Spring Collage Books and Activities

I don’t know about you, but I was REALLY ready for spring this year!  As a result, I’ve been sharing picture books about spring with many of my classes, and we’ve been celebrating in our makerspace and STEAM lab with related activities.  This week I used some springtime books that feature paper collage illustrations (I’m a huge fan of this type of art) and that inspired some paper cutting projects in my library:

Finding Spring  Finding Spring  by Carin Berger
It was love at first sight as soon as I laid eyes on this gorgeously constructed story of a little bear who can’t wait to experience his first spring.  The soft collage illustrations have a slightly vintage feel, and it’s easy to empathize with Maurice’s impatient yearning for spring.  And don’t miss Berger’s other cut-paper books, including Friends Forever which explores friendship in the context of changing seasons, and A Perfect Day which celebrates one magical snowy day in winter.

Finding Spring spread(Note: Be sure to visit Carin Berger’s website; the splash page is delightfully clever!)

 

Sorting Through Spring  Sorting Through Spring by Lizann Flatt, illustrations by Ashley Barron
This book is part of the Math in Nature Series by this author/illustrator duo, and it features a full measure of onomatopoeia, rhythm, rhyme, and whimsical questions about animals and nature on every page.  The math concepts covered include patterns, graphs, and probability, and the author has also included Nature Notes on the animals featured in the text.

Sorting Through Spring pageI included some math cards based on these pages in my STEAM Lab, and students used manipulatives to recreate and solve them.  You may also be interested in the Sorting Through Spring teacher guide.

 

In the Small Small Pond  In the Small Small Pond written and illustrated by Denise Fleming

In the Tall Tall Grass  In the Tall Tall Grass written and illustrated by Denise Fleming

These books take collage art to a whole new level, in that Fleming makes her own paper that she then uses to create her illustrations.  There are plenty of spring pond and meadow animals to inspire young artists to depict their own colorful scenes, and wide variety of descriptive rhyming verbs on each double page spread to move the action along from early morning to late at night.

In the Small Small Pond spread

I wasn’t ambitious enough to try making paper with my classes, but I stocked my Creation Station with construction paper, scissors, glue sticks, crayons, and extra copies of these books.  Here are some of the spring collages my 2nd grade students created:

3-spring collage 3   4-spring collage 4

1-spring collage 1   2-spring collage 2

Can you recommend some other spring books using collage art?  Please share them in the comments, or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune

 

New Makerspace Furniture!

Just a quick look at some new furniture I purchased for my library, thanks to my fall book fair profits:

Yellow TableThis yellow Jonti-Craft Berries KYDZ 60″ Six-Leaf Table will be used for our Creation Station.  I can place supplies in the middle of the table for students to work with individually, or students can work together to create something in the center of the table.  The cutouts allow students to reach whatever is in the middle of the table more easily!  (I ordered this from DEMCO.  My cost was $280.)

Blue Table This blue Jonti-Craft Berries KYDZ 60″ Horseshoe Table will be used for our Demonstration Station.  Whoever is leading the activity can sit in the middle to show students how to do something new, and assist them if they have problems.  The deep horseshoe shape (rather than a more semi-circle kidney shape) allows the facilitator to easily interact with each student at the table.  (I ordered this from DEMCO.  My cost was $345.)

I also ordered the matching chairs from DEMCO for $48 each.  This isn’t meant to be a commercial for DEMCO, but I wanted to share the purchase info in case anyone was curious!

My only quibble with the tables and chairs is that they are not on casters, but they aren’t that heavy and they slide easily across the carpet in my library.  If you have recently purchased or “McGyvered” some makerspace furniture, I hope you’ll share in the comments!

 

Hour of Code with Scratch

Scratch  Several of my library classes participated in the annual Hour of Code using Scratch, one of my favorite coding programs.

Hour of Code 1Why do I like it so much?

  • Detailed step-by-step tutorials for introductory projects
  • Color coded instructions and tools that make it easy for students to click on the right thing
  • Flexible project ideas that give students some freedom for self-expression within the boundaries of a structured activity
  • Printable activity cards so students can explore Scratch independently
  • An online community for educators

Hour of Code 2It’s always interesting to see which students will cautiously follow the instructions to the letter, and which kids will use the tutorial as merely a suggestion of what can be done.  I also enjoy watching them turn to one another asking “How did you do that?!?”  Sometimes the most unlikely students become Scratch Masters, and it’s gratifying to watch them shine as they assist others.

Hour of Code 3If you haven’t tried Scratch yourself, it’s easy to get started with it.  And I think it’s important to realize that you don’t have to know everything about Scratch to use it with your students.  Over the past week I’ve learned several new things about Scratch by watching the kids experimenting with it, and I’m quick to admit “Hey, I didn’t know you could do that!”  That’s how we model learning for our students, right?

