weaving of thoughts/feelings
  • Community Building
  • Library reference 🙂

Robot Fun

July 26, 2012

Browsing the library display, my eye was drawn to Clink by Kelley DiPucchio.The lone robot enticed me and I am so glad. This book is one I want for my collection. There are so many reading strategies, community building, and writing craft lessons that can be used with this book. Boys and girls will be delighted with the character and feel the emotion weaved throughout the story.

Clink the robot, illustrated by Matthew Myers, will connect with every child’s heart. He wants to be exciting, fun, and new like so many of the other robots in the store. Instead, he’s old-fashioned and not upgraded.The illustrated scenes remind me of a child who is looking on to the joyful happenings, wanting to be included, but not knowing how.

The book, Clink, has several underlying themes dealing with acceptance for who you are, not being good enough to fit in, or recognizing your talent. This book is a great way to introduce theme or author’s message and can be a springboard for discussing community with children of all ages. Click here to view a Vemo video book trailer.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Clink:

  • Onomatopoeia and Alliteration – Plink! Pop! Ping!
  • Magic of 3 – with sentences
  • Personification – relate to the thrown-out, non-updated robot
  • Theme – not being good enough or acceptance for who you are
  • Asides – adds voice
  • Love the Dedication –

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.


Author: Nancy Carlson

December 1, 2011

Author Tidbits: a Pleasing Bit of Information

Nancy Carlson is a fun author/illustrator of more than 60 children’s books. Our guidance counselor uses several of Nancy Carlson’s books as she sprinkles each book with a message of encouragement, hope, and affirmation. With today being a snow day and the busy season ahead, I was reminded of  Nancy’s book, Take Time to Relax.

Nancy celebrates imagination and creativity . In her interview, Nancy quotes a kindergartener saying,

‘An illustrator is the person who writes the pictures.’ For them, the pictures tell the stories.”

To connect with her community, Nancy blogs her doodles daily at blog.nancycarlson.com . She explains her ideas and shows you her doodles. In her website, you can sign up for a newsletter from Nancy and find some lessons for community building.  Young writers and illustrators will enjoy “meeting” the author and seeing her work in progress in the YouTube video below.

To learn how to draw one of her characters, Henry, watch the 2 minute YouTube video that follows.

Nancy talks directly to her young audience about bullying in the below 1 min 30 sec video clip. Henry and the Bully features how first graders learn to ask for help and solve a problem with a bullying issue.

Enjoy learning about Nancy Carlson and introduce your children to situations they connect with.

A Friend Like You

November 2, 2011

I love this book! I highlighted this book at the AllWrite!!! Summer Institute this past June. The large photograph illustrations are spectacularly unique. Your students of all ages will want A Friend Like You.

Tanja Askani lives near Hamburg, Germany. She provides a home for many injured animals. The photos are of these animals and the interesting relationships they have with each other. In the back of the book, each photo has some background information, giving you a glimpse into the animals’ lives.

The short text focuses on the qualities of friendship. It lends itself to a group discussion on how to treat others, friendship roles, and building a class community.

Savorings for reading and in writing for A Friend Like You:

  • Compare/Contrast
  • Hybrid Text
  • Sentence Structure – short enough to focus on specific grammatical structure (and fun too!)
  • Photographs – brilliant! (see Tanja Askani‘s website for more)
  • Sense of community