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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Anybody Out There??

Sorry my posts have been few and far between lately. I have no excuse other than the fact that I have been distracted by other things lately. I usually read all my favorite kidlit blogs on a regular basis, and I have been neglecting that pastime as well. I feel so out of the loop lately. I need to fix that!

Anyhow... I'm kind of wondering about the direction this blog should take in the future. I set it up with the intention of creating a place for parents of my students to get more info about class, for them to contact me, and for them to converse with each other. (I also love that other teachers and children's lit. enthusiasts read and comment on the blog.) I haven't had much contact from parents on here though. I'm wondering if there are parents reading this blog???

If you're a parent of a Literacy Launchpad student, I would love some feedback from you. Let me know what you think about the blog. Is it helpful? Do you like the content? Is there anything lacking you wish to see more of? Is there anything you would like to see change? Please let me know!!

If you're a visitor to the blog, and are not a parent of a Literacy Launchpad student, I would love any feedback you have as well! Please share!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What's In Your Pocket?

There's a Wocket in mine! ...Well, O.K. not in my pocket, but the little boy in this week's story had a Wocket in his pocket! We read Dr. Seuss' tale There's a Wocket in My Pocket!this week. This is a story FULL of rhymes, and all the kids did an awesome job figuring those rhyming words out!

What surprised me a little bit this week was our discussions we had following our read-aloud of There's a Wocket in My Pocket!. There's not much (if any) plot to this story, just lots of rhymes and fun. And discussing a book that doesn't have much plot is a bit difficult. But the kids were all very opinionated about the creatures in the book. They told me all about which ones they liked, if they had any of these kinds of creatures at their own house (some told me they did), what they would do is there was a "Zower in their shower", etc.

Everybody was excited about hearing last week's story again too! They all demanded that I read it again (that was the plan anyway). They were pros with all the rhymes in it. They pretty much read the story to me. I had to slow some of them down because they were "reading" too far ahead, too quickly!

After we read both of our stories, we made silly creatures like the ones in There's a Wocket in My Pocket!. The children got to create their own unique creature by mixing and matching heads, bodies, and feet of different sorts.

Once the creatures were done, we decided what kind of creatures they were ("A Bofa on the sofa?" "A Ghair under the chair?"). This was a tricky task, so with most of the kids I started a phrase for them and let them figure out the rhyming word to complete it. For example: Is your creature a Muss on a ________? (Answer: bus). This worked well, and once they got the hang of it, many of the kids were coming up with their own rhymes. They were often using made-up words, which was great because most of the words in our book were made-up too!

So we glued, and colored, and rhymed, rhymed, rhymed this week! It was great!

No class next week, but we will wrap up our rhyming unit the week of the 26th!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Children's Book Week!

It's Children's Book Week! Hooray! Read more about it in this article. And be sure to take some time to celebrate reading this week!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Old Ladies

We've been reading an awful lot of stories about old ladies lately, haven't we? They've been such fun stories though!

This week we read There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (Caldecott Honor Book). This story kicked off our new rhyming unit! And the children did SO great with this concept!

We explored the rhyming words as we read the story; then we did an activity where we stuffed the old lady's belly full of the animals from the book. The children had to complete the rhyme I gave them (I don't know why she swallowed the...) before they got to stuff that animal into her belly. I think every class got stumped on the last rhyme (the horse one). They had to think hard on some of the other rhymes too, but overall did really well.

I feel really good about this week's start to our rhyming unit. I feel it's going to ease us into the rest of the unit very nicely. Next week will be a little trickier, as we come up with our own rhymes. I'm eager to see how they do with it!

Oh! Almost forgot! I have a cute story to share!

We were re-reading the story The Teeny-Tiny Woman at the beginning of one of our classes, and I read the part about how the teeny tiny woman left her cottage to go for a teeny tiny walk...

Then, later in the story, it says something about the teeny tiny woman walking back to her home. After I read that line, one of the children said, "yeah, back to her home at college."

I stopped for a second when he said this, trying to figure out why he thought the teeny tiny woman lived at a college. Then it dawned on me that he thought I said "college" when I read the word "cottage" earlier in the story! Makes sense. I mean, "cottage" is definitely not a word we use much these days. I can understand how their brains might hear the word "college" instead.

This created a great teachable moment, and we talked about what a cottage is.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Our first Literacy Launchpad field trip was so much fun. And now it's time to start planning our next one. I'm feeling stumped on ideas though. I'm thinking something holiday related would be fun for us to do, but beyond that I'm drawing blanks. I'm going to look into what's going on in the area, but I'm open to suggestions. Wait. Let me re-phrase. I'm LOOKING for suggestions. So send 'em my way if you've got 'em!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Spreading The Love of Reading

This week I began doing some volunteer work: childcare for children whose mothers are taking an ESL class. My hope in volunteering for this gig is that I can do at least a little bit of my Literacy Launchpad magic with these children.

I'm presenting the books to the children in a casual manner, not forcing anything on them. Last night I simply laid a bunch of books out on the floor, and asked them if they wanted me to read one. After I read one, they kept asking for more!

The language difference is a bit intimidating. I'm not really sure how much of what I read and say they actually understand. And I speak NO Spanish... But they seem to be enjoying the books!