If you are using Scratch already, I’d love to hear about your experience.  Please leave a comment, or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune

 

Press Here to Follow Up on Dot Day

We had a great time celebrating International Dot Day last month by reading the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds and creating our own “dot” art.  We also had some great discussions about creativity and trying new things and believing in yourself.  I want to keep repeating that message for my students all year, so I decided to follow up this month with the book Press Here by Herve Tullet.

Press Here

Since the illustrations in Press Here are composed entirely of dots (circles) in different sizes, shapes, and configurations, the book is a perfect reminder of our Dot Day activities.  We begin with a discussion of different devices that use touchscreens (including our Promethean boards at school), and I wonder aloud if touching a book’s pages could work the same way that a tablet or phone screen does.  Then I show the students the cover of Press Here and tell them that we are going to try it with this book and see what happens.

I allow each student to interact with one page of the book, pressing or rubbing or tapping or blowing or clapping according to the instructions, and I truly can’t overstate how thrilled and amazed they are when they see the results!!  Each turn of the page is greeted with shouts of delight and awe as, just when they think they can predict what will happen next, Tullet throws them a curve ball with his inventive designs and surprises them all over again.

press-here-illustration

But it’s not enough to be mere consumers of all this creativity!  I want my students to be makers as well, so the next step is to create our own interactive book.

Each student is given a sheet of white paper and asked to create a page for the book by drawing an original dot picture (complete with instructions) on one side, and a picture on the other side of the paper showing what happens when the reader follows the directions.  Then we fasten the pages together so that each page turn reveals a surprise.  Behold some of their ideas:

Cliff

Michael

trent

 

Tullet has two other books that follow a similar pattern.  Mix It Up and Help! We Need a Title! both actively involve the reader.  (Click the cover to preview each book.)  And there’s also a Press Here app for iPads.

         

I’ll leave you with the book trailer for Press Here.  Are you using Herve Tullet’s books in your library or classroom?  I hope you’ll leave a comment and tell me about it!

A Monkey With a Tool Belt is Ready for Anything!

Monkey tool-beltI fell in love with Chico Bon Bon the minute I met him.  He’s an extremely resourceful Monkey With a Tool Belt who loves to build and fix things.  He’s generous with his time and skills, he helps his friends with all kinds of problems, and he’s able to think outside the box.  (Literally!  An organ grinder traps him in one and he has to plan his escape.)

You might say he’s been part of the maker movement since 2008, before it was a buzzword in libraries and education.  So what better book to get kids thinking about their “maker” interests?

Monkey ramp

This week I’m reading the book aloud to third graders and asking them to think about what they like making and doing, and what specific tools or supplies they need to pursue their interests.  They have a choice of listing those items with a small drawing of each one, drawing themselves wearing their “maker” tool belt, or some combination of the two.  Here are some examples:

2-Alexandra    1-Morgan1-Elliott

This will lead right into a discussion of our makerspaces and the supplies that will be available for the kids.  It also gave me some great insight into the hobbies and interests of my students.  As they were writing and drawing, I was pulling books on art, fashion, sports, cooking, etc to show them during check-out time.

Don’t miss Monkey With a Tool Belt by Chris Monroe, or the two sequels!  Click on a book cover to look inside.

       

 

LEGO Challenges in the Library: Build a Duck

One of my goals this year is to incorporate more STEAM activities into my library program, and with that in mind I’m instituting a series of LEGO Challenges for my students.

I began very simply with my 3rd and 4th graders; their first Challenge was to Build a Duck.

1-CIMG4064We went over some basic rules (click for a copy of my Duck Lego Challenge instructions) and then I gave each student a mini LEGO building kit that I put together using six to nine red, yellow, orange, and white standard bricks.  I made sure no two kits were identical so that copying someone else’s design would be impossible, and I stressed that the goal was to be original.

1-CIMG4090Most students dove right in, while others were a bit hesitant.  I think some had less experience using LEGOs, but a few were not sure what the “right” way to build a duck was.

09-CIMG4070As I circled the room offering praise for their creativity, I could see their initial noisy excitement fading to deep concentration as they experimented with different designs.

05-CIMG4066Students only needed a few minutes to complete their projects, which gave us plenty of time for Show & Share using the document camera and the promethean board.

12-CIMG4073I put blue paper under the document camera to serve as the duck pond, and students showed off their creations and explained how they built their ducks and why they used their bricks the way they did.

16-CIMG4077Allowing students to start small gave them an opportunity to build their confidence as well as their ducks, thus paving the way for more complicated projects later.  Who says learning can’t be fun?!?

