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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 #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

Living in 3rd Grade #7 Vocabulary is in the Air

Vocabulary is in the Air


Figurski KIDDLES

(Reposted from Figurski Wiki March 22, 2011)

Our language is made up of many wordsth. Some convey the most simple message.

The dog ran down the street.

Certainly that sentence gives the reader a specific picture, but not a colorful one. It leaves a lot to the imagination of the reader who is expected to fill in the missing parts. The sentence borders on boring.Dog th

By playing with words, children are experimenting with ways to make their language more vivid. They use words to create movies in their heads. This will surely result in more fascinating writing that will  jump off the page. In order to accomplish that task, children need to choose more picturesque words.

Look at this sentence.

                 The brown dogrunninghe9dog galloped down the crooked street. 

It’s more vivid and easily allows a clearer image to be conjured.

I asked my class to play with words. I gave them a set of stimulus words (in bold) and asked to think of more visual words.

Look at their work below.

ran — dashed, raced, rushed, sprinted, zoomed, galloped, bolted
picked — plucked, snatched, yanked, grabbed
jumped — leapt, hopped, skipped
flew — glided
yelled — screamed, scolded, yelped, screeched, hollered, shouted, snapped, barked

For HomeFun, they will work on the following words.


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(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

December 11, 2013 Posted by | Living in 3rd Grade | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On School #36 Kids Speak Out on First Grade

KIDS COMMENT in 2004-2005

(Reposted from Donna’s Website)

(Names are changed to protect the infamous.)

Kids Raised Hands th

Well, another school year has ended. (2004-2005) This year I had a total of 27 children. That’s a BIG class by any standards, but especially since our sister school across town, no more than a mile away, had ONLY 13 children per class. The way I look at it . . . I had double the fun…or maybe it was double the trouble. I’ll let you decide. Here’s what some of my KIDDLES said about their 1st grade experience.

When I started 1st Grade I was not good at math, but I got better. First grade is the best.

I have been in 1st Grade for a year. Can you believe that???

1st Grade was all fun! We had to do a lot of work to get things done.

For GROUP DAILY NEWS we wrote about animals, healthy snacks, snow, people, flowers, butterflies, rainbows, horses, our prize bucket, and hospitals.

When I first met Mrs. Figurski, I was shy, but then I got used to her. Mrs. Figurski has fun activities. People learn things in first grade.

First grade is a lot of fun. I am going to miss first grade.

When I started school, I was very nervous.

On the first day of first grade, I was shy and scared. When I sat down I met Ivan and Gale. They became my first friends in 1st grade. Now I love first grade. It is the best!

When I first started school, I cried because I wanted my dad. Then I met new friends and my teacher, Mrs. Figurski, did lots of stuff, like, Word Wall Quiz and Group Daily News.

KIDS COMMENT in 2007-2008

Mrs. Figurski’s class is the best class in the whole wide world. My favorite game is Race for a Flat.Variety of Kids th

My teacher is a nice teacher. You can have fun in 1st grade.

First grade can be difficult. My teacher is fun. My teacher makes projects. My teacher likes me. She is the best teacher. My teacher can do anything.

I like first grade because we write a lot. I like projects. I like when Mrs. Figurski reads Meish Goldish.

First grade is fun. I play games. I made a book, too. Mrs. Figurski is a nice teacher. Mrs. Figurski made first grade fun.

It was fun in first grade, but it’s time for an end. Mrs. Figurski made a lot of fun things like Alpha Dice and Alpha Patterns. Mrs. Figurski likes frogs. Mrs. Figurski is the best teacher in the whole wide world.

I love first grade. First grade is not like kindergarten. Our favorite teacher is Mrs. Figurski.

I like my teacher. My teacher is cool. My teacher teaches. My teacher likes kids.

In first grade you learn how to read.

You need a backpack in first grade.

First grade is fun. You do projects. You play games. You do stuff and you don’t know that you are learning. If you are in Mrs. Figurski’s class, you are in the right class. When you are done with first grade, you go to second grade.

