S.T.E.A.M. Lab Kickoff!

Students are once again participating in a weekly STEAM lab time. This is a thirty-minute slot of time each Friday where students come to the library to work on hands-on activities of their choosing that relate to science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

This year, I am excited to announce that we have a slot for our kiddos in the MD hall! This means that these students also have a weekly set time to come to the library and work on STEAM related activities.

Here’s some pictures from the first couple of weeks!


Book Challenges Abound!

This year, I am challenging our students to read, read, and read some more!

Students in Mrs. King, Ms. Godwin, and Mr. Holley’s classes are participating in a 100 book challenge this year. These kids are encouraged to read 100 library books during the school year. These books can be chapter books or picture books but we want each and every child reading books in their free time. Your child should be bringing library books home every night. Please help your kiddo organize their time so that they are reading several nights a week. If your kiddo needs help reading their library books then that’s ok! Feel free to join in and read with your student. Each child has a blue folder in their library bag. Inside is a sheet where your kiddo can record the books he read in the presence of an adult. These records will count toward our 100 book challenge.

Students in Mr. Dabbs, Ms. Calhoun, Ms. Campell, Ms. Wilburn, and Ms. Lee’s classes are participating in a 40 book challenge this year. This is a wide reading challenge that focuses on reading from a wide variety of genres. Each nine weeks, I am asking each child to read 10 books from the library. This nine weeks, we are focusing on Traditional Literature, Graphic Novels, and Realistic Fiction. Your child has been asked to read two pieces of traditional literature, 2 graphic novels, and 5 realistic fiction titles. In addition, the children will take the last week before the grading period ends to read titles of their own choosing. Please set aside time each evening for your child to read between twenty and thirty minutes. Students should bring home library books each night and record their reading progress in their blue folder.

All students participating in either the 100 or the 40 Book Challenges are in the process of earning brag tags for every five books they read. In addition, I’ve created a bulletin board in the hallway with pictures of each student as they reach a reading milestone.


Never Have I Ever…

Never have I ever seen three kids more excited to use their dictionary skills than what I saw today!  To spice up a dull topic, we paired learning to use the dictionary with programming the Beebots.  The kids in Mrs. Calhoun’s class were given a word in the dictionary.  They had to find their word and locate its page number.  Then, they had to use their computational thinking skills to program the Beebot to travel to the correct page number.  I actually had to spend time getting the kids to settle down because they were so excited!  Here are some pictures of today’s hardworking crew!



When I first began teaching, my mentor teacher told me that teaching is like an onion.  Every year we add a new layer.  I love this and it’s stuck with me for over fifteen years.  Right now, my new layer is adding what I learn from the book, Culturize:  Every Student, Every Day, No Matter What by Jimmy Casas.  I love, love, love this book so far!  It’s all about how to build relationships with our students and between our students so that we can eradicate average and shoot for extraordinary in our classrooms and school.

Here are a few great quotes I’ve borrowed from the book so far:

“The three most important characteristics of an amazing educator are compassion, passion, and knowledge.”

“Teachers can’t replace parents, but so many students are saved by teachers who assume the role when there is a vacancy.”

“A growth mindset, complimented with a strong work ethic and determination, helps ensure students’ success in school and in life.”

“If we want kids to take responsibility for their own learning, we must provide an environment where their curiosity is nurtured and developed—where they want to learn simply for the sake of learning.”  



New Biographies and Seating!

DonorsChoose is just amazing!  On March 27th, they had a special event called #BestSchoolDay!  On this day, a company called Ripple fully funded every single project that was on the Donors Choose website.  That’s just amazing!  I was lucky enough to have two projects and both of those received funding.  Our library now has brand new biography books for our students to enjoy AND an adorable storytime seating area that everyone seems to really like.  Here are some pictures of all the awesomeness!

Preschool Yoga

Yesterday, my preschool friends stopped by for their weekly visit.  We read a super cute story called, Never Follow a Dinosaur.

Afterward, we decided to try something new.  We pulled out our yoga mats and tried some storytelling yoga.  The kids had to pretend that they were in the ocean and each move was part of the story.  Here are our cuties hard at work!

Dr. Seuss Week Friday!

