Monday, July 27, 2015

Must Read Monday Books Just For Fun!


The theme this week for Must Read Monday is must read books just for fun.  As teachers we always want to read books that make sense, or continue to teach the skills we are trying to get across to our students.  We pick books that have a purpose for each lesson.  Yet there are also some books that we just want to read, because, well, they are just fun!  They may still fit into the theme, but we also read them just because they are good literature, and we want to share these fun stories with our students.

The Kindergarten Connetion and I would love to know - what are your favorite book(s) to read just for fun?  You can link up with us and/or leave us a comment down below!  Here are a few of my favorites!


Stanley's Party written by Linda Bailey is probably one of my all time favorite books!  It is definitely in my top 10!  It is just plain ole' fun!  Every time I read it, my students are captivated, and many can relate because they have a dog for a pet.  Stanley is a dog whose people go out - a lot.  He starts testing things out while they are gone - sitting on the couch, listening to music, eating out of the fridge.  He always cleans up before they come home and everything is fine.  However, Stanley realizes he would like to share this with some friends.  He invites some dogs at the dog park..........and those dogs invite more dogs.........and so on and so forth until the house is full of dogs..............and it is the ONLY night Stanley's people come home early!  Uh-oh!!!!  It is hilarious and is sure to be one of your favorite books of all time as well!


The Gruffalo written by Julia Donaldson is another favorite story to share.  This book rhymes, is clever, and invites conversation about animals and why they might do certain things.  A mouse is out for a walk and other animals come along to eat him.  He tells them he will be meeting a gruffalo and describes a scary creature.  The animals run away in fear.  All is good until the mouse actually runs into the gruffalo!  The gruffalo also wants to eat the mouse.  What will the clever mouse do to survive?  You must read the story to find out.


The Story of Ferdinand written by Munro Leaf is copyrighted in 1938!  I love that a book written 77 years ago is still being read in classrooms today (at least in mine, and I am sure in many of yours as well!).  It is the story of a large bull named Ferdinand.  Rather than fight, like most of his friends, he would prefer to sit and smell the flowers.  One day men come from the city come looking for bulls for the bull fights, and Ferdinand is taken away.  It is quite amusing when this large bull gets brought into the arena.  He sits down to smell the flowers in the ladies hair, and makes the matador so mad!  Ha!  I love that he is a lover, not a fighter.  This is such a kind hearted story to share with kiddos!


Miss Nelson is Missing! written by James Marshall is a great book to read to students.  The first time I am absent in the school year, I have the substitute read this story and then have the students guess where I am.  Miss Nelson's students are poorly behaved.  One day she doesn't show up to class, but Miss Viola Swamp does.  Viola Swamp is mean and runs a tight ship.  The children miss Miss Nelson and set out to look for her.  Eventually Miss Nelson returns to school and the children are so excited to see her - and they start behaving!  This is a great book to talk about rules, behavior, and treating all teachers (PE, Music, ELD, etc) with respect.


The Hello, Goodbye Window written by Norton Juster is just a sweet story about a little girl who spends time at her grandparents house.  They clearly love each other and have fun together.  The Hello, Goodbye window is a place where laughs, smiles, songs, etc. happen.


The Bugliest Bug written by Carol Diggory Shields is a wonderful book that rhymes, and is a story of friendship.  Turns out there is a contest in town for the Bugliest Bug.  Dilly the dragonfly attends, but doesn't enter, for she feels she is just a small bug with no frills.  While the contest is going on Dilly notices that something is wrong - the judges are arachnids - and soon drop a net on all of the insects.  Dilly summons up the courage to fight back and encourages each insect to do what they do best - ants march, mantises pray (HA!) - and eventually they get away from the spiders.  Guess who all the insects name "The Bugliest Bug"?  You got it - Dilly!


Blueberries for Sal written by Robert McCloskey is another oldie, but goodie.  This story is first copyrighted in 1948.  It shows pictures of a time in the past and makes for a great discussion about clothes and what kitchens used to look like.  Sal and her mom go blueberry picking on Blueberry Hill. Sal has a hard time putting berries in her pail for she eats most of them.  Meanwhile, a mamma bear and her cub also go looking for blueberries on Blueberry Hill.  Both groups are so engrossed in the blueberry picking/eating, that they get mixed up.  Little Sal ends up with the mamma bear and the Sal's mom ends up with the bear cub.  Both groups scare themselves and end up exactly where they belong at the end.  This is a great book to read around Mother's Day, or with a bear unit, or, just because!


