Saturday, July 25, 2015

Suzuki Saturday: Learning how to read music

We have started teaching Emily how to read music this summer. She is entering third grade, the grade I started taking piano lessons, so I thought it was about time.  I'm just doing this on my own, with some guidance from her piano teacher.  I decided to use three different primers, and I may add a fourth.  I chose to use three different primers because I have never taught piano, nor am I trained to teach music.  I felt if I used different primers and music books, I wouldn't miss anything!  My sons take traditional method, and their teacher uses two teaching methods and books to teach.  As she is a professional, I didn't feel I was out of place using different authors and publishers to teach music.

Primer #1: Music for Little Mozarts through Alfred's

I really like this series, especially if you are working with really young children.  Each piece has a story and characters who while telling a story, teach music notes and theory.  Emily loves it!  It moves really slowly, so I ended up moving to book three rather quickly.  They also have workbooks, stuffed animals, flashcards, that go with the books.  There are four primer books in this series.  We are currently on book three.  You can see more of the books here.  

Primer #2 Bastien Primer A

This is where my boys started.  Bastien is a well known method and liked by many piano teachers.    I have liked their choice of songs--I have been very pleased, and I think my boys have enjoyed many of the songs from the books. My oldest son especially loved Indian Life.  It has so many wonderful songs!  

Primer #3: Piano Adventures by Faber.  

This book is recommended by Emily's piano teacher because of the repetition.  I like it because it really helps the student learn how to read the music!  

I really didn't think she was catching on to the entire reading music.  She has a great ear, so she often relies on her ear.  But of course, she surprised me.  She started writing her own pieces.  It didn't surprise me that she wrote her own pieces, because she has been doing that forever, it surprised me that she actually wrote the exact notes she was playing.  Low and behold, she was learning how to read the notes!  

We are still working on Book 2 songs in Suzuki!  She is learning G Major, and I am amazed at how well she can play the song!  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Shapes in Kindergarten

The students had a lot of fun rolling for their robot.  They always love a good dice game--and this one works!

Shape Games
You can find it here free on my google drive.  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Number of the Day--for Kindergarten!

I started a long-term sub position--so I will try and post things that I will actually use in the classroom!  It is going to be a fun six weeks!  

Number of the Day
You can have this freebie from my teacher-pay-teacher store!  Enjoy!  

Friday, April 3, 2015

Fractions! One Third Anchor Chart

As promised, more anchor charts to come.  This time it is one third!  

One Third Anchor Chart
Fraction Poster for the Classroom
Enjoy!  You can find it on my Google Drive!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


My son came home from school with a very sad face saying he so much homework, and then he announced, April Fools!  He came up with that on the bus!

My April Fools is a gift, and hopefully there will be more!  But for now, it is my 1/2 Anchor chart.

Fraction Anchor Charts

I hope you enjoy it!  You can get it here from my google drive.   I'll make sure the verify, so that the freebe isn't an April Fool's joke!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Paper Bag Princess!

The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch

I've always loved books about independent women. As a child, I loved The Witch on Blackbird Pond, Anne of Green Gables, and of course Little House on the Prairie.  They had smart, independent women, who luckily found a man who matched.  I didn't find the Paper Bag Princess until I became an adult, but it has an important story to tell.  Sometimes, the men just don't live up to the smart woman.  I truly love Munsch's story telling ability, and this story does not disappoint!

This fairy tale begins with the love story in full force.  Elizabeth, the princess, is engaged to Ronald the prince.  Oh she looks so happy! 

But a dragon destroys everything in the castle and takes Ronald away.  Elizabeth only has a paper bag to cover herself.  

Needless to say, Elizabeth, now the Paper Bag Princess, goes after the dragon.  She is able to trick the dragon and rescue Ronald.  

Here she is about to rescue Ronald once the dragon has fallen asleep.  

Ronald is not very grateful, in fact he is down right upset with her appearance!!  

Thankfully, Elizabeth knows the importance of character, and judges Ronald on his character rather than his looks.  She discards Ronald and goes on her happy way!  

Story Maps and Activities for The Paper Bag Princess

Of course this book deserves writing prompts, story maps, and even more!  There are character poems in the unit, story maps that you can glue to a paper bag, create a story map on a paper bag, and so much more! 

You can find the unit at my TPT store.  Your students will love this book and the activities too!    

Thursday, February 12, 2015

George Washington's Teeth

George Washington's Teeth, by Deborah Chandra & Madeleine Comora
I have been having so much fun reading this book.  Whenever there is any down time, I just pop a book out of my sub bag, and I have the class back in the palm of my hand.    George Washington's Teeth is a book that engages all students!  

The book starts during the American Revolution.  Washington won the war against the British, but lost the war on his teeth.  He kept losing tooth after tooth during the war.  I love how the authors chose to write the book using poetry.  It was hard for me to chose a section to share because they are all wonderful!  But here is one taking place during the winter of Valley Forge.

