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Teacher’s Pets #24 Paul Needs Specs

Paul Needs Specs

Paul Needs Specs


written by Bernard Cohen
illustrated by Geoff Kelly
Kane/Miller Book Publisher
ISBN: 192913261
Ages 5-9

Paul asked, “Has the world gone fuzzy, . . .?” What a scary feeling to have your world blur in front of your eyes, especially when you are a child no bigger than Paul. The world hadn’t gone fuzzy or blurry or misty or foggy . . . well not really. But, Paul’s eyesight did. Author, Bernard Cohen takes us on a trip to the eye doctor. What a strange place that is! Paul tries many different lenses. Some make him see fat and some make him see tall and I wonder if some do nothing at all. Then Goeff Kelly adds his zany, very psychedelic illustrations, which will make readers howl. This book should definitely allay the fears of any child who needs to get glasses. PAUL NEEDS SPECS is a real eye-opener.

This review was originally published on SmartWriters and on

FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“Paul needed specs because everything was fuzzy and blurry,” said Greg.

“Specs are some kind of glasses,” said Katie-Erin.

“Paul was bumping into things,” said Zach.

“I felt bad for him,” said Lucy, “because he was upset.”

“Paul felt kind of weird because everything was foggy,” said Anya.

“Well, if I needed glasses or spectacles,” said Philippe, “I would freak out.”

“Yeah! It would be pretty crazy, if I had to get glasses,” agreed Kurtis.

“They don’t make you look bad,” said Sarit.

“They just make you look unique!” said Marta with a grin.

“Right, because sometimes people don’t want to blend in with the crowd,” said Juan.

“Hmm, I think glasses always make you look smart,” said Philippe.

“This book reminds me of when I got glasses,” said Sarit, “but I don’t really wear them much.”

“Sometimes people tease people with glasses.” said Zach. “Sometimes they call them four eyes . . . uhhhh, no offense, Juan.”

“None taken,” said Juan.

“Well, I think teasing is a mean thing to do,” said Becky.

“I don’t understand why people have to tease people with glasses. There’s nothing wrong with them,” said Katie-Erin.

“It just makes them different . . . and different is all right,” said Marta. “Different is better than being the same.”

“Yeah!” said Pritka. “If we were all the same you couldn’t tell who was who.”

“And, kids wear glasses for their own good,” said Anya. “Who cares what other people think?”

“There’s a poem,” said Lucy. “It goes, ‘Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.’”

“I sort of agree,” said Kurtis, “It should be normal for people to wear glasses.”

“I just don’t get it. They’re just glasses. What’s bad about that?” asked Marta.

“Yeah!” said Sarit. “What’s bad about glasses? Sometimes they make you look smart.”

“Like teenagers!” said Pritka with a giggle. “Teenagers get glasses to make them look smart.”

“I just think it’s crazy calling people names just because they wear glasses,” said Greg. “If they take them off they can’t see.”

“Well, in all my life of having glasses . . .,” said Juan, “since kindergarten . . . nobody has made fun of me.”


To SEE or NOT to SEE Health/Science

Most of us take our vision for granted. It’s there and we don’t much think about it. It’s not until we lose a sense do we become more aware of it. To raise sensitivity in children and make them more aware of their sense of sight, try the following activity.

#1 Split the class into teams with three members each.

#2 Give each team a paper bag filled with several familiar objects, such as a crayon, pencil, eraser, sock, mitten, penny, barrette, rubber band, paperclip, glue stick, etc.

#3 Two team members place blindfolds over their eyes.

#4 The first blindfolded team member chooses an item from the bag and, without looking, describes the item to the second blindfolded partner.

#5 The second blindfolded partner, also without looking, uses the clues his partner gives him to try to identify the object.

#6 The third team member is not blindfolded. His job is to record his teammates’ answers on paper, but he may NOT offer any help to his team.

#7 The team with the most accurate guesses is the winner.

JUST ADD “ed” Language Arts

Paul bumped, tripped, dropped, and spilled. Hey, that was a lot of past tense verbs

Have the children make a list of past tense action verbs and record them on the chalkboard or on chart paper. Next, using the list, have the children locate the verbs that fall into each of the patterns below. You may want to take it slow and practice each rule for several days before progressing to the next rule.

#1 Some verbs are made into past tense simply by adding “ed.” For example knock/knocked and work/worked.

#2 Other verbs need special operations. Notice the verbs that fall into the CVC pattern. (Consonant – Vowel – Consonant) They need to follow this rule, “Double the final consonant and add “ed” . . . like this, hop/hopped, slam/slammed.

#3 Then there are the verbs that end in “e”. They have a special rule to follow, too. “Drop the final “e” and add “ed.”

#4 Don’t forget verbs that end in “y”. That rule looks like this. “Change the “y” to “i” and add “ed”. Some verbs that follow that rule are cry/cried, try/tried.

Now have fun using all the rules to categorize the verbs that the children listed on their chart. Hey did you notice I used a past tense verb in that last sentence?

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

CHILDREN TODAY: Four Eyes Can Be Fabulous:
When your child starts wearing glasses:


Baby Duck and the Bad Eyeglasses by Amy Hest
Glasses (Who Needs ‘Em?) by Lane Smith
Glasses for D. W. by Marc Brown

January 9, 2015 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Teacher’s Pets #23 Myrtle

written by Tracey Campbell Pearson
illustrated by Tracey Campbell Pearson
Farrar Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0-374-35157-0
Ages: 3-6
$15.00There are bullies everywhere, but don’t you hate it when you find them in your own back yard? Once at the grocery store checkout as I waited patiently, grasping a bunch of broccoli, a woman pushed her overflowing cart right in front of me. Every day on my 20 mile commute to school, there are cars that bully their way into the line exiting the highway. Can’t they see the 50 cars waiting, patiently? HOW RUDE! That’s what Myrtle would say and I fully agree with her. “RUDE! RUDE! RUDE!” These are the bullies in my back yard.When Frances moved in, Myrtle found a bully in her back yard, too. Frances was downright mean and Myrtle was downright scared. Snakes and monsters and mean songs would scare me, too. No one deserves to be bullied. So, when Aunt Tizzy told Myrtle of the nasty lions she met in Africa and their mean lion roars, Myrtle got to thinking. She grabbed her brother’s hand and set off to face her fears. She felt bigger! She felt stronger! And, she was ready to stand up for herself . . . a very liberating feeling! I think I’ll take a lesson from Myrtle. Just wait . . . the next time someone tries to push her overflowing grocery cart in front of me, I’ll just bop her on the head . . . with my broccoli. Well . . . maybe not.

Tracey Campbell Pearson hit on a very timely topic . . . one that visits and revisits children in every age and at every stage. It seems, unfortunately, that there will always be bullies. I remember them when I was a child. Definitely, not fun! Ms. Pearson’s whimsical illustrations add a welcome lightness to a serious problem. Young readers will gain confidence as Myrtle did, as they realize that they are not alone in the “BULLY” world and they CAN do something about it.

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters

FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“Frances was Myrtle’s neighbor,” said Philippe.

“Myrtle and her baby brother didn’t like their new neighbor,” said Tony.

“That’s because she was mean,” said Philippe.

“Myrtle had a good life until Frances came,” said Marta.

“Then every time Myrtle went outside,” said Juan, “Frances played a trick on her.”

Tony shook his head. “Frances sure does mean stuff,” he said.

“Like she was making monsters and singing bad songs,” said Sarit.

“And,” said Becky, rolling her eyes, “she put rubber snakes on the ground.”

“And, she put gum on Myrtle’s brother’s ball,” said Lucy. “Then it stuck to his nose!”

“She was really like a bad kid,” said Sarit.

