News from the Library–Nov. 1, 2010

A Week of (somewhat) Scary Stories

This week we had a great time in our haunted Library reading scary stories.  Over the years I’ve fine tuned our collection of Halloween stories and have just the right level of “scariness” for each grade level.  We darkened the room, sat by the fire, and had fun hearing creepy tales.

Kindergarten–The only mildly scary part in Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson is when all the animals band together to save the witch from become lunch for dragon.  This is a great rhyming story and just the right level for Kindergarteners.

First Grade–How scary would it be to discover you had your sister’s ballerina costume by accident?  Well, pretty scary for Gilbert who wanted to be a Martian Space Pilot.  First graders love seeing how Gilbert makes the best of the situation in Diane DeGroat’s Trick or Treat Smell My Feet.

Second Grade–Big bad wolves, scary pig monsters???  When the sole surviving member of the three little pigs is lonely and decided to make a new friend he means just that.  He makes Porkenstein in his lab only to find that Porkenstein eats everything…..but that turns out to be a blessing in disguise when the Big Bad Wolf comes trick-or-treating.  A happy Halloween and new BFFs is the perfect ending for Porkenstein by Kathryn Lasky and illustrated with great style by David Jarvis.

Third Grade–Getting a little creepier here….Marjorie Dennis Murray’s Halloween Night is a fabulous take off on the Night Before Christmas and what really makes this story are the fantastic illustrations by Brandon Dorman.  All kinds of creepy Halloween characters throw a buffet on Halloween night that turns out just a little too scary for trick-or-treaters.

Fouth Grade–Esteban and the Ghost by Sybl Hancock is a story I read each year to the fourth graders and it’s always a hit.  Esteban meets the challenge of spending the night in a haunted castle and ends up dealing with a ghost, a robbery, St. Peter, and a midnight deadline.  This is a delightful folktale with just enough of the spooky to make it fun.

Fifth Grade–Bruce Coville’s Duffy’s Jacket is part of collection of spooky stories  called appropriately Spooky Stores for a Dark and Stormy Night, edited by Alice Low.  This is one of those perfect read aloud stories with great suspenseful rhythm and an ending that combines a scare and a laugh.  Perfect for fifth graders.

Sixth Grade–Who better than R.L. Stine to write a scary Halloween story?  Part of the above mentioned collection, The Surprise Guest is a little “darker” and tells the story of a haunted Halloween costume.  I’m sure each sixth grader took a look inside their costume before wearing it to our Fall Festival today.

Happy Halloween!

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News From the Library–Oct. 25, 2010

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Getting Ready for Halloween


Students loved Michael Garland’s Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook so they were delighted to hear how Miss Smith and her class got ready for Halloween in Miss Smith’s Haunted Library.   Third graders first saw the little video I made on animoto and then were treated to the story  as Miss Smith takes her class to the Library where they meet the librarian, Miss Virginia Creeper.  When Miss Creeper starts ready scary stories from the Incredible Storybook all sorts of monsters fill the Library.  It gets pretty scary until she brings out cookies and cider and they begin to party instead of scaring everyone.  Once again the illustrations make this a perfect read aloud book and the message is how wonderful books are and the joys reading can bring.

Also in the Library this week…

Kindergarten–Kindergartens were off to the pumpkin patch this week so in preparation they heard Erica Silverman’s Big Pumpkin. When a witch wants to make pumpkin pie she plants a pumpkin seed but when the pumpkin grows so large she can’t get it off the vine she gets lots of suggestions from Dracula, a mummy, and a  ghost.  Finally along comes a little bat who had the idea that if they all cooperated and worked together they could get that pumpkin.  A fun story with the message that sometimes brain trumps brawn  and cooperation can achieve desired goals.

First Grade–It’s always great to find a delightful book with an engaging story and a learning opportunity to boot.  In Halloween House, also by Erica Silverman, two escaped convicts hide in a haunted house only to find it filled with vampire bats, ghosts, skeletons, mummies and various other Halloween favorites.  After spending a harrowing night, they decide that returning to jail is a good idea.  In the rhyming text, students also get to count down from 10 to 1.

Second Grade–A Halloween take-off of This is the House that Jack Built, Judy Sierra’s This is the House that Drac Built is one of our favorite Halloween books.  Fabulous illustrations with hints on what’s coming next make this one of the most engaging read alouds I’ve used.  The repetition in the storyline really tickles the students and once they catch on,  they love seeing how much they can remember from page to page.

