The One and Only Ivan Bulletin Board

My second graders are currently reading The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate with their classroom teacher and I wanted to amp up excitement about the book.
Initially, I had intended to simply put up the cover of the book and add some interesting facts about the real Ivan. Wait, Ivan was real? He sure was. Check out the Katherine Applegate’s webite, she has a great deal of information about the real Ivan. She also has a new book coming out in October 2014 – Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla.
In true librarian form, the more research I did, the more excited I got about the One and Only Ivan bulletin board. I ended up with a slew of facts about not only the real Ivan, but about the gorilla population, as a whole. I also added an (almost) life-size cut out of a gorilla. The paper gorilla ended up being 5’4″ with an arm span of 8 feet.
I used an overhead projector to trace the gorilla and then free-hand cut his face out of a piece of gray construction paper. 
The board has been up for two days now and people have constantly been coming in to share their excitement! I love watching the kiddos stand there and reading all the interesting facts, it has been far more engaging than I ever anticipated. The facts include:
 
  • The average male gorilla stands between 5 and 7 feet.
  • The arm span of an average male gorilla is almost 9 feet!
  • The average male gorilla eats over 40 pounds of food per day, the average American person eats 5-6 pounds of food per day.
  • Gorillas are herbivores – they eat leaves, shoots, roots, vines and fruits.
  • The lifespan of an average male gorilla is 35 years. Ivan lived to be 50 years old.
  • There are 4 subspecies of gorillas: Eastern lowland, Mountain, Western lowland, Cross River.
  • Gorillas are an endangered species, there are less than 300 Cross River gorillas left in the world.
  • The One and Only Ivan is fictional, but was inspired by a true story.
  • Ivan was a male Western lowland gorilla.
  • Ivan was captured in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Ivan and (what is believed to be) his sister were captured as infants and brought to the United States. Ivan’s sister died shortly after arriving.
  • Ivan was raised in a home until he became too big and unmanageable. He was moved to the B&I Circus Store in Tacoma, Washington.
  • Ivan’s cage in Tacoma was only 40 feet by 40 feet!
  • Ivan spent 27 years alone in his cage without seeing another of his kind.
  • When the mall where Ivan lived went bankrupt (they didn’t have any money), he was moved to the Zoo Atlanta. Before his move to Atlanta, Georgia, Ivan spent a short time at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
I did include a citation sheet on my bulletin board so I could model that behavior for students. I found my information on the following sites:
 

Lowly Worm Plush

Spending my last days of summer freedom checking off more items from my Pinterest bucket list. Richard Scarry is one of my favorite classic authors, I can remember many a trips to the public library, paging through What Do People Do All Day? and Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. A few months back I found that Scarry had published patterns (and lots of other fun projects) in his 1977 Best Make-It Book Ever!
One of the projects is a pattern for Lowly Worm and I’ve been dying to make it ever since I laid eyes on that cute little guy. Unfortunately, the closest library that has a copy is almost 1,000 miles away (according to WorldCat) and used copies are pretty spendy.
 
Fortunately, there are some wonderful bloggers out there and Suzy Fairchild happens to be one of them. She posted the pattern pieces on her i heart fabric blog and so I was able to finally assemble my little worm friend.
 
I printed the pattern and directions on just plain ‘ole printer paper and got to work using cheap crafting felt sheets.
  
I was so excited about assembling Lowly that I forgot to take pictures along the way. I followed the book’s directions pretty closely and he turned out adorably. I did do a lot of hand-sewing. A lot.
I didn’t have a tiny yellow feather on hand, so I trimmed down a small feather and colored it with a yellow permanent marker. Worked like a charm!
The gluing of the eyes didn’t work so good, so I stitched them in place.
Isn’t he adorable!
Have fun making your very own Lowly. I’m in love!

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!

Who Knew… “Who Was” Works Magic

My 5th through 8th grade students are required to read across a range of genres throughout the year. One genre that always prompts a lot of heel-digging is biographies. Our biography section is… Well, let’s just call it a little “dusty.” It’s not a section that I’m proud of. In an effort to not only help the kids fulfill their requirement, but also get them interested in reading non-fiction, I ordered the complete Who Was series. These short, illustrated biographies are great for my middle grade readers. I found there are a ton of great biographies for children and a ton of great biographies for high schoolers, but the ones in between, fell through the cracks. This series is the perfect supplement.

Best of all, when I delivered them to the 5th grade classroom, they went WILD. Now that’s librarian magic.

Photo credit: Ideas by Jivey
 
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