Monday, December 3, 2012

Book of the Month: Imogene's Antlers by David Small

"On Thursday, when Imogene woke up, she found she had grown antlers..." And this is how Imogene's story begins. It's as simple as that! So you can imagine all of the fun that comes next.  Imogene adapts very well to her antlers...she hangs donuts on them for breakfast, she uses them to hang towels that need drying, and she has lots of places for birds to land.

Related Activities:
  • List other animals that have antlers like caribou
  • This month, there is another friendly little fictional animal with antlers who, along with his friends, helps Santa deliver toys across the world. So, Imogene's Antlers is a timely story. Learn about real reindeer - where they live, what they eat, etc..
  • Sort pictures of animals that have antlers and animals that have horns (see the link below to the Reading Rainbow video). Or, you can use plastic animals that you may have in your classroom.
  • Have children make up a story about what they would do if they woke up with antlers (or some other animal features like - feathers, scales, wings, etc).
  • Ask children why they think Imogene woke up with antlers. Speculate and imagine!

Related Links:
  • The Reading Rainbow on Vimeo episode featuring Imogene's Antlers takes the viewer on a visit to the Philadelphia Zoo (America's First Zoo - who knew?). The children learn about "appendages" and the difference between horns and antlers.
  • Visit the author's website: DavidSmallBooks.
  • Scholastic Books has a great math/snack activity using pipe cleaners and O shaped cereal. 
  • National Geographic Kids has beautiful pictures of caribou along with other information.
  • There's an awesome book called Story Stretchers and it's now available on Google Books. Here you will find several other extension activities such as making donuts (yum!)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Book of the Month: Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

Thanksgiving is approaching and we are helping children to learn about being thankful. The winter holidays are also approaching and it's a time when we often talk to children about giving and being kind. Hopefully these are lessons that we teach our children all year long and this is a great book to help start those discussions.

I love this book for may reasons. The main character is being raised by his grandmother - that family structure is a reality for many children and this book makes it seem so normal that children can easily relate. He wants a pair of sneakers that are just beyond the family's budget, again another reality for many children. In the end, he finds a pair at a thrift shop but they are too small, and he gives them to a friend. The book touches on giving to others, kindness, bullying (the other children laugh at Jeremy's Velcro sneakers), and friendship.

I do take issues with two words in the book: "rich" and "dumb." Jeremy goes to the thrift shop in the hopes that some "rich" child donated the sneakers. The word rich is not concrete to a young child and people who aren't rich donate to thrift shops. Jeremy also uses the word dumb in a moment of frustration. But don't let those words discourage you from picking up this book. The lessons far outweigh those two words.

Related Activity:
Have children donate items to a thrift shop.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's Election Time: Grace for President

Election day is near and what better time to read Grace for President! Grace realizes that there has never been a female president, Grace begins her political career in a classroom election that helps students understand the process of the election and voting. There are some details that may be too much for very young children but older students will be able to understand how an election works. It's a perfect read for this time of year!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Book of the Month: Jacob O'Reilly Wants a Pet by Lynne Rickards

I often spend time in my local library or book store where I am surrounded by mountains of good selections. But what gets me most excited is when I find a treasure in an unexpected place. I took a trip to my local Ollie's Bargain Outlet to get some things to redecorate the bedroom. Every time I go to Ollie's, I peek at the children's books. Usually I will see a few familiar classics, a lot of cool activity books, some mediocre stories, and every now and again I find a pretty cool gem like Jacob O'Reilly Wants a Pet. I've had the book for a little more than a week and I've already read it to my niece 5 times! Trust me, you won't be disappointed if you add this one to your library.

So, Jacob really wants a pet: "He asked for a dog but Dad didn't want fleas. He tried for a cat, but the fur made Mom sneeze. He went through a list of small rodents for sale, but the very idea turned Mom and Dad pale." Finally, he starts a pet sitting business and ends up with  four dogs, five hamsters, six cats, one mouse, a python, two donkeys, five sheep , one horse, rabbits, hares, and zebra. You will be surprised at the pet Jacob finally chooses in the end!

Related Activities:
  • In the book Jake refers to some animals that may not make good pets (like a walrus and an emu). Make a list of animals and discuss why they would (or would not) make a good pet. Draw some funny pictures of how it would be to take care of some pets (like a walrus in the bathtub!).
  • Make a graph similar to this one  and talk about the number and types of pets the students have.
  • Visit a local veterinarian's office.
  • Have children bring in photos of their pets and make a class collage.
  • Paint pet rocks.
  • Sort pets by herbivores and carnivores.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Literacy Jackpot

I visited my local library recently and found these gems that I couldn't wait to share with you! I get so excited when I find new books that are really relevant and fun. So here we go...

