First Day with First Grade

I saw the first 1st grade class of the year on Friday, and we had a great time together! I like to mix it up with them because if we spend too long sitting still in one spot they either get the fidgety-wigglies or they fall asleep!

mr. wiggles bookWe begin by sitting on the story rug while I read Mr. Wiggle’s Book by Paula Craig, and we discuss all the things that make Mr. Wiggle sad when people don’t take care of books. Unfortunately the book is out of print now, and the prices on Amazon (at the time of this posting) are ridiculous! If you have a copy of the book, it’s a great introduction to book care for younger students, and it leads right into a fun song.

Wwhaddaya think of thate talk about what we see on the cover of the book — Mr. Wiggle wearing his reading glasses and “holding” a book — and then I introduce them to These Are My Glasses from the CD Whaddaya Think of That by Laurie Berkner. We then sing the chorus together a few times, using simple motions to act it out, and the kids love it! (By the way, when you order the CD from Amazon, you get the mp3 version free with your purchase.)

2-Mr. Wiggle0003

Mr. Wiggle is sad when you throw your library book.

Then we move to the library tables and review book care with a Mr. Wiggle powerpoint on the Promethean board. Finally, I hand out drawing paper and crayons and ask students to draw a picture of Mr. Wiggle, and a picture of something you should or should not do when borrowing a library book.  We talk about the “No” symbol (at the end of the book, and on slide 8 of the powerpoint) and they feel extremely sophisticated when they use it on their Do Not drawings! 1-Mr. Wiggle0002

If we have time, I allow volunteers to share their pictures with the class. We then practice the song one more time so they can sing it for their teacher when she picks them up.

I love to hear how indignant the kids sound when they tell me about things that are bad for books. Most of them take book care very seriously, which is just the way I like it!


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The WWW is Back!

One of the ways I’ve shared technology with my teachers in the past is to email them a WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) to share an online resource that might be useful in the classroom.  Starting today I’m resuming those emails, and I’ll be sharing the sites here as well.  I’ve also created an archive of all the sites I’ve shared so far so that teachers can find a particular website without having to search through a list of emails.

Today’s WWW is…

discuskids    DISCUS Kids

The South Carolina State Library provides access to $2.2 million worth of research, reference, and learning resources for students in our state via the DISCUS website.
These resources include:

  • Britannica Elementary (general encyclopedia)
  • BrainPop Jr.  (early elementary lessons and online activities)
  • CultureGrams (social studies resources)
  • Kids InfoBits  (general encyclopedia, with magazine and newspaper articles)
  • NovelList K-8 Plus  (fiction and nonfiction book recommendations)
  • Searchasaurus  (kid-friendly search engine)
  • Biography in Context (biographical information, including photos and videos)

If you don’t live in South Carolina, I’m sorry to say that you can’t access these databases.  If you do live in South Carolina, I hope you’ll take advantage of them!

Discus Kids



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Amazon Prime: Free Trial for College Students!

Just wanted to pass along the information on this Student Prime deal from Amazon for those of you who are enrolled in graduate school, or who are taking a re-certification college course:  You can get a six-month FREE trial of Amazon Prime that includes free two-day shipping on your purchases with no minumum order!  (Perfect for ordering those books you hear about on Twitter and just can’t wait to read!)  Amazon also offers special deals and discounts for students, and pays you a $10 credit when you refer a friend!

amazon prime logo  When the six-month trial ends, you can then enroll in Amazon Prime for just $49 (half off the normal $99 rate) and receive: unlimited instant streaming of their 41,000 movies & TV episodes; unlimited, ad-free access to over a million songs and hundreds of playlists; and a free monthly download of one of over 500,000 Kindle books.

Sound good?  Unfortunately I’m not a college student, so I’m paying full price for my Prime membership, but maybe you qualify for the discount!

From the Amazon website:

Your Amazon Student membership starts once you’ve filled out the application form and your .edu email address is validated.  You can enjoy all the benefits of being an Amazon Student member, even if you don’t have a .edu email address!  If you’re able to provide proof of enrollment in at least one course at a college or university located in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia, you may be eligible to enroll in Amazon Student through an alternative process. To provide proof of enrollment, please send an e-mail to [email protected] from the e-mail address associated with your account. In the message, include a scan, photo or screenshot of one of the following:

• Your student ID displaying the current term or an expiration date; just a student ID number is not valid
• Your transcript or class list for the current term with your name and your school’s name on it
• Your tuition bill for the current term with your name and your school’s name on it
• An official acceptance letter for the upcoming term (must include matriculation date)

If we determine you’re eligible, we’ll send you a follow-up email within 3-5 business days that contains a link which allows you to complete the signup process without a .edu email address.

