Fiction Friday: July 29th

Today is the last Friday of summer vacation for my district! We report back on Wednesday. I'm going to miss sitting on my couch in the middle of the day with a book.

The Worm Whisperer
Betty Hicks

This was the last of the Sunshine State books that I read this spring. It is a very sweet story about a young man named Ellis who loves animals. He spends a lot of time out in nature and thinks he can communicate with many of the animals. When he finds a caterpillar that seems to respond to his directions he believes he might be a "worm whisperer." This is important because his community has a "Woolly Worm Race" event every year. The grand prize is $1,000. That just happens to be the amount of the deductible for the surgery his Dad needs but can't afford. The story is set in a town in North Carolina that really does have a Woolly Worm Festival every year.

I loved the family relationships in this story. Dad can't work because of his back injury and Mom is working three jobs to make ends meet. There just doesn't seem to be any way to get the money so he can have the surgery. There are some twists and turns in the story - it doesn't exactly turn out the way Ellis plans, which makes it much more fun. This one is another great read-aloud and is under 200 pages.

The Terrible Two
Jory John and Mac Barnett

Miles has just moved to a new town and school. And he's not happy about it! He had to leave all his friends, but worst of all he left behind his reputation as a master prankster. He assumes he will be able to pull off great pranks here, but discovers there is already a prankster at work - and he is awesome. Miles sees this as a competition with the mysterious prankster; when he finds out who it is he is extremely surprised. I'm not going to give it away here, but this is another fun read, and already has a second book in the series.


STEM on a Shoestring: Part III

This is my third post about STEM resources from the Dollar Tree. Of course, if you don't have a Dollar Tree in your area you may find many of the same things at any dollar store.

We will be using cars for some of our force and motion activities. I like being able to pick up 3-packs for just $1.00!


I use these little cups for building towers. I was excited to go in and see the colored ones - not that they will work differently but it will be fun to give a different color to my groups!

I always end up raiding my kitchen drawers to scrounge up measuring cups. These will be great!

We are going to be learning about wind energy this year so I want to have different types of pinwheels. I love the flower ones!


Monday Made It: July 25

I have just one more Monday before reporting back to work on August 3rd. It has been a short summer but a good one. I'm looking forward to the new challenge of teaching in the STEM lab and negotiating all the other changes at school!

In the STEM lab many lessons take more than one class period. Because it will often be two weeks before I see the same class again I need a system to organize their written work. My plan is a crate for each grade level with a hanging file for each class. That way if they have been working on sketching their designs they can just file them in the appropriate folder and pull them out when they come back to me. Of course, each crate needs a label! I'll be attaching these with zip ties and will be ready to go.

This week I have enlisted my granddaughter's help to start putting things away in my classroom. I've been making labels (and btw, it is hard to think of all the labels I may need from home!) and laminating them to put on storage boxes as we organize. I'm sure I'll come home with a list of labels to include!

Last but not least - I put together this quilt top for my older son. He lives in Philadelphia so I decided to go with patriotic fabric. Once I choose border fabric I will be ready to get both the quilts I finished this summer quilted and ready for Christmas gifts.


Fiction Friday: July 22nd

Happy Friday everyone! Today I have two books for you from the Sunshine State list.

Gabby Duran and the Unsittables

Elise Allen and Daryle Connors

Middle schooler Gabby Duran is a babysitter who can tame the most difficult children. We first meet her on a movie set to watch over a star's triplets. No one else can handle these three, but she has them eating out of her hand. Because of her mad skills, she gets top dollar for her babysitting jobs and is much in demand. So much that she has come to the attention of Agent Associate 4118-23432B who recruits Gabby into a top-secret organization dealing with aliens! Alien children need babysitters too and Abby is just the girl for the job. 

Gabby accepts the (lucrative) job - she is helping her single mom support the family - and a wild adventure begins. The authors have a second book out in this series for those who get hooked by the fun. The book is recommended for 8 - 12 year olds.

Serafina's Promise


Ann E. Burg

Novels in verse are a somewhat new experience for me (Kwame Alexander and Jacqueline Woodson were the first author's to catch my fancy). This one tells the story of a young Haitian girl who dreams of becoming a doctor to help people. You will love Serafina, I believe. She is inspiring in her steadfast goal of going to school. Of course, I read the book with some dread. At one point I may have said out loud, "Please don't let the earthquake happen." 

Of course, the earthquake does happen. Before that, though, there is a devastating flood. How do you recover from the tragedies when you are already struggling to survive? I think this book is a great potential read-aloud with lots of discussion about poverty, culture, and resilience. Sad things happen in this book but there is an indomitable spirit also.


