Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

It's All About Me!

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 #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 #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 #4 The Sundae Scoop

by Stuart J. Murphy, illustrated by
HarperCollins Publishers
Ages 6 and Up

Most kids love ice cream. They love as it drips down their fingers and smears their noses and they love to swirl their tongues around its creamy flavor. So what could be more fun than making ice cream sundaes for the school picnic? In The Sundae Scoop written by Stuart J. Murphy, Emily, Lauren, and James decide to do just that.

They take chocolate and vanilla ice cream, add caramel and hot fudge sauces and two toppings to make a variety of different sundae combinations But when Emily wonders exactly how many combinations they can make, Winnie, the cafeteria lady, pulls out her chalkboard to demonstrate. The use of the chalkboard, as a graphic organizer, makes this difficult math concept easy for youngsters to understand. What a clever technique by Murphy to combine reading fun with math skills.

Cynthia Jabar’s bright, perky illustrations combined with Murphy’s yummy story make this a very inviting book.

FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“I liked the book because it was using math and numbers,“ said Pritka.

“It was kind of like math,” agreed Annie. “When they were spilling stuff, they were subtracting. And they were always spilling stuff.” she giggled. “I think they were a little clumsy.”

“It would be fun to have something like that at our school,” said Lucy. “Everyone would come.”

Juan’s eyes lit up. “That’s a super duper idea,” he said.

“Yeah, we could make ice cream sundaes . . . just like they did in the book,” said Zach.

Lucy thought for a moment. “But, it would be hard to decide which flavors to have,” she said.

“How about Toenail-Fingernail Twist?” said Zach with an impish grin.

“Ewww.” groaned Meg and bopped him on the head with her paper.

“We could make the largest ice cream sundae ever,” said Annie. “And . . . I want a banana and two cherries on mine.”

“This book is making me hungry,” said Zach.

“Me too,” agreed Keisha.

Then Juan stated it very simply, “I like this book because I like ice cream.



Brainstorm a list of ice cream flavor words. Record on chart paper.


Brainstorm a list of ice cream words. Record on chart paper.


Now be inventive. Mix and match the words on the two charts to make some new combinations. For added fun have children work in small groups.

strawberry . . . . swirl
peach . . . . . . . crunch

Go a step farther.

Brainstorm a list of weird words. Record on chart paper.


Now be even more inventive. Mix and match the three charts to make some very unusual combinations.

chocolate . . . . . liver . . . . .dip . . . . chocolate liver dip
strawberry . . . . squirrel . . .swirl . . . strawberry squirrel swirl
banana . . . . . . garbage . . crunch . .banana garbage crunch
orange . . . . . . .mustard . . cluster . .orange mustard cluster
mint . . . . . . . . .pickle . . . .ripple . . .mint pickle ripple

What a delicious way to increase vocabulary.


Make a set of flash cards using the words in the LANGUAGE ARTS FUN lesson.

Write ice cream words on each card.

Use these cards as flash cards. Children can take turns flashing the card other children to read.

This is a great example of kiddles teaching kiddles.


Children will have fun creating sundae combinations with Unifix Cubes. (interlocking cubes)
Assign each flavor, sauce, and topping a Unifix Cube color. Write the following KEY on the chalkboard.


Vanilla . . . . ===> yellow cube
Chocolate . .===> brown cube
Hot Fudge . ===> purple cube
Caramel . . .===> orange cube
Sprinkles . .===> red cube
Nuts . . . . . ===> blue cube

Reproduce the chart on page 15 by writing it on the chalkboard.

Have children use the code on the board to construct their unifix sundaes.

vanilla-hot fudge–sprinkles chocolate-hot fudge–sprinkles

vanilla-hot fudge–nuts chocolate-hot fudge–nuts

vanilla-caramel–sprinkles chocolate-caramel–sprinkles

vanilla-caramel–nuts chocolate-caramel–nuts

If you like The Sundae Scoop, you may also like the following books.

Ice Cream by Elisha Cooper (find out how ice cream is made)
Wemberly’s Ice Cream Star by Kevin Henkes (for the board book crowd)

For a list of wild ice cream flavors visit these sites:

Goodrich Ice Cream Menu

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream – Our Flavors

Hotlicks Ice Cream Flavors

Disclaimer: Names of child reviewers have been changed to maintain their privacy.

November 15, 2011 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Teacher’s Pets #1 A Mud Pie for Mother

A Mud Pie for Mother
by Scott Beck

Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers



Ages 3 to 6

Shop! Shop! Shop ‘til you drop! Race from store to store. Search for the “perfect” gift. Sound familiar? We all do it. In A Mud Pie for Mother, written and illustrated by Scott Beck, Little Pig searches the farm for the perfect birthday present for his mother.

When I was Little Pig’s age, I searched for the perfect gift, too. I dashed through the dime store aisles, two quarters, (my whole allowance) clutched in my hand, hunting for the best gift for Mother’s Day. I found it . . . an orange paisley accordion-pleated apron. It was beautiful!

Little Pig found beautiful presents too, a little flower, a bit of hay, a few seeds, even a clump of dirt . . . all perfect gifts! His mother would love them. But when Little Pig realized that they belonged to his farm friends, he wouldn’t take them. It just wouldn’t be right. Imagine Little Pig’s sadness as he headed home empty-handed. But to his surprise Little Pig’s friends each gave him a special gift for his mother. Children will delight in this story as Little Pig is rewarded for his kindness. They will see that although doing the right thing is not always easy, it is best.