“I wonder why Frances was so mean?” asked Katie-Erin.

“She was a bully!” said Pritka.

“I think Frances was mean,” said Anya, “because she wanted people to pay attention to her.”

“Maybe she had a bad life,” said Marta.

“Or, maybe she was just jealous of Myrtle,” said Sarit, “because she had a good life.”

“Frances wasn’t born mean,” said Juan. “It’s not somebody’s instinct to be mean. It’s their choice.”

“Well, Myrtle was feeling really sad,” said Sarit.

“And, she was very, very, scared,” said Marta.

“It’s actually not your choice to be scared,” said Anya.

Sarit agreed. “Yeah!” she said. “It comes up to you. You don’t know you’re going to be scared.”

“So Myrtle’s parents called her Aunt Tizzy,” said Marta.

“Myrtle’s aunt was very brave and intelligent. She told Myrtle that she wouldn’t even let a lion scare her,” said Sarit.

“And she made Myrtle laugh,” said Jake.

“That’s right,” said Juan. “Then Myrtle realized that if her Aunt Tizzy wouldn’t let lions keep her away from the jungle, Myrtle wasn’t going to let Frances keep her away from having fun.”

“Myrtle really faced her fears,” said Marta. “She stood up for herself and said, ‘HOW RUDE!’
And her life came up great again.”

“But, I wonder if Frances learned her lesson?” asked Kurtis.

“Well, if Frances is mean,” said Philippe, “she won’t get the right respect.”

“Yeah, she’ll be ignored by everybody,” said Kurtis.

“But, I mean . . . come on . . .” said Juan. “Nobody can live without friends!”


YOU BIG, BULLY Health (Part 1)

Bullying comes in many different forms and they are all hurtful. Teasing and calling names are two of the most common forms of bullying for young children, and most children can recall at least one incident where he or she has been a victim of bullying.

Have children identify as many bullying actions as they can think of. Then record them on a class list.
1. Calling Names
2. Teasing
3. Hitting – Kicking

Next, have children suggest ways to overcome bullies and record these answers on a class list, as well.
1. Tell an adult – A Parent, Teacher, Lunchroom Aide
2. Stand up for themselves – Tell the bully to stop.
3. Ignore the bully – Walk away.

Then, have the children suggest reasons why someone might act like a bully. Again, record the answers on a class list.
1. Looking for attention
2. Making themselves feel more important
3. Feeling insecure themselves

Last, split children into small groups and have them conduct their own discussions. Roam around the room to eavesdrop to be sure that each group understands the concept.

YOU BIG, BULLY Health (Part 2)

Have children volunteers role-play a variety of bullying situations. To get more real reactions, you might prefer the children to use puppets for the role-play.
Bully Role-Play Situations
1. Gabe takes Mike’s pencil and won’t give it back. He threatens to tell the teacher on Mike about something that Mike didn’t even do.
2. Maura tells Ginny she won’t be her friend if Ginny won’t go to the store with her, even though Ginny will get in trouble with her mom.


Make a list from A to Z of as many bully-related feelings as possible – both from the bully’s point of view and the victim’s point of view. After the list is made, have children decide which feeling/emotion belongs to which character.

Angry…………..bully or victim
Disturbed………bully or victim

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

Sort It – Bullying
We Can Work It Out!
What Kids Say about Bullying


HOOWAY FOR WODNEY WAT by Helen Lester, Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
RECESS QUEEN by Alexis O’Niell, illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
BOOTSIE BARKER BITES by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Peggy Rathman

January 2, 2015 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teacher’s Pets #22 Whose House

Whose House?
Whose House?

Written by Barbara Seuling
Illustrated by Kay Chorao
Gulliver Books Harcourt Children’s Books
ISBN: 0-15-216347-6
Ages: 3-7

Houses come in so many colors and sizes and shapes. Some are tall and skinny and rise high into the sky. Some are kind of fat and have acres of land around them. That’s called s-p-r-a-w-l-i-n-g. Some are in big buildings called apartments and some are tiny, little cottages or bungalows. Houses are made of wood, brick, stone, or mud, and some are even made of ice. There are castles and palaces and mansions. There are igloos, and houses made of grass, which have thatched roofs. I’ve seen purple houses and bright yellow and green houses. Once, I even saw a pink house with blue shutters. That was pretty scary unless, of course, pink and blue are your favorite colors. So, with so many different kinds of houses, how can you ever choose which house is exactly right for you?

Well, you could try them out just like the young boy in WHOSE HOUSE did. On his journey to find just the right house, he visited a beaver’s lodge and a bee’s hive. They weren’t right for him. He tried out a hollow log, too, but he learned that that was better for a frog. This rhyming picture book written by Barbara Seuling and illustrated by Kay Chorao will have young readers testing out all kinds of houses . . . until they find the one just right for them. And . . . maybe . . . just maybe, it’s the one they are already living in.

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters

FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“This is a book about houses for animals and humans,” said Philippe.

“Every animal keeps safe in their homes just like in our homes,” said Jake.

“I think this book is about the perfect house,” said Marta.

“I like the way that Barbara made the kid in the story always want to live in a different home,” said Kurtis. “I think that the boy was trying to look for something more than just his ordinary house.”

“It’s weird,” said Jake. “He had a house.”

“He had his own bed, too,” said Kurtis. “So, why was he looking for another house?”

“He wanted to see other houses,” said Anya.

“Maybe he was trying to find a better home,” said Juan. “A better place than where he lived.”

“He might try living in a squirrel’s home or a mole’s home,” said Kurtis.

“Or maybe he just wanted to see where other animals’ houses were,” said Hannah.

“Everybody has their own way of homes,” said Juan. “Beavers live in lodges made of mud and sticks and birds live in nests.”

“I would not like to be a bird,” said Katie-Erin.

“And he couldn’t live with the bats,” said Greg, “because he couldn’t sleep upside down.”

“Actually, some kids can hang on monkey bars like that,” said Olivia and she laughed.

“He couldn’t fit in a beehive either,” said Sarit.

“Yep! He would get stung,” said Philippe.

“Well, maybe he was just looking for facts about other homes,” said Jake.

“I relax, eat, and sleep in my home,” said Pritka. “But, it would be fun to live in a different home,” she said.

“A house for me is a place where I study,” said Philippe.

“A good house for me,” said Keisha, “is a little brick house with a little, cozy bed.”

“Well, I would like to live in a mansion because it’s humongous,” said Lucy.

“I’d like to live in the White House because there are probably a lot of bathrooms in there,” said Juan.

“I’d like to live in a future house like space people,” said Philippe, “because their houses have monorails.”

“Almost everyone has a home,” said Juan. “Even if it’s a tree, hole, or pond . . . it’s a home.”

“Well, I think my home is just right for me,” said Becky. “But, I would never leave my house without telling my mom or dad.”

“I think the boy was thinking about what it would be like in other homes,” said Juan. “But in the end, he realized that one house was right for him . . . and that was his own.”



What do a pumpkin, a shoe, and gingerbread all have in common? Why, they are all houses, of course. Peter put his wife in a pumpkin. Silly man! The old woman lived in a shoe with so many children . . . well, you know the rest. And a gingerbread house is good enough to eat. Houses come in many different shapes and sizes and children can discover the many shapes in their own houses.

Introduce and discuss the following geometrical shapes. (square, rectangle, circle, triangle) Have children locate and name shapes in their classroom.

Triangle……….letter “A”
Square……….bulletin board

For HOMEFUN, ask them to search their homes and make a list of geometrical shapes they find.


Then have the children draw a picture of their house. Encourage them to use as many geometrical shapes as they can.

