Friday, October 28, 2016

Spooky Stories, Costumes and Swaps...

In The Library:

In the library this week we read stories by Jack-o-lantern. I love to share Clifford's Halloween by Norman Bridwell Humbug Witch by Lorna Balian and of course The Halloweiner by Dav Pilkey, with my Kinders. The students loved them.  First graders got to Enjoy Boo! by Robert Munsch, which worked along with an author study of Robert Munsch we recently completed.  We also got to enjoy my most favorite book this time of year, The Perfect Pumpkin Pie by Denys Cazet. I had a few friends jump when we read this latest title. So much fun!

We also shared about what we might dress up like during Halloween. Here at Kennedy we don't dress up at school. In lieu of costumes we have a pajama day. I myself probably won't dress up unless I go out with my grandkids but I think I am going to stay home with my dogs, Hermione and Zoey and hand out candy treats.

I am preparing a voting lesson for my students to have fun with next week. We will all vote at Kennedy. Not for the Presidential nominee's we are all familiar with but for two other candidates...

After we have the opportunity to read Doreen Cronin's Duck For President.
We will tally each class and graph the entire school with our votes. Should be lots of fun.

This week has been a busy and fun week with the anticipation of Halloween looming.

Love My Kiddo's:

My first grade friends in Mrs. Berns class were so sweet. They earned a popcorn and movie party for their amazing behavior and they invited share it with them. I was so excited. Then they went above and beyond to Thank me. I am so lucky to have such amazing friends.

 Beautiful Fall:

 Here in central Kansas we are enjoying some amazing weather. I was able to go out to the park and finish up my book and this was my beautiful view.
 Blessings come in many forms...

This photo is still my most favorite! I love the stem on this pumpkin it is the best! 

 I am anxious for November to arrive, to see family for the Thanksgiving holiday and to celebrate my grand daughter, Brielle's 1st birthday. I'm very excited! We have a lot going on at home and at school so tune in to see all the happenings in the coming weeks.

My Swaps: 


This swap is an annual swap from Chaotic Goddess Swaps. I recieved a swap from my friend, Judy over at The Knotty Needle Blog she sent me the most wonderful package and card thanks so much! Here is a picture to see what she sent.

 I have several more swaps up and coming I will keep you posted on them.

I'm reading with an online book group The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee. I am also reading The One That Got Away by Leigh Himes and I am just about finished. I can't wait to get started on Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris I just received a surprise book in the mail from St. Martin Press. I can't wait to delve into this amazing thriller. All of these books are so completely and vastly different One is futuristic and another is chic-lit and one is a mystery/thriller. It's fun to delve into a variety of genres. Have fun and enjoy.

Share with me what you are reading and what books are on your "to be read list".

Happy Reading
Have a safe, fun Halloween, and let's welcome November.
Tula Shamhart

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Falling Into A Good Book

In The Library

Fall Books & How I Use Them

Happy fall!  Football games, changing leaves, pumpkin everything, and the crispness in the air fall makes me happy.  We created a fall bucket list and shared some of the things we most look forward to, in the fall. This is always a highlight for me. 
We also shared the life cycle of the pumpkin last week. I love sharing the video and the book Pumpkin Circle by George Levenson it starts October and our fall season. As we approach our trip to the pumpkin patch, reinforcing our understanding of fiction and non-ficition, our "How To Carve A Pumpkin" writing, along with our anchor chart pumpkins inside and outside, using adjectives.

I also, love getting out books about the season with my students. I want to foster a love of reading with them. How reading is more than just words on a page. It offers a different approach to the goals we are working on; vocabulary, figurative language, sequencing, etc. For some of our young students here at Kennedy this helps them build on their developing vocabulary and their ability to communicate more effectively.
Here are 2 wonderful stories for the changing season that I like using in my Library.

LeafMan by Lois Ehlert
This is a very short, beautifully illustrated picture book. It captures the vivid changing colors of the leaves of fall. Great opportunities for fall craft extensions here.
 One of my students brought this leaf man in after we shared the story.

Sequencing: Discuss the order of leaf man’s travels. East-West-South-North. Name what he saw heading east (chickens, marsh, ducks, geese, fields). Then what he saw heading west (orchards, prairie meadows, cows) and so on.

