Grace and Duck for President!

This week, we are reading Grace For President by Kelly DiPucchio.

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This book is about a little girl who wants to be president.  This book is great for teaching children about the electoral college and so far, I think the kids are walking away with a better understanding of the election process.

Last week, we read a fun book titled Duck For President by Doreen Cronin.  This is a fun tale about a humble duck who began his political career as a farm hand and worked his way up the ladder of success to become president of the United States.  Duck learns as he goes that being a politician isn’t all it’s quacked up to be!

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Examining the Election!

Whew!  There’s a lot going on in the Linda Nolen Library right now!  First off, Ms. King and I have been working for the last few weeks on a collaborative project to teach her kiddos about the upcoming presidential election.  We’re using an awesome project that I found on Teachers Pay Teachers but we’ve tweaked it to hit English/Language Arts, Social Studies, and Information Literacy standards for our kids.  Here are a few pictures of their work so far.

 

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So far, the kids have learned to identify the candidates for the 2016 election.  They know basic election vocabulary, who is eligible to vote, and how to vote.  We’ve begun talking about the voter registration process and today the kids get to use Google Forms to practice filling out a voter registration form online.  I think we’re set to have some election savvy students.

If I Were President

This month, all of my Linda Nolen buddies are learning about the presidential election.  We’re kicking off the unit with the book, If I Were President by Catherine Stier.

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This is a wonderful book about a little girl who daydreams about what it would be like to be the president.  Along the way, the reader learns a little bit about the job of the president and also some major landmarks like the Capitol, the White House, and Mount Rushmore.

For our craft this week, my friends on the ID Hall and my preschool friends are learning to recognize the U.S. flag by making our own flag.

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On the STAR hall, my younger friends are gaining some information literacy skills this month by researching facts about the candidates and the voting process.  This week though, we are just learning to recognize the candidates by their names and photos.

My older STAR hall friends are learning about opposing viewpoints.  This week, the kids are visiting the official website for each candidate and they are learning about each candidate’s platform for education.  Our goal is to create a persuasive poster for our candidate of choice that highlights their opinion about education.  These will be on display as soon as the kids finish!

Pasta Cars

The hardest part about our S.T.E.A.M. lab challenge this week is not eating it!  This week, my buddies and I have been challenged to build rolling cars out of pasta!  The kids have been given lasagna, ziti, and spaghetti as our building tools.  For the wheels, we are using lifesavers.  From there, the kids have been working together to make a car that will really roll.

The idea for this project came from the pbskids website and so far, the kids are really enjoying the activity.

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The Day the Crayons Quit!

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This week we are reading one of my favorite books, The Day the Crayons Quit.  It’s about a little boy who pulls out his crayon box and discovers all these letters that were written by his crayons.  His crayon friends are upset for various reasons and they want Duncan to know about it!  At the end, Duncan is able to come up with a great way to make all of his crayon buddies happy.

Our craft this week is one that I found on pinterest.  We are taking Popsicle sticks and turning them into our crayon characters from the story.

Learning About the Native Americans

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My Linda Nolen buddies and I had a really neat experience this morning!  We participated in a virtual field trip with several other schools across the state.  Without leaving the building, we traveled to the Museum of Alabama and got an up close tour of the First Alabamians exhibit.  Being able to participate in events like this makes me so happy that we have available and ready technology for our students to use and learn with.

Afterward, a few of my friends and I decided to check out the book, Arrow to the Sun by Gerald McDermott.  This is an adapted folktale from the pueblo and was also a Caldecott winner in 1975.  We also explored three new terms, pueblos, kivas, and folktales.

After reading the book, each child was given play-doh and toothpicks and was challenged to build their own pueblo.  My challenge was accepted and lots of building fun ensued!

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Tinkercad!

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Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a “First Friday” online professional development session.  One of the topics of the experience was Tinkercad.  This is a website that takes the basics of CAD design and makes it accessible and usable for children.  This gave me the idea for my S.T.E.A.M. lab!

Last week, my kiddos practiced logging into the program and doing the tutorials so they would understand the basics of the program.  This week, we are starting our first project and I can’t wait to see how to kids do!

