Read Alouds & Lunch Doodles

In these days of COVID-19 and wanting to help my students find comfort in hearing (and seeing) their school librarian read to them, I created The Creative Librarian YouTube channel [note: these are now unlisted]and have been regularly posting videos on it.  I know many educators and administrators around the United States are doing the same thing, and it is so heartwarming to see how this is helping bring our communities together (virtually).  I have also been overjoyed to see how many authors and illustrators are creating blog posts, videos, and additional activities for their readers.

Just a few  of them are below:

Happy reading, viewing, listening, and creating!

Omu’s Thick, Red Stew

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to include music and movement in my lessons – especially for my primary grades.   This year’s JumpStart Read for the Record picture book selection, Thank  you, Omu! written and illustrated by Oge Mora had a wonderful music and movement circle time activity for my prekindergarten and kindergarten students. 

I printed and laminated enough of the veggies for a whole class, and brought in a plastic pot and spoon for them to drop the veggies in as we sang and I stirred (and they pantomimed) Stir, Stir, Stir the Stew. Singing and moving to If You’re Thankful and You Know It brought out lots of smiles and laughter among the kids (and adults) in the library.

My first graders explored adjectives that described Omu, drew a picture of her, and wrote a sentence using lots of adjectives. With my second graders, they also explored adjectives to describe her stew, and wrote a sentence about it in addition to drawing and writing about Omu.

As I always do when there is one, I shared the author’s note, as well as a few (there are many!) of the awards the author has received because of her beautiful work. 

I was first introduced to this book when Matthew Winner interviewed Oge Mora on his Children’s Book Podcast in 2018.   This debut picture book was written in homage to Oge’s grandmother’s generous spirit (and her tasty stew).  The beautiful illustrations help the reader to see how the scent of Omu’s thick, red stew pulls her neighbors together as a community.  Omu’s giving spirit is returned to her in a special way at the end of the story.

I sent home a copy of the Thank You, Omu! Activity Guide for Families, in both English and Spanish and encouraged my students to ask their families to cook a big pot of their favorite family recipe and share it with their neighbors.    I hope they did!

GBF – The Greatest Book Festival!

As an enthusiastic member of the Gaithersburg Book Festival Committee, I was thrilled to see our lineup of featured children’s authors and illustrators, which included: Dianna Hutts Aston, Cece Bell, Gennifer Choldenko, Paul Czajak, Alexis Frederick-Frost, Laura Gehl, John Green, Steve Light, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Dave Roman, Aaron Reynolds, Syl Sobel, Maris Wicks, Timothy Young among others.

Paul Czajak reads Monster Needs Your Vote.

A family oriented event, the GBF also offers outstanding  (if I do say so myself!) series of children’s and teens workshops and other entertainment in the Children’s Village and Young Adult Pavilion.

2016 Children’s Workshops included:

 

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Despite the rainy (and cold) weather, our dedicated guests arrived in full rain gear.  And stayed.  And listened. And participated in the many author talks and workshops.  It was a wonderfully creative and enthusiastically attended community event, led by a group of totally awesome lovers of literature…Cannot wait for next year’s event!

Gaithersburg Book Festival

The 2016 GBF Children’s Village:  About  100 Reasons to Bring the Kids on 5/21

 

Awesome & Amazing!

I am turning the Big 5-0 in April (where does the time go?!), and have decided my word of the year is ‘spectacular’.  On December 31st, when I look back on my year, I want to describe 2016 as SPECTACULAR!   I challenged my 4th & 5th grade students to pick their word for 2016, and created a Wordle word cloud with their answers.  Awesome and amazing were the most popular words, but I loved the creativity of some of my students when they listed fantabulous, specialistic, and sparkelicious!

2016wordle7As the Creative Librarian, I try to bring creativity into my library, and part of my creativity comes out in my bulletin boards and book spine art!

 
Check out my Bulletin Boards and Book Displays Pinterest board for more examples!

