Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BOOK OF THE DAY: The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

The Lion & the Mouse

In award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney's wordless adaptation of one of Aesop's most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted. After a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he'd planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher's trap. With vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively-drawn characters, Pinkney makes this a truly special retelling, and his stunning pictures speak volumes. ~ Product Review from Amazon

One of the reasons I love this version of the story is the illustrations! They are amazingly engaging! It's no surprise that this book is the winner of a 2010 Caldecott Medal. The book has minimal text (mostly onomatopoeia), but the illustrations tell the story in an obvious way.

Related Activities:
  • I know I say this often when I present my Book of the Day, but I'll say it again. Learn about the author, Jerry Pickney. Show children his photograph, learn about his life. Helping children learn about authors and illustrators adds a level of reality to the books you read. Children are able to see authors and illustrators as "real people" and may be more likely to see themselves as authors and illustrators too! View this interview with Jerry Pickney from Reading Rockets.
  • Learn about onomatopoeia! Young children LOVE to learn big words. Make a list of onomatopoeic words. Tip: You may want to make the list on chart paper and leave it hanging in the room - children will think of many words over the next few days to add to the list! Examples: animal sounds (like oink, meow, moo), honk-honk (Wheels on the Bus song is full of them!), zip, crash, hiccup, zoom, slurp, bang, etc...
  • Learn about the Serengeti (the setting for this book).
  • Make a flannel board version of the story for the children to re-tell in their own words.
  • Explain what a "fable" is and read other fables.
  • Visit First School and DLTK for more :Lion and the Mouse patterns and activities. 
  • Make lion masks and mouse puppets (from Enchanted Learning).
  • Read other versions of The Lion and the Mouse and compare the stories.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teacher Tip Tuesday: Quiet Time Boxes

When I taught preschool, I always seemed to have one or two children who wouldn't sleep. My rule was that the first 30-45 minutes was quiet time for everybody. I used that time frame because I knew that in that time period, the children who were going to sleep would be sleep by then. And after 45 minutes or so, the children who were still awake were likely the ones who were not going to nap anyway.For your classroom it may be a different time frame - use your judgement. I kept shoe boxes filled with quiet activities that children could take to their cots. I normally kept 4-5 of these boxes in the closet and I would mix up the contents occasionally. Some items to include:
  • Books (consider adding books that are not normally on your bookshelf every day - books that the children have never seen before)
  • Magazines (I kept a supply of Your Big Backyards)
  • Soft puzzles (like these from S &S)
  • A small bag (I used little felt bags because they were more quiet than paper bags and less dangerous than plastic bags) with a few maniplulatives inside (interlocking stars, legos, etc)
  • Small notebook and a few crayons
  • Flannel "board" (made by attaching a piece of felt to a file folder) and felt pieces.
  • Puppets
  • Laminated sheets of blank tagboard, tissue, and dry erase markers (to make an individual dry-erase board)
  • Lacing Cards or large beads to string
  • Peg boards
I would decorate the outside of 4-5 shoe boxes (and add 3-4 activities to each box) and let the non-sleepers take one to their cots. It helps keep the non-sleepers occupied and quiet! The trick is to keep changing up the items inside to keep them busy and happy! 

Sunday, September 26, 2010



In the spirit of full disclosure, I must tell you that I am choosing Olivia as my book of the day, since she is a close personal friend of mine :-). Here we are at the Baltimore Book Festival:

Olivia, an incorrigible, feisty, intelligent little pig (who might remind you of a few preschoolers you may know) is the subject of this Caldecott Award-winning book by Ian Falconer.

Related Classroom Activities:

  • Show children some images of Jackson Pollack's art work.Encourage children to create illustrations similar to Pollack's. Frame the art and hang in the classroom or hallways!This activity may be best outdoors or in an area fully covered since it can get messy. Children can drip paint, use fly swatters to create splatter, use eye droppers or turkey basters, create the Pollack effect. If funds are available, visit your local craft store and find small canvases that will work with tempera paints and have children create their Pollack images on canvas!

  • At the art table, provide black, white and red charcoal (or chalk) and encourage children to create drawings similar to Falconer's.

  • Make sand castles in the sand table or sand box.

  • Find online Olivia Printables.

  • Make a graph after asking the children how many books they read at night with their parent.