MY HOUSE is RIGHT FOR ME! Social Studies

Have children bring in a picture of their home. Let each child describe their house and tell why it is a good house for them.

My house is the right house for me because …….I have my own bedroom.

My house is the right house for me because…….my mommy lives there and she loves me.

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

Jan Brett Gingerbread Baby House:
Miniature Gingerbread House (recipe)


THIS IS MY HOUSE by Arthur Dorros

January 2, 2015 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teacher’s Pets #21 Out and About at the Supermarket

Out and About at the Supermarket

Written by Kitty Shea
Illustrated by Becky Shipe
Picture Window Books
ISBN: 1-4048-0295-9W
Ages: 4-9

This is a selection of non-fiction titles from Picture Window Books. Featured is OUT AND ABOUT AT THE SUPERMARKET by Kitty Shea, illustrated by Becky Shipe.

Kiddles love to learn facts. They love to spout them off in the least expected places. It makes them sound so smart and . . . oh so worldly. You’ve heard of name-droppers, well you can just think of them as fact-droppers. This sample of Picture Window Books will have KIDDLES dropping facts all over the place.
In Snack Time Around the World they may drop a fact about lumpia or merienda. In Think, Think, Think Learning About Your Brain, you may overhear them talking about something wrinkled and gray. Don’t worry. They’re not talking about you — even if you are wrinkled and gray. They’re describing their brain, complete with cerebellum, cerebrum, and brain stem.
And anyone knows that in Do Ducks Live in the Desert? – that — they DON’T! But, if you listen carefully, you might be able to find out where musk oxen, or periwinkles, or markhors live. What’s a markhor, anyway? Well, you may think that none of this really matters, but don’t let a KIDDLE hear you say that, especially after they have read Matter See It, Touch It, Taste It, Smell It. They’ll probably tell you that the universe is made up of billions of atoms and molecules. And . . . you know what, they’ll be right. So anytime you hear a fact–dropper, listen up! You are sure to learn something.

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters

FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

Written by Kitty Shea
Illustrated by Becky Shipe
Picture Window Books
ISBN: 1-4048-0295-9W
Ages: 4-9

“This book is good because you can learn about the market,” said Meg.

“Cereal is in the supermarket,” said Hannah.

“Milk, yogurt, and cheese are in the dairy department,” said Philippe.

“I like milk,” said Charlie. “It’s my favorite thing.”

“A supermarket has a butcher,” said Miguel. “A butcher grinds meat.”

“My favorite food is chicken,” said Becky.

“The supermarket keeps cold cuts in one spot,” said Keisha.

“And the fruit and vegetables in another spot,” said Pritka.

“Did you know the lettuce takes a shower?” asked Keisha.

Kurtis started to laugh. “I got wet the first time I saw a lettuce head getting a shower,” he said.

Keisha giggled, too. “I mean, what kind of lettuce would want to take a shower?”

“Keisha,” said Hannah, “the lettuce takes a shower so the customers will buy it. Then they won’t have to wash it at home.”

“Well, supermarkets have almost everything,” said Lucy.

“Yeah, don’t forget the sweet food aisle,” said Meg.

“You mean the junk food aisle,” said Pritka.

“SUGARY junk!” added Miguel with a laugh.

“I wonder what would happen if there were no supermarkets,” asked Anya.

“Well, the Pilgrims and the Native Americans did not have supermarkets,” said Kurtis.

“When they lived they had to grow their own foods,” said Juan. “such as carrots, potatoes, and lettuce.”

“I feel sorry for them,” said Sarit, “because they had to plant their own food and it took a long time.”

Katie-Erin shook her head. “I can’t believe they lived without supermarkets,” she said.

Marta agreed. “Yeah, if there was no such thing as a supermarket, the people would starve.”

“The supermarket is a great place to get all your produce, meats, sweets and grains that you use for your breakfast, lunch and dinners every day,” said Juan. “They have food for any occasion.”

“I’d recommend this book to someone who doesn’t like to go to the supermarket,” said Zach, “because after they read this book, they might go.”

Written by Michele Zurakowski
Illustrated by Jeff Yesh
Picture Window Books
ISBN: 1-4048-0283-5W
Ages: 5-10

“The book tells about different foods from around the world,” said Hannah.

“It tells you some of the places where you can have the best snacks,” said Charlie.

“Yeah, like . . . United States, Mexico, Senegal, England, Israel, Oman, Philippines, Vietnam, and Australia,” said Hannah ticking off each country on her fingers.

“There’s one drink in Oman,” said Philippe laughing, “which sends bubbles up your nose.”

“Limonada!” said Marta, “like lime or lemonade.”

“In England they drink smash,” said Philippe, “and in the Philippines, they eat lumpia.”

“It’s weird that in Australia an eating time is called, “TEA TIME”, but they don’t drink tea,” said Hannah.

“Popcorn is America’s favorite snack,” said Pritka.

“I don’t like popcorn,” said Lucy, “I LOVE it.”

“Yummy!” said Katie-Erin.

“I make popcorn in the microwave,” said Sarit.

“It’s a very crunchy snack,” said Juan.

“Snacks are fun,” said Keisha.

“And every snack is unique,” said Marta. “And they are different all around the world.”

Written by Pamela Hill Nettleton
Illustrated by Becky Shipe
Picture Window Books
ISBN: 1-4048-0252-5W
Ages: 5-9

“This book teaches you about your body,” said Keisha. “It has my favorite body part . . . called the brain.”

“Your brain works like a computer,” said Marta. “It makes you smart.”

“Your brain works even when you sleep,” said Pritka. “It helps you dream. And did you know your left side of your brain controls your right side and the right side controls the left side?”

“Well, I learned that I have a brain,” said Keisha, “and it makes me think.”

Written by Darlene Stille
Illustrated by Sheree Boyd
Picture Window Books
ISBN: 1-4048-0246-0W
Ages; 5-9

“This book is cool because it has fun facts,” said Hannah. “When I looked at the cover I said to myself, What is matter? Then when I read it, I knew what matter was – something that you can see, touch, taste, and smell.”

“We are matter,” said Pritka. “That means we take up space. Even air is matter.”

“I left this book with a lot of knowledge,” said Hannah. “When I first looked at the cover of the book, I thought, ‘This does not look very interesting, but it is never good to judge a book by its cover.’”

Written by Nick Fauchald
Illustrated by Bill Dickson
Picture Window Books
ISBN: 1-4048-0259-2W
Ages: 5-9

“This book is good for me,” said Philippe, “because I want to play baseball.”

“You need a glove, tennis shoes, a bat, and ball,” said Meg.

“ . . . and a helmet,” said Philippe.

Meg nodded. “You need to watch the ball when it comes, too,” she said.

“It taught me everything about baseball,” said Greg.

Written by Michael Dahl
Illustrated by Anne Haberstroh
Picture Window Books
ISBN: 1-4048-0290-8W
Ages: 4-9

“This book is packed with facts about where animals live,” said Juan.

“I liked it because it was funny,” said Lucy. “It certainly made me think of the desert.”

“It teaches you about animals in a fun way,” said Zach. “If you’re an animal lover, you should read this book.”

“The illustrations were so perky, I thought my eyes would pop out,” said Juan.

“And,” said Zach, “this book proves — DUCKS DON’T LIVE IN THE DESERT.”


(to be used with Out and About at the Supermarket)

Discuss the FOOD GROUPS with the children.
Write the group headings on chart paper. (MEAT/PROTEIN, FRUITS, etc) Encourage the children to suggest a variety of foods and write each food under the appropriate heading. List as many foods as they can possibly think of. When the lists are completed, hang them around the room for easy reference.