1-CIMG4071Eventually I’ll be including LEGO Challenges as one of my makerspace stations.  Are you using LEGO Challenges in your library or classroom?  Please leave a comment or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune and share what you’re doing!

 

Writing Dialog With Google Story Builder

Today I’m reflecting on another idea sparked during the Google Apps for Education Summit I attended two weeks ago.  Ever since Adam Seipel introduced me to Google Story Builder, I knew it was a perfect fit to use with the Elephant and Piggie series, written and illustrated by Mo Willems.

elephant and piggie

Elephant and Piggie pageIf you follow Book Buzz, the children’s book blog I write for my students, you know I recently posted about Elephant and Piggie.  The simple story lines and mostly two-character adventures are perfect for introducing young readers to the comic book format, which uses speech bubbles for dialog.  Each year I use comic books/graphic novels to get kids hooked on reading and I encourage teachers to use them in the classroom for a variety of purposes.  So what does all of this have to do with Google Story Builder?  Let me explain….

Story Builder is designed to create short videos that mimic what you see onscreen when multiple users are collaborating on a Google Doc.

Elephant and Piggie Story Builder

You simulate that experience by naming your characters and assigning them a unique color, then typing in what you want them to say.  You can even add one of Google’s music clips.  Once your story is complete, you are automatically given a unique URL to share your video.  Here’s a Story Builder video I created using text from the book Are You Ready to Play Outside?

My plan is to use this to spark a creative writing activity in which students would create their own Elephant and Piggie adventure.  I’d start by sharing the book Are You Ready to Play Outside?, then students would pair up to examine other Elephant and Piggie books and come up with an original idea for their own E&P story.  Next I’d show them my Story Builder of Are You Ready to Go Outside and demonstrate how to use the app.  Students would then type up their own Story Builders and share them with the class.

Not only does this make a good writing project, it could also serve as an introduction to using Google Docs for real-time collaboration.  We could even use it in a punctuation lesson by re-writing the dialog-only Story Builder stories using complete sentences with quotation marks, commas, and periods.

*Update 7/27/15:  There’s a great post at the Nerdy Book Club blog titled Top 10 Lessons Elephant and Piggie Taught Us that is fantastic!  Jen Terry and Jacquie Eckert have captured the real appeal of the E&P books.

Chrome Snagitp.s.  It would be great if Google provided an embed code for the finished Story Builders, but all they give you is a link to a webpage view.  In order to show my Story Builder here in my blog I had to screencast it, upload it to my YouTube channel, and get an embed code there.  I used a Chrome extension I learned about at the Charleston GAFE Summit this summer called Snagit to do that, but that’s a post for another day!

 

 

Using Google Docs for Submitting Requests

Google Summit LogoI’m still having fun playing with the Google apps I learned about in last week’s #GAFE Summit, and one of the ideas that experience sparked involves using Google Docs to coordinate purchase requests from the teachers in my school.  As the media spcialist, I value their input as I decide what resources to order for the library but it can be difficult sometimes to keep track of all their requests.

In the past they have emailed me or written me notes detailing the subjects they cover and the materials they need to support the curriculum.  But now, the collaborative element of Google Docs will make it possible for them to submit all their requests in one online document.

Here’s a sample of what I envision the Purchase Requests Doc will look like.  (Click the image to enlarge.)

Purchase Request

Anyone with whom I share the link to the official document will have editing rights, so all the teachers will be able to add their requests themselves.  Each grade level will be assigned a different color so that I can see at a glance if one grade is over- or under-represented in the ordering process.  And I can respond to their requests to let them know I have added items to my order, or that we already have the resources they need.  This will also serve as a reminder to me to notify the appropriate teachers once the new materials have arrived.

I also do most of the technology troubleshooting at my school, so I may create another Doc for teachers to use to submit any tech problems that need my attention.  I could use Google Forms for that, but I think having all of the requests in one place would make a powerful statement about how much of my time is spent keeping the technology working.

If you are already using Google Docs to coordinate requests, I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions.  Please leave a comment, or tweet me at @LibraryLoriJune

 

Three Things I Learned from Last Week’s GAFE Summit

Google Summit Logo

Our district is transitioning to Google Apps for Education (GAFE) next year, and ours will be the first elementary school to go one-to-one with Chromebooks, so when I was offered an opportunity to attend the GAFE Summit in Charleston last week I accepted immediately.  I was already a Docs and Slides user, and like most people I’ve played around with Google Earth and Maps, but that was about the extent of my experience with using Google tools.  My world was about to be seriously rocked.