   Just click the Amazon Student icon to get started!

If you can’t view the Amazon Student icon, just click here.

And don’t forget to download the free Kindle Reading App on your computer at school so you can share your Kindle ebooks with your students on your interactive whiteboard!


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Story Style with Polyvore

I have been playing around on Polyvore — the fashion and style website — this summer and having a lot of fun with it, and I keep thinking that if I enjoy it, some of my upper elementary girls would probably enjoy using it too.  I’ve been noodling around for a couple of weeks to come up with ways to make it educational as well as entertaining, and that’s how Story Style was born!


My idea is that students can use the Polyvore database of clothing and images (or upload their own) to create outfits that fictional characters might wear, like the above example of clothes for Fern from Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.  Here I have re-imagined her as a modern-day girl caring for a runty pig on a farm, wearing overalls and rubber boots.

Here’s another example using historical fiction:

Molly from the MEET MOLLY SeriesOne from the fairy tale genre):

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Mirror Mirror on the Wall by lori-june

And one from realistic fiction:

Clementine from the CLEMENTINE Series by Sara Pennypacker illus. by Marla Frazee

Clementine from the CLEMENTINE Series
by Sara Pennypacker illus. by Marla Frazee

clementine(Can’t you just picture Clementine doing a cartwheel?!)

And can you guess who this is?



babymouse queenOf course it’s Babymouse, from the series by Jennifer and Matthew Holm!

I can see students using this at a library learning center, and I can also envision teachers allowing students to create outfits for characters they meet in classroom novels (and justifying their clothing choices in a paragraph of persuasive writing) as an extension activity.  I could also hold  contests for students to create an outfit for a particular character; you’d have to Read the Book to Nail the Look!

I may also post some of these clothing sets on my kids book blog (Book Buzz) as interactives.  For example, students could look at the Junie B. Jones clothing set below and leave a comment voting for their favorite outfit.

Junie B. Jones: Pink or Blue?


I have created a StoryStyle Collection at Polyvore where I’ll be adding new sets periodically. Want to give it a try yourself?  I’d love to see — and share — your creations!  Just leave a comment here with the link to your Polyvore set(s), or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune.  I’ll be using the hashtag #StoryStyle on Twitter, so watch for it!

p.s. Polyvore is available online, or as a free iTunes or Android app.  :)

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Celebrating Summer Reading

Do you celebrate with your students who read over the summer?  I do!

Summer Reading Banner Filled

Every year we have a Summer Reading Ice Cream Sundae Party for students who read over the summer.  I require students to provide some sort of documentation of the reading they did — an official certificate or list of books read from a library or bookstore program, or a signed reading log that I provide for them.  (Click here if you would like to download a copy of the reading log I created.)

I ask parent volunteers to provide the ice cream and toppings, and to help with serving and crowd control.  (I also have one or two adults at the door with a checklist to make sure no one slips through uninvited!)  PTA assists us by decorating our cafeteria for the party, and our Art teacher makes a banner where everyone posts a favorite summer book.

Take a look at our video from last year’s festivities:

If you do something different to promote summer reading, please share it in the comments!



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My Final Summer Reading of 2014

I spent one final long weekend at the beach last week (goodbye, Summer!) and thanks to all the rain we had, I was able to finish four of the novels I took along with me:

one for the murphysOne for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

This book has been in my To-Be-Read pile for awhile, and I finally got around to reading it this week.
Carley has just been placed with a foster family after a devastating family incident, and her new situation is completely different from what she’s used to.  Letting her guard down and sharing herself with new people isn’t easy for Carley, but neither is trusting her own family again after what happened.
Please have some tissues ready because this story gets you right in the heart!  Best of all, it keeps you guessing about how things will turn out; and it has some plot twists that you don’t see coming, yet are totally believable and not at all forced.

hiding out at the pancake palaceHiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Marino

