Thursday, November 26, 2020

Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Ša by Gina Capaldi and Q.L. Pearce

I enjoy reading biographies, especially when they are about important figures from history who may or may not be well known.  I recently found the biography Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Ša, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist... Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Ša for short... by Gina Capaldi and Q.L. Pearce (affiliate link to Amazon).   Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Ša is a sophisticated picture book packed full of detailed information and some primary sources about the life and accomplishments of Zitkala-Ša, a Native American woman who sought equality and justice for others.  Red Bird Sings: The Story of  Zitkala-Ša would be a good book for upper elementary students.  Read on to learn more about Zitkala-Ša, her interesting life, and how she used her voice to help others.

Learn about the life and accomplishments of Zitkala-Ša in the biography Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Ša, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist by Gina Capaldi and Q.L. Pearce.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

10 Quirky Corona Christmas Books for Children

Christmas 2020 is going to be one for the history books.  Most of the people around the world are under some sort of restriction or lockdown.  What will Christmas look like this year?  How can we have a fun and safe Christmas?  More importantly... will Santa still be able to deliver presents on Christmas Eve?  If so... how will he do it???  These 10 Quirky Corona Christmas books by self-published authors try to answer those questions for you.  Keep reading for the details about each of these books!

A compilation of ten quirky coronavirus Christmas books for children by self-published authors. Perfect for celebrating Christmas during the pandemic!
(affiliate links and descriptions from Amazon)

Friday, November 20, 2020

My Sister Emma by Gina Conger

 Autism... also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD)... is a diagnosis consisting of a wide variety of symptoms and/or characteristics. There are four different types of autism that fall under the ASD umbrella, and no one person experiences it in the same way as someone else. General characteristics of autism may include challenges in verbal communication, repetitive movements, and difficulties with social skills. Since autism is a spectrum disorder, some people will be significantly impacted by it and require lifelong support, whereas others will be highly skilled and able to live independently with minimal or no assistance.

My Sister Emma by Gina Conger (affiliate link to Amazon) is about a little girl Emma who has autism.  She does not 'suffer' from it... she has family and friends who love her and is able to live a full and happy life with the help of a few supports.  What kind of supports does Emma use and how do they help her?  Keep reading to find out!

My Sister Emma by Gina Conger  is about a little girl who has autism. Learn about how she is able to live a full life with help of a few supports.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Hot Chocolate Surprise: A Simple Science Experiment

Teachers are always on the lookout for fast and easy science experiments to complement what their students are learning from their textbooks.  Sometimes science textbooks are dry and not very interesting... even when they are introducing interesting subject matter!  Science experiments are a fun, hands-on way to bring energy and excitement to those pesky pages.  If you are looking for a science experiment that is easy to prepare and conduct, educational, and with a high-interest level, give Hot Chocolate Surprise a try.  Hot Chocolate Surprise appeals to students of all ages and meets a number of objectives.  Read on for a list of materials needed, directions, a free printable, and a (yummy) extension activity.

Learn about chemical changes with this simple science experiment. Mix hot chocolate, baking soda, and vinegar to make a messy HOT CHOCOLATE SURPRISE!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Draw Me Close to You by Kossim Osseni

When students experience traumatic events in their lives, school counselors are the experts in the building who step in, work with the students, and develop strategies to help them cope.  In essence, they are first responders in the schools when it comes to students' mental health.  I usually write about children's books that teachers and homeschooling parents can use while they are teaching, however, I recently learned about a book school and guidance counselors need to keep in their libraries.  Draw Me Close to You by Kossim Osseni (affiliate link to Amazon) is about a little boy Tunde who loses his mother to a "dreadful disease" and takes comfort and solace in drawing, much to his father's dismay.  His father doesn't want Tunde to draw.  He wants Tunde to do more productive things with his time.  It isn't until something tragic happens that makes him realize how important it is to let Tunde draw and find joy again.  Keep reading to learn more about Draw Me Close to You and about ways school counselors and teachers can help students who are grieving.

Draw Me Close to You by Kossim Osseni is a must-have picture book for school counselors. It explores the healing process after a child loses a parent.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Goose Farm Adventure by Kenyetta Obie

About two months ago, I wrote about a children's book called Grow! How We Get Food from Our Garden by Karl Beckstrand.   Grow! was a rhyming book about all of the fruits, vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers we can harvest from our gardens.  Today, I am writing about another children's book about gardening.  This one is called Goose Farm Adventure (affiliate link to Amazon) and was just released this autumn by author Kenyetta Obie.  Like Grow!, Goose Farm Adventures teaches children about the foods that come from the garden.  Whereas Grow! was a rhyming book that played with words and alliteration, Goose Farm Adventure is an alphabet book about a little duck who goes on a visit to his grandparents' house and discovers what they have growing in their backyard.  Both are really good books and can be used together.  Are you curious to learn more about Goose Farm Adventure and how you can use it in your classroom?  Keep reading to find out more!

