Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Made IT - AGAIN!!

I can't believe it! I have a second Monday Made It. I have a confession. I didn't finish my book stack for this past week. Between Common Core training and my moments of craftiness, I didn't complete a single book. Have a couple started.... Something is majorly wrong with my world! Must be all the rain... I did finish a couple projects for the library.

I created this cute wreath for the library door. (I made it out of an old book. Those are rolled up strips of the pages from a book that was weeded this summer.) The only problem is now I'm afraid the kids will mess with it as they stand in line outside the library. My door is right at the main entrance and almost all the kids walk past. Hmmmm. Maybe I'll hang it inside the library. That means I can go back to Hobby Lobby for another wreath idea! I've been wanting a red one from burlap ribbon.

When I was at Hobby Lobby last weekend, I found these cute little tins on clearance. Whipped up some cute little labels and now I have new pencil boxes.

I decided to add book baskets to the library shelves. Some of the series and authors that are frequently requested, I've moved to baskets. I'm testing this idea to see if it helps with space and circulation.  A couple of my library buddies insist this really works. I thought it looked cute anyway.

I thought I was finished with my Monday Made It's until I saw Amy's blog over at Middle School Minions. I saw her "What is Mrs. Finley Reading" sign and made one for my library.  During the school year, I'm always advising/conferencing with  students about their reading goals. After reading Amy's post I decided it was real important for my students to view my reading goals and accomplishments.  (Thank you, Amy! LOVED your idea.)

I start back Thursday so I need to finish my book stack and the last couple projects for the library. My good friends in the county to my south are back today. As we say in the South, "Bless Their Hearts".

Head over to Tara's blog 4th Grade Frolics for more great Monday Made It's.

 Keep Reading!!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Finished reading? I don't think so!

As my summer vacation comes to a close, (I officially report back August 1st) I should be close to finishing my summer reading. I have read far above my personal goal, but I'm not ready to quit. I really don't think I ever will finish reading everything I want to read. Does anybody who loves books? 

This past week I read an usual assortment of books. It felt like I read a little bit of everything. As a kindergarten - eight grade librarian, I need to read all kinds of books. This week I started with a couple fiction books for the middle to upper grades.

The Red House and The Ghost Road by Tony Abbott. (These are books 3 and 4 of his series "The Haunting of Derek Stone")

This series is a bit unusual. Unless you think being chased by the undead is normal. Of course part of Derek's family are members of the undead. Your students who like horror and historical fiction will appreciate this series. They're scary enough to keep 4th and 5th graders on the edge of their seats without being graphic.  This series will be fine for 4th and up.  AR Reading Level of  3.7 - 4.0

Are you a snail? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries

Loved this one! It's a great little non-fiction picture book about snails. Full of information and the illustrations are wonderful. This one's perfect for K-2. AR Reading Level of 2.8

Suddenly! by Colin McNaughton

If you haven't seen this one, you're missing a good one. Big Bad Wolf is following Little Pig but things keep preventing BB from getting LP! It's great for cause and effect. AR Reading Level 2.2

In grades Kindergarten - Fifth we're getting a new reading series. The books and support materials have been arriving all summer. When the Kindergarten materials arrived sometime in the last couple weeks, one pack of books was partially open. (I would know this because they're being stored in a corner of the library!) I couldn't stand it. I peaked at the titles and found a few picture books I hadn't read. Of course I did what any normal, nosey librarian would do.... sat down and read them!

Snow by Manya Stojic
Turtle Splash! Countdown at the Pond by Cathryn Falwell
Sheep Take a Hike by Nancy Shaw
One of Three by Angela Johnson
Pie in the Sky by Lois Ehlert
Chameleon, Chameleon by Joy Cowley

If you teach Kindergarten or First grade, these are good titles to add to your collection. Totally enjoyed my snooping expedition. (Really my Kinder teachers will laugh. They know I can't help myself when books are around.)