Coding is as easy as 1-2-3-click!

 

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As a lifelong learner, my goal is to learn something new every day, and to inspire my students to do the same.

hour of code banner

Celebrating Computer Science Education Week each year is one of the highlights of the school year for my students.  Each December we participate in the Hour of Code and learn beginning computer programming by coding games such as Angry Bird, Frozen, or Flappy Bird.  Hour of Code often uses Blocky which is a visual programming tool where students click blocks together to write code. To my students delight, Hour of Code added a Star Wars programming game and a Minecraft programming game this year.   Hour of Code encourages students to challenge themselves, work collaboratively, and explore computer science in a fun and engaging way.Hour of Code 2015 (6)

We were thrilled this year to be spotlighted in Montgomery County Public Schools’ MCPS Moment – to view the video, click here. My students did an amazing job during the filming!

Hour of Code 2015 (28)

If you are interested in giving your students the opportunity to explore computer programming, consider some of the following sites.

Blockly Games is a series of educational games that teach programming. It is designed for children who have not had prior experience with computer programming.

Other beginning programming educational websites that use Blockly are listed below (Courtesy Google Developers):

 

Blockly Games

Games for tomorrow’s programmers.

App Inventor

IDE for Android apps from MIT.

Code.org

K-12 computer science.

OzoBlockly

Programming line-following robots.

Wonder Workshop

Robots for play and education.

Open Roberta

Programming Lego EV3 robots.

Gamefroot

Make, play and share games.

Gameblox

Introduction to Game Design from MIT.

Made with Code

Encouraging girls to code.

scriptr.io

Powering your Internet of Things.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go this Summer!

Oh the places you'll go

I would like to thank my students, their parents, and the entire Flower Hill staff for a fabulous first year at Flower Hill Elementary School! We’ve learned a lot, had many adventures and had fun, too, and I am looking forward to another great year beginning in (late) August!

I came across an interesting article in the Washington Post, written by Deb Werrlein, an adjunct professor of English, and include an excerpt here, and link to the full article.  In it she says, “A few weeks ago, my son and I finished reading Stephen King’s “11/22/63: A Novel.” The unusual part is the fact my son will be 18 years old in less than a month. I also read with his sister, who is 14. I didn’t plan to read aloud with my kids for this long. It just happened. As a former adjunct English professor who tutors students with dyslexia, I am an ardent lover of literature. Our home is packed with magazines and novels for all interests and ages. But these days, having a parent who loves and promotes books is not always enough. Reading competes with busy sports schedules, homework, and the ever powerful screens that dominate our kids’ lives. My kids have trouble saying no to the incessant flow of Netflix entertainment that draws them away from books. While they love a good story, they are not bookworms the way I was as a kid. Consequently, I discovered early that reading together encouraged an activity that my kids may have skipped altogether. It’s well known that reading aloud benefits infants, toddlers and emerging readers. Aside from introducing children to a love of literature and storytelling, reading exposes them to written language, which differs from the spoken word. Writing contains more description and typically adheres to more formal grammatical structures than speech. When you choose books that exceed your child’s independent reading level, you promote language acquisition, increase vocabulary, and improve comprehension. These benefits foster literacy in young people, but the pluses don’t diminish just because the kids grow up. When we finally turned the last page, I was sad for the end of an era. My son will graduate this June and leave for college in August. But I’m so grateful for the stacks of books and memories we’ve made over the years. From “Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?” to the Magic Treehouse series, to classics like “Huckleberry Finn,” to fantasy series like Harry Potter, to dramas like “Ordinary People,” and of course, to Stephen King, we’ve shared a lot. Many parents already understand it’s never too early to start reading with their kids.—and it can never go on too long. Reading aloud isn’t only about teaching literacy, it’s about sharing stories, and we can do that at any age. So if you’ve already got a good reading ritual going, don’t stop. And if not, consider plowing through some of that summer reading list out loud. You never know what you might discover together.”