Alice the Fairy written by David Shannon is a fun book to read to children.  David Shannon books are great and the children love his stories and playful language.  Alice is a fairy..........a temporary fairy, she hasn't yet made it to permanent fairy status.  She can do all sorts of tricks - like make leaves fall off of trees (in the autumn), she can make cookies disappear (in her mouth) and more!  This is definitely a just for fun book - and your students will want you to read it again and again!



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Monday, July 20, 2015

Must Read Monday: Books For Rhyming


The theme this week for Must Read Monday is must read books about rhyming.  Rhyming books are such fun stories to read for they tell a tale with playful language.  I love when we read stories that rhyme and children start saying, "That rhymes.........that rhymes."  And then there are those little sweeties that can't seem to hear them - at all!  So, we practice, we read, we play rhyming games, and we just keep working on it!

The Kindergarten Connection and I would love to know what your favorite book(s) about rhyming are.  You can link up with us and/or leave us a comment down below!  Here are a few of my favorites - favorite rhyming books, and favorite books in general!



Come Rhyme With Me! by Hans Wilhelm is a fun story.  It is an ABC book with different animals for each letter, it rhymes, it has riddles, and it has a flap to reveal the answer to the riddle.  It has a little bit of everything and your students will LOVE it!


There's a Wocket in my Pocket! by Dr. Seuss is just a fun and silly rhyming book.  In typical fashion, Dr. Seuss creates made up characters and rhymes them with everything and anything!  I like this book because it allows you to have the conversation that rhyming words do not have to be real words, they just have to sound the same at the end.


I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track by Joshua Prince is a really cute story about a train switchman named Jack who goes out of his way to save an ant from the train coming down the tracks.  The ant is oblivious to the train and the switchman is relentless in his efforts to switch the train.  This story rhymes and makes sure to convey the message that all life is important - no matter how small.


The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen is a wonderful story to read with a cute message about sadness and happiness.  This rhyming book is full of vocabulary words that require more discussion.  A fish is asked many times why he is so sad............and he responds that he is made that way..........until another fish comes along and changes his perception of himself!   This story can teach to the high kiddos, and yet also be scaffolded to make it understandable for all children.  I always read this book at the end of the year and end our literacy class on a great note!


Silly Sally by Audrey Wood is just plain ole' entertaining.  Silly Sally walks upside down.  She is trying to get to town and meets other friends along the way.  These other friends also get around in a playful way - a pig who dances a jig, a sheep who falls asleep, etc.  Will Silly Sally ever get to town?


The Magic Hat by Mem Fox is a class favorite.  This book rhymes, has riddles and magic - what more can you ask for in a book?  This story allows children to make predictions based on the clues, and the rhyming words help them guess.  Some of the answers are hard, but they start getting the hang of the guesses as the book goes on.  There is something about this book that is just easy to read, easy to like, and the children want you to read it again and again!



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Monday, July 13, 2015

Teachers Pay Teachers Conference - Las Vegas - 2015



Turns out, "What happens in Vegas, DOESN'T stay in Vegas!"  The Elementary Entourage has come up with a fun linky party so all will be revealed!

Vegas Baby, Vegas!  Those words ALWAYS come to mind when I hear the words "Las Vegas".  This year I was fortunate enough to attend the TpT Conference at the Venetian hotel.  If you haven't ever been to Vegas, get ready for sensory overload.  It is definitely a fun place, but it is also a little strange.  You are in a hotel/casino that has a very controlled environment.  It doesn't have any windows downstairs so the outside world is a mystery.  There are so many people walking around and it is a great place to people watch.  People are allowed to smoke in the casino area so get ready to smell like smoke as well.  I didn't realize any place allowed smoking indoors anymore.  Teachers took over Vegas this week and it was fun to walk around and recognize people from social media, and the wonderful world of Teachers Pay Teachers.

Just to clarify, my descriptions will be ON TOP of the photos!  And........get ready for a lot of pictures, and #sorrynotsorry, there are a lot of pictures of me!

I was so happy to be rooming with two lovely ladies I met through Instagram.  Alex from The Kindergarten Connection and Becky from The Class Couple are as sweet and fun as can be!  We had a great time spending time together in person after getting to know each other through cyberspace!  We actually stayed at the Palazzo (connected to the Venetian) and the suite was a very large and spacious room.