Love First Graders th

Please leave a Comment by simply clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

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If you enjoy my blog, please pass it on to all your friends and they to theirs.

If you hate my blog, go ahead and send it to your enemies. I won’t mind.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing. )

September 3, 2013 Posted by | On School | , , , | 1 Comment

Living in 3rd Grade #4 Division Stories by Figurski Kiddles

Division Stories


Figurski KIDDLES

(Reposted from Figurski Wiki January 6, 2011)

(Children’s name have been omitted to protect the infamous.)

Division is like sharing. When someone has something and shares it equally with others, that is dividing. Sometimes division can have a remainder because you can not divide the numbers equally and some numbers are left over. That is called a remainder. We are having so much fun with division, so Mrs. Figurski made Division Story Booklets for us. We get to create our very own division stories. We thought it would be so much fun to make up the problems from our own heads because we have such creative heads. Then we decided to post our division stories on our Wiki, so we could have fun solving all of our division stories. We are using crayon names for our problems.

Division Stories – stories written with color names

January 6, 2011

Gold has 40 cookies. She has 7 pans. How many cookies will Gold be able to put on each pan?

32 football players are going to a game. They are going on buses. Each bus can hold 7 football players. How many buses will they need?

Purple has 14 books. She put 3 books on each shelf. How many shelves will Purple need for her books?

Golden has 15 Nutcrackers. He has 5 nuts. How many nuts can Golden put in each Nutcracker’s mouth, if he wants them to have an equal share?

Pink has 48 carrots. She has 6 bags. How many carrots can Pink put in 6 bags?

Red has 15 cookies. He also has 4 jars. He wants to put 3 cookies in each jar. What will be Red’s remainder?

Mrs. Pink had 45 Nancy Drew books. She has 5 book shelves in her dining room. How many Nancy Drew books can Mrs. Pink put on each shelf?

Blue had 20 balloons. He had 5 piles. How many balloons can Blue put in 5 piles? b

Mr. Red had 20 blue crayons. He wanted to divide them equally into 4 cans. How many crayons would go in each can?

Lavender is putting cupcakes on a tray. She has 25 cupcakes. How many cupcakes can Lavender put on each tray?

Aqua is reading a chapter book. The chapter book is 50 pages long. Each chapter has 5 pages. How many chapters are in the book?

Mr. Black’s 23 sons are going on a car trip. They have 4 cars that hold 2 people each. They have to buy more cars. How many more cars do they need to buy for their trip?

Miss Turquoise has 21 pet sharks. She has 9 bath tubs. Miss Turquoise wants put 4 sharks in each bathtub. How many bath tubs will she need to use?

Mrs. Pink has 20 blue crayons. She wants to divide them into 3 cans. How many blue crayons will not have a can?

Mrs. Green has 35 fish. She has 3 tanks and wants to put 4 fish in each tank. How many more tanks will she have to buy?

Mr. Gold was going to New York. He’s going to take 10 friends with him. Each car can hold 4 friends. How many cars will Mr. Gold and his friends need?

Mr. Silver has 38 puppies. He was going on a car trip. He has 5 cages to put the puppies in. Mr. Silver wants 5 puppies in each cage. How many more cages will he need?

Division Stories – stories written with color names

January 7, 2011

Aquamarine has 23 Expo markers. She has 2 friends. How many markers will Aquamarine and her friends get if she shares with them? Show the remainder.

Prince Opal has 17 horses in his tower. He wants to divide them into 3 groups. How many horse will not be in a group?

Amber has 50 rare coins. She puts 7 rare coins in each box. How many boxes will Amber need? How many coins will not get a box?

Ms. Ruby has 49 turkeys. She has 7 white shelves in her kitchen. She wants to put the turkeys on her shelves. How many turkeys can Ms. Ruby put on her white shelves?

King Agate has 12 princesses. King Agate has 3 castles near the hill. How many princesses can he put in each castle?

