Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook

Book Coverby Michael Garland
AR Reading Level 3.8; 0.5 points
Available from Amazon.com

Summary:  Miss Smith is a kooky, punk teacher (she has a button for The Clash on her jacket.)  She has a magic storybook that brings characters and settings to life while the rapt students listen.  One day, Miss Smith is absent, so the principal becomes the substitute teacher.  He begins to read from the book, and characters fill the room.  He panics and runs out to fetch help.  The kids take turns reading from the book, until the room is full of characters.  Miss Smith comes in and saves the day by finishing each story so the characters can go back to the book.

Activities:  As a teacher, I would use the book as a Read Aloud for any age.  I would tie writing and art assignments in,  letting the students create their own stories and illustrations from Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook.  This would coordinate nicely with Read and Rise as a pro-reading, platform-to-adventure type book.  It would be good to use at the beginning of the school year.

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Posted in Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Sep 22, 2009


Help your child fill up at school lunch

Lunch AnticsEating right is essential for learning.  A hungry kid is at a disadvantage no matter what time of day hunger strikes.  Even when parents provide nutritious lunches from home or through the school lunch program, two situations can cause a child to feel hungry at school.

Quantity of food offered: To the best of my knowledge, elementary school lunch portion sizes are the same, no matter the age of the child.  When your child is young, the amount of food in school lunch is adequate.  As your child gets older, make sure your child isn’t left feeling hungry after lunch.  The problem could be the quantity of food that is offered; fifth and sixth grade boys often need more food.

Time scheduled for lunch: Some children simply don’t have time to eat all of their lunch, whether it’s due to a tight schedule or too much socializing at the lunch table.  Lunch schedules can cause difficulties:  lunch time might be too early for your child to feel hungry enough to eat a full lunch, leading to hunger pangs later in the day.  Late lunch times can be difficult for light eaters: perhaps a nutritious snack would carry your child through until the scheduled lunch time.

If your child feels hungry at school after lunch, talk about ways to solve the problem:

  • Is there a better lunch choice?  Many schools have several school lunch choices.  The daily hot lunch will be more filling than the peanut butter and jelly pack.
  • What is your child drinking with lunch?  Milk is more filling than juice.
  • Is your child eating everything?  Sometimes, the child can solve his own problem by becoming a little less picky.
  • If your child eating protein?  Teach children to eat the protein first and save the cookie for dessert, even when you’re not watching!
  • My experience is that most children have limited time for eating their lunches.  Teach children to start with the main course, whether they’re eating the school lunch or a lunch packed at home.

Learn more about the National School Lunch Program here.
Ideas for Healthy School Lunches from Home

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Posted in Classroom Management,Food,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Sep 16, 2009


Punctuation Takes a Vacation

Book Coverby Robin Pulver
AR Reading Level 3.9; 0.5 points
Available at Amazon.com

Summary: When all the punctuation marks take a vacation, students in Mr. Wright’s class find it difficult to learn.  Nothing makes any sense without punctuation.  Then, postcards start arriving from Take-a-Break Lake with cryptic messages from punctuation marks.  Eventually, the punctuation marks return, the kids are more appreciative, and they all live happily ever after.  There is a list of punctuation rules at the end of the book.

Activities: This is a good Read-Aloud for 3-6.  I would have the kids guess which punctuation mark wrote each postcard. Then I would encourage the kids to write their own postcards from various punctuation marks.

Connection:  Lynn Truss’s Best Seller, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, offers equally entertaining (and always correct) adult punctuation lessons.   There really is an Apostrophe Protection Society!

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Posted in Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Sep 10, 2009


Making connections makes children smarter

Making Connections
Teach  children to make connections and you will teach them how to learn.

Good learners see connections everywhere.  Connecting new information to what we already know helps make it more meaningful — and easier to remember.

Some children already know how to make connections, but most need to be taught.  First, teach children the three main categories for connections to things they already know:

  1. Connection to self  (The character in this week’s reading book story is new to school, and that reminds me of when I was a new kid.)
  2. Connection to information (Learning about bees reminds me of cities because all the bees in the beehive have a job.)
  3. Connection to a story (Medusa reminded me of the Basilisk in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets because anyone who looks at Medusa turns to stone.)

Model the process for a few days by making your own connections.

Most important:  give children an incentive for making connections.  In my class, table groups can earn points for good behavior, academic achievement, for example.  When I introduced table points for connections, the number of connections my students made shot through the roof.  I truly believe that when classmates make  connections, the whole class benefits.

You will love to hear your students say, “Ooh, ooh, connection!”

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Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Sep 2, 2009