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

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

“What Am I Reading” Sign

I want to be sure my students know that I read.  A LOT.  So I’ve started creating a reading poster to hang outside of the library door each month.  I use a sheet of 14″ x 22″ poster board.  (I buy a package of 3 like this one so I can use the front of the poster one month and the back of it another month.)

Here’s the “before” picture of my January poster.  By the end of the month it will be filled with book covers.

reading sign

My monthly reading poster. Click to enlarge.

I’m going to start adding the call number as well so students will know where to look for the books in the library.   There really isn’t enough room to add a summary for each title, so I’ve been toying with the idea of also adding a QR code to each book cover with a link to a book trailer, online review, author website, etc.

Do you share what you’re reading with your students?  Do you use QR codes with students at the elementary level?  Please share your ideas in the comments!

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comfort Reading

I have not been feeling well for the last week or so, and while I’ve been making it in to work, it’s only through the use of coffee and sugar that I’ve been getting through my days. My afternoons and evenings have mostly been spent with a good book, and by that I mean an old favorite. When I’m sick, I just want to curl up with a “comfort book” that I know and love. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying:

candymakers The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
I love the way she manages to surprise the reader with one plot twist after another, even though she’s telling the same story three times from three different points of view.

skulduggery pleasant Skulduggery Pleasant: Scepter of the Ancients by Derek Landy
Equal parts wit and action, I just revel in the clever banter between the skeleton detective Skulduggery Pleaant and 12-year-old Stephanie (aka Valkyrie Cain) as they battle evil together.

red blazer girls The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour by Michael Beil
I was a huge Nancy Drew fan growing up, and this modern-day “girl detective” story takes me right back to my youth. So glad it’s just the first in a series!

penderwicks The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy byJeanne Birdsall
This is another book that reminds me of my childhood reading because the family reminds me of the Melendy siblings in the book The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright. (So glad that series was re-released!) The four sisters in this book are all individuals, but they have a wonderful all-for-one-and-one-for-all family spirit.

no more dead dogs No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman
The premise of this book grabbed me immediately, because I have a firm and unwavering aversion to sad dog books. I wish Wallace Wallace (yes, that’s his name) could transform some actual tragic dog stories (Old Yeller, I’m looking at you) the way he did Old Shep, My Pal. Definitely one of my all-time favorite authors, Korman is one of the few who can actually make me laugh out loud while I’m reading, and as they say: Laughter is the best medicine!

Which books are your comfort reading? Please leave a comment and share them!

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email