Do you ever get tired of plain old "red, blue, and yellow?"  Well, this is the book for you! This book has wonderfully large, colorful photos and it introduces colors with pictures and catchy text: "Red is bright and bold. Scarlet candy, ruby flowers, crimson chairs, and rosy apples..." How many different ways can you think of to describe the colors yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, and more!  I also love the fact that this book includes brown, black, white, silver, and gold. Even pastels such as "peachy" and "soft pink" are included. I was delighted to find other books in this series: 

No more "B is for ball" in this innovative story. Instead, "We're builders, bathers, and bikers in a race." And the humor is that the builders, bikers, bathers and other characters in this book are all... you guessed it... PEAS. Such a cute and fun alphabet book. 

Otter just moved into a new house and decided to have a house warming party where each guest brings an ingredient for soup.  And then the processional of guests begins... there's Cricket's Cracker Crane; Owls, Onions and Okra; Vegetables via Vole; and much more. Again, this is one of those books that goes beyond "B is for ball and C is for cat." Not that there's anything wrong with those books - but this one, just like LMNO Peas just adds a creative spin for those who are ready for something unique and creative. And the illustrations are filled with rich, lush detail. Each page also has a little tongue twister that includes the featured letter.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Book of the Month: Schools Have Learn by Harriet Ziefert

In many classrooms across the country tomorrow is the first day of school. Here is a fun little way to start the year off:

This book may be enjoyable for preschooler and kindergartners, but first and even second graders will enjoy it too. There are lots of twists and wordplay that older children will enjoy: From "Beds have jumps. Cereal has lumps. Good-byes have hugs. Backpacks have lugs." To "History has facts. Math has subtracts. Geometry has lines. Multiplication tables have nines."

Related Activity:
Have children write their own version of the story. For younger children you can give them some help by starting off with a title and letting them each write and illustrate a page for a class book. For older children, you can pair them up to write books to share with the class. Some ideas:
  • Animals Have Zoos (a book about animals and habitats)
  • Feet Have Shoes (a book about clothes and/or seasonal clothing)
  • Skeletons Have Bodies (a book about body parts)
The ideas are endless!

Related Post for Back to School Books: The Night Before Kindergarten

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Book of the Month: The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing

" 'Twas the night before kindergarten, and as they prepared, kids were excited, and a little bit scared..."
This very likable story is one that may be requested over and over again. There's a little twist in the story: it's not the children that have a hard time on their first day, it's instead, the moms & dads: "When what to her wondering eyes should appear but sad moms and dads who were holding back tears..." The story gives a young children a quick peek into the world of kindergarten: circle time, a class pet, music, arts & crafts...It's a perfect read in the weeks before school!
Related Activity:
I don't teach kindergarten anymore :( but if I did, I would record myself reading this story on a site like Vimeo and email it to the parents of my incoming students so that they can share it with their children. It would be a fun way for the children to get to see and hear you before school starts!

Other "Back To School" Posts:

Other Books:

Related Stories:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

BOOK OF THE MONTH: Daddy's Girl by Breena Jacobs

Book of the Month: Daddy's Girl by Breena Jacobs

I came across this book by accident today and fell in LOVE with it. There is simple, rhyming text so even young children will enjoy it. The illustrations are MAGNIFICENT. This is a perfect story for Father's Day or any time of the year. The simple tale of a father and daughter doing every day things - brushing teeth, reading bedtime stories, going to school - are all familiar activities for little ones. I will warn you that if you are a preschool teacher in a non-religious school, there is mention of God.

On another note, This book appears to be a hard one to find. I've sent a message to the stay tuned. In the meantime, if you can find a copy of this book, it is worth adding to the library of any little girl who has a special relationship with her dad.

Here are a few other reads for Father's Day:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

BOOK OF THE MONTH: Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!


Love them or hate them, bugs are back! Many children are fascinated by at least one type of bug and now that the warm weather has come, it is the perfect time to have children become entomologists!