Learn about story elements, gardening, fruits, and vegetables in this fun alphabet book by Kenyetta Obie.  Early childhood to kindergarten read aloud.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

I Move A Lot and That's Okay by Shermaine Perry-Knights

Have you ever heard the phrase "military brat?"  When you hear those words you may feel unsettled because the word "brat" normally refers to a spoiled or annoying child.  In actuality though, it's a widely used term that connotates admiration and respect within the military community... a military brat is the son or daughter of (either acting or retired) personnel in the armed services.  Researchers estimate that roughly 2 million children and teenagers in the United States have one or both parents deployed at least once.  These children have to move/relocate on an average of 10 times more often than their peers. Moving that often may seem daunting to most people, but for children growing up in the military, they learn to embrace change, diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Many of them learn more than one language and develop a sense of worldliness.  

I Move a Lot and That's Okay by Shermaine Perry-Knights (affiliate link to Amazon) is a realistic fiction story that is based on her personal experiences as a "proud military brat."  She writes about what it's like to move from one place to another, the feelings of excitement and nervousness children sometimes feel when they have to move, and how families take care of each other throughout the process.  It's a story that will give you an insight into the lives these children lead and how they learn to be more resilient, flexible, and well-rounded as they grow up.  Keep reading to learn more about I Move a Lot and That's Okay and how you can integrate it into your language arts lessons.

Learn about life as a military brat, geography, new vocabulary,  and story elements with the book I Move A Lot and That's Okay by Shermaine Perry-Knights.

Friday, November 6, 2020

A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa's Tasty Trip Around the World by M.E. Furman

Once Thanksgiving is over and the calendar flips to December, many well-meaning schools, teachers, and librarians will start preparing their lesson plans to teach their Christmas Around the World units.  There is nothing inherently wrong with teaching a Christmas Around the World unit, but I get irked when I see teachers and staff using bulletin board displays, storybooks, and worksheets that depict cartoony children with big goofy smiles and dressed in stereotypical cultural clothes.  Instead, I prefer to see books, drawings, and resources that depict real children engaged in authentic activities and traditions.  

A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa's Tasty Trip Around the World by M.E. Furman (affiliate link to Amazon) does a good job of teaching us about Christmas around the world without having to resort to cartoony stereotypes.  The children in A World of Cookies live in various countries around the world and they set Christmas cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve.  Each cookie is delicious and unique to the country it comes from.  At the end of the book, the author includes recipes for each of the cookies for you to try on your own.  Read on to learn more about A World of Cookies and about ways you can integrate it into the lessons you teach.

Learn about Christmas around the world, Christmas traditions, & different types of Christmas cookies with A World of Christmas Cookies by M.E. Furman.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Ritu Weds Chandni by Ameya Narvankar

In just a few short weeks (December 1, 2020), Ameya Narvankar will be releasing his debut children's book Ritu Weds Chandni (affiliate link to Amazon).  Ritu Weds Chandni is a beautiful... yet controversial... story about a young girl who stands up for the people she loves.  Who is she standing up for?  Who is she standing up to?  What is she standing up for?  Keep reading for the answers to these questions and to learn how to integrate Ritu Weds Chandni into your lessons!

Learn about story elements, geography, & Hindu vocabulary words with Ritu Weds Chandni by Ameya Narvankar.  An LGBT story in which love conquers all.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Goo on My Shoe by Jacqui Sheperd

When teaching reading to young or struggling readers, teachers often use poetry as one of the strategies to help them.  There are a lot of reasons why we use poetry:

🍎 Poems tend to be brief and easier to read.
🍎 Repetitive reading and mastery of poems build students' confidence.
🍎 Choral reading of poems encourages hesitant students to read out loud with the others.
🍎 Teachers can use poetry to teach word recognition skills and build vocabulary.
🍎 We feel emotions when we read poetry.  Talking about those emotions helps to build a better understanding of ourselves and others.

Goo on My Shoe (affiliate link to Amazon) by Jacqui Sheperd is a story for young readers that is written in poetic form.  It has a likable main character and a storyline that will keep students engaged and motivated to read.  Read on to learn more about Goo on My Shoe and how you can integrate it into your language arts lessons.  There is even a simple goo recipe for you to make with your students!

