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

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!

Preschool Storytime: I Broke My Trunk

The time of year has come when I have to officially decide what storytime themes will make the cut and which ones will have to remain a Pinterest dream until the next school year rolls around. Well, the year just couldn’t come to an end until the brilliance that is Mo Willems made an appearance.

As soon as I found Lisa’s I Broke My Trunk project at Thrive After Three, I knew I had to try it. I printed Lisa’s template for Elephant on white cardstock and then filled him in with colored pencils, laminated him and used tongue depressors to make him into a puppet. For the other puppets, I just printed them on letter-size pink and blue paper. Easy peasy.
I was sure to make a “before” Piggie and an “after” Piggie, if you look closely, you can see a bandaid on the left Piggie’s little snout. That was a big hit! If you want to try it, I just took a normal bandaid and cut it down to size, it was perfect and so easy.
Super-Library Assistant-Extrodanaire, Stella sat next to me and while I read the story, she “acted it out” with the puppets. The kids were rolling laughing when they saw Gerald’s truck wrapped in gauze. It was so much fun!
When we reached the end of the story, I unveiled his “trunk” and they squealed with delight when I blew on the party favor. I even snuck a little science in as we talked about how the air was inflating the party favor.
I used white cardstock for the kids’ Elephants, as well. They colored them, cut them out and then the adults punched a hole for the trunk. I didn’t print the Piggies or the animals Gerald balances on his trunk, they wouldn’t have had them time to cut all of them out. Maybe next time…
 
 
Per Lisa’s advice, I purchased the blowout party favors from Oriental Trading because they are essentially noiseless, hurray! (The teachers loved me!) They worked perfect, but did take a bit of time to be shipped, so if you’re planning to do this, give yourself a couple weeks.
 
Just in case you missed it above, here is the template.
 
This was so much fun, I can’t wait to do Mo Willems again. Next time… Don’t Let the Pigeon. Oh, the possibilities!
 

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!
 

Blackout Poetry

Whoa! It’s been an insane month of loosing my mother-in-law, driving cross-country, signing a new contract for the coming school year and welcoming my husband home after being on the road for five weeks. Sigh. Needless to say, I have been neglecting this here blog. So, to get back into it, I thought I would post an overview of the coolest type of poetry I have ever seen!
 
Austin Kleon, the author of Newspaper Blackout (as well as a number of other awesome art-inspiring titles) is the guru of blackout poetry. His Newspaper Blackout site is pure awesomeness. He has the ability to make something surprisingly hard to do, look incredibly easy.
 
 
 
 
 
 

My Librarian Heart is Singing

I recently accompanied my eighth grade seminar students and their (amazingly brilliant) language arts teacher, Ms. E, to our (gigantic, beautiful, breathtaking) downtown library. It was such a rich experience, for both the adults and the students. I truly believe it should be a once a week occurrence. Okay, yeah right, but a librarian can dream! At the beginning of the year, each student chose a topic and has been formulating questions and developing outlines based on that topic. Ms. E and I team-taught a quick demonstration on how to search for books in the downtown library and students then conducted their searches and made lists of books they would like to look for the following day.
After boarding the city bus (even this part was a great experience, the kids were awesome and the bus driver was friendly), we took a quick ride downtown and arrived at the library. Ms. E separated the kids into small groups based on like-call numbers. Once inside, groups helped one another locate their books. Seeing as how the non-fiction section is two (huge) floors, I was super impressed how the students managed their time, helped one another and came back to a central location when they’d found what they needed. I was also giddy to see the kids asking the public librarians questions and thanking them for their help (yippie!!!).
It gets even better… All of the kids found books for their topic, two students signed up for library cards (every student has an active library card with the city or county library, but some of them have gotten to the age where they can get a card independent from their parents and they were excited to take advantage of that privilege), they were desperate to go to the Young Adult section and check out the fiction books, and they continued to ask to check out additional books they discovered (not for their projects, just because they wanted them!). Big, big sigh. This was such an amazing experience. They learned so much and had fun doing it. It makes my heart sing. And THAT is why I think it should be a once a week outing. I’m just saying…
 

Another Reason I Love My Job

I was recently visiting the fifth grade class when I discovered a gem… The kids are currently participating in a book challenge, in which they are required to read a set number of books from various genres. I love this idea because it promotes free choice, while still encouraging students to read outside of their comfort zone (this is particularly great for those kids that “only like _______ books.” It helps them to discover books they would otherwise never pick up.

Well, our wonderful fifth grade general studies teacher has the kids record the books they’ve read in a journal, as well as reflections to those titles. Well, let me tell you how ecstatic I was when I stumbled across the following:

And he just keeps reading!!! And asking for more suggestions. He is also open to a wide variety of suggestions. When I first met this voracious reader, I had no idea he was such a bibliophile… What a pleasant surprise it was!!!
 
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