Becky is the sweetest, and treated me and Alex to a lovely gift bag!  Awwwww!


The Ventian has a canal going through the hotel and you could take a gondola ride if you wish.  We did not do that, but it has a picturesque quality to it.


After arriving to our room and getting dressed, we went out to eat and then to the big blogger Meet-Up.  We got to meet sweet Heather from Recipe for Teaching!  


After the blogger meet-up, Alex and I met some friends and colleagues of mine who were in Vegas for the iTeachK conference!  We went for a walk outside of the hotel and saw the fire show at The Mirage.  




The next day began with a networking session.  Alex, Becky and I got ready with our logos to go greet the day and other TpT folks!


I went to the kindergarten session and ended up running into a former colleague of mine from my very first school in California.  We started working together 17 years ago, and taught kinder for two years together.  I worked on the English side of kindergarten, and she worked on the Spanish side.  What a small world!  It was a really sweet connection!  This is Angelica from Angelica's Resources!


I was also able to meet and chat with Maria Manore from the talented Kindercraze.  She was so kind and gracious and I really enjoyed talking to her.


Next I got to meet Jennifer from First Grade Blue Skies.  She is absolutely adorable! Jennifer is so friendly, down to earth, and very easy to talk to.  She was also so sweet because she wanted a picture of me with her own phone!  See what I mean- adorable!!!!


I was also able to meet Amie, from Glitter Meets Glue, who is one of my favorite clip artists.  She was so kind and handed out free "Glitter Swag" to those of us who uttered those two words.  What a wonderful gift!!!


While I was also able to meet other TpT ladies, I didn't get pictures of everybody.  It was fun to exchange business cards, meet people in person that I "know" from IG and the blogger world, and be able to actually chat in person.

During lunch, Becky and I took advantage of the photo prop that was set up!


Next, we went upstairs where there were many exhibit booths set up.  Here, we were able to meet Mr. Greg from The Kindergarten Smorgasboard!  He was really sweet and showered us with a lanyard, pens and a tote bag!


After lunch our afternoon sessions began.  During the break, I was able to meet Karen Jones from Mrs. Jones Class!  She was really sweet and I was happy to get a chance to tell her how much I adore her ideas.


After the sessions were over, Alex, Becky and I changed for the Go Noodle Meet-Up.  We had a lovely walk to the pool area and enjoyed venturing outside after a long (but fun!) day inside.



After the cabana party, we decided to walk around outside of our hotel for a little bit and find a place to eat.  We ended up in Ceasar's Palace.  We walked around and enjoyed looking at the statues and underwater aquarium.  




After a late night of chatting, we finally went to bed.  But, we had an early morning which started with a continental breakfast.  Here I ran into Chrissie Rissmiller from Undercover Classroom.  She and I started our blogs about the same time.  We both used Blogs Fit for a Queen (highly recommend) and so we have "known" each other since February when our blogs were "born." I wish we would have been able to have more time to chat!


The morning began with the keynote address and it was really awesome and inspirational!  There were quite a few people who talked, but here is a picture of Paul Edelman, founder of Teachers pay Teachers, addressing all of us.  It was a huge room and I believe there were close to 1,000 of us at the conference.  You can *kind* of make him out!


My first session that morning was with Deanna Jump from Mrs. Jumps Class and Deedee Wills from Mrs. Wills' Kindergarten.  They are both so funny and have such a good rapport with each other.  After the session was over, I think everybody stood up and got in line to meet them.  I was very excited to be in that line as well!  They are really kind and it was awesome to meet these two creative ladies in person.  


I just want to say that the sessions were excellent and I learned so much!  At the end of our sessions they had a a Happy Hour for all of us.  It was really nice to meet-up as a large group once again.  They had photo ops set up for us.  Here is one with Laura, from Luv My Kinders.  She is a doll!


Then, we also got to meet Melissa from Jungle Learners.  She is also really nice!  Just to clarify - Becky, me, Alex, Melissa and Heather.


Keep in mind, that if you want to order an adult beverage, you can't get them in "regular" cups.


It was an awesome few days!  I loved it.  It was fun, educational, inspiring, wonderful, and tiring.  I hope to go to another conference in the future and continue to foster the relationships I made.  I also hope to continue to grow as a teacher-author with the new information I learned.

But, as many of you probably feel, though travel is wonderful, it was great to come home to my sweet, sweet husband.  My heart went aflutter when he sent me this text on Friday night!


