Friday, August 26, 2011

Welcome Back to School!

PreK 3, PreK 4, Kindergarten
Guiding Questions - Who is in our class? Who is our librarian? How do we know it's time to settle into our cozy story time?

Getting-to-know you song

I sing:
I'm Miss Sarah, I'm Miss Sarah
What's your name? What's your name?
(pause to hear name)
All sing:
Oh, his/her name is ____, Oh, his/her name is _____.
Super name! Super name! (thumbs up!)

(from Mailbox magazine, Fall 2011, Preschool issue, p. 33)

'malihand.jpg' photo (c) 2005, Harry - license: into story time finger play:

Open and close hands...
Open Shut them
Open Shut them
Give a great big CLAP CLAP CLAP! (clap and sing loudly)

Open Shut them
Open Shut them
Lay them in your lap, lap, lap (tap lap and say each time more quietly)

PreK3 and PreK 4 stories

School, by Emily Arnold McCully
When Mama Mouse sees her children off to school, her littlest one sneaks off too - even though she's still too young. She takes an empty seat and listens to the math lesson, helps the teachers, and enjoys story time. But it quickly becomes clear that she's not ready for school the way the other mice are: she falls asleep! When Mama comes to pick her up she is SO happy to see her littlest mouse and we know that even though she's excited for school, it's not the right time yet. Those listening to the story make the connection: they ARE ready! The text is spare, keeping the focus on the emotions and making it easy for youngsters to follow. Full and double-page watercolors with no borders really bring us into the mouse world.

With this story, I use a little mouse stuffed animal to show "Bitty" sneaking away from home, into school, and other actions.

Kindergarten stories
Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick
This is a silly way to show that we ARE ready for kindergarten, or at least we're in MUCH better shape than this buffalo! He can't really use scissor, he's much larger than everyone else, and he makes a huge mess at painting time. Crayon and watercolor illustrations highlight the contrast between the buffalo and the perfectly well-adjusted children in the kindergarten class. 
Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis
Dexter is pretty confident about entering kindergarten - at least he seems that way on the outside. But little clues along the way tell us that he's really not so sure. For example, his stuffed dog, Rufus, is "a bit scared" and worried he'll get lost. Who do we think is really worried: Rufus or Dexter? Dexter!

As he gets ready, he talks with his sister everything, and she assures him that everything will be fine. So it's a relief when we see him on the first day: fitting in, playing happily, and finding that even something like spilled milk is not a problem! The best part of his day? Going to the library, where he can "borrow a whole books all about shark guts or outer space and keep it practically forever." Yay!

After reading this story, I asked students if they'd like to meet the author/illustrator and they said YES! So, guess what? We WILL!

Grade 1 stories

Don't Be Silly Mrs. Millie!, by Judy Cox
The lucky students in this class have a teacher who keeps them on their toes and laughing all day long. At every transition, Mrs. Millie mis-speaks and the results are hilarious and encourage audience participation. She tells them, "Welcome, please come in and take off your GOATS." Her students correct her, "You mean our COATS!" Mrs. Millie says, "It's time to paint on the WEASEL" (No, Mrs. Millie, you mean the easle!)

Cartoony watercolor illustrations showing goats instead of coats, and a weasel instead of an easel make it even more silly. This is a great choice for grade 1+ since it gets everyone laughing and correcting the teacher.

How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?, by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague 
We might think that dinosaurs would be disruptive at school, and it's fun to imagine how they might cause big problems. Each illustration shows a different dino wreaking havoc in the building and supports the rhyming text that goes with it. For example, "When he gets to the school / does he roughhouse and punch? / Does he make a quick grab / for a classmate's packed lunch?"

But actually, these dinosaurs are MOST respectful and behave just as we'd like. They raise their hands, help others, and keep tidy desks! A fun way to introduce some classroom expectations and pique the interest of all of those dinosaur lovers out there!

Grade 2 stories

Go Home, Mrs. Beekman! by Ann Redsich Stampler
A promise is a promise, so when Emily's mom vows to stay with her at school for a million gazillion years, that's just what she plans to do. Even though Emily and her teacher are begging the mom to go, she stays true to her promise. When will Mrs. Beekman go home!? 

Grades 1+ will love Mrs. Beekman's ridiculous tricks to try to stay at school, but the message of not needing our parents during those first days is the one that sticks.

The Brand New Kid, by Katie Couric
This longer rhyming story makes a good reminder at the beginning of the year about the importance of including new students in a school. Here, a new boy is excluded at first, the main character and her friends finding him too different, too "weird" to invite to their lunch table and recess games. But when it becomes clear that he and his family are upset and worried about his lack of friends, the children make a change. They invite him to play dates, to school activities, and to join in group work. They discover that he's a perfectly delightful person - one they'd have missed knowing if they had continued to ostracize him.

Illustrated with colored pencil and watercolors, the serious topic feels light and breezy here with bouncing rhyme and upbeat pictures. A difficult task made do-able!

Grades 3 and 4 
'Toilet-Paper_71605-480x360' photo (c) 2010, Emilian Robert Vicol - license: to know you game
I pass around a roll of toilet paper and invite students to take as many squares as they might need. When everyone has their squares, I tell them that for each square they took we want to hear one fact about them. Some kiddos told us as many as 11 facts!

Smelly Locker: Silly Dilly School Songs, by Alan Katz 
Well-known tunes are set to lyrics about all the grim realities of school. for Grade 3 I sang: "School Vacation"
for Grade 4 I sang: "Smelly Locker" and "Passing Notes"

Each song is short enough to sing through a couple of times and is accompanied by suitably silly colored pencil illustrations. 

Grades 3+ will appreciate the humor of this one.

Here's a sample from "I am in the Lunchroom" (to the tune of I'm a Little Teapot)

I am in the lunchroom, 
boy, I'm starved!
Wonder what kind of food they've carved.
Chicken, fish, or meat loaf? 
Maybe pork?
IT'S so hard it snapped my fork!

Grade 5
Students checked out with their teacher this week.

EVERYONE had a chance to check out books this week!

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