Ice cream


Next have the children make a FOOD GROUP book for each food category. Use one sheet of 9” x 12” colored construction paper, folded in half widthwise as the cover, and one sheet of manila paper folded in half widthwise as the inner pages. Label each cover with one of the food groups. (MEAT/PROTEIN, FRUITS, etc)

Then give the children a supply of supermarket fliers. Have them cut out a variety of food pictures and glue them into the correct book. Next, they need to label their pictures. Encourage them to use the charts that are hanging around the room to check for correct spelling. When the books are completed, they can be housed in a student classroom library for all to enjoy.

By placing the supermarket fliers in a center area this can be an on-going project, which the children can work on independently.

(to be used with Out and About at the Supermarket)

In the supermarket everything has its place. There is the cereal aisle and the canned goods aisle. There’s the dairy section and the produce section, and the meat and fish department. There is the deli and the bakery. AND late at night, the stock clerk makes sure that everything is in its place.

Turn your classroom into a superWORDmarket. It’s easy. Have the children place their desks in rows. Label each row with one of the following words. NOUN, VERB, ADJECTIVE
Make a variety of flash cards using nouns, verbs, and adjectives. (Ex.: moon, dance, beautiful) Be sure to make enough cards so that every child has one.
Next the children (word stock clerks) locate the aisle in which their word belongs and hold their cards in the air. Select a child to be the store manager. The store manager must check each aisle to be sure that everything is in its place.

This game can be used as a center activity for children to work on independently. Place the cards in an envelope and provide three baskets labeled NOUN, VERB, and ADJECTIVE. The children sort the flashcards into the correct baskets. You may want to color-code the backs of the cards so that the children can check their own work.

You can adapt this game to be used with long and short vowels, rhyming words, or a variety of other language arts skills. Be Creative!

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)



SOMETHING GOOD by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko
SUPERMARKET by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg
THE BRAIN Our Nervous System by Seymour Simon
WHAT IS THE WORLD MADE OF? All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases

January 2, 2015 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#20 Teacher’s Pets The Giant Jelly Bean Jar

written by Marcie Aboff
illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye
Dutton Children’s Books
ISBN: 0525472363
Ages 5-8 


Beans! Beans! Beans! There are lima beans, coffee beans, kidney beans and refried beans. I love them all! But my favorite kinds of beans are jelly beans – and every flavor, too. Cherry, grape, lemon-lime, licorice . . . YUM! Double yum for strawberry and banana.

I bet Marcie Aboff loves jelly beans, too. After all, she did write The Giant Jelly Bean Jar. But I wonder if she really likes pizza jelly beans. I mean, whoever heard of pizza jelly beans? Next she’ll probably think of spinach or olive, or liver jelly beans. Arrrghhh!
I bet Marcie loves contests, too. Well, who doesn’t? Everyone loves to be a winner. Look at Ben. He really wanted to win that giant jelly bean jar. So every week Ben and his sister, Jill, went to Jo-Jo’s Jelly Bean Shop to try to guess the jelly bean riddle. Can you imagine having a whole jar of jelly beans all to yourself? Mmmm!

Then illustrator, Paige Billin-Frye dabs her color onto the pages to make those jelly beans look so yummy and so inviting. Who can help but want to eat them all up?
I think that Marcie and Paige took riddles and contests and jelly beans and rolled them all up into one delicious book. It makes me hungry just looking at it . . . not only for jelly beans, but for the good reading, too.

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters

FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

Jo-Jo’s apron said, “I love Jelly Beans,” said Philippe.

“And he made all different kinds of jelly beans,” said Meg.

“Jam jelly beans sound very interesting to me,” said Becky. “Even the popcorn jelly beans are interesting.”

“My favorite jelly beans are bubble gum,” said Anya.

“My favorite are blueberry,” said Kurtis.

“Popcorn jelly beans are really, really crazy,” said Greg.

Keisha giggled. “I like pizza jelly beans.”

“I wonder what pizza jelly beans would look like.” asked Marta.

“Pizza jelly beans would be yellow with some red under the yellow and a little brown,” said Sarit.

“Maybe reddish-orange,” said Anya.

“Anya!” said Pritka laughing. “That sounds like pepperoni jelly beans.”

Ewwww, gross!” said Hannah.

“Some of Jo-Jo’s jelly beans were disgusting and some were good,’ said Lucy.

“That jelly bean man made a lot of different kinds of jelly beans,” said Greg.

“He had a jelly bean contest,” said Charlie.

“I won a candy corn contest once,” said Pritka. “I guessed the exact number!”

“And Jo-Jo made a riddle and who ever got it right won a jar of jelly beans,” said Meg.

“A riddle has clues and you have to put the clues together and try to think of the big answer,” said Juan.

“From my point of view,” said Anya, “A riddle is something that people use instead of telling somebody what it really is.”

“Well, every time Jo-Jo said a riddle,” said Juan, “Ben knew the answer . . .”

‘But, I think he was shy and that’s why he didn’t say anything,” said Becky.

“Yeah, I think Ben felt very nervous,” said Zach.

“I was nervous once,” said Marta, “because I was going to sing in the choir.”

“Well, once I had to dance in front of two hundred people,” said Pritka. “I was very, very shy – like Ben.”

“I think Ben is like most people,” said Zach. “I get shy very easily, too.”

“But Ben knew the answer, he just forgot because he was so excited,” said Hannah.

“And embarrassed,” said Marta.

“I was sad because Ben lost two times,” said Greg.

“I think Ben was sad, too,” said Katie-Erin

“But, when it was the anniversary party,” said Juan, “Ben gave up his fear and won.”

“Right!” said Marta. “If you like something so much, you never give up on it. Ben deserved to win.”

“And he got crowned Prince of the Jelly Beans,” said Hannah with a giggle.


Is it a “G” or is it a “J”?

Jo-Jo’s Jelly Bean shop was crazy with weird flavored jelly beans. The English language is crazy, too, with weird combination letter sounds. So maybe, with the help of Jo-Jo and his jelly bean book, we can figure out this riddle of the English language. I know it’s a long shot, but it’s a start.

Explain the sound concept of hard and soft “G” and the letter “J” to the children. Then make three columns on the chalkboard or whiteboard. Have the children suggest words that begin with these sounds and have them decide which column they belong under. When all children seem to know the concept, place them into teams of two or three and give each team a sheet of paper, which is pre-folded into three columns. Have the children write Hard “G” in the first column, Soft “G” in the second column, and “J” in the third column.

Each team takes a turn to search through the Giant Jelly Bean Jar book to locate all the words that begin with these letters. (Hint: There is only one soft ‘G’ word.) The team that finds all of the words or comes the closest is the winner. Sounds like a contest to me.


Have each child spread a sheet of paper towel on his/her desk. Give them twenty jellybeans in a small, sealed, plastic, sandwich bag. Have the children open their plastic bags and place their jellybeans on the towel. Next, have them arrange the beans to make a variety of repeating patterns. (Their pattern must be able to repeat at least once.)

Child 1: green, orange, green, orange

Child 2: pink, yellow, orange, green, pink, yellow, orange, green

Child 3: red, red, green, yellow, red, red, green, yellow, etc.

When the children are ready, visit each desk and have them read their pattern to you.
After everyone has had a chance to read their pattern, they may eat the jellybeans. Bon apetit!