Emerald and her friends are going on a picnic. There are 39 children. Six kids will go in each van. How many vans will they need?

Sapphire, my BFF, has 54 emeralds. She has 6 red, white, and blue boxes. How many Emeralds can Sapphire put in each box so it is even?

Mr. Zircon has 33 boxes. He has 11 books. How many books can he put in the boxes?

Beryl has 24 green hats. He wants to put his hats in 4 boxes. How many hats can he put in each box?

Mr. Bloodstone had $50.00. He gave it all to 7 boys equally. How many dollars did each boy receive?

Pearl is selling cookies. There are 42 boxes. There are 7 different flavors. How many boxes are there for each flavor?

Queen Topaz had 21 princes. She wanted to put them in 3 equal groups to fight the dragons. How many princes will be in each group?

Ms. Peridot has 20 whiteboards. She wants to put them on 2 shelves. How many shelves will she need?

January 11, 2011

Division is the reverse of multiplication. In the following problems, the KIDDLES wrote a division story. Then they created a multiplication story using the same information. They were encouraged to make exciting stories by adding colorful adjectives, which they are studying in Language Arts.

Grumpy, old, stubborn Mr. Cricket has 15 pet hawks that are bigger than him. He puts the hawks into 5, old rusty cages. How many hawks will be in each cage?

Grumpy, old, stubborn Mr. Cricket has 5, rusty old cages. He puts his 3 pets hawks into each rusty, old cage. How many pet hawks does he have in all?

Mr. Mosquito had 144 sharp stingers. 12 of his stingers were short. How many stingers were long?

Mr. Mosquito got hit by a flagpole 12 times. If he got hit by a flagpole 12 times on 12 days. How many times will he get hit by a flagpole?

Mr. King Grasshopper had 196 folders. He has 14 colorful desks. How many folders can Mr. Grasshopper put in each desk?

Mr. King Grasshopper had 14 desks. He put 14 folders in each desk. How many folders does he have in all?

Mrs. Firefly was dancing at the Firefly Dance Show. There were 15 dancers altogether in the show. The dancers lined up in 3 rows. How many dancers were in each row?

At the Firefly Dance Show, there were dancers dancing in three rows. With 5 dancers in each row, how many dancers were dancing in the Firefly Dance Show altogether?

Ms. Moth is building a floor. There are 70 tiles on her floor with 10 tiles in each row. How many rows did Ms. Moth put on the floor?

Ms. Moth is building a floor. Each row has 10 tiles. Each column has 7 tiles. How many tiles are on the floor?

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

July 2, 2012 Posted by | Living in 3rd Grade | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

TidBits About Donna #48 Rumor Has It or Truth Be Told

Rumor has it … that I was possibly going back to teaching – this time as an Assistant Teacher.

Truth be told. That was a true rumor.

I wasn’t intentionally looking for a teaching position or, for that matter, any type of position. I was busy enough at home staying afloat, just trying to keep up with all of the things I needed to do while I was teaching but never got to (like everyone else). But, a teaching position possibility fell into my lap … or into my computer email box, to be exact. It was an opportunity that could not be ignored.

Very close friends of mine, who live in my neighborhood, sent me a request to apply for a position at their sons’ school in Montclair. It is a small private school, which I had visited on several occasions (Grandparent’s Day, School Street Fair). I love the school and what it stands for.  After each visit, I told my husband, David, that I would love to teach there. Of course, I never thought there was even the remotest of possibilities. I had no intention of retiring from Dumont (at least not until our infamous governor, name withheld for obvious reasons, inflicted himself on the teaching profession).

The teaching and learning style of this particular school in Montclair is very progressive. They promote independent thinking, and the children lead the way. Their philosophy of teaching and learning completely coincides with mine. My classroom was very similar to what I saw at the Montclair school, so I was excited when this opportunity presented itself to me.

It was a Tuesday in November right before Thanksgiving that I received an email from my friends strongly suggesting that I apply for one of the two positions available. After much discussion with David and some super serious, but quick, thinking, I began the process of dusting off my résumé and updating it to include my last thirty years of experience as a teacher and writer. Seeing it all on paper impressed even me. I have been a busy girl.

