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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stock Your Home Library... Cheap!!

In Middle Tennessee (and other regions, I'm assuming) it's consignment sale season!! I have never done any shopping at these twice-a-year consignment sales, because I've never had any children. But now I wish I had checked them out sooner!

I went to one of these sales earlier this week, because I wanted to shop for baby clothes (I'm expecting if you hadn't heard). The first thing I saw when I walked into the sale was boxes and boxes of children's books!! Half the time I spent at the sale was spent pouring over all the books. They had lots of great ones that were in excellent condition. I seriously had to restrain myself from buying them all!! I was looking for baby-friendly board books in particular, and was so excited to be able to get a bunch of them for not much money. Score!!

So look in your local paper, search around online. I know there have been at least four or five of these sales going on around here this month. And most of them have half-price day on the last day of the sale (I'm planning to go back)!! So take advantage of the great deals and stock up your home library!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I have been trying to visit the Nashville Public Library's website for the past month, and it absolutely will not load!I have no idea why. It's not my internet. It's just that ONE site. I guess it's time for me to break down and call them... maybe they can tell me what the deal with their website is. Surely I'm not the only one having this problem??

And yes, I am still planning to have a field trip outing of some sort in March. No amazing ideas or opportunities have come to my attention, or come to mind... But we will do something. And we'll just have to make it amazing ourselves! Stay tuned.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Gather 'Round My Soapbox

I'm sure most people have heard about the recent school shooting at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Illinois. It was especially startling news for me to hear last night, because I attended NIU for a brief time before moving to Tennessee. I am originally from the Chicago area. My sisters graduated from NIU, friends of mine have attended the university, and my brother-in-law is currently a student there (he was not on campus the day of the shooting).

But I am not distraught simply over the fact that a shooting has happened at a location I used to frequent. I am distraught over how common these shooting rampages have become in our country. Did you know that there have been four (at least) school shootings this week in this country? Four! In one week! And it's not just happening in our schools. It's happening at our malls, and at our churches... Why???

There don't appear to be any easy answers or explanations for why these tragedies keep happening. But it seems that random, shooting rampages have sadly become a sign of the times.

I heard a psychologist on the Today Show this morning being asked about the possible motives of the NIU shooter, and she began talking about this generation's addiction to fame. She encouraged the media to stop giving so much news coverage to these suicide shooters. And I whole-heartedly agree with her. In fact, my husband and I had been discussing the very same thing last night.

I remember feeling unbelievably frustrated when the Virginia Tech shooting happened and NBC aired the video that the shooter had recorded of himself previous to the shooting. I don't understand how anybody with a shred of humanity could justify airing that video. It really made me feel physically sick to hear about that (I never watched the video myself).

I understand that we all have a natural curiosity to know want to know what kind of a person could do these horrible things. I really do get that. But if not knowing could potentially save lives in the future, I would much rather not know. Wouldn't you? I don't want to know the shooter's name. I don't want to see their photo. I don't want to hear anything about them. Instead of immortalizing a killer, how about we sensationalize the humanity that arose out of the situation from the victims and survivors?

I have sent a letter to the major news networks (MSNBC, FOX, ABC, CNN. Did I forget any?) encouraging them to limit their coverage of these kinds of shooters. I let them know that as a news viewer/reader/listener, this is not something I desire to know about. Will it make a difference? Maybe... Maybe not. But it's at least one small way I can make a stand in helping to prevent future violence of this kind. If you feel the same way I do, I STRONGLY encourage you to do the same thing.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tornados and Snow

Spring like storms and tornados last week, and then cold and snow this week... what's up with that??? Tennessee is a weird place.

So I'm at home today on a self-declared Snow Day (most local schools have a Snow Day today too)!! Woohoo! The way I schedule Literacy Launchpad makes it pretty easy most months to reschedule class if necessary. It felt necessary today. Local schools are closed today, so our normal classroom would have been occupied by school-agers. That means we would have been forced to have class in the hallway. That's always difficult. Plus, I was told that many children are absent today due to the weather, and I would hate for so many kiddos to miss our lesson this week (or any week). ... And although I am from the Chicago area originally, I still hate getting out in any kind of snow (even if it's just a dusting). Especially with some of these crazy Tennessee drivers.

Now that I have justified my Snow Day to everyone, I want to tell you how much fun I've been having with our lesson this week. I'm surprised, because I wasn't sure this lesson would go over the best. But the kids have been loving it, and it seems like the content of the lesson is really sticking with them (at least all the way back to their classrooms).

We read The Z Was Zapped: A Play in Twenty-Six Acts, and they have been fascinated with this book! All eyes are glued to each page, as they eagerly await what will happen to the next letter in the alphabet. It's awesome!

Our activity this week was acting out the parts of the letters. Each child was assigned a letter of the alphabet (not all the letters were represented in each class). They decorated headbands with their assigned letter on it. Then we read through our story a second time. When they heard their letter, they stood up and acted out what was happening to the letter on that page.

These kids are very dramatic actors!! They had a ball doing this activity. They wanted to read the story again and again. And they were interested not only in their own letter, but in what letter everyone else had. They loved seeing everyone else act out their part too! And on the way back to class they were all talking about what had happened to each letter in the story. I was amazed at how much was sticking with them.

So no class today, and no class tomorrow since everyone will be having Valentine's Day parties. We'll move on to a new lesson next week, and then I'll come back to this lesson for the ones who missed it this week.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Magic Me!

I have a couple cute little Literacy Launchpad anecdotes to share from my week (so far).

Yesterday, I had one of my pre-K kiddos tell me that they didn't want to graduate (from pre-K). I was surprised to hear her say that. Graduation is always so eagerly anticipated by the pre-K kids, so I asked her why she felt this way. She told me, "because then I can't come to class with you." I assured her that she would get to read lots of stories when she goes to kindergarten, and here's the best part of the story... She said, "but not cool stories like yours!"

This week we're reading The Hidden Alphabet (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards)) (Neal Porter Books). So before class I hid large cardboard letters around the room, and we searched for these hidden letters after we read our story.

I had one little girl though that couldn't fathom how I could have possibly hid those letters without her seeing. I guess the idea that I could have hid them before class isn't obvious to a pre-K child. So after our search she was just starring at the cardboard letter she found in disbelief, and she finally looked up at me and said, "are you magic?"