Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On your Mark, Get Set, Go!

This week in the library once again has been a busy one, to be sure. We shared books about the upcoming field day, next Friday, May 2nd. My friends and I enjoyed several good books; Clifford's Field Day by Norman Bridwell, Miss Nelson Has a Field Day By Harry Allard and Be a Good Sport, Miss Malarkey by Judy Finchler.

After sharing these wonderful stories, we discussed what is field day? What should a kindergarten friend expect to see? What will we do at field day? Our parents and grandparents may come to watch us. We may get to eat lunch outside if it is nice out. (Mr. H will let us know if this will happen usually the day of.) Lots of questions and comments like these were addressed.

First graders reflected on last years field day and their favorite part of field day. We had much excitement and lots of smiles as we shared memories of the tug of war against other classes and their family members. We had lots of fun sharing stories and expectations of what this field day will bring, more fun, Mr. Willey always sees to that.

We also, discussed what it might look like to be a good sport. We don't want to hurt feelings or be sore losers either. Remembering that our goal at field day is to have fun! Enjoy, our time playing games with friends.
I saw this and thought what a cool field day activity this could be....just saying! It happens to be my all time, most favorite game ever. I could totally see some of the staff being pretty competitive over a game like this. LOVE IT!

This week we also shared books from Bill Peet. What a wonderful author study to share with my friends. They loved hearing several stories and learning about Bill Peet. When we shared that Bill Peet worked for Walt Disney, and that he did the story boards for several Disney movies, the kids were all a gasp. One friend said "if he had anything to do with Walt Disney, I want to read all his books!" Which made my heart sing. It has to be said, I kind of loved hearing this. I will continue to read Bill Peet again next week.

We also, discussed the difference, with 1st grade, about a biography vs. an autobiography. I was surprised that several of my first graders already knew this tidbit. Got to love it! Moments like this make me so proud of just how far they have come in the short amount of time we get to learn together here at Kennedy. Here are a few pics of what 2 of my 1st grade classes look like. When I look at them all reading silently, it makes my heart sing, once again.

Mrs. Cook's 1st grade class

Mrs. Nuss' 1st grade class

We also celebrated Secretary's Day this week and it was so nice to see the students being so kind to Mrs. Pitts. I loved seeing her receive the love she deserves as, she does so much for everyone. Miss Kim does as well and we love them both. Hat's off to both of you, ladies!

 Mrs. Hoffman's 1st grade class with Mrs. Pitts

 Secretary's Day!!


Not only are these lovely ladies my friends but they are pretty amazing, they keep Kennedy running smoothly. I love you ladies, you truly are a gift to all of us.


Summer Reading and Read Alouds

I promise I am working diligently on the summer reading challenge and my summer book list. I have gotten so many requests on this list I am feeling a bit pressured and have even reached out to a few other librarians for a few recommendations on new series. I don't like to recommend books I haven't read so to be fair it might take another week or two to get through a few more of these books. But be assured I am getting it together.

A question I receive often from parents when they see our summer book list is, “How do you get your children interested in sitting and listening to read-alouds?”

Start With Picture Books

Don’t jump straight into chapter books. That’s like asking your six-year-old to skip elementary math and leap right into algebra.You have to slowly work up to chapter books. Start with picture books — reading just a little more each day to help your children’s attention span to grow over time.


Gradually Introduce Chapter Books

After you’re reading your children a steady diet of picture books, gradually introduce some short chapter books. Look for chapter books that have pictures at least every few pages and that have chapters no longer than a few pages. As your children become more engaged, increase the amount of reading time and up the reading level of books. Eventually, you’ll probably find that your children want you to read for longer than you have time to do so!


Become Best Friends With the Library

I’m a champion of local libraries as they can provide a steady stream of great book options, all for free! As a librarian I have many lists I go by to order books for the school libraries collection. For my own personal choices I use many of the same things you might use: recommendations from friends, a book review, summer reading lists from the library or through magazines, lists from blogs I follow, or from just browsing through the library.

