Grandpa Green and Seurat

Don’t you love it when things sort of collide in a good way?  This morning I was doing some web searches for a pinterest board I’d like to do for Vermont’s children’s choice award, the Red Clover Award.  One of this year’s titles is Lane Smith’s Grandpa Green, which you probably already know is about how a grandpa uses/creates topiary to capture the memories of his long life.  So in a search for “topiary” I discovered this marvel…and a close-up.  And what famous artist and painting did we study last year and re-create in caps?  You got it!

So this year when we talk about topiary and Grandpa Green we can also reflect back on what we learned last year.  And the students will appreciate the workmanship of the topiary, having re-created the painting in another way.  Cool times two!

Marty Mcguire

Yesterday marked the (fun!) end of a blogging book group with two students from my school and eight from four other schools in our region.  We all read Kate Messner’s book Marty Mcguire and used a blog for students to answer and ask questions and reflect on their reading.  (Each Sunday night, one of the librarians posted the prompts for the week.  We shared the work!) A great discussion guide for the book is available from Scholastic  if you want to introduce some students to this spunky character!

Because they were second and third graders there was a bit of a learning curve with the features of the blog and the mechanics of posting comments, but they learned quickly.  I dare say my students improved their keyboarding skills somewhat just from the twice weekly practice for this project.

To make the project’s culmination more special we agreed to meet face-to-face at one of our schools to Skype with the author and enjoy a celebratory lunch (complete with frog cookies!).  Kate Messner was a wonderful author to Skype with.  She was enthusiastic, pleasant, and “real.”  She wove great comments into her chat about writing and how students might think about their own creative process.

Both boys and girls enjoyed the book and are now excited to read Marty Mcguire Digs Worms, the sequel which came out a few weeks ago.  Kate Messner has posted links (think compost and worms) to accompany the second book on Pinterest.

Thanks to LibraryStew for planting the original idea in my head!

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With a nod to Dr. Seuss

Betsy Bird over at Fuse #8 challenged illustrators recently to re-illustrate a Dr. Seuss book in the style of another children’s book illustrator.  She called it the ReSeussification Project.

The results are here and they’re excellent!  Enjoy looking at these with your students.  (Maybe you can make a guessing game out of it?)

If you work with older students you might issue a similar challenge and display the kids’ art work sometime in March.


Photo: Melendez, Pete. drsuess2.jpg. . Pics4Learning. 1 Mar 2012 <;

There’s Nothing like a Puffin!

This book arrived from Junior Library Guild recently and I think it will make a great read followed by practice with some flexible thinking.  The premise is that nothing else is quite like a puffin.  On each page, though, something else is introduced (a newspaper, a pair of blue jeans, a shovel) and lo and behold, some similarities emerge!  (A newspaper is black and white, jeans have two legs, a shovel is used for digging and a puffin digs with its feet, etc.  You get the idea.)

For a follow-up, why not assemble a set of seemingly unrelated objects and challenge your students to choose two and tell how they’re alike?  Have volunteers orally fill in the same sentence:  “The _____ and the ____ are similar/alike because ________.”    or  

To stimulate this kind of thinking, create a bulletin board with real objects (if possible) or clip art.  Display the cover of the book and a brief explanation.  Cut- out letters for a title like: “How are these objects alike?  Put your brain to work!”  As students pass your bulletin board in the hallway it just might give them something else to think about on their way to their destination!

Be sure, too, to have other books about puffins and penguins handy as companions.

Family Reading Night 2012

Students are lined up in the library this week, signed contracts in hand, hoping to get their book for Family Reading night before they have to report to class.  A tradition I began when I came to this school in 2011, it has grown every year.  Last year we had almost 70 families participate. (We have 240 students, and we don’t include kindergarteners, so that’s not bad!)  If you leave a comment to this post, I can email you more information if you’d like to do something similar in your school.

In a nutshell, I booktalk a selection of books for which I’ve purchased multiple copies for the event.  A letter goes home, children indicate their top 3 choices for a book, parents sign off, and then they receive their book. We give families about three weeks to read the book and then we gather at school one evening in February.  After  cookies and milk in the library, we break into discussion groups in nearby classrooms.  Families chat with other families that read the same book.  Generic open-ended questions are provided to aid the discussion and I generally tap one parent in each group to serve as facilitator.

Here are the books I’ve chosen for this year:

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A new venture for Buchlady!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I am excited to tell you about a new project I’ve taken on.  I’ll be writing a regular feature for the folks at Teachers First.  (I have blogged about their site and their free webinars before.  A great resource for teachers!)

The idea is to provide information and resources to teachers who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of being without a teacher librarian/library media specialist because of budget cuts.

I am planning to alternate between suggested read-alouds for various grade level clusters, and articles or lesson plans around information literacy.  The current article is called “Gifts of Character” and centers around suggested read-alouds for this season of giving–not holiday books, but books that bring to light the traits of generosity, benevolence, philanthropy, and kindness. Check it out!

I would welcome any suggestions you might have for future topics, and PLEASE pass along this resource for any teacher friends you might have around the U.S. who could use this kind of help.

Fresh out of ideas? Check this out!

'288/365: Winners' photo (c) 2009, PlayfulLibrarian - license: am very grateful to have found a site recently called  Centered School Libraries.  It’s an amazing resource–lesson plan ideas, bulletin boards, printable bookmarks, suggestions for centers and stations, management techniques, you name it!  It’s all so beautifully done and professional looking.  (I’m jealous!) Cari Young is the librarian behind the site and her new book is apparently available from Upstart.

Just yesterday I was panicking about what to do for a new bulletin board. This site came to the rescue with some excellent  ideas.  Check it out here.

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