Thursday, July 19, 2018

Come From Away (An AMAZING Play!)

Last Saturday, my family went to see

I'm at a loss of words to describe it!  But...I'll try!

Amazing, magical, spirited, refreshing, powerful, uplifting, joyous, emotional, effervescent, funny, heartwarming, thought-provoking, reaffirming....I could go on and on.

Come From Away had been on my radar since its opening in 2017.  Everyone I know who saw it has said it was one of the best- if not the best- play they had ever seen.  It's true!  If you are headed to NY or to any other city who is lucky enough to have this play, buy tickets NOW.  (Will open in London next year!)  The topic itself couldn't be anymore gut-wrenching and horrific (The September 11th Attacks) BUT this is UPLIFTING.  Truly!  Trust me on this!

Synopsis from Playbill: Come From Away is based on the true story of when the isolated community of Gander, Newfoundland, played host to the world. What started as an average day in a small town turned in to an international sleep-over when 38 planes, carrying thousands of people from across the globe, were diverted to Gander’s air strip on September 11, 2001. Undaunted by culture clashes and language barriers, the people of Gander cheered the stranded travelers with music, an open bar and the recognition that we’re all part of a global family.

You will leave the theater a better person.  With a sudden urge to be a better person.  And an urge to visit Gander and meet the amazing wonderful people who live there. 

Prefer the book? My daughter read it for her summer reading in high school a few years ago.  

From the back cover (on Amazon):

"For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns stopped what they were doing so they could help. They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed."
When thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to the closing of United States airspace, the citizens of this small community were called upon to come to the aid of more than six thousand displaced travelers.
Roxanne and Clarke Loper were excited to be on their way home from a lengthy and exhausting trip to Kazakhstan, where they had adopted a daughter, when their plane suddenly changed course and they found themselves in Newfoundland. Hannah and Dennis O'Rourke, who had been on vacation in Ireland, were forced to receive updates by telephone on the search for their son Kevin, who was among the firefighters missing at the World Trade Center. George Vitale, a New York state trooper and head of the governor's security detail in New York City who was returning from a trip to Dublin, struggled to locate his sister Patty, who worked in the Twin Towers. A family of Russian immigrants, on their way to the Seattle area to begin a new life, dealt with the uncertainty of conditions in their future home.
The people of Gander were asked to aid and care for these distraught travelers, as well as for thousands more, and their response was truly extraordinary. Oz Fudge, the town constable, searched all over Gander for a flight-crew member so that he could give her a hug as a favor to her sister, a fellow law enforcement officer who managed to reach him by phone. Eithne Smith, an elementary-school teacher, helped the passengers staying at her school put together letters to family members all over the world, which she then faxed. Bonnie Harris, Vi Tucker, and Linda Humby, members of a local animal protection agency, crawled into the jets' cargo holds to feed and care for all of the animals on the flights. Hundreds of people put their names on a list to take passengers into their homes and give them a chance to get cleaned up and relax.
The Day the World Came to Town is a positively heartwarming account of the citizens of Gander and its surrounding communities and the unexpected guests who were welcomed with exemplary kindness.
NOTE: I got tickets for face value on Stub Hub but wanted to point out that they sell Standing Room Only tickets that stand right behind the first floor level seats (pretty close!).  This play is only 90-minutes so it's totally doable for some people.  Bottom line: If you get the chance to see this play, run!  ENJOY!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Shark Lady: A Must Read

My husband (K-5 Media Specialist) always passes the best books on to my class.  Lucky me! I read Shark Lady, a biography of Eugenie Clark, a few days ago and my kids LOVED IT!  Honestly, I think it was one of my favorite books I shared with my class this year.

The story starts off with Eugenie visiting an aquarium....from that point on, Eugenie declared she wanted to be a zoologist despite everyone telling her to "Be a secretary!  Be a housewife!"  Eugenie is a strong role-model who is brave, tenacious, and bold!  She sets out to prove that sharks aren't the mindless killers people think they are and even is able to train sharks!  

It's well-written, flows effortlessly, and is a vibrant book on all fronts.  To me, it's on my MUST-READ list and should be on yours as well.  

Here's a trailer I found:

If you loved this book, another must-read book is...

Happy reading! 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Students Feel Like You Don't Listen To Them? Problem Solved!

