Saturday, May 24, 2014


Discover. Play. Build.

I'm linking with Ruth Ayres, and her weekly link up.  Read More about that here.

See this stack of paperwork?  All I need to do is have it filed for the students.  It's been analyzed, reported, saved, and shared.   

There are still 7 days of school left.  This means we get to work together in the last few days, and linger in our learning.  Instead of stacks and spreadsheets, I can focus on poetry and projects with the students!  

I'm hopeful the week is like the party/dinner/book club that you want to go on for just a little longer.  

(And my family at home won't have a crazy mom/wife dedicated teacher parked in front of her laptop all week.  They will get to have a more relaxing week as well.)  

I hope you are celebrating too!  



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

#sol14 Confession-Books That Are Driving Me Crazy. (And Why I Keep Letting My Sons Read Them).

WRITE. Every day in March write a slice of life story on your own blog. SHARE. Link your post in the comments on each daily call for slice of life stories here at TWT. GIVE. Comment on at least three other slice of life stories/blogs.

Two Writing Teachers have written about the Slice of Life on their blog.  Head on over and check it out!

I have a confession to make.  Both of my sons have read books that make me want to break out the lectures on good story structure, good manners, and all around what makes a good book. 

I desperately wanted to rip the books from their hands, hold them high, and declare from the top of my kitchen stool why they shouldn't be reading them.  

Books like this:

And this:


More than anything I want to ban these books from my house forever.  The "book lover" in me wants to show them "something better" to read.  As a teacher I have just about any book at my disposal.  Here is why I'm continuing to honor these selections:  (Even though I'm getting twitchy doing it!)

1.  My Li'l came home from the library clutching "The Captain" as if he had found a piece of gold. I wish I would have captured the picture of the day we were in the car, and he was clutching the book with white knuckles.   It is the first time in his little life that he has brought a book to us in the waking hours, and Begged us to read to him.  He will read with us at bedtime, but he wasn't really into bringing us books in the waking hours and asking us to read.  Yes, he's 5.  Yes, I know the content that is in these books.  Yes, I know that he's probably not ready for them.  But "The Captain" has opened the door for us to sit with him and then gently suggest other books to read too!  And it's working.  A chapter of "The Captain" has resulted in some great nonfiction reading, and some willingness to try to read on his own. (Other selections of course.)  

2. My oldest started reading "The Diary" when a VIP in his life hooked on to them.  Oh, let the lectures begin.  "They don't say good things about school."  "He's sarcastic."  "You aren't ready to know what that really means."  
But the thing is, the VIP was a reluctant reader, and was struggling greatly.  I was watching up close parents who do everything right by their kids, and he still wasn't picking up books.  When the VIP started hauling these around as if they were a gift, and my oldest picked up on that, all of a sudden we had two young lives that were being connected by...what's that???  Books.  There is nothing better than peeking in a bedroom and seeing them peering over a book laughing hysterically.  

So, I bite my tongue.  The piles of books for us to love together are waiting.  Until then, The Captain and The Diary are welcome in this house.  

As a final thought, I can't wait until I work through this as an educator, and see the implications of what this means in a classroom setting.  Confession:  I'm still working through this.  



Sunday, May 11, 2014

Our Nerdy Post

We wrote a post for the Nerdy Book Club yesterday with a list of our top 10 books to get kids moving.  You can check it out here!

We hadn't written a collaborative post in months, which was a lot of fun.  And, in case you were wondering if authentic writing audiences were important for kids, they are.  It was really exciting (...remember, we're nerds...) to see this on our computers yesterday morning.  Thanks to the Nerdy Book Club for the opportunity to connect!

Annie & Kendra

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Celebrate! An ALMOST Screen Free Week.

Discover. Play. Build.

I'm linking with Ruth Ayres, and her weekly link up.  Read More about that here.  

Hello Blogging Friends!  On Sunday, I casually mentioned at the dinner table that this past week was Screen-Free Week.  Check out this website for more information.  Immediately, my nine year old was all over the idea.  He knows that his parents would benefit from such a challenge as much as anyone in the house!  Like most families, we have checkpoints in place to prevent overuse and abuse, but do grow complacent.  After the mean winter we had in Iowa, complacency about devices had taken over.  It was easy to justify.  But time for a change.  