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

Jelly Belly Home
Classic Jelly Belly Recipes

Everybody Wins by Sheila Bruce, illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye
Ribbit Riddles Katy Hall & Lisa Eisenberg, illustrated by Robert Bender
Boogie Bones by Elizabeth Loredo, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
When Riddles Come Rumbling by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Karen Dugan
Pinky and Rex and the Spelling Bee by James Howe, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

January 2, 2015 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teacher’s Pets #19 Blueberry Mouse


written by Alice Low
illustrated by David Michael Friend
Mondo Publishing
ISBN: 1-59336-111-4
Ages 3–7

I’ve heard of a greenhouse, the Whitehouse, and even a house of cards. I’ve heard of a townhouse. I live in one. But, who ever heard of a blueberry house? Well, Blueberry Mouse, of course! Blueberry Mouse, written by Alice Low and illustrated by David Michael Friend, tells of a mouse as sweet as she can be. And, why not? She nibbles the whole day long . . . on sweet, juicy blueberries inside her blueberry house.Blueberry Mouse’s house is made of blueberry pie and everything inside is made of . . . you guessed it . . . blueberries. Blueberry Mouse nibbles her blueberry table and blueberry cups. Her blanket and bedclothes and even her bed are not spared when Blueberry Mouse gets hungry. It is no wonder Blueberry Mouse is a lovely shade of blueberry. And it sounds like a lovely existence, too, until Blueberry Mouse begins to nibble her window and wall and her floor and her door. That’s when the roof comes crumbling down.

You might think Blueberry Mouse a rather foolish mouse for eating so many blueberries. But, did you know that many scientists believe that blueberries are a “super” food containing high contents of antioxidants, which help to prevent aging and many common diseases? So maybe Blueberry Mouse and her creator, Alice Low, are onto something. Now, I’m going to scoop up a big dish of blueberry ice cream, dribble warm blueberry sauce over it, and put a cherr. . . I mean a blueberry on top. It’s important to stay healthy, you know. (grin)

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters

FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“This book was crazy,” said Becky. “I never heard of a blueberry mouse.”

“The Blueberry Mouse just loved blueberries,” said Hannah.

“Everything was blueberry,” said Charlie.

“Even her table, doors, walls, roof, and floor,” said Miguel counting off on his fingers.

“ . . . And her bed,” said Greg.

“Blueberry Mouse loved everything blue,” said Marta.

“I know. It’s crazy!” said Sarit.

“She turned blue from eating too many blueberries,” said Jack. ”I thought that only worked with carrots.”

“But she’s a BLUEBERRY mouse,” insisted Sarit.

Becky giggled. “I liked when Blueberry Mouse ate her sheets.”

“Yeah, that was pretty funny,” said Greg. “She ate almost all of her house, too.”

“I never heard of a mouse eating a house,” said Katie-Erin.

“She should be fat,” said Lucy, “but she wasn’t.”

“Why would Blueberry Mouse do such a thing?” asked Marta.

“Well, it sure wasn’t smart for her to eat her walls,” said Jack with a laugh.

“Yeah! Her roof will fall down. I wouldn’t want my roof to fall down,” said Anya.

Sarit shook her head. “She didn’t know what she was doing.”

“Yeah,” said Keisha. “Like, if you love blueberries, never build your house out of them!”

Miguel thought a moment. “I’d make my house out of pizza,” he said. “Yum!”

“Well, I would build my house out of pure Indian food,” said Pritka. “Pita bread for the walls and floors.”

“My floors would be made of marshmallows,” said Philippe. Then if I fell, I wouldn’t get hurt. Marshmallows are very fluffy.”

“Well, if I were a mouse, I would be a strawberry mouse,” said Hannah, “I like strawberries.”

You could almost see the wheels turning in Juan’s brain. “If the author wanted to,” he said, “she could make a lot of different mouse books . . . like Waffle Mouse . . .”

“. . . Or Chocolate Chip Mouse,” yelled Zach.

“Or Ice Cream Mouse,” said Philippe.

“Or Spaghetti Mouse with Sauce,” added Miguel.

“This is making me hungry,” said Zach.

“It’s a blueberry–licious book,” said Pritka.

“Well, I think it was a little crazy for a mouse to eat her own house,” said Hannah. “But since the Blueberry Mouse just loved blueberries, I guess it’s sensible. I think the author was trying to teach us that if you love something – don’t eat it all up!”

“Blueberry Mouse couldn’t resist!” said Miguel with a laugh.

Sarit sighed. “Yeah! She was really a fan of blueberries!”



Children will feel just like the Blueberry Mouse in this edible math lesson. But unlike her, I hope they can resist eating the blueberries before the lesson is over.


First, have children wash their hands. Then give each group of four children a pint of blueberries and four napkins. Next, give each child a piece of paper. Have them fold it into three columns and write GUESSTIMATE at the top of the first column, DISCUSS & GUESS in the middle column, and REAL COUNT in the last column.

Guesstimate . . . . . . . . . . Discuss & Guess . . . . . . . . . Real Count


Ask the children to guess how many blueberries are in their pints. Tell them it is a private guess and ask them to not discuss their answers with their partners. Reassure them that this is only a guess (guess + estimate = guesstimate) and that you do not expect them to be correct. Have them write their answers in the column under GUESSTIMATE. Remind them to NOT change their answers in this area.


Now, have each group of children discuss how many blueberries they think are in their pint. Give plenty of time for this chatter and listen carefully to their reasoning. Have each child write his or her guess in the column under DISCUSS & GUESS. Again, remind them that this is still a private guess and that you do not expect them to be correct, but that their answers may be closer to the “real” count this time.


Now, pour a portion of blueberries on each child’s napkin from their pint container. Have the children count the blueberries on their napkins by placing the blueberries in rows of ten. After the count is completed, have the children count up their groups of ten and their left over berries to see which group has the most. It’s easiest to do this if each child takes a turn and counts by ten and then the next child continues on. If there are extra berries (ones), save them to count last. Children may need assistance with the counting.

Expand the lesson by doing one or more of the following activities.


1. Find out which child in each group had the most/least berries.
2. Find out which group in the class had the most/least berries.
3. Split each group of children in half. Then have them count their total number of berries and compare them with the other members in their group.

Well, if you got this far and you still have blueberries left, give your class a great big hand. And, now the best part . . . clean-up. Bon Appétit!

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

Maine Farmhouse Journal: PYO Blueberries


A Fair Bear Share by Stuart J. Murphy, illustrated by John Speirs
If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond
By Word of Mouse by Kate Spohn
Quiet as a Mouse by Lynne Gibbs, Illustrated by Melanie Mitchell
Watch Out Jan Fearnley

January 2, 2015 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teacher’s Pets #18 Capstone Press – Pebble Books



(This set of books is shown as an example of the sets of book, which are offered by Capstone Press. PENGUINS is reviewed below.)

Capstone Press produces a vast range of non-fiction titles for Pre-K through 12th grade. These easy to read fact-filled, photo-illustrated books are a great addition to your personal library, but they are also especially valuable for teachers and students as a resource tool in any classroom. High interest topics combined with reading ease make these books fun to read. Pebble Books are written for beginning readers in grades Pre-K to 2nd grade.


FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“All of the PEBBLE animal books have chapters,” said Annie.

“They also have the same beginning chapter,” said Pritka.

“For example,” said Keisha, “ Woodpeckers is the name of the first chapter in the Woodpecker book.”

“And, the title of the first chapter of Coyote is coyotes,” said Philippe.

“Each animal book also tells about where the animals live,” said Pritka.

“The books also tell what the animals do,” said Juan, “Beavers use sticks and mud to build their homes, which are called dams.”

“All the books are non-fiction,” said Lucy.

“And there are maps in the books, too,” said Juan.

“And timelines,” said Jake. “And some of the books have real photographs.”

“Yeah!” said Annie, “They show where the animals homes are . . . like penguins live in the Antarctic.”

“And woodpeckers live in the woodlands,” said Keisha.

“There are many weather books in this series, too,” said Lucy. “Some of them are Clouds, Ice, Snow, and Lightning.”