Learn about rhyming words, words with the /oo/ sound, and how to make your own goo with the book Goo on My Shoe by Mari Schuh.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Leaves in Fall by Mari Schuh

Autumn... also known as fall in some parts of the world... is the transitional season between the heat of summer and the cold of winter.  In the northern hemisphere, autumn lasts from mid-September to mid-December and from the beginning of March until the end of May in the southern hemisphere.  Autumn is marked by changes in the environment such as:

🍎 Leaves changing colors and falling from the trees
🍎 Temperatures dropping 
🍎 Days getting shorter while nights get longer
🍎 Animals making preparations for winter
🍎 Farmers harvesting their crops

Mari Schuh recently wrote a non-fiction book called Leaves in Fall (affiliate link to Amazon) for early readers in which she describes what happens to leaves during autumn.  Full-color photos and kid-friendly vocabulary are used throughout her book. Read on to learn more about Leaves in Fall and how to integrate it into your lessons at school.

Learn about the colorful autumn leaves in Leaves of Fall by Mari Schuh.  Read Leaves in Fall, go on a nature walk, gather leaves, and make a collage.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Ida’s Witness by Karl Beckstrand

Karl Beckstrand is a prolific author of children's books.  He has written 23 children's books and is always working on more.  Six of those books have been written in English and Spanish.  In previous posts, I've written about several of Karl Beckstrand's books:

Grow! taught us about the fruit, vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers we can get from our gardens.  Great Cape taught us about color words in English and Spanish.  Highchair was a funny story about a food monster who lurks around the house.  In this post, we are going to take a look at Ida's Witness... a beautiful story about Karl Beckstrand's great-grandmother (affiliate link to Amazon).  Keep reading to learn about Ida, the amazing woman she was, and to find out how you can use Ida's Witness in your classroom.

Learn about biographies and family trees while reading Ida's Witness by Karl Beckstrand, a true story about how his great-grandmother came to America.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Dorktales Storytime Podcast by Jonathan Cormur

Sometimes when it's really quiet in the classroom and the students are working on an art project or craftivity, I like to play soft music or an audiobook for them to listen to.  It's a fun way to break up the day and add some variety to our routines.  I recently learned about Dorktales Storytime Podcast by Jonathan Cormur when his people contacted me about hosting a sponsored post.  I listened to a couple of episodes from the podcast, enjoyed the ones I listened to, thought that they'd be something my students would enjoy listening to during those quiet times, and agreed to the sponsored post.  Keep reading to learn more about Dorktales Storytime Podcast and to see if it's something your students may enjoy too!

Learn more about the Dorktales Storytime Podcast by Jonathan Cormur.  This is a sponsored post, hosted by Kelly's Classroom Online.

Friday, October 23, 2020

That's Not Fair! Why Must I Cut My Hair? by Paul M. Bowen

If you were to do a Google search for 'when natural hair violates dress code,' you would see article after article after article about Black students who either had to cut/style their hair to meet certain dress codes at school or face suspension.  Children as young as eight years old have been discriminated against because of how they wore their hair.  How is this fair?  It's not.  That's Not Fair! Why Must I Cut My Hair? by Paul M. Bowen (affiliate link to Amazon) is a lighthearted book that shines a light on this serious subject.  Its main character Marcus experiences discrimination from his teacher.  Keep reading to learn more about That's Not Fair! Why Must I Cut My Hair? and to find out if Marcus finds the inner strength to stand up for himself and what he believes in.

Language arts lesson for That's Not Fair! Why Must I Cut My Hair? by Paul M. Bowen. Should students be allowed to wear natural hair in school? Reader response activity.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Soar by Hillary Daecher

Similar to the way people in real life change over time, characters in books change too.  When early readers practice their reading skills, they learn how to identify the main characters of a story and how to describe the characters' actions.  As their reading skills improve, students begin learning about character analysis and how characters change over time.  Soar by Hillary Daecher (affiliate link to Amazon) is the story of a hummingbird who is timid at the beginning of the story but has an experience that enables him to grow and become more confident.  What was that experience?  How did he change?  Keep reading to find out!

Language arts lesson using Soar written by Hillary Daecher. Compare and contrast how characters change over time. Identify the causes of the change.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

10+ Children's Books about Animal Poop

What is it about poop that fascinates children?  Is it because talking and joking about poop irks some adults and gets a rise out of them?  Is it because talking about poop is supposed to be kept as a hush-hush secret?  Or is it simply because children just think it's funny to talk about poop nonstop?  Whatever the reason, here are 10+ children's books about animal poop that will (hopefully) channel their fascination with poop into something scientific and meaningful.  Enjoy!

