Sunday, June 21, 2015

Here it is at last!

The third book in the Giants in the Land trilogy has been released!  Thomas leads his companions in a danger-filled quest to the fabled Cavern of Promise.  Who will live, and who will die?  Readers will find themselves holding their breath again and again from beginning to end of this exciting book.

Put this trilogy on the summer reading list for your middle-grade kiddos.  Better yet, read these books together.  It will be time well spent!  They will provide opportunity for some great conversations about character qualities and life lessons.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bubble Fun

Photo from, a really cool site

The end of the year is a time when teachers grasp for ideas to keep learning going and have everyone engaged.  Before I retired, I liked to pull out a bubble unit those last few days of the school year to score learning and fun at the same time.


Let your students pair up with a "bubble buddy."   They will work together for all the partner activities thorough out your bubble unit.  One example would be for bubble buddies to read together one or more of the bubble books listed on my Pinterest board.

Hand your students a precut circle.  Then use it to do some directed drawing to teach them how to very lightly shade a sphere (bubble).  Here's a reference for you if you haven't yet  discovered your artsy side. Approximate those directions to give the idea of light and dark areas. Then use their masterpiece as a behavior incentive.  Have them write their name on it and tape it to their desks.  If they haven't "popped their bubble" due to misbehavior during the day, they get to drop it into a container for a drawing.  You take up any popped bubbles, and these will not go into the drawing.  Each day they will make another bubble and put it on their desks.  (They'll get pretty good at shading by the end of the unit.)  The prize(s) for the drawing can be a large $ Store bottle of bubble solution or a fancy bubble wand or a small bag of bubble gum or getting to use chalk to draw and shade bubbles on the sidewalk, etc.  Of course you will modify these ideas to fit your group.  For instance, you may need to give them an opportunity to earn back their bubble so chronic misbehavers don't  give up when they pop their bubble early in the day and act out even more because they don't have a chance.  Another way to approach it is to do a daily drawing if it is too hard for your class to reach a long-term goal.  


I had a variety of bubble wands and guns they could use.  Each child also tried to make a really creative wand from a long chenille stick, alias pipe cleaner.  They were always surprised to find the bubbles made from their fancy wands always turned out round.  This presented a great opportunity to learn about the science of bubbles.


There are a number of good recipes for bubble solution on the Internet.  Before revealing the one the class will use and letting them help make it, let them predict the ingredients.  You can also use the recipe as a penmanship sample.  


After blowing bubbles on the playground and noting the "sciency" things about those bubbles, we would go inside and write about them.  First they would brainstorm together a list of verbs related to bubbles while I recorded them on a poster.  Then they would pair up and make a list of adjectives related bubbles.  Later I would print those on an adjective poster.  At another time I displayed the two posters for them to reference while each wrote a poem about bubbles.  


Here are some good videos to watch:  Beach Bubbles, Giant Bubbles, Slow Mo Bubbles, Puppy & Bubbles, Cat & Bubbles, Bubble ArtBe sure to preview the video before showing the class in case they begin with ads you don't want your students to see.  Then you can cue up the video so it is appropriate to show in your classroom.

Here is my Pinterest board about bubbles.  Lots more ideas, pictures, and books are found there.  If you have done some fun activities with bubbles, please share below.  If you try some of these ideas, let us know how your kids liked them.





Saturday, May 9, 2015


Attention Wagoneers:

There's a new wagon in my train!

Give a warm welcome to Ali Rose, a teacher candidate at Oral Roberts University.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bathtub Spelling

Found this on Facebook and don't know to whom the pic credit goes.

Wouldn't this be a fun way to practice spelling at home?  Wonder if it would work well at school as a washable sidewalk paint. . .  math facts, spelling words, art, tic tac toe, etc.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Stories Alive

 Here are some projects students can put together to make the book they've read come alive.  It helps you assess how well they understood their story.  It is important that a child start with a book they really like for best results. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mamma Don't You Worry is an ebook available quite inexpensively through Amazon.   It is a rhymed adventure told by a little boy who decides he's too grown up to hold Momma's hand while at the mall.  He learns that independence comes at a price.