“When I read the Fog book,” said Pritka, “I noticed there were no maps to show where fog goes.” She laughed and continued. “Because fog can be anywhere!”

“I like these books because they have lots of information,” said Philippe.

“I would recommend these books to young readers,” said Pritka, “because the text is big.”

“I agree,” said Keisha, “because these books are short and easy for little kids to read.”


by Margaret Hall
Capstone Press Pebble Books
ISBN: 0-7368-2063-9W
Grades PreK-2


“Beavers are rodents,” said Jake.

“And they are nocturnal rodents,” said Pritka.

“Beavers use their tails for warning animals and people,” said Miguel.

“Beavers rule the wetlands,” said Pritka. “ because they can squash animals with their flat tails.”

“If I were a beaver, I would be wet and cool in the water,” said Philippe. He thought for a moment. “I would recommend this book to my dad. He would be interested because he likes to swim in the water, too.”


by Patricia J. Murphy
Capstone Press Pebble Books
ISBN: 0-7368-2072-8W
Grades PreK-2

“Coyotes are in the dog family,” said Steven.
“They look like puppies when they are young,” said Raymond.

“Coyotes aren’t fed, (like dogs) you know?” said Lucas. “They have to catch their own food.”

“If I were a coyote, I would eat meat,” said Steven, “ . . . like rabbits.”

“I enjoyed this book,” said Lucas, “because it gives you information about an animal that lives on the grasslands.”


by Helen Frost
Capstone Press Pebble Books
ISBN: 0-7368-2093-0W
Grades PreK-2


“Fog forms from air and water,” said Pritka.

“It’s called water vapor,” said Jake.

“Fog is a cloud,” said Pritka.

“Fog can be near water or ground,” said Philippe.

“When it gets foggy, you can’t see,” said Kiley.

“Yeah, it can be dangerous,” said Barry.

“No one can see through thick fog,” said Lucy. “It looks like dusty air.”

“When it gets foggy, people in cars can’t see, so they have to put on their lights,” said Kiley.

“And, planes can’t land in thick fog,” said Philippe.

“There are all kinds of fog,” said Juan, “Like advection fog, and ice fog.”

“I’d like to live in the ice/snow type of fog because I just LOVE SNOW!” said Annie. “But, if I stay in it for a long time, I might become frozen.”


Emily Rose Townsend
Capstone Press Pebble Books
ISBN: 0-7368-2357-3W
Grades PreK-2


“Penguins are a type of bird,” said Alexa.

“Penguins are a type of bird,” said Annie.

“They can swim,” said Jake.

“But they can’t fly,” said Kiley.

“They are the only birds that can’t fly,” said Pritka.

“They love coldness,” said Lucy. “so they live in Antarctica.”

“South of the equator,” said Juan.

“Penguins have black and white feathers,” said Annie.

“And they are fat to keep warm,” said Kiley.

“Well, if I were a penguin, I would be cold, too,” said Philippe with a laugh.

“I think penguins look like toys,” said Keisha.

“If you read this animal book, you will be an animal wizard,” said Pritka. “. . . and that’s a fact.”


by Lisa Trumbauer
Capstone Press Pebble Books
ISBN: 0-7368-2371-9W
Grades PreK-2


“Sitting Bull was a Lakota Indian,” said Annie.

“He was born in the 1830s,” said Philippe.

“Sitting Bull is remembered for defending the American Indians’ way of life,” said Juan.

“His army won the battle,” said Keisha, “but it was pretty sad how they had to move away after the war.”

“If I were Sitting Bull and I fought in the war,” said Lucy, “I would go straight home and never go back again.”

“I wish I could rule the land,” said Keisha, “because there are bad things going on in this land and I think I can change them.”


by Emily Rose Townsend
Capstone Press Pebble Books
ISBN: 0-7368-2070-1W
Grades PreK-2


“Woodpeckers live in the woodlands,” said Pritka.

“They are red-headed birds,” said Annie.

“Woodpeckers have sharp tongues,” said Lucy, “Their tongues look like worms.”

“So that they can grab bugs,” said Keisha.

“They eat nuts, seeds, and fruits, too,” said Kiley.

“And they have long beaks,” said Barry.

“Woodpeckers like to drill holes in trees,” said Philippe.

“Yeah,” agreed Annie. “They make a drumming sound.”

“I’d recommend this book to a kid who would like to learn about the creatures of the woods,” said Juan.

“Yep,” said Jake, “And I like this book because it tells you facts.”




Have children work in small groups to make a list of as many animals that they can think of.

Dog, Cow, Dolphin, Deer, Bear, Duck, Cat, Shark, Pig

Then, have them categorize the animals into the habitats or environments in which they live. Add as many different environments as there are animals to fill each category.

FARM ANIMALS:     Cow, Pig


OCEAN ANIMALS:  Dolphin, Shark


Have the children bring their lists to a whole group meeting. On the board or on chart paper write headings for several environment/habitat areas.

To get more mileage from this lesson, write each animal name on 2” x 4” flashcards. Then make another set of cards with a variety of environments written on them. Laminate cards for durability. Store cards in a 6” x 9” envelope and place in a Language Arts/Science center. Children can match the animal cards to the habitat/environment cards. Some animal cards may fit into more than one category.



Choose five to ten animal names from the list that the children generated in the above lesson or you can use this as a stand-alone lesson by making up your own set of animal words. Then jumble the letters and make a worksheet like the one below. There is a great website that will scramble the letters of words for you instantly. See SUGGESTED WEBSITES below. Children can work in small groups or individually to unscramble the letters to make words.


1. act          ________________             2. dgo        ________________

3. srhka      ________________             4. nphoidl   ________________

5. ebar       ________________             6. eerd       ________________

7. woc        ________________             8. gip________________



Use the same five to ten animal names from ANIMAL SPELL and SCRAMBLE (above) and prepare 2” x 4” flash cards. Write one set of cards with the scrambled words on them and one set of cards with the real words on them. Then pass out the cards to the children. Have a child with the jumbled letters hold a card up. The child with the “real word” holds up the matching card.


ebar   bear

For spelling practice have the whole class say the word, spell it, and say it again. Then place the game in a Language Arts/Science center and have children match the cards and spell the words.



(Although I examined this website and found it to be helpful, please use it at your own discretion.)’s Word Scramble Generator


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April 11, 2014 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Teacher’s Pets #17 The Dirty Cowboy



written by Amy Timberlake
illustrated by Adam Rex

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0-374-31791-7
Ages 4—8

You know, there’s something to be said about loyalty and obedience, but Eustace Shackleford Montana may have gone too far the day his cowboy took a bath. When the Cowboy said, “Dawg! No one touches these clothes but me. Hear?”, Eustace took the Cowboy at his word. What good dog wouldn’t? On that fateful day under the New Mexico sky, Eustace demonstrated his dedication to his Cowboy . . . to the limit. That’s definitely an A+ dog and THE DIRTY COWBOY written by Amy Timberlake and illustrated by Adam Rex is an A+ book.

Ms. Timberlake writes a very funny and engaging tale of a cowboy who takes a bath only once a year. Bet kids would love that! She tells a story of a cowboy who sings of rivers flowin’, cattle lowin’, and cowboys crowin’ a combination that will surely have KIDDLES howlin’. (Okay so it doesn’t rhyme, but you get the gist.)

Then illustrator, Adam Rex, steps in to complete the package — and he does it in such a clever way. The hilarious images he paints of the cowboy cavorting “nearly nekkid” across the pages present a very funny picture — one that will capture readers, both young and old, city-slickers and prairie-dwellers, and maybe even a doodlebug or two.