So, we dove in head first.  The rules:
  • No devices out.  
  • Phones were for talking and texting with friends and family.  Music was allowed, since that is where we keep most of ours these days.  No other apps.  
  • No recreational TV.
  • No Computers
  • No Peeking!  (That one was for mom)
  • Mom and Dad could use them during the work day.  
The Highlights:

Monday Morning I knew I was in for a change.  I usually roll out of bed and grab my phone, teeter downstairs and flip on the TV to catch up on news.  I sat down at the kitchen table for a change in scenery and train myself differently.  I grabbed a book and began reading.  Soon my sons came rolling downstairs and sat with me.  It resulted in a breakfast together, and a great conversation about allergies and peripheral vision.  :)  
  • The "Breakfast together thing" has stayed with us all week. Dare I say it's become a part of our routine now. 
  • We were outside more.  We connected with neighbors.  
  • We listened to more music.  As musical people, it was great to return to this.  
  • We read more!  I finished a book and I'm half way through another one.
  • We slept better.  (Minus one unfortunate night resulting in blankets missing and a 4:30 AM unwanted wake up call.  It happens to the best of us.)  
  • In all, our "vibe" if you will was more relaxed, because we had opened up the time we weren't staring at a screen!  That time was used to do the "If I had more time I would..." things we set out to do each day/week.  
The ALMOST part:

Thursday, as it happens in Iowa, there was a threat all day for severe weather.  As the day went on, and the humidity kept building, Mr. and I knew we would need to keep an eye on things.  And what a bizarre storm it was.  Hail, wind, greenish-purple skies (if you are in the Midwest, you know...), a downpour of rain and double-rainbows.  And that was in 5 minutes.  

What started as a need to keep an eye on safety, turned into a lot of peeking, and it really was at that moment that our Screen Free week ended.  

What the 9 year old said:  "I learned it really wasn't that hard.  You can read or just go outside."  

What I Hope Will Stick:
  • A Screen Free Morning.
  • Awareness and Purpose about screens at night.
  • The Reading.  
  • The things I see my family doing when they aren't in a screen trance.
Did you participate in screen free week?  How did it go for you?  

Joy!  Kendra

Friday, May 9, 2014

New to Me: Easy Readers

When I enter the Easy Readers section of our library, I'm surrounded by familiar characters that Big B and I love -- Elephant & Piggie, Nate the Great, Henry and Mudge, and Fly Guy to name a few.  We are lingering in this section of the library because 1.) I love it and 2.) I'm really hesitant to let Big B start reading chapter books too soon.  Here are a few new favorites from the easy reader category.

Boris series by Andrew Joyner
The adventures of this warthog are perfect for my first grade reader.  The plot moves right along with a nice balance of text and picture support.  It feels like a graphic novel.

Penny and her Marble by Kevin Henkes
Considering my love of Chrysanthemum and Owen, I was shocked that I hadn't discovered this gem earlier.  This delightful book features a mouse named Penny who is faced with the dilemna of finding and taking a marble that doesn't belong with her.  I loved the authenticity of Penny's character!

Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell
This one made us laugh!  There's something fun about unusual friendships! This pair reminded me of my beloved Frog and Toad.

Happy reading!


Thursday, May 8, 2014

New to Me: Concept Books

My blogging hiatus can be largely attributed to two graduate courses this semester.  But, since I submitted my final assignment earlier this week, I'm excited to have time for blogging again.  I have been trying to work on my TBR list on Goodreads by genre.  My plan is to share three new to me favorites and write three sentences about each.  (I feel a math problem coming on...)  Concept books are up first.

Dog's Colorful Day: A Messy Story about Colors and Counting by Emma Dodd
This is a fun book to teach colors, which is perfect for three-year-old Little C.  Dog starts the day as a white dog with one black spot.  Red jam, blue paint, grass, pink ice day's end Dog has ten spots and needs a bath!    

Perfect Square by Michael Hall
Concept-wise there's a lot in this book -- shapes, days of the week, colors.  But my kids and I loved this story and read it over and over.  The square continually transforms into something new, including a fountain, a garden, and, finally, a window.  

Train by Elisha Cooper
This book takes readers across the country on four different types of trains -- commuter trains, freight trains, overnight trains, and high-speed trains.  The rhythm of this story seems to match the rhythm of a train.  Big B enjoyed this one..a throwback to the Thomas years.  

Happy reading!