Also read:
Bunnicula and Friends: Scared Silly by James Howe, illustrated by Jeff Mack
Scaredy Squirrel at the beach by Melanie Watt
Nothing But Trouble adapted by John Green (a Phineas and Ferb adventure!)
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves! by Lucille Colandro
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bell! by Lucille Colandro
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books! by Lucille Colandro
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell! by Lucille Colandro
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout! by Teri Sloat

I'm off to Common Core training for the next three days... If you don't hear from me assume the worst... Na just kidding!!! It's really because my brain is fried from information overload!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I finally "Made it Monday"

Ok, I really made it/them on Saturday. I've had bits and pieces of each of these projects started, but I will be totally honest. It was the book's fault. Finally, I put my book foot down and got busy.  In between loads of laundry and working a fundraiser at the high school, I finally finished a couple of projects I've been needing to get done before school starts. I'm on the 3 week count down. I still have at least 25 books I need to read and a few more little projects to finish.

On the finished list is my new "Book Medic". I saw several book hospitals on Pinterest and started to make on of those. BUT, I went to Hobby Lobby last weekend and found this cute little ambulance. I printed a little Book label and attached it with hot glue. Then I turned my bucket into a book medic! I thought it turned out right cute. Project 1 - DONE.

The second project I completed (at least for now) was my new teacher notebook. When I saw the Red and Black Teacher Binder from Amy Marshall, I knew I had to get it. I also won a Teacher Chic Planner from Chris Cadalzo on one of the giveaways this summer. I took parts of both and customized a teacher notebook for me. As I teach library, lab, and RTI classes, I have to be well organized!  Last year I kept the three subject areas in separate notebooks. I'm at a K-8 school, so at times it got a little confusing. I'm going back to one well-organized notebook. Project 2 - DONE!

I wanted to make a new banner for my library. It had to be one I could leave up all year long. (Plus I'd been wanting some R E A D letters.)  This is what I came up with:

Thought it turned out right cute. Project 3 - Done!  Can you tell what's my favorite color? Ha Ha

Finally, I did it! I jumped on the teacher toolbox bandwagon. Must have been all those subliminal messages I've been getting from my fellow bloggers and Pinterest.  I went to Lowes Friday and bought the last one! (At least in my hometown... With everyone making them, there can't be many left in stock.)  Once again, I had to customize one for me. Gee, wonder what color I painted mine.... RED, of course! I did print some gray and red labels. I thought black and red would be too busy. (It's really because I've printed some many wonderful things lately and I'm running low on ink!) Project 4 DONE!!!

Now I've got to clean a little house. If, I don't pick up the latest book. Check out Tara's blog - 4th Grade Frolics for other great Monday Made It's!

Keep Reading!!! I will...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Great Reads - Chapter Books

I'm always being asked by parents, teachers, or other librarians what my students are reading. In the library I order chapter (fiction) books, picture books (easy fiction) or non-fiction (informational texts) books for my students. Yes, I do take requests from teachers. I thought I would share my student's favorite chapter books. Please remember these are not the only books in my library or a complete list of what I think children should read. These books are their favorites. As I'm constantly purchasing new books for my students to read, I'm sure it will change a little this school year.

I have included a link to a free list of these books at the bottom of this post. The collage contains the most popular books from each group of students in my school.

Popular Chapter Books for K - 2:

Students in the lower grades love humorous or animal stories. Graphic novels are always a big hit. Of course, they are still reading a lot of picture books. My students fell in love with Bad Kitty this past year. I'll have to find some more of them.


Popular Chapter Books for Grades 3 - 5

My middle grade students are learning to read longer and more serious stories. Of course if it's funny, it's probably popular. I start getting more requests for something "scary" about 2nd or 3rd grade. The Big Nate series and The Buddy Files were both new purchases last year.


Popular Chapter Books for Grades 6 - 8

Upper grade students are all about drama! (In more ways than one... I had to coach varsity cheerleading for a couple years and I learned very quickly to carry chocolate in my purse. I'm not going to tell if it was for me or the girls.) James Patterson's Maximum Ride books fly off the shelves. The next most popular author is Rick Riordan. His books stay on the school's hold list. (It goes without saying Diary of a Wimpy Kid is very popular!)  Lurlene McDaniel is always popular with my girls, but I'm going to use her Hit and Run  either as a read aloud or in my RTI for upper grade classes.

