Food Creations

Do you ever want to see your kiddos’ artist side come out? Just show them the work of Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers and set them to work!
 
Tropical Island
Map of Israel
Loch Ness Monster 
Winter Wonderland
Mermaid
Tips for a successful food creation display:
  • Encourage students to use biodegradable, vegetarian or vegan food products (something that grows)
  • Ask students to create displays on biodegradable plates or platters so the whole thing can be thrown away (you can’t imagine having to scrap it off in the compost and then wash those glass platters, yuck!)
  • If you are making it a competition, have the school vote on their favorite
  • Set up a long table outside of your library, cover it with a tablecloth, and encourage classes (and parents) to come check out the work
  • Do this in the colder months so it doesn’t get smelly so fast
  • Do this as part of an all-school celebration or library-themed week (Homecoming, School Library Month, ect)
  • Have creations be depictions of favorite books

Ahoy, Matey! Pirate Day

I missed the boat (ahem, I mean, pirate ship) in September for International Talk Like a Pirate Day and after helping several students locate swashbuckling books in the library, I was inspired to have an impromptu Pirate Day with first grade. Saying they “loved it” would be the overstatement of the century.
How does one host an impromptu Pirate Day, you ask? Well, it’s simple…
 
First, gather together the following:
-Black, long-sleeved shirt
-Black pants or skirt
-Plain white t-shirt that has been “distressed” to look pirate-y
-Several red scraps of fabric to use as a belt (aka-sword holder) and headband
-An eye patch (what librarian DOESN’T have an eye patch?)
-Gold chains
-A menacing look
I also happened to have a pirate chest and gold coins in my office (oh, the things you can find in my office. Seriously).
The choices for pirate-themed books are endless (as are the options for fun accents when reading said books):
Pirates by John Matthews
Pirate: a DK Eyewitness Book by Richard Platt (I love to include non-fiction books for these thematic lessons. I pick small sections of text and the kiddos are always fascinated by what they learn)
Pirates Love Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort
No Pirates Allowed Said Library Lou by Rhonda Gowler Greene and Brian Ajhar
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and David Shannon
 
We finished up by creating these too-cute pirate decorations using paper plates, black construction paper scraps and red fabric. They were displayed in the hall and were a big hit.
Well, matey, might it be time for your own impromptu Pirate Day? Me thinks so!

Westward Expansion Bulletin Board

My fourth grade students do a huge Westward Expansion and Lewis and Clark unit with their general studies teacher. In an effort to support what is happening in the classroom, I created this bulletin board: 

I purchased these awesome Westward Expansion Trading Cards from the Technology Integration Depot on Teachers Pay Teachers. Each card has a graphic and a short blurb of information, I am constantly finding kiddos standing in front of the board soaking up new facts.
The trail routes on the Westward Expansion map were made using yarn (and lots of patience). The mountains are just little construction paper triangles with a dab of white paint to look like snow. Lastly, the rivers were made by twisting strips of blue tissue paper to make a sort of rope, the “rope” was then adhered to the map with glue.
 
The best part of this whole display? I’ve now seen the fourth grade general education teacher bring her students to sit in front of the bulletin board two different times to enhance her lesson. Yaaay for library resources.

Layers of the Earth Clay Models

Do you remember studying the layers of the earth when you were in elementary school? Yep, me neither. If I had made a clay model of the earth that was later cut open to expose the layers, that might be a different story…

This project came about after talking to the third grade classroom teacher and the art teacher, we all worked together to incorporate our areas of expertise into one cool experience for our kiddos. The students have been learning about the earth for a few weeks now so the kids have a great deal of background knowledge.

Before this project even began, I bought (lots) of Crayola Model Magic, this stuff is great to work with, dries over time and comes in lots of fun colors. I bought six colors, one for each of the layers of the earth the students were asked to represent:


I then divided the clay into individual bags, one for each student. I also included handouts for all of the tables and made my sample earth model: 
After a very short period of instruction, students set to work on making their models:
I purposely did not give the kiddos much direction, they discovered that if they make a ball for the very center of the earth and then wrap the remaining colors around that ball, it works well:
They loved this project!
The earth models looked great, they wanted to immediately cut them open to expose the layers, but I made them wait until the clay had a chance to dry.
Sadly, because we had a few weeks without library time, the earths got a little too dry and the seams started to crack. Fortunately, the models still held together and looked good:
After meeting with the art teacher, we decided these models should go on display for the entire school community. Therefore, we needed backdrops… What a great opportunity to re-visit the layers of the earth. The art teacher worked with the kiddos to create a diorama (of sorts) that both held the model and showed the layers of the earth:
Next step, cutting the models open, yaaay! And, yes, I let them wield the knife (brave, I know, but I watched them closely and they were so careful knowing this was a big responsibility):
It was so fun to see the variations in the layers!
After cutting open the models, the students made labels of the different layers of the earth using sticky envelope labels and toothpicks (the simplest supplies are sometimes the best option):
 
The models turned out GREAT and the kids were so proud!