This review, unlike my regular reviews written from my home in the New York City metropolitan area, was written under the clear New Mexico sky with no dust devil or smudgy rainbow in sight, but I did see a small gray spider scurry by a few moments ago.

FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“The dirty cowboy was funny,” said Kaya.

“He was very dirty,” said Jake.

Tina nodded. “That cowboy definitely needed a bath,” she said.

“Yeah,” said Jaina, “He was strange smelling,”

“It’s gross to have ticks in your hair,” said Treska, “ and fleas!” She scrunched up her nose.

“I don’t think that cowboy ever took a bath,” said Emma, “ . . . in his whole life!”

“That cowboy was crazy,” said Jaina, “and crazy cowboys never bathe!”

“I take a bath . . . like every Sunday or something,” said Kaya.Bath th-2

“Well, if I didn’t take a bath for a whole year, I would be all smelly,” said Annie.

“I wouldn’t have any friends,” said Tina.

“ And no one would want to play with me,” said Roberto.

Tina giggled. “I’d just stay in my house and never come out,” she said.

“Yeah, but how many parents would let you get away with it?” asked Jake.

“Well, if you were a cowboy living in the west, you could take a bath in the river,” said Kiley.

“Or in the bathtub or the shower?” said Barry.

“It’s better to go in the bathtub,” said Jake, “but sometimes people flush the toilet and it gets really cold.”

“I take a bath in the bathtub because you get to use fresh water and soap,” said Philippe.

“Yeah!” agreed Ethan, “And you have toys to play with.”

“But, cowboys lived long ago” said Jaina, “They didn’t have bathtubs.”

“There’s one thing I don’t get though,” said Ethan, “Wouldn’t it have made sense if he had taken a bath sooner?

Tina shook her head. “I think the cowboy should have just stayed stinky,” she said, “There was nobody to smell him . . . only the dog and the horse. So it was worth it to stay stinky.”

Treska giggled. “It was funny when the dog thought the cowboy was somebody else,” she said, “He wouldn’t let the cowboy have his clothes.”

“The cowboy should NOT have let the dog look after his clothes in the first place,” said Tina, “What was the cowboy thinking?”

“I think the dog did the right thing,” said Emma, “because he listened to what the cowboy said.”

“Well, the dog was very honest,” said Treska, “He thought that that was not his cowboy. And . . . he kept his promise to not give the cowboy’s clothes to anybody.”

Kaya giggled. “I always keep my promises,” she said.



No one can deny the dirty cowboy had poor hygiene. I mean thirty-two lice and a doodlebug should be proof enough – don’t you think? Well, anyhow, that doodlebug drove the cowboy to take his once-a-year-bath down in the old river. I know the KIDDLES have better sense than that cowboy, and here’s a game to prove it.

Have the children sit in a circle. Each child takes a turn calling on another and asking one of the questions below. Spend as much time on each question as you feel comfortable.

When a child addresses a female child, he or she will say, “Hi, Jean . . .”
When a child addresses a male child, he or she will say, “Hi, Gene . . .”
Okay time to get down to the dirty nitty gritty.

Hi Jean/Gene, when (or how often) do you take a bath?

Possible answers:
. . . every night
. . . when I slip in a mud puddle.

Hi Jean/Gene, when do you wash your hands?Cowboy th

Possible answers:
. . . before eating
. . . when I sneeze

Hi Jean/Gene, when do you brush your teeth?

Possible answers:
. . . after eating
. . . before bed

Hi Jean/Gene, how many hours of sleep do you get?

Possible answers:
. . . eight
. . . not enough

Hi Jean/Gene, what is your favorite healthy food?

Possible answers:
. . . apples
. . . carrots

Hi Jean/Gene, what do you like to do for exercise?

Possible answers:
. . . climb a mountain
. . . play soccer


Prepare the following checklist. Have the children place a checkmark next to each hygiene activity that they take part in each day.

M_ _T_ _W_ _Th_ _F

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ wash hands before eating
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ wash hands after using the bathroom
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ wash hands after sneezing
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ brush teeth before coming to school
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ brush teeth after meals (when possible)
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ brush teeth before going to bed
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ take a bath before going to bed or in morning before school
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ wash hair
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ brush or comb hair
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ put on clean clothes (all the way down to the underwear)


dictionary-coordinateIt took the dirty cowboy nearly the whole day to get to the river. Do you think if he had a map he could have found a more direct route? I mean following fence lines . . . come on . . . there must be an easier way. Try playing GRAPH IT! MAP IT! – and I promise it won’t take you all day.

Draw a 10 x 10 grid on the chalkboard.
Number the Horizontal coordinates A, B, C ->
Number the Vertical coordinates 1, 2, 3 ->
Label several coordinates with a location in your school.

Ex. Library = 3-B; Principal’s Office 6-J; Lunchroom 4-A

Have children locate each place on the map.

Give each child a blank grid. Have them plot their own coordinates and ask a friend to locate them.

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

KidsHealth – Kids
The ChildFun Family Website Health & Hygiene


Phoebe Clapsaddle and the Tumbleweed Gang by Melanie Chrismer, illustrated by Virginia Marsh Roeder
No More Baths by Brock Cole

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December 24, 2013 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teacher’s Pets #15 The Case of Vampire Vivian


case of Vivian Vampire hw7By Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Amy Wummer
ISBN: 1-57565-127-0
Ages 5 – 8 years

Well, she is sort of weird — that new girl who just moved in — her hair all sticking out like bat wings. How can you ignore that bat shirt she’s wearing and those bat stickers on her notebook and what about her bat earrings? Now isn’t that a “bat” much? Who can blame Molly for thinking Vivian is a vampire? Wouldn’t you?

Molly and her friends, Frank and Louis, turn into detectives and scientists all rolled into one as they try to solve the mystery of The Case of Vivian Vampire written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Amy Wummer. Ms. Knudsen mixes fact with fiction as she weaves an interesting tale about bats and vampires, while Ms. Wummer’s paintbrush teases the reader into thinking Vivian may actually be a vampire. I mean just look at Vivian’s hair. Looks like bats to me!

So of course, young readers, armed with Knudsen’s “bat” facts and Wummer’s perky illustrations, will eagerly join Molly and her friends to try to discover if Vivian is really a vampire. BUT . . . WAIT! If she’s a “real” vampire, then why is she awake during the day? And why did she eat garlic-mashed potatoes? Anyone knows vampires hate garlic. It’s a real mystery all right, but don’t let it drive you “batty”!

FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“I don’t think Vivian is really a vampire,” said Annie.

“There’s no such thing as a vampire,” said Philippe.

“Maybe she acted like that because she was so ‘into’ bats,” said Tina.

“Well, she wore bat clothes,” said Jaina. “And she had bat stickers on her notebooks and she had a bat knapsack.”

“She had bat earrings, too,” said Roberto.

“And Vivian’s hair looked like batwings,” said Philippe. “I think the illustrator was trying to make us believe that Vivian was a vampire.”

Jaina nodded. “Molly and the gang didn’t really know if Vivian was a vampire or not,” she said, “So they had to find out. They had to find vampire facts.”

“One learning fact about bats is their wings can be about six feet long,” said Emma.

“And bats can fly as fast as 15 miles per hour,” said Jaina.

“But, Molly was scared of bats,” said Roberto.

“Before I read the book I was scared, too. I thought bats were really creepy,” said Jaina.

Jake shook his head. “I don’t really think bats are creepy. If you look at them up close, they are kind of like a person. They have hands. They have a mouth and they have teeth.”

“ . . . Really sharp teeth,” said Roberto. “They’re fangs!”Vampire bat

“ And they have a face and they have legs,” continued Jake.

“They are mammals . . . like us,” said Roberto.

“But, when you look at Vivian’s face, she sort of looks like a (vampire) bat,” said Emma.