10+ Children's Books about Animal Poop by Kelly's Classroom Online
(affiliate links and book descriptions from Amazon)

Monday, October 19, 2020

Make a Wish on a Fish by Jennie Wiley

Rhyming words is one of the first skills children learn as early readers.   Being able to rhyme words teaches children about how language works, how to identify sounds within words, and can even help children in decoding the words they read.  Rhyming is sometimes a predictor of how well children will learn to read.  The more children listen to poetry and participate in activities like fingerplays, the easier it will be for them to connect and make sense of what they're reading.  Make a Wish on a Fish by Jennie Wiley (affiliate link to Amazon) is a book written as poetry and with lots of rhyming words.  Keep reading to learn more about Make a Wish on a Fish and how to use it in your reading lessons.

Language arts lesson about reality vs. fantasy and rhyming words for young readers using the book Make a Wish on a Fish written by Jennie Wiley.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

What's My Instrument? by Johnny Oddsocks

I need to lay something out there for everyone to see.  I am a HUGE advocate for keeping music education in our schools, so when the author Johnny Oddsocks asked if I would be willing to write a blog post about his book What's My Instrument? (affiliate link to Amazon), I quickly agreed.  In his book, Johnny Oddsocks tells the story of Marilyn the Mongoose who wants to start a band and introduces kids to a variety of musical instruments.  Keep reading to learn more about What's My Instrument? and how you can integrate it into your language arts or music lessons at school.

Have fun learning about musical instruments with the story What's My Instrument? written by Johnny Oddsocks. Integrated language arts lesson plan.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Great Cape o’ Colors by Karl Beckstrand

Great Cape o' Colors... fully known as Great Cape o' Colors - Capa de colores (affiliate link to Amazon)... is another fun book written in English and Spanish by Karl Beckstrand.  In this book, Karl Beckstrand introduces new colors and professions to children.  He also encourages children to use their imaginations and indulge in a bit of make-believe.  Keep reading to learn more about Great Cape o' Colors and how you can use it as inspiration for making a class book.

Learning color names in English and Spanish with Great Cape o' Colors - Capa de colores: A Story in English and Spanish, written by Karl Beckstrand

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

There is A Girl Headed to the White House by. Dr. Jasmine Killiebrew, Ph.D.

The 2020 Presidential election is proving to be a historic event.  For the first time in American history, a woman of color is on the ballot to be Vice President!  Kamala Harris is a Black and South Asian American woman who is not just a political candidate... she is a source of inspiration for girls of all races, cultures, and faiths.  Girls look up to Harris and can see themselves in her.  If Harris can break through social barriers and run for the second most powerful political office in the United States, they can follow their dreams and be who they want to be.  

Dr. Jamine Killiebrew, Ph.D, who wanted to write an inspirational and motivational book for her niece, recently published There is A Girl Headed to the White House (affiliate link to Amazon).  In her book, she empowers little girls and lets them know they can be anything they want to be... even if they want to be the President or Vice President in the White House!  

A thought provoking language arts lesson to go with the book There is A Girl Headed to the White House, written by Dr. Jasmine Killiebrew, Ph.D

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Kelly Stays Home: The Science of Coronavirus by Lauren Block and Adam Block

The United States had its first reported case of coronavirus back in January 2020 and life has changed dramatically since then.  We've needed to change the way we do everything... where we can go... who we can see... what we wear on our faces... how far apart we can stand from other people... etc.  It's a lot to take in and the reasons why we have to do these things don't always make sense to children.  As teachers, we know children will come to us to ask their questions, and sometimes their questions are hard to answer.  Lauren Block MD-MPH and Adam E. Block Ph.D. wrote Kelly Stays Home: The Science of Coronavirus (affiliate link to Amazon) to help children find the answers to their questions and to give them the explanations they need.  Keep reading to learn more about their book and how we can use Kelly Stays Home in our classrooms.  

An integrated science and language arts lesson plan using Kelly Stays Home: The Science of Coronavirus to teach school age children about COVID-19.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

What Are We? A Story by Quacker and Striper by WD Smith

What Are We? A Story by Quacker and Striper by W.D. Smith (affiliate link to Amazon) is a sweet, little story about two friends... Quacker the duck and Striper the skunk... who meet by accident and become fast friends.  After getting to know each other, they set out together on an adventure to answer the question...  What are we?  Keep reading to learn more about Quacker and Striper and to find the details for a compare and contrast lesson plan.