I have the complete list available for downloading in my TPT store. (Here's the link!) I will be updating it as I add the new books I've picked up this summer. I have already purchased a few series that were requested at the end of the last school year.

I'll keep you updated as I find new and wonderful books for my kids. I already have a few books (about $2,500 worth) on my wish lists for the fall.  Hopefully my library budget will not be one of the things that gets cut at the school board's next budget meeting. Oh well, there's always book fair. Hey, I love books and so do my students!

Keep Reading!!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fun with Finger Puppets

This week for story time we read traditional tales. I had several of my favorites in a basket and the children choose which ones I would read to them. The first one picked was Cook-A-Doodle-Doo! by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel.

This one is a great spin off of The Little Red Hen. Rooster, who happens to be LRH's great grandson, enlists some help from Turtle, Iguna, and Pot-Bellied Pig to make a strawberry shortcake. It's a wonderful little story with beautiful illustrations. Ms. Stevens is a very talented illustrator and I greatly enjoy her books.  If you don't have this one, I highly recommend it. AR Level - 2.7 Lexile Level - 420

Next, we read One Fine Day by Nonny Hogrogian.

It was a Caldecott Metal winner in 1971. Yes, it's an older story but timeless. The kids loved it. Basicly, fox looses his tail and has to go through several steps to get it back.  I'm setting this one out to take home. This one is super great for teaching sequencing or cause and effect. (Hmmm, I see a lesson for the fall..) AR Level - 3.5 Lexile Level - 1080

Last, but not least, we read Town Mouse County Mouse by Jan Brett. AR Level - 4.0 Lexile Level - 530 I love Jan Brett! If you haven't seen her website check it out. She has activities, coloring pages, videos of how to draw her charactors and a few of her reading her books.  I found the following finger puppets on her site for my kids to create to take home. I love doing crafty activites with them in the summer. Having extra hands in the form of parents and grandparents doesn't hurt either!

I thought they turned out really cute.

Happy Reading!

Monday, July 15, 2013

What? You didn't read your book!!!

I had an unusual week. I barely read anything. GASP. This book lady didn't read. Much. Sometimes life happens. It all started over the holiday weekend when my sixteen year old got really sick. I thought it was just a nasty summer virus. YEAH. Well it was a BAD virus. We were the lucky winners of a two night stay at our local children's hospital! It could have been a lot worse. He's fine now. I've been teasing him about needing extra attention. In between hospital visits and trips back to the doctors office I did manage to read a few.

Smells Like Dog by Suzanne Selfors

I'll be honest. I wasn't too sure about this one when I got it. Then I started reading it. It was really a good read. Probably best in 3-6 grade range. In a nut shell twelve year old Homer Pudding inherits a dog and a mystery from his uncle, Drake. Uncle Drake was a treasure hunter and one of his maps is missing. Homer sets off for "the city" and has to find the missing map. Along the way meets some very odd people. Recommend this one! Accelerated Reading level - 4.3 Lexile level - 670

I did squeeze in some nonfiction books:
Swordfish by Deborah Coldiron
Sea Urchins by Simon Rose
Leeches: Waiting in the Water by Barbara A. Somervill
Kraits by Ellen Frazel
Death Adder by Lincoln James
Black Mamba by Angelo Gangemi
Fighting Dinosaurs by Monica Hughes
Diplodocus by Joanne Mattern
Snowy Owls by Roman Patrick
Hunting With Bald Eagles by Paige Thurnherr
Stock Cars by Lisa Bullard
Custer's Last Stand by Joeming Dunn

I was looking to add to some of the animal books and other topics missing in our library. I really wanted some that would make good centers to do an activity on text features.  These were good beginner books, nothing really just stood out and shouted "make me into a center!" The kids will like them. That's what's really important.

Standouts include:
The Post Office Book: Mail and How It Moves by Gail Gibbons

I just love Gail Gibbons. Seriously! This one would make a great center activity. From the history of mail to how mail is currently sorted at the post office, it's just a great little book. This one is from 1982 but it's still great! (I just didn't have this one.)

