Friday, March 25, 2016

World Gala

Meet Our International Friends

Top row: Chile, Benin, France, Belgium, Greece, Egypt, Italy, Australia
Middle Row: Ireland, Spain, The Bahamas, England, Palau, Brazil
Bottom Row: Sweden, Kenya, Scotland, Mexico, India, Canada, China.  
Missing from photo: Germany

Tuesday night we had a blast in the library as we greeted, interviewed and socialized with our international friends from all over the world!  Six continents were represented with costumes, foods, language and tons of new information!  It was a wonderful experience for everyone involved! Parents, grandparents, siblings and friends all came to learn about the different countries, read the exhibits and of course, enjoy all the great food! The third graders worked so hard on preparing for this event and it showed off!  They did lots of research in books and on Britannica, World Book and Culturegrams.  Their trifolds looked beautiful and we all loved hearing about school, the landscape, the famous landmarks, the animals, and more when our "representatives" from all these countries were interviewed in front of a record crowd!  What a memorable event!
Just one of the views of the library turned World Gala

Our Belgium representative with her brother and Belgium waffles

Our friend from Greece.  That Baklava was delicious!  

If you were interested in a "spot of tea" and a biscuit,  you could find it here at the England exhibit!

Our Irish friend made these delicious "Irish potato candies" that surprisingly did not have any potatoes in them.
We all kept going back for more!

It was great for Zach to research Australia because he has family there.

Mikey came dressed in a swimsuit and flip flops.
He's smiling because the johnny cakes with pigeon peas and rice was so yummy!

Hola from Mexico!  Check out that huge bowl of salsa! Yum!

I heard these cupcakes were spicy and flavored with an Indian flare, but sadly I didn't get to taste one!

That crockpot is filled with a secret family pasta sauce recipe.  Don't even think about asking for the recipe!
Boy was it yummy!

After 4 long hard weeks of work, it all paid off with this wonderful Gala.  It was great to collaborate with Mrs. Yager and her students were wonderful!  I imagine it will be a long time before I stop associating them with their country and you know what, that's ok!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Prepping for Monica Wellington

I am getting so psyched for Monica Wellington's visit next Friday!  The original plan was for Monica to be our guest author for our annual Grade 2/3 Read Over Sleep Over (Yes! Kids sleep at school! = Fun for kids...not so much for parents...) I asked her if she would come since we were thinking a Paris, France theme and Monica wrote a book, Crepes by Suzette.  Monica agreed so graciously and then offered to come early to do an assembly for kindergarten and Grade 1 students.  Of course, I said "Yes!"

Monica and I met about six years ago when we sat at the same table for lunch during a SSL conference.  We started chatting and when we realized that both our daughters dance, we clicked.  Of course, hers is a professional with NYC Ballet and mine was only 7 at the time but still had the same passion for ballet that she does today at 13.  We even saw Lydia Wellington one summer while she was at SPAC.  We met her back stage and she gave Tari a pair of her worn pointe shoes.  I'm still waiting for Monica to write a story about ballet...

Today I shared Apple Farmer Annie (it takes place in Kinderhook!), Zinnia's Flower Garden and Mr. Cookie Baker with Mrs. Pryde's class. The kids loved them all.  Monica frames her main illustration on each page with mini pictures from the story.  The kids loved discovering that and finding the meaningful pictures in each story.  In the back of each book, Monica includes some kind of "how to"-- In Apple Farmer Annie, it's apple recipes.  In Zinnia's Flower Garden there are hints on how to plant seeds and of course, in Mr. Cookie Baker there are cookie recipes.

I also love Monica's simple illustrations.  I love the adorableness of the people.  They are always so smily and happy.  I was joking with the kids how much I would love it if Monica drew me leaping. :-)

For today's activity, Zinnia's Flower Garden fell perfectly right into our curriculum.  Since we just finished up seasons and weather on Friday, I had the kids fold their papers in quarters and write down what Zinnia did with her seeds during each season.  I found a similar idea posted on  I love that site!

Then we read Mr. Cookie Baker and we ate the sugar cookies.  Yum!  I was going to have the students decorate them but I ran out of confectionary sugar at home to make the frosting.  Thankfully, we ran out of time and the kids didn't seem to miss it.

April 1 will be here before we know it and I can't wait. That's no foolin'!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

This is a MakerSpace Playground!

This xylophone was one of my daughter's faves.

Everyone is talking about MakerSpaces.  I'm just not there yet but definitely want to get in the game, too. I even put some beginning MakerSpace items in my library budget for next year.  I have a plan to be on the lookout for a bookcase at garage sales this summer and maybe an extra table or two to create a fabulous MakerSpace at CES.  My wheels are turning.  But for now, I'm only at the pregame show, and just I'm hoping to make it to the first quarter very soon.  (Can you tell it's March Madness time?  Go Terps!)  I'm inspired by School Library Journal's librarian of the year, Kristina Holzweiss and all that she knows and does in her library.

So, today when my family and I went to the Canstruction event at the NYS Museum, I couldn't help but think MakerSpace.  Using cans and other nonperishable food items, local companies create displays based on the the theme "Play."  Wow.  Just look at what these people have done!  Can we simulate it in the library? I'm thinking about it...