Compare and contrast the main characters in What Are We? A Story by Quacker and Striper, written by WD Smith. Language arts lesson plan K-3rd grade.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

10+ Children's Books About Mindfulness

Last month, I wrote several posts about recognizing signs of anxiety in children and how mindfulness techniques can help alleviate some of the anxiety children feel.   Mindfulness is about staying in the present moment... not worrying about what already happened and not anxious about what might happen in the future... just staying here in the now.  Listed below are 11 books about mindfulness that were written for children.  They teach children about recognizing their feelings, how to manage those feelings, and how they can practice staying present in the moment.

10+ children's picture books about mindfulness.  How to recognize and manage your feelings,  how to stay present in the moment, and calming techniques.
(affiliate links and book descriptions from Amazon included)

Sunday, October 4, 2020

The Rounders and the Tallers and The Jellies and the Crunchers by Matt Bell

Children's author Matt Bell has had a successful year.  He just had his first two books published!  Hooray!  His two books... The Rounders and the Tallers and The Jellies and the Crunchers (affiliate links to Amazon)... are about discrimination, segregation, diversity, accepting differences, and coming together to solve problems.  In each book, there are two groups of people who are at odds with one another and don't get along.  These people argue and treat each other poorly until something happens to bring them together to solve their problems.  Keep reading to learn more about The Rounders and Tallers and The Jellies and the Crunchers and to discover a language arts mini-unit plan you can use with your students!

Compare and contrast The Rounders and the Tallers and The Jellies and the Crunchers by children's author Matt Bell.  Diversity. Language arts lesson.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

It Came from Under the High Chair: A Mystery by Karl Beckstrand

It Came from Under the High Chair... fully known as It Came from Under the High Chair – Salió de Debajo de la Silla Para Comer: A Mystery in English and Spanish (affiliate link to Amazon)... by Karl Beckstrand is a funny book that children who speak either English or Spanish can enjoy.  It features Ivan, a messy baby, who drops food under his highchair.  Somehow this food magically comes to life and becomes an icky, ooey-gooey, slimy food monster.  Read on to learn more about It Came from Under the High Chair and to find an ooey-gooey slime recipe inspired by the book!

Language arts lesson and slime recipe for Karl Beckstrand's It Came from Under the Highchair-Salió de Debajo de la Silla Para Comer: A Mystery

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Matching Costumes by D.G. Driver

Matching is an important early childhood skill that helps in the classification of objects. Matching is the identification of the same or similar objects based on their common properties. Being able to match like and similar objects, themes, characteristics, numbers, etc. is a skill that will continue to be taught well into elementary school and beyond.  Matching Costumes by D.G. Driver (affiliate link to Amazon) introduces us to a little girl who uses her matching skills to pick out Halloween costumes for her and her puppy.  Keep reading to learn more about Matching Costumes and for a simple language arts lesson to go with it.

Language arts lesson and creative response for Matching Costumes by DG Driver. Children draw matching Halloween costumes for themselves and their dog.

Oozing Pumpkins Science Experiment

Halloween is coming!  Families will be carving pumpkins and decorating their houses with them.  When Halloween is over, these pumpkins will be thrown away, fed to animals, or tossed into compost piles.  But... these pumpkins can be used for something fun and educational before being disposed of... science!  Read on to learn more about a fun science experiment you can do with these leftover pumpkins.

Combine baking soda and vinegar to create an exciting chemical reaction! Oozing Pumpkins is a fun STEM science experiment for children of all ages.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

The Adventures of Noah by Lori Brown

Animal shelters provide an important service in our communities.  They bring in dogs, cats, and other animals who are homeless or unwanted.  The people who work at animal shelters make sure the animals get proper food to eat and clean water to drink.  They also clean their cages, take the dogs on walks, and provide medical treatment to the animals as needed.  It is estimated that as many as 62 million dogs and 64 million cats are in animal shelters across the United States.  Some of these animals will be adopted into loving homes.  Unfortunately, many will not.  The Adventures of Noah (affiliate link to Amazon) tells the story of one lucky puppy who finds his 'happily-ever-after.'  

Adjectives and characterization with The Adventures of Noah by Lori Brown. Noah is a rescue dog who found his forever home. Based on a true story.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Mindfulness and Sensory Bottles in the Classroom

For years, preschool teachers and homeschool families have used mindfulness bottles (also called 'sensory' and 'calming' bottles) with their students.  They use mindfulness bottles to help a child who is experiencing anxiety or other overwhelming feelings to calm their emotions.  What are mindfulness bottles and how are they made?  How are they used?  How can they be used in the classroom? Read on to learn the answers to these questions! 