In nearly every session I attended, I was introduced to Google apps and extensions that were designed to facilitate teaching and learning, or enhance productivity.  As someone who enjoys trying out new ways of doing things, I was entranced by the options shared by the presenters for everything from collaborating to screencasting to assessing student understanding to flipping the classroom.  And if you’ve never seen a Google Demo Slam, check out this video of one that took place via Google Hangouts in January 2015.

GAFE Demo Slam

Chris Craft opens the Google Demo Slam at the 2015 Charleston Google Apps for Education Summit.

Over the next week or two I’ll be posting specific ideas for using Google in my school library next year, but for now I’ll leave you with my three big takeaways from the summit.

  1. Google Certified Teachers (GCTs) are knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and incredibly generous with their tips and tutorials.  I have to give a grateful shout-out to the following GCTs who led some of the sessions I attended, and I urge you to click on these names and check out their resource pages: Kimberley Hall, Juan De Luca, Jesse Lubinsky, Adam Seipel, and Jim Sill.  You can also follow them on Twitter, and while you’re at it go ahead and follow the #GAFESummit hashtag for daily nuggets of Google-y goodness from these and other GCTs.
  2. There are MAJOR advantages to having all your resources stored in the cloud.  Many’s the time I’ve wanted to work on something at home but my files were stored at work, or vice-versa.  And many’s the time I’ve misplaced my flashdrive, or not had it with me when I needed it.  Google Drive (free, with unlimited storage for GAFE domains) makes it easy to store and access everything I’m working on in one place.  And if that’s a big deal for me — a responsible adult who has had practice with working online and saving files — it’s an even bigger deal for inexperienced students.  And by the way, the “Recent” button in Google Drive comes in handy if you’re not sure which Drive folder you just saved to.
  3. The ever-evolving nature of technology means that being able to integrate it into the classroom isn’t just a skill set anymore, it has to be a mindset.  We educators need to shift our thinking enough to see ourselves as learners as well as teachers, and be willing to figure out how to use unfamiliar tech tools right along with our students.  (Sometimes they may even lead the way!)  It can be hard to give up the sense of confidence and control that comes with sticking to the familiar, but when we take a risk we often we gain much more than we lose.

If you’re using Google Apps for Education, I’d love to connect with you!  Please leave a comment, or tweet me at @LibraryLoriJune

 

Finally Using Flipboard

flipboard logo  I’ve had a passing awareness of Flipboard for awhile, but I never really investigated it in depth until this week.  Once I took a closer look at it, I realized that it definitely has a place in my Technology Toolkit.

Flipboard homepage

Once you sign up for an account, you choose the broad topics you want to follow.  Flipboard automatically curates collections of internet articles related to the interests you select. Admittedly, most of the preselected topics either aren’t Education-centric, or they’re too broad to really be useful. Yes, as an elementary librarian I’m interested in ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS, but I don’t want to read articles about the lunch program, parent background checks, custodial strikes, etc.

Topic Results

Fortunately, you can also search for more specific terms and create your own “magazines” where you include resulting articles that are keepers.  (Example: Suggested topic = CHILDREN’S BOOKS, Searched topic = CALDECOTT AWARD.)  If an article is worthy of saving for future use, just click the plus sign to “flip it” into one of the magazines you created.

Flipboard also provides Share buttons that allow you to email or text links to articles to yourself or others, save them to a reading list for later, or (if you give Flipboard access to your Twitter and/or Facebook account) you can also tweet and/or share articles that you find.  You can favorite them and comment on them within Flipboard as well.

Recommendations

Flipboard will also recommend other topics as well as magazines created by other users that you might want to follow, based on the articles you are reading.  And you can email invitations to friends and colleagues offering them permission to add articles to magazines that you’ve created.  Instant collaboration!

Invitations

I have no idea what algorithms Flipboard is using to locate the articles they present you within their service, which makes the results seem rather serendipitous.  This can be a good thing, in that you may come across something you would never have known to look for yourself.  It can also be a drawback because you know you are missing a lot of good web content, which is unacceptable if you’re using Flipboard as your go-to resource for organizing all that internet information you want to keep track of.  Enter the Flipboard bookmarklet, which allows you to save any webpage into Flipboard directly from your browser.

I’m mainly using this product on my iPad, and that’s where all the screenshots in this post were taken.  Your interface will look different if you are using a different device.  One thing I would change about the iOS app is the giant COVER STORIES box that takes up a double space on my Flipboard homepage and includes a jumble of pop culture articles that I have zero interest in mixed with the content I’ve chosen to follow.  I can ignore it, but I’d prefer to delete it and use the home page for something more useful.

Being a brand new user, I haven’t started following anyone on Flipboard yet.  If you’re a Flipboard user, please leave a comment and let me know!  If you’re using a different tool to curate web content, I’d like to hear about that too.