Third Grade–see opening post

Fouth Grade–Even fourth graders love to be read to and this week they heard Michael Teague’s One Halloween Night.  Once again, this is a great book to read aloud to a group because the story is engaging and the illustrations just perfect.  This is another adventure of Wendell, Mona, and Floyd and they find that the Halloween costumes they weren’t too excited about wearing turn out to be pretty magical after all.  As Mona says,  “Anything can happen on Halloween.”  And in this case, it did!  If you want to go beyond the story with this book, it’s a great opening to discussions about bullying.

Fifth and Sixth Grade–We had our first round of  “Library Jeopardy” this week.  This is a fun way to learn some of the more boring aspects of the library and is always a great hit with students.  Having to come up with a question instead of the answer can be a little frustrating at first for fifth graders but once they get the hang of it they really get into the game.  Here’s one for you–Answer: The first name of the man who invented the number system for putting non-fiction books in order on the shelves.  Give up?  Question:  Who is Melvil?

News From the Library–Oct. 18, 2010

Books vs. Google—Who won?

This week fourth graders became investigators and conducted Web Weaver Investigations.  After seeing a presentation on spiders–eek!–students drew the name of a spider out of hat.  They had to answer several questions about their spider such as its habitat and prey, and then find five interesting facts about their spiders.  All work needed to be written in complete sentences on their worksheets.

The fun started when as a group we googled tarantula and found there were over 2 million hits!!  We looked at the first one–Wikipedia–and tried to determine its accuracy and validity.  That took some time.  We talked about how Wikipedia is a good beginning resource but that you needed to find information that had been checked for accuracy.  Off we went to the next hit.  Couldn’t find the name of the author of the page so we weren’t sure of its accuracy.  The next hit was about a band named Tarantula.  Hmmm….this was getting frustrating.

Then students realized that I had on display a series of books about spiders.  We found they had been edited, were published in 2000, and best of all, had an index in the back that pointed to the information that was requested on their worksheets.  Eagerly they got the books and in no time had the answers to their questions comfortable with in knowledge that the facts had been checked and edited before the book was published.

The internet is a fantastic resource but as I once heard,  “Getting information from the internet is like taking a drink from a fire hose.”  We all agreed not to forget the value of books.  Best of all, they can’t lose power and never need recharging.

Also in the Library this week….

Kindergarten–What happens when two mice fall in love with the same pumpkin?  In Steven Kroll’s The Biggest Pumpkin this is just what happens and the pumpkin gets the benefit of two waterings, and two fertilizings until it grows into a huge pumpkin.  One mouse wants it for the pumpkin contest while the other wants to carve it into a giant jack-o-lantern.  What to do?  Compromise!  One mouse wins the grand prize with the help of the other mouse and on the day after the contest the other mouse turns it into the best jack-o-lantern ever.

First Grade–One of most charming books I’ve found in the last several years is A Pumpkin Story by Mariko Shinju.  In the book, a man comes to a poor village and plants pumpkin seeds.  As his pumpkins grow he makes soup, then cups, bowls, dishes, candleholders, furniture, and finally a house.  Children love to see everyday things made from pumpkins.  Finally, he makes houses for the village, then the village makes a pumpkin hotel complete with a pumpkin swimming pool.  No one is poor or hungry after that.  Underlying the fantasy part of the story is a great message about recyling and sharing.

Second Grade–One of my favorite Halloween books is A Job for Wittilda by Caralyn and Mark Buehner.  Wittilda is a witch with a fondness for cats and when she has to get a job to feed her 47 kitties she ends up delivering pizza on her broom!  She is faced with a dilemma–save another cat who is stuck in a tree or win the job delivering pizza.  Thankfully she can do both.  The amazing illustrations add so much to this story and include a second story as a cat chases a mouse through the pages.

Third Grade–Most of us know Chris Van Allsburg as the author and illustrator of The Polar Express, a holiday classic, but he has also written and illustrated a wonderfully dark little tale perfect for Halloween storytellingThe Widow’s Broom.  The wonderful twist at the end of the story takes a few minutes for third graders to understand but seeing the looks on their faces when they get it is priceless.

Fourth Grade–see opening post.

Fifth Grade & Sixth Grade–Fifth and Sixth graders brought their laptops to the Library this week for the first time.  We discussed rules for using laptops in the Library and then went on our Library Skills Blog for Web Drill.  Just like a fire drill practices how to get out of a fire, it’s a good idea to practice what you would do if you accidentally encountered a website with inappropriate content.  We talked about the content filter we have at school but that at home or at a friend’s house there is not a filter.  This lesson begins our discussion of internet ethics and what it means to be a good digital citizen.  We talked about how students must become their own best filter and they practiced four different ways to get out of an inappropriate website.  Then they were able to go to links (safe ones, of course) and explore them.  When I called out “Web Drill!”  they had to get out of the site by using one of the ways they had learned.  If you’d like to see the lesson, please go to our Skills Blog and scroll down until you see the Web Drill lesson.

