News From the Library–May 1, 2015


Congratulations to our Battle of the Books 2015 Team!

On Wednesday, April 30, five intrepid readers in grades 4-6 made the journey to the Santa Barbara County Schools Auditorium to do battle with students from 54 schools from all around Santa Barbara County.  These incredible readers have been reading from a list of 30 books and several read all 30.  We started practicing in February and all their hard work paid off.  One of our students made it to the finals with her team and her team was the winning team!!  This is a great program to honor and encourage students to read across the genres and this year’s team from our school was one of the best ever!


This will be the last post by me to Voices From the Inglenook.  After 43 years as an educator, the last 26 as librarian at Cold Spring, it is time for me to retire and enjoy doing many things I have waited to do.  This has been a dream career for me.  I loved school as a child, loved my teachers, and above all loved books!  I have been so fortunate to be able to work here at Cold Spring and I’m very happy to be leaving the library in the capable hands of our present third grade teacher, Mari Callahan.

Thank you all for all your wonderful, positive comments on the blog over the past many years.  I hope it has been a help to you as librarians and a source of information to parents.

Even though this is the first of May and there are several weeks of school left, I have much to do to finish up my career here and train my successor so the blog is one of the things I need to complete now.

Best wishes to all of you who have followed me over the years!

News From the Library–Apr. 24, 2015


Professor Garfield Fact or Opinion

This week fourth graders had a lesson on distinguishing fact from opinion and we really enjoyed using the app “Professor Garfield Fact or Opinion.”  I projected it on the TV and read it aloud, then we did the activities as a group.  This humorous approach was a big hit with the fourth graders and gave them a good foundation for evaluating materials, particularly websites, as to their suitability for research purposes.

Also in the Library this week..


Kindergarten–In Muncha, Muncha, Muncha by Candace Fleming, poor Mr. McGreely finally plants his vegetable garden and then some little (adorable) rabbits make short work of it.  This is a wonderful book to introduce prepositions as each page talks of all the ways the bunnies get over, under, and through all the attempts of Mr. McGreely to keep them away from his veggies.  In the end, the bunnies still win and there’s a nice little message about sharing and compromise.

First Grade–First graders had a field trip to Lake Cachuma this week.


Second Grade–Using the Visible Thinking Routine called Before and After, second graders looked at an illustration from Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly by Alan Madison that I projected on the TV.  They observed all the details and then thought about what could have happened one minute before the illustration and one minutes after.  This is the charming story of a little girl who tries to distinguish herself from her older sisters in a series of humorous ways.  It’s also filled with alliteration and it was fun for students to spot all the examples.

Third Grade–Third Grade was on a field trip this week the the SB County Bowl for a performance.

Fourth Grade–see opening post


Fifth Grade–After looking at an historical photo of four men in the huge bathtub allegedly put into the White House, students tried to figure out what it was and what it could mean.  Then we read President Taft Is Stuck In The Bath written by Mac Barnett and wonderfully illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.  Not only was this a funny story, but it gave us a chance to discuss what a legend is and how difficult it can be to prove historical events prior to the internet.  This also gave us an opportunity to discuss the three branches of our government as in the story President Taft calls on all of them to solve his dilemma.  This is a great read aloud for older students!

Sixth grade–Sixth graders were challenged this week to use their knowledge of non-fiction text features.  With a worksheet they had to take a non-fiction book and find sentences that supported several of the features.

News From the Library–April 17, 2015



This week fifth and sixth graders were introduced to Wonderopolis.  This wonderful website has a “Wonder of the Day” each day that includes a short video and a text.  The text can be read or listened to and “wonder words” are underlined and have live links to definitions of the words. There is also an extensive archive of past “wonders” for students to choose from. I had students fill out an iPad task card called 3-2-1  in which they wrote down 3 facts they learned from the article, 2 opinions they had about the subject, and 1 thing they still wondered about.  I had made an icon on the iPads for Wonderopolis so that streamlined the process of finding the website.

