Giant Book List

Well, I still have NOT heard where I will be student teaching and that is so frusturating!  I know I need to trust that God has a plan, but it's hard!  I promise to be a super help to the teacher.  :)

I just love Christmas.  Since this is the last holiday season not in the classroom, I am trying my hardest to simply enjoy every moment.  Among all the decorating, buying, and wrapping, I am making tons of little cookies, throwing my youngest a birthday party and planning for my grandmother's Christmas visit.  Oh yes, I'm also responsible for our family's fancy Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day luncheon.  No pressure. 

Now and then, I turn my head back to school things and I have finished my GIANT book list.  The categories I have included are as follows: 
                                                                               Comprehension (C in CAFE)
                                                                                Accuracy (A in CAFE)
                                                                                Fluency (F in CAFE)
                                                                                 Expanding vocabulary (E in CAFE)
3 ways to read a book
Places to read in the classroom
Taking care of books
Introducing book bins
Beginning of the year
Read to self
Introducing the CAFE board
Read to someone
Schema/background knowledge
Making connections strategy
Questioning strategy
Visualizing strategy
Inferring strategy
Synthesizing strategy
Determining importance strategy
Whew.  I combined lists from online folks, different books, and my personal library.  Things are much handier when they are in one resource instead of little papers spilling all over our desk or online file boxes.  Thank you to everyone who ever posted a book list.  I probably found you and used something from your list.  The only credit I can take is the time it took to find, organize and type everything up.  Just email me if you want the list:  brooksandamy@hotmail.com
Bye for now!


Vowel Flower Activity

Well, I've been figuring out how to upload documents to a blog.  Good grief, but it's ridiculous!  Hopefully now I am all ready to go (fingers crossed)!  It's funny how a person can take so much time tweaking a bit of clip art because the print preview shows everything all weird.....

Anyhow, here is an activity from a beginning reader unit I created for Kindergarteners.  For complete directions, click on the Vowel Flower Activity.  The Vowel Flower Activity is for students who have just learned their short vowel sounds are are getting ready to read CVC words. 

The "A,E,I,O,and U" vowels are each placed onto a separate flower center:

After you have taped them to the white board or stapled them permanently onto a bulletin board, give each child some "CVC flower petals" and have fun!  Don't create the flower petals to match the colors of the vowel centers.  Just make them all white or random colors.  If there is a color pattern, the kids will notice that and forget paying attention to the vowel sounds!!! (they are so smart!)

Here is an example of the "E" flower:

Here are the empty letter examples:

A variation on the theme is to write the CVC words without the vowel.  The kids have to think harder, but don't forget that CVC words can become different words when the vowel is replaced by another vowel!  Here is an example of this:

This activity could become a center when you are finished.  The kids could also help you come up with more and more words. You could use this as a semi-permanent display to review the word worm periodically (see post below). 



I used to home school my kiddos, and this was a big hit with them. I plan on using this in my classroom; it's basically a variation on Word Walls. 

This friendly WORD WORM has a cute face and its body consists of circles with words the students can read. This project begins when students first learn how to read, so most of the words are CVC words. 

Just create a ton of colorful 3-4" circles. Make the first circle a face (the cuter the better), and the rest of the circles will have one bold word written on it. Tape them up and after awhile, the WORD WORM will circle around the room, up onto the ceiling, and the kids will be super excited about all the words they know! They can predict where it will finally end! This activity is a great motivator.

-Dozens of 3-4" circles from different colors of construction paper. You can decide to use a limited amount of colors, or you may use as many colors as you wish.
-Sharpie for clearly writing each word
-Masking tape or other item to attach worm circle to wall/ceiling
-Head of worm: use one circle, make some eyes, a smile, and curly antennas to stick up (the cuter the better)
-CVC words to start, add sight or other as well

-Don't need feet!  Yea, less work!!  :)

Using your CVC Picture Cards or existing word list, write each word on a circle. Introduce the worm to the students. Name him (or her)!  Show them the face and tape it to the wall. Show them each word circle and read them together. Tape them to the wall and explain the system to them.
Update the worm each time you have new words.
Students can take turns writing the words if you wish.

The photo below includes words from different categories to give you the idea:


Classes are DONE!!!!

Well, I'm officially finished with my education classes!!!  I've been so bored!  To relieve my boredom, I am having fun actively searching teaching blogs and pinterest for ideas!  I am obsessed with the Daily 5, so I am hunting for delicious tidbits for this area especially.