  • Revisit Olivia's escapades in the book. Make a photocopy of each. Divide a large sheet of chart paper in half. On one side, put a smiley face (Good Choice) and on the other, a sad face (Bad Choice). Have the children discuss each of Olivia's antics and decide if it was a good choice or bad choice (looking at a painting in a museum --> good choice; painting on the wall at home--> bad choice!)

  • Visit Olivia's website! Learn about the author, print coloring pages, play online games, and more.

  •  Purchase a stuffed pig or an Olivia Doll. Each night, allow one student to take home the Olivia book and doll and read it at home with the family. As an added writing activity, send home an "Olivia Journal" and have the child draw a picture of what Olivia did at their house that night.

  • Read more Olivia books (see below).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teacher Tip Tuesday: Routines Rule!

I might get a bit of flack for this but I always say that teaching preschool and kindergarten aged children is 80% classroom management. I know, it's important to learn letters, numbers, and shapes. But if you have a classroom full of children who are unable to listen or follow directions, you won't be able to teach them anything anyway!

This time of the year is often pretty challenging for preschool children...and their teachers. Lots of crying, new rules to follow, and new routines to learn. My suggestion for this week: scrap the lesson plans, at least for a few weeks.

I know, sounds crazy, right?

When I taught kindergarten, I did not do a traditional lesson plan for the entire month of September. Each day of the month we learned routines and rules. It may not sound like a lot, but trust me, it pays off. My goal as a teacher was to have the children not "need" me so much! We learned how to turn the computers on/off, how to hold the scissors, how to use the art materials, how to take care of our books, where to find the puzzles, and all of the other day-to day tasks. If you are in November and still teaching your children how to clean up the block area, you might want to rethink your strategy!

Don't underestimate the importance of focusing on rules and routines. A well managed classroom is a place where true learning can occur.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Product Review: Create Your Own Pop Up Books from Growing Tree Toys

Welcome to my very first product review!

Anyone who has visited my little blog-home knows that I am passionate about children’s literacy and the role that it plays in a child’s overall development. Growing Tree Toys has a host of educational toys that promote literacy, learning, and creativity. The Create Your Own Pop Up Book (described below) is $19.95 and is suggested for “children” from ages 5 to 95!

“Little writers and artists can use their imaginations to create the “next big” book series with the Create Your Own Pop-Up Books Kit from Creativity for Kids. While anyone may be able write a story, the Create Your Own Pop-up Books Kit gives kids the tools that, when combined with their imaginations, bring their stories to life with pop-up fun. The Create Your Own Pop-Up Books Kit features 2 high quality, hardcover pop-up books – one that measures 8.5”x8.5” and the other 6.25”x6.25” – and supplies to make their stories, including stickers, 8 markers, pop-up designs, illustrated instructions with story starter ideas, and step-by-step pop-up ideas. When kids use their imaginations to add their own drawings and photos, they will be amazed as their brilliant story comes to life and literally pops off the page with the Create Your Own Pop-Up Books Kit from Creativity for Kids.” [text from Growing Tree Toys]

The product arrived exactly as described above. Children receiving such a great product will want to jump in right away, but planning is needed. After carefully and thoughtfully planning out the story, it will take some additional strategizing to plan the illustrations as well.

Potential skills children can learn from this kit:
  • Parts of a book (cover, spine, etc..) 
  • Parts of a story (beginning, middle, ending)
  • The role of authors and illustrators
  • Thinking and planning skills
  • Creativity and language skills
  • Logic, problem solving, and concentration skills

There really aren’t any “cons.” For $19.95, the kit comes with everything you need (except for personal photographs that you might want to add) to create 2 books. The only “warning” I have is that if you are buying this product for a young child (under the age of 8), be prepared to provide lots of guidance and assistance.

For more products that boost creativity, visit Growing Tree Toys’ Creativity for Kids product page.

Would you like to enter my give-a-way of this GREAT product*? Comment below by September 30th and a random winner will be selected by October 1st.

*The box has been opened (for the purpose of this review) but not used. Markers and stickers are in their original unopened packaging.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Where Am I?

I'm taking a little blog-ation.