More Color Fun

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This week, my MD hall friends and my preschool kiddos are reading Elmer by David McKee.  This is a lovely book about a special elephant named Elmer who isn’t gray like the rest of his herd.  Instead he is a beautiful patchwork of all the colors you can think of.  Elmer doesn’t like being different until he finally realizes how important of a role he plays in the life of his herd.  This is a great story for all kids looking to find their own place in the world!

This week, our craft is to make Elmer.  The kids have been given a paper elephant.  Their job is to spread liquid glue independently (if possible) or by using hand-over-hand assistance if necessary.  Then, we are taking a colorful confetti of paper and spreading it across our elephant.  The result is a beautiful patchwork elephant that looks just like Elmer from our story.

I haven’t really mentioned it before but we always start each lesson with a song.  This month, we are doing a color song to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”  This week in particular, I’m starting to see interaction with our kiddos.  They are clapping at the right time and some are even doing some of the motions and gestures that go along with the song!

We’re Building Like Mr. Eiffel!!!

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I recently learned about the life of a man named Gustave Eiffel.  He is most famous for his engineering of the Eiffel Tower.  However, he is also responsible for the inner structure of the Statue of Liberty.    This little factoid has become my inspiration for the library S.T.E.A.M. lab this week.

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This week, my STAR hall friends are being challenged to use tooth picks and play-doh to build the tallest structure they can.   To complete this challenge, they must first compare the structure of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.  They will notice a similar triangular pattern which they will use in the building of their own structure.  I can’t wait to see how high the kids can build!

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Fun With Color

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Colors are the library theme for September and this week, my MD hall buddies and my preschool friends are working with a really wonderful book called Press Here by Herve Tullet.  This is a unique book because it’s interactive.  Each page asks the reader to complete a task and the results of their actions are displayed on the next page.  It’s a wonderful book for combining primary colors and learning how to create secondary colors.  It also covers meaty concepts like color patterns and cause and effect.  I REALLY LIKE THIS BOOK!

My students are also participating in two activities this week.  First, we are creating dot art that is inspired by our reading.  Second, we are using food coloring and shaving cream to combine and mix primary colors.  Hopefully, by the end of this week, my friends will understand how to make green, orange, and purple.

Airplanes are Everywhere This Week!

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I am SO EXCITED about library this week because we’re all playing with airplanes!

My Friend Rabbit is the book I’m reading to my preschool and MD hall friends.  It’s about two buddies, mouse and rabbit, who manage to get their toy airplane stuck in a tree.  Luckily for them, rabbit always has a plan so he enlists the help of some other buddies to try to get the plane down.  While we read, my Linda Nolen friends and I will be creating our own tree and identifying common animals as we stack them up to get to our own paper airplane.  Our craft this week is to make a paper airplane that the kids can take home.

This week, my S.T.E.A.M. lab friends are also making paper airplanes.  I’m challenging my buddies to create airplanes that will travel the farthest distance.  With the help of the kind internet, we will determine which planes travel the farthest.  Do I need a fancy paper airplane or will a simple one work just as well?  Using teamwork, the kids are going to build three different airplanes with different levels of detail.  Then, we’re going to launch our planes and measure how far they will travel.  Each group will have a data sheet where they get to graph the distance.  When we’re done, we should be able to analyze our data to see which planes travel the longest distance.

P is for planes and perseverance.  My STAR hall kiddos are listening to the story, Rosie Revere, Engineer.  This is an awesome story about a little girl named Rosie who likes to make gadgets.  Unfortunately, one day, her favorite uncle teases her about an invention and Rosie is so embarrassed that she decides to give up building completely.  Thankfully, Rosie’s  favorite great aunt comes to visit and convinces her to build a helicopter.  Rosie’s first attempt fails but with the help of her aunt, Rosie learns to persevere in spite of obstacles.  The STAR hall kiddos are also being introduced to online dictionaries as tools for defining unfamiliar words and each class is getting the chance to define the word persevere.

 

Everything’s Going Swimmingly!

This year, I decided to do something I’ve never done before.  I decided the library needed a theme.  After LOADS of pinterest shopping, I decided to go with Under the Sea. Though the library is still a work in progress, I wanted to share the transition we’ve undergone because I think it’s turning out SO STINKIN’ CUTE!

