As I was planning for my first graders' holiday read alouds, I decided to read several stories revolving around Christmas trees. My student body is primarily full of students who do celebrate Christmas in a myriad of ways, and nearly ALL of them have a Christmas tree!! I knew that I would find common ground here and that I could add to their holiday spirit ... Not that they need much more spirit. Boy, oh boy, if only I could bottle up a bit of that energy and spirit!!

I chose to start with a book that I had NEVER read before, and admittedly had never even recalled being on my shelf ... A Christmas Tree Farm by Ann Purmell. I chose this book thinking that it would be a good intro to "Christmas Trees." And boy, was it ever PERFECT.

It does an engaging job of describing "how" a Christmas tree becomes a Christmas tree. The book offered the opportunity for me to talk about vocabulary words like pine, spruce, fir, and trimming; all words which were essential for my next two books. The kids especially seemed to enjoy learning about planting the seedlings in the spring, trimming the branches in the summer, and measuring them in the fall.

In my opinion, the following two Christmas tree books should be holiday MUST READS!! Undoubtedly, if you are as old as I am, you have read or even had read to you, Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree, by Robert Barry. Yes it is a classic ... not that I am, mind you ... but certainly the book is!!


Mr. Willowby's tree is so LARGE that the tippy top of the tree must be cut off so that it will fit into the parlor. The top is passed on to Miss Adelaide to be used as her Christmas tree. However, alas, it is too tall for her room and needs to have the top trimmed off. Miss Adelaide throws the top away in the garbage, but Mr. Trimm finds it and takes it home to his wife. However, it is also too tall for their snug little house, and Mrs. Trimm cuts off the top and throws it out into the yard ... You can most certainly see where this is going!! 

We ended our Christmas tree read aloud session with the Kindle version of A Wish to be a Christmas Tree. This beautifully written story tells of a GIANT Christmas tree that wants nothing more than to be able to go home with a family and be decorated. But, he is much too large to fit into anyone's house, so his woodland animal friends decorate him to show him how much he is loved and appreciated.


Hope that these holiday selections help you during this holiday season!
Task cards have been around for several years. I have read about them in blog posts, seen them on Pinterest, and thumbed over them in catalogs. It was just recently that I became intrigued enough with the cards to give them a go. As a librarian, I was naturally drawn to the creation of research-based task cards.


What are task cards?

Task cards are great tools to use both in the classroom and the library. Task cards are exactly that … a card with a task. Each of my research task cards states one fact and then asks three questions pertinent to that fact. Each question is easily researched and facts would be found in multiple resources.

Why research based task cards?

Researching the answers to simple questions is a multi-skill task. It requires students to read for comprehension, identify key words, locate pertinent articles, scan for information, and seek accurate answers. Kids also seem to genuinely enjoy quick research based questions. It gives them an opportunity to explore new information!

How can I use task cards?

Task cards are perfect for center work, for differentiating instruction, and especially great for your fast finishers. Here are a few popular ways that educators are using task cards. 

Research Centers: Set up a center with books, encyclopedias, and technology! Add the cards and VOILA!!

Scoot: Post the cards around the room. The students can walk about and complete the task cards. You can set up certain books at each card, or even send them around the room with technology such as tablets.

Bulletin Boards: Use the cards to create an active engagement bulletin board. Display the cards and place the answer sheets nearby. Consider creating more than one copy of the card. Then kids can take one copy back to their seats.

Bundle the Cards: Cards can be stored in lots of different ways. After cutting and laminating the cards, punch a hole in the upper-left hand corner and put a binder ring through them all. Store them in those colorful plastic soap boxes that you can purchase for just a couple of dollars. Task cards also fit perfectly in those inexpensive photo albums.


Are you ready to give Task Cards a go?

I have made it super simple for you to try!! Click HERE or on the picture at the beginning of this post and download an Autumn Sampler of research task cards. The FREE sampler includes a set of four colored task cards, the same four cards in black and white, a recording sheet, and an answer key.

Happy Researching!


We have all been there! Checking out kinders can be challenging. We don't know their names yet, and they don't know us! This leads to some very interesting exchanges. Some that sound a little bit like this. "What's your name kiddo?" "mmdfdm adfdsafds" "Can you say that one more time honey"  "mmdfdm adfdsafds"  "How about a little louder?'   "mmdfdm"

I realized quickly that I needed to do something and fast! So I created Library Book Bags. I took these materials ...