What I love about the public library is that I can check out literally dozens of books each week and then go through them to decide which ones will be best to read. If I bring some books home that don’t end up being a good fit, I can easily return them without any guilt because they were free!
Help your children learn to love the library, too, by regularly bringing them with you to the library and helping them find good fit books to check out.

Be Enthusiastic

Enthusiasm is contagious. If you’re excited about a book, your children usually will pick up on your excitement and join in. When we’re getting ready to start a new read-aloud, I usually preface it by telling my children/students why I’m looking forward to reading it, giving them a little teaser as to what it’s about and  why I think they’ll enjoy hearing me read it. After my little pep talk about the book, my kids are usually begging me to hurry up and start the book already. :)


Choose Books That Will Interest Your Child

Do you like to read books that are boring and on topics that don’t interest you? I’m guessing you don’t! So why would you expect your children to get excited about listening to books on topics that aren’t their cup of tea?

I love to choose books that I think they will really love. For instance, my children are really into books that involve mystery and adventure. It is so fun to read together when you’re all engaged and completely interested in the topic and storyline. Plus, there’s nothing better than getting to the end of a chapter and having everyone begging, “Please, please, just one more chapter!”

Make Reading Time Fun

Want to make reading time even more fun? Get a little creative in what it looks like every day.
Maybe some days you read outside on a blanket spread out over the grass. Or, you all head out to the sandbox and you read while your children play in the sand. How about making some hot cocoa and snuggling under a blanket? For a really special memory, set up your tent in the backyard (or create one in your basement with blankets!) and huddle in together and read with a flashlight.


Don’t Expect Your Children to Sit Perfectly Still

Speaking of making reading time fun, one of the biggest things we’ve done is to not expect our children to sit still and just listen.While I know some people expect that read-aloud time means everyone sits with their hands in their lap while mom reads, that’s not at all what happens at our house. In fact, I’ve found that often children listen better when their hands are busy. So I encourage  children to play with Legos, or draw, or color, or do some other quiet activity while I’m reading. Not always but when I see sitting quietly might not be an option. They seem to enjoy it a lot more and the time flies! We also often read as part of our meal times. It’s a great way to get in a few pages or a few chapters while your children’s hands and mouths are busy eating!

Engage Your Children

When you’re reading, stop and ask questions along the way. “Why do you think they did that?” “Was that a good response or a poor response?” “What would you do if you were in that situation?”
Get your children’s minds turning and their creativity flowing. Some of our best discussions have come as a result of a book we’re reading. Like I say every day in the library, Dr. Seuss' quote
Think and Wonder and Wonder and Think!

Also, take time to answer their questions. It can get tiring to continually be answering question after question. But if you’re willing to take the time to listen and really respond to what your child is asking, they’ll not only learn a lot, but you’ll probably be blessed by some of the conversations this leads to.

As you’re reading, stop and locate where a country, state, and/or city is that the book mentions. My children have learned so much geography just from this simple activity. We actually have a map with pins in it. Red pins for places we want to visit one day and blue pins for places we have read about or learned about.

If you encounter words that they are unfamiliar with, I would stop, explain what the word meant, and  maybe even use it in a sentence. Remember our kiddo's are increasing  their vocabulary and to aid them in this endeavor we need to take moment and let them know that they need  to stop you, if they don't understand something or if they can't visualize what you are reading.


Don’t Be Afraid to Stop a Book If It’s Not Working

I wanted to end with this encouragement: if a book just isn’t working, don’t feel like you have to keep trudging through it. There are plenty of excellent books out there that there’s no need to waste time on books you just aren’t enjoying at all. Give yourself grace, chuck your guilt, and move on to a better book!  Don't think you have to finish every single book on my book list or the library book list. Remember these are just ideas to spark your interest. I hope you find some wonderful choices to share with your children.

Spending time sharing books has created so many cherished memories for me. Reading to my children, grandchildren and for the many students I have shared so many stories and so much time with, over the past 13 years. 

I will also be spending my summer reading with my grandson's, with my tablet or a good ol' book from the library.

Happy Reading,
Mrs. Shamhart