So, technically a blog-ation implies a "vacation from blogging." And officially, I guess I am taking a vacation from blogging. BUT...I won't be spending it on a beach or tropical island. I a working on a BIG project at work. After working almost ten hours today, this is the amount of work I brought home tonight! Needless to say, my blogging time is limited these days.

But I'll be back on track next week. In the meantime, check out some of these popular posts.

And if you are interested in writing a guest post, leave a comment or direct message me on Twitter.

Coming up soon on Room to Grow:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back to School Book of the Day: Will I Have a Friend?

Will I Have a Friend? (We Love First Grade!)Will I Have a Friend? [WILL I HAVE A FRIEND 2/E]

Will I Have a Friend?: "Jim's anxieties on his first day of school are happily forgotten when he makes a new friend." Note: This book was published in 1989 but updated in 2009.

Related Activities:
  • Friendship Artwork: Make a class mural to emphasize what friends can do together.
  • Make Friendship Fruit Salad by having everyone bring in a piece of fruit. Together, as  a class, wash and cut the fruit to make a fruit salad.
  • Make a friendship quilt - give each child a fabric or felt piece to decorate; sew (or ask a parent volunteer to sew) the squares together and display it in the classroom.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back to School Book of the Day: Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum Big Book

The Teaching Heart website has a great deal of activities related to this story. While many of them are geared towards elementary aged students, most, if not all of the activities can be altered for pre-school and kindergarten students such as counting the letters in their names and learning the meanings of their names.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to School Book of the Day: Maisy Goes to Preschool

Maisy Goes to Preschool: A Maisy First Experiences Book

Maisy Goes to Preschool: "Preschool for Maisy means a day filled with friends and things to do, from the time she hangs her coat on a special peg to the time she says good-bye. There’s painting and snack time, stories and nap time (and a bathroom break in between). Soon everyone’s ready to haul out the instruments and make some noise, then head outside for a turn at the sandbox or slide. In a bright, full-size storybook full of familiar scenes, this child-friendly look at a day in the life of a preschooler is one that newcomers and seasoned pros alike will be happy to share."

Related Activities:
  • Visit Maisy's Fun Club for facts about Maisy (like her birthday) and other games, activities, and videos.
  • Read more books about Maisy like Maisy Cleans Up, Maisy's Bedtime, Maisy's Morning on the Farm, and others!
  • Click here for more Maisy activities from Teacher Vision.
  • As a classroom sorting activity, gather pictures of children doing every day activities. On chart paper, make a YES side (with a smiley face or thumbs up), and a NO side (with a sad face or thumbs down). Allow children to help sort the pictures according to what they DO in school and what they DO NOT do in school. For example: In school, we can paint,  take a nap, build with blocks, eat lunch, etc. We do NOT take a bath, go to bed, go shopping, etc in school. Children can glue the pictures onto chart paper during circle time or during a small group activity.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back to School Book of the Day: My Teacher Sleeps in School

My Teacher Sleeps in School (Picture Puffins)

My Teacher Sleeps in School: "A wonderfully empathetic story, written by a kindergarten teacher, about the innocently farfetched speculations of young schoolchildren as to just how and where their teacher lives."

Related Activity:
Encourage classroom staff (teachers, assistants, volunteers) to bring in photographs of their home, their families, and their pets. If possible, teachers can bring in pictures of their parents too. Our students never seem to think that we have mommies and daddies too!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day!

The Back to School Book of the Day will continue tomorrow, but in the meantime, here are a few books that will help you celebrate Labor Day with the preschool and kindergarten students in your life!

Whose Vehicle Is This?: A Look at Vehicles Workers Drive - Fast, Loud, and Bright (Whose Is It?: Community Workers)Whose Hat Is This?: A Look at Hats Workers Wear - Hard, Tall, and Shiny (Whose Is It?: Community Workers)Whose Tools Are These?: A Look at Tools Workers Use - Big, Sharp, and Smooth (Whose Is It?: Community Workers)

 Whose Coat Is This?: A Look at How Workers Cover Up - Jackets, Smocks, and Robes (Whose Is It?)Whose Tools Are These?: A Look at Tools Workers Use - Big, Sharp, and Smooth (Whose Is It?: Community Workers)Whose Gloves Are These?: A Look at Gloves Workers Wear - Leather, Cloth, and Rubber (Whose Is It?)

Guess Who?Jobs People Do


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