Scott Beck’s simple illustrations nearly “pop” off the page. Then they draw you right back onto the farm. Beck presents a sweet and gentle story, which children will easily identify with. I mean . . . what child has not searched for the perfect present? Remember macaroni-studded picture frames and yarn-covered, frozen-orange-juice pencil holders . . . made and presented with love. PERFECT!

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters

FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“The pig wanted to give something to his mother for her birthday,” said Philippe.

“Yeah, Little Pig wanted to give things to his mom just like in real life,” said Kiley. “He went to the bee and the cow and the hen and the old grandma.”

“Because they all had something special,” interrupted Greg. “But even though Little Pig wanted to take them, (flower, hay, seeds, dirt) he didn’t.”

“Right!” said Emma. “He was nice enough to not take them. So when he came back everyone gave him something.”

“He got rewarded,” said Pritka with a smile.

“Yeah,” said Greg. “Little Pig listened to the farmer’s wife and she rewarded him.”

“And every time the pig passed by the animals, they gave Little Pig some things, too,” said Philippe.

“I think the girl farmer and the animals respected the pig,” said Emma.

“Emma ‘s right,” said Greg.

“But even if the pig couldn’t get a present,” said Emma. “His mother would still love him.”

Roberto nodded. “Yeah, what really matters is loving,” he said.

“This book shows how to be kind,” said Annie.

“And the pig was very kind,” said Pritka.

“I think Little Pig was generous, too,” said Annie.

“Yeah,” said Treska. “The moral of the story is don’t take. They’ll give it to you.” Then she grinned. “Then you don’t get in trouble and you feel better too.”

“I liked this book,” said Emma. “I think that Little Pig’s mother wouldn’t really care if he didn’t give her anything because love is the biggest present of all.”



Discuss echoic words . . . words that make their own sounds. Start with the words from the book. List them on chart paper.

Buzz, Moo, Grunt, Cluck, Squawk

Have children act out each animal sound.

As you read books to the children, alert them to be on the lookout for additional echoic words and add these words to the list. A great book to start with is Too Much Noise by Ann McGovern. This book includes many additional animal sounds, as well as fun words like swish and hiss.

Make a list of the farm animals in the story.

Pig, Bee, Cow, Hen

Continue the list by adding as many farm animals as the children can think of.


Make flash cards of the animal names and animal sounds.

Cow – Moo, Sheep – Baa, Pig – Oink,

Children flash the cards to each other for reading/vocabulary practice. When a child successfully reads a card, he/she keeps the card and scores a point. The child with the most cards wins.


Use the same set of cards as for VOCAB/FLASH. (Actually, I prefer to make a separate set, which allows me to have two groups working on an activity at the same time.)

Shuffle all cards and place them face down on playing surface.

Children play in teams or individually against each other. They take turns turning over two cards to make a match. Ex. Sheep – Baa (yes) Sheep – Oink (no) The child or team with the most matching cards wins.


Have children talk about what they would have done if they were in Little Pig’s hooves?

Have children discuss how they think Little Pig was feeling. worried, annoyed, angry, sad, frustrated


(Although I examined this website and found it to be very helpful, please use it at your own discretion.)

Let’s Learn About Pigs


If you like A Mud Pie for Mother or books about pigs, you may also like the following books.

If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond

Pigs by Robert N. Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko

The True Story of the Three Pigs by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

Disclaimer: Names of child reviewers have been changed for privacy.

October 1, 2011 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Teachers Pets #1 Welcome to Teacher’s Pets

Hi, my name is Donna O’Donnell Figurski, (author, educator, and book reviewer)

                                      I love children’s books,
all kinds.
BUT, I especially love picture books.
I love to read them.
I love to write them.
AND now . . .
I love to review them.


I have authored the column, TEACHER’S PETS on since 2002. 
My reviews have a different twist than do most book reviews I read. I work with a team of elementary-aged school children, called KIDDLE CRITers, who review books with me. We meet about once a month after school to read and discuss newly published children’s picture books. The KIDDLE CRITers team consists of about seven to fifteen children ranging in ages from 6 to 12 years old. They are enthusiastic critics and one section of my online review, called FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers, includes the insightful and sometimes hilarious comments by the children.

My nearly thirty years as a first or third grade teacher has given me the experience to design lessons for teachers to use with the books that I review. This section is called, TEACHER TALK. I also suggest additional books, as well as two or three websites, which teachers may use to compliment the reviewed book. Of course, there is also my review, too. 

The reviews can also be found in my column at

Look for TEACHER’S PETS in thesidebar under FOR EDUCATORS. or scroll down the page until you meet my frog logo. Simply click on the frog to take you to my column. See you there.


If you would like to have your book considered for review by the KIDDLE CRITers review team, please contact me at

Although I cannot promise that every book will be reviewed, I will try my best to feature as many books as possible.

(Photo compliments of ME.) 

(Clip Art compliments of

(This picture was taken when I first began the review column. You might have noticed my hair was a little darker and a little longer than my current picture. I was a tad bit younger, too. Such is life. It keeps moving  on.)

October 1, 2011 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , | 1 Comment


FindingStrengthToStandAgain's Blog

Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Life after Traumatic Brain Injury

101 Books

Reading my way through Time Magazine's 100 Greatest Novels since 1923 (plus Ulysses)

Miss Clara's Corner

Be the change you wish to see in the world -Gandhi

Views from a Window Seat

Jeannine Atkins on Writing and Stuff

making our way

Making our way in the mountains

In An Instant Your Life Can Change Forever

Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts Blog