Holiday Gift Giving Guide Crowdsourced by Educators!

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It’s that time of year when we delight in choosing gifts for the children and tweens in our lives, but sometimes we feel a little stumped on what to buy.  That prompted me to create a Gift Giving Collection using Wakelet where educators can share their best recommendations for items that are fun AND keep the learning going at home! Gifts

Teachers, librarians, tech coaches, and other educators:  I hope you’ll add your most kid-pleasing books, games, gadgets, and kits to this collection by clicking the green plus sign and choosing from the following menu options:

  • Link – paste the URL to link directly to a site where readers can learn more about the item or actually place an order for it
  • Text – type in a description of your item and share why you like it
  • Video – share a product demo video, or a video of your students using it (But only with permission please!)
  • Image – upload a photo of the item

The nice thing about this collection is that users can refer to it all year long to find suggestions for other gift-giving occasions beyond the December holidays!

Are you already a Wakelet user?  Feel free to share your Collections in the comments!

 

 

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If You Share Google Docs, You Need “Make A Copy”

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Ever shared a Google Doc with someone and then realized they were editing your original document when your intention was that they would work from a copy instead?  Did you know that you can force users to make a copy before they can access your document?  This quick screencast video will show you how!

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The WWW is Back in a New Format!

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  Long-time readers of this blog will remember the WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website), an idea I came up with back in 2010 as a way to share a weekly internet resource with my teachers.  Each Wednesday I sent out an email featuring a relevant website, with an explanation of how to use it and suggestions for integrating it in the classroom.  A few years later I changed schools and I stopped sending out the WWW, but I’ve always thought it was one of my better ideas.  So ten years later, in today’s world of pandemic learning, I thought the time was right to bring it back.

This time around I’m expanding the scope of the WWW from a single site sent in an email, to a weekly newsletter of resources for teachers to use themselves and/or share with their students.  Content will include websites for students to use independently, free tech tools for teachers, information about seasonal or timely events, tips and tricks to enhance virtual/hybrid learning, links to activities and lesson plan ideas, articles and blog posts about teaching, and self-care resources.  What better tool to curate such a collection than Wakelet?

  I’ve been a fan since Wakelet burst onto the scene a few years ago because of the way it integrates so successfully with Twitter.  I get daily professional development on Twitter courtesy of the people I follow there, and Wakelet provides an easy way to save and organize the tweets I want future access to.  My respect for the Wakelet support team has grown as I’ve watched how responsive they are to feedback from educators, and the number of new features they continue to add is astonishing — especially when you consider there are no fees of any kind for users!

So, today I shared the first issue of the WWW Newsletter with my teachers via email, and with the world on Twitter.  I’ve made it Public and set it to Copy, so feel free to use it and re-mix it and share it yourself.  I’ve embedded it for reading below, and you can click this link to save and copy it.

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Spooky – But Not Too Scary- Books to Read Aloud

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October is the month when thoughts turn to pumpkins, ghosts, witches, and spiders.  Oftentimes our younger students want to be swept up in the thrill of a spine-tingling story, but they don’t want it to be so scary that they actually become afraid.  Here are some just-right books for younger listeners:

Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara
This book became an instant favorite with me when it debuted.  The simple orange, black, and translucent white color palette won it a spot on the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2008 list as well as starred reviews from Booklist and Horn Book.  (Yes, I still remember that 11 years later.  That’s how big an impression this book made on me!)  The illustrations of the girl and her cat reacting to the ghosts and then catching them are amusing, and the sight of the white cat in his black cat costume is delightful.  This one never fails to please young audiences.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything written by Linda Williams and Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
Our title character is traveling through the dark woods when she realizes she’s being followed by some creepy clothing items.  She bravely tells each “You can’t scare me!” until she’s finally confronted by a huge jack-o-lantern who sends her hurrying home.  She ultimately conquers her fear and puts the pumpkin-headed man in his place — literally!  The audience will enjoy repeating the refrain “Clomp clomp wiggle wiggle shake shake” with you, and adding movement to the chant can give energetic children a chance to move a little as well.

 Bone Soup: a Spooky, Tasty Tale by Alyssa-Joan Capucilli
The tale of Stone Soup gets a seasonal makeover in this version of the folktale favorite.  The witches and monsters are absolutely not scary looking, but the ingredients (slimy sludge, old toenails) used in their bone soup deliver the “ick” factor nicely.  Bonus: The author includes a recipe in the back of the book listing the creature ingredients and their corresponding human ingredients.  For example, you can substitute 3 Tablespoons of olive oil for the juice of a toad and 2 carrots for wrinkled fingers.  A tasty tale, indeed.

Ghost in the House by Ammi-Joan Paquette
The bouncy, repetitive text in this counting book is just begging to be read aloud, and the titular ghost encounters one surprising creature after another as he slip-slides through the house.  The audience is given an opportunity to guess who will appear around each corner before he/she/it is revealed, and can repeat the “monster” noises that signal each encounter, which keeps them engaged in the story.  Note that this is a lift-the-flap book, so you could even have audience members take turns revealing the surprises.

 Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming
Rhyming books – when done well – make great read-alouds, and this one is definitely done well.  The playful rhymes (toothless hags with tattered rags) will appeal to older listeners as well as little ones.  I’m a big fan of Denise Fleming and her handmade paper illustrations, and the technique is quite effective here. The theme of trick-or-treating has become somewhat outdated as more organizations host fall festivals instead, but the thrill of donning a costume and collecting candy is still a popular one.

 The Too-Scary Story by Bathanie Deeney Murguia
This reads well as a bedtime story, but can also be used for a story time session since there is so much to notice and discuss.  Grace wants a SCARY store but Walter doesn’t want it to be too scary, so every time Papa introduces a plot twist (creatures, footsteps, growling) Walter puts a benign interpretation on it while Grace’s imagination runs wild.  Ultimately the darkness in the room makes even Grace nervous, and Walter finds his courage to confront the frightening shadow.  Bonus: Students will enjoy looking for the little owl on each page spread.

What are your favorite read-alouds for younger readers?  Please share in the comments!

 

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Characteristics of Wise Readers

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My library door this year is featuring some “Wise Reader” owls in an interactive display to remind students of some of the characteristics of good readers.

Click to enlarge

The owls are saying:

    • Wise readers ask for help finding good books
    • Wise readers have favorite authors and illustrators
    • Wise readers take care of books
    • Wise readers wonder and make predictions about the characters in the story
    • Wise readers choose books that are just right
    • Wise readers find comfortable spots to read
    • Wise readers recommend books to their friends

The right-hand door offers students and teachers an opportunity to add their own ideas to the display.  I have more owls I can put up if needed.

I chose broad ideas for the display, which gives me a chance for deeper conversations with the students about each one.  Are there any characteristics you would add?  Please share in the comments so I can add your suggestions to the doors!

 

 

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Who Said It: Book Quotes Bulletin Board

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I like to make my library displays dynamic and interactive, so for my bulletin board last month I incorporated my “Wise Readers” library theme and created the Who Said It contest.  I pulled a stack of new books I wanted to introduce to the upper elementary students, and I typed up the first sentence or two from each in a speech bubble.  Then I printed some plain “clip art” books and numbered them.  I wanted to let the books do the talking and the kids do the listening, so I only chose books that had intriguing opening paragraphs and I made sure to include a variety of genres.  I stapled the blank books and the excerpts to the bulletin board with the heading “Whooo Said It?” at the top.

Students had about two weeks to figure out which books were being quoted and turn in an entry form with the title or the name of the character doing the speaking in each excerpt.  All students who got at least one correct answer received a treat, and the student with the most correct answers won a $5.00 gift certificate to our upcoming book fair.  After the entries had been turned in, I replaced the numbered books with the actual book covers, including the call numbers where the books could be found in the library (added after I took the photo below).

The books I used are as follows.  Click the title for a “Look Inside” preview.

I plan to use this idea again to highlight more great books from our library collection.  Do you have any recommendations for middle grade chapter books with compelling opening paragraphs?  Please share in the comments!

 

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Welcome Fall! Picture Books to Celebrate Autumn

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Welcome Fall!

Fall is absolutely my favorite time of year, and I enjoy fall picture books just as much as I enjoy fall weather.  Here are some of my favorites to welcome the season. (Yes, we are still having temperatures in the 90s here but we’re going to welcome fall anyway!)

 Fall Leaves: Colorful and Crunchy by Martha Rustad
This one has been around for several years but it’s still a fun celebration of the beautiful foliage that is synonymous with autumn. Because it’s written on two levels (simple narrative main text, plus more information shared in side notes) it works for preschool/kindergarten and elementary learners. This book is part of a series which includes five other books about the season: Fall’s Here!

. Because of an Acorn by Lola Schaefer
A simple cause-and-effect book that depicts and entire ecosystem then circles back to the acorn as it falls from the oak tree. It’s a book intended for young students, but children of all ages will appreciate the detailed artwork and the progression of ideas as they flow through the cycle of nature.

 Counting on Fall by Lizanna Flatt
Another book for younger readers, this is a nice addition to a STEAM collection because of the math connection to the scientific world of nature, with some creative collage art to round things out. It explores numbers, patterns, shapes, estimation, etc – all within the context of animal behavior and traditional symbols of autumn. This book is also part of a series: Math in Nature.

 Look What I Did With a Leaf by Morteza Sohi
Part craft book and part field guide, this is a book just begging to be used in a makerspace! The illustrations do a nice job of showing the reader how to follow the written instructions, and the projects are easily do-able by even young artists. As someone who has used leaf-picture activities with my students and my own children, I was very pleased with this book.

  Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
And of course if you’re going to make leaf pictures, you MUST share this inventive book first! The books I’ve mentioned so far have all been nonfiction, but we’re moving into pure fantasy now as we marvel at the collages Ehlert creates from paper leaves showing us animals, vegetables, and leaf people. The regular version of the book is fine, but if you’re using it as a read aloud you may want to invest in the big book edition so your audience won’t miss the small charming details, such as the mice in the pumpkin patch.

 Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert
If you want to go beyond leaves to the life cycle of a tree (a sugar maple, to be specific) this is another winning title from Lois Ehlert. The vibrant illustrations are sure to draw the reader in, and the factual details are communicated in a lovely narrative told from a child’s point of view.

What are your favorite books to share the joy of fall? Please leave a comment!

 

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