Be sure to check out the linky party to find out about other TpTers experiences!

Must Read Monday: Books About Teaching Compassion


The theme this week for Must Read Monday is must read books about compassion.  The American Heritage College Dictionary defines compassion as "Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it."  Wow!  That is a heavy topic for kindergarten children.  How on earth do we teach this?  Well, we do this like we do everything else.  We make it relatable.  We break it down so they understand the concept, and children definitely understand treating each kindly (or not) and how it makes them feel.  What better way to communicate this, than by reading children's books.

The Kindergarten Connection and I would love to know what your favorite book(s) about compassion are.  You can link up with us and/or leave us a comment down below!



Big Al by Yoshi is a super sweet story about a big friendly fish named Al.  The other fish are scared of him because he is so big.  Al just wants a friend, and he tries many different things to gain friends, but they are all unsuccessful.  It isn't until fisherman come along and capture the little fish with a net that they see Big Al is friendly.  Big Al saves them, but is captured.  Does Big Al live?  You have to read the book to find out!


A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon is a great story about being true to yourself.  Camila loves lima beans, but her friends don't.  She wants to fit in so she denies herself something she loves and so she breaks out in a bad case of stripes.  The other students make fun of her and she ends up being asked to leave school.  She is visited by several doctors and it is a little old lady who ends up curing her.  This is a story of compassion that makes sure you are faithful to your needs and confident in being yourself - and nobody else!


Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell is a cute story about Molly Lou Melon, a little girl with some differences.  Her grandmother tells her to smile, stand tall, and be yourself and not be afraid of what others say.  This advice comes in handy when she moves to a new school and a bully makes fun of her.  Molly Lou Melon stays true to herself and eventually, the other children start to see her potential, and her gifts.


The Snow Bear by Miriam Moss is a heartwarming story of a bear cub who loses his mommy.  The snow bear decides to make a snow mommy until his mother returns.  Many animals come by and help the snow bear build his mommy out of snow.  Eventually, night falls, the other animals are called home to their moms, and the snow bear cuddles up next to the snowy mom.  It is a sweet reunion when the real snow mom returns to her bear cub!  The hardbound book is also fabulous because it is embossed and the students love feeling the snow bear, as well as the other animals in this tender story.  (I feel like this bit was written by a movie critic with words like heart warming, sweet, and tender! Ha!  But, these words are fitting - read the book and see for yourself)


The Colors of Us by Karen Katz is a great story to read anytime of the year, but I like reading it in February during Black History Month.  A little girl and her mom talk about skin colors and decide that brown is not just brown.  There are many shades of brown - like cinnamon, french toast, peanut butter, peachy, etc.  Each person is unique and has a skin color that is special.  They mix paint and the little girl creates portraits of all of her friends.  There is a lovely story about compassion that values each persons outer beauty and uniqueness.



The Lion Who Wanted to Love by Giles Andreae is one of my favorite books to read.  It also rhymes which adds to the story.  It is the story of Leo, a lion who is a vegetarian and wants to hug animals, rather than eat them.  He is banished from his pride (by his mother) and so Leo sadly leaves, but roams about the area helping other animals and saving them from peril.  All the animals love Leo and would love to find a way to repay his kindness.  One day, a cheetah is caught in a rapid river heading towards a dangerous waterfall.  Leo jumps in to rescue him.  He saves the cheetah but is then caught in the rushing water.  The animals all rush to help him.  Will Leo be saved?  Will he reunite with his mother?  Check out this book to find out - you won't regret it!


Hey Little Ant by Philip and Hannah Hoose is the ultimate story of compassion.  This is in my top 10 favorite books to read of all time!  It is the story of a boy who wants to crush an ant.  All of his friends are telling him to do it.  A conversation ensues between the boy and the ant and each of them state their own case.  The boy states why he should crush the ant.  The ant states why the boy should not crush him.  This rhyming book illustrates the idea that all living creatures matter.  The best part is, the book ends with the boy's raised up shoe and lets you, the reader, decide what he should do.  This leads to a great discussion and you can also have the children write and draw about what should happen next.


The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry is an excellent story to read around Earth Day.  A man is sent into the rainforest to chop down a tree but gets hot and sits down to rest.  During his nap, different animals of the rainforest come up to him and tell him why he should not chop the tree down.  When the man wakes up, he sees the tree, the forest, and all the animals through different eyes.  What happens next?  Does he chop down the tree?  The end of the story will reveal all!


