Tuesday, September 30, 2014

First Grade CCD 2014-2015: Lesson 3: God is Our Father (9/22/14)

This post has moved: http://ccdlessonplans.blogspot.com/2014/09/god-is-our-father-first-grade.html

10 Kids' Books Illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Matthew Cordell is the husband of YA author Julie Halpern. He is a graphic designer, as well as a children's author and illustrator, and he lives in the suburbs of Chicago.  You can read his full bio on his website.  He also has a blog. You can see a photo of Mr. Cordell in this 2008 interview conducted by author James Preller. Below is a list of some of the works he has illustrated.

Justin Case Series

In his diary, Justin Krzeszewski relates the highs and lows of his life as he progresses through a worrisome third grade year, a disastrous summer camp experience, and a new school year plagued by bullies. There are three titles in this series, which is written by Rachel Vail.


Eleanor Series

Sensitive eight-year-old Eleanor deals with the complicated emotions associated with experiences such as her babysitter moving away, going to a summer camp she doesn't like and overcoming stage fright. There are three books in the series, which is written in free verse by Julie Sternberg.

More Poetry

  • Gone Fishing by Tamara Will Wissinger is the story of a family fishing trip which highlights the rivalry between a brother and a sister while simultaneously demonstrating different poetic forms.
  • Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It by Gail Carson Levine is a collection of apology poems modeled after William Carlos Williams' poem, "This is Just to Say."

Picture Books

  • What Floats in a Moat? by Lynne Berry explores the concept of buoyancy and makes it understandable to a young elementary audience.
  • Leap Back Home to Me by Lauren Thompson celebrates the connection between a mother and her child. No matter how far away the baby frog wanders, he'll always leap back home to his mommy!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Early Literacy in Everyday Places: The Elevator

Parents like me who bring their strollers on public transportation spend a lot of time in elevators. For me to go just one stop on the Metro to visit my local library, I have to use a total of five! Luckily, short elevator rides are perfect windows of opportunity for reinforcing early literacy skills. Here are some ideas for early literacy activities you can do with your kids between floors.
  • Talk about the letters on the elevator buttons. At the Metro station, we typically encounter four letters: T for Trains, S for Street, M for Mezzanine, and B for the pedestrian Bridge. When I press a button, I usually tell Little Miss Muffet what I’m doing: “Mommy pressed S for street!” As she gets older, I will let her help me decide which letter to press based on beginning letter sounds.
  • Review the concepts of up and down. Up and down are words that little ones tend to add to their vocabulary very early on, as they help them communicate when they wish to be carried and when they wish to be allowed to walk on their own. When you approach the elevator with your child, think aloud as you decide which button to press. “We’re going down to the mezzanine to buy a fare card.” or “We’re going up to the fourth floor to meet Daddy for lunch.” Remind your child of the meaning of these words by pointing in the corresponding direction. As your child gets older, ask him to point on his own to demonstrate his understanding. 
  • Read signs. What better way to teach your child about print awareness than to read the signage posted in the elevator? Our local elevators all have printed warnings about the use of bicycles within the Metro system, as well as information about who to call in an emergency. Some of them also have wordless signs to inform riders that smoking is prohibited, or that handicapped access is available. Reading these signs aloud to your children helps them appreciate that words and symbols have meaning, and that reading is helpful and necessary in any and every environment.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Story Time Starter: Owls

Owls make a great Fall theme. Here are my favorite owl books, songs, and rhymes for use at story time.


Miss Katie's Recommended Books

  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
    Sarah, Percy, and Bill, three owl babies, deal with anxieties while they wait for their mother to return with food. This is one my favorite picture books to read aloud. Kids love it when I make Bill's voice sound whiny and high-pitched when he says, "I want my mommy," and it's great to see all the kids' eyes grow wider and wider as the owls' worries increase. This is my go-to choice for family/all-ages story times. 
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
    Two things make this book a story time success: the suspense of waiting for the owl to show up, and the invitation to call for the owl using hooting sounds. This book's quiet, poetic mood easily calms a room full of children, and the arrival of the owl is always met with the same awe and surprise felt by the story's main character. Though this is a winter story, it works well at any time of year, and is great for elementary students as well as a preschoolers.  
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Jane Cabrera
    You can almost never go wrong with a picture book version of a favorite children's song. In this book, a mother owl and her baby and many other parent/child animal pairs sing to a bright star in the night sky. I reviewed this book in detail here