Most of our time together last night was spent playing outside, so we didn't have time for any crafts or activities to accompany the books. I'm sure we'll have time for all that eventually.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Making A Love of Reading Happen

Here's a great article for everybody to check out. Read it and take some notes (that's what I did). And also note that it's written from a father's perspective. Dads as reading role models make a big difference in their children's lives!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Local Book Sales!

The Spring Hill Library is having their quarterly book sale this Saturday (Oct. 27th) from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m.

The Williamson County Public Library is having their book sale from Nov. 1st through Nov. 4th during regular library hours.

These sales are an inexpensive way to add some books to your child's home library!! Race ya there!!

A Spooky Week!

I love October! Want to spark the interest of a child? Tell them you've got some spooky stories to tell them! We heard two spooky stories this week: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything Book and CD (Share a Story) AND The Teeny-Tiny Woman. I wish you could see the faces of my students when they heard these stories. There wasn't one wiggle or squirm the whole time!

Our first story, The Little Old Lady who Was not Afraid of Anything, I read aloud to them. I used extra dramatic pauses and inflections in my voice, and made a few of the children jump at parts of the story.

Sometimes I wish we could do spooky stories all year. It was a little sad this week, knowing that we will be starting a new unit in November, and will be saying good-bye to these extra fun October tales. That just means I need to get super creative with my lessons next month so they will be just as engaging as October's lessons. That's good though. Keeps me on my game!

After we did some activities, I finished off the lesson by telling the class the story of "The Teeny Tiny Woman." Storytelling is one of my favorite things to do in class. This was the first time I did storytelling for the year, and it always surprises the kids the first time. A few of my classes of kids asked to see the "pictures" when I was done telling the story. Now, usually when they ask this, I have to explain that the pictures are in your head when you hear storytelling. I did have a copy of the storybook version of this tale with me today though. So I went ahead and showed the children the illustrations when they asked. It offered a good opportunity for us to review the story.

I feel great about this week's lesson. Progress reports went home this week. I have to admit, I often dread progress report months because it takes so much time to fill them all out. But it's worth it if it's helpful to the parents (and kids)!

One sad note, I let one of my students take last week's story , Go Away, Big Green Monster!, back to class with her to look at for a few minutes at the beginning of this week (I told you that book was going to be a favorite!). Then I forgot to get it back from her before I left. Sooo... I didn't have the book with me to review with the rest of my classes this week. Sad day! I'm hoping to pick it up next week, and I'll bring it with me sometime in November.

No class next week. We start our Rhyming Unit the first full week of November!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Buy Books Here!!

You may have noticed my brand new, fancy-dancy, Amazon widgets on the sidebar. Yes, I have finally sold out and put ads on my blog. And here's why:

1. I earn money. Obviously. Actually, I earn Amazon credit. It's not much, but it might allow me to get a book on Amazon every once in a while for free! And what's better than a book? A FREE book!

2. These widgets are informative. I like to mention and display the books we're reading (or have read) in class anyway. These widgets make it easy for you to see what we've read in class and access more info about them.

3. They encourage book buying. I strongly encourage you (parents) to be building your child's home library. If your child comes home from class talking about a book they really liked, I would suggest adding it to your home library. Amazon has great pricing on their books, and your child receives a fun package in the mail with one of their favorite books inside! And if you're going to buy the book anyway, buy it through the Literacy Launchpad blog! You can click on the image or title of the book and it will take you directly to Amazon's website .

Friday, October 19, 2007

Big Monster! Big Hit!

This week's story, Go Away, Big Green Monster!by Ed Emberley, was a big hit! In this book, we slowly see a monster face appear as we turn each page. And then once we see the monster's complete face, we make him disappear!

Upon finishing this read-aloud I always hear "Read it again! Read it again!" Ah! Music to my ears! And so we did read it again. During our second reading, I had the children help me create the monsters face in the middle of our circle. I passed out pieces of the monsters face (teeth, hair, eyes) and they had to listen for their piece to be mentioned in the story, and then add it to the monster's face.

Then we played Monster Stomp! We took turns pulling words from our story from the "monster box," and reading the words aloud. Each word the box was a part of the monster's face, and there was a picture to accompany to word, which helped with the "reading."

There was one piece in the box that I told them NOT to pull out - the piece with the monster's entire face on it!! Yikes! This piece scares me! But of course, the children all tried their best to pull that monster face out of the box on their turn. Every time somebody pulled out that piece we yelled "MONSTER!" and stomped our feet to get him to go back in the box.

This lesson is SO much fun, not only for the children, but for me too! It allows me to use my amazing acting skills (O.K., maybe not so amazing...) and really ham up our activities. That's the best!

Toward the end of the week, while were playing Monster Stomp, somebody pulled the monster from the box. So we all yelled and stomped, and when the monster went back in the box, I asked the children (using those amazing acting skills) to please not pull him out again because "my heart couldn't take it." Well, one of the little girls was really listening when I said this, and wanted to mimic my dramatics. So the next time the monster was pulled from the box she put her hands to her chest and said, "Oh! Don't take my heart!" to the monster! And she continued to say it every time the monster was pulled from the box. It made me giggle!

Go Away, Big Green Monster!Is definitely another book they're going to be talking about for a while! I think next week's lesson is going to be great fun as well!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I've been reading some other bloggers' posts about balance in their lives, and I am struggling with finding balance as well. I am seeking the optimal balance between fun and formal instruction in my lessons.

