Appy New Year!

Saturday, December 31, 2011 1 comment
I have spoken before of the love I have for Apple products.

I love Macbooks, iPhones, iPods, iPads, iTunes, and iPrettymuchanythings.

T and my first graders have also come to share this love! T LOVES playing with our iPad. My first graders LOVE to work on it, too. Not only that, our fabulous media specialist has ten iPads that she lets us borrow if we are on our best behavior. :)  We have our favorites (mostly free downloads) but we all agree on one special app-Artmaker

iTunes says, "Free for a limited time, the Art Maker by Play School app is a fun way for kids to freely create pictures, animated movies and story slideshows using Play School toys and craft items. Kids can add their own audio narration, upload their own photos as backgrounds, and save photos of their art."

Here is how it works:
1. Choose background or upload your own photo.
2. Add details (characters, extras touches, etc.)
3. Make up story.
4. Record story (move characters as you tell story.)
5. Watch your 30 second video!
6. It is automatically saved, so you can watch it again and again OR edit it! 
7. Is there a part 2? Add it to part 1 with the slideshow maker!

This FREE app is for storytelling fun! For T, we are making up stories, choosing settings and characters, and talking while we move the pieces. 
My firsties are thinking/writing their stories based on what they choose and THEN making their movie. They love sharing these with the class!

A, my niece, tells a story here. 

T and I made this one together. 

Artmaker is NOT sponsoring this post! I simply LoVe, lOvE, LOVE it and had to share! It is free, go get it before it is not free anymore! 

What apps are you loving for 2012? 

New To Me

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 No comments
I promise this will not be one of those "year in review" posts...I promise! This is however a post about the books that waltzed their way into my life during 2011 and I am so glad they did! Many of these are not new books or series, but were new to sweet little ol' me.
Do you know Katie Woo?
                                         No More Teasing (Katie Woo)Fran Manushkin, Tammy Lyon

Katie Woo is a first grader and much like Junie B, she has her quirks. Katie's stories are a lower reading level and shorter read. The kids love her! She has adventures that my firsties easily relate to (connections.) She worries over not losing a tooth, someone teases her, she goes a little nuts during the holidays, and so on. If you do not know Katie Woo, make it a point to introduce yourself or your kindergarten or first grade daughter! 

Informational Fun~DK Style
Trip to the Zoo (Dk Readers Level 1)

DK Readers~I know and love. I was not familiar enough though with their level 1 readers. Wow! These are perfect for developing readers as well as preschoolers. T loves the pictures and so do I. My firsties love the easy to follow text and pictures that match perfectly to the words. We are big fans! Level 1 readers include dolphins, rocketships, butterflies, and farms. T's favorite is about construction. There is something for everyone! 

Should I be embarrassed about this? I am not sure. I had never read a Nate the Great until this school year. They sit snuggly in my classroom library, recommended by a peer, but not touched by me....until D. This first grader loves a good mystery! So I marched myself over,  pulled out the Nate basket, dusted it off and read the first of the series. Wow!  I COULD NOT WAIT to share this with D! He loves them! He is currently reading his fourth Nate book! Nate is fun and I am sad I've done without him for so long. Nate will absolutely be on T's to read list! 

Are there more? Oh yes, there are more. Each "new to me" book opens a new door. I share this experience with my firsties and my little guy. I tell them what a wonderful discovery books are. I gleam with excitement as I tell them I found a book I just can't wait to show them. They feel it, too. Donalyn Miller writes about this feeling in The Book Whisperer. The feeling is magical. Start with Miller's teacher read and then check out the others! 

What new to you books did you discover this year? 

The Day After Blues

Monday, December 26, 2011 2 comments
Aaah, the day after Christmas. This day is famous for belly aches and buyer's remorse. In the reader's world though-today is a day of pure bliss! Time to sit and enjoy the books that a sweet loved one gifted you (or maybe you gifted yourself.) Whether it be digital or *gasp* a real book, today is a good day!

T received a few that he is super excited about! 

The first, Melvin Might, is illustrated by one of my heroes, David Shannon. I should also mention it is written by another favorite (especially in the boy department) Jon Scieszka! This book goes for about $13 on Amazon, but I picked it up at Tuesday Morning a few weeks ago for less than $5. 
T loves it! Melvin worries a lot and unlike so many books where the worrying ends, Melvin tries something, but just like in real life, he still worries. It is perfect for those machine and truck loving kids! 

Laura Numeroff's latest If You Give A Donut was also in T's pile o' gifts. As a HUGE Numeroff fan, and I'm not just talking her Pig, Mouse, and Moose books. Oh no, Laura (first name basis) and I go wayyy back! Have you read Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers? or Why A Disguise? If not, you should! 

As for this one, well, um, T and I like the pictures. The dog is adorable. The text, well, is just not as inviting and it just does not flow like the others. We had high hopes...maybe too high. We will pass this one along to the firsties. I am sure they will be thrilled. Will they like it as much as the other cycle stories? We'll see! 

