Minecraft for Education

Minecraft for Education

Coming June 9: free educator access to the new Minecraft for Education software!

As the mother of two boys and as a facilitator for the Code.org free coding curriculum in my library, I have seen firsthand the power of Minecraft to engage kids in problem solving, creative thinking, math and logic activities, and teamwork.  Now Minecraft is launching a new platform specifically for use in the classroom, complete with user tutorials and mentors to get you started, and lesson plans for K-12 students.  What a great way to integrate technology that is both familiar (from the home version so many kids use) and challenging (moving from just building “cool” worlds to exploring issues such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, state history, area and perimeter, Rube Goldberg machines, and much more).

Watch this video for more info, then sign up for your own Minecraft educator account!

Are you aready using Minecraft in your classroom?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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Books for the Last Days of School

Are you looking for some read-alouds for the last few days of school?  Try one of these:

The Last Day of School  The Last Day of School by Louise Borden
This cover illustration (by Adam Gustavson) just says it all, doesn’t it?!?  But despite the exuberance of embracing summer with both arms depicted shown here, this is actually a somewhat sentimental look at the special moments of the year that have brought Matthew to the last day of school, and his determination to find just the right time during the day to give Mrs. Mallory the special gift he has for her.  A realistic look at what goes on during the last day of school.

Lizzie and the Last Day of School  Lizzie and the Last Day of School by Trinka Hakes Noble
Sure, most kids are just relieved to put school behind them and get on with having fun, but for the students who enjoy school this book will speak to their sense of sadness that the year is over.  Her teacher, Miss G, and also feeling a bit blue but the ending allows them both to look forward to the summer cheerfully.  Sharing this read-aloud offers a perfect lead-in to discussing the all special things that happened during the school year, and the activities that everyone is looking forward to during the break.

Last Day Blues Last Day Blues by Julie Danneberg
This book acknowledges that while the kids are looking forward to being away from school for the summer, there are things they will miss: being away from their friends, the class pet, and their favorite school lunches.  When their teacher announces she will miss the kids, they begin brainstorming ideas for a gift that will remind her of them during the break.  A colorful look at how a close-knit “classroom family” approaches the looming summer separation.

What Do Teacher Do After You Leave School What Do Teachers Do After You Leave School? by Anne Bowen
Kids who can only imagine their teachers as stern, rule-enforcing party poopers will be surprised and delighted by this boisterous look at how the adults at school behave after the kids leave.  Illustrator Barry Gott perfectly captures the exuberance of teachers roller skating down the halls, sliding and swinging on the playground, engaging in a cafeteria food fight, and more.  I sometimes share this book first without showing the illustrations, and ask kids to draw their own pictures to match the text.  Then we compare what they drew to Gott’s artwork, and brainstorm other things teachers might do when their students aren’t around.

My Teacher's Secret Life  My Teacher’s Secret Life by Stephen Krensky
In the same vein is this fanciful look at what happens when teacher Mrs. Quirk (who surely lives at school) is spotted at the supermarket, the mall, and the park.  Does she really have a life outside the school?  This is not an end-of-the-year book, but the “quirky” artwork by Joann Adinolfi makes it a winner for sharing.

What are your favorite read-alouds for the last week/day of school?  Please share them in the comments!

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Labo Leaves App for Leaf Collages

I just found out about Labo Leaves, an app that will fit perfectly into my annual “Fall Leaves” lesson plan!

Fletcher Falling Leaves Lucky Leaf Read Leaf Yellow Leaf Leaf Man

Along with the books Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson and Lucky Leaf by Kevin O’Malley, I always share Red Leaf Yellow Leaf and Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I’m drawn to books that feature collage illustrations, and Ehlert is a master of this art form.

In Leaf Man she takes us on a journey with the title character and shows us all the flora and fauna that can be created using different combinations of leaves.

Leaf Man spread

Can you find all four mice in this illustration from LEAF MAN by Lois Ehlert?

At the end of the book, Leaf Man settles down happily with a Leaf Woman, which always wins approval from my listeners.  After we examine Ehlert’s clever cut-paper illustrations, students draw (or trace) and cut out their own selection of leaves and use them to design an original leaf collage.  I show them an example that I created:

1-Leaf GirlThere are always a few students, though, that seem unsure how to begin the art project.  Enter Labo Leaves!

Labo LeavesThis app provides students with digital leaves that they can drag into position to create leaf animals that burst into life when completed.  What a great hands-on introduction to the possibilities of designing with leaves!  See for yourself:

You can purchase Labo Leaves for ios ($1.99) or android ($0.99) and once you download the app you can use it without an internet connection.  You can see other Labo apps here.

Too bad autumn is still five months away!

 

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Children’s Book Week 2016

CBW2016  Happy Children’s Book Week!

Established in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Every year, commemorative events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, homes — wherever young readers and books connect!

You can download and print some wonderful resources to celebrate reading this week, including a poster by Brian Won featuring characters from his book Hooray for Hat! and a bookmark by Cece Bell based on her graphic novel memoir El Deafo.