In March of each year, we give a simple survey to our students.  Questions like, "My teacher makes learning fun" appear on the survey and the kids can choose a happy face (always), neutral face (sometimes) or a sad face for never.  Honestly, first graders are a pretty happy bunch so happy faces plaster the pages most of the time.

But not always.

One question that seems to have garnered mixed reviews in the past was, "My teacher listens to me."

My sweet student who appears by my side 1,000 times a day and asks, "Can I tell you something?" probably gave me one of the five/21 sad faces.  While I feel like I listen to her, she obviously felt otherwise!

I'm a talker who was always shushed for talking too much in school.  But I wanted to be heard.  Who doesn't?

But it's hard to listen to an entire class all the time, isn't it?  To make each child feel heard 100% of the time? Hopefully, this form I whipped up will help your students feel their voice is being heard just like it did with my class.  You can also use it for a "Worry Box" or some sort of "Reporting Box."

Saturday, May 12, 2018

More Georgia O'Keeffe Flowers: Perfect Parent Gift!

I seem to post these each year but I can't resist!  Aren't they beautiful?  I think it's the perfect Mother's Day gift.  Could be a lovely Father's Day gift as well!

I'm going to ask my two college-aged kids to make me one this week!  Seriously!  See the very last one?  He did that in less than two minutes.  Most took between 15-30 minutes.  So easy to do and the kids can really do 100% on own although I did trace the black lines this year to make it easier.

Wish I took step-by-step pics but I can at least tell you what I did.

1. Looked at these on Internet.  Thousands of them!
2. Gave out 10 x 10 white paper. 
3. Asked them to make the circle of flower somewhere on page.  Encourage them NOT to make in center but some did,
4. Showed them how to make petals go off the page...that's what you are supposed to do.  Some kids did, some didn't.
5. Talked about the design of the petals stating "Less is More" and showed them examples of such on ones I did quickly.
6. They got to work!  Took a few minutes to draw.
7. I went over drawings with black marker and erased any pencil marks that were left.  
8. Used water colors to paint.  I had them paint in groups of 3 at my desk area so I could monitor/help.  I gave them extra paper so they could test their colors out.  Some duller than expected.  I had several water color sets to choose from with different colors.  (Borrowed from art teacher.)
9. How did I help?  If child used too much water, I was there with a quick blot of a tissue so it didn't get that washed out spotty look.
10. Kids added a sweet message to back and then I had them laminated.

Honestly!  SO easy!  I did have 3 kids who didn't listen to the "less is more talk" and had so much decoration on them that they didn't resemble flowers.  They asked to redo theirs and I let them. 

NOTE: Each year when I do them, they kind of look like a hot mess after sketching. I'm always thinking, "Maybe I should make something else."  Once outlined and extra markings are erased (they try to erase but don't do a great job so I erase what they erased!) they look awesome!  It's not until the black outline that you can see the petals perfectly.  The kids always ask to draw hearts or smiley faces on them but I don't allow it.  Usually I saw your art work, your choice but for this, I wanted them to really look like flowers.  

If you make them, have fun!  

Sunday, May 6, 2018

How Did I Miss Reading This Gem?

I'm stumped that this wasn't on my radar this year especially during Read Across America Week.  I suppose it's better late than never!  John brought it home for me last week and I immediately brought it to school to read to my Firsties.  It was a hit!  It tells the story that we all know how Dr. Seuss was challenged to write The Cat in the Hat and explains how Green Eggs and Ham was written as well.  I love how it stresses the fact that he could only choose words on THE OFFICIAL LIST.  This just adds to the importance of nailing those sight words down!  I think this is a must for a First Grade classroom.  I'm happy I have my own copy but if I didn't, I'd be sure to check it out of the library mid-February next year so I had it for RAA.  Did you read it this year during RAA?  If so, lucky you!

Here's some clip art John finished up:

And finally, I have to leave you with a link (click pic)for such a delicious recipe that is easy to make and bursting with flavor: SKILLET HONEY LIME CHICKEN.  Yum!!!!!  Seriously, it's that good!

Have a lovely Sunday! 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Some Must-Read Books! (And a Freebie!)

I'm always looking for some new books to share with my Fabo Firsties.  My husband, John, is a K-5 media specialist and is always bringing books home to share.  These were actually from the Scholastic Book Fair that he had recently.