On Wednesday morning, after one final read-through, I pressed the send button on my computer; and off flew my résumé and cover letter to the headmistress.

At 7:42 p.m. on Thursday, Thanksgiving evening, I was excited to receive an invitation on my iPad from the headmistress to meet with her any day and time the following week. I decided on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

In the interim, I tore through my closets to find something appropriate to wear. I settled on a black pseudo-suit and dark floral print blouse. A new black bag big enough to hold a large folder containing a copy of my résumé and a few evaluations from my former principal and vice-principal and a new pair of black shoes completed my “interview” outfit.

Wednesday arrived. The day was sunny, which I took as a good omen. My hour-long interview went very well. The headmistress was warm and encouraging, and we had a lovely chat discussing education philosophies (one of my favorite topics). She invited me to visit two classrooms: 1st grade and PreK-Kindergarten.

I loved the 1st grade and began memorizing the kids’ names (all fourteen of them – a typical class size at the school). They had read Charlotte’s Web and studied the farm and spiders.  The children’s work decorated the room. I thought that was a good sign. I had written and directed the play Charlotte’s Web with one of my classes many years ago. The story is a favorite of mine.

Then I spent time in the PreK-Kindergarten. Now remember, I spent most of my teaching career in 1st grade. I am very comfortable there. I love first grade, but PreK-Kindergarten is a totally different animal! Now I understand what some of you upper-grade teachers felt when you had to stand in for us lower-grade teachers when we needed emergency coverage. It always amused me to see how pale you looked when I left the classroom and your pure smile of relief when I returned. Some of you couldn’t leave my classroom fast enough! But, you always made it out alive. It made me chuckle to know that my little six-year-olds could intimidate you so. Let me say now that after visiting PreK-Kindergarten, I understand your feelings better.

I left my interview feeling confident that I had presented myself well. I definitely left the interview making very clear that, although I was very interested in the first grade position, I would take either because I really wanted the experience of being a part of that school community, which I so admired.

Now it was time to wait. I tried to push the interview to the back of my mind, but for the next few days it was the primary topic of conversation between David and me. It just kept coming up. Talk about a one-track mind! I talked about it to anybody who would listen – my kids (Kiersten and Jared), my cousin Kathy, some teacher friends, my walking partner, my neighbor … anybody! I was excited.

Truthfully, I was so pleased and surprised that I even got the interview. After all, I am at the age where most people are ending their careers. I’m no Spring Chicken! (Maybe summer or early fall.) But, I have the drive, the intensity, the energy, and the pure desire to be in a classroom with young children; and this school in Montclair was beckoning to me.

The beauty of this job was that I would be the Assistant Teacher. I would have all the fun of being with the kids and teaching them, but I would not be responsible for report cards or parent conferences and all the paper work that goes along with that. I would not be responsible to write the lesson plans and coordinate them with the Core Curriculum Standards of New Jersey – an arduous and time-consuming task. (That’s another post.)

There were other perks, too. The school is only four and a half miles from my home, taking less than fifteen minutes to get there. Compare that to my each way fifty-minute-plus commute of twenty miles on three highways to my career school. The Montclair school opened later too, which allowed me much more sleep time – an extra hour each morning. WOW! I’ll take it!

I had reservations too, and I dissected each of them thoroughly. I was getting used to this thing called retirement and the fact that my time was my own – sort of. I felt like I was on an extended summer vacation. Sleeping late was the best. When seven- or eight-o’clock rolled around, I was ready to roll out of bed. Never would I have to slam the snooze button at 5:45 a.m. again. So even though I would get an extra hour of sleep with this later starting time, did I really want to have to tackle the snooze button at 6:45 a.m.? Hmm. It was something to think about.

