Top 5 Back-to-School Picture Books that Ease Anxiety and Promote a Positive Attitude

 

There is no way around it- whether you have a little one starting school for the first time, or a child heading back to those first few grades, starting school is an anxiety inducer. But your positive attitude towards the situation (and some great picture books) can alleviate the stress and help pump up your child’s confidence and optimism about school.

 

  1. 618RPzbO2WL._SX389_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg Pete the Cat, Rocking in my School Shoes, by Eric Litwin and James Dean https://www.amazon.ca/Pete-Cat-Rocking-School-Shoes/dp/0061910244

This is a fun easy read that shows children there are lots of great spots in school, and it’s ‘all good’!

 

  1.  51q9Smmke-L._SX402_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgWemberly Worried, by Kevin Henkes https://www.amazon.ca/Wemberly-Worried-Kevin Henkes/dp/0061857769/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472559642&sr=1-1&keywords=Wemberly+Worried

You think you’re worried about school- well Wemberly worries about everything! How will she handle her first day? This is one of my absolute favorites! It provides support, understanding, encouragement and inspiration.

 

  1. willow_s_whispers.jpg Willow’s Whispers, by Lana Button and Tania Howells https://www.amazon.ca/Willows-Whispers-Lana-Button/dp/1554537444/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472560178&sr=1-1&keywords=Willow%27s+Whispers

When Willow is at school her words come out as soft and shy as a secret. But not for long! Willow will inspire young ones to use their own big strong voice in school. This story also builds inclusiveness and empathy for every voice in the class.

 

  1. 61f83lXiPDL._SX439_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg Franklin Goes to School by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark https://www.amazon.ca/Franklin-Goes-School-Paulette-Bourgeois/dp/1771380101/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472560561&sr=1-1&keywords=franklin+goes+to+school

So many emotions swirling around that first day! Even the children who can’t wait to start might find themselves anxious when it’s time to actually head off. This story allows lots of dialogue regarding the realm of emotions we go through when starting school, and illustrates once more, that we are heading off to a great spot filled with lots of new experiences and adventures.

 

  1. 51n2oEIWNQL._SX495_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers https://www.amazon.ca/Day-Crayons-Quit-Drew-Daywalt/dp/0399255370/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472560981&sr=1-1&keywords=the+day+the+crayons+quit

…because, hey, when you’re anxious, you need a good laugh! And I love the message that we have the freedom to think outside the box and create new and exciting things— that’s the fresh start opportunity waiting for your child at school— like a brand new box of crayons!

 

So listen to your child when they tell you about their back-to-school anxieties. Don’t dismiss those feelings. Acknowledge that these are very understandable emotions that will go away in time. And fess up to your child that many of us are feeling the same way during this annual stress-filled transition. But while you remain supportive, concentrate your words, your body language and your attitude on the positive exciting aspects and opportunities of school. Hang on! In a few weeks, we will all be in the swing of things!

 

 

 

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Packaging Inspiration, Literacy and a Little Magic for Rainforest of Reading

It was my first packing party, so I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the warehouse in Bolton early Friday morning. I’d been invited to help pack books and supplies headed for Saint Lucia and Grenada as part of the Rainforest of Reading Festival.  http://rainforestofreading.org                 logo_ror

The Rainforest of Reading is an annual children’s book festival run by OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation http://oneworldschoolhouse.org. This amazing program, which is the largest literacy initiative for this underprivileged and developing region, invites 8,500 students in grades 3 and 4 to read 12 Canadian books and attend a national celebration.

The goal of the program is to transform lives through literacy. OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation believes that literacy is deeply connected to individual success, empowerment, and prosperity, and that reading can activate social change. Their simple but profound mission statement is: “Books can take you places you’ve never been before. Imagine That!”

During the Rainforest of Reading Festival these Eastern Caribbean children are encouraged to envision a world of possibilities beyond their classroom. With their very own Rainforest “passport” students take a literary journey through the Rainforest of Reading, earning stickers for each book read. And on the last day of the festival, the children enjoy a national celebration that includes a parade, literacy based games, activities, songs, Bananagrams, and even opportunities to meet and chat with some of the authors and illustrators.

I’m so sad that I won’t be there, but am incredibly proud and honored that Willow will. Willow Finds a Way is one of the 12 books chosen by the festival organizers to be boxed up and sent so far away in an effort to inspire and educate young children.               books

I cannot thank OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation enough for this opportunity. As I wrote this story, about a little girl’s challenge to find a way to speak out against unfair treatment of her friends, it was my hope that it might both entertain and inspire young children. I love nothing more than to read this story out loud to children, but the true magic of picture books is that Willow’s story can travel to places beyond my reach, and can hopefully provide inspiration to children I will never meet. The OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation is made up of incredibly hard working dedicated volunteers who believe in the power of picture books. I was so inspired by their dedication as we spent the day packing up these very special boxes. And although I can’t be there to meet the children taking part in the festival, I’m so very proud that, thanks to The Rainforest of Reading, Willow Finds a Way gets to be!

