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.

Preschool Storytime: Owls

I. Love. Owl. Storytime. Between the plethora of resources, the adorable owl crafts and the way that even my youngest kiddos enthusiastically say, “Hooooooot,” it’s easily one of my favorites.

The owl books are so popular that when I shot the photo for this post, a number of the books that had been included in the Owl Storytime had already been checked out by excited little readers.
 
My top picks for owl books are:
 
Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace
Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton
Good Night, Owl by Pat Hutchins
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenheer (for older audiences)
The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear and Jan Brett
 
Today’s felt board rhyme came from Leah and Mollie over at Sunflower Storytime, their “What a HOOT” storytime post is adorable.
 
Five Little Owls
Five little owls sitting in a tree
One flew away! How many do you see?
One, two, three, four.
 
Four little owls sitting in a tree
One flew away! How many do you see?
One, two, three.
 
Three little owls sitting in a tree
One flew away! How many do you see?
One, two.
 
Two little owls sitting in a tree
One flew away! How many do you see?
One.
 
One little owl sitting in a tree
 She flew away! How many do you see?
 Zero!
 This was a big hit!
 
Before the kiddos left, they made these adorable (and very easy) owl handprints. Once the handprints dried, my lovely library assistant and I added the darling details. I am in love with these! I was also thrilled to discover that I could feed construction paper through the printer and would be able to add the titles of the books for our parents to reference.

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!

Updated! Shark Week Storytime

Updated! Shark Week Storytime

A few weeks back I planned to do an ocean-themed storytime to go with my Reader’s Reef genre bulletin board. What started as ocean-themed quickly turned into something attuned to Shark Week in the library. There are just too many adorable shark projects and ideas on Pinterest. I couldn’t help myself!

My book selections were good, but I will definitely make some changes for next time around. I absolutely love Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen, it is a new favorite! The kids loved, loved, loved it!
I think I’m a Shark by Bob Shea is an adorable book for students to read and check out, but it wasn’t great for reading aloud. I think next year I’ll display it, but not use it in the storytime.
Last came Wave by Suzy Lee. This. Book. Is. Wonderful. I actually really enjoy using wordless books for storytime, the kids always impress me with their level of engagement and focus. The pictures are amazing and the “story” is so sweet. Love this one!
 
Between books we sang “Five Little Fishies” and used the shark and fish felts (my husband’s favorite). All credit for this goes to Jane from Piper Loves the Library! I fell in love with her shark so much, that I had to make one of my own. I love his big-toothed smile and semi-grimacing eyebrow furrow. Like Jane, I mounted him on black felt so that his tail and fins wouldn’t be so fragile.
 
“Five Little Fishies”
(Sung to the tune of Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree)
 
Five little fishes, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
 
Four little fishes, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
 
Three little fishes, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
 
Two little fishes, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
 
One little fishie, swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, “You can’t catch me.”
Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be … and … Sssnnnnnap!
 
Burp … I’m full.
 

Thank you, Jane, this was a wonderful success!!!Update: Thanks to Shark Week on Discovery Channel, there are a gazillion shark-themed ideas on Pinterest. These are just a few I tried (and loved!):

 Shark Fin Hats, aren’t they fun! Pinned by Raquel Hernandez, I was unable to locate the original source. I simply cut strips of blue construction paper, stapled them together and added a fin (with some CHOMP marks). So easy and so fun!

The idea for this darling clothespin shark comes from Estefi Machado. The blog is in Portuguese and while I was able to translate the post through Google, it was still a challenge to understand. So, I took my best guess.

 I did a sketch on white card stock, outlined it with black marker and added some color.

 The fishy is attached with a small section of wooden toothpick, glued to the back of the clothespin.

 Cute and fun!

 Another fast and fun shark craft? The shark clothespin for developing fine motor skills, from Make, Do and Friend. Just paint, glue and play!

 I painted my sharky with blue acrylic paint, added a construction paper fin, and squiggly eyes.

The white paint was tough… I had to clamp the clothespin open in order for it to dry and even then, the teeth stuck together. Still cute.

 
Up next… I’m debating creating a storytime entirely dedicated to peas. Hmmm, what do you think? You might be asking yourself, “Why peas?” Well, they’re healthy, they’re green (I’m a fan of doing color-themed storytimes) and peas in a pod are absolutely adorable. Think of the craft possibilities! Pinterest, here I come!

Dr. Seuss Shirts

Orange Lorax Shirt
Supplies for the Lorax shirt: brown craft fur (I found a panel of the fur in the aisle that has pom-poms and felt sheets), white, black and tan scraps of felt, orange cotton t-shirt and matching colored thread.
Let me just say, this mustache was a huuuuuuuuge pain! The fur was really hard to work with and it took me a few tries. The first time I cut the fur, I was left with a mess and fur everywhere! For the second try, I slid the blade of my scissors under the fur but above the mesh. It worked! It cut the shape, but helped the fur to keep that “scruffy” look. Otherwise, it looks way too manicured. Play with it and you’ll get the look you want. But, prepare to be covered in fur.
I stitched the mustache in place and then added the eyes (I forgot to stop and take pictures). Done! Adorably done. And the best part? I got the shirt at Value Village so the entire project cost less than $4!
Blue Truffula Tree Shirt
Supplies for the Truffula Tree shirt: colored craft fur (I bought 1/8 of a yard of each color), non-shiny yellow ribbon, blue cotton t-shirt and matching colored thread.
This is the messy part of the project, prepare to look like you gave a muppet a haircut.
Here are the completed circles.
I cut varying lengths of ribbon and then sewed them onto the shirt. I used a black permanent marker to make them look more authentic. (I don’t think the tree tops can withstand being washed, so I’m not worried about what would happen to the tree trunks in the laundry. It will be a special occasion-only shirt).
I did a simple overcast stitch to adhere the tree tops to the shirt, it worked quite well!
The final product, I love!!!