I would have to give up my book club group and the breakfasts at Panera’s with my retired teacher friends. Going to the grocery store or clothes shopping is much less challenging during the hours before 3:00 p.m. – less traffic on the streets – less people in the stores. I could go to the library any time I wanted. I could take my walks in the afternoon, instead of under the stars. But I think the thing I would miss most, if I took a full-time position, was the ease of making the doctor appointments for David and me. Not having to juggle my schedule and beg the doctor’s receptionist for the last appointment of the day and then worry that I would not make it in time because of an unscheduled traffic jam was a definite plus to staying home. BUT, after weighing all the pros and cons, I was ready to give it all up. So I sat by my computer and checked my email every five minutes waiting to hear the results of my interview.

Finally I received the answer I wanted. The headmistress invited me to spend an afternoon in the school to meet with the teacher and observe her class. I still didn’t know yet if I was being considered for the first grade class or the PreK-Kindergarten class. I arrived at the school in pouring rain (Was that an omen? A bad omen?) and was introduced to the PreK-Kindergarten teacher. We talked and walked to her classroom. Then she spent the next twenty minutes interviewing me. The top question for both the headmistress and the teacher was WHY. Why would I want an Assistant Teacher job when I had been the head teacher for nearly thirty years? How could I work as second-in-command under a teacher with far less experience?

Easy! I’ve had a great and satisfying career. When I closed my classroom door in mid-June of 2011, I thought that would be it. But for all of the reasons I stated above – not having to be responsible for report cards, conferences, and lesson plans, but being able to teach and influence the lives of children was like having my cake and eating it too. (OH … watch those calories!) I felt the job was perfect for me. She ended the interview by saying that this job would be like a marriage. I said, “I do!” (I didn’t really, but I thought it.)

I spent the remainder of the afternoon becoming involved with the children. I oversaw the painting center and discussed the solar system with three girls as they adeptly blobbed the sun, moon, stars, and planets onto their black paper. We talked about Pluto being demoted from planethood. Two boys were seriously examining some decayed leaves in the science center, and several more children motored their way through space in an old, worn cardboard box, which they insisted was their spaceship.

There was so much energy in that classroom – almost too much. Four- and five-year-olds definitely lack the maturity of the six-year-olds I was used to. The teacher hugged me goodbye, told me I was amazing, and off I went into the rainstorm – to wait again. (I wish it hadn’t been raining that day.)

When I arrived home I was exhausted. The questions began to tumble through my head again. If the PreK-Kindergarten job was offered and I took it, would I be happy? Would I do the job justice? Was I making the right decision? Another weekend of hours and hours of contemplation! I finally did the only thing I could do. I emailed my mentor teacher, Nancy McDonough (Stillman School – Tenafly, NJ). Nancy is not only the teacher with whom I did my student teaching with so long ago, she is a great friend whose opinion I value.

Last year Nancy was in a similar situation – sort of. She spent her career as a second-grade teacher. A year after she closed her classroom door, she found a new position teaching three-year-olds in Moscow, Russia. She called me from Moscow, and we spoke for nearly an hour. I listened as she explained the minds of these tots. I heard her exuberance for her job, her respect for the four- and five-year-old mind. She encouraged me … and though I had really wanted the first grade, I was so pumped after our chat that I eagerly looked forward to the PreK-Kindergarten position. I knew I could do it. I knew I had a lot to offer these young children. I really wanted this job. And so the waiting began … again.

And while I waited, I shopped. The dress attire in this school is casual. Many teachers wear jeans and look very smart in them. Although I hadn’t been offered the job, and although I know they say,”It’s not over, until its over, I felt pretty good about it. So I bought several new pairs of jeans and cute tops to go with them. I bought comfortable shoes too in both black and brown. And then I waited some more. Many days passed and I had a hard time suppressing my anxiety. My email box was being worn out. Finally the email came. The email read, “It was a competitive pool of talented educators.” …

I was not selected for the position.