See, the main goal I am striving for with all the classes and lessons I teach is motivation! I want these kids to LOVE reading and to WANT to read. Giving them meaningful and enjoyable experiences with books when they're young will hopefully be the foundation of a lifetime love affair with books and reading.

There are also literacy skills I work on with my kids while we're having fun with our books and stories. And I strive to incorporate the learning and practicing of these skills into our lessons in a fun way. Sometimes that's easy, sometimes it's a challenge.

This is the third year Literacy Launchpad has been in existence, and this balance has been something I have struggled with since the beginning. How much formal instruction do I incorporate into class? Do I sacrifice fun to do that sometimes?
I feel like I'm constantly torn between these two elements, sometimes feeling like I let one or the other monopolize my lesson too much each week.

Anybody have any thoughts to share about this? Parents? Teachers? Anybody?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Field Tripping

Today was the big day - our first Literacy Launchpad field trip!! I would like to say a BIG THANKS to all the families who came out and joined me and Reid. I had a lot of fun. I hope everybody else did too. And the best part was getting to meet some of you, parents. That was really great for me, and I'm hoping that I'll get to see you guys some more in the future (the wheels are already turning for the next Literacy Launchpad field trip). I'm also hoping that I'll get to meet more parents. I know Saturdays are tough for many families because there's soccer and all sorts of things going on. Plus, our trip today was way up in Nashville, which is quite a haul for some families. Thank you especially to those of you who drove from far away to come today.

This whole idea of field tripping came from a friend, Bryn. I was telling her that I wished that I could meet more of the parents of my students, and she had the brilliant idea of planning periodic field trips. Thanks, Bryn!

Today's field trip was pretty brief. We met up, entered Cheekwood as a caravan, made a potty stop, then found Reid and read him a story. The parents and kids then had time to explore the gardens and the other scarecrows, which was nice. But I wish our time together had maybe been a little longer. Especially since some of the families drove so far to come.

Ideally I would like these field trips to be a chance for parents to do something fun and literary with their child, meet-up with me, and also meet each other. So hopefully the next field trip will allow us some more time to chat and make some new friends.

I have to say, story time at Cheekwood was a challenge today. being outdoors offers many distractions, and I worried I wasn't reading loud enough for my voice to carry to everyone. I also wished we had been able to discuss the story a little bit when I was finished reading (like we usually do in class), but we were all somewhat spread out and the kids were anxious to get up and go see the other scarecrows. So again, we'll see if we can work that out on the next field trip.

I was so glad to see some other, non-Literacy Launchpad families stop by as we were reading and listen too! They were honorary class members for the day! How fun!

Roughly 10% of my students were there today for the field trip. It was a good size group for my first venture of this sort, but I would love to see more families come out for our next trip. I'll try to plan our next field trip at a more central location, which will hopefully make it more convenient for people. So if you're reading this, and you weren't there today... We missed ya! Come on out for the next trip!

Here are some photos from today's trip! Man, I love my job!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007


This week we read Leafman by Lois Ehlert. I had somewhat mixed reactions to this story from the children. I thought the illustrations in this story would really intrigue all the children, and they did intrigue most of the children, just some more than others. There wasn't as strong of a general reaction as I had anticipated.

The group dynamic was a little different in some of my classes this week. We were in a different classroom than usual on Monday due to Columbus Day. And there were a lot of students absent this week, which makes the dynamic in class different.

The kids all did really well with interpreting the illustrations in this week's book. They understood what was being created with the leaves in the illustrations, and understood that the creatures in each illustration were in fact created with leaves. They thought that was pretty cool.

I wish I had brought a fan with me to class this week, so we could talk more about the wind and do some demonstrations with blowing the leaves across the room. Something to remember for next time...

Re-reading last week's story was great because the kids remembered the simple text and read along with me. The best was when one of the children said, "I hear a peacock yelling at me" (recalling from the text). And then another child corrected him and said, "it's not 'yelling' it's 'yelping'!" These kids don't miss a beat!

Another funny moment this week was when we were reading a page in Leafman that mentioned geese, and one little boy told me how he has seen "geeks" before. He told me there was a lot of "geek poop" in his yard from all the "geeks." Too funny!

Here are some photos of the leaf creations of a few of my students. A couple of them actually took my book and used it as a reference for their leafman pictures they made, and they did an amazing job of recreating the leafman from the book! Check it out!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Visiting Reid

Had family visiting from out of town this weekend. We took a trip to go visit Reid at his new home. I was happy to see some other families admiring Reid too while we were there. He seems very happy at Cheekwood!

Here's Reid and Me!

Reid with my sisters and me.

One of the other many scarecrows on display.

My brother-in-law with his scarecrow counterpart!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Ahhh... (a sigh of relief)

I'm finally beginning to really feel settled in my new house. The little issues that pop-up when you move into a new place are dwindling. There are still issues to be dealt with, but not so many that I feel overwhelmed by them.

I'm slowly easing back into reading my children's lit. listserv and blogs regularly, and it's so refreshing and encouraging. I'm feeling all inspired and revved up for October.

I finally have an office to work in again, and not just an over-cluttered book-shelf and boxes of files in a corner of the living room (that's what I was dealing with at our temporary apartment). I have my desk back, and a closet to put all my supplies in! Granted, all my books have been unpacked and are stacked on the floor of my office, but I will hopefully be housing them on some new bookshelves soon. A trip to IKEA has been planned!