First Up: The Little Red FortThe kids LOVED this book and part of the initial fun was the immediate connection they made to The Little Red Hen.  They pride themselves on making connections!  This has a Girl Power flavor to it that I adored! It begins with, "Ruby's mind was always full of ideas."  She finds some boards and asks her brothers to help her.  Of course they don't want to help.  "Not me," says Oscar Lee.  "I don't think so," says Rodrigo. "No way," says Jose.  This one ends with a cookie part at the end and is just so sweet!  A nice twist.  A perfect read aloud.  FUN!

FROM AMAZON: Praise for The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez:

* "The Little Red Hen gets an appealing girl-power update…Young makers of all genders will be inspired." -- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review

"Using a narrative framework and dialogue inspired by the Little Red Hen…. Maier judiciously adapts one of the best nursery stories, keeps it simple, and makes it her own. The upbeat mixed-media illustrations are nicely varied in composition and perspective. A lively picture book that's fun to read aloud." -- Booklist

"[Sánchez's] textured illustrations and sense of humor add depth to each dynamic scene. Throughout the story, Maier's little Latina go-getter breaks gender and cultural stereotypes….empowering…." -- Kirkus Reviews

"Maier's girl-power-meets-classic folktale story line is engaging and entertaining. Sánchez's colorfully patterned and textured illustrations give dimension to a determined and endearing pigtailed heroine and her realistic multigenerational, multi-skin-toned family." -- The Horn Book

"This delightful retelling of the old story of “The Little Red Hen” is perfect for storytime or one-on-one sharing. It also reminds girls that they can do whatever they set their minds to do." -- School Library Journal

"...exuberance on every page." -- Publishers Weekly

"The repetition of key words and the predictable narrative would make this book excellent for reading aloud….The warmly colored illustrations with pops of red are…. a fitting style for a book about one child's creativity and ingenuity." -- School Library Connection, recommended

Next: Can I Be Your Dog? This is an awesome book to consider as an intro to your Persuasive Writing Units.  Arfy is a homeless dog who just wants to find his forever-home.  He writes letters to all the homeowners on Butternut Street and always gives reasons why he'd be the perfect pet.  He gets letters back each time stating why he isn't the perfect pet for them.  Who steps up at the end?  Read to find out.  I saw the answer coming early on and was surprised my students didn't.  Love the humorous letters, bold illustrations, and the just-right amount of suspense.  My kids asked me to get another copy of the book!

Truck Full of Ducks is just a plain ole silly romp! It will seriously quack you up!  Bernie the dog runs a delivery service and has to deliver a truck full of ducks...SOMEWHERE!  The ducks ate the directions!  Bernie finds customers who ordered a truck...just not a truck full of ducks!  The illustrations are hilarious and require lots of time for the kids to take in each detail.  The fun romp continues until they realize that H. Ungry Wolf has ordered all the ducks.  GULP!  The look on the kids' faces!!!!  With with a turn of the page, you see that he ordered them for bath time, not to munch on!  Just a FUN read that the kids will want to reread again and again.

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday was the last of the funny books that I read.  We were just finishing up our Mentor Text Unit and the kids immediately pointed out the effective repetitive phrase in the book: I Got a Chicken for my birthday.  Each time it's said, it's stated matter-of-fact deadpan style.  That's what makes it funny.  The girl wants amusement park tickets but her grandma gave her a chicken instead.  The pictures are great and suspense builds when you wonder what the heck this chicken and her crew are building.  Don't skip reading the long shopping list out loud. Too funny not to!  

I had read reviews of Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille but didn't have access to the book until John lent me his copy.  He said his students were riveted and riveted is the perfect word to describe my students when I read this book to them.  I learned so much about Louis Braille!  This is a powerful, inspiring book that shows the power of never giving up.  A wonderful picture book biography to add to your collection.