“But, there are no vampires in the world,” said Jaina. “That is a superstition.”

“But imagine if there were!” said Jake.

“Superstition means that it is just made up! There is no such thing,” insisted Jaina.

“Vampire bats are only in Central and South America. They’re not anywhere around our place,” said Jaina.

“Vampire bats live in Mexico, too,” said Roberto. “Last year I visited Mexico, but I never actually got to see one.”

“That’s a relief!” sighed Ethan. “If there was a kid that looked like Vivian in my class, I would think she looked very creepy.”

“Well, Thank goodness there are no vampires in our classroom,” said Jake.

Tina shook her head. “She’s just a normal kid . . . like all of us,” she said.


SCIENCE – BAT – and – GO – SEEK!

It’s a myth that bats are blind. They can see well enough. But since they are nocturnal animals and they spend most of their waking hours in the dark, bats rely on their heightened sense of hearing and their sense of echolocation to move about. Bats send out high-pitched sounds, which bounce off insects. This lets the bat know in which direction to fly in order to find its dinner . . . or dessert as the case may be. To demonstrate this concept, play . . .

BAT – and – Go – Seek!

Choose one child to be the bat and five children to be bugs. The bat stands in the front of the room with his or her eyes tightly shut, while the bugs tiptoe to various parts of the classroom. As you point to each bug, they emit a buzzing sound. The bat, with his or her eyes still closed, points in the direction of the sound. Children can take turns being the bat and the bugs.

This game develops hearing sensitivity. It’s also a check to see if any of your students may be having any hearing difficulty. A trip to the school nurse for a quick hearing test can either verify or allay your fears.


List the five senses, sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing on the board or chart paper. Have children suggest various ways they use each of their senses. Record their answers.


Sense of Sight . . . . .read a book . . . . gaze at the stars
Sense of Smell . . . . sniff a rose . . . . . some popcorn
Sense of Taste . . . . lick a lollipop . . . .sip a milkshake
Sense of Touch. . . . feel a bunny . . . . .hold hands
Sense of Hearing . . .hear a secret . . . .listen to birds sing

Hey wait! Don’t forget . . . Common Sense and . . . a Sense of Humor!

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

Enchanted Learning

Bats for Kids


Screech: A Book About Bats by Melvin & Gilda Berger
What is a Bat? by Bobby Kalman and Heather Levigne
Bats! Strange and Wonderful by Laurence Pringle, illustrated by Meryl Henderson
Bat in the Dining Room by Crescent Dragonwagon, illustrated by S. D. Schindler

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August 6, 2013 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teacher’s Pets #14 An Ant’s Day Off


by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Nina Laden
Simon & Schuster Children’s
ISBN: 0-689-82274-X
Ages 4 – 8 years

Working! Working! Always working! That sums up Bart’s life in An Ant’s Day Off written by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Nina Laden. Moving sand from one tunnel to the next, day after day — hey, that’s the life of a sand ant!

But it’s been said, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” So would that make Bart a dull ant? Everybody needs a day off once in a while . . . doesn’t he? A day to take in the wonders of the world . . . a day to pull the covers up over your head and dream.

It seemed that Bart was content with his life in the sand tunnel . . . until one day . . . the day he looked up and saw a glimmer of blue. That’s all it took. Bart threw down his shovel. He flung off his hard hat. Nothing, not even his friend, Floyd’s warning, “No ant has ever taken a day off – never in the history of antdom,” could stop Bart from scrambling toward the sun. Well, sometimes an ant just needs to look at the sky, now doesn’t he? I’m sure that children will scramble for this book when they want to escape from their busy worlds.

P. S.
I’m glad Bonny Becker and Nina Laden didn’t take a day off or this delightful book may never have been produced. What fun!
FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“In AN ANT’S DAY OFF Bart and Floyd were in their sand nest,” said Lucy.

“Those ants were working,” said Zach.

“But Bart and Floyd had never seen the sky,” said Miguel, “or the rain, or the world.”

“So Bart took the day off,” said Hannah.

Keisha shook her head. “Bart shouldn’t have taken the day off,” she said, “He should have stayed at work.”

“Yeah, That was kind of bad,” said Hannah. “It’s kind of like taking a day off from school.”

“And, it wouldn’t be fair if he took a day off and all the other ants had to stay at work,” said Keisha.

“I think that if I took a day off I would be miserable,” said Lucy, “I would want to play with my friends and they would be at school.

“Right!” said Juan. “So you might as well stay in school.
And if you take a day off from school you are kind of lying.

“And, when you lie your tummy feels tingly because that means you are guilty.” said Miguel.

“Yeah!” said Zach. “When you tell a lie – after about ten minutes – your stomach starts to feel weird. You feel like you’re going to throw up.”

Pritka nodded. “And if you tell a lie your head will hurt.”

“You have this thing going through your head saying, ‘I should have told the truth! I should have told the truth!’” said Zach. “It just burns your head.”

“Once I took a day off from school just to go to the park,” said Pritka.

“Well, if I took a day off, I’d feel guilty and I wouldn’t like it, but I would go to Florida,” said Miguel with a grin.

“I would spend my day at the library,” said Juan.

“Well, maybe he (Bart) wasn’t supposed to, but he did it anyway,” said Zach. “And I can understand why. He was trapped inside like a dungeon.”

“Yeah, Bart just wanted to see what was in the outside world,” said Pritka.

Juan nodded. “Every guy needs at least one look at the sun,” he said.ant red th-1



“Ants” means more than one ant. So what does “Ant’s” mean?

When children discover the apostrophe they can’t wait to use it . . . or more likely they can’t wait to overuse it. Children will take possession of the “possessive” concept by playing the “IT’S MINE” game.

Assign children letters of the alphabet and have them make up a phrase to show that someone or something owns something. In AN ANT’S DAY OFF – who owns the day off? The ant of course!

Bertha’s bubbles
Hannah’s hippo
Martin’s milkshake

Children should illustrate their work to depict their phrases.

To expand this idea, children can add an adjective to describe the noun.

Bossy Bertha’s bubbles
Horrible Hannah’s hippo
Maniac Martin’s milkshake

To take a step farther, have children write complete sentences. They may want to work in pairs or small groups. This is harder than it looks.

Bossy Bertha’s bubbles burst in the bathtub.
Horrible Hannah’s hippo hiccups under the hamper.
Maniac Martin’s milkshake made a mess.

When the alphabet is complete, bind all the pages into book form for a very early reading experience. Children will love to turn the pages of a book that they have written. Happy Writing and Happy Reading!

ant brown thSOCIAL STUDIES – Community Workers

Ants are known as workers. There are sand ants, like Bart and Floyd, who are engineers. They build and maintain the tunnels of their underground home. But it takes many ants performing many specific jobs to keep a finely tuned nest.

Some ant jobs include nurses, who provide childcare and nourish the young. There are teachers and farmers. There are ants that specialize in climate control to keep the temperature of the nest just right for baby ants. There are foragers who provide food for the colony and there are guards who protect it. Hey, this doesn’t sound so different from our world. Does it? Children will discover how all jobs are important and all are necessary to make our world run smoothly . . . just as the ant world does.

Have children work in pairs or small groups to brainstorm as many jobs as they can think of. Record all job suggestions on chart paper. Then have children choose a job they might like to do when they get older and write a short paragraph about it. Younger children can write a sentence or two. Don’t forget to illustrate. The children’s writings can be bound into book form as a classroom book. Happy Writing and Happy Reading!

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

Pest World for Kids

Education World


Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg
Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose, illustrated by Debbie Tilley
The Ants Go Marching by Jeffrey Scherer

July 4, 2013 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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