 

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Art with the Ancient Greeks

This week, our S.T.E.A.M lab is an art related challenge that feeds off our challenge from the previous week.  Last week, we discovered that circular columns hold the most weight.  This week, we’re learning how the Ancient Greeks used this knowledge and combined it with common artistic elements to create three common column designs.  They are called Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.

The kids have two challenges this week. First, they must attempt to draw an example of each of these types of columns.  Then, using our iPads, they have been challenged to find real life examples of these columns in ancient Greek as well as modern architecture.

I can’t wait to see how to kids do with their first art challenge!

Merry Media Center Mice This Month

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August is the month of the mouse!  The preschool cuties and the students on the MD hall have spent their library time this month having merry fun with a mouse themed unit.  We’ve begun each library session with the song, “Hickory Dickory Dock” and each child has had the chance to send our mouse prop running up our monstrous grandfather clock.  We’ve also read several mouse themed stories including, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie as well as Alphabet Under Construction  and Lunch by Denise Fleming.   The children have had the opportunity to complete several adorable crafts including making paper cookies, turning the letter M into a mouse, and “feeding” the mouse from our Denise Fleming stories.

This week, your little one should bring home a mouse with cutouts inside of a zip-lock baggie.  These are the necessary props so that your kiddo can share with you the  story that we are reading this week.  I’ve included the words to the story so you can help if your child forgets something.  Remember though that each child is different and the whole point of this is to have fun and connect school learning with home.  If your little one isn’t ready for retelling the story, there are other great ways to use these props.  You could always read the story (it’s included in the baggie) out loud and let your little one practice dropping the props in the mouse’s tummy at the right time.  Or, if your little one requires additional help, you can help him by placing your hand over your child’s hand and guide them through the activity.

I hope you and your little one enjoy this fun activity!

How Strong is a Piece of Paper?

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This week, our Linda Nolen Kiddos have been S.T.E.A.M. challenged to build the strongest column possible using only a single sheet of paper and some tape.  We’ve had a great time building triangle, square, and circle shaped columns.  The REALLY fun part has been placing paperback books on the tops of our work to see which shape holds the most weight.  Hands down, the circular shape holds the most every time.  Most of the time, it will even hold twice as much weight as the other shapes.  Today, when you get a chance, ask your child which shape held the least amount of weight.  They should be able to tell you the triangle makes a terrible column.

Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead!!!

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Welcome Back!!!  This evening when you take a seat at dinner with your family, please ask your Linda Nolen kiddo if they’ve made a visit to the library S.T.E.A.M lab.  I bet (hopefully) they will begin talking your ear off because this lab is SO MUCH FUN!

Because times are a changin’, school librarians have a challenge to find their role with this tech. savvy bunch of digital natives we teach each day.  Is it sufficient for us to just help kids find books and write reports?  That’s part of our job but only a VERY small part.  In the age of concepts like the Web 2.0, citizen journalists, and digital natives, it isn’t enough for our kids to be able to find information.  Now, we want our kids to learn how to ethically and effectively create information for others to use.  This is where my new baby, our school S.T.E.A.M Lab, becomes so important.

A S.T.E.A.M lab is simply a type of Makerspace and a Makerspace is no more than a place where kids can go to create “stuff.”  By creating a S.T.E.A.M. lab, I’ve chosen to focus our direction toward making things related to science, technology, engineering, art, and math.  Each week, I issue the kids a maker challenge and sit back and watch what they can do.

This week, I’ve thrown down some tough stuff!  The kids have been asked to make a structure with straws, tape, yarn, and a cup.  These are the only items the kids are allowed to use.  They are sitting at a table and their feet are on the floor so they can use those items as well.  The challenge is to make a structure that can suspend 100 pennies off the ground for at least 20 seconds.  I’m proud to say that so far, we’ve had lots of successfully built structures.  But more importantly, it has been a privilege to watch the amazing team work and ingenuity that has gone into this challenge.    The kids are thinking of ways to tackle this challenge that haven’t crossed my mind and that’s just great!

Summer Reading Ideas

We’ve been told for years that it’s important for kids to continue to read over the summer and it is!  There are millions of kids who are going to be home over the summer break and I would venture to say that ALL of them are going to at one point this summer say, “I’m bored.”  Here’s where parents can make a great decision for their kids that will both provide entertainment and help their child have the best possible start to the new school year.  When your child says he/she is bored, ENCOURAGE THEM TO PICK UP A BOOK!