For More Book Recommendations, please check out:




Monday, July 6, 2015

Must Read Monday: Must Read Books About Cooperation


The theme this week for Must Read Monday is must read books about cooperation.  I have been thinking about how much I have enjoyed this linky party this summer.  I love to read children's books to my students.  It is a nice time of the day that I generally have their attention and good behavior.  My students really like to be read to.  I hope you have the same experience.

It has been nice reading everybody's blog posts and hearing about favorite books to read in the classroom.  I have noticed that there are some similar themes and favorite books amongst the blog posts.  There is comfort knowing that we are all on the right track and have the same idea.  But, I also like that we have different ideas and bring something original to our own classroom.  It also seems to me that linky parties are all about cooperation.  We are all sharing ideas, willingly taking our time to write about books (or whatever the theme is), and then linking up!  This week the theme seems very appropriate for a linky party!

The Kindergarten Connection and I would love to know what your favorite book(s) about cooperation are.  You can link up with us and/or leave a comment down below!  Alex will be linking up tomorrow, Tuesday, with a brand new blog!  Be sure to check back and see her beautiful new design.



The Crayon Box that Talked by Shane DeRolf is a great book to read at the beginning of the year, and throughout the year as well.  A little girl walks into a toy shop and hears a box of crayons arguing.  She takes the box of crayons home, colors a picture with ALL of the crayons, and then the crayons realize that they work well together and start to get along.  This book rhymes and is absolutely adorable.  If my students seem to get off track with behavior, we always revisit this story and talk about how we are a class with many different personalities, but we are together for a year, and we need to learn how to accept each other, and get along.

My counselor comes in a does a great lesson with this book.  After she reads it she picks one crayon color (say purple) and asks them to describe the playground.  She draws what they tell her all in purple.  As she is drawing the children also get upset - "No, the grass is green" or "The sky is blue."  She asks what the picture is lacking at the end and they all say color!  She then puts paper out on a table and gives each child one crayon color.  They must cooperate, and draw a colorful picture by sharing, talking, and taking turns.  It is a very cute lesson and the children get to share their pictures at the end of the lesson.  Did I ever tell you that this past year our counselor was awarded the Oregon Counselor of the Year????  Our school is so lucky to have her!


Rabbit Stew by Donna Kosow is a funny book about a dog who has rabbit trouble.  By trouble, that means rabbits coming into his yard to eat his veggies.  He captures them, and puts them in a pot to make rabbit stew.  The only problem is...........he doesn't know how.  So the rabbits say, "You need some carrots" and the dog leaves to get carrots and the rabbits hop away.  This pattern repeats itself over and over until the dog has a pretty good rabbit stew going.........sans rabbits!  At the end, he ends up sharing the stew with the rabbits and tells them they know how to make a good stew.  It is super cute!!!


The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss is a wonderful book to read about learning how to get along and cooperate.  The Star-Belly sneetches are the "popular" sneetches and the Plain-Belly sneetches are not.  A man comes along and offers to put stars on those without.  So, they give him money and enter his machine and come out with stars.  Well, the Star-Belly sneetches don't like it so they go into his machine and take the stars off.  This goes on and on until all of their money is spent and then nobody remembers who should have stars, or shouldn't have stars.  They all realize that a sneetch is a sneetch and it doesn't matter if you have a star or not.  This fun rhyming book is also great to talk about getting along and cooperating and working together - no matter your differences!


Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems is such a sweet story.  Trixie goes to the laundromat with her dad and then goes to leave and realizes that Knuffle Bunny is missing.  She keeps trying to tell her dad, but he doesn't understand.  When they get home the mom notices right away and they all rush back to the laundromat.  Spoiler alert: they find Knuffle Bunny..............but they find it b/c they worked together and supported each other.  In addition to this being a super cute story, the illustrations are amazing.  It is like cartoon cut outs over real black and white pictures of New York City streets (Park Slope, Brooklyn to be exact).

FYI - did you know you pronounce the "K" in Knuffle Bunny?


The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman is a super silly book that also rhymes.  It is mom's birthday and her seven children all have very different and specific foods they like to eat.  Mrs. Peters spends her days "catering" their meals.  The children decide to make mom a treat - but they make it with the food that s/he likes to eat best.  The children combine all the ingredients into one pot.  Guess what is makes?  Mrs. Peters' birthday cake!  Super cute story about cooperation!



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