CBW2016Poster   CBW2016Bookmark

You can also print lesson plans and activity kits for kids of all ages, and right now the awesome site TeachingBooks.net is offering a collection of free resources for all the Children’s Choice Book Award nominees, including videos!  Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for the links to each category.

Are you doing something special for Children’s Book Week?  Tell us about it in the comments, or tweet me at @LibraryLoriJune

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Spring Garden Books and Activities

Previously I wrote about some of my favorite, fabulous spring collage-art books, but last week we explored seeds and gardens in the library so I wanted share those titles too:

up in the garden  Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
If you’ve seen the book Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens, then you’re familiar with the concept behind this book which shows us what’s going on above and below ground in the garden.  The book opens just as spring is arriving, melting the snow that covers last year’s garden, and the illustrations show how the garden grows and evolves throughout the year and explain the symbiotic relationship between the insects and animals that live and visit there.  As always Messner’s writing says much in just a few well-chosen words, wrapping scientific facts in poetic prose, and additional information about each animal is provided in the end notes.  (Bonus: Right now you can get the ebook version for only $1.99 on Amazon.  I used the free Kindle Reading App on my desktop computer to share this book on my interactive whiteboard so no one would miss any of the details in Neal’s mixed media illustrations.)  Be sure to share Over and Under the Snow by this duo next winter!

And Then It's Spring  And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin Stead
This young protagonist has had enough of winter’s endless brown (haven’t we all!) and with his faithful animal companions decides to plant an assortment of seeds to brighten his world.  The pencil and woodblock illustrations provide us with small signs that spring is indeed coming, even though it seems as though nothing will ever happen in the brown dirt.  Stead includes a nice peek below ground as well, which lends this book to comparison and contrast with Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt.  (You could also share the spring poems from Fogliano’s book When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons.)  Enjoy the book trailer:

 

Planting the Wild Garden  Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O. Galbraith, illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin
In contrast to the planned gardens in our first two titles, this book focuses on the many ways seeds travel and take root without (intentional) assistance from humans.  Solid science combined with lyrical language (including lots of onomatopoeia) make it a perfect choice for story time, and the soft colored pencil and watercolor illustrations give solitary readers much to examine.  The page layouts create the effect of a nature sketchbook, and may inspire some readers to take a nature walk and record what they observe!  (Includes a bibliography of related nonfiction titles.)

      Wild Garden spread   Wild Garden page

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt was our inspiration for these garden pictures, created by some of my 1st graders:

7-garden art 4   5-garden art 1   6-garden art 3

I hope you’ll share your favorite garden books in the comments, or tweet me at @LibraryLoriJune

 

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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

 

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Creating Spine Poetry

Until I sat down to create my first book spine poem (a unique poetry form made popular by Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes) I didn’t really know what was involved in creating one.  Now that I’ve written one myself, I’ve learned that there’s more going on with book spine poetry than meets the eye!
I’m sure the creative process is different for everyone, but in my case wandering around the library staring at row after row of titles (my first approach) DID NOT result in a stack of books that formed a poem.

Wandering around the library and catching sight of The Long  Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder did spark the idea for my poem, but once I settled on a topic it took at least a dozen OPAC title searches to come up with a list of 15 or 20 promising books.  (I searched for snow, cold, frozen, winter, snowfall, blizzard, sleet, icy, windy, storm, snowfall, chilly, and spring, and those are just the words I remember looking up.)  Then I went and found each book on the shelf, and finally I arranged and rearranged them to create my poem.

book spine poem

The Long Winter by Lori June
Click to Enlarge

Think about that:  Choose a topic.  Develop a search strategy.  Perform the searches.  Write down the titles and call numbers.  Locate the books on the shelf.  THAT’S AN ENTIRE LIBRARY SKILLS LESSON DISGUISED AS A FUN POETRY WRITING ACTIVITY!  I am getting a jump on National Poetry Month and trying this with my 5th graders this week.  Here are some photos of some of the students stacking and arranging their books:

spinepoetry2      spinepoetry1

Have you done spine poetry with your students?  Please leave me a comment; I’d love to hear about it!

Images:
SML Books / 20090903.10D.52431 / SML‘  Found on flickrcc.net
Bookshelves Elsewhere‘ Found on flickrcc.net

 

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Seuss-y Snacks

I will miss celebrating Read Across America Day this year (waahh!) because I’ll be attending the S.C. Association of School Librarians Conference but I thought I’d share a little of last year’s celebration.  I arranged for some education club students to walk over from the middle school next door to serve as guest readers for our lower grade classrooms.  I wanted to provide some snacks for them as a “thank you” that would highlight a few books by Dr. Seuss in honor of his birthday, and here’s what I came up with:
seusstable

Here are some close-ups:
Cat in the Hat hats (strawberry and banana slices)
and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (goldfish)

cathats

Hop on Pop Popcorn
hoponpopcorn

Brown Bar-ba-loots from The Lorax (chocolate teddy grahams)
brownbarbaloots

Pink Ink Drink from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (strawberry soda)
pinkinkdrink

The middle schoolers really enjoyed interacting with our students, and I could tell they put a lot of time and enthusiasm into preparing their read-alouds.  What are you doing to celebrate Read Across America Day?  Tell me about it in the comments, or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune

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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!

 

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