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.

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!

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:
 
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