Vocabulary: pile, plans, marsh, drifting, orchards, prairie, meadows, gliding, flock, lonesome, rustle.
Writing: Use the prompt, “If I were a leaf man, I would go” (have them include what they would see and feel along the way).
Compare and contrast: The different types of leaves by shape, size, color etc. Have the students bring in 2 or 3 different leaves from home and discuss the differences and similarities.

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson 
Gorgeous watercolor illustrations capture you in this sweet story. When I read this treasure, children are mesmerized and almost melt listening to the words. This story about a sweet little fox is one of my favorites to use during the fall season.

Social/Emotional: Opportunities to discuss feelings. On the first page the word “worried” is used. When do people feel worried? Illness, bad weather, etc. Fletcher is trying to care for the tree- a great opportunity for teaching empathy (discuss his body language- how his head hangs down and how they can read body language with friends). Encourage your students or child to talk about who they take care of and how (a pet, friend who is sad). Friendship Fletcher says he will stay with the tree holding on to the last leaf left (what does someone do to show friendship to others).
Adjectives: Wow, this book is filled with vivid descriptions. “crinkly whisper,” “dusty gold,” “swirling leaves,” “pale stars,” I could go on and on. Write down some fall nouns and have your students think of vivid adjectives to modify them ( _____ pumpkins, _____ trees, _____ weather). Thinking of alternative color words is relevant in the fall. Find some leaves and challenge them to describe with more meaningful color words: yellow (golden), red (scarlet), brown (chocolate).
Vocabulary words: bounded, crinkly, dull, rough, ruffled, flutter, rustle, swoop, pale, glimmer. I always work on synonyms and antonyms to develop vocabulary deeper.
Figurative language:  personification is on nearly every page- “I think my tree is sick.” “The little leaf shook itself free” “The wind and the squirrel are stealing our leaves.” “The branches nodded.” “The leaves shivered and shook

I hope you can incorporate some of these ideas as you read books about fall!

Me and my family

My family went to the pumpkin patch with our grand kids and  had a wonderful time. I love watching the grands experience something for the first time and or share these moments with them. Here are a few pics...

What I'm reading

The weather here in Kansas has been simply amazing and I love being able to read on my porch or patio. My latest, most current book I'm reading is Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand. It is the third installment to the Winter Street  series and it has to be said that I love it! If you are looking for a warm, cozy page turner this fall/ winter season this series will not disappoint.

I'm also listening to the audio book of The One Who Got Away by Leigh Himes
 I had to pick this chic lit audio book up, I read the blurb below and knew I had to try out this new author's work.
Book Blurb:
 In this debut novel, a freak accident allows a wife and mother to explore the alluring alternative of the Road Not Taken.

Abbey Lahey is a married, harried working mother of two, struggling to make ends meet in a blue-collar suburb of Philadelphia. When a freak tumble down a Nordstrom escalator lands her in an alternate reality, Abbey finds herself happily married to the one who got away--a dashing Philly blueblood she met briefly years earlier--and living a Cinderella life of privilege and luxury.

It's everything Abbey ever dreamed of. Or is it? At first dazzled by the clothes, the penthouse, the nannies, and the glittering social functions, Abbey begins noticing troubling flaws in her new fourteen-carat life...and wonders what happened to the people she left behind. Torn between two vastly different realities, Abbey takes increasingly dramatic steps to reclaim herself--whoever that may be.

Happy Fall and Happy Reading!

Mrs. Shamhart

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

This Week In The Library

In The Library This Week:

For our Kindergarten friends, we read books about Grandparents in honor of Grandparents Day this past weekend September 11. We shared the books:

                                     The Hello Goodbye Window by Norton Juster
Not only is this book a Caldecott winner, it is a precious book about the relationship between grandparents and a grandchild. The little girl (also the narrator of the story) leaves her Mom and Dad and runs over to her grandparents house.  But before she walks in the door, she passes by the “hello, goodbye window”.  Through this window, she sees the amazing things that await her in the kitchen of her grandparent’s house.  The illustrations in the book are eclectic and almost child-like, which only adds to the appeal of the book (in my opinion).