From Amazon: An inspiring look at a child inventor whose drive and intelligence changed to world—for the blind and sighted alike." —Kirkus Reviews"Although many Braille biographies stress his disability, Bryant’s title subtly emphasizes his creativity and celebrates him as an inventor, making this an excellent addition for STEM collections. Illustrations in Kulikov’s signature style, light-hearted with a touch of tartness, deftly toggle between sun-washed scenes in which the world views Louis and blackened scenes in which Louis recreates the world he sees in his mind."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review 

"Bryant’s sensitive first-person narration draws readers intimately close to Braille’s experiences, and an author’s note and q&a add further depth to a stirring portrait of innovation and determination." — Publishers Weekly, starred review 

"The focus on Braille as one of the world’s great inventors is apt, and by taking a close look at his childhood, his family, and his experiences as a young person, Bryant makes Braille’s story even more powerful." —School Library Journal, starred review

"Bryant’s portrayal captures Louis’s intelligence, determination, and tenacious desire for access to the written word.  As Bryant states, “The name Braille deserves to be on everyone’s list of great inventors,” and this book ably demonstrates why."--The Horn Book Magazine

"Readers will be floored by the sheer tenacity of Louis Braille." -- Shelf Awareness

The Little Red Fort and Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille are perfect for your book bin in your Maker Space area if you have one.  What better way to get your young inventors motivated?  

Here are two response sheets that you can use for any book really.  The first I like using because it's a quick OPINION review and then they can share thoughts with partner at school and at home.  The second one really comes in handy!  Like I said before, my class loves making connections!  I have complete reading response sheets with a few themes in my store but you can gran these for free here.  I hope you can use them!

Besides being a media specialist, John makes clip art.  Here's what he's been working on recently:

Turkeys are free! 

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Bunny Hokey Pokey

We had to make up a snow day today...what would have been our first day of spring break.  At least they turned it into an early release day.  Not bad!  It gave me a chance to add another poem to the kids' binder and dance...or hop...a bit!

Hope you can use it!  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Beginning Story Problems (Freebie!)

Years ago, I used to teach word problems all in one unit in the latter part of the school year.  Times have changed.  I start them with my First Graders in September and continue to introduce more complex ones as the year goes on.  Obviously, it's the way to go judging by the results.

I've created (at the request of my sister who teachers Kindergarten) some First Steps Word/Story Problems that don't have too many words.  Although I made them for her, I've realized how helpful they are for my students as well.

Here is a Freebie for you:

This is just a sample of the product in my store but it does have TWO addition books to 10.  Same books except one has a number line to challenge those who are ready.  I have my kids check their work by using number line.

I have a Garden theme set too! The three books included are: In the Garden, My Fruit Garden, and Garden Guests.  (Six books total: 3 without and 3 with number lines.)

Since my sister in working on a Transportation and Beach 
theme soon, I just finished these for her.


Here's a money-saving bundle!

I hope you are enjoying these first few days of spring!  (As the snow melts outside my house!)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Read Across America Fun

Here are a few Dr. Seuss Freebies to celebrate Read Across America!  Have fun with the kids today!

There are 3 quotes you can download.

Not my finest work but kids enjoy singing it!

Have you used this App before?  FUN!!!  I bought it about 4 years ago and use it every year.

Just one of the pics you can make!  I let kids choose/design own pic.  

Monday, February 19, 2018

Random Acts of Kindness EVERY Day!

I know this video has been circulating for years but I simply love sharing it with my class.  Have you shared it yet?  I tell the kids that if WATCHING it makes them feel good, imagine actually performing Random Acts of Kindness each day!  Simple!  Free!  Little effort.  

I've been teaching for a long time and have always switched up my gift-giving to my students and parent volunteers. A few years ago, I made these and I'm sticking with them.  They look great in a frame or hung on a wall.  While I sell them, you could make yourself!

Have a good day!  What RAOK will you perform today>

Saturday, February 17, 2018

For You Bruno Lovers Out There!

I saw Bruno this year at Madison Square Garden.




Here's a pic of my sisters and sister-in-law getting ready to leave.  Notice our FABO pinky rings so we could "Put your pinky rings up to the moon...." 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Make Valentine Boxes...AT HOME! (Grab Editable Letter!)

I started having my kiddos make Valentine Boxes at home about 10 years ago and am so glad I did!  I suggest they use tin foil or wrapping paper to cover boxes.  Easy breezy!! (I used to make bags in class but they were NEVER big enough and too time consuming for me!)   I love seeing the boxes that come in.  Here are a few from last year.

Feel free to grab this editable letter!  

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Book Checkout in Classroom

As an author of over 100 books, a former school media specialist and a current First Grade teacher, I can honestly say I adore books!  If interested, read an older post about my classroom library and see how I keep it organized and fresh.

Do you allow kids to check out your personal books?  If you read the older post linked above, you'll know my feelings on the subject!

Here's what I use for checkout.  Feel free to grab if you want.  Nothing fancy! Click HERE!