 

The 12 lucky books taking part in the 2014 Rainforest of Reading Festival are:

  • Unknown-1Don’t Laugh at Giraffe by Rebecca Bender (Pajama Press)
  • Unknown-2Willow Finds a Way by Lana Button, Illustrated by Tania Howells (
Kids Can Press)
  • Unknown-3Skink on the Brink by Lisa Dalrymple, Illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo (Fitzhenry & Whiteside.)
  • Unknown-4Postcards from Space: The Chris Hadfield Story by Heather Down (Echo Books/Wintertickle Press)  
  • 1554552508Gabby by Joyce Grant, Illustrated by Jan Dolby (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
  • Unknown-5And the Winner is…Amazing Animal Athletes by Etta Kaner, Illustrated by 
David Anderson (Kids Can Press)
  • Unknown-6Pterosaur Trouble by Daniel Loxton, illustrated with Jim
W. W. Smith (Kids Can Press)
  • Unknown-7Mr. Flux by Kyo Maclear, Illustrated by Matte Stephens (Kids Can Press)
  • Unknown-8Anna Carries Water by Olive Senior, Illustrated by Laura James (Tradewind Books.)
  • Unknown-9Kenta and the Big Wave by Ruth Ohi (Annick Press)
  • Unknown-10My Name is Blessing by Eric Walters, Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (Tundra Books)
  • cover_lrg Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot? by Beryl Young, Illustrated by Jason Doll (Peanut Butter Press)

 

You can donate to The Rainforest of Reading at canadahelps.org

One World Schoolhouse Foundation
 can be contacted at: (519) 316-0059


Their email: sonyawhite@oneworldschoolhouse.org

Their website: http://oneworldschoolhouse.org

Their address: 40 Woodland Court Caledon, ON L7K 0C2

Common Core- Meet Inquiry Based Story Time!

 

In a recent Open Book Blog entitled Compare and Contrast with the Common Core in Kindergarten, http://networkedblogs.com/TcvVz Jill Eisenberg compares the 8 page level A reader MEAT PIES by Celenia Chevere and Patricia M. Hubert (about a boy who makes Empanadas with his grandmother) with the 8 page level C reader TIME FOR TACOS by Carla Golembe  (about a boy who makes tacos with his dad.) Eisenberg describes how to dissect these two stories in order to meet the common core curriculum of comparing and contrasting.  Can I make another suggestion?

Story time is an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast text. There are tons of terrific picture books just begging to be used in a ‘compare and contrast’ manner!

Have you shared HOW COLD WAS IT? by Jan Barclay, yet?Image http://books.google.ca/books/about/How_Cold_Was_It.html?id=jy2XbiWp5cEC&redir_esc=y

 Imagine the fun of comparing the scenes with such extreme weather contrast, when you then share her story, HOW HOT WAS IT?  Imagehttp://www.amazon.ca/How-Hot-Was-Jane-Barclay/dp/1894222709

I guarantee you’ll not only cover your common core literacy comparison and contrast, these two picture books will spark conversation, exploration and inquiry into temperature that will cover many math and science strands as well.

I love to compare and contrast different versions of folk and fairy tales. I’ve started with the classic Little Golden Book, LITTLE RED HEN by Diane Mudrow,Image http://www.amazon.com/The-Little-Red-Golden-Book/dp/0307960307

and then introduced another version of the storyImage

http://www.amazon.ca/The-Little-Red-Paul-Galdone/dp/0899193498

The children love identifying the similarities and differences of each version.  And they become very excited when yet another version is discovered.Image

http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com/books/Little-Red-Hen-Byron-Barton/?isbn13=9780060216757&tctid=100

I’ve invited children to look through their fairy tale collections at home and bring in a version if they have one. We’ve charted the differences in the versions told (ie, sometimes the little red hen has chicks, sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes her friends are a dog, cat and rat, sometimes they are a duck, pig and dog etc.) And with all this talk about bread- we just had to bake bread one day!  So not only are you covering your common core comparison and contrasting of the key ideas and details of each story, the structure, and the relationship between illustration and print in each story, you are adding the language, math and science exploration of reading the recipe and baking the bread.