In my own home ( I have two little girls that keep calling me Mama),  one of my girls LOVES watching t.v. and I honestly believe she would spend five hours a day watching it IF I LET HER.  However, I know that the general recommendation is that kids watch t.v. and play computer games no more than one to two hours a day.  So…when my own little one comes to me with her puppy dog eyes and begs for t.v. time, I hold firm.  A little t.v. is ok.  A lot of t.v. is not.

Instead of giving in to the summer time t.v. monster, I try to encourage my kids to try other activities like playing outside, making a craft, taking a trip somewhere simple like the park or library, or READING A BOOK.  I’ve also been known during the more trying instances of child begging to say, “If you really don’t have anything to do then I’ve got some dishes that that need washing or some laundry that needs folding or some weeds that need to be picked…”  You get the idea.  It’s amazing how my girls can come up with something to do when the alternative is actual work!

Reading is a great way for kids to pass their time this summer and it will certainly help your child to not lose reading skills that were gained this school year.  It may even help your child advance their skills so that they come to school next year a stronger reader than they were when they left.  However, not all kids want to jump right into a book.  Some kids might need some encouragement to get into the habit of picking up a book this summer.  This may be particularly true if your child feels uncertain about their reading ability or if they have struggled to read in the past.  The good news is that there are many programs and strategies that we have available in Shelby County and online that can provide this assistance.  The rest of my post is a collection of random reading ideas and programs that are available that might give your child the nudge he/she needs to get reading this summer.

 

Ideas:

  1.  Summer reading at the public library.  Go check out your public library ASAP!  Most have summer programs that your kids can sign up for that will encourage and reward them for reading during the summer.
  2. The Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Triathlon.   Go to the Barnes and Noble website and check this one out.  This is a summer program that encourages reading and might even lead to a FREE book for your child.
  3. PBS Kids Summer Reading Camp.  This one is great for younger kids and kids who gravitate more toward nonfiction titles. The website has ten weeks worth of nonfiction reading themes that are sure to entertain and educate.  I’m doing this one with my own kids this summer and I can’t wait!
  4. If you don’t want to read a book, try listening to it instead.  Most public libraries have books on cds that you can check out and let your child listen to during the day or at night.  My own girls love for me to turn on a story for them at bedtime and let them listen as they get sleepy.  This is a great way to help your child wind down after a busy day.  Sometimes you can even get really lucky and get a cd set that has the print book with it.  That way your child can listen to the story as they follow along visually with the book.
  5. Use Audible to trick/trap your child in the car.  If you find yourself in the car, you have the perfect opportunity to listen to a good book!  Let the seatbelt do the hard work and trap them when they are stuck in the car anyway.  This works great for long car rides and drive time on vacation.  I subscribe to Audible (not free but worth it anyway) and I have the Audible app on my phone.  Every month, I let my kids pick a great book they would like to hear.  Then, when we are all in the car, I use my auxiliary cord to connect my car to my phone and voila, we can all hear the story.  This also has the secondary effect of minimizing back seat sibling fussing!
  6. Try “you read a page and I’ll read a page.”  Kids love spending time reading with their parents.  If your child is reluctant to read on their own, don’t make them.  Instead sit down and read the first page to them.  Then, before you start the next page, tell them it’s their turn and hand them the book.  It’s less pressure to read half a book instead of a whole one AND your child gets the perk of having you right there to help with any hard words.
  7. Make sure your child has a book that isn’t too hard.  When you go to the library and turn your child loose they may come back with anything and everything.  That’s great!  But, you need to know what your child is going to be able to read on their own and what they are going to need help to successfully read.  Here’s where the Five Finger Rule can help.  Have your child read the first page or two of a book they like and want to take home.  If they misread more than five words on the page, the book is probably too hard for them to read independently.  They are either going to need you to read the book to them or at least support their reading by being near while they read or helping them read.  If they don’t make more than five mistakes then they probably have a book in their hand that they can read while you are doing something else.  For many kids, trying to read something that is too hard with no support from an adult is difficult and actually discourages reading and increases feelings of failure.  Help your child find a just right book if you want them to read on their own.

 

There are so many other great ways to get your child reading this summer.  If you have an idea that I didn’t list, let me know by leaving a comment!