Other Possible Books

Songs & Rhymes

  • There's a Wide-Eyed Owl
    This rhyme is easy to learn, and even babies and toddlers like to watch their caregivers make owl eyes with their fingers. I like to pair this with Owl Moon because of the "whoo-whoo" at the end of the rhyme. 
  • Five Little Owls
    Count down from five to zero on your fingers or on a flannel board with this simple rhyme about four owls on a moonlit night. (If you need clipart for a flannel board, I recommend these images from My Cute Graphics, one of which appears in the image at the top of this post.)
  • Flap, Flap, Flap Little Owls (based on Flap, Flap, Flap Little Bats)
    As you sing this song, encourage the kids to pretend to be owls as they make the movements. At the end, have them all curl up and pretend to sleep. 
  • Two Little Owls
    This catchy vintage tune from Burl Ives will get stuck in your head very easily, which means it is also easy for your audience to learn and sing again at home. I like to sing it with finger puppets or stick puppets. 
  • Owl in the Tree
    Hoot like an owl and make other bird sounds with this song found at Mel's Desk.

Monday, September 22, 2014

First Grade CCD 2014-2015: Lesson 1: Jesus is My Friend (9/8/14)

This post has moved: http://ccdlessonplans.blogspot.com/2014/09/jesus-is-my-friend-first-grade.html

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mommy Librarian's Story Time Secret #4: Build Up Your Baby Story Time Collection

First I was a children’s librarian. Then I became a mom. As I attend story times with my daughter, I have started to make a list of hints that might be helpful to story time performers and/or story time attendees. Today’s hint is for libraries: Please build up your collection of baby story time books!

I’ve been to a few baby story times now where the librarian has held up a book and announced that she borrowed it from another library system. While this is generally not a problem for me - I like learning about different books, regardless of where they come from, or whether I can check them out - I started to wonder why she is having to order so many books from outside sources.

From what I can gather, it seems like the library just doesn’t have a good number of baby-friendly picture books. They have a baby section, which includes a small selection of well-loved board books, many of which are on display in the story time room each month, but none that are big enough to be read aloud to a group. I noticed that the librarian has some big books, but not enough to use them exclusively.

More and more libraries are starting to host baby story times, which is great, but they need to have the collections to support these programs. For the titles and authors of the books I would most recommend adding to a baby story time collection, check out my post, Best of Baby Story Time: Books and its accompanying Pinterest board.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cybils Announcements and Readerkidz Guest Post

In addition to my regular post for today, I have two more things to share.

The first is that my guest post, Picture Books for Greeting Friends Around the World, is up at ReaderkidZ.com. The three titles I suggest are all timely reads for the International Day of Peace, coming up on September 21.

The other is big news - the 2014 Cybils judges have been announced. This is especially exciting for me, as I have taken on the role of organizer for the Easy Reader/Beginning Chapter Book Category. I'll be participating myself as a first round judge along with these lovely bloggers:

The wonderful second round judges are
Nominations for the Cybils will open to the public on October 1, so start thinking of the best books of the past year and get ready to submit your favorite titles.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Story Time Starter: Elephants

Along with monkeys, elephants are a favorite animal in my family. Here are some of our favorite books, songs, and rhymes for celebrating pachyderms.


