Thursday, May 17, 2007

New Elephant and Piggie Books!

In case you have not seen these, I was very excited to find the covers of the next Mo Willems Elephant and Piggie Books due in September on

I can't wait. I am recommending his first two, Today I Will Fly! and My Friend is Sad to every mom I see browsing through the easy reader section of our local library.

Monday, May 14, 2007

My Children's Literature Hero-Esme Raji Codell

I was first introduced to Esme when I picked up her book, How to Get Your Child to Love Reading. In Esme's wonderful, jam-packed, idea-filled, inspiration-loaded resource for parents and teachers alike, I found the perfect reading for an at home mom with a love of literature and a love of teaching. When Esme shared her classroom ideas and emphasized that these were not just for classrooms, but for home and library alike, I cheered. I read this book from cover to cover and did not skip a section. I didn't want to miss a good book recommendation or a hint for protecting your home library. When I was done, I highlighted each and every book that I owned!
I must also mention that Esme's Sahara Special and Vive La Paris are excellent read-alouds for children in grades 4-7 . I prefer Sahara Special since so much of the book takes place in the classroom and deals with a teacher who brings the best out of Sahara, but Vive La Paris deals with the important issue of bullying on a small and larger level. When the main character, Paris, is given a yellow star from her piano teacher who is a holocaust survivor, and then wears it to school without understanding the repercussions you want to help her understand. I found myself questioning how the adults around her dealt with this delicate issue and at the same time trying to understand the power of the symbol and why it drew the response it did.
I direct anyone who may read this blog to Esme's Blog if you have not found it already! Her most recent post discussed The Invention of Hugo Cabret and the Reading Reptile in Kansas City. I must go there some day! I have her blog added to my Bloglines account so when Esme posts I am notified through the RSS Feed.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Poetry Friday-Tanka WebQuest

In addition to mothering my children 24 hours a day I occasionally attempt to teach a course for Lesley University. In many ways, it is like a small vacation. I get to stay in a nice hotel, go somewhere new and talk to peers!!! The great thing about the Lesley program (from which I did graduate) is that you complete your Masters in about a year and a half. Each three credit course is taught over two weekends amounting to 40+ hours of class time. So this year (I only get to teach my course once a year!!!)I am flying to Marietta, GA which is nice since my brother lives in Alpharetta. So I will also get a visit in. One of the topics I teach is WebQuests and my current favorite revolves around writing Japanese tankas. A WebQuest's purpose is to require students to use the Internet and research skills in a collaborative environment to complete a task that involves critical thinking. I pass out Bloom's Taxonomy and ask students to evaluate WebQuests based on the higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy. In the tanka Webquest, each group creates a Powerpoint slide to showcase their own tanka and all slides are combined into one final show. Even though it’s not a tanka, I will be wearing my new Haiku t-shirt from Threadless. Thanks MotherReader for the link!
After receiving my cool new t-shirt I was bit by the t-shirt bug. Now I'm thinking it would be very cool to have a thematic t-shirt for each day of my teaching. Like a Wiki t-shirt when I teach about Wikis and Wikipedia or a Blog t-shirt on blogging day.
Among my favorites are:
I Kiss and blog.
Time to make the blog
Mommy blogger

What do you think? Check out for more interesting t-shirts and designs.
And if you are unfamiliar with the WebQuest format, visit Bernie Dodge's site.
For more WebQuests on Poetry do a Google search for Poetry and WebQuests!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Who's Hiding? and Who Is Driving?

After reading a couple very positive reviews of Who's Hiding? by Saturo Onishi, I purchased it for my almost three year old. He loves puzzles and games so I thought he would enjoy this book. In fact, he loves it. He has almost memorized the book yet we still find new games and things to look for with each new reading. For those who have not seen this book yet, each page has the same grid of animals and in each page you must look for who's hiding or who has horns, etc. The last spread is a challenge to kids and adults when all animals are hiding in the dark and all the viewer can see are the whites (and heights, which can be helpful) of their eyes.
In a recent trip to the bookstore I found a book that had a similar theme. Who is Driving? by Leo Timmers showcases a different car and several animals in various clothes on each page. The reader must decide who is driving each vehicle based upon their clothes. For example, in the case of a fire truck you must look for the animal dressed in fireman's clothes. On the next page spread you see the correct animal driving their car complete with a Vroom! and Tak, tak, tak. I must admit that some choices confused me, but in most cases the choices made sense. The illustrations are the definite winner in this book. They are bright, appealing, and humorous. As School Library Journal stated:

The vivid acrylic illustrations in primary colors have a three-dimensional look and will delight toddlers, although they might not be able to match all the drivers and their vehicles without a little help.
Ha! See! It wasn't just me.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Don't Let the Pigeon Suck it's Thumb

If you are out there Mo we have a new pigeon idea!
Don't Let the Pigeon Suck it's Thumb
(inspired by my thumb-loving daughter!)

It's better than sucking on a lollipop.
The dentist said I could! (until I loose my baby teeth)
I only do it when I'm tired.
It's better than sucking someone else's thumb.
Auugghhh, but it tastes good.
It's hard to break the habit.
I'm only four.
I promise I will stop when I'm five.

Now we are off to try to illustrate this story with Mo's instructions for drawing a pigeon.

Amendment to original post:
(Now that I have reread my post and tried to draw a pigeon, I realize that the pigeon has a wing not a thumb. Oh well.)