Snow fell on George at Valley Forge,
His blue coat hung in tatters.
By then he'd only seven teeth
That couldn't even chatter!  

Yet bravely George led forth his men,
Coat and pigtail flying.
While cannons boomed he held his jaw
I love how the authors chose to write the
And groaned, "I think I'm dying!"  

They are truly gifted writers because is it fun, engaging, and doesn't seemed forced.  Unlike a certain Katie Couric children's book...  

The rest of the book is filled smart language, ingenious form, and a wonderful countdown of teeth until, yes, George had none.  I read this to fifth and first graders, and they equally enjoyed the book!  

The end of the book includes a timeline of important events in Washington's life.  It includes complaints and requests from Washington's diaries and letters.  It is really interesting! 

I highly recommend this book!  

Just in case you wanted to see some of his teeth--they have them on display in Mount Vernon.  

George Washington's Teeth

Washington's teeth were carved from human teeth, hippo tusks, pig's teeth, and embedded in lead.
Here are some examples of his false teeth.

Gilbert Stuart, an artist, has George stuff his mouth and cheeks with cotton balls for his portrait.    

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mom Made Us Write This in The Summer: Giveaway!!

I always wanted to be a twin, and write a book about being a twin.  Now that I have lived vicariously through Ali Maier's book Mom Made Us Write This in the Summer, I want the those things even more.    This is a clever book is a nice addition to diary/journal genre.  Ali Maier has found a niche that will have us wanting more journal entries by Max and Maggie.

First, I like the format.  It is set up as a journal, but not just any old journal, because it is one journal written by two creative children.  They are great story tellers, illustrators, and commentators.  Their journal entries focus on a topic and each twin writes and illustrates one entry on the same topic.  They take turns choosing the topic, and of course going first.  Not only to they write their own entry, but they become commentators on each other's entries as well.  It becomes a "he said, she said" journal.

Second, I love the illustrations.  The illustrations for the entry on babysitting demonstrates the clever use of illustrations to enhance the writing.  There are very funny illustrations of doctors with giant needles, scared twins, and of course some of their summer escapades.  They make to journal writing fun!  

Third, I liked this book because my fourth grader and sixth grader had to read the book at the same time.  I left it on the living room chair, and before I knew it there were two additional bookmarks in the book.  When two boys catch onto a book that quickly, you know it is a keeper.  

Fourth, I saw that this book could be used as a mentor text.  I would love to have students write on the same topic in the same journal.  What a great way to foster communication.  Or as Max and Maggie's mother believes that anything can be solved through reading and writing.  However,  I do not believe it is an actual representation of how a fourth grade journal writing. There are no spelling errors, the entries are very long, and it is too polished to be a journal entry.  (Not that I want to read a book that isn't polished!)  This might be a mentor text of how we could "publish" our journal entries as we go through the process of writing.

Finally, I like that these children are really good children.  They are respectful of their parents.  Even though they don't want to write in the journal, and they count down every entry, they still do it, and learn from it. They also truly love each other although in a brotherly-sisterly sort of way.  It also gives a view of what it is like to be a twin.  Unlike other books, these are good kids, not perfect, but good.  It is a nice addition to "children" created literature that is in print.  

I highly recommend this book to others.  I think I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars, but my boys would each give it a 5 out of 5.  So in this house hold it averages to a 4.7 stars.  As a way to show my appreciation and celebrate my almost 500 likes on Facebook, I will give away one of these books!

To enter, simply comment on this page.  I'll be in touch with the winner!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Around the World--The Lowlands: Belgium and Holland.

About three years ago I bought this book to add to my Christmas collection.  It makes me want to celebrate Christmas in all the different ways.  Or at least, pick a different country each year to celebrate the holidays.  So this year, we started by celebrating Sinterklaas.  I learned about this holiday while living in Belgium.  They also celebrate it in The Netherlands.  

Here is Sinterklass riding into town on his white horse, along with Zwarte Pete.  

St. Nick comes by boat from Spain bringing gifts for girls and boys.  Zwarte Pete, a Moor, is his famous helper.  He arrives on December 6th, officially starting the Christmas season.  

So I had the kids put out their shoes and fill it with hat to feed the white horse.  In the morning, they awoke to candy and a few toys.  

I also made delicious Speculaas, and a Flemish Beef Stew to celebrate.  So very yummy!  Click on the links, and you can try them too.  The white pepper in the cookies is absolutely amazing!  

It is so fun to learn about different cultures and their traditions at this time of year.  I even love learning about other religions and how they honor their beliefs with food, prayer, and lights.  I would love to hear about your traditions at this time of year!  Have a wonderful day, and remember that Winter Break is right around the corner!  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Spiders! Oh My!