I'm still waiting to hear some responses about our Cheekwood field trip. I don't know if any families are planning to come. I sure hope they do! I'm looking forward to meeting some parents, and having a fun day out!

Monday, October 1, 2007

No Class This Week

Literacy Launchpad meets three weeks each month, and there is no class this week. Awww! I know, I know, the week isn't the same without a good story from Ms. Amy, huh? Hee. Hee.

I went to bring some flyers to one of my schools today, and of course my kids wanted to know if I was coming to get them for class. It's these kinds of moments that tempt my to give my best Sally Fields impression, "You like me! You really like me!" But, I think the reference would go over the heads of three-year-olds, so I tell them instead that we will be having class next week.

This week I'm preparing my lessons for October, which are always some of my favorites! I just LOVE books about autumn. I'm introducing Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert next week, and I'm eager to see how the students react to it. I think they're all going to have a lot of fun with it.

I'm not a fan of cold weather, but I do wish it would cool down just a little for our autumn lessons. Books about pumpkins and leaves should be read on cool, windy days, not on days when it's sunny and a high near ninety degrees!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

First Month Success

Our new story for this week, Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, didn't have the same intrigue as last week's story (The Incredible Book Eating Boy),which they're still talking about this week. The simple, repeating text was great for encouraging "reading" along and interaction though.

We played a listening game where I played real recordings of animal sounds on a CD and they had to match the sound to the correct animal from our story. It was interesting (even for me) to hear these animal sounds. Ever heard the sound a zebra makes? Very unusual. It sounds like a dog barking! That one really stumped the kids.

I'm having fun hearing the kids recap our story from last week every time we meet. One little girl came in today and saw last week's book and said, "Look! It's the incredible boy!" I was so excited that she remembered, and used, the word "incredible."

This first month of class has been an opportunity for us all to get into the swing of class, introduce the kids to some basic concepts, and get them pumped about "reading" class. I think I've been pretty successful with all those things. They all seem to be having a lot of fun, which is the most important thing. I love coming to get them for class and hearing them say, "I love 'reading' class!" There are a few that actually refer to class by it's official title - Literacy Launchpad. It's even cuter when they say that!

Reid is now at Cheekwood! He's all settled in, and hopefully enjoying himself. I saw some GREAT scarecrows out there, and I didn't even get a chance to look at very many of them. One of the scarecrows near Reid even has a bike! It's all so much fun; I can't wait for our field trip!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Can't Win

I still don't have reliable internet! Something funky is going with our connection here at the new house, so I often come home and can't get on the internet and am then forced to wait for my husband to return home (and fix it) in order to be able to check my email and blog. Humph! He's explained to me how to fix it, but of course, I don't seem to have the magic touch. It wouldn't fix for me! :-(

So The Incredible Book Eating Boy has a firm hold on the hearts of my kids. They are ALL still talking about it this week. They loved it! And it seems that many of them memorized the text last week; they can practically read the story to me! I love that they have fallen in love with this new favorite of mine.

Reid will be heading out to Cheekwood tomorrow to be officially installed. "Installed" seems like such a harsh word to use when referring to my new buddy that I've been spending so much time with over the past couple weeks. He'll be happy there though.

The kids have been asking about Reid this week. They want to know where he is. And they seem excited about the idea of going to visit him at Cheekwood. I'm hoping to see many of them out there with their parents!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Henry and Reid

I'm finally moved into my new house. Yay! Hopefully things will quickly be returning to normal. I do still have a garage of boxes waiting to be unpacked, but at least I live in the same place as my internet access. That's a step in the right direction!

This past week we read The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers. The week started off a little bumpy. This is a more sophisticated story (in the Literacy Launchpad repertoire), and I started the week by trying to completely re-read Caps For Sale from last week AND read our new story. It was hard to keep the kids attention through both those stories back to back, and it was difficult to try to squeeze everything from my lesson plan into our class time. So I revised my plan, and the rest of the week we just reviewed Caps For Sale. We don't usually do this; we almost always re-read our story from the previous week. It worked out well though; I enjoyed hearing the kids give me a summary (instead) of what happened in the story. They surprised me with how much they remembered. One of my younger students even remembered that at the end of the book, the peddler "walked back to town."

The Incredible Book Eating Boy is a story about a boy that eats books (it started "quite by accident"). But all the information from the books ends up getting mixed up in his brain, and he gets sick. So he ultimately opts to read books instead of eating them, and he hoped to someday become the "smartest person on earth."

I loved this book. It was clever and funny, and had just the right amount of text. It flowed really well for a read-aloud, and the kids responded really well to it. The kids are really getting into the predicting, and this book provided many opportunities for both predicting and brainstorming. They predicted what would happen when Henry ate books, they guessed what books might taste like, they discussed whether they would ever eat a book (no worries, none of them sounded interested), they predicted what he would do with the books after he stopped eating them, and they brainstormed other silly things he could eat.

When I asked the kids what they thought books tasted like, most of the kids responded by making faces and telling me how gross they thought it would be. But there was a girl in one class who told me very seriously that books tasted "probably like watermelons."