Character and Setting Dioramas

I am a huge fan of cross-curricular collaborations to make learning more meaningful. My second graders are reading The One and Only Ivan in class so I recently constructed a bulletin board to feature the book and share with the community what is happening in one of the classrooms. Check out the bulletin board post here. Needless to say, the bulletin board worked. Everyone loved it, faculty, students and visitors asked second graders about the book and were encouraged to read it themselves.

When I found out the second grade kiddos were studying character and setting, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for another collaborative project. I contacted our amazing art teacher and she showed me a 3-D diorama that her daughter created for a book and we knew it was perfect for this project. I created my example using a different book so the students could be free to create without a per-conceived piece of art in their mind:

I wish I could figure out the official name of this process, I know there are other educators out there doing this and I would love to give them credit. If you have seen this process done before, or if you’re doing it yourself, please contact me in the comments section.

The students received three pieces of thick card stock, each piece is slightly smaller than the one behind it. For example, the back piece of paper is 8.5″ x 11″, the middle sheet is 8.5″ x 10″ and the front sheet is 8.5″ x 9.” This makes it so the final product curves inward and makes the diorama stand up on its own.

I cut the papers down to size and cut the window out of the front paper prior to handing them out to students. The kiddos were instructed to thinking about the following:
  • The back page (the largest piece) is to show the setting. Where did Ivan live? What did his cage look like? What was on the walls?
  • The middle page (the medium-sized piece) is to show the character(s). What did Ivan look like? How large was Ivan compared to his cage? Were there other important characters in the story?
  • The front page (the smallest piece, already cut into a frame) is to tell others what book you’re sharing. What is the title of the book? Who is the author? Who created this diorama?
It’s important to note that I cut around the character(s) after the kiddos finished their art. The pieces that turned out the best were those that were connected to the frame on 3-4 sides (the head, the arms, the legs), this made the character stay upright when on display. You can see this in some of the examples below:
The art teacher stopped by to check in and remind students to pay close attention to their craftsmanship. What details can be included to make your art even more interesting? In beautiful paintings are the backgrounds blank or do they include colors and interesting features? These questions really helped students to create some amazing pieces.
These dioramas went on display in the foyer of the school and they were a bit hit. I love successful collaborations that work to serve our students and provide them with a wonderful learning experience!

Author Study Brainstorming

After passing my very last math exam needed for licensing (yaaaaay!) today, I am now thinking I better get started on planning for the year. Now, one might ask why I feel the need to do curriculum planning at 11:30 at night on the 23 of July? Ummm, well… Your guess is as good as mine. Like I said to a teacher friend the other day, “And to think, people say we have summers ‘off.’ Ha!”

In my late night crazy brain, I have decided to organize my primary lessons a little differently this year. Last year I tried to plan my lessons thematically, based on what was happening in the school, as a whole, and what was being taught in the classroom. While I still plan to continue on that path, I would also like to attempt to incorporate regular author studies into my kindergarten, first and second grade library lessons. There are various authors and illustrators that I think all young readers should be exposed to and I thought this would be a great opportunity to create that exposure. But, therein lies my conundrum… There are too, too, too many to choose from.

This is only after one session of brainstorming:

Ezra Jack Keats
Audrey & Don Wood
Mercer Mayer
Mo Willems
Lois Ehlert
Jan Thomas
Tedd Arnold
Frank Asch
Marc Brown
Don Freeman
Tomie dePaola
Helen Lester
Rosemary Wells
Maurice Sendak
Margaret Wise Brown
Jonathan London
Laura Numeroff
Cynthia Rylant
Eric Hill
Jan & Stan Berenstain
Jan Brett
Joanna Cole
Barbara Cooney

Leo Lionni
Arnold Lobel
James Marshall
Robert McCloskey
Dr. Seuss
Chris Van Allsburg
Vera B. Williams
Jane Yolen
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Jack Prelutsky
Jon Scieszka
William Steig
Sandra Boynton
Kevin Henkes
Beatrix Potter
Shel Silverstein
Alan Katz
Robert Munsch
E.B. White
Eric Carle
Mary Pope Osborne
Barbara Park
Steven Kellogg

Sigh. Too many books, too little time.

And just because they’re too wonderful not to share:

 
 

Mother’s Day Gifts

This week some of my older kiddos made Mother’s Day gifts during library and they are enough to just melt your heart!! I discovered the idea through Pinterest (where else?) where Sandy and her second graders made beautiful “I Love You Because…” cards with their iPads. By the way, if you haven’t discovered Soaring Through Second Grade, it’s a must, must, must! 

Instead of using the iPads, the kids finished their sentences on paper and added a little decorative flare. After taking their pictures and printing them out, I added the photos to the back of their paper for a special little Mother’s Day gift.
I did this with kindergarten, first, second and fifth. While they were all great, fifth grade was a bit tough. Some of the work was beautiful and heartfelt, while others begrudgingly wrote things like, “I love you because you didn’t put me up for adoption.” They’re getting to the I’m-almost-in-middle-school-and-I’m-far-too-cool-for-this stage of the year…
 
These are a few of my favorites…
 You are the highlight of my day. You are so caring. You help me when I’m sick. You are the best. I love you, Mommy.
 You make my day better, thank you for the football. 
 You are so loving to me, you help me when I have a problem, when I cry you cheer me up, you help me with my homework.
 
You are the most special person to me. You pick me up from school. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
 
P.S. – I love that I work in a school where things like this are not only possible during library time, but encouraged and supported. Sigh.
 

I Spy… Colored Rice!

I am absolutely loving library centers in kindergarten and first grade, the kids are so engaged! I have been scouring Pinterest for new center ideas and I recently came across MaryLea’s Rainbow Rice Eye Spy Bottles on Pink and Green Mama. Not only are they so much fun, they’re also crazy easy to make. I’ve been meaning to make colored rice for a long time, but I have always put it off because I thought it was super labor-intensive… Not with MaryLea’s recipe! It was so easy that I almost couldn’t believe it!

I started with cheap white rice, a bottle of clear hand sanitizer with a pump, basic food coloring and plastic Ziploc bags.
I made the six colors of the rainbow, but you could make any color that is possible to create using food coloring. I poured one cup of rice into each bag.
I added four pumps of hand sanitizer to each bag of rice.
I then added four drops of color to each bag. For combination colors like orange and purple, I used two drops of each necessary color. You can adjust this to your liking.
Time to seal the bags and mix. It didn’t take much, I just gave them a gentle massage and the color was nicely dispersed.
I opened all the bags and let them air dry overnight. It worked great. The alcohol in the hand sanitizer makes it so the rice dries very quickly.
Now, let your imagination run wild! I made I Spy bottles using beads, sequins, stickers, pom-poms and other trinkets from around the school.
The sky is truly the limit for this stuff! As soon as Art Teacher Extraordinaire saw the rice, she immediately decided to make some and incorporate it into a Navajo sand painting lesson. We also thought it would be great to do a collaborative project using the rice to create Starry Night-like pieces of art. Just imagine the possibilities!
 
Rainbow Rice Recipe
1 cup of white rice
4 pumps of clear hand sanitizer
4 drops of food coloring
 
Mix in a closed plastic baggie until all color is evenly incorporated. Open bag until rice is thoroughly dried.
 

The Semi-Centered School Library

I was so inspired by the rockstars of The Centered School Library (Cari at Library Learners, Caroline at Risking Failure and Jessica at Mrs. Lodge’s Library) that I have been working hard to put a library center program into place with my first graders. My hope is to expand the program to multiple grades, but for now, this is a good starting point.

Tonight I used my new laminating machine (which I’m in love with!!) to make rotation charts. I am obsessed with Velcro and this was just another excuse to pull out my endless roll (if you’re like me, check out iTapeStore for your Velcro needs. They sell it for a reasonable price and you can buy the hook and loop sides separately, good for all those felt board projects).

I’m thinking the actual centers are a little too specific for the charts to work permanently, but for the time-being, I think this will work well. The acting center and word center are both driven by what is happening in the classroom (this week the kiddos will be acting out nouns and verbs and doing solid, liquid and gas crossword puzzles).
 

Feeling a Little (Hermit) Crabby, Part 2

Following our Eric Carle author study lesson (check out the Feeling a Little Hermit Crabby, Part 1 post), our brilliant art teacher, Mrs. London took over our beautiful hermit crab shells. We were very involved in one another’s lessons throughout this unit and we were thrilled to be collaborating on such a fun project. It was so exciting to be able to tie one topic into the general classroom, the library and the art room. The kids were so engaged throughout the entire process. 

Check out how we honed in on our inner-Eric Carle:
 The crab bodies were created using red modeling clay
They were sooo cute!
 Not only did the kiddos make hermit crabs, they also created underwater habitat homes!
 Next step, using Eric Carle’s style for inspiration, Mrs. London had students paint tissue paper to adorn their habitats
“More paint, cover as much space as you can!”
 The following week, the kindergarteners used the tissue paper to create seaweed, starfish, coral, sponges, sea anemones and much more!
 Mrs. London’s adorable example (she used dried flowers to decorate the floor of the habitat)
Amazing display in the front corridor of the school
 Lastly, I have to brag about our amazing kindergarten team and their stunning bulletin boards!!!
I hope you’re inspired to do your own over-the-top Eric Carle study and have the opportunity to collaborate among departments. It was truly a joy!
 
 
 
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