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.

       

 

Print Friendly

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!

 

Print Friendly

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!

 

Print Friendly

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

 

 

Print Friendly

Spring Poetry Wordles with First Grade

I celebrated the First Day of Spring with 1st grade in the library today!

I read excerpts from two books that offer colorful descriptions and vivid details to get the students thinking about spring :

when spring comesA New Beginning by Wendy Pfeffer

This book uses poetic language and form to celebrate all the signs of new life that spring brings.
“Leaf buds uncurl on bare branches.
     Frogs leave their winter hideaways,
     hop to the nearest water, and lay eggs.”

when spring comes natalieWhen Spring Comes by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock

A young girl mired in the cold of winter looks forward to all the delights that spring will bring.
“When spring comes, Grandma and I will walk to the high pasture to pick wild strawberries that glisten like rubies.”

Then I asked the students to think of one springtime word to share so that we could create a word picture about spring:  something they look forward to doing in the spring, or a word to describe spring.  As students called out their words, I typed them into Wordle.  We then experimented with different fonts, colors, and layouts until the students were satisfied that we had caught the essence of spring.

Here are two examples.  Beautiful!

Stilwell Spring Wordle

ferguson's spring wordle

 

 

Print Friendly

Booktalking Biographies

Whew!  I spent most of yesterday book-talking biographies to our 4th grade classes in preparation for a research project they are beginning.  Luckily our 4th grade teachers were agreeable to allowing students free rein (within reason!) in choosing the person they want to read about, because with two other grade levels also doing biography projects this month, we’re starting to run out of books!

I took that opportunity to hand-pick some titles from our biography collection that are often overlooked.  The books had to meet the following criteria:

  • not too easy, not too hard – I discussed the students’ reading levels with the teachers ahead of time
  • not too long, not too short – teachers want to be done with this project before MAP testing begins on February 28, so most students will not have time to read over 100 pages before beginning the writing portion of the project
  • cover the person’s life from beginning to end – some biographies focus on a specific time period (such as childhood) or a single event (discovering electricity), but for this project students needed a broad overview of an entire lifetime
  • include the nonfiction text features they have been discussing this year – most of the books I used had a table of contents and/or an index
  • present the story in a fairly straightforward way – figurative language and flashbacks and free verse definitely have their place in the world of biographies, but for this assignment students are learning to pick out facts and take notes, so I didn’t want to make it more difficult for them than necessary

This proved to be a great “teachable moment” for me, because under this type of close scrutiny I could see where we had gaps in our biography collection, and which materials need to be updated.  Students who did not want to read one of the books I shared were free to search for someone else, and that also provided some valuable insight into which people our students are most interested in reading about.

Print Friendly

Book Care With the Drama Queens

I’m making a crusade out of encouraging my younger patrons to take better care of their library books this year.  Here’s another video that I think my students will be able to relate to:

 

  
Update 9/25: Used this with Kindergarten today, and they had a blast with it! It was like a horror movie for 5-year-olds! At the end of the lesson they each told me where their “safe place” for library books is at home, and then they chose their books to check out. I’ve never had as much fun with book care lessons in previous years as I’m having this year!

Print Friendly