Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Birthday, Kansas!

Happy Birthday, Kansas!

This week in the library we were very busy celebrating Kansas. First grade friends and I shared the book Wagon Wheels by Barbara Brenner. This story always gets me. It is a wonderful story for our first graders and fits into the curriculum quite nicely. For all of you teachers or librarians here is the information:


1. Historical fiction, picture book.

2. After the Civil War, follow the Muldie boys and their father to Kansas to find free land through the Homestead Act.

3. A. This easy reader is just that, an easy read especially for beginner readers. Barbara Brenner uses appropriate language, varied sentence length and structure as well as short chapters to engage young readers. All of these along with the rugged, colorful illustrations transport the reader into a harsh but hopeful time in our country.

B. The greatest aspect of Wagon Wheels is the language and sentence structure to appeal to young readers. Getting students and children interested in history and the past is difficult but Barbara Brenner created a story that makes you want to turn the page to find out what happens next. This is due to how easy it is to read. Through this 63 page story, 61 pages are illustrated to help decode the text and visualize this story for the reader.

C. The three boys and their father begin to make their ‘home’ in the Kansas prairie. “It wasn’t much of a place—dirt floor, dirt walls, no windows. And the roof was just grass and branches. But we were glad to have a dugout when the wind began to whistle across the prairie” (14-15). Easy decodable text accompanied by a picture on the bottom of the page translates to the reader how these families lived in dugouts in the ground for harsh winters. At the end of the story, the three boys ventured out to find their father who had found better land to settle on. “We walked along the trail. It led up a hill. On the side of the hill we saw a little house with a garden in front. We could see corn growing. A man came out of the house. When he saw us, he began to run towards us” (58-59). These well formed sentences with appropriate language do not intimidate readers and makes them want to keep turning the page.

4.Curriculum Connection- Wonderful introduction to chapter books with short chapters that can be accompanied with comprehension questions.
We then shared the Fiction/Non Fiction "Snow" Lesson. I love this lesson because not only does it remind me of how much my first grade friends have learned thus far but because it means we are on our way to our very first research paper in the library. Love this time of year.

 We read, discussed and compared these stories and then went a step further and discussed text features in our non fiction book. These are some of the things we will see when we start our research on farm animals in the coming weeks.
In Kindergarten we shared S is for Sunflower a Kansas Alphabet and we discussed the many things that are Kansas. This was a fun story to do with Kindergarten as I found that they all made connections quite easily to this story and to our home in Kansas.

We also discussed another very important day that is coming up this weekend Groundhog Day.
Many of my friends had never heard of ground hog day. We shared the story of Lorna Balian
A Garden for Groundhog  and Groundhog Day by Gail Gibbons.

We then did a bit of our own predicting and tallied our predictions on if the Groundhog would or would not see his shadow. Most of my friends are hoping that he does not see his shadow so spring will be on it's way sooner...I am doubtful with the crazy winter we have had thus far but I too, am hopeful.

We then also, learned a little poem to help us to remember the rule for the groundhog seeing his shadow and an up close photo of a groundhog. The kiddos loved checking out the groundhog and let me be clear they all had an observation to share. I LOVED IT! We got our brains brainstorming!

Our Spotlight book The Little Little Girl With The Big Big VOICE by Kristen Balouch 

Happy Birthday Kansas! Our fact of the week was offered by this book KANSAS.

I have finally put together the next READING CHALLENGE!!! Our Winter Read-A-Thon.
This reading challenge will run from January 31, 2014- March 6, 2014

Please remember the goal here is to encourage reading. It should be fun. Lets turn off the television and video games and lets share a book or a designated time when we can all be reading.

Students will be required to  read:

3- General Fiction Books
2- Realistic Fiction Books
3- Informational Books
3- Mysteries
2- Chapter Books
2- Free Choice

Each student will bring home a 15 Book Challenge sheet to record their books.
When it is returned they will receive a whole class returns their record sheet
they will earn a reward as a class. We are all very excited to begin reading.
prize. If the

 For the Adults:
It just wouldn't be any fun if I didn't make a challenge for the adults.
Select any 5 book ideas from this Book Challenge Card. You could keep this card going until you complete it. I just wanted to give lots of ideas to choose from.  Enjoy!


I finished up my current read of the Apartment By Greg Baxter

Reading this book reminded me of the sitcom "Seinfeld"--on the surface it's a book about nothing. The story centers around the day in a life of one man--an unnamed American--who is trying to erase his past. He moves to an unnamed European city and befriends a young woman, Saskia, who offers to help him find an apartment. The story is gray, cold and depressing much like its setting. On a deeper level, the book is a work on the travesty of war, the consequence of personal decisions and the negative view toward Americans harbored by other countries. It reads rather flat in its style of stream-of-consciousness writing. 
I longed for the moment when he turned out to be a terrorist or romance set in but there is none of that in this story. It took you along to expect these things but they never occurred, which I kind of appreciated.  I wasn't able to predict where the author was taking me. Yet, I felt content as I finished it. No one more surprised by this than I.  So, do I recommend it sure it was a quick read and I did enjoy it.

Changing themes and finding my next book club book choice. I am reading The Husband's secret and I have book club this weekend so I need to get finished up. Can't wait to tell you all how it turns out. So far I find it difficult to put down.  You may notice that this is by Liane Moriarty and I read her other book in the fall called What Alice Forgot. I have to say I am really enjoying her style.

A little teaser for you: Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret. Something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is very much alive....
Regarding my Books and Bloggers Swap I just sent off my package of books to my swap partner, Rebecca Bryant from  and I hope you love the book choices I sent your way. Looking forward to receiving my books soon...Yeah! I will post the reveal as soon as they arrive.

Friday Confessionals
I confess:

  • I was hoping and praying for a snow day/cold weather day, this week but ....that didn't happen.
  • We have had a lot of friends sick and I am trying to avoid it, like the plague.
  •  So ready for spring weather (That groundhog had better not see his shadow).
  • I am totally psyched about the reading challenge.
  • Looking forward to the Super Bowl and spending time with my hubby and friends this weekend. Go Seahawks!!!
Enjoy your weekend!
Happy Reading,
Mrs. Shamhart