Friday was our last day of Dr. Seuss Week.  Ms. Olivia Snyder came to visit us to read her favorite book, The Cat in the Hat.  Olivia is a student at the University of Montevallo currently studying collaborative elementary education.  She did an awesome job and we are so thankful she stopped by to visit.


Our kiddos were challenged to dress up as a character from a Dr. Seuss book.  Here are the kiddos who dressed up.

That afternoon, the students came to the library to watch The Lorax.  Afterward, Ms. Wilburn’s class helped me begin digging a hole for our new apple tree.  This will eventually become part of our outdoor classroom.


Read Across America Thursday!

I owe a huge thanks to the Pelham Fire Department for visiting and reading their favorite book, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut.  Not only did they read to us, but they also brought their awesome fire truck so the kids could check it out.  Thursday was also pajama day so our kiddos got to roll out of bed and come to school.  How lucky is that?!?



Read Across America Monday!

It’s the first day of my favorite week of the year, Read Across America Week!  Today, Dr. Lewis Brooks, assistant superintendent for the Shelby County Schools, came to visit and read Green Eggs and Ham to our kiddos.  

Our dress up theme for today was wearing lots of green.  Here are our adorable participants for the day!

And because we always need a silly shot…

Storytime with a Side Dish of Virtual Reality

Today, the preschoolers broke out our new virtual reality equipment and we went on a Google Expedition to space and Mars.  The kids LOVED checking everything out.  I heard adorable comments like, “I see the hot hot sun!” And, “there’s a spaceship on Mars.”  It was really the Mars Rover which we got to talk about.  Here are some pictures of the fun time.

After a thorough examination of space, we read the book, Life On Mars by Jon Agee.  This book is a cute story about an astronaut who visits Mars in his spaceship hoping to find extraterrestrial life.  This is also a current nominee for the Alabama Camellia Awards.  Overall, it was an exciting and educational day in the library for our preschool kiddos!

Thanks Again Donors Choose!

I am so very excited to announce that our preschool STEAM project has been fully funded!  As of last week, we now have tons and tons of awesome new STEAM lab activities that are perfect for our youngest learners.  Some of our new items include a Code-a-Pillar for computational thinking skills,  take apart automobiles, a Tiggly Learning System, and even a microscope designed for little ones.  I am so appreciative of everyone who helped make this project a reality!  Thank you!

Friday S.T.E.A.M. Fun!

Friday, I had the chance to take some pictures of our kiddos in action.  Here are a few of the awesome activities going on each Friday in the S.T.E.A.M. lab.

In the picture above, one student is working with Osmo tangrams while another student is watching and helping from the sidelines.

In this picture, one of our students has decided to turn a pinecone into a bumblebee.

In this picture, one of our students is playing Angry Birds with a controller he built himself using items from our Makey Makey kit.

In this last picture, a student is programming the Ozobot to travel by using coding that he is creating through the use of specific colors of marker.


Donors Choose for Preschool STEAM

Our preschoolers are the most excited kids at our school! They are so happy to be here and they love their teachers and learning. This year, we are providing our preschoolers with the weekly opportunity to participate in our school S.T.E.A.M. lab and so far it has been a huge success! The kids have learned to play little songs on a keyboard, we’ve built with our Legos, we’ve created a fan with our snap circuits, and all sorts of other fun activities. However, our S.T.E.A.M. materials are mostly geared toward an older audience and I’m running out of engaging materials and activities for our youngest learners.

I have created a project on the DonorsChoose.org website where I’m asking for donations to purchase S.T.E.A.M. materials specifically geared toward a younger audience.  Right now, my project has been paired with an organization called Omidyar Network and they have agreed to match every dollar with a dollar of their own.  My total project cost is $591.00 and with their dollar matching, it could be completely funded for just $295.00.  That’s exciting!

Below you will find a link to my specific project.  Please consider donating to help us get needed materials to support our preschoolers in the area of science, technology, engineering, art, and math.


Pizza Hut Book It! Prize Winners

We are participating in the Pizza Hut Book It! program at our school this year.  This reading initiative is for kids in grades k-6.  This program will run from October until March.  Each month, the kids will be given a reading goal and a tracking sheet.  These are determined by each child’s homeroom teacher.  At the end of each month, if the child has met their goal, they are rewarded with a certificate and a coupon for a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.  Yum!

Here are some cute pictures of this month’s goal earners!