Also in the Library this week…



Kindergarten–This week we talked about the difference between fiction and non-fiction books.  I found one of the wonderful DK books in the series called See How They Grow about butterflies and projected it from the site  To compare it with a fiction book about the same subject we looked at Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly by Alan Madison.

grumpy groundhog

First Grade–One of our first graders donated a charming book to the Library in honor of his birthday called Grumpy Groundhog by Maureen Wright.  This is the story of a very recalcitrant groundhog who needs a lot of coaxing to come out of his hole on Groundhog Day.  The rhyming story was a big hit with the class!

ralph tells a story

Second Grade–The second graders could relate to the main character’s dilemma in Ralph Tells A Story by Abby Hanlon.  Poor Ralph can’t ever think of something to write about when the teacher says, “Stories are everywhere!”  He finally comes up with a doozy and then continues to write book after book.  It was fun for the class to try to come up with stories from the prompts in the narrative and they loved the titles of Ralph’s books that are on the end piece.

saving sweetness

Third Grade–A great way to study similes and figurative language is to read Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley.  Told from the point of view of a sheriff, this book is so much fun to read aloud.  The dialog is hilarious in places and the examples of similes abound.  Next week we will read the sequel, Raising Sweetness.


Fourth Grade–Math Curse by Jon Scieszka is a great book for audience participation and the story of a boy who discovers that “everything can be a math problem” goes from simply silly to downright challenging!

Fifth and Sixth Grade–see opening post

News from the Library–April 10, 2014



Sadly, cyberbullying has become a topic of importance for our students.  We are very fortunate to subscribe to BrainPop at our school and the videos on internet safety and digital citizenship are very good.  Students don’t want lectures and these short videos are well produced, entertaining while being serious, and the perfect springboard to discussions.  Fifth and sixth graders this week saw the video on cyberbullying and then we took the online quiz as a group.

Also in the Library….


Kindergarten–Kindergarteners loved TipTopCat by C. Roger Mader about a curious cat in Paris who gets a little too curious and takes quite a fall.  There’s a nice little message about taking risks, making mistakes, feeling anxious and then overcoming that anxiety.  The illustrations are wonderful and make this a great read aloud.


First Grade–This week we used a book app, Lars and Friends, and students loved learning about all the different words that mean a group of animals.  The app is nice and simple with lovely graphics and there is also a puzzle to do and additional information about animals.


Second Grade–Second graders also had a book app for their story this week.  Mr. Wolf and the ginger cupcakes is a charmingly funny adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood.  After hearing it, we used the Visible Thinking Routine called Same, Same, Different to compare both versions.


Third Grade–Third graders used the Visible Thinking Routine called The Connection Game to see how this version of the Cinderella story relates to the others they have heard.  I started with a projected slide of an illustration from Ashpet: An Appalachian Tale by Joanne Compton and they discussed the possible connections.  Lucky for them, our sixth grade play this year is going to be Cinderella so they will have another connection to make!


Fourth Grade–Fourth graders heard one of my all time favorites–Weslandia  by Paul Fleischman.  The idea of forming a new civilization fascinated them and they loved the story of a boy who feels like an outcast from his civilization and decides to form his own.  We used the Visible Thinking Routine called Break the Chain in which you remove one event and then hypothesize how the story would turn out differently without that event.

Fifth and Sixth Grades–see opening post

News From the Library–March 25, 2015


A Classic

Third Graders went back in time….way back to 1947….(the year before I was born!) and heard the delightful story, “The Radish Cure” in Betty MacDonald’s, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.  It’s so great to see how students still respond to these stories even with all the new and exciting books and technology available to them.  After I read “The Radish Cure” they scrambled to check out the other Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books I put out on display.

Also in the Library this week…


Kindergarten–Kindergarteners heard a new book, Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato. This charming books tells the story of a little elephant who has trouble doing things in a big city because of his size–something children of this age can connect with.  After cooperating with a new friend, a mouse, he gets what he wanted and a bonus of a new friend to share it with.