Miss Katie's Recommended Books

  • The Elephant and the Bad Baby by Elfrida Vipont
    An elephant takes a baby all around town, giving him treats, but the baby never once says please. The merchants who provide the treats follow them down the road, the line growing longer after each stop. This is a great cumulative tale that uses lots of repetition and silliness to keep kids engaged. It also makes a great flannel board.
  • Just a Little Bit by Ann Tompert
    An elephant and a mouse have a hard time playing together on a seesaw until other animals help them balance their weights. This story provides a fun lesson about weight and gravity and delivers the message that one can make a difference, no matter how small he is. The cartoonish illustrations by Lynn Munsinger infuse the book with warmth and humor. 
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly by Nadine Bernard Westcott
    This popular childhood chant about making peanut butter and jelly is retold by Westcott using elephants as the crackers of nuts and smashers of berries. Repetition and rhythm grab the kids' attention and encourage everyone to sing along. 
  • Splash! by Flora McDonnell
    On a very hot day, a baby elephant knows just how to cool off all the animals - by leading them to splash in the water! This is a larger-sized book so kids can see it easily in any size story room and in any size crowd. The animals are familiar and easily recognized, and the book has lots of words and phrases that kids will want to repeat back to the reader.


Other Possible Books


  • One Elephant Went out to Play
    This counting song, where elephants continually join the fun playing in a spider web, would make a great flannel board for a smaller story time group. Each child could be given  the opportunity to add an elephant to the spider web until everyone has had a turn. For larger groups, or when props aren't available, just count up to five on your fingers. (Note: This link is from KCLS, and they add the word "little" to the lyrics where it doesn't really fit. I usually omit that word.) 
  • This is the Way (Elephant Style)
    Stomp your feet, swoosh your tail, and wiggle your ears like an elephant with this action song to the tune of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush. 
  • If You're an Elephant and You Know It
    Use If You're Happy and You Know It as a model for an elephant-themed action song. Ask the kids to suggest elephant-like motions to make and do them together as a group.


  • I Asked My Mother for Fifty Cents
    This rhyme is excerpted from the handclapping classic, Miss Mary Mack. Toddlers especially love to reach up as high as they can. I usually use an elephant puppet just to have a visual to accompany the words. 
  • The Elephant Goes Like This and That
    This short rhyme is easy to memorize and fun to act out, and it has a great punchline.  It also serves as a fun way to reinforce the names of body parts and to get kids out of their seats and moving around. 
  • Elephants in the Bathtub
    More and more elephants are swimming in the bathtub - until they all fall in! This rhyme is best done on the flannel board, with the kids doing the motions along with the rhyme.
  • Up the Hill
    An elephant is only one of the animals who climbs up the hill in this rhyme, but you could easily put him first or last in the lineup to emphasize the theme. This is another one that works well on the flannel board - it almost requires a visual component to be successful.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Story Time in the Park (MOMS Club), 9/11/14

Story Time in the Park (MOMS Club), 9/11/14 

Since leaving my job at the public library last September, I have been on an extra-long story time hiatus. Before today, my last story time was this one, from September 27, 2013. To say that I was missing it would be a definite understatement! Luckily, my moms club loves story time and was very receptive when I asked if they would like me to perform one for them. 

We met at a local park this morning at 10:00. There were seven kids total - 3 boys, ages 3, 2, and 1 and four girls, ages 13 months, 9 months (that was Little Miss Muffet!), 8 months, and almost five months. This ended up being a perfect age range, and the other 5 moms in attendance were model story time participants. 

Here is what I shared with them:

I decided against using my old stand-by hello song, Hello, How Are You? It has always struck me as clunky, and I always had a hard time getting people to participate when I played the ukulele. Since the uke was sort of my security blanket for this session, I wanted to lead with it to get everyone to pay attention. It was a huge hit - we said hello to our toes, knees, tummy, nose, and all of our friends.

Song with Stick Puppets: When Cows Get Up in the Morning
I made quick and easy stick puppets using clip art from My Cute Graphics and some cardstock so we could sing this song. The oldest two kids were able to name all of the animals and tell me what those animals said, and every mom was singing along by the last verse. 

Book: Hello, Day! by Anita Lobel
Everyone was puzzled, as I usually am, by the suggestion that a rabbit makes a sound like "pr-pr-pr," but we just went with it. The kids were enthralled by the pictures and many of them made the animal sounds with me. We own this book, so I have read it a million times, which also helps with my performance. 

The final illustration in Hello, Day is a big full moon in a dark blue sky, so I like to pair it with this song. We only sang through it once because people seemed sort of puzzled by it, but the two-year-old boy picked up on the motions right away and stuck right with it to the end.

Book: Monkey See, Look at Me! by Lorena Siminovich
This book is a new favorite that we discovered at one of our local public libraries, and because the monkey in the story looks almost exactly like Miss Muffet's beloved stuffed monkey, it has become a household favorite. A couple of moms commented on how captivated their kids were by the illustrations, and the two older boys were able to make some of the animals' motions with me. 

Rhyme: Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
This rhyme is always a favorite with every audience, and this group was no exception. I opted to chant rather than sing as I normally would, just to give us some variety. 

I love sharing this rhyme with people who haven't heard it before. We did this one twice, and though only one child did the motions, all the grown-ups did. "Fast, fast, fast" was everyone's favorite part. 

Book: Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker 
This was the first book Miss Muffet ever smiled at, which is why we own it. Everyone recognized One, Two, Buckle My Shoe and got a nice laugh out of the additions made by Keith Baker.

Ukulele Medleys:
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider / It's Raining It's Pouring / Rain Rain Go Away
  • ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep
These songs were all familiar, so everyone happily sang along. Moms were especially pleased to have the alphabet song included.

Goodbye Song: Open Shut Them (Goodbye Version)

Doing story time for  moms I know is way easier than doing story time for a room full of strangers. This was a great experience, and I hope to have more to share with you soon!

20 Literacy Activities for Little Leaguers

September is National Little League Month. Celebrate with the following literacy activities, collected from my story time archives and educational blogs around the web.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Story Time Starter: Monkeys

Little Miss Muffet loves monkeys, so we read a lot of monkey books at our house. Bring a little monkey business into your own lives with these recommended monkey books, songs, and rhymes for story time.


Miss Katie's Recommended Books 

  • Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett
    A little girl and her monkey act like the different animals they go to see. Even if you don't have the book on hand, you can tell this story using flannel board pieces or simple movements for the kids to imitate. For an interactive experience, ask the kids to call out animals for "monkey and me" to visit.
  • Where's My Mom? by Julia Donaldson
    A monkey can't seem to find his mom, and the butterfly trying to help him has trouble following the clues that will eventually lead the monkey home. This book is laugh-out-loud funny for adults and kids, and though it's a bit long, it tends to keep the audience interested right up to the end.
  • Monkey See, Look At Me by Lorena Siminovich
    A monkey fancies himself to be an elephant, rabbit, bird, etc. simply because he can do their movements, but each time, his animal friends set him straight and remind him what a silly monkey he is. This is a bright and colorful book with a repetitive structure and a perfect preschool sense of humor. 


Other Possible Books 


  • Monkeys on the Bed
    When monkeys jump on the bed, they bump their heads and the doctor must be called. This can also be sung to several different tunes.
  • Five Little Monkeys Swinging in the Tree
    When they're not jumping on the bed, the pesky monkeys are teasing Mr. Alligator - until he goes snap! and gobbles them up. Recommended for preschool and kindergarten.
  • Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat
    In this version of the classic nursery rhyme, the pussy cat goes to the zoo where she meets a monkey.
  • Monkey, Monkey
    In this action rhyme, monkey turns around, dances on his toes, and more until finally it's time for  a nap.



  • I'm a Little Monkey
    This song is best sung with two monkey hand or stick puppets. In a pinch, hands can also double as monkeys.
  • Say Hello to the Animals
    Start with the monkey verse, then sing hello to other animals who live in the zoo or jungle.
  • Underneath the Monkey Tree
    Play monkey see, monkey do with this song, where kids follow your lead and do silly monkey movements. For added fun, pretend your parachute is a monkey tree and have the kids run underneath to act out their motions.
  • What Can a Monkey See from a Tree?
    In this song, name things and creatures that monkeys can see from the treetops. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fall Rhymes for Preschoolers (with Printable Booklets)

 Help your preschoolers celebrate Fall with the following three rhymes, written by me. I have created a printable booklet to accompany each rhyme, all of which are free to download and yours to share!

On their branches, apples hang.
In their patches, pumpkins sleep.
Under oak trees, acorns drop.
From the treetops, red leaves leap.
We like to see these signs of Fall,
our favorite season of them all!