To say I was devastated would be too strong. To say that I was unaffected would be an untruth – a downright lie. To say I was greatly disappointed would be spot on. I really, really wanted to work in this school. Although it was not my first choice, I would have even taken the PreK-Kindergarten job (the teacher was really sweet) to have the opportunity to be a part of this very progressive school community; but I guess it was not to be. I hope that a younger teacher will cherish the position and give it her or his all – like I would have done.

So for more rumors …

Rumor has it that I am finishing up reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and I will be ready for the next book club meeting.
Rumor has it that I will be at Carol F’s house next month.
Rumor has it that I will be attending all of the Panera breakfasts.
Rumor has it that I will be lunching with my fellow retired teachers – class of 2011.

And … if truth be told, those are true rumors.               And life is good!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

December 30, 2011 Posted by | TidBits About Donna | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Living in Third Grade #3 A Book at Your Fingertips

Here is a WIKI note I wrote to my third graders last spring. (2011) In it I recommend many great books for third graders (and any child around that age). My third graders also suggested their favorite books and wrote a short blurb about their favorite book. As usual, their names have been changed to protect the infamous. (They chose animals. color, or flower names.) I hope you will try some of these books.

Books You Will Love!

When I was your age, I loved to read. Books were my favorite things in the world. I loved to read in my bed every night. I used to smuggle a flashlight under my covers. After my mom or dad tucked me in and kissed me goodnight, out came my book.

(Don’t worry! My mom knew. So did my dad.)

When I grew up, my love for reading grew right along with me. I still love to read and I still take a book to bed with me. Instead of a flashlight, I use a book light, which clamps right onto my book. This summer I bought an IPad, so it comes to bed with me now. I love it.

Here are some of my favorite books from when I was a child your age. I hope you will like them too. If you haven’t read them … get started. Don’t wait. Join the fun!

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White,
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene
Trixie Belden series by Kathryn Kenny
Bobbsey Twins series by Laura Lee Hope

Here are some great titles that are written today. See how many you have read.

Cam Jansen series by David Adler
Superfudge by Judy Blume
Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Freckle Juice by Judy Blume
The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Catling
Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
James And The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Polk Street School books by Patricia Reilly Giff

KIDDLE Suggestions:

Do you have a favorite book? One that you just love and want everyone to read? Then drop a suggestion in our WIKI basket in our classroom and I can add your suggestion to our list. Don’t forget to tell us a little bit about the book.

Frankly Frannie by A. J. Stern is about a girl who comes home from school and wants to change her name. by Rabbit

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl Mr. Fox is a fox who steals things from his neighbors, the meanest farmers around. Their names are Boggis, Bean, and Bunce. The farmer’s try to take their revenge by digging up the fox’s home. by Shark

Mrs. Jeepers is Missing by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones – A teacher named Mrs. Jeepers has invited her students for a barbecue. The kids are Eddie, Howie, Liza and Melody. by Lion

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney – There is a kid who has a brother who is mean. His brother did bad things to him. by Gold

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein – There was a boy, Jack, who loved a tree. The tree loved him back. by Monkey

Good Work, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish – is about Amelia trying to do her best job as a maid. by Chipmunk

Kate Larkin the Bone Expert by Lindsey Tate – is about a girl who broke her arm. She went to the hospital and had to stay overnight. Then she got a cast and had nothing to do. by Stingray

Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish – Amelia Bedelia always want to succeed at being a good housekeeper. but she always gets mixed up. When Christmas is just around the corner,will she get her work finished or will she get a lump of coal from Santa? by Violet

Ivy Green Cootie Queen – is about a girl who doesn’t like to read and she has to write a big, fat book report. by Dolphin

Baby Mouse by Jennifer & Matthew Holm – is a story about a little girl mouse. She wants to be popular at school. by Cheetah

Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osbourne – is about a boy and a girl named Jack and Annie who are brother and sister. They live in Frog Creek, Pennsylvania. One day they find a magic tree house, but they do not know it is magic. by Silver

My Weird School Daze by Dan Gutman – is about a kid named A.J. who really hates school. His teachers always act weird. by Tiger

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl – is about a boy named James who goes into a peach and has adventures. by Coyote