I just picked this book up at our local bookstore right before the trip, partly because of the “NPR Best Book of the Year” seal on the front, partly because it takes place during the summer, and partly because hey, PANCAKES!
The plot revolves around a contestant on a musical reality show seeking privacy after an embarrassing freeze onstage, and a local girl who is desperate to hear the song the pine trees played on the night she was born.  Each fills a need for the other as the two join forces in their attempt to connect with music again.
The lyrical text says a lot without saying too much, and it’s a feel-good read that’s not at all syrupy.  (Pun intended!)

timmy failure mistakes Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

     Calvin And Hobbes meets The Riot Brothers (and Chet Gecko and Greg Heffley) in this grin-a-minute romp with Timmy and his sidekick/business partner, Total the polar bear, filled with silliness that your reluctant readers will flip for.
The book trailer gives you a taste of what to expect:

The advanced vocabulary words sprinkled throughout the text are rendered less intimidating by the super-short chapters and the cartoon drawings on every page.  You can find lots of fun resources for kids, parents, and teachers at the Timmy Failure website.  Book Two (Now Look What You’ve Done) is already out, and Book Three (We Meet Again) debuts in October of 2014.

fourteenth goldfishThe Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm

I accessed a preview copy of this book via NetGalley, and I can’t wait until its official release on August 28 so I can add it to my library!
When Ellie’s scientist grandfather (Dr. Sagarsky) shows up on her doorstep looking like a teenager and announces that he’s found a way to reverse the aging process, it marks the beginning of a period of discovery for Ellie as well.  In this funny yet thoughtful story, we follow the two of them — along with an unlikely accomplice from Ellie’s school– as they attempt to recover Grandpa’s notes and specimens from the laboratory he no longer has access to.
Holm does a wonderful job of painlessly injecting plenty of science into this coming-of-age (for the second time for Grandpa!) novel, as well as encouraging readers to ponder the idea that scientific discoveries, for better or for worse, inevitably change the world permanently.  It will serve as an inspiration to girls who already enjoy science, and may spark an interest in the subject for girls who don’t.


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Summer Art Update

Wow, where has the summer gone?  After the first couple of weeks of our summer art study, things got really busy around here.  Beach vacations, baseball camp, church camp, art camp, mission trip, camping trip — and now the summer is over!  We will continue to learn about and create art at home, but I guess that’s it for our summer project since school starts next week.  I’ll continue to share resources periodically, but the blog will return primarily to posts about school libraries, reading, and technology.  Thanks for sharing our journey!



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Modern Art Collages and Jazz Picture Books

As we were making Matisse-inspired collages the other day as part of our family summer art project, one of my children was working solely with black and white paper.  It seemed like the perfect time to bring out two picture books that I had been saving for bedtime reading.

ben's trumpetBen’s Trumpet, a Caldecott honor book (1979) by Rachel Isadora, is the story of a young boy who is excited by the jazz music he hears in his neighborhood and longs to play the trumpet himself.  He practices outside the corner jazz club with an imaginary trumpet, until the laughter and jeers of some of the other kids send him sadly home.  Just when he’s given up on his dream, the horn player from the club invites him inside to give the trumpet a try.

ben's trumpet zig zag ben's trumpet zig zag club

Although all of the artwork in this book is done in black and white, the illustrations are bold and expressive, and easily convey the energy of the music.  As we read it, we noticed the jagged lines on the end papers, then smiled when we saw the sign on the first page for the Zig Zag Jazz Club. (Click the page of Ben on the fire escape for an enlarged view of the jazz club sign.)

ben's trumpet art deco 1We talked about the geometric Art Deco elements in the illustrations, and I explained how popular that was in the 1920s as a style of architecture, interior decoration, jewelery design, etc.  We compared the use of the angular shapes in this book to the shapes used by Henri Matisse in his collages.  (I wish I’d also had my copy of Snow White in New York by Fiona French, with its glamorous Art Deco illustrations depicting NYC in the 1930s, with me to show them!)

bring on that beatThen we read Bring on That Beat, also by Rachel Isadora but published twenty-three years later!  This book takes a similar concept — children in a 1930s Harlem neighborhood enjoying the jazz music played by local musicians — but here the artist embellishes the black and white street scenes with splashes and pops of wild, vivid color, and tells the story in rhyming couplets rather than straight prose.

wake up that street 1 wake up that street 2

When I use these two books in my library lessons (either in January when our 5th graders study the Harlem Renaissance, or in February during our Black History Month celebration) I follow them up by giving students a page with one of five different  black-and-white silhouettes of a jazz musician on it, and some crayons or markers.   Each student writes his/her own original rhyming couplet on the paper, and then adds colorful flourishes while we listen to jazz music from the 30s.