What Grandma's Do Best/What Grandpa's Do Best by Laura Numeroff
 This two-in-one book (from the author of  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books) is perfect for grandparents.  Half of the book is about what grandmas do best (play hide-and-seek, take you for walks, paint, go on picnics, take naps with you…)  and then you flip it over and the other half is about what grandpas do best.  The text is exactly the same for both books, but the illustrations show the grandparents doing these things in different ways (for example:  one page says “make you a hat” and the grandma is shown knitting a hat while the grandpa is making paper hats out of newspaper).  I actually think this is brilliant because it shows that the same activity can be new and different depending on who you are doing it with!  Each of the pages features a different personified animal pair.

These books were a big hit with our kinders. We talked at length about all the fun things we do with our grandparents.

First Grade friends read the story A Bad Case Of Stripes by David Shannon. We then got creative and started thinking and brainstorming some of the things that we like and who might care for us when we are sick.

Golden Ticket Store

 Our Golden Ticket Store is going very well and I am seeing a lot of positive behaviors.  I have a picture of my friend and I after she went shopping. Oh yes, she was very excited! I kind of love being a part of something that makes them so happy and excited.

My Reads


This week I finished reading The Couple Next Door by By Shari Lapena 
Oh my goodness, this book just blew me away! Just when I thought I'd worked it all out nicely, everything changed. 

With their babysitter cancelling on them, Anne and Marco leave their baby, Cora, at home and they "pop" next door for a dinner party. It'll be fine, they have the baby monitor with them and they go to check on her every half hour and they're only next door. What can possibly go wrong?

Quite simply, they arrive home to find the front door open and the baby gone. Anne goes to pieces, Marco freezes, Anne recovers and the police are called. It is then up to Detective Rasbach to try and piece together what actually happened that night. Did the parents cover up a crime, is one or both of them responsible, is it a third party? It leaves you guessing until you think you know and then plot twist and surprise. 

With most of the suspects being inconsistent with their stories will Rasbach be able to cut through the noise, work out truth from lies, and bring the case to a close?

I really liked this book. It grabbed my attention from the very first page, held on tight and wouldn't let me go until the very last. I was completely invested by all the twists and turns, secrets and lies and some delicious family dynamics specifically between Marco and his in-laws.

I believe that this is a new genre for this author. If this is the quality for her first effort, I really can't wait to see what she serves up next time.


My next swap is one of my favorite swaps with Chaotic Goddess Swaps. It was one of the first swaps I was involved in.

Your Swap Objective

Send a spook-tastic package of goodies to your Halloween-loving partner.
Note: This swap is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

Package Requirements

  • Halloween related goodies
  • At least 5 Items
  • Value of $20-$40

Important Dates to Remember

  • Sign-Ups Start: Monday, September 19th
  • Sign-Ups End: Monday, September 26th

Happy Reading,
Tula Shamhart

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What's Happening In The Library....

Library Lessons:

This week in the library we continued to review manners in the library and how to care for books.
Kindergarten heard the wonderful story by Judy Sierra Wild About Books. We also finished up stories from our wall characters. What a fun week!  First Grade classes heard the stories of Mrs Watson Wants Your Teeth by Alison McGhee
 We then created our own class book. What would Mrs. Hoffman look like as a 300 year old Alien?
Ha! Lots of fun pictures in this book.

We also, shared Grandpa's Teeth by Rod Clement.  This book is always so much fun to read aloud, such wonderful voice. A great way to introduce first graders to the genre of mysteries. I always pull a bunch of mysteries out after we read this book.

We shared a character education day with our 1st grade classes and shared the story of Horton Hatches The Egg By Dr. Seuss and discussed caring in the library. The students did an amazing job of sharing their ideas.

What I am reading:

This story takes place in New York and I love that. Jack Harris' wife was murdered several years ago and although he says he has moved on in his life, mainly because of his teenage daughter, Buckley, he clearly has not. His file cabinets are full of case files relating to the man who he feels was responsible. When that man is shot dead, along with two others, during Jack's attempt to meet a woman he met online, he is their prime suspect.