Author Louie Lawent enjoys writing stories for children as well as writing song lyrics.  His book, Gerty the Pig, is an AR book. The author's experience as a 4-year-old getting separated from his parents in a department store was probably the kernal from which Mamma grew. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Mathing Around with Story Books

Read any good math lately?  There are so many good story books out there with a strong math link.



Tangrams anyone?

Grandfather Tang's Story: A Tale Told with Tangrams by Ann Tompert

Three Pigs, One Wolf, and Seven Magic Shapes by Grace Maccarone











Counting Crocodiles                          Click, Clack, Splish, Splash

by Judy Sierra                                   by Doreen Cronin










 The 512 Ants on Sullivan Street                Twenty is Too Many

by Carol Losi                      by   Kate Duke 






 Monster Musical Chairs                    Elevator Magic 

by Stuart J. Murphy                          by Stuart J. Murphy







The Doorbell Rang                 The Wishing Club: A Story About  

by Pat Hutchins                     Fractions by Donna Jo Napoli





The Rabbit Problem                                    The Best of Times   

by Emily Gravett                                        by Greg Tang    


List your favorite story books and tell the math concepts they highlight.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Science Monday

Linking science to literature is a good way to teach.  So many books are available to help you do this.  You want to make sure your young students understand, however, just because it's in a book, it may not be a true fact.  This can lead to some time spent researching, fact checking, and verifying.


Joanna Cole's The Magic School Bus series is fact-filled fun for students to read the text, peruse the sidebars, and scan the pictures while learning science.  Because of all the sidebar information and comic-book type comments in the graphics, however, it's not the best choice for a read-aloud, in my opinion.

Seymore Simon's books are a wonderful addition to your classroom library.  He writes nonfiction books as well as fiction stories on a wide variety of science topics.  A few of his books are in Spanish.

  The Mighty Ants and Other Cases

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin wrote a children's book about his experiences as part of the Apollo.  It will appeal to students from first to fourth grades.

Reaching for the Moon   

Sparrow by Sara Pennypacker tells the true Chinese story about what happened when the food chain was disrupted.  Primary students will enjoy this book.


There are many more books that can supplement your science program.  Please list your favorites below.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Alicia Thompson, you won the book, Mom Made Use Write This in the Summer!!  What a fun read to add to your classroom library!

Wordless Picture Books

I've been grading the wordless book card assignment for the children's literature course I am teaching this semester at Oral Roberts University.  This is such a fun corner of the picture book world.  I have numerous favorites, and there are so many ways to use the them in the classroom.  And not JUST with prek -1st grade students.

Broadly, this genre includes completely wordless and almost wordless books.  Here are a few of my favorites:  Deep in the Forest by Brinton Turkle - a fun twist on the Goldilocks story; Peter Spier's Noah's Ark - a wonderfully detailed account of the flood of Genesis;

Tuesday by David Weisner - What an imagination that guy has!  




Alexandra Day created a series of books about the very responsible Rottweiler, Carl,   including Good Dog, Carl 

Emily Arnold McCully's Picnic - the lost is found.  (Click the links to learn a little about these authors.)

 I could go on and on listing wordless books I love.  I would rather hear your picks.  Please leave a comment below listing your favs.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Patricia Polacco

Patricia Polacco holding the keep quilt about which she wrote her book.

Patricia Polacco can paint the most beautiful word pictures.  I  enjoy her many books.  I get a frequent "fix" of her writing on Facebook, where she frequently posts her musings on various topics.  Today's post is about her remembrances of childhood activities when they were snowed in. 

Go to her Facebook page and like it so you will be able to enjoy frequent samples of this wonderful author's writings.  She has a website as well: