Kindergarten and first graders have been having a ball this month, diving into the wonderful world of Mo Willems, one of the most acclaimed and talented authors and illustrators of this generation. His sense of humor is second to none! Don’t be surprised if you start seeing books starring Piggie and Gerald, the Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny and more making their way home to you from the library! With humor like this, who could blame them?
I’m kicking off the change in weather to more autumnal temperatures with stories celebrating Halloween, including my very own jack-o-lantern! I am reciting a beloved story of a spider and a mouse who live together in a pumpkin throughout the winter to grades preK through three, as well as some other favorite picture books and an early chapter book!
Fourth and fifth grade are still very much enjoying the DCF books we are reading together. Ask your students about the plot, especially the fifth graders, as the story takes place in 1979-1980 and there are some pretty throwback pop culture references (think The Brady Bunch and Three’s Company).
STEAM time is still going great! Next week the students will have time to reflect on each other’s work, provide positive feedback, and then reassess the strength and usefulness of their house. Keep up with the STEAM design process here!
I hope your students are enjoying library this week as much as I am!
January is going to be a very fun month for preK, kindergarten and 1st graders! We are doing an author study of the great Mo Willems and learning all about some pretty delightful characters: Piggie, Gerald, Knuffle Bunny, and of course, the Pigeon!
This week we are focusing on The Pigeon and reading his books. We are discussing how Mr. Willems using his seemingly simple illustrations to convey his ideas, and how he uses them to get his purpose across.
It doesn’t take the students long to realize that many of Willems’s books have big shiny medals on them, mostly Caldecott, Red Clover, and Theodor Seuss Geisel Awards. This led to a natural discussion of past Caldecott Medal winners and throughout the day, I had to keep restocking my display as students happily took them off my hands!
1T begged me to keep reading Pigeon books during class yesterday until I read all five that I had left in the library! They loved his expressions and his sarcasm and especially when he yells! I know Mo Willems month is going to be a huge success!
As the students get to know me, they will realize that I am a total wimp when it comes to scary things, which include what I consider “scary” books. They laugh at me when I tell them I thought a story was creepy, like the new DCF book The Nest by Kenneth Oppel, which some of the 5th graders love (and in my defense, some think is creepy!). So with Halloween fast approaching, I wanted something fun to read with the students, but nothing too creepy. That’s when I knew that Caldecott Award Honor book Creepy Carrots was the right choice for me–just the right amount of creepy and lots opportunity for fun!
Some classes had fallen behind in our read-aloud because of holidays or reward days, so I used the week before Halloween to get some classes caught up, and to create some fun art with others. Every class loved the story, with its amazing illustrations and funny ending, and I got some amazing creepy carrots to display!
The final product is just right for me! A whole lot of fun with just a smidge of creepy! Be sure to look for your students’ creepy carrot when you come in for parent-teacher conferences this week!
This was the first week that I have finally been able to really differentiate what each grade level is working on in the library. The first week we had a tour and read a book about empathy, and the second week was a scavenger hunt review of where materials are located and a discussion of expected behavior in the library specifically. Last week the students all celebrated International Dot Day and made their physical mark on the library by decorating a coffee filter dot that will be hung in a garland around the Learning Commons.
Finally, this week, all of our initial procedures are in place, and it’s time to get these kids excited about reading!
4th and 5th graders are encouraged to read Dorothy Canfield Fisher award-nominated books, and I saved the funniest to read aloud as a class, The Terrible Two. We started it this week and the kids are dying to hear more! They wrote in their journals about how other people view them in the school, and who they’d like to be, in comparison to the main character, Miles, who is moving to a new school and has a chance to recreate himself (or not). The text-to-self connections the kids are drawing are really thoughtful!
I am introducing 2nd and 3rd graders this week to our awesome collection of early chapter books for those confident readers who are ready for something new. We reviewed parts of a book using Magic Tree House books and then I introduced them to a good friend of mine, Geronimo Stilton.
At first I wasn’t sure if they liked it, but judging by the fact that every single Geronimo Stilton book in the library has been checked out, I think it’s clear they did!
Kindergarten and first grade parents will either love me or hate me for this week’s book selection! The students certainly loved them! While they are now familiar with the term, “Boo Boo Butt,” they hopefully also learned a thing or two about parts of a book and book care. It was great to hear their squeals of laughter, but even better to use hilarious books to illustrate how books work!
Last but not least, it was lovely to have pre-K finally part of the library routine. I am going to rotate through all the different topics which divide up the picture book section; this week I started with the Growing Up section, which consists of books on family, relationships, growing up, and friendship. The kids loved this brand-new picture book about two dear friends who can always count on each other.
The students were engaged, we all had a lot of fun, and I know they learned a thing or two as well, whether they realized it or not! I can’t wait to give the older kids another taste of their chapter books, and to keep the younger grades interested and laughing!
During their first class in the library this year, I asked the school’s youngest students to be willing to have fun, be creative, and be brave enough to use their imagination as we tell stories this year. We began by reading this lovely book, This Is Sadie by Sara O’Leary.
Then I challenged the students and asked them, Even though you’re SMALL, do you have a BIG IMAGINATION?
Most students said, “Yes!” although some admitted they prefer facts to stories (I thought that was insightful). Then, if the students were feeling very brave, I offered them the chance to use a large cardboard box, a plastic tub, and a bag full of masks and costume accessories to tell a story, just like Sadie. The kids were definitely up for the challenge!
I’m glad the kids were able to be silly and have some fun in the library, and that they know how much fun good stories can be. I’m looking forward to immersing them in more engaging literature as the year moves on!
The library is the perfect place to introduce meaningful books to students, especially since the classroom is so packed with texts that teachers are required to read; the library can be the place where we ensure that students are exposed to books that they really should read. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig is just such a book, one all students should read, especially at the beginning of the year.
The students and I had a discussion about feeling invisible, and the word empathy. I hope that through the reading of good literature, the students will become accustomed to putting themselves in other people’s shoes, and in turn become more empathetic to those around them. It paid off with a 4th grader telling me that at recess she saw a new student playing basketball by himself, and that she introduced herself and asked if she could play, too. She was so proud of how she had recognized that the new student was feeling invisible, and that she could do something to help.
We’ll start journals this week and hopefully keep these text-to-self connections going!