Olivia Randall used to date Jack back in the day. They were together several years until Olivia did something that has left a tarnish of guilt on her life ever since. When she sees that Jack has been arrested, she decides to represent him as his lawyer. She knows Jack is innocent. But the man she used to know, or thought she knew, may not be the same.

Filled with twists and turns, The Ex flashes back to Jack and Olivia's past to help authenticate their current relationship and provide contrast to the differences of how they have changed and grown over the years. While this is important to the story, it doesn't deflect from the current events of Olivia delving into the investigation to prove that Jack is innocent.

While I wasn't surprised by the ending, I was surprised with the repercussions of some character decisions on the facts of the case. Or in this case, the lack some instances. I didn't connect with any characters, which really bothered me because I really didn't care who did it. But I had to know why, so I continued my journey with The Ex.

If you're looking for a standard murder mystery, then The Ex is worth a go. But if you're looking for the darker side of a thriller, you won't find that thrill here. 3 stars for me.

My Secret Sister had this series on her wishlist and when I bought her one of the books, it brought me to read about the series and I was done. I devoured the first 2 books in 3 days.

The Selection by Keira Cass This is a YA novel 
In a world where everything is determined by social castes, America was born a five, one of the lowest castes. This year, a Selection will be held to find a bride for Prince Maxon. America's mother thinks that having her daughter participate will be the solution to all of their problems but America doesn't want to participate for one simple reason, she is secretly in love with Aspen. The only problem is that he belongs to an even lower caste and so her parents prohibit her from marrying him. She ends up applying for the selection, sure that she will not be one of the 35 chosen girls, so you can imagine her surprise when she is the one picked from her district. This is where the heat of the competition starts; complete with friendship, jealousy and of course a little sabotage.

The concept of the book was really great. I know many associated it with The Bachelor,. The dystopian element in it was also quite good and reminded me of The Hunger Games. I found the history element in this book to be interesting. Also, the rebel attacks to the palace added more depth to an otherwise typical YA dystopian romance.

However, what really made me fall in love with this book were its characters. America's character was so down-to-earth and kind that you couldn't help liking her. She cares for the other competitors and even her maids. She even gives tips to her friend on winning over the Prince. I also found the fact that, while the other girls went for the most glamorous dresses, she always opted for the simplistic style that she felt most comfortable in. Through out the book she was the character you rooted for.

Maxon was so swoon-worthy and all he wanted throughout this competition was to fall in love. I thought that he would be arrogant, but from his first meeting with America, he stole my heart.

The only downside to this book, for me, was Aspen's character. I found him to be quite arrogant at times and really didn't understand why America had fallen in love with him. We do get a backstory, which enables the reader to learn how America and Aspen's relationship started. which made me him a bit more likable.

Overall, I felt that this book was like candy floss; fun, colorful and leaves you with a smile. I simply could not put this book down and couldn't wait to get my hands on the sequel! So....I did!

 I enjoyed The Selection so much I had to go right into book 2 The Elite. I was skeptical because of the things I about the complete lack of world-building. This remains a problem for me after reading The Elite.

In The Elite, we find America as one of six final girls in the selection and her heart is torn between Prince Maxon and Aspen, her ex-boyfriend who works as a guard in the castle. She goes back and forth, back and forth, never able to fulyl commit to either one.  She is unsure about becoming a princess and the political ramifications that could have. She discovers some hidden truths about her country's history which color her decisions.

On the plus side for characters, both Maxon and Aspen were stronger love interests this time around and we continue to find out more about each of these characters which lends to the depth of the characters. Which enables the reader to understand why America is truly so perplexed with her decision. 

I also really enjoyed the other girls in The Elite. They each had their place and even surprised me from time to time. Some of them sabotaged, lied, and even fought. I really loved the dynamic between these ladies.

I really enjoyed this story as well. I will read the next novel The One .

I have a couple of ARCS(advanced reader copies) to read and review for our Books On Tour group. I have Falling over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick that I am just finishing up and The Graces by Laure Eve This is a book I have been hearing so much about. I can't wait to read it.

Happy Reading,
Mrs. Shamhart

Sunday, August 28, 2016

First Full Week Back To School

In The Library This Week...