My grownup read (which will probably be read in February) is In Pictures and In Words by Katie Wood Ray.  

What are you reading on this day after?

Listen To Reading

Thursday, December 22, 2011 2 comments
In my first grade classroom, we listen to reading daily. It is so important for developing readers to hear what fluent reading sounds like. It is important too for children to enjoy listening to a good story so they will want to read one just like it! 

At home, I read with T each day. We love books. I have found so many great resources for my listen to reading at school, that I just had to try a few at home. Here are a few FREE sites offering great stories to watch/listen/read. T and I have tried all of these and give them all 4 thumbs up (2 each.) The top two are our favorites....this week!

Enjoy! Leave a comment letting T and I know which ones you like!

Let me know what you think! Happy reading and listening! 

Fantastic Scholastic Giveaway!

Monday, December 19, 2011 16 comments
I love Scholastic book orders! I loved them when I was a kid, too!  I order books for my classroom and books for T! This month featured a special deal and I want to pass it along to one lucky reader!

The winner will receive a BIG reusable shopping bag, a Read for Life reusable bag, a book holder, and three books-First Discovery: Night Creatures, Duck for President (hardcover,) and Biscuit Loves...stickerbook. Wow!

The retail value is like $1,000.00. No, it is really like $25.00, but for one of you---free!

How to enter? Follow my blog and leave a comment with your email address. If you already follow, just leave a comment! That's all!

Happy Reading!

Contest ends Friday, December 23rd! Items will be shipped after Christmas. Winner will be chosen by random.

T is so excited about the contest, that he decided to do snow angels...well, um dust angels. :)

Holiday Stress

This time of year can be so StReSsFulL for parents (and everyone else, too!) Even on the worst, craziest days, let's remember....

Hug your child
when they are two
when they are more
if you work
if you are poor 
Hug your child

Read to him
look at pictures
say the words
in your lap
on the floor
Read to him

Love your child
when they are silly
and even mad
when they grimace
 if they are sad
Love your child

Have You Seen This Site?

Saturday, December 17, 2011 2 comments
Our family Christmas tree!
I should start by saying Tagxedo is not paying me for this endorsement! My friend at Miss B Busy Bees posted this and I FELL IN LOVE! (Her awesome blog link is also on the side of my blog!) It is super user friendly, no registration required, and the designs are a-plenty! Much like Wordle, the more times you type a word, the bigger it gets. Check it out! T and I are going to make one for Daddy and my firsties and I are going to make them for the holidays!

Save the Date!

Did you know there is an entire day devoted to celebrating READING ALOUD? Aaah! Be still my heart! My friends at LitWorld host this special day each year. This special day is for all ages! The date for 2012 is March 7th! Save the date and check back often for updates! 

Every child has a story to tell. Help LitWorld continue the vital work of empowering girls and boys to become lifelong readers and writers!


Together Let's Change the World, Story by Story. 
 Join with us to reach many more thousands of children. 
Interested in making a donation to LitWorld? A donation can be made in honor of 
a friend, a teacher, a colleague, a family member. 

And, don't forget to Save the Date for:

World Read Aloud Day 2012

You Are What You Read

Monday, December 12, 2011 No comments
Hmmmm......this could mean so many things. 

I read children's books more than any other text = child at heart. Yep!
I read chick magazines at the salon = like to see how the other half lives. Yep!
I read the = like to save money and shop. Yep!
I read self help smut = want to be a better person. Yep (most days.)
I read updates on the internet = care about what is going on with friends and family. Yep!
I read education articles = want education to be better by the time T starts school. YES!

So, looks like it is true! You Are What You Read is a new initiative with Scholastic (love, love, love) and Reach Out and Read (also love, love, love.) They want to put books in the hands of children, and also show how books bring us together.

Take 3 minutes and complete your Bookprint. Visit the site and share 5 books that have influenced your life. When you do this, Scholastic will donate 1 book to Reach Out and Read. You will also get to see others who chose the same book.

If that doesn't tempt you, maybe this will! Several celebs have made their bookprints: Oprah, Taylor Swift, Daniel Radcliffe, Whoopi Goldberg, The Jonas Brothers, Eli Manning, Sarah Jessica Parker, and so many more! Aren't you a little curious to see if you have a book or two in common? I am! 

When you're done, come back and share the books you listed. Be sure to do this with your children, too! The more bookprints we get, the more books that will be delivered!

Happy reading!

Label Daddy

Does your kiddo ask why all the time like T does? Then this guest post is just for you!

Top 10 Christmas Reads

Monday, December 5, 2011 4 comments
One of my friends just asked me to recommend five holiday reads for her family (ages 4 and 7.) This, as you can imagine, was m u s i c to my ears! It would be impossible to narrow it down to five though, so I am going with my top ten! I am doing Christmas, because that is what this family celebrates. Maybe I'll do Hanukkah next!

