Texas Bluebonnet List

Here in Texas, the state library association creates an annual reading list for 3rd-6th graders called the Bluebonnet Reading List.  The best part about the Bluebonnet list is that any student who reads five or more of the books gets to vote for their favorite.  The book that receives the most votes state-wide receives the annual Texas Bluebonnet Award.

Check out my 2011 Bluebonnet promotional prezi.

If you haven't tried prezi yet, do it. It just takes a little while to get used to the functions, but then you have lots of exciting new options to help your presentations get and hold viewers' attention.

The most recent winner was The Uglified Ducky by Willy Claflin.  The modern retelling of The Ugly Duckling earned 43,146 votes from Texas students.  If you're looking for a well-rounded list of new books, the Bluebonnet list is usually a good place to check.  Last year, my students and I enjoyed picks like Squirrel's World by Lisa Moser and The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino.

This year, I am especially looking forward to reading Imogene's Last Stand by Candace Fleming, The Extraordinary Mark Twain by Barbara Kerley, and Black Elk's Vision by S.D. Nelson.

If you live in Texas, which Bluebonnet books are you excited about this year?  If you live in another place, which lists to do you turn to for interesting new books?


Free Black History Month Cookbook

 February is Black History Month.  If you use any Coca-Cola products, you can get a free commemorative cookbook via My Coke Rewards.  Celebrate the Taste of Black History includes recipes by Chef G. Garvin, poems by Brooke Campbell an illustrations by Kadir Nelson.  You can view the contents of the book on the promotion website.

This book would make a fun addition to a study of award-winning illustrator Kadir Nelson who has contributed to beautiful books about Jackie Robinson, Harriet Tubman, Coretta Scott King, Joe Louis, Michael Jordan, and Negro League Baseball.

Once you sign up with My Coke Rewards, enter blackhistory, the promotion code for the cookbook.  Then you will  need product codes from three Coca-Cola items.


Valentine's Printables and Fun

Valentine's Day will be here before we know it.  Here are a few Valentine's printables and ideas that I found too irresistible to ignore.

Deck out your learning space with this adorable Valentine's garland from Skip to My Lou.  Just print the graphics on pastel card stock to create this conversation-heart-inspired decor.
If you have a lot of broken crayons that have fallen out of favor, this punny Valetine is a winner.  My students love to help sort broken crayons into groups by color so that I can make and deliver new ones that are swirly and fun-shaped like the ones above.  
 Make this age-old idea a new Valentine tradition by following Chef Messy's tutorial.  I'm a sucker for a pun, but these cards are too cute, reading "Happy Valentine's Day for CRAYON out loud!"

If you're hoping NOT to give out candy but still want to share a treat, check out this iPod cracker pack craft at Everything That is Nice.

These printable Valentines from One Charming Party are full of school-age sentiments.  Just print, cut, personalize and share. 


Snowflake Bentley

 Today we are having a Texas snow day!  As you can see, it's more of a slightly icy day, but any weather this cold is confusing for poor, unsuspecting cowboys.

If you are cooped up indoors with kiddos to occupy, spend some time learning about Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley.
Snowflake Bentley was a snowflake enthusiast from Jericho, Vermont.  Fascinated by snowflakes as a child, Bentley convinced his parents to save up for a special microscope-camera.  Each year, he carefully collected snowflakes to photograph using his unique camera.

Get students interested in Bentley's work by sharing Jacqueline Briggs Martin's story Snowflake Bentley. Snowflake Bentley won the 1999 Caldecott Award for its illustrations by Mary Azarian.  Find curriculum connections for the story when you visit Briggs Martin's site.

After reading the biography which includes a few of Bentley's snowflake photographs, explore so many more at SnowflakeBentley.com.  You may be surprised to learn that students (especially those in warm climates) don't realize that real snowflakes are even more detailed and beautiful than the paper ones we make in class.  If your little learners can't get enough, visit Caltech's Snow Crystals site to see more snowflakes, watch snow flakes form, perform snow activities and experiments, and find out if it's true that every snowflake is unique.

When it's time to take a break from reading, let students create their own snowflakes with this recycling-craft tutorial from Alphamom.  Then click back over to SnowflakeBentley.com to play a snowy version of memory.

Images from SnowflakeBentley.com, Jacquline Briggs Martin, and Alphamom.