Mindfulness bottles (aka: sensory bottles) can be used in the classroom to help students deal with overwhelming emotions. Directions to make a bottle.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

10 Children's Books about Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last night, and many Americans...including myself...are feeling heartbroken.  Justice Ginsburg was a strong, powerful woman on the Supreme Court of the United States and a champion of the people.  Throughout her life, she was a strong advocate for the civil rights of women, people of color, the LGBT community, and people with disabilities.  Keep reading to learn more about Justice Greenburg and to discover 10 children's books about her.

A compilation of 10 biographical children's books written about the life, career and accomplishments of Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
(Affiliate links and descriptions from Amazon included)

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Harvest Sprites by Hayley Nystrom

Call me silly, but I believe there is something wonderful and magical about autumn.  I love the colors in the trees, the crispness in the air, wearing my warm sweaters and socks, wrapping myself in a blanket, and snuggling in with a good book.  I love the tastes and smells of freshly made apple cider and cinnamon doughnuts.  And I especially love the big bonfires and making s'mores with my family and friends.  Autumn is my favorite time of the year!

I recently found The Harvest Sprites (affiliate link) by Hayley Nystrom.  I fell in love with it right away!  It's a fun book with beautiful illustrations of everything autumn has to offer.  Read on to learn more about The Harvest Sprites and how you can integrate it with your lessons at school.

Learn about the signs & symbols of fall with The Harvest Sprites by Hayley Nystrom. Students will match characters of the book to the symbols of fall.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Grow! How We Get Food from Our Garden by Karl Beckstrand

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post called How to Grow Celery from Food Scraps.  In that post, I talked about the disconnect children have about their food and described a science activity you can do with them.  Since then, I learned about a new book hitting the market in October 2020.  It's called Grow!  How We Get Food from Our Garden (affiliate link to Amazon) by Karl Beckstrand.  Grow! would be a good book to read with your students to help them realize where their food comes from.  Yes, food does come from the grocery store.  But before it gets to the grocery store, it was grown in someone's garden.  Read on to learn more about Grow! and to get ideas on how to use it in your classroom.

Learn where our food comes from with Grow! How We Get Food from Our Garden by Karl Beckstrand. Children learn that the food we eat comes from gardens.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Lucy's Mask by Lisa Sirkis Thompson

The school year has started and things are looking different than they had in the past.  One of the most obvious changes is that teachers and students must wear facemasks when they are in close proximity to other people.  In some school districts, they are required to wear them at all times besides lunch and break.  By now, most people are used to wearing facemasks.  They may not always want to wear masks, but they do so because they know it's the right thing to do.  

There will be days when students... and teachers... will feel frustrated by having to wear masks for so long.  They may take off their masks and not want to put them back on.  It's normal for them to have those feelings, but not OK to act on them.  If this happens and tensions start to rise because of it, sometimes taking a break and reading a story can help.  Lucy's Mask (affiliate link to Amazon) by Lisa Sirkis Thompson is a fun, lighthearted story that reminds children why it's important to wear their facemasks and even lets them know they can be superheroes when they wear them!  How fun is that?

Learn about the importance of wearing your face mask, then make a fun self-portrait after reading Lucy's Mask by Lisa Sirkis Thompson.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

11 Children's Books about the Chinese Moon Festival

xī wàng míng yuè néng bǎ wǒ mén dě zhù fú hé huān lè dōu dài gěi nǐ.
希 望 明 月 能 把 我 们 的 祝 福 和 欢 乐 都 带 给 你。

May the full moon bring blessings and happiness from our home to yours!

It is almost time for the Chinese Moon Festival, also known as the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.  This festival is always celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month when there is a full moon.  On this special day, people gather with friends and family, give thanks for bountiful harvests, and say prayers for a good future.  It's also a time filled with colorful lanterns, music, games, and... of course... mooncakes!  Read on to discover 10 children's books about this joyous occasion.

A compilation of 10+ children's books about the Chinese Moon Festival, what it is, who celebrates it, and how it's celebrated. Fiction and nonfiction.
(contains affiliate links and book descriptions from Amazon)

Friday, September 11, 2020

Does Halloween Candy Sink or Float? A Simple Science Experiment

It's only September and the stores are already gearing up for Halloween.  Shelf after shelf after shelf is loaded up with bags of Halloween candy waiting for you to buy it and take it home.  Of course, we can eat the Halloween candy or pass it out to trick-or-treaters, but we can also use it to teach little ones about one of the basic fundamentals of science... does it sink or float?