Please know these are in no particular order. :)
Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant
My heart sings just thinking about this beautiful story. "In Appalachia each Christmas, a boy named Frankie waits beside the tracks for the Christmas Train, which will bring presents to the children who live in coal towns and hollows. Year after year, Frankie hopes that one particular gift, a very special gift will be tossed to him from that train. It is this enduring hope that will guide him to the true meaning of the season." THIS IS A MUST READ!!!!

Santa Mouse    Santa Mouse by Michael Brown
T and I just picked this up from Bookmiser. Sweet! I had always wondered why some of my firsties would say they were leaving a little cheese for the Christmas mouse. To be honest, I thought maybe a few of their parents were using that to justify the mice in the house. I mean, who am I to judge? Short and sweet story......that will lead to cheese being left out on Christmas Eve!

Return to product information      Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh
You may know Olive, the friendly pup, from her other book, Olive My Love. Here is an excerpt from the Amazon review, "You won't understand the premise of this book if you've never sung "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," so let's start there. The carol begins, "Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer / had a very shiny nose / and if you ever saw it, / You would even say it glows / All of the other reindeer / used to laugh and call him names / They never let poor Rudolph / join in any reindeer games." If you notice that "all of the other reindeer" sounds suspiciously like "Olive, the other reindeer," you've discovered the source of Olive's adventures! Olive is a dog. But when she hears this holiday tune, a bit of an identity crisis sets in. She decides she must be a reindeer and heads to the North Pole to see if she can join Santa's reindeer team." I couldn't have said it better myself! 
The Polar Express  The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Being a first grade teacher, I am often asked if I believe in Santa Claus. I always say yes. I do, in fact, believe in Santa Claus. To prove this, put a bell in front of me and let me listen to it ring, ring, ring! If you don't know what I am talking about-you need to read this beautiful book. SIDE NOTE: The book is 1,000 times better than the movie! 

Product Details   Dream Snow by Eric Carle
I know what you are thinking--'she loves anything by Eric Carle.' You're right. This one though was introduced to me by a kindergartener and I have loved it ever since! Snapshot from Amazon, "It's almost Christmas and it hasn't snowed yet. As the farmer naps on his small farm, he dreams of being covered in a gentle blanket of new snow. Then, one by one, he dreams of each of his five animals (aptly named One, Two, Three, Four, and Five) being covered as well. When he awakens, he discovers that real snow--not dream snow--has fallen. And "Oh my! Oh my! I almost forgot," the farmer shouts, and, bundling up, hurries out to his tree (named Tree) with a box and a sack, looking remarkably familiar in his white beard and red suit. After decorating Tree, the farmer shouts "Merry Christmas to all!" and pushes a button for a surprise Yuletide jingle."

Product DetailsSnowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner
Snowmen at Night was a huge hit in my classroom, so of course, this one is too! T loves almost as much! He laughs and laughs at the silly snowmen on every page. He loves the rhymes and the hidden pictures! Clever, clever artwork! For more snowman action, visit to read a book online for FREE! 

Product Details The Jolly Christmas Postman, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
If you have never read the Jolly Postman books, stop what you are doing and RUN, don't walk to the local bookstore! The book is written in rhyme with beautiful word choice. The postman delivers mail to nursery rhyme and storybook characters we all know and love. Must have!

Product Details It's Christmas, David! by David Shannon
I <heart> David Shannon! This simple story is short, sweet, funny and might even be an eye opener for your little one. If nothing else, the pictures will delight!

Product Details Santa Claus the World's Number One Toy Expert, Marla Frazee
A first grade fave! Amazon review, "How does Santa know how to match the exact right toy with the exact right kid every December?

He knows because he's the world's number one kid and toy and gift expert, and he works long, long hours the whole year through, taking notes, compiling his research, thinking and testing and changing his mind. Then, at last, he gets it all figured out, and on Christmas morning, he makes magic happen."

And number 10.......any version of The Night Before Christmas! 

Merry Christmas to you and your readers!

Countdown to Christmas!

Friday, December 2, 2011 No comments
Christmas-I'm a big fan! Not only do we celebrate the reason behind the season, but my family spends the day together.....which I love!  T makes Christmas even more fun! We decided to make this advent chain with wrapping paper to help T see how many days until Christmas. He has pulled two links off and is super excited. Of course, he still says, "Is Santa coming tomorrow?" but I just smile every time!
 Please notice the adorable pictures in the background!!
 He especially LOVES being able to reach the chain! Now, the chain got me feeling kind of crafty. (INSERT SHOCK AND AWE HERE!) So we painted this tree......
My, oh my. I am sure this will be a treasure for years to come, but handprint after handprint with a wild and crazy almost 3 year old is well, um, challenging. I had to call for reinforcements! N came to save the day. We stripped the little guy naked and even painted the ornaments using his little toes! From here, we went straight to the tub! 

Nights like this make me miss my sister more than ever. When people tease me for not being crafty, yep, there it is again-I miss her. She had it. I don't. I am super ok with it. Please know---I REALLY am ok with it. Just makes me sad sometimes. I know she is smiling down on this masterpiece and celebrating that both T and I survived! She would have loved it. 


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