We did a couple activities with this lesson. We played a game where they fed books into Henry's mouth and Henry ended up "getting sick." Then we talked about how Henry should read books instead of eating them. So the kids then made their own books for Henry to read and put in his brain. You can't see it very well in the photo below, but there is a cellophane pocket inside that cut-out in Henry's head. So the kids decorated their book covers and then dropped them into Henry's brain. They liked seeing their book in his head! We talked about how Henry was getting smarter, and smarter, and smarter!

I also had a buddy come to class with me all last week - Reid! He wanted to come hear some stories. He asked if he could join our class, but we decided that scarecrows don't belong at school, and that he would be much happier at the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. We told him we would come visit him there though, and read him a story when we did. So I invited all my kids to come join me out there next month. They were so funny, many of them told me (very concerned) that there parents didn't know how to get to Cheekwood. I assured them that we would work it out!

The kids were all excited to meet Reid. Well, almost all the kids. There was one group of younger children that were very nervous about Reid being in class with us, and I had to move him out into the hall. I guess they don't call them scarecrows for nothing!

And some of you have been wondering what Reid looks like. Well here he is!

Thank you to Jen Barney for suggesting this idea for Reid's style. He's still not compeltely finished. He forgot to bring his backpack to class with him last week, but he's planning to bring it to Cheekwood with him.

Many of the kids wanted to read the books that Reid brought to class with him, but unfortunately, we didn't have time. Maybe Reid will share them with some of the other scarecrows at Cheekwood...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Reid Toomey

Keep hanging in here with me. I have internet at my new house, but I still don't live at my new house yet. So my internet access is still limited. I move Saturday though, so I'll things will be back to normal soon... theoretically!

As many of you know, Literacy Launchpad will be submitting a scarecrow for display at Cheekwood Botanical Garden's Scarecrow! exhibit this autumn. Well... the scarecrow is ready, and his/her/its name is "Reid Toomey"! He turned out cuter than I imagined he would, and he is traveling with me to classes this week! He's cumbersome to travel with, but so worth it! The kids are enjoying having the visitor, and I can't wait to be there when they see him in the gardens at Cheekwood!

If you are a parent of a Literacy Launchpad student, you are invited to come visit Reid, at Cheekwood (in Nashville) with your child this October. Literacy Launchpad is taking a "field trip" to Cheekwood to visit Reid, and read him a story. There will also be many other scarecrows to see in the gardens. (None as cool as "Reid though, of course!) Cheekwood is offering us special school benefits, so admission will be free for all the students, and only $5 for adults! More details will be arriving in your child's mailbox soon! Feel free to email me with any questions if you just can't wait to know more!! :-)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Week One Reflection

Please forgive my scatteredness (that's not a word, is it?) this week. It will most likely continue into next week. We (my husband and I) closed on our new house this week, and will be moving next week, so everything in my life is in transit pretty much... including my internet (I'm blogging from a school right now)! The internet at my old place is gone, and it is not yet working at the new place. :-( So thank you for your patience with me.

This was a fantastic first week of Literacy Launchpad classes! The first week is always a little rough for me, because my kids have moved up into new classrooms, and I have newly enrolled children, and I spend a lot time trying to hunt down my class of kids. But I found them all!

The kids all responded to Caps For Sale (our story this week) with such enthusiasm. Our read-alouds were nice and long because we were discussing and predicting as we were reading. And none of it was forced! Most of the dialog was initiated by the children. I love how observant they are.

We talked about how the peddler got the tall stack of caps on his head. We talked about what a "peddler" is. We talked about what "wares" are. We debated what color the peddler's caps actually were (they didn't look like the colors that the author identified them as). We wondered what happened to the peddler's caps when they were gone after his nap. We wondered why the monkeys took the peddler's caps. We laughed at the silly way the monkeys acted. We wondered if the monkeys were going to give the peddler back his cap. We discussed what we might say to the monkeys if we were the peddler. We made angry faces like the peddler. We wondered if the peddler was ever going to sell any of his caps. We wondered why the monkeys didn't buy the caps from the peddler.

A couple of my favorite things that the kids said this week:
- One little boy concluded that the peddler "must be nocturnal" because he was sleeping during the day. How many four-year-olds use the word "nocturnal"?!
- Another little boy told me that the monkeys could not have bought the caps from the peddler because monkeys don't have money. I was pretty impressed that he could reason that out on his own. ...And then he told me that the monkeys would have money when they grew up. So there was something in the story that made this little boy decide that the monkeys were not adult monkeys. I wonder what that was? I wish I would have dug a little deeper with him on that one. I had never given much thought to the age of the monkeys in the book.

I'll end my post here for now. I've gotta run. But I will hopefully be posting again this weekend!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monkey Business

Today was the first official day of Literacy Launchpad for the year! Hooray! And this week we're reading Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. This is one of my favorite stories of all time. I remember the librarian at my elementary school reading it to my class when I was young, and I find myself mimicking the gestures and inflections she used when I read the story.

I met with two great groups of kids today(2 yr. olds through 4 yr. olds). They all did so great. It amazed me how well they all jumped into the swing of things on our first day of class! Especially since many of them are new students that weren't with me last year.

There were a few kids that came in with the wiggles, but isn't it amazing how a good book can calm even the most outrageous cases of the wiggles?