A Halloween candy themed sink or float science experiment. Introduction to scientific process. Materials, procedure, prediction, and record results.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

How to Make a Paper Bag Pumpkin

 When I was little, my father taught me and my brother how to make paper bag pumpkins.  They were fun and easy to make.  We used them as a centerpiece for our dining room table, as decorations for autumn and Halloween, and as simple toys to play with.  Read on to learn the three steps to make your own paper bag pumpkin!

Directions to make a simple Halloween or autumn pumpkin decoration out of a brown lunch bag, shredded paper, glitter and paint.  Toddler friendly.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

How to Grow Celery from Scraps

A couple of years ago I had an interesting conversation with my second and third-grade class.  We were having a conversation about edible plants and some of the children were grossed out when they made the connection between vegetables and the plants we eat.  Carrots are roots?  Gross!  Lettuce is a leaf?  Gross!  Celery is a stem?  Gross!  My students truly did not know where their vegetables come from.  They knew that vegetables come from the grocery store, often in cans and freezer bags.  They knew they could find fresh vegetables in the produce section... but most of them did not know anything more than that.  To help your students make the connection between plants and the foods they eat, you can use their food scraps to grow veggies in the classroom.  Keep reading to find out how.

Learn how to grow celery from food scraps.  All you need is the cut end from a celery stalk, a clear jar or glass, and some clean water.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Fun Facts about the Rhinoceros

September 22 is World Rhino Day. World Rhino Day was started in 2010 by the World Wildlife Fund as a way to celebrate the rhinoceros and to teach people around the world about them.  Several species of rhinoceros are critically endangered and need our help.  Read on to learn about these amazing gentle giants and how we can help them.

Learn fun and interesting facts about the rhinoceros. Where do they live? What do they eat? What is a crush? How can we protect them?

Thursday, September 3, 2020

10 Children's Books About Rosh Hashanah

Shanah Tovah!  It is almost time for Rosh Hashanah... the Jewish New Year!  Rosh Hashanah will begin this year on September 18th (on the eve of Tishrei 1) and will last until September 20 (after nightfall on Tishrei 2).  It is a time of celebration and introspection for the Jewish people.  Listed below are 10 fiction and non-fiction books about Rosh Hashanah that your students may enjoy.

Compilation of 10 children's books about Rosh Hashanah.  Fiction and nonfiction books about  various customs, traditions, family, friends, and food!
(contains affiliate links and book descriptions from Amazon)

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

What is a Word Spree?

One of the first writing assignments I have my students do at the beginning of the school year is something called a word spree.  A word spree is a short, 10-minute assessment that checks students' abilities to recall words they already know by heart. . . or in more professional terms. . . how many words they can control with automaticity.  (Automaticity comes from the word automatic and refers to the ability to do things without occupying the mind, without thinking about them.)  To do a word spree, all you need is a blank piece of paper and something to write with.

A word spree is a simple spelling and vocabulary assessment elementary teachers can conduct in the beginning and end of the school year.

Monday, August 31, 2020

How Do Seeds Travel? Dirty Socks Science Experiment

In an earlier post (What Happens When You Plant Birdseed?), I described a science experiment in which some children in the neighborhood and I grew plants from birdseed this summer.  The children 'discovered' that birdseed can produce plants and those plants are able to grow and thrive.  In this blog post, I will describe another science experiment involving seeds.  This time we are going to learn about how seeds can travel!

Dirty Socks is a science experiment that demonstrates how seeds can travel by hitching themselves to clothing & animal fur. You only need clean socks!

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Right Now, I Am Fine by Dr. Daniela Owen

There is a lot of talk these days about mindfulness.  It's the latest craze in health and wellness.  We see memes about it on social media, books about it in stores and libraries, videos about it on YouTube, etc.  We often told to be more mindful and to help our students and children become more mindful.  But what does that mean?  What is mindfulness?  Why is it important?  How do we do that?  Right Now, I Am Fine by Dr. Daniela Owen (affiliate link to Amazon) answers these questions and more.  Keep reading to learn Right Now, I Am Fine.

Learn about mindfulness, why it's important and how it can help students in the classroom by reading Right Now, I Am Fine by Dr. Daniela Owen.

Germs vs. Soap by Didi Dragon

Handwashing is a vital skill for children to learn.  Their hands come into contact with countless germs each day.  This is especially problematic when children put their hands in their mouths or touch their eyes.  Handwashing is the best defense against spreading germs.  Germs vs. Soap by Didi Dragon (affiliate link to Amazon) is a fictional story based on facts.  It teaches children why they need to wash their hands and the right way to wash them.  Keep reading to learn more about Germs vs. Soap and about an enlightening science demonstration that makes children WANT to wash their hands the right way!