Gargoyles Don’t Drive School Buses by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones – There are four kids named Eddie, Howie, Liza, and Melody. Their school bus came. There was a strange new bus driver named Mr. Stone. The kids thought he was a gargoyle. by Lion

Anne of Green Gables by Mr. Mathew and his family wanted to adopt a little boy for a month. When he went to the airport, the man who worked there told him there was a little girl there for him – not a boy. The little girl and Mr. Mathew went home, and his family was very mad; but not Mr. Mathew. He really liked her. by Rabbit

Just Grace and the Snack Attack by Charise Mericle Harper is about Grace who talks about he best friend, Mimi, potato chips, and about a zine. She also talks about how to be a Chicago hot dog. by Chipmunk

Dear Readers:
If you have any good books you would like to recommend, please add them in the comment area.

Happy Reading!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

December 23, 2011 Posted by | Living in 3rd Grade | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On School #34 Parent as Teacher

My daughter, Kiersten, posted a great article on Facebook. It pushed my “teacher” buttons – all the right ones.

The article, How About Better Parents? published in the New York Times and written by Op-Ed Columnist, Thomas L. Friedman, raises the question about where education really needs to start. Of course, ideally, schools should be filled with only the best, the most qualified teachers. For the most part they are. I know some of you will argue and point fingers at the teachers who have failed – the teachers you’ve read about in the papers and on the web, heard about on television and radio who have engaged in a variety of unsavory acts. There are those teachers, too, who put in their time and collect their dime. I won’t deny your allegations. No doubt these less than admirable persons exist in the teaching profession, as they unfortunately do in nearly all professions. Thankfully the number is small.

Most teachers are dedicated professionals who care deeply about the children they teach. Perhaps folks should focus on the strengths of teachers, raise the esteem of the profession instead of disparaging it. Look at Jaime Escalante, a teacher who taught in East Los Angeles, California. The 1988 film, “Stand and Deliver,” portrays how Mr, Escalante changed the lives of his students. He not only taught math, he challenged his students, he raised their bar for academic excellence. He showed his students that he passionately cared about teaching, about them, and their learning success. They showed him they could meet his expectations and achieve higher. Funny thing – children will rise to your high expectations. Believe in them and they will believe in you.

Then there’s Torey Hayden, a child psychologist and special education teacher from Montana. You only need to read her books to understand her passion for teaching and her love for the special children she taught. I fell in love with her students. too, and I marveled at Torey Hayden’s inate ability to reach them. She truly makes a difference. I have read and loved all of Ms. Hayden’s books, but I think my favorite is One Child.

Mary MacCracken, another inspirational teacher and author, is dedicated to working with special needs children. She has written many books based on her teaching. Lovey: A Very Special Child and A Circle of Children are excellent depictions of a teacher and her very special children. The moment I finished A Circle of Children, I paged through the phone book. Mary MacCracken lived only a few miles from me. I dialed her number. I needed to tell her how inspired I was after reading her book. I was passionate. Her line was busy … and I lost my nerve. I never did redial, but I never lost the passion that her words left with me.

After devouring all of both Torey Hayden and Mary MacCracken’s books, I was tempted to change my teaching direction. I wanted to walk in their shoes, but I knew I could never fill them. So I did what I was most qualified to do. I taught in general education classrooms, specifically first and third grades.

So, yes, we all want good teachers – excellent role models in the classroom. Our children deserve that! But to address the question Mr. Friedman posed about where education really needs to start. It’s not the classroom.

Children usually do not have their first formal classroom experience until they are five- or six-years-old. Much too late for “education” to begin. Education begins at home as soon as a child demonstrates understanding. When a child learns to say “mama” or “dada,” we clap and smile and hug that child. That’s education! We cuddle with our child and point to pictures and they parrot as we read the words, “I do not like Green Eggs and Ham. I do not like them, Sam, I am.” We marvel when they memorize those same words and read them back to us – the little geniuses. That’s education! When a child understands “NO” as he or she reaches for an electrical outlet. That’s education! When we guide our little ones to put away their clothes, make their beds, brush their teeth, set the table, or any number of household or personal chores – Education. All education! We are all educators. We are all teachers. BUT …  parents are the first teachers.