And can you imagine the excitement when we found a version where the Little Red Hen and her friends live in a high-rise apartment in the middle of the city, and she’s making pizza!Image

 http://www.amazon.ca/The-Little-Red-Makes-Pizza/dp/0142301892

We were going to town, comparing the ingredients of these two items. (and the pizzas we ended up making were delicious!)

Introduce some felt pieces to your felt board, some puppets to your theatre, and suddenly children are telling (and eventually writing) their own creative version of the Little Red Hen.

 

If your children like the latest Jon Klassen story, THIS IS NOT MY HATImage

http://www.amazon.com/This-Is-Not-My-Hat/dp/0763655996

about a tiny fish who has swiped someone’s hat, they will have a blast comparing and contrasting that story with Klassen’s  original, I WANT MY HAT BACKImage

http://www.amazon.ca/I-Want-My-Hat-Back/dp/0763655988 which has the same visual dead-pan humor but is told through the eyes of the ‘victim’, as apposed to the ‘perpetrator’.

Part of our job, as educators, is to be greats story tellers. We need to guide children through stimulating conversation regarding the stories they hear. (Think of yourself as the leader of your very young book club.) When we invite children to make connections and identify comparisons in a picture book, we provide an opportunity for each child to make a deeper connection with the book. This does so much more than cover curriculum; this plants the seed for a lifelong love of reading.

Top 3 Snowman Stories

 

Our playground was covered with perfect snow! The sensory bin was just begging to be filled with it! Our children soon discovered that mittens made things much more comfortable!Image

And they created this…Image

 

So it was the perfect opportunity to read one of my favorite picture books, SADIE AND THE SNOWMAN by Allen Morgan, and illustrated by BrendaClark.

Imagehttp://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/sadie-and-the-snowman/9780919964785-item.html

This book has that perfect combination of rhythmic words and wonderful pictures to tell the story of Sadie’s attempts to her onto her beloved snowman throughout the winter and into the spring.

 

 

My other favorite snowman book is SNOWBALLS by Lois Ehlert.Image

http://www.amazon.ca/Snowballs-Lois-Ehlert/dp/0152020950

Children delight in seeing different members of the snowman family being creatively put together with ‘found objects’.

 

 And then I introduced the class to Caralyn Buehner’s story SNOWMEN AT NIGHTImage

http://www.amazon.ca/Snowmen-at-Night-Caralyn-Buehner/dp/0803730411

I love this terrifically illustrated rhyming tale that reveals what really happens to snowmen at night.

I asked all interested children to tell me what their snowman would do at night. Some black construction paper, white paint and round sponges, Q-tips, and white chalk were provided. The children set to work creating and writing about their snowmen (my favorite was playing the xylophone!) Image

Baby it’s Cold Outside!

Baby It’s Cold Outside!

If I have to leave my house in -40 weather, at least I get to spend my day surrounded by young children. Mine is the best job! Daily, I’m the eyewitness to the moment a child discovers something new! To watch a child engrossed and excited about learning is one of the biggest perks to being an ECE in Full Day Kindergarten. And as I enter the classroom each day, I’m never quite sure where the adventure will take me.

We’ve evolved from our ‘theme based’ planning (I shared a giggle with a kindergarten teacher as we noted her stacks of Theme-a-Saurus Books placed high on a shelf, that were, at one time, a preschool, kindergarten teacher’s bible.) We no longer tell children what their activities will focus on- we let them tell us what they are interested in.  This type of ‘non-planning’ keeps educators on our toes for sure. Just when you think you’ve got an idea where the week (or even the morning) is going to take you, someone walks into the class on a fall day holding a snail they found on their way to school. So you drop your plans and go with it!

  • We need a group of researchers. What is in a snail habitat? {FDK science and technology curriculum}
  • We need a survey question, ‘What should we name our snail?’ {FDK language curriculum}
  • Someone needs to tally the results of our survey {math curriculum}
  • …and share with the class…..{Personal, social development}

But, although we are flexible in our focus, educators can take cues from things like the time of year and the weather to indicate a child’s recent experience and interest. So when I woke up last week to an extreme cold temperature alert, I knew I’d waited for the perfect day to read one of my favorites! HOW COLD WAS IT? by JaneBarclay Imagehttp://books.google.ca/books/about/How_Cold_Was_It.html?id=jy2XbiWp5cEC&redir_esc=y

This is the best book about a cold day! You will use it every year in your class! (And you’ll be so happy to put it away when the weather finally warms up!)

After the book we tried an experiment. We wet a mitten and put it outside for 5-minute increments. ImageWe were all amazed at how the soggy mitten so quickly turned white and rock hard. So with the predictions made beforehand, the measurement of time we calculated the experiment, and the documentation and sharing, we covered most of our kindergarten curriculum bases (and it wasn’t even snack yet!)