News From the Library–Oct. 11, 2010

Spiders in the Library!!

To get ready for Halloween, first graders learned about spiders this week in the Library.  After seeing a Keynote presentation with facts about spiders and some pretty scary spider pictures, students heard Lydia Monks’ very funny book Aaarrgghh! Spider! The story of a little eight-legged creature who longs to be a family pet starts out with a great view of a living room from the spider’s point of view.  After being thrown out of the house numerous times, the little spider finally becomes the family pet after displaying a talent for decorating the back yard.  This is a fun little story that brings out many of the facts students learned about spiders and is a great example of the literary device, point of view.

Also in the Library this week…

Kindergarten–Our first stormy day of the school year was the perfect time to read Move Over Rover by Karen Beaumont.  Rover’s in his doghouse all alone until it starts to rain and then one by one animals squeeze in with him until a skunk manages to sneak in.  All of a sudden, all the other animals make a hasty retreat until at last Rover has his house alone again.  The cyclical plot of the story is great for Kindergarteners and because the story is in verse, we practiced recognizing rhyming words.

First Grade–see opening post.

Second Grade–Continuing with our spider theme, second graders also saw the Keynote presentation about spiders and then loved hearing Dianne Cronin’s Diary of a Spider.  We talked about the use of a diary and how our blog is like an online diary.  Then students had lots of fun listening to Spider’s entries and comparing them to the facts about spiders.

Third Grade, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Grades–This week we (finally!!) figured out a way to hook up our catalog stations.  Even though it is a temporary hook up, students were excited to get back to looking up books.  For third graders, this is their first experience with independently using the catalog.  Upper graders remembered how to use it and we reviewed the differences between fiction and non-fiction call numbers and they enjoyed finding their own books on the shelves.

News From the Library–October 4, 2010

The Incredible Miss Smith

Second graders were treated this week to a wonderful book written and illustrated by Michael Garland.  I love reading this book because the story is humorous, the illustrations captivating, and the message just perfect for younger students who are learning to read on their own.  In the story, Miss Smith has an amazing storybook in which the characters leap from the page and  into classroom.  When she is delayed one morning and the principal takes over the result is disastrously humorous.  Beside being a great story, this book illustrates  just what I want students to do when they hear a story–to make those pictures in their minds and to imagine they are in the story right along with the characters.  This is a skill that when practiced leads to readers who make the “movie in their head” and become avid readers.  And books are so nice…no batteries to recharge, nothing to download, can be taken almost anywhere.  Not that I don’t like technology but there really is nothing like a book in the hand.

Also in the Library this week….

Kindergarten–It’s fall and time for the scarecrows!  Kindergarteners heard Margaret Wise Brown’s classic story The Little Scarecrow Boy and loved hearing about how the little scarecrow became fiercer and fiercer.  This book is also a great way to teach the concept of ordinals as the little boy learns to make six faces, each one scarier than the last and he counts them down from first to sixth as he is chased by a crow.

First Grade–In  Barbara Bottner’s Miss Brooks Loves Books, the main character is a little girl who is a very, very reluctant reader.  Miss Brooks, the librarian, tries very, very hard to entice her into choosing a book for an assignment in which the little girl will dress up as the main character of the story.  After many exhausting tries, they land on William Steig’s Shrek and the girl eagerly dresses up as the ogre with all the warts, charming her classmates with her snorts!  This led us to a great discussion about how to choose a book that you would like.

Second Grade–see opening post.

Third Grade–What happens when you are dancing with your pet alligator, you both slip, and he ends up being accidentally flushed down the toilet???  Third grader chortle at Richard Waring’s Alberto the Dancing Alligator when Alberto ends up in the city sewer system, causes a mild panic, and finally makes his way back to his owner (by way of tango music played in her bathroom).  This is a book that is just right for the humor of a third grader.  And as a bonus, we got to talk about what a rumor is (1000 alligators loose!  All toilets at risk!) and how important it is to check out your facts before starting to panic.

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Grades–This week I introduced the upper graders to “Battle of the Books” which will take place this school year on April 14, 2011.  Students read from a list of 30 pre-selected books to prepare for the Battle which is sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Schools.  These same 30 books are read by students all over Santa Barbara County.  Practice meetings at lunch will start in January 2011 but many students eagerly began checking out the books on the list.  We will be able to take 5 students from Cold Spring to the Battle.  More information will follow in the Wednesday Word and on this blog.  A list of the books is available on the Blogroll to your right in the link to the Battle of the Books list.