My fourth grade ELA teacher requested some more books about mythology. It's a big deal with CCS in fourth. I already had several good mythology series in the library already. I found these to add to our school's collection:

Dragons in Mythology by Matt Doeden
The Epics of Greek Mythology by Don Nardo
Egyptian Mythology by Jim Ollhoff
European Mythology by Jim Ollhoff

Jim Ollhoff's series "World of Mythology" was the best of the bunch. I'll be adding his other titles this fall. This series is written at a higher reading level than the other series I have in the library that the kids enjoy. (AR levels 5.4 - 6.0) These will be a nice addition for more complex text!

Homes Around the World by Max Moore
This was just a great little book. The students will enjoy looking at the different kinds of homes from across our great planet. You won't find East Tennessee homes in this book. This one is a level one reader so perfect for my Kinders and 1st graders learning about different cultures.

I did find three books that I can use to teach text features.  I do recommend these titles. They were just good informational/non-fiction reads.

Why do animals become extinct? by Bobbie Kalman
Reading levels AR - 5.5 Lexile Level 850

Investigating: Why Leaves Change Their Color by Ellen Rene
Reading levels AR - 3.7 Lexile Level  650

Gray Wolves by Lynn Stone
Reading levels AR - 3.9  Lexile Level  675

Happy Reading!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Who Me?

It looks as if I've been nominated for a Liebster Award! Thanks, Amy. Amy is a middle school teacher thus her blog is the Middle School Minions!

There are a few rules for the Liebster Award:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Answer the questions the nominator asked you.
3. Create 11 questions for your own nominees.
4. Nominate 5-11 blogs with less than 200 followers.
5. Contact the nominees to let them know that you nominated them.
Sounds easy enough. Here goes:
Questions for me from Amy
1. What made you interested in blogging? I wanted to collaborate with other librarians and then quickly turned to also following ELA teachers. I get so many wonderful ideas from classroom teachers. I've been known to send my teachers to some of the blogs I follow.
2. Share your favorite easy recipe after a work day. I love to crock-pot! My "go to" meal is what I call Sunday Chicken. I simply place frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot, drizzle with Italian dressing, turn on low and go to school! When I get home all I have to do is fix a couple quick veggies and dinner is served.
3. What is your most memorable teaching experience? After teaching almost 20 years, I have several great memories. I guess the one that stands out the most was when one of my former students thanked me for being his teacher during his high school valedictorian speech. I cried. He's now a teacher. Makes me so proud!
4. Where did you graduate from college and why did you pick that school? East Tennessee State University. It was close to home and I could afford the tuition. I also received a scholarship if I attended. (Very Important!!!)
5. How do you deal with difficult students and parents? I rarely have problems with students in my library classes, but when it happens the one thing I've learned is to remain calm. If at all possible, I try to wait and make sure I'm totally composed before I contact the parents. I do have a "time out" corner in the library for students who need a moment to collect themselves. I can see them, but they're not as visual to the other students. I try to make my classes so exciting/fun that no one wants to miss library!
6. How do you  plan on staying organized this school year? I have purchased a planner from TPT and I'm going to organize one larger notebook. I teach library classes, computer lab classes, and have Reading RTI groups. Last year I kept them all in separate notebooks. I found that I was constantly digging for the "other" notebook. I also have started using dropbox. LOVE IT. It's keeps my files from my school workstation synced with my home laptop.
7. What is your favorite television show? This one is hard. It's probably Design Star but Duck Dynasty is a close second. I don't watch a lot of TV. My nose is usually in a book!
8. Do you speak any other languages? Not unless you count East Tennessean! The tech people on the phone never seem to understand or maybe I just don't understand them! (I'm also my school's technology support teacher.)
9. What is your favorite educational website?  I use United Streaming with my teachers. If the teachers need a quick video of something for their class, I can usually find it. I frequently use Starfall for my lower grades in the computer lab.
10. What is your favorite professional development book? This summer it's been all about Debbie Diller. I've been reading a lot about centers and small groups. Currently my favorites are her Literacy Work Stations: Making Centers Work and Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All.
11. How do you feel about grading? Do you grade everything the kids do or do you use participation grades from some student work? How do you grade their notebooks and homework? I'm lucky I don't have to keep grades. But, when I was a classroom teacher (6-8th ELA) I graded almost everything from the students. I assigned a lot of projects with rubrics so it made grading easy. If we had a bunch of little assignments, I had no problem with participation grades.  
Random facts about me:
1. I married my high school sweetheart. We started dating our senior year then all though college and grad school.  
2. I love to sing, play the organ, teach Sunday School and help with our Youth Choir at church.
3. I love RED LOBSTER!
4. My favorite favor of ice cream is strawberry! Chocolate is a close second.
5. I love my flower beds but hate to weed them.
6. I hate/fear mice.
7. My favorite chapter book is The Giver by Lois Lowery.
8. I collect Agatha Christie novels and old blue canning jars.
9. If I had to pick my favorite children's illustrator it would be a tie between Eric Carle and Denise Fleming.
10. One year I was "banned" from doing the "snow dance" in my library by the UPS driver. We missed over 10 days that January.
11. My nickname at school is "Little Miss Sunshine."
Questions for my nominees:

1.       What’s your favorite subject/grade to teach?

2.       What is your favorite picture book?

3.       What is your favorite chapter book?

4.       Give us your best teaching tip for new teachers.

5.       What piece of technology could you not do without in your classroom and why?

6.       What is your favorite “after work” meal?

7.       What are your hobbies?

8.       List your 3 favorite vacation spots.

9.       What is one thing you have purchased for your classroom this summer?

10.    What book would you recommend for fellow teachers?

11.     If you won $500 for your classroom what would you purchase?

In the spirit of the Liebster Award, I nominate:

Crystal at The Library Fox  

Rachael at Classroom Game Nook
Kara at To Engage Them All

Kristy at 2 Peas and a Dog

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Something's Fishy in the Library!

Puffers, Perch, Clown Fish....   No, it was just the books for my Summer Reading Program!

This week for story time, I had a fish theme. One of my regulars loves animals and mentioned he wanted me to read him a fish story. I decided to make it my theme for the week. With so many good fish stories published, the hardest part was choosing which ones to read. I pulled an assortment of my favorites and let the kids select what I would read.

We started story time with Fish Faces by Norbert Wu.

It's a cute little non-fiction book that introduces readers to the differences in fish. Very colorful pictures with rhyming text. Great little book! (I use Accelerated Reader so this one is leveled at 1.5)

Fidgety Fish by Ruth Galloway was the next reading selection.

I love reading this one early in the year to my Kindergarteners. It's about a little fish, Tiddler, who can't be still. Sounds just like a Kindergarten student in August! ADORABLE!! (Accelerated Reading level 2.5)

Finally the kids picked out Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. 

In case you've been asleep for the past 10 years, it's a cute story about a fish who learns about real beauty and friendship. (Accelerated Reading Level 3.3 -- Really it's been published for over twenty years in case I have any Rip Van Winkle's out there.)

To finish off story time we had to have a little craft activity. I had make it quick due to the fact I had to take my sixteen year old to the doctor for blood work. (He picked up a nasty viral infection over the weekend and spent a couple days in Children's Hospital in Knoxville. Fun/NOT!! Yes, he's ok now. I just have a few more gray hairs...)

I thought the kids would enjoy making a rainbow fish to take home. (This is the Sara version of how we made our rainbow fish!)

1) Make pattern of fish body. I'm not an artist, but I thought it turned out alright. I drew it on copy paper so our finished project wouldn't be too heavy.

2) Students glued pieces of scrapbook paper onto the body of fish for the scales. I gave them one special sparkly scale - piece of aluminum foil.  I had precut them into circles to save time. Then we cut out the fish bodies.

3) Students colored fish's face  - adding eyes and a mouth. We attached/glued fish's body, tail, and fins onto a piece of blue construction paper. Fins and tails were precut to save time.