 

Richard Scarry’s Huckle Puppet

I posted my precious Lowly Worm plush a few days ago and today I finished up his good buddy, Huckle.

 
As I mentioned in my original post, fellow blogger, Suzy Fairchild shared these 1977 Richard Scarry pattern pieces on i heart fabric:
Huckle actually ended up taking longer than Lowly because I lost interest. He just isn’t as cute. Granted, is there anything as cute as a 14″ felt worm wearing a bowler’s hat? I think not.
I veered from the original pattern a little because, while comparing the pattern to the modern pictures of Huckle, I couldn’t help but notice that he is a different color and always wearing the Oktoberfest-y suspenders:
Even though I’m not entirely in love with my Huckle, I am debating making matching Sally Cat and Goldbug puppets.
Goldbug would be particularly fun because I could hide him in different places around the library, you know, like Richard Scarry does on all the pages of his books? Ahhh, the things school librarians find entertaining.
 
Last, but not least, I need to get my hands on an adult-sized Richard Scarry shirt:
 

Sophie’s Squash and Friends

If you have yet to read the adorable Sophie’s Squash by first-time author, Pat Zietlow Miller, stop whatever you’re doing and go find a copy. I promise, you’ll swoon over the sweet story and Anne Wilsdorf‘s darling illustrations!

A heart-warming tale of friendship, this book is the perfect addition to any library storytime. I’d fallen in love with Sophie and her beloved squash, Bernice the moment I discovered it last year.
 
Imagine my delight when I came across stuffed versions of Sophie’s darling friend (the butternut squash, of course). And then try to imagine my horror when I realized those cute little props cost over $50 with shipping. It looked something like this:
Image from the talented, Monster Wrangler Mike on TPT
 
So, I did what any frugal Pinteresting, DIYing educator would do… I made it myself. And for a fraction of the cost, I might add.
 
I purchased one yard of butternut squash-y colored broadcloth (otherwise known as light tan) and one-fourth of a yard of stem-y colored broadcloth (otherwise known as dark tan). I walked out of the fabric store having spent a grand total of $3.87 (coupons and teacher discounts are a wonderful thing). Because I’m a frugal Pinteresting, DIYing educator, I already had plenty of thread, stuffing and paint. I was all set to start my squashes (or is it just squash? Like gooses versus geese).
I headed home and was excited to get started when it hit me… I had no idea, whatsoever, how to make fabric squash. And so I did what any normal person would do; I put the fabric in my craft closet and left it there for three weeks. And then when my art-student sister came to town, I asked how one might go about making fabric butternut squash. Fortunately, (I have no idea how) she knew:
 I folded the cloth over, make a tube shape that angled out towards the middle and left the top and the bottom open. I forgot to include a picture, but I hand-stiched a loose seam along the bottom of the squash so it could be cinched together (brilliant sister’s idea, of course).
 I flipped the squash tube inside out and stuffed it with batting. I was very impressed at how “squashy” it looked! And I loved the cinched bottom. As you can see, the neck of the squash was far too long so I just cut off the excess fabric.
 Time to add the stem. Easy-peasy. Sew, flip, stuff.
 I did a loose running stitch along the top neck of the squash, cinched it just a little, added my stem, and sewed it all together. Aside from jabbing myself with the needle several times, it worked brilliantly and feels super secure!
 Viola! I painted on the face with some black acrylic paint and sat back to admire the cutest squash I’ve ever seen. Or caressed.
 I then repeated the process three times for a total of two large squash and two baby squash.
 Aren’t they just the cutest things you’ve ever seen?
 One more step… In the book, Sophie’s squash starts to feel a little under the weather and develops some dark spots and squishy areas (ahhh, he’s rotting). So, I pulled out all the rotting squash colors I could find and gave him a little makeover.

Too cute. And for waaaaaay cheap. I can’t WAIT to debut these little munchkins at storytime!

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.
 

Preschool Storytime: Go Away, Big Green Monster

Who doesn’t love adorably cute but supposedly scary monsters? This girl sure does! And the classic Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley does not disappoint. If you’re not familiar, well… You should be. You might remember me talking about Ed Emberley in my Choo! Choo! storytime post, he is the guru of fingerprint art and he inspired our thumbprint trains. Check out some of his other (incredibly cool) books.

 
 I read the original version of the story while using a felt manipulative
I created. All of the pieces are removable so as the monster is appearing and disappearing, the little felt monster can follow along.
Next, we read Nighty Night, Little Green Monster, how cute is he!!! The kids love the contrast between the scary monster and the cute baby monster.
For our project, I was so in love with Ms. Jessi’s “squash painting” monsters, that I knew I had to try and re-create them. We used white card stock and then squeezed a small amount of each color on one side, “squashed” it closed, “smooshed” it around and when we opened it back up, we had monsters! I ended up adding the eyes, nose, mouth and teeth with construction paper after they dried. I would have loved to have the kids do this, but there just simply wasn’t enough time.
These are a few of my favorites… check out the chins on those guys!
 
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