I have touted this philosophy my entire teaching career. It is not mind-boggling. It is simply common sense. So it saddens me when parents tells me they have no time to read with their child. I am disheartened when parents tell me that teaching is not their job. I especially hate when parents lay out the excuse for why their child is not doing well in math, in reading, or any subject by stating, “I was never good in ___ either.” (fill in the blank) All the more reason, I say to make sure that Johnny  or Mary gets extra help either with the teacher after school or at home. We all need reinforcement when learning a new subject. “Practice makes perfect,” – so they say. We all need to practice what we have learned. As adults,  as teachers,  or as parents, it is our duty to guide and nourish the new generation. For children are our planet’s greatest natural resource. Parents who fall into any of the above categories are setting up their child for failure. They are sending a loud and clear message that school is not important … or more seriously, that their child is not important enough to warrant their help and attention to school needs.

It is common sense, at least it is to me, that children who read at home, who have educational input from their parents, children whose parents hold education in high esteem and pass that ethic onto their children will far outshine those who do not. It’s simple!

In all my classes, both first grade or third grade, I required children to read each night – at least ten to twenty minutes. I know some children only fulfilled the requirement, but I also know that many children read on and on and on. Their parents told me so … and, yes, more than one, claimed the flashlight under the covers. I remember I used to do that, too, as a child. I still love to read in bed. I like to read anywhere.

Parents are their child’s first teachers. They are their child’s most important teachers.

As a teacher, I take great joy and pride in opening a child’s mind, perhaps by something I said or something I did, or taught, but it is the parent who is the child’s lifelong teacher.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

November 30, 2011 Posted by | On School | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On School #30 My Little Engine

“I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!” said my little engine, Nicole. And I knew she could. And she did!

Nicole was a perky six-year-old. With dark brown hair, big eyes, and a ready smile, She was a pleasure to have in my first grade class. She was very cooperative, had lots of friends, and seemed to enjoy school. Nicole was bright and did very well academically … but, sadly she didn’t think so.

She worried if she missed a spelling word on a quiz or got a math problem wrong. She was nervous when called on, even when she knew she knew the answer. Her anxiety was not apparent in the classroom. She hid it well. But when she went home, she fretted over her work and school. She felt as if she were not good enough. Of course her mom was worried. Her dad, too. And so was I, once they alerted me.

I was surprised that this seemingly very capable child was suffering from lack of self-esteem, from feelings of inadequacy. One afternoon I sat down with Nicole and her mother for a serious heart-to-heart talk. It took a lot of convincing to turn Nicole’s thinking around. I told her the story of The Little Engine That Could. You know the one. The little engine had to pull a trainload of toys over the mountain in time for Christmas morning, but it was a daunting, nearly impossible task for such a small engine.

But Little Engine did not want to disappoint all of the little boys and girls who were expecting a new toy for Christmas. The little engine pulled. She puffed. She tugged and hauled and repeated the refrain over and over, “I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!” unto she finally crested the hill and chugged the rest of the way down the mountain and into town.

I saw the glimmer in Nicole’s eyes as I neared the end of the story. She got it! “Do you know what you are?” I asked. With a slight nod and a smile, she answered, “the engine.”

Nicole remains my engine after all these years. When she graduated 8th grade, I sent her a congratulatory card. It had a picture of an engine cresting a hill. It read, “I knew you could.”

Before Nicole graduated high school, she nominated me for Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. Some years later Nicole’s mother gave the recommendation letter that Nicole wrote to me. I treasure it. Perhaps in a later post I will share it with you.

(Clip Art compliments of

(PS Actually, I was nominated a total of three times for Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. Unfortunately I never learned which of my students nominated me for the additional two books.)

October 11, 2011 Posted by | On School | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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