4)  If the kids had time, they added seaweed and other details to the background. I found neon markers at Wal-Mart this summer. They are the coolest things. Yes, they work on dark colored construction paper.

I thought they turned out right cute.

Other library fish books that would have been great for story time:

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen (AR 3.0)
Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni  (AR 3.7)
Swimmy by Leo Lionni  (AR 2.9)
Weird and Wonderful Fish by Gerri McCall (AR 5.7)
About Fish: a guide for children by Cathryn Sill (AR 2.0)
Big Al by Andrew Clements (AR 3.8)

Happy Reading!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Read, Read, Read - Great Books Indeed!

Happy Monday! It's a great day because I get to chat about my cool finds from last week.

This past week I finished the picture books and non-fiction books from my last book order. If you don't have I Could Do That! by Linda Arms White, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter GET THIS ONE!

This is just a wonderful story about Esther Morris and her suffrage work in Wyoming. It's well researched and beautifully illustrated. 

The Library Gingerbread Man by Dotti Enderle, illustrated by Colleen M. Madden.


I had a little library love with this one. Gingerbread Man gets loose in the library. What will the librarian do? Catch him of course! It's just really cute watching him travel though the non-fiction section of the library. Would be a great read to introduce the Dewey Decimal System to lower grade students.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

A great autobiography of William Kamkwamba who helps save his family from the great feminine in Malawi.

How a House is Built by Gail Gibbons

I just love Gail Gibbons's books.! She researches her topics and illustrated them perfectly. With this wonderful book the students can see the whole process of "How a House is Built."

I also read:

Coral Reefs by Gail Gibbons
Anaconda by Johanna Burke
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by carol McCloud, illustrated by David Messing
Late for School! by Stephanie Salmenson, illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa
Christmas Is... by Gail Gibbons
Centipede's 100 Shoes by Tony Ross
Don't Slam the Door! by Dori Chaconas illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Voices In The Park by Anthony Browne
Lili at Ballet by Rachel Isadora
Dragsters by Thomas K. Adamson
Endangered Bears by Bobbie Kalman and Kylie Burns
The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau
Coral Reefs by Gail Gibbons
(Can you tell I like Gail Gibbons books?)

Keep Reading! - You know I am!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My Favorite Reading Pins

When I saw this Linky by Just Reed, I had to respond to this one.  Just about everything I pin has something to do with Reading. I just love anything reading related. (Good thing I'm a librarian!)

It's a good thing we are limited to 10. I have found so many great reading ideas on Pinterest  that I use in my library or I share with the teachers in my building.

I repined this from Rachel Lynette's pinterest board. She has a whole board dedicated to inferences. These pictures are great to use to during my literacy centers or to teach inferences.

I found this at
I love taking paint chips and finding ways to use them in the library. I adapted this idea by letting students decorated them with black sharpie's instead of using stamps. Since I definitely am concerned about messes in the library, this was my alternative.

I used this idea to teach character traits. I've had students or teachers (at an in-service) stand in front of the board and had students describe the person. It's a lot of fun and I've never had anyone write something inappropriate.

I've used this idea during RTI with students up to sixth grade.

I have lots of literacy activities in my library. I was putting them all in envelopes, but this is cute for those games/activities with larger pieces. This idea was from (from whom I pin frequently!)

I love Rudees Room! She's got lots of great ideas. (I also shop her store frequently.) This post helped me organize my RTI materials. Yes, I'm the librarian, but when I'm not in the library or computer lab I help teachers with their Reading classes. At my school we all do whatever it takes to help the students learn to read.

I loved these speech bubbles when I saw them! I had a class having a hard time understanding dialogue. I printed some of these up to help them understand anything a character/student says must be placed in quotation marks. 

I love using book order forms during centers. I would have never have thought of using them without Pinterest.

I saw this idea and decided to help my 3rd graders with fact and opinion. I only have one bulletin board in my library so I turned it into an activity. They had to write facts from a couple non-fiction selections onto duck silhouette. They loved it. We're real duck commander fans here in East Tennessee!

I love graphic organizers. This one I got from Scholastic. I have tons several graphic organizers pined.

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