Not only are the displays impressive, when the exhibit is over on March 30, all the food will be donated to local food pantries.  That's a lot of food!  This is such a great cause.  And when you bring in cans yourself, you can drop them in buckets by your favorite to vote for it to win "best display." Check these pictures out--they are pretty amazing!

If you live anywhere near Albany, I would highly recommend spending a little time on the 4th floor of the NYS Museum.  Your jaw may drop at some of these and it will be time well spent.  Maybe you'll get inspired for the first quarter, too!

Ahhhh...the beach.  This sand "can castle" was constructed by a team from RPI.

You can't tell from the picture but the ferris wheel moves.

Play dough.

We really liked this minecraft one.

You can't really see from the picture but at the bottom left are tickets coming out.
So creative!
I liked the simplicity of this skiball game.  Those are boxes of spaghetti.

Luigi and Mario!  We loved this one.

This is a "World Plaground." Of course, I love the Eiffel Tower.

You can't find a more perfect toy than plain blocks.
Another one we loved that we didn't get a picture of was a whack-a-mole game.  That one had moving moles, like the ferris wheel one.  All the more reason for you to to stop in and check these out!

And if going to the website isn't enough, listen to this interview on our local public radio station, WAMC:

Fenway and Hattie by Victoria J. Coe

You need to meet Fenway!  As an un-dog person for 40+ years I think I finally became one.  In fact, my son begs us almost daily for one, and after reading Fenway and Hattie by Victoria J. Coe, I might be convinced...

Written from Fenway's point of view, you really get in the mind of a dog who has moved from the city to the suburbs and how all those changes affect him.  Hattie, his best buddy, changed with the move, too, and it is hard for Fenway to understand.  The "ladies" (dogs) next door try to warn him but Fenway just doesn't get it. Doesn't want to get it.  So many times you want to just bark and explain to Fenway all that is happening.  Your heart aches.  Your eyes well up with tears.  "Please FEN-way listen to me, the reader.  It will all be ok if you just relax a little and let me break it all down for you on what's going on."  Fortunately, with time, Fenway does get it.  Just not after a rising blood pressure and anxiety on the part of the reader, especially when Fenway is working on the "Easiest Job Ever."  Oh, Fenway...

I don't know how Coe did it.  The noises (the ice cream truck), the observations (the UPS truck). The squirrels. The white ball in the glove.  The evil floor.  Either she speaks "dog" or her dog speaks human, because those observations were spot on.

After reading Fenway and Hattie a dog really may be in our future sooner than I ever imagined.  Just don't tell my son I said that!

ps-I just noticed a "1" on the spine.  Could this be a first in a series?  My student dog lovers (and I) will be leaping!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy Pi/Pie Day!

Is that an amazing smorgasbord or what, just to celebrate Pi Day?!  What a fun afternoon we had!  And the pizza isn't even on the table.  Apple pie, pi cookies, mini-pies with Pi s on them, key lime pie (baked by my son!), brownies and circle shaped York Peppermint Patty's and even sphere shaped dum-dums.  

The first activity we did was a scavenger hunt around the library with Mrs. Pryde's first graders and the 4th grade Dewey Duty kids.  The Dewey kids drew the pies last week and Mrs. Warland glued them on poster board, drew the Pi on them, cut them into 8ths and then hid them all around the library.  We had a pizza (above), pumpkin (below) and apple to find and put together.  It was fun!

It was great watching the 1st and 4th graders work together.  Teamwork makes the dream work, right?!

When the 4th graders left for lunch, the 5th graders came in.  They had a way different task and activity--Make a chain with as many digits of pi as they can.  See the white paper on the table?  That has 100 digits of pi.  The colored pieces of paper have numbers written on them.  This was fun! Thanks to Mrs. Balogh, our math coach, for helping us out with this project and of course, cutting all the number strips!

He couldn't believe that the chain was longer than he was!

Finally, to wrap up the whole celebration, Mr. Reischer's class came in and read from Sarah Weeks's Pie Reader's Theatre. It was probably a little over the first graders' heads but we talked about it a little in their terms and encouraged them to read the book with their families.  

All in all, it was such a fun event!  I loved including Dewey Duty and Mrs. Pryde's students.  I couldn't have done it without Mrs. Warland, Mrs. Balogh, Mrs. Pryde, Mr. Reischer and the parents that sent in treats.  Such a collaborative effort!  Happy 3.14 Day!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The power of SURPRISE!

Thanks to an idea borrowed from my friend, Kirsten Murphy from Texas, I put my stack of this month's Junior Library Guild books in a big bag and closed it up. A class of 4th graders came in for book exchange and I called them over if they had any interest in taking home and reading a surprise, brand spanking new book. I had no idea the response! They ALL clamored over to me! So many of them, that we had to grab the Popsicle sticks to pick names on who would "win" the new books. It was so great to see their excitement and feel the enthusiasm around new books and reading. The "oohs" and "ahhhs" were delightful. I look forward to doing this again with my April batch. It can't get here soon enough!

A LEAP in the library....

...and a LEAP in the hallway!