At home, we were already listening to jazz as we collaged, and one of the kids decided on a last-minute addition of a little jazz color to his picture.  I love it!

Midnight Jazz

Midnight Jazz

When we get ready to do painted-paper collages a la Henri Matisse, we will also look at some other books by Rachel Isadora that show her delightful take on that style of artwork.

there was a tree    princess and the pea    fisherman and his wife


Books used today:

ben's trumpet
Ben’s Trumpet
by Rachel Isadora

bring on that beat
Bring on that Beat
also by Rachel Isadora

Also mentioned:

snow white in new york
Snow White in New York
by Fiona Finch



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Modern Art and Matisse Day 5

head hands heart logo

We’ve pretty much been through all of the books on Matisse that I have at home right now, so as part of our summer art project we took a road trip!

matisse from a to zI needed to go to Michaels to pick up a few supplies, and while we were there one of the kids asked for a sketchbook.  Yay!!

We also visited the closest branch of the public library and found a copy of Matisse from A to Z by Marie Sellier to bring home.  The book is mostly filled with Matisse’s paintings, with just a few of his cut-paper collages sprinkled in.  The art we saw in this book inspired us to visit a paint store and find paint chips to match the palettes Matisse used in some of our favorite works.  We then played around with arranging the chips into geometric patterns.  Here’s what that looked like:


Icarus by Matisse in the book Matisse from A to Z.
Click to enlarge.

From the book Matisse A to Z.  Click to enlarge.

From the book Matisse A to Z.
Click to enlarge.

And here are a couple of pairings.

Open Window, Collioure by Matisse, and an untitled collage inspired by the colors he used; and Goldfish by Matisse, and an untitled collage inspired by the colors he used.  Click to enlarge.

Open Window      Paint Chip Collage 1


Goldfish      Paint Chip Collage G

We invited my mom to come over after lunch to listen to jazz and make collages with us.  The kids brought her up to date on what we’ve been doing and showed her the art we’d already created.  Here’s a peek at what we worked on:

work in progress

The Sea is Calling You and Me (a work in progress)

The Garden

The Garden


Midnight Jazz

Midnight Jazz

More on the partial inspiration for Midnight Jazz here!


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Modern Art and Matisse Day 4

head hands heart logo

p. 32 of My Very First Art Book.
Click to enlarge.

On Day 4 of our family summer art project we examined another cut-paper collage by Henri Matisse in Usborne’s My Very First Art Book.  In The Parakeet and the Mermaid we were delighted to recognize one of the same shapes we saw in Les Codomas yesterday, being used multiple times here.  There was a bit of an “I Spy” quality to this collage that we liked, although we agreed it was very easy to spot the parakeet and the mermaid!  This book offers the same large, colorful art examples as the other Usborne art books we’ve used, with simple corresponding projects that kids can create.  The suggested activity with this print is to fold paper in half or in quarters to cut out symmetrical shapes.

p. 39 of My Very First Art Book. Click to enlarge.

p. 39 of My Very First Art Book. Click to enlarge.

There’s also a section in this book on creating torn paper pictures that re-kindled our earlier discussion of collage vs. mosaic art.  The example of puzzle art also looked like something that would be fun to try.

In the “Blocks and Shapes” section of this book we examined the use of shapes, pattern, and spacing to create different effects on paper.  We’ve noticed that Matisse sometimes leaves a lot of white space in the backgrounds of his cut-paper collages, but other times he fills the entire page with color.  The facing print to the first page of this section was High Sky 2 by Bridget Riley.  While this is a painting and not a collage, it still intrigued us as a way to arrange color on a page and inspired the pieces at the bottom of this post.


p. 36 from My Very First Art Book. High Sky 2 by Bridget Riley.  Click to enlarge.

Triangle 4

Triangle 4 (a work in progress)

stained glass

Stained Glass (a work in progress)


Book used today:

my-very-first-art-bookMy Very First Art Book by Rosie Dickins


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