The kids laughed at the monkeys in the book, shook their fingers and stomped their feet like the peddler, showed me their angry faces, made monkey noises, and began making unprompted predictions! I was so proud of them!

After our story and discussion, we made monkeys out of construction paper. And decorated our own caps to put on their heads. The kids were excited about telling me what kind of monkey they made: mean, sad, nice, etc. I love their creativity. One little girl even gave her monkey sharp, scary teeth! Yikes! Don't mess with that monkey!

It was so fun to be back at school, and to hear the kids saying, "Hi, Ms. Amy" in the hallway. It's going to be a great year! More news to come later in the week!

Saturday, September 8, 2007


PBS has recently launched a new show for youngsters called WordWorld.. Now, please understand that I am not advocating television viewing for young children. I would obviously much rather see a child reading, playing, or listening to music than watching the boob-tube. But if they're going to watch something, it might as well be something good, right? Sounds like WordWorld might fit the bill...

I haven't seen WordWorld myself yet, but I'm very intrigued by what I have heard about it. From what I can gather, they spell words out on screen, and then once the word has been read, it becomes the object that it represents. For example, after they have spelled and read the word "truck," the letters morph into a picture of a truck.

I read a press release about the show, and there is more to the show than morphing words (or so they claim), but again, I have not seen it myself yet. I plan to set up the DVR so I can check out what all the fuss is about. I doubt it will ever take the place of Between The Lions in my heart, but maybe it will come in a close second.

Let me know if you've seen the show, and what you think of it. Especially if you have children that have watched it!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Getting Back to "Normal"

I returned from my girls' weekend on Tuesday, but have been playing a crazy game of catch-up all week. I feel a lot like a dog chasing my tail. Literacy Launchpad classes start next week, and I'm preparing lessons, organizing enrollment, and delivering brochures. Busy, busy, busy, but it's all fun stuff.

My weekend was great though. I had such a good time with family and friends, especially my nieces. Check out these fun photos of my three-year-old, book-loving niece.

Her shirt says "future librarian"

She's asleep under the book!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Crazy Week!

I'm sorry my blog has been lacking in posts this week. What can I say? Life has been extra life-y lately.
But I'm escaping to Chicago on Thursday for a mega-fun girls weekend! There are plans for sleep-overs, fun outings, and we're going to see Wicked on Sunday! I'm so excited!

...So there may not be much from me till next week. My apologies. Hope everyone has a wonderful three-day weekend!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Jumpstart's Read for the Record

Did you know that one-third of American children enter kindergarten developmentally behind their peers and without the skills necessary to succeed at grade level? This is an issue of national concern, regardless of whether you're a parent of a child or not.

That's why Jumpstart – a national nonprofit organization focused on intervening early in the lives of at-risk children, through intensive early education programs – has created a way for every adult and every child across the country to raise public awareness about the early education gap that exists between income levels.

Jumpstart has begun a campaign to create the largest "shared reading experience" ever by breaking the record they set last August (2006) when 150,000 people read the same book across the country as part of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record inaugural campaign.

Not only is this a campaign to raise awareness, last year, Jumpstart’s Read for the Record raised more than $500,000 to support the organization’s early education work in low-income communities.

This year's book is The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf. You can be a part of the largest "shared reading experience" ever, while doing a great thing for the youth in America. Go here to learn more!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hooked On Phonics

Though Literacy Launchpad breaks for the summer, my Hooked On Phonics lessons do not. I offer Hooked On Phonics lessons at one school, and I have about seven children that I work with each week.

I have only been using the Hooked On Phonics curriculum for about a year. I was hesitant to even begin offering it, but it seemed that there was interest among some parents. I encourage parents to enroll their children in both Literacy Launchpad and Hooked On Phonics, and not Hooked On Phonics alone. This is because I believe very strongly that children need to have fun with books, see the purposes of reading, and experience literature in meaningful ways in order to build a solid foundation for learning to read.

I guess this all goes back to the phonics vs. whole language debate... I really do see value in the Hooked On Phonics program. I wouldn't use it if I didn't. Granted, the lessons aren't a ton of fun for me (at least not compared to Literacy Launchpad lessons), but the children do seem to enjoy them, and they do learn a lot. I guess I just wish there was more depth to the curriculum.

What do you think? Anybody else familiar with the Hooked On Phonics curriculum?

Monday, August 20, 2007


30,000 what? Go check out this article at LiteracyNews.com to find out. Parents, go read it now! Thanks to Jen Robinson's Book Page for the link!

Giving the Gift of Reading

I went to a baby shower about a week ago, and I gave my standard baby shower gift, which is The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and a picture book. I almost always choose Tails by Matthew Van Fleet for the picture book. This is because Tails seems to be a hit with just about every little toddler (and younger)! It's filled with cute animals that have fun tails to play with! One of my nieces loved this book so much that she wore her copy of it out (thanks to my sister, Rebecca, for tipping me off to this book). I highly recommend this book for children ages 0-3 yrs!

But back to the baby shower! I buy The Read Aloud Handbook for people because it is full of fascinating information, and every person should read it (in my opinion), especially if you're a parent or teacher. (Not familiar with the book? Find out more info about it here, and buy it here.) What gift could be better to a new parent than empowering them to read to their child from birth? A reading parent is infinitely more valuable (and often more practical) than most of your typical baby shower gifts. When giving this gift, I like to think of myself as a kind of fairy godmother (think Disney's Sleeping Beauty), but instead of giving the gift of beauty or song, I give the gift of reading... and they all lived happily ever after!

