2.06.2017

Stories of Refugees and Immigration


The best cures I know for misunderstandings between people are conversations and books.  Lately, it seems, we in the United States are engulfed in conflicts between people who are having trouble understanding each other's points of view.  One of the contentious topics is immigration...who should be allowed to visit or live in the United States and under what circumstances.  To help young readers grapple with this question, I am sharing stories about refugees and immigrants who along with their descendants are, after all, the vast majority of our country's population.

Coming to America: The Story of Immigration is one great story that provides an overview of the history of immigration in the United States.  Readers may also be interested in reading historical fiction accounts of the experiences of immigrants.

If you're looking for books on this topic that you can share with the children in your life, there are a few great lists already published by very reputable sources.

School Library Journal - Tales of Child Refugees and Safe Havens


The Horn Book - Refugee Children

Additionally, Teaching Tolerance has an article for educators including many facts about refugees and immigrants.  This detailed guide can provide helpful background information for adults who are hoping to facilitate student conversations about the current, and eternal, topic.

After reading some of these great books, students can reflect on U.S. immigration policy using a fantastic printable prompt from Make Beliefs Comix that asks students to think about what the Statue of Liberty thinks of President Trump's executive order banning immigration from certain countries.

Groundhog Day

Last week, we learned from Punxsutawney Phil that we can expect six more weeks of winter.  Groundhog Day is such an odd tradition, especially given ol' Phil's paltry prediction accuracy.  But, it's a fun holiday that lends itself to lots of lessons about weather, seasons, and traditions.

For years, my favorite Groundhog Day read-aloud has been Punxsutawney Phyllis, partly because Phyllis is my mom's name and partly because it's a really fun story.  I even wrote to author Susanna Leonard Hill to tell her how much I love sharing her book each year, and she let me order a signed copy for my mom.

This year, I have finally discovered another Groundhog Day book I totally loved reading and sharing with my students.

Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox is a fun story that includes the basics of the holiday's traditions woven into a story of unexpected friendship.  If you're looking for a fresh take on a very old topic, definitely add this title to your Groundhog Day reading list.

7.26.2016

Scotch Laminator Fun

It's not a secret that teachers get a weird thrill out of laminating.  There is something so satisfying about making some flimsy piece of paper become sturdy and long-lasting by encasing it in plastic.  So, it's no surprise that I was ecstatic about being selected to try out and review the Scotch TL902 Thermal Laminator through House Party.
Last week a package arrived containing TWO new laminators, one for me to use and one to give away at school.  I had so much fun trying out the new machine which has a few improved features over previous models.  The TL902 is very slim and light.  Its cord and parts all fold up neatly into the machine, and the whole thing has a handle to tote it around.  It heats up quickly and laminates well.
I tested out the machine by laminating LEGO task cards for my new LEGO building center cart.  You can get these cool cards to use at school or home from Free Homeschool Deals.  This learning center will be part of my expanded library makerspace this year, and the cards will function as fun learning invitations for my students.

I will share more about my LEGO station and other makerspace excitement as they come together in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, what are you laminating as you get ready for school to start?

8.22.2015

Snoopy and The Peanuts Gang Have Arrived

A couple of weeks ago I told you about how Snoopy is the official spokesdog for National Library Card Sign-Up Month 2015.  If your library uses library cards, you have to check out the cooler than cool Snoopy library card artwork that you can request (by emailing LibraryCard@Peanuts.com) for your new cards.  All the stir about Snoopy, the upcoming Peanuts Movie, and a Snoopy t-shirt I just received from my dearest for my birthday all inspired me to deck out our library in Snoopy swag for the new school year.  I'm not sure that I'm completely done, but the library is ready for classes to begin on Monday.  Here are a few peeks into our space.

The Peanuts Gang's love of libraries is made clear through many of Schulz' comics.  Our entrance is decked out with favorite Peanuts library quotes paired with Peanuts character cutouts.  The quotations are typed using Peanuts font, which is available for free.

Above the double doors, I used the Peanuts die-cut letters to introduce myself.

Right inside is a bulletin board outlined in Peanuts border. This is where our rules, objectives, and other important classroom information are posted.

Snoopy labels are keeping us organized at centers and on the shelving cart.

I used characters cards to label our tables and my daily binders.