First Grade–no library this week


Second Grade–Another new book, Fraidy Zoo by Thyra Heder, was also a bit hit with second graders.  Poor Little T is embarrassed to explain to her family why she afraid to go to the zoo.  In a series of hilarious attempts to guess which animal she’s afraid of, her family dresses up and creates some amazing costumes.  But it isn’t an animal she afraid of, it’s the lady with the long, long fingernails who takes the tickets!!

Third Grade–see opening post


Fourth Grade–After seeing a keynote presentation on the California ghost town, Bodie, fourth graders really enjoyed Boom Town by Sonia Levitin.  It tells the tale of a little girl who starts a pie making business and describes the way the town grows to meet the needs of the gold miners in the region.  We used the Visible Thinking Routine called Plot Prediction to predict which new business would be added as the story progressed.


Fifth Grade–After doing the Visible Thinking Routine called See Think Wonder with a vintage photo of children on an orphan train, students heard Eve Bunting’s touching story of one orphan, Train to Somewhere.  With the first person point of view, it really brought home to students what these children went through.  This is a great historical read aloud for this grade level.

Sixth Grade–Sixth graders watched the BrainPop video about online sources and took a quiz.  Then, using the criteria from the video, we evaluated two websites together–one bogus and one legitimate.

News From the Library–March 20, 2015


Our Winner!!!!!!!

We have a winner!  Our Cold Spring School choice for the California Young Reader Medal 2014-15 is Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse and wonderfully illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.  This is a clever and entertaining book that chronicles the trials and tribulations of the exclamation mark from his being flummoxed to making his mark in the world.

In the Library….


Kindergarten–In preparation for St. Patrick’s Day, Kindergarteners heard Alice Schertle’s lovely little book, Jeremy Bean’s St. Patrick’s Day.  It tells the story of a boy who forgets to wear green and after some difficult moments, finds an ally in the school principal.  No one in Kindergarten forgot to wear green on Tuesday!


First Grade–One of our favorites, Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian, was a hit with this year’s first graders.  Goldfish is fine with his somewhat boring life and then one day with intruder after intruder comes to his bowl things begin to change.  Fed up, he wants his own bowl but finds he actually misses all his “family.”  Thankfully, he ends up back in a much bigger space–a fish tank–and even finds a romantic interest!!


Second Grade–Continuing with two of our favorite character, Lola and Charlie, we read But Excuse Me, That Is My Book by Lauren Child.  Lola loves, loves, loves a library book called Beetles, Bugs, and Butterflies and if horrified when someone else checks it out.  Charlie tried to get her interested in other book to no avail until finally he comes up with a winner, Cheetahs and Chimpanzees.  We used our visible thinking routine called Plot Prediction to predict what would happen in the story based on the text.


Third Grade–Our sixth grade play this year is Cinderella and with the movie also coming out, it was fun to read Wish Bones by Barbara Ker Wilson, an ancient Chinese version of the Cinderella story. We used the Visible Thinking Routine called the Connection Game and talked about how the plot was connected to other Cinderella stories.

Fourth Grade–Fourth Graders finished up their Non-fiction text feature hunt packet.

Fifth Grade–We talked about evaluation of online sources by watching a great little video on Brain Pop.  After taking the quiz as a group, I showed them a few websites and we evaluated them together.  I had some good sites and some bogus sites.  They especially liked Save the Northwest Tree Octopus and Buy Dehydrated Water and I was surprised and heartened at how quickly they saw through both of these sites.

Sixth grade missed library this week due to assemblies and parent conference early dismissal.

News from the Library–Mar.13, 2015


Keyword Searching

This week sixth graders worked on locating key words in questions before googling them to find the answers.  They were given a sheet with a list of 20 questions (random but interesting questions) and first they highlighted the key words with a yellow highlighter pen (they loved the highlighters!).  Then they began their search.  Focusing on the key words makes such a difference in getting the most accurate hits and pares down the number of hits as well.


Also in the Library this week…


Kindergarten–The Perfect Nest by Catherine Friend is just that–perfect.  The size of the book, the engaging illlustrations, the hilarious dialog, and the touching little message make this an ideal read aloud book for this age group.  They loved it!

First-Third Grade–we are finishing up our California Young Reader Medal nominees this week and voting.  Stay tuned for the winner for our school.  In May we will get the results for the entire state.