In other news, I started putting up my bulletin boards and handing out flyers for classes today at some of my schools. Literacy Launchpad classes start the second week in September, and I'm getting excited! If you're a parent visiting the blog for the first time, welcome!! Please visit regularly!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New Read-Aloud Info

Reading Rockets has posted a very interesting article on their site about how to effectively read-aloud to children (to enable them to learn the most).

What I found most interesting in the article was that they encouraged reading sophisticated stories with young children, and not ONLY predictable stories and concept books. This is something I have always done, but sometimes second guessed myself on, wondering if I was presenting stories the children wouldn't understand (see some of my thoughts in yesterday's post). Usually my doubts are allayed when I see these "sophisticated stories" become some of the children's favorites, but it was nice to read some research that backed that up!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Amy's Book Round-up

As I mentioned last week, I have been hunting for new books to incorporate in this year's Literacy Launchpad curriculum. And by new, I mean new to my curriculum; not necessarily newly-released books.

It's tough to do a thorough search for new books, because there is a pretty limited selection at both the library and bookstore (relatively speaking); they don't always have the books I'm looking for (or if they have it, it's not always in stock). And it's not always easy to get an accurate feel for a book at online bookstores and through reviews. So... I'm still searching, but I have found some I really like.

The Incredible Book Eating Boy, by Oliver Jeffers is one I really love. It's so much fun, and I think it would be a great story to start off the year with. I really want to begin the year with a book like this that is fun, and that also easily opens the door to a discussion about books. So that's a possibility...

I am dying to finally incorporate Leaf Man, by Lois Ehlert into my lessons. This will be tricky because I love all my books that I am currently using during that fall, and I will have to bump one to use this book. I like this book enough to do that though!

Tippy-tippy-tippy, Hide!, by Candace Fleming is a fantastic book. I had so much fun reading this one, and I know this will end up being a favorite of my students. I'll probably wait till the end of winter to use it. It's going to be hard to wait!

Some others I'm considering:
The Zoo, by Suzy Lee
Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen (I don't know if this one is too long for some of my younger students)
Flotsam, by David Wiesner (Again, it may be a little above some of my students)

I'm still searching! Have any suggestions? Leave them in my comments!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ideas Anybody?

So the Cheekwood Scarecrows thing is definitely a GO! I am registered and set to pick up the supplies for the basic structure of the scarecorw later this week. But I'm a little freaked out about it, because I have no solid idea about how I'm going to make this scarecrow. I want it to be something unique and creative (obviously); I want it to tie in with reading and/or literacy; and I would like the children to be able to participate in creating the scarecrow on some level. So... if you have any brilliant suggestions, please leave them in the comment section. Meanwhile, I will be reading some scarecrow-making books and brainstorming some more!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

New Blog Favorite

A new picture book blog was brought to my attention by Big A, liitle a.

Bottom Shelf Books is a blog that looks at picture books "from a somewhat grown-up perspective." Why would an adult read picture books? Here's Minh's (from Bottom Shelf Books) thoughts:

Why Picture Books?
As the old saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words... and weighs significantly less." I love reading as much as the next person, but there are only so many hours in the day. For example, why spend weeks (or months) reading David Foster Wallace's indulgently long Infinite Jest when you could spend minutes reading Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon which is basically the same story? (minus the prescription drug addiction.) It's really just a matter of efficient time management.

Efficient time management... hmm... This will be a good point to bring up with my husband. He believes watching the movie adaptation of a novel is efficient time management. Imagine how much more he could be getting done in a day with the help of picture books!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Thank you! Thank you, Fuse #8 for the great bit of nostalgia you provided today! There were many shows I watched when I was young, and this is one of them:

I endured many mockings from my older siblings for watching Pinwheel, but it was worth it!

It amazes me how ancient this cartoon looks, though. Anybody agree with my here? I'm not very old, geesh!

Anybody else a fan of Pinwheel growing up? Or please feel free to share thoughts on your own childhood cartoon favorite. Today's Special was also a favorite of mine, though not entirely a cartoon.

Anyhow, read here for Fuse #8's blog posting about Pinwheel.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Book Hunting

Thanks to many of you brilliant kidlit bloggers, I'm off to the library and bookstores tomorrow on a book hunt. I have been making notes of books reviewed and suggested on various blogs and I'm anxious to get out there choose a handful to incorporate into this year's Literacy Launchpad curriculum. The list I have is long, so I hope I can find most of the books on it. I'll let you know what my search uncovers, and which ones I choose. Feel free to throw more book suggestions at me in the comments. My students range in age from 2-5 yrs. old.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Just For Fun

You scored as Elizabeth Bennet, You are ELIZABETH BENNET from Pride and Prejudice. Few people find you disagreeable. You are often described as intelligent, clever, and quite worth looking at. You are the best of company, though your family may not be.

Elizabeth Bennet


Elinor Dashwood


Mr. Darcy


Marianne Dashwood


Emma Woodhouse


Mr. Knightly


Which Jane austen Character are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Thursday, August 2, 2007

I'm back from my trip to Chicago to meet my new niece. She's so little, and so sweet. It was a great trip.