Snoopy bunting above the circulation desk announces the name of our library.

Still on the shopping list are the Snoopy hat I mentioned before, and this Snoopy flash drive.
Visit the American Library Association website to get more ideas about how to leverage Snoopy to promote your library and its programs.

Are you using Snoopy and friends in your library this year?  What are your ideas?

8.10.2015

Happy 65th Birthday, Snoopy!

Today is Snoopy's 65th birthday.  His career as the adorable, would-be-writer beagle in Charles Schulz' comic classic, Peanuts has been long and distinguished.  In addition to reaching this milestone and having a new movie debut this year, in November, he will also fill an important roll this September as the official spokesperson (spokesdog?) for National Library Card Sign-Up Month.

If you are a Peanuts fan, you know that Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the whole Peanuts Gang are not just adorable and funny, but they have been lifelong supporters of libraries.  Even though we don't use library cards at my school library, Snoopy and friends are going help spread the love of books and reading with our little readers.  You too can have Snoopy as your library or classroom's official advocate using these great resources and ideas.

Start by setting the scene with Peanuts decorations like these cardboard cutout characters, Peanuts border, and die-cut letters.

Then visit the American Library Association store to find bookmarks, stickers, and posters you can use and share with students.

Let Snoopy pay a visit to your learning space with this adorable hat from Oriental Trading.

Get inspired by this Unshelved Pimp My Bookcart entry that turns a red shelving cart into Snoopy's iconic doghouse.

Let students explore the Peanuts Gang's passion for libraries by sharing some of Schulz' original comic strips like the one when Sally declared that "happiness is having your own library card" and the time Linus proudly described to Charlie Brown about his first time checking out a library book: "There was nothing to it!  In fact, on the whole, it was a rather pleasant experience."  Read more Peanuts comics at Peanuts.com including those that specifically mention libraries.

Kids can find out more about Snoopy, Peanuts, and creator Charles Schulz by visiting the Charles M. Schulz Museum website.

Help students learn to draw Snoopy with this video from Fox Family Entertainment shared in celebration of his birthday.

After all that educational beautification and promotion, you will have worked up an appetite.  Why not try to reproduce this Snoopy breakfast masterpiece share by Instagram user, LilKimKay.
If you're not up to the challenge, never fear.  Just have a root beer, one of Snoopy's favorite treats, while reading A Flying Ace Needs Lots of Root Beer.
Also, Peanuts Movie cross-promotions by Nestle, Horizon Organic, and others will mean plenty of cute Snoopy snacks on the horizon.

6.19.2015

Happy Juneteenth! - Celebrating the 150th Anniversary

June 19, 2015 is the 150th anniversary of the day Union soldiers arrived in Texas to announce that slavery had ended.  This historic occasion took place more than two years after Abraham Lincoln gave his Emancipation Proclamation.

Learn more about the history of this important occasion by visiting Juneteenth.com, Smithsonian Magazine, and the Texas State Historical Association.  Then take a virtual visit to the Library of Congress to see some primary documents about the day.

Help children gain some insight about the day by sharing the book All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson.

After building background knowledge, find out if there is a Juneteenth event taking place in your neighborhood, or check out these ideas for creating your own commemoration.

2.10.2015

Valentine's Day in History


Valentine's Day will be here in just a few days.  Visit the Library of Congress' America's Story website to learn some facts about the origins of this sweethearts' celebration.  While you're there, check out some V-Day primary documents such as Thomas Edison's 1900 film, "The Kiss" or a 1940s Valentine store window photograph.

Then click your way to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog to see examples of Valentine notes and telegrams from the early 1900s.
Let students discuss what it would have been like to send and receive notes through the post office or a telegraph machine instead of today's rapid forms of communication such as text messaging and email.

Use students' enthusiasm about Valentine's Day to get them reading by creating a display of books about love and friendship.

After all that learning, it will be time for some sweets.  For an easy and impressive treat that children can help prepare, smoosh slice-and-bake chocolate chip cookie dough around store-bought sandwich cookies and bake in muffin tins according to cookie dough instructions.
You can make these cookie-stuffed cookies with any type of sandwich cookie, but using the limited edition Red Velvet Oreos and some seasonal sprinkles will make these extra festive.