Monday, December 13, 2010

Fall (or maybe Winter) Stations

We had some really fun Fall stations planned for the day before Thanksgiving. We the snow that came, school was closed and the stations had to be postponed.

When we returned from the long break we had our station day, with a few changes.
Instead of making gumdrop turkeys, we made gumdrop snowmen.

Instead of decorating leaf cookies, we decorated snowmen cookies.

We also made special necklaces with beads, fruitloops, and noodles.

Thanks to all of the parents who helped out, dontated materials, and helped with preparations ahead of time!
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Naming the Work of an Illustrator

We're continuing to work in our illustration study this week. I have been absolutely thrilled with the connections kids are making between the work they see published authors and illustrators doing and their own work. Last week, we spent quite a bit of time looking at Jan Brett's illustrations, how she adds details, borders, and sneak peeks. This week we have been looking at a few new authors.

Here is an example from Gail Gibbons' book, Apples. I was astounded when the kids noticed that this was a sequence of events. (A connection to our new reading curriculum.) One student also found this magazine photo, during a different investigation. We loved the way the photographer/illustrator broke the picture into different sections, also showing a sequence of events. Simply pointing out to young authors that it is ok to divide up their page is eye opening for many!

We've also been noticing how speech bubbles and thought bubbles are used. These simple ideas are elements kids notice in books. They point out that it's neat or that they like it. They are drawn to these elements, but they don't really know why. Giving kids the language of authors and illustrators, by NAMING these techniques, makes the process more meaningful for our young writers.

As you are reading with your child at home, be on the lookout for interesting or unusual illustrations! We'd love to see them too, if you're willing to send the book to school with your child.

Happy reading... and writing... and illustrating!

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Grow Paperwhites

This is a post I did for my home blog last weekend. We are growing 3 Paperwhites in the classroom as well. I thought you might like to see this post, in case you are interested in growing beautiful flowers, indoors, that smell amazing!

It's time to plant Paperwhites!

I stopped by my local garden shop last week to pick up my Paperwhite bulbs. Once upon a time, when Costco carried Paperwhites, I would give one to each of my students to observe in the classroom. We loved watching the roots start sprouting. Then the green would shoot up out of the bulb, grow buds, and eventually flowers. It's magical for a five year old to see how an ugly brown bulb can bring such beauty. Well, Costco doesn't carry Paperwhites anymore. Sadly, I can't afford the price of Paperwhites for all of my students. $25 at the garden center is a lot harder to swallow that $9.99 at Costco. I do love to grow them with my own kids, though.

If you've never grown Paperwhites before, it's time to start! They are really easy.

Choose a container. Any bowl or dish will do.

Fill it with rocks.


Add a little water and a few bulbs.



Before you know it, you'll have beautiful flowers. Happy planting!