We worked on rules, manners and expectations in the library. With these lessons we shared Library Lion by Michelle Knudson and If You Take a Mouse To School by Laura Numeroff with 1st graders.
They created a Mouse of their own and even did a bit of writing. Here is a sample:

I also introduced our students to the new Golden Ticket Store in our library. At Kennedy Primary we started a new, positive reinforcement  to our students behavior. The students have the opportunity to earn golden tickets for positive behavior. For all students making good choices and doing what is expected.

Each week students will get to come into the library and spend their golden tickets. They will have the opportunity to purchase snacks, books, bookmarks, erasers, pencil grippers, notebooks, gel pens, coloring books, puzzles, crayons, water bottles, pencil boxes/bags and large note books.

A few photos of our first shopping day...

I shared some books that are represented on our wall in the library with my kindergarten friends.
Corduroy by Don Freeman and Clifford The Big Red Dog By Norman Bridwell.
The character from left to right: Koala Lou by Mem Fox, Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, Curious George By H.A. Rey, Franklin By Paulette Bourgeois, The Nook (One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish) Dr. Seuss, Arthur by Marc Brown, Clifford by Norman Bridwell, and Corduroy by Don Freeman.

What I've Been Reading

I finished the book Remember Me by Sabine Durant
 Remember Me This Way is a spine-tingling, suspense-laden psychological thriller. The novel is full of clever twists and turns. Leaving you wondering until the end.

On the one year anniversary of her husband Zack’s death, Lizzie Carter is finally ready to visit the site of his accident and finish settling his estate. She is surprised to see that someone has left a bouquet of memorial flowers at the accident scene, but it is the attached message that rouses a few suspicions. When she reaches his cottage, she is further unsettled by some missing items that lead her to believe that Zack might have faked his own death. After she returns home, Lizzie becomes certain that is Zack alive and he is stalking her. When no one takes her fears seriously, she begins her own investigation and Lizzie quickly discovers that she really did not know Zack at all.

Lizzie is a somewhat unreliable narrator because she is rather fuzzy on the day to day details of her life. She feels guilty for some of the events that occurred in the days leading up Zack’s death and her lingering grief further clouds her judgment. There are also some very strange occurrences that bolster her belief that he is still alive but why would Zack fake his death? The answer to that question is revealed bit by bit through the lies that Lizzie uncovers and her memories of her relationship with Zach.

The most chilling revelations are share through passages from Zack’s point of view. As he reflects on his previous relationships and his marriage, a frightening picture begins to emerge. In the days and months leading up to his death, he becomes increasingly controlling of Lizzie and his behavior grows more volatile and erratic. 

This story leaves you guessing clear up to the end. I loved it.

The Sunlight Pilgrims, by Jenni Fagan, takes place from November 2020-March 2021. The polar caps are melting, and a new Ice Age appears to be imminent. The world’s leaders are unprepared to deal with a catastrophe of this magnitude. Still, some stockpile food and warm clothing, prepare fuel to heat their homes, check their generators, and keep a close eye on the forecast. No matter how prepared the survivalists are, however, the fact remains that temperatures are plummeting; major rivers are icing over; people are freezing to death; a huge iceberg is headed towards Scotland; and if spring does not bring a major thaw, Earth could become uninhabitable. 

This book is wonderful and the writing is truly amazing. 5 stars for me.

I just started this beauty, The Ex by Alafair Burke.  I will let you know my thoughts next week.


Once again it is time for the Books N Bloggers Swap by the lovely ladies at Chaotic Goddess Swaps.
Important Dates to Remember
  • Sign-Ups Close on August 22nd, 2016
  • Partners Assigned by August 24th, 2016
  • Packages Ship by September 3rd, 2016
  • Swap Show-Off Post  September 7th, 2016
  • This is one of my most favorite swaps hosted by Chaotic Goddess! So excited!

The Girls On The Same Page

On the Same Page


The What:

The Secret Sister project is essentially a cheer club. Think Secret Santa but all year round (in 6 month intervals) with less emphasis on big presents, and more thoughtful notes, cards, small somethings sent just to let your secret sister know that you are thinking about her!

The When:

  • Sign-ups will go live on July 16, 2016
  • This round will run from August 2016 through January 2017

 Please share what you are reading in the comments.

Happy Reading.
Mrs. Shamhart