Creepy Crawly Activities:
  1. Look on You Tube (or other video sites) for bug cams. I found this one with just a few seconds so I'm sure there are a ton more!
  2. Google the web for diagrams of insects and learn the names and purpose of each part. Here are a few:
  3. Keep a Bug Journal for one week. Each day the children go outside and find one insect to observe. They can draw or write about their observations in their journal. Encourage children to look in different places - in the soil, on the ground, in the air - and write down where they found their insects. Make a class graph of the places everyone found their insects.
  4. The Good List: Make a list of all of the GOOD things insects do for our environment.
  5. Provide children clay and collage materials and encourage chilren to create their own bug and allow them to give their bug a name.
  6. Yes or No: Provide children with pictures of various animals and insects (print them from the web and laminate them if you want to keep them for a while). Label one basket "Insects" and the other "Not Insects" and allow children to sort the pictures. This is also a great quiet time activity for those children who don't nap very long!

Creepy Crawly Links:
More Creepy Crawly Books:


Special Thank You:
Over one year ago, I received a product review request from EZ Socks. Before we could test the socks, using my then-2-year old niece, I had to take a break from blogging. My niece has just turned four and is quite the pro now at putting on her socks. I am sorry that I didn't get to give a fair review of EZ Socks but I hope that my readers check them out:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Helping Children Learn about Letters and Words Guest Post by Renee Abramovitz

To a young child, letters are just funny symbols on a page. Some are tall and straight, others are looping with big curves. With a little guidance, you can help even a young child develop strong 
letter and word awareness skills so that he or she can begin to understand the important role letters and words play in our environment.

Fun games and engaging letter worksheets are simple ways to help your child.

Try this at home:
1) Read simple picture books to your child; those having just a few words or a single sentence on each page are best for this. Point to each word as you read it and encourage your child to point along with you or to point to the word after you read it aloud.
2) Label some key places in your house with the word printed in uppercase letters on a piece of paper or a note card. Some suggestions would be to label the door, window, wall, shelf, bed and drawer in your child’s bedroom.
3) Let your child dictate a thank-you note or birthday card, for example, to a relative or friend. Write each word in uppercase letters as he says it to you. Keep the message short. Read it back to your child when you are finished printing. Give your child a chance to “read” his card from memory back to you or another family member.
4) Point out words in the environment, such as STOP on the street corner or DONUTS on his favorite snack restaurant. Ask your child to point out signs he recognizes.
5) Point out words in your child’s environment, such as names on cereal or toy boxes.
6) Write your child’s name on his belongings and point it out to him when he is getting dressed or using a labeled item (such as a backpack or pencil box).
7) When reading short, simple picture books, go back to some pages and say: “Let’s count the number of words in that sentence.” And then point to each word as you count, instead of read, the word.
8) Play the “Mailman Game.” Write a short message to your child on a card and deliver it to him as if you are a mailman. Read him the message when you give it to him or when he takes it out of the envelope. “I love you.” or “Grandma is coming soon.” are some examples.
9) Let your child add to your grocery list. Write the item on the list as he watches you. When he wants you to buy something, that word will be very important to him!
10) Complete colorful alphabet letter worksheets. Pick letter coloring pages that focus on introducing one letter at a time for younger children or pick aletter awareness worksheet that focuses on many letters at a time for older children.

Renee Abramovitz is a retired preschool and kindergarten teacher and proud grandma to four beautiful little boys. Visit Renee to find a free kindergarten readiness test parents can take to see if their kids are ready to start preschool or kindergarten and hundreds of free kindergarten worksheets to help children develop critical school readiness skills.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Book for Kids Day

Here in Baltimore, we have a wonderful organization, Baltimore Reads, that hosts Book for Kids Day every spring. Teachers, schools, children, and families benefit from the monetary and book donations made by members of our community. I am asking all of my readers to do one thing to help get books in the hand of a child/family in need. Here are some ideas:

  1. Call your local literacy organizations and ask them how you can help.
  2. Donate your gently used children's books to a school in a low-income neighborhood. I'm sure there is always a teacher who will be grateful for them.
  3. Look for a non-profit or family child care center in your area and ask if they need book donations.
  4. Contact a local women and children's shelter and ask them if they are in need of any book donations.
  5. Start your own book drive and donate books to a local foster home or other agency in need.
Product Give Away:
Comment below to tell us what you are doing to help  children in your community get access to books. A random winner will be selected to win two sets of Counting Cards from Child Up.

 and Teach Your Child to Count to 20 - Math & Logic 2

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