And you can’t do an experiment about a mitten without reading the story, THE MITTEN by Jan Brett. Imagehttp://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/mitten#cart/cleanup

This story is a definite go-to if you are looking for a catchy story that makes a great re-tell. It’s just begging for puppets and a large white mitten that children can use to re-tell their version of the story over and over again.

Because many of the children had some experience with the icy conditions of the recent ice storm we discussed the danger of ice and how we could make it less slippery. A kindergarten teacher in the next class was teaching a ‘walk like a penguin’ technique of trekking safely over slippery ice. Which leads to the absolutely irresistible new penguin story by Patricia Storms NEVER LET YOU GO. http://www.scholastic.ca/titles/neverletyougo/Image

 

We did some research online about the effects of salt on ice and we were ready for another experiment. We had placed a bucket of water outside that afternoon. The next day it was a block of ice. Image

The children sprinkled colored salt on the ice, and watched the effects. Very cool!Image

Image

I was confident I knew where this week was taking me, as the children were engaged in our activities. But that night- the lights went out! I, like many of the children in my class, had lost power for several hours. The next morning the room was a buzz with talk of the power failure. So I put my “How to Make Frost From a Can” experiment on hold and we constructed a survey- Did You Lose Power Last Night? Yes or No. I scurried to the library for a copy of Andrew Larsen’s IN THE TREEHOUSE,Image http://www.amazon.ca/In-Tree-House-Andrew-Larsen/dp/1554536359

about a boy’s adventures in his tree house during a black out.

The children who did lose power helped me construct a list of items that did not work in their homes. They shared this list with the class and we had a lively conversation about electricity.

It was interesting to relate the cause of the power failure to the build up of ice- which the children had some knowledge of because of our discussions in the previous days.

Our creative art area had been set up with white paper and blue pencil crayons so the children could draw the effect of frost on our window, but we quickly added black construction paper and white chalk in case anyone wanted to draw the effects of the blackout.

It had been a very cold week, no doubt about it. But the weather had definitely sparked lots of curiosity, lots of exploration and lots of great stories in our kindergarten class!

Picture Book Stories of the Nativity

Christmas excitement has definitely hit my kindergarten classroom! My teaching partner and I are searching for the perfect balance of constructing a variety of Christmas countdowns and encouraging letters and lists to Santa, with keeping a focus on Advent and the true meaning of Christmas.

So for my read aloud, I focus on nativity stories. Reading a variety of nativity stories allows me to expose the children to different texts that each tells the same story, whether it be the classic Little Golden Book, from my childhood, THE CHRISTMAS STORY by Jane Werner Watson, illustrated by Eloise WilkinImage

http://www.amazon.ca/Christmas-Story-Jane-Werner-Watson/dp/0307989135

 to ROOM FOR A LITTLE ONE, by Martin Waddell and Jason CockcroftImage

http://www.amazon.ca/Room-Little-One-Christmas-Tale/dp/1416961771

we talk about what is the same and what is different in each story.

I love ‘playing nativity’ where the children take on the role of different characters as we build our own live nativity scene. This is an excellent way for the children to work together, to sequence and to retell a story.

One of my all-time favorite nativity stories is THE CRIPPLED LAMB by Max LucidoImage

http://www.amazon.com/The-Crippled-Lamb-Max-Lucado/dp/1400318076

 

 (Though I have to confess I cringe every time I hear the word ‘crippled’ and struggle with saying it out loud.) But it is such a beautiful story about Joshua the lamb who once again is left out and left behind because of his disability, but then realizes God’s plan for him when he has been chosen to cuddle the newborn king and keep him warm on that cold winter’s night. I look forward to reading it every year!

After we’ve enjoyed a few nativity stories I love to introduce Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman’s MORTIMER’S CHRISTMAS MANGER.

Image

http://www.amazon.com/Mortimers-Christmas-Manger-Karma-Wilson/dp/1416950494

This charmingly illustrated picture book is a perfect balance between a secular and religious Christmas story. I love how Mortimer is a ‘not so perfect mouse’ whose initial intention is to find himself a better home. He thinks he finds it in a stable full of statues. He removes the statues and makes himself at home. But after hearing the story of the nativity, he sees the significance of each statue and makes room for Jesus in the stable and in his own heart.

I also love how this story illustrates to children how simple and natural it can be to have your own ‘talk with Jesus’.

As Max Lucado said, “Returning to a familiar story is like revisiting an old friend…inviting and comfortable.” This is how I feel, and this is the feeling I strive to instill in young children, when Christmas rolls around and we can crack open familiar and newly discovered stories of the nativity.