Learn about germs and the importance of washing your hands with this simple science demonstration and by reading Germs vs. Soap by Didi Dragon.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

10 Children's Books About the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The beginning of the school year is here and, for the first time in recent history, students and teachers are going back to school in the midst of a global pandemic.  No one really knows what to expect this school year and everyone feels anxiety on some level.  Listed below are 10 children's books about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and some of the issues children have to deal with.  

A compilation of ten children's books about the coronavirus (COVID-19).  Fiction and nonfiction books are included in the list.
(contains affiliate links and book descriptions from Amazon)

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Recognizing Anxiety in Children

It is normal for children to feel anxious at times.  Examples of 'normal stress' include the beginning of the school year, having to stand up to present a report, or getting called on to answer questions in class.

However, 'bad stress' occurs when children feel anxious for prolonged periods of time and aren't able to effectively manage what they are feeling.  When this happens, the anxiety they feel can interfere with their school work, social interactions, class behavior, and self-esteem.  As teachers, we need to know what the symptoms of anxiety in children are, recognize when the children become anxious, and help them manage how they feel.

When children experience anxiety, they do not display the same symptoms as adults. Learn to recognize the signs of anxiety in children.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

What Happens When You Plant Birdseed?

Earlier this summer, I had an interesting conversation with one of the children in my neighborhood.  She wondered out loud if birdseed were 'real seeds' and if they could be planted the same way 'real seeds' could be.  This set the stage for a fun, month-long science experiment in which we tried to answer the question... what happens when you plant birdseed?

Use the scientific process to answer the question... What happens when you plant birdseed? A simple science experiment that requires minimal materials.

Sammy Spider's First Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah starts on September 18th this year and it's never too early to start making plans for how you'll celebrate.  Little kids can help with the festivities too.  They can make cards for the people in their families. When choosing a story for preschool children, you need a story with bold pictures and a storyline they can follow.  Sammy Spider's First Rosh Hashanah (affiliate link to Amazon) has both.

Learn about Rosh Hashanah and apples dipped in honey with Sammy Spider's First Rosh Hashanah by Sylvia Rouss

Monday, August 24, 2020

When the Chickens Went on Strike: A Rosh Hashanah Tale by Erica Silverman

Rosh Hashanah... the Jewish New year... will begin on September 18th of this year and will last until September 20th.  During Rosh Hashanah people will sound the shofar each morning, light candles in the evenings, enjoy festive meals with friends and family and attend services at a synagogue.  Some people will also participate in the Jewish ritual of atonement called kapores (also known as kapparot or kaporos) during this time.  Kapores is a ritual in which a chicken or money is waved over a person's head and the chicken is then slaughtered in accordance with halachic rules and donated to charity.  Kapores is a controversial practice and people often choose to wave money instead of a chicken.  Some choose not to do either.  Erica Silverman tells the story of kapores from an interesting perspective... from the perspective of the chickens!  The story is called When the Chickens Went on Strike: A Rosh Hashanah Tale (affiliate link to Amazon) and was first published in 2003.  

Learn about the Jewish ritual of atonement called kapores/kapparot/kaporos with the book When the Chickens Went on Strike by Erica Silverman.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Science Materials to Keep in Your Kitchen

You don't have to have expensive science equipment to engage children in meaningful science activities at home.  In fact, you don't have to spend much money at all.  In this blog post, I'll share with you five items that you may already have in your kitchen.  If you don't have them already, you can find them in grocery stores and dollar stores near you.

A compilation of five household ingredients in your kitchen that you can use for science experiments. You might have them already in your cabinets!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

What is Labor Day?

Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September.  It honors American workers who contribute to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.  It is also a federal holiday that marks the unofficial end of summer.  Here are five fun facts about Labor Day for you.

Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. What is it all about? Find out with these fun facts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Five Fun Facts About Honey Bees

August 18 is National Honey Bee Day.  This day was designed to bring awareness to these little insects who do a big job.  Did you know that these insects are responsible for pollinating up to 1/3 of the world's food supply?  Without them, we could have a critical food shortage around the globe.  Read on to learn more about honey bees and what they can do!

Learn about honey bees, why they are important, and how we can help them with these five fun facts!

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Keko and the Lost Bananas

Keko and the Lost Bananas by Cynthia Pilcher (out of print, 2020) is a sweet story about friendship and sharing.  It features two animal friends who have a problem to work out: Dilly, a small fruit bat, has taken Keko's beloved bananas without permission.  Keko is a monkey... and we all know how much monkeys love bananas!

Learn about friendship and sharing with Keko and the Lost Bananas by Cynthia Pilcher... book two in The Woodland Adventures series.

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