No Worries About Back to School!

Worry Stones

Who doesn’t get the jitters about the beginning of school?  Not just students, but parents, teachers, administrators, and support staff too!

I read back-to-school favorite, Wemberly Worried, by Kevin Henkes, with two Special Ed classes, and we read about all of Wemberly’s concerns.  Then we talked about things we might worry about; I went first to break the ice.  I confessed to worrying about whether I would remember teacher and student names (my first year at the school), and if students would like the books I read aloud.  I didn’t know if any students would want to share their own worries, but I was surprised at how candid they were, once we got started.

Worry stones are typically a smooth, hard, polished gemstone with an indentation for rubbing the thumb across, used to relieve anxiety.  They were used in ancient Greece, Tibet, Ireland, and in Native American Tribes.  (What do you suppose they worried about?  I’d love to know!)  Read more about the history of worry stones here.

This website shows excellent pictures on how to make worry stones using Fimo Clay.  Fimo Clay is inexpensive at Michael’s (you never go without your 40% off coupon, right?), and it takes very little.

I divided the clay into small segments in advance, and students selected three colors to make their unique worry stones.  Students carved their initials on the bottom using an opened paper clip.  I brought my little toaster oven from home (perhaps your staff lounge has one already), baked them for 20 minutes, and delivered them to the classrooms later.   When we made them at the hour-long public library story time, children made the worry stones first, and I baked them while I read a few back-to-school books, so they were able to take them home with them right away.

Tip:  You may want to have a few extras made, so students who are absent are able to have one, even though they weren’t able to make their own.

 

 

 

 

 

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

photo 5

This engaging, popular story, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by best-selling children’s author Laura Joffe Numeroff, practically insists readers predict what the mouse is going to ask for next–a glass of milk, a straw, a napkin, and on it goes, until it comes back to needing another cookie.  Many of the students had already heard the story, and were only too happy to pipe up with what the mouse would ask for next.  A good book is like having dessert–it’s just as enjoyable the second time!

Supplies:

tan construction paper or white paper plates
brown construction paper, cut into “chocolate chip” triangles
(you can decide if you pre-cut, or let kids.  I sprinkled pre-cut triangles in the center of the tables, since the transitional kindergarteners weren’t ready for scissors yet)
glue sticks

Sticker on the back of the cookie:  (see explanation at the bottom of the page here)

Today we went to the library,
and Mrs. Foote read,
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
by Laura Joffe Numeroff

Reading this book to K’s and 1’s IS a “Good Idea!”

That is Not A Good Idea!

Mo Willems.  Need I say more?  There isn’t a kid alive who doesn’t love the sense of humor of this three-time Caldecott Honor winning author and illustrator.  That is NOT a Good Idea! is my new favorite book by Willems, thanks to a wonderful kindergarten teacher who shared her copy with me last year.

In the illustrative style of an old silent film, the hungry wolf proceeds to lure the sweet, demure mother duck for, er, to dinner.   The students wanted so badly  to warn the mother duck that her choices were NOT NOT NOT a good idea!  She just kept right along making obviously bad choices, page after page, to the increasingly frantic warnings from her ducklings, and Willems shamelessly leads us all to believe she is going to meet an awful end.  Spoiler alert:  It turns out, the sneaky wolf is actually the one making all the wrong choices.  Nail-biting anticipation culminates in a thigh-slapping, surprise ending that makes one want to go back and read it again, to see how one could have missed the signs.  Feel free to give in to the urge to do this.  It’s a quick read.

The adorable ducklings are so easy and fun to draw, using a guided drawing technique.   I explained that everyone is going to stay together for the entire drawing, and that it will be very hard not to go on ahead, but please wait for me to show how to add each new part.

This drawing is so simple, I apologize for insulting you by including the steps below.  You can go in whatever order suits you.  I demonstrated on a big yellow sheet, as I walked the students through it.

I only set out the colors of crayon that I wanted used.  Personal expression is for another day, and another project.  I wanted these to all turn out looking like the ducklings in the book, no pink eyelashes or purple dresses added.  Call me a control freak.  I don’t think you can give a kid a tray full of colorful crayons and expect them not to use them all, so I often sift through the crayon bin and pull out only approved colors.  (Go see my post for Harold and the Purple Crayon, if you don’t believe me.)

Supplies:  Yellow construction paper, black crayons, orange crayons, blue crayons

1)  Draw an oval.

2)  Draw two legs.

3)  Add wings.

4)  Add two little motion lines near his wings.

5)  Draw two dots for eyes, and add some eyebrows.

6)  Give him a tail.

7)  Draw three loops on top of his head.

8)  And now, the only tricky part–the mouth:  Draw two small horizontal ovals, and connect them with two black lines.  Fill in the middle area with black crayon.  Fill in the upper and lower beak with orange crayon.

Then kids can add their own personalization, like the ducklings in the book, by adding a hat, a bow tie, or a clinging eggshell.  Many went on to add more ducklings on the front and the back.   Most students can’t draw just one.  They’re just that fun to draw!

I think every one of those students can imagine themselves illustrating a children’s picture book now.

 

 

 

 

Harry the Dirty Dog

A Black Dog with White Spots, or a White Dog with Black Spots?

Harry the Dirty Dog

This storytime practically does itself.  The classic tale of Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion, published in 1956, is just as appealing to kids today as it was then.  What child can’t relate to not wanting to take a bath, and going to great lengths to avoid it?  Harry’s antics are illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham, and their simplicity lends itself perfectly to this successful project.

Supplies:  Black construction paper, white construction paper, black Crayons, white crayons.

Prep:  I cut out 4 shapes at a time, using a pattern made from photocopying the book cover.

Set up:  Each student chose a place setting at the table with either a black or a white dog, and the opposite color crayon, and could make them as dirty or clean as they wanted.

All of the classes made a small Harry, which can be used as a bookmark, but I asked one class to also make a large Harry that I could keep and display on a bulletin board, and they were happy to oblige.  It generated some conversations, as students, parents and teachers walked through the library.

“Can our class make those too?”  (No, sorry, you’re in 5th grade, and I won’t be doing this with your class, but you are welcome to come back at recess and make yourself one.)

“Oh!  I grew up reading Harry the Dirty Dog!”

Sometimes, it’s just nice to have a storytime with no glue to scrub off the table, and no paper cuttings on the floor to pick up.

~~ * * * ~~

Have I mentioned I always put a tag on the back of anything we make in the library?  I learned this technique during an art docent training years ago.  The trainer told us to always put a note on the back of any artwork done by the students, so that parents can read what they’ve done, and it can be a conversation starter.  Otherwise it can just get lost in the jumble of backpack detritus.  It’s also an effort at library promotion — I would like parents to have the opportunity to see that their students are doing something fun and engaging in the school library.  The parents are on the PTA board, the PTA pays for part of my salary, and the PTA is the sole source of the library book and supply budget.  It’s just my way of communicating, “Here’s what your children are getting for your generous contribution.”

I use an Avery label template, 30 per page, but I use regular printer paper, cut it out and glue it on the back with glue sticks, because it’s less expensive.  Sometimes, I can give the job to some upper graders who are happy to help at recess.

Today we went to the library,
and Mrs. Foote read
Harry the Dirty Dog
Written by Gene Zion

Illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham
Listen to Betty White read the story at
http://www.storylineonline.net/harry-the-dirty-dog/