STEM on a Shoestring: Part II

Today I want to show you a few more Dollar Tree resources for STEMing your classroom. All kinds of containers are needed for so many things. I'm picking up one or two packages of these for things like modeling dough, paper clips, and toothpicks.

For larger items these are helpful. I think I need a bunch of them this year to make sure my materials are ready to go throughout the day.

I've been using these little plastic containers for years in science class. They are good for wet or dry ingredients, especially ones that students need to measure. I like those little bowls, too. I haven't bought any yet but I think I will.

These clear plastic bowls may also be handy - haven't decided what to use them for but I will probably pick up a couple packages.

In part III I will share a few more Dollar Tree faves. What have I missed that is a "must have" in your classroom?

Monday Made It: July 18

Happy Monday!

One of the big changes now that I'm going to teach block classes rather than my own class is the summer preparation. Usually I'm in a tizzy about now deciding how I want everything to look. Lots of printing and laminating and stalking the BTS sales. This summer is a nice change. However, there are a few things I want in my new classroom so I have been working on those.

In past years I have put my group work expectations on an anchor chart. This year I decided to make these half-sheet posters to put up. I'm really pleased with the way they look and hoping I can get into my room next week to see where they might go!

 I also wanted to make posters of the four things I want for all my students - critical thinking skills, creativity, collaboration, and communication. Apparently I have a little chevron thing going on, which is just fine!



 Of course I'm quilting away this summer and have just three more Tuesdays to go work with other quilters. This past week I stitched up my July block. The pattern is the Mariners Star and I love the way it looks.

 Our summer home improvement projects are still going on. This week we replaced our mattress set. Our old one was 14 years old! Our son decided he wanted to upgrade to queen size so we had the delivery guys haul away his old double set and he took ours. I also kept working on the plants and added a bit of color! I like the splash of red. My goal is to finish putting in plants and get the decorative stone before I go back to school.

Looking forward to seeing what you have been working on!


Fiction Friday: July 15

I detoured from the Sunshine State books last week, but back on course today! First up is a book I did not expect to like - the premise was just so silly - but I have to admit I really enjoyed it.

Did you know that the dinosaur gene tends to skip a generation? Sawyer's grandfather was part stegosaurus and during summer vacation dino characteristics begin to emerge (as you can see from the cover picture). Now he will be starting fifth grade with a dinosaur tail! There is a new principal at his school, and she sticks up for him. In fact, she expels students who make fun of him! If that sounds a bit extreme, well there is something strange going on. The story ends up being a fun take on bullying, accepting differences, and appreciating who you are.

Hmm . . . another chicken book! Prairie is a charming heroine. She and her parents have moved north to New York state which is a big adjustment. Another big adjustment - her grandmother had homeschooled her and she is not at all comfortable with the idea of going to school. Her schooling has often taken place out in nature so she has a wealth of knowledge but not a lot of experience with other students. She has particularly missed out on the not so nice behavior of classmates. She does make a wonderful friend, Ivy. Prairie also decides to raise chickens.

The story is very relationship-driven. Prairie is struggling with being away from her grandmother in North Carolina. At the same time, she is learning to be a good friend to Ivy, who has a not-so-great home life. 

I definitely recommend both of these books!


STEM on a Shoestring, Part I

When I began incorporating STEM into my classroom a couple years ago I had a major concern - how will I get supplies that are needed for the different activities? I taught two classrooms, a total of 36 students. That meant I needed to supply as many as nine groups each time.

I soon learned that I could use a lot of recyclable materials. I asked students to save shoe boxes and paper towel rolls. I also found that my local Dollar Tree is a great source of supplies. I was in the store a couple weeks ago and decided to take a few photos of things I have used in the past or think I may use this year in my STEM lab.

These foam sheets are a great time saver when we build boats that float and carry weight. They are one of the materials that groups may choose, and I don't have to cut up the big sheets!

 I go through these like crazy! While I usually can reuse, every now and then we construct something that uses them up. We have used these in building towers and other structures.

This is another item that gets used a lot. Bridge and building construction, catapults, and bows for Robin Hood are just a few. I use both the regular and jumbo sizes. This year our school supply list has a section for the STEM lab - woo hoo! I have asked one grade level to bring these in - boys and girls each bring a size.

Gravity drops, item that gets catapulted -- these pom poms are great when you want to make sure the projectile doesn't hurt! 

Last year it seemed like I was always "losing my marbles!" It was great to be able to just stop off at my Dollar Tree and grab another bag. We used them for marble mazes and roller coasters.

I have more -- I'll share them in the next STEM post.

If your STEM activities are not funded how do you keep your classroom supplied?

Powered by Blogger.