Fourth Grade–Fourth graders worked on their Non-Fiction Text Feature Hunt.  We do this over two weeks and students find non-fiction books, locate the text features and write about how each features helps them get information from a non-fiction book.

Fifth Grade–no library this week.  They were at CIMI.

News From the Library–March 6, 2015


Shadow Puppet

This week I introduced students in grades 4-6 to a wonderful app called Shadow Puppet.  It’s a free app with amazing potential for students to use to demonstrate learning and for creative projects.  It’s very easy to use and the students loved it.  The project they did related to non-fiction text features and after choosing a non-fiction book, they phot0graphed 4 features.  Then they narrated each photograph explaining what the feature was and how it helped them when reading a non-fiction book.  When they finished they emailed their work to me.  We do have headphones with microphones but actually the built-in mic on the iPad minis worked just as well for this project.

Here’s the task card they used:


Also in the Library this week:

Kindergarten:  Kindergarteners enjoyed Three Bears In A Boat by David Soman.  This is a charming story about three bears who break their mother’s blue sea shell while trying to get some (forbidden) honey.  They then set out to find her another and adventures follow as well as a lot of sibling bickering which students could relate to.  This is a lovely story about taking responsibility for actions and telling the truth.  The ending is so sweet and underscores the depth of love of mother love and forgiveness. The illustrations are beautiful and the large format of the book make it a perfect read aloud for this age group.

Grades 1-3:  We continued our California Young Reader Medal nominees and this week two classes have voted.  So far, one book seems to be pulling ahead as our favorite.  (but I won’t reveal that yet….)

News From the Library–Feb. 27, 2015


Pocket Zoo

One of  our favorite apps on the iPad is Pocket Zoo.  Students choose an animal to research and write down their information of one of our iPad Task Cards.  The app has easily accessible information about a wide variety of animals, plus live cams from zoos around the word, and a library of amazing videos.  Students do this during our quiet reading time on a rotating basis using our four iPad minis and it has become one of their favorite activities.

In the Library this week…


Kindergarten–Kindergarteners loved the sequel to No More Jumping on the Bed by Tedd Arnold.  This book, No More Water in the Tub takes Walter’s little brother, William,  on a wild ride in the bathub.  It was great to compare the two stories using our visible thinking routine called Same, Same, Different.

First, Second, and Third Grades continued with our California Young Reader Medal nominees.

Fourth Grade and Fifth Graders did a mock Battle of the Books in preparation for our lunch practice meetings which begin on Monday, March 2.  The Battle of the Books is Wednesday, April 29.


Sixth Grade–We finished the third and last installment of the gripping story of the Crosswaite family in Patricia Polocco’s wonderful book, January’s Sparrow.  The story gives a very personal look at the plight of slaves who ran away from their owners and the people who helped them on the Underground Railroad to freedom in Canada.

News From the Library–Feb. 20, 2015


More great books for Black History Month

Continuing with our Black History month theme, fourth graders heard Lesa Cline-Ransome’s wonderful book, Light in the Darkness.  It tells the story of slaves who risked all to learn to read and go to school.  The illustrations are wonderful.  I chose the one above to project and students did the Visible Thinking Routine called See, Think, Wonder before I read the story.  This book and its story made an impression on students as they considered what is was like for a slave to try to go to school as compared to how they go to school.  The book is so well written and the suspense kept them on the edge of their seats.  This is a perfect read aloud for Black History month for their grade level.


Fifth graders heard Freedom Summer, a wonderful book by Deborah Wiles.  I first projected an actual photograph of men in the 1960s filling in a pool with asphalt and students did the Thinking Routine See Think Wonder.  The story has a simple plot, elegant in its simplicity, so that the deeper meaning of the story shines through.  We had a lively discussion at the end about segregation and what could have motivated the people in the town to fill their pool with asphalt.  It is encouraging to me to see that our students today find that kind of behavior incomprehensible.

First, Second, and Third grades continued with our California Young Reader Medal Nominees.

Kindergarten and Sixth had no library this week due to President’s Day.