I encourage everyone to read this summer, and for inspiration, provide links to several book lists below:

For more family reading-together ideas, be sure to check out Matthew Winner’s “Let’s Get Busy” podcast!

Wishing you many fun summer adventures through books!

Melissa

Pocket Poems & Journeys

Every month there are celebrations both large and small in the Flower Hill media center. We celebrate learning, connecting, collaborating, creating – and reading!

April is not only School Library Month:

school library month

…but also National Poetry Month, and April 30th was Poem in Your Pocket Day.   poem in your pocket day

If you visited our school during the month of April you would have noticed our large bulletin board inviting all to pick a poem or two from the pockets, and share them with others.   Throughout the month (and into May) we have been exploring different types of poems – Haiku, List, and Book Spine Poetry, to name a few. Book spine poetry is a bit eclectic, and it’s created and read by stacking books so that the title of each book is one of the lines in the poem. Below are a few examples of book spine poetry that my fourth grade students created:WP_20150414_14_12_47_Pro[1]

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We read Guyku (haiku poetry for boys) by Bob Raczka and Peter H. Reynolds and my 4th grade students created some fantastic Guyku and Galku (haiku for girls) –

Diego Guyku

Ryan Guyku

Samanthagalku

During the week of April 27th – May 1st, many of my classes connected with students in other states via Google Hangout. We collaborated together to create some wonderful list poems with our new friends in New York and South Carolina.  We read a few selections from Falling Down the Page –  A Book List Poems, edited by Georgia Heard. and then, using Google Docs in real time, we created poems together, alternating lines, and color coding the poem to help!  If you’d like to read some of them, please click here.                               

The month of May was filled with industrious students finishing book trailer videos, researching and creating online newsletters, learning about effort and persistence, taking care of the earth, and much, much more!

I will be preparing my 2015-16 library book order soon, and have asked all the students to give me input. I have several book catalogs available for them to peruse, and they can add their suggestions to the wish list.

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The Black-Eyed Susan Book awardees were announced on Saturday, May 2nd. I attended the event, and knew my students would be thrilled to find that The Day the Crayons Quit (educator guide), and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library (website) were this year’s KidLit winners!  All three have been very popular titles in our Flower Hill ES library, and rarely stay on the shelves – if they make it back on them at all!  WP_20150504_07_37_53_Pro[1]

On June 16th, I was thrilled to be a guest reader in the Story Time Tent at the 6th annual Gaithersburg Book Festival.  I read two great books by Patrick McDonnell – Wag! and The Monsters’ Monster. WP_20150516_10_38_52_Pro[1] Both have wonderful messages of friendship, kindness, and love, and both have downloadable activities from the publisher’s website.  I also volunteered in the Edgar Allan Poe Pavilion, and there was able to listen to many authors of adult literature.  At one point during the day when I wasn’t volunteering, I had the opportunity to listen to Michelle Knudsen and Matt Phelan discuss Marilyn’s Monster, a delightful book about a little girl who has been found by her monster yet, so she decides to go out and decides to go out in search for him herself, and the adventure that ensues.  (Michelle reads her book to us)

 (Matt gives writing tips)

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Another book I like to finish my year out with is The North Star  by Peter H. Reynolds – a quiet book about a little boy who learns to follow his guiding star.  I love sharing this book with my 4th and 5th graders and getting them to think about their own strengths and following their own paths to greatness.

WP_20150512_19_29_41_Pro[1]Reading is my super power, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share my love of books and learning with my students.  I have spent many enjoyable hours this weekend listening to The Busy Librarian’s podcasts, and have been so thrilled to learn more about authors and illustrators (and everyone in between) and their amazing books and hope that I’ll be able to stretch my media center budget to include the purchase of all of the books I have heard about on the Let’s Get Busy Podcast.  If you haven’t discovered Matthew Winner’s fantastic website or podcast series, you need to do so quickly by clicking here!