And with a little bit of time and a bit more patience, I had one of these for each of my kindergarten students.


I use a 2.5 Hefty One Zip bag for each student. With a sharpie marker, I write their name on the front. I print out colored copies of that little label "My Library Book Bag" and use two heavy duty labels to stick it to the bag. Then, I print out student barcode labels from my Destiny program and label stick them to the bag too.

I teach my munchkins to search for a book, slide it into the bag, and then come on up to the desk for a beep. We actually practice the chant ... "Book! Bag! Beep"    "Book! Bag"! Beep!"   "Book! Bag! Beep!"   Soon, my kinders know checkout procedure. These crazy bags also help me to know who HAS and who has NOT returned their library books. No bag ... no new book!

Hey, I know that it's October! But, it is never too late to implement a little something new! Interested ... you can download "My Library Book Bag" labels. Click on the pix below.


Check Me Out ... Made Easier For Firsties

Last Spring, I was telling my library assistant that I wanted to try to use paint sticks as shelf markers, and that I wanted to personalize them with the kids' barcodes for this year. So, after first grade orientations, my little ones had a shelf marker review lesson, and we decorated our own shelf markers! I love how first graders think that everything is SOO fun.

After the littles added a bit of pizzazz to their shelfmarkers, I added their names and barcodes. After about a week of usage, I realized that I had to add a few extra touches to our shelf markers to make them more kid friendly. So, I added the kids initials to the end of the marker. This has proven to be invaluable in keeping the sticks in their right cans and has helped the kids find their stick quite quickly.


Then I added my own pizzazz to some Pringles cans! We store the shelfmarkers in these Pringle cans divided by classroom teachers.


We love how quickly and easily that we can check our first graders out now! Beep ... Beep and they are outta there :) The kids love knowing that they have a little something of their own. It's cute to hear them chatting with each other about what they drew on their "stick".

Thanks for stopping by everyone!


I love gardening. I love the feel of the dirt under my hands. I love the excitement of my seeds turning into something beautiful. I love knowing that I grew the cucumbers and tomatoes that are on the table for dinner. Sadly, there just isn't ever enough time in my Spring and Summer days to do all that I would like to!! My Pinterest garden is WAY better looking than the actual beds surrounding my house.

But someday, when I am NOT trying to grow kids, I will have beautiful gardens. I will have gardens that rival my Pinterest gardens. Others will be putting pictures of my gardens on their Pinterest boards. Someday THIS will sit in my gardens. This picture comes from Pollyanna Reinvents Blog. I love this. I have loved this idea for years. It is the perfect fixture in a librarian's garden.


I decided that if I don't have time to make this for my REAL gardens, I would make it for my elementary school library. I had the brainstorm to create these similar types of signs, to be printed on paper. If you {heart} them as much as I do, you can click on the picture and grab them from my TpT store! Simply print, cut, laminate, and display. 


I think that they go perfectly with this year's beach theme, Catch the Reading Wave. Want to see the library decked out in all of its beach glory?? Click HERE

The signs have certainly been a topic of conversation among the teachers and kids alike!! Well, I am issuing a challenge out to my kiddos to see if they can discover the author behind each fictional place. I have created the following record sheet for them to write their answers on. If you are interested in issuing the same challenge, simply click on the picture below and download it for FREE from my Google Drive. Just click the "Download"Button.


As the frost begins to cover the pumpkins, and the threat of another difficult winter knocks at my door, I will continue to grow my Pinterest Garden!! All while helping my kiddos grown their minds :) Enjoy the challenge.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Me

My Photo
My name is Sonya Dykeman, and I am an elementary school librarian in upstate New York. I taught third and fourth grade for 12 years, and then I went back to school, so that I could get my dream job. I have been in the library for 7 years, and I can honestly say that I LOVE it! Feel free to message me at sjdykeman@gmail.com.

Grab My Button

The Library Patch
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.librarypatch.com" title="The Library Patch"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-brd1h3jVXTY/T0mY7n9ZM0I/AAAAAAAAB6w/-8yWfVh2SbE/s200/Colored+Logo.png" alt="The Library Patch" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Followers

Ripe for Pickin'

Classroom Freebies Too

Common Core Reading Lessons


I get the cutest handwriting fonts at Fonts for Peas! kevinandamanda.com/fonts