"True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new." Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Ok, I may not yet be to the level of "hoarder", but I will admit that I sometimes have trouble throwing things away. After all, you never know what game, or activity could be lurking in my brain. I have an over abundance of plastic milk caps...there is something about the size that is just perfect in the kiddo's hands. But yes, it is time to use a few more of them up. Dollar Tree has great foam letter stickers that are the perfect size, and they stick quickly and securely to the caps. You can make these ahead of time, but even better, let the kids help make them. We started initially by having each child make them to spell out their name. They each had to identify how many milk caps they would need...so we were able to tie some math in as well. Some nice questioning took place such as, "How do you know how many caps you need?", and "Who do you think is going to need more caps?". These are the type of questions that children often know the answers to, but need help explaining their answer, which uses higher level language skills. Here are some fun ways you can use them:
"Everyone's Story Matters." William Joyce
Morris Lessmore loved words. He loved stories. He loved books. But every story has its upsets. Based on the Oscar winning short film by William Joyce, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a charming story about the power of books, and the importance of every story being told. The illustrations are rich, and give you the feeling of watching a movie while reading. I have to admit, I still haven't watched the short film, mostly because I have trouble believing that it could be any better than the book. Having bestowed my love of books AND technology on my daughters, they quickly jumped from the book to the movie, and tell me that it's just as good! I love that depending on the age of the child (or adult:), this story can be interpreted differently. Initially, I wondered if preschoolers would be interested in or understand this book, but I was pleasantly surprised at how engaged they were. It was a good reminder, that through books we use our imaginations which makes each of our experiences with the book quite different. The little one's don't have to go to philosophical depths to enjoy this book, and it's okay if a 12 year old is sad thinking that Mr. Lessmore passes away, and a 4 year old is amazed at the flying books. That's the true definition of a book for all ages.
I've been on a quest lately to create a solid list of picture books to use for dialogic reading interventions with our preschool and kindergarten kiddos. Helen & Thomas Docherty's book The Snatchabook is now at the top of my list! I have fallen head-over-heels in love with this book. So much so, that I went out to buy a second copy for my own kids. This is a sweet sweet book with amazing illustrations that make it a natural fit for dialogic reading, and a great book to teach sharing, making amends, and forgiveness. The flow of the rhymes and the rich vocabulary are perfect for a 4 day read aloud (I had trouble reading it quietly to myself:) and your children will continue to notice new details with each read. So, please, follow brave rabbit Eliza Brown on her quest to solve the mystery of the disappearing books in Burrow Down and I know that you will fall in love with this story as quickly as I did.
When I first starting using my iPhone and iPad with my students, my challenge was finding good apps that were more than just entertainment. Using these devices in the schools was new, and there was a lag while developers caught up with the educational possibilities. Now, my challenge is sifting through the vast number of apps to find quality, reasonably priced apps. I often find myself saying, "This one is pretty good, but I wish it did...", or "That was a waste of $.99." When I came across Book Creator by Red Jumper Studios last year I was a little skeptical. It was spendier than I like for something I am trying out on a whim, but the initial reviews were good, and having been on an app drought, I splurged. This app is so intuitive that over the past year, it has become one of my go-to apps. I use it to make social stories, have students create their own artic books, work on vocabulary concepts, and my own kids even like to create books to share their activities with their friends and grandparents. During one of our school's technology trainings, I shared the app with our first grade team, and they quickly began to use it throughout their day. It is so fun to see the kids grab an iPad, open iBooks and read the books THEY have written....and yes, they CHOOSE to do this. The best news is that Book Creator is 50% off for the month of December!
When children are engaged, they are ready to learn!