I love all these books!  I hope you do to! 

SPIDERS, by Seymour Simon

As many of you know, Seymour Simon is one of my favorite nonfiction writers.  His text is long, but eloquent.

Nic Bishop's SPIDERS
Nic Bishop is also an amazing photographer and writer.  Spiders nonfiction is prolific, which makes it a wonderful subject for all ages and reading levels.

Spiders, National Geographic
I always love National Geographic Kids books.  This book is great for young readers (first through third grade)  They always include wonderful jokes, and of course great pictures that you would expect from National Geographic.  National Geographic also has a wonderful website where you can find information on all sorts of animals.  This is a link to the Camel Spider.  

Spiders' Secrets by Richard Platt

Spiders, by Gail Gibbons
Gail Gibbons is one of my favorite nonfiction authors.  My favorite section of this book is her comparison between insects and spiders.  The labeling of the insect (in this case a bee) and a spider shows that they are very, very different!  I also love little extra fun facts at the end of the book.  Did you know that about 200 years ago eating spiders was a common cold remedy--well Gail Gibbons shares that spider tidbit and many more!  

Spiders, by the Editors of TIME for KIDS
Don't you just love looking at the eyes of this spider.  Shock value!  I love the camouflage spiders as well.  

A Spider's Life

Need to find out about a life cycle of a spider, this is the book for you!  See the eggs hatch and the spider-lings grow into adult spiders.  It is truly amazing.

Let's Read and Find Out, Spinning Spiders, by Melvin Berger
I love these Science Books.  They give so much information at a intermediate reading level.  S. D. Schindler's illustrations are simple, clear, and captivating all at once.  I also think you can pick and chose different sections of the book to read or have the children read.  For instance, the end of the book is all about spiders and their webs.  The authors describe different types of webs and how the spiders use the webs in different ways to capture their prey.  My favorite is the ogre-faced spider because it carries its web with it.  A close second may be the bolas spider who uses a thread of silk with a icky-sticky silk ball.  Can you imagine trying to capture your food with a line of thread and sticky ball at the end.  I certainly couldn't do it.  

Are You a Spider.  
I like these backyard books because it brings science right into our own backyard.  It reminds me of a Frank Lloyd Wright home that it is apart of nature, and nature becomes a part of the house.  What better way for students to study spiders than to find and search for them right in their backyard.  Love this book!

These next few books are just some fun books for students to look at and read.  

Now as we move away from nonfiction, and into fiction.  These are all such fun books! 

Aaaarrgghh Spider! 
I love this book!  It has fun illustrations, great repetitive text, and it is a great book to teach about point of view.  This book is written from the spider's point of view.  He want to become a pet--to the family he lives with! The first illustration is focusing on the spider, with the family upside down!
Aaaarrgghh, Spider!  A great book for point of view! 
It takes some time, but the family warms up to the spider, and the spider becomes their family pet.  The activities the spider does with the family are marvelous.  The spider never

Anansi, a tale from the Ashanti, by Gerald McDermott

I have always loved fables, maybe because they are such great stories.  My mother is a great story teller, and I have always enjoyed listening to stories.

The first video is of the actual book.  The sound quality if poor, but it is nice to see the photographs so large!

This second video, although it comes from the same source, is a different version.  

Enjoy the videos!  

Be Nice to Spiders, Margaret Bloy Graham 

This book framed my thinking about spiders, and how to treat spiders. Perhaps because of this book alone, I have no fear of spiders! It is a sweet book about a boy who gives his pet spider to a zoo.  The spider quickly gets away from the zookeeper and makes the animals super-happy by eating all the flies in the cage. But somehow the zookeepers don't realize how much the spider is helping the animals and the zoo, they see it as a nuisance and something to fear.  Once the zookeepers realize the spider's value, they protect the spider and use the spider to free the animals of flies in their cages.  A really great feel-good book!  

The Spider and the Fly, by Mary Howitt
This is the famous poem of the spider luring the fly into his web.  It begins with an innocent invitation.  Well maybe not so innocent.  

"Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly
"Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;"  

Of course the spider convinces the fly to walk into the parlour.  You can find the full poem here.  Tony DiTerlizzi received a Caldecott Honor award for this book.  There is also this youtube video of the book, that is rather entertaining.

Charlottes's Web, by E.B. White

Of course, I couldn't leave out Charlotte's Web, and Charlotte's ingenious way of saving Wilbur the pig.  A great read aloud for all ages.  

Diary of a Spider,  by Doreen Cronin

I love all these Diary books.  Such a fun way to introduce a character.  We first meet Spider in the Diary of the Worm, and this book does not disappoint.

The Very Busy Spider, by Eric Carle

I'm so glad that Eric Carle wrote a book about spiders!  This busy spider doesn't play with any animals because he is too busy building his web.