One of the highlights from my trip, other than meeting my new niece, was taking my other niece (3 yrs. old) to the library. Since I don't have children of my own yet, it was especially fun to go with my niece and show her some of my favorite stories.

We tried going to the library on Friday, but they were already closed when we got there. So we came back on Saturday. My niece started out at the computer, then moved on to the puzzles, and then we started reading some books. First I pulled out a a big book version of Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash. My niece laughed at all the good parts. Then I found Not A Box, and she loved that one too. I suggested to her how fun it would be if we had a box that we could play pretend with, and as soon as we got home she asked my mom for a box! Luckily my mom had one, and she climbed right inside and pretended it was a car. How cute is that?

After she had let me choose a few books, my niece went hunting for books on the shelf by herself. She came back with a Caillou book and a Barney book, and so we read those too.

The library closed an hour after we got there, so we didn't have a long time to read, but we still had fun. Ten minutes before they closed my niece found a big book version of The Tiny Seed. We had to read it fast, but it was a great finish to the trip!

Neither of us had a library card for this particular library we visited, so we couldn't check any books out. We put our books away and headed out to our car. My niece stopped me once we got outside. She remembered seeing the "closed" sign the day before, and so she wanted to know what the various signs outside the library said. I pointed out the "open" sign to her and explained that they would flip it to say "closed" when they locked the library doors for the night. She wanted to stay and watch them do that, and so we did. We got some strange looks from all the people leaving the library though, as we sat there intently looking at the "open" sign.

I love that my niece is so fascinated with words. She definitely understands that words have meaning, and is curious to learn what their meaning is. She will ask you to read any and all kinds of signs to her. It's great! She's going to be reading before we know it!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I'll Be Back!

I'm an aunt... again! My sister just had her baby so I'm heading out of town for a few days to go meet my new niece. I'll be back to posting again next week!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Cheekwood Botanical Gardens will be hosting an exhibit this fall called Scarecrows. To create the exhibit they are asking people (individuals or small groups) to create scarecrows to be displayed in the gardens during the fall months.

I think this would be so much fun for my Literacy Launchpad students to participate in! We could create a scarecrow, and then have a special Saturday where we meet at the gardens for a storytime and scarecrow tour.

The challenge here is how do I have a large number of preschool children all help create a weather durable scarecrow? Any ideas? I would love to hear them!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"There's my reading teacher!"

Ran into one of my kiddos at a local eatery on Sunday afternoon. I love when this happens, because it always takes a moment for the kids to process seeing me outside of "school." Processing who I was was especially challenging for this child on Sunday because I had sunglasses on, and my hair has been cut and colored since the last time he saw me. So it took him a few seconds, but he figured it out and said (pointing at me), "There's my reading teacher!" I love that!

Mom came over and introduced herself, and we chatted a bit. These chance run-ins are always nice because I get to actually meet parents - something that rarely happens. I'm trying to think of some ways to remedy that... I'll keep ya posted on what I come up with!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Already Finished?

If you're already finished with HP7 and wondering what to do now, go visit Shelfari and check out the contest they have going on!

Farewell Harry... (No Spoilers!)

I had a fabulous Friday evening participating in the Harry Potter fanfare that was going on nationwide... and beyond! A few of my book club pals and I met-up at our local Barnes and Noble around 9 p.m. for some partying - Harry Potter style! I have to say, Barnes and Noble did a great job hosting the event.

When we entered we were given some ultra-hip (somewhat small), white, Harry glasses. We sported our cool spectacles as we made our way around the festivities. First we dropped our raffle tickets into the Goblet of Fire (a large jar). We then made our way to Diagon Alley (the music section) and made some sharp-looking wands and amulets.

Next it was off to the sorting hat! The Sorting Hat was done for fun, and was also an attempt to organize people for book-puchasing. They did not acheive the latter goal, but pulled off the former very well! A very authentic looking Professor McGonagall placed the sorting hat on our heads, as someone peeking out from behind a bookshelf a few rows back spoke the house name into a microphone (the speakers were hidden under a table behind the sorting hat). The bookstore employees really got into the sorting: I saw a boy visit the Sorting Hat, apparently for a second time, and the hat told him, "You have been here before and the answer is STILL Ravenclaw!" ...Awesome!

A couple of the gals in our group took their O.W.L.s (trivia), and did us proud! We all had our photo taken at Hogwarts Castle (a backdrop in the children's section). And a couple of us each had a school crest painted onto our arm.

Some minor chaos began when they attempted to sort us into our houses and line us up for the book-selling. This effort failed, and it basically turned into an unorganized mass of people attempting to get as close to the cash-wrap area as they could. Very hot (not in the good, Paris Hilton-ese way)! Very uncomfortable!

The count down was great though! Better than any New Year's Eve party count down I've ever been to! The anticipation in the air was palpable. And it was exciting knowing that everyone there was friends with my Harry too, and was just as eager as me to find out what he and his friends are up to next.

Spent all day Saturday, and half the day Sunday, reading the book aloud with my husband. But I promised I wouldn't spoil any of it for those who are still reading, so I will end my blog here for now.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ah-hem. Ah-hem. Is this thing on?

Welcome to my first blogging experience! It was quite the ordeal to get this thing up and going... Took a while for me to figure out that I needed to use a different browser than Safari when blogging.

But I'm here now! And so are you!