Down around the corner
By the big oak tree
Sat three little acorns
looking so yummy!
Along came a squirrel
with a big bushy tail.
She took one acorn
And ran off down the trail.

(Repeat with  two and one acorns)

Four little pumpkins round
Sat on the cold, cold ground
Out there in my big pumpkin patch
Emma came walking by
Picked one to bake a pie
Then there were three little pumpkins round.

Three little pumpkins round
Sat on the cold, cold ground
Out there in my big pumpkin patch
Tommy came riding by
Picked one to bake a pie 
Then there were two little pumpkins round.

Two little pumpkins round
Sat on the cold, cold ground
Out there in my big pumpkin patch
Lily came skipping by
Picked one to bake a pie
Then there was one little pumpkin round

One little pumpkin round
Sat on the cold, cold ground
Out there in my big pumpkin patch
Jeffrey came skating by
Picked it to bake a pie 
Then there were no more pumpkins round.
The End. 

(*Note: This rhyme can also be sung to the tune of Five Green and Speckled Frogs.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

LibraryAdventure.com: Meet Kim Alberts, Children’s/YA Librarian

It's time once again for my monthly interview at The Library Adventure. Meet Kim Alberts of the Hudson Library & Historical Society in Hudson, Ohio!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Story Time Starter: Squirrels

One of my most popular blog posts is my Flannel Friday contribution from 2011 about squirrels. Today, I've expanded upon the ideas in that post to provide a full outline of possible books and activities for a squirrel-themed story time session.


Miss Katie's Recommended Books 

  • A Good Day by Kevin Henkes
    While the squirrel is not the central focus of the story, she is one of four main characters, and Henkes's illustration of her sad face upon losing her nut is perfect for helping kids feel empathy for her disappointment. This is a great one for introducing the squirrel theme, and also just a really positive note on which to start a story time.  
  • The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri
    This book's repetitive text tells the story of a squirrel who is too busy to play because he must gather food for the winter. The big, bold illustrations are exceptionally good for large story time groups, and the kids can easily engage with the book by calling out the names of the animals in the story and the sounds they make. 
  • Ol' Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein
    Ol' Mama Squirrel is a force to be reckoned with as she scolds any creature  who threatens her babies with a "Chook chook chook!" This story is fun to read aloud, and funny for the listeners - and Mama Squirrel's plan for outsmarting a bear will especially please preschoolers.


Other Possible Books



  • Gray Squirrel
    I first learned this song when I worked in a nursery school in college. I like to sing a few verses, mentioning squirrels of different colors. It's fun to name colors of real squirrels (gray, brown, and black here in the DC area) and then throw in some silly ones and ask the kids whether squirrels can be purple, orange, blue, etc. 
  • The Squirrel Up in the Tree 
    This song can be sung with stick puppets or you can make up easy motions for the kids to perform. Preschoolers especially enjoy practicing winking. 
  • Frisky Squirrel
    This  song, sung to the tune of the Grand Old Duke of York helps kids learn how hard squirrels work to gather food for the winter, and gives them a chance to get their wiggles out at the same time.


Poems & Rhymes

  • Down Around the Corner by the Big Oak Tree
    This is a flannel board rhyme I wrote, but which was inspired by a post at Mel's Desk. Count down from five acorns to zero as one by one squirrels carry them off.  
  • Two Little Squirrels (based on Two Little Blackbirds)
    This is a modified version of the Two Little Blackbirds nursery rhyme, which I found on Storytime Katie's blog. It's easy to do with just your fingers, but would also work with finger puppets or stick puppets. 
  • The Squirrel
    This anonymous poem appears in a number of children's poetry anthologies. It makes perfect use of onomatopoeia to describe precisely how a squirrel moves. Since only the title mentions that the animal is a squirrel, this can be a great opening for story time, inviting the kids to guess the day's theme. 
  • Squirrel, Squirrel
    This rhyme is very similar to Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, but with a squirrel twist. No one will be able to resist shaking their squirrel tails! (This is also a nice alternative to Gray Squirrel for those who don't like to sing.)
The squirrel clipart in the pinnable image above is from AnimalClipArt.net.
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