I have NOT heard yet where I will be student teaching.  Nuts!  I can hardly wait.  With two months off to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am trying to savor each day.  When student teaching arrives, I will be super busy and (cross my fingers) a true job will follow.  Might as well enjoy the time now, right? 

Well, I'm talking to myself at the moment, but that's ok with me.  I'm here for me, to encourage me with my student teaching journey.  It will all be great and I will learn tons.  My background and substitute teaching have prepared me for this moment.  I hope the moment comes soon or I'll just burst.


Nature Notebook

Today we are going to talk about critiquing art. We are also going to learn about a famous great artist named John Audubon. We are going to apply our newly found critiquing skills to one of his famous bird pictures. Then, we will embark on a fun activity!

What does it mean to critique art? Well, it means to determine the value of the art. How do you determine the value? Well, there are different steps an art critic takes to determine the value of art. For this lesson, you are the art critic!

Art Vocabulary

Here are some new art terms I will use within this lesson:

Balance- the arrangement of elements in an artwork

Contrast- the use of different colors, values, textures, and other elements to create differences between those elements

Focal point- the main point to which one's eye is attracted

Negative space- the area, space, or background around an object

Perspective- representation of a sense of distance and depth in an artwork through use of line and other elements

Element- a visual or sensory part of an artwork used to create the composition

Before we begin, let's discuss what "critiquing art" means.

Art Critique

1.) Beauty- Is the art beautiful to you? Do you like it? Does it have balance, contrast, texture, movement, appropriate size of subject, and is the presentation (framing) pleasing to your eye?
How about a focal point? Is the negative space used properly? Is the perspective appropriate?
Are the different elements placed properly?

2.) Skill/Technique- Is the piece done well? This may be hard for you to determine now, but look closely at the picture. Are the strokes done consistently? Is there depth and detail?

3.) Meaning- Is there meaning behind the art? Art can represent another object, tell a story, make a statement, or become an allegory or metaphor.

4.) Unique- Is this art unique? Does it invite you to look longer? Is it special?

5.) Complete- Does the art piece tell the story the artist wanted to tell? Did it work?

John Audubon

Now that you know what an art critic thinks about, let's discuss our great artist named John Audubon. He lived from 1785-1851, and he is one of the most famous painters of birds in the whole world. Although he grew up in France, he moved to America when he was 17 years old. Because he loved beautiful birds, he traveled all over North America, painting 435 watercolors of birds. His life's work was painting every bird species in America! Isn't that amazing? His pictures are famous and bird watchers still use his work to identify birds on the trail.

Art Critique Photo

Here the picture we will use for this lesson:

American Robin by John Audubon (1840-1844)

This is the American Robin. Look at this picture. Study it. Remember, you are the art critic! When you are ready, ask your mom or dad to sit with you and listen to you as you orally answer the following questions related to the above picture.

Art Discussion Questions

Beauty- How is this picure beautiful? Is it beautiful to you? Do you notice the picture balance? See how the large nest is balanced by the tall branch? Can you sense the movement of the baby birds and their parents? How about the contrast of the brightly colored leaves, robins, and nest next to the white paper? Is the negative space used properly? What is the focal point? Are all of the different elements placed properly?

Skill/Technique- Do you think Mr. Audubon did an excellent job? You know how you can tell? Does his picture look like an actual real live robin? You're right, it does! And does his leaves and nest closely resemble real tree leaves and real bird's nests? Yes!

Meaning- What is Mr. Audubon trying to say with his picture? You are correct if you mentioned either depicting a real robin family or robin parents feeding their babies.

Unique- Is this art picture unique? Yes it is! When John Audubon lived, there was a need for someone to document birds, because there was not a complete picture library of birds for North America.

Complete- Did John Audubon acccurately draw his intended bird (American Robin)?

Nature Notebook Activity

The last section of this lesson is our nature notebook activity.


-spiral bound sketchpad (or make your own with white drawing paper in a 3-ring binder)
-pencils, colored pencils, erasers, crayone, watercolors
-real wildlife, magazines with wildlife pictures, books with wildlife pictures


To begin, find an animal picture or observe a real animal and draw it in your notebook. Look at the photo/animal while you draw. Try to include as many details as possible.
Next, include the background of the photo/animal. Try to recreate a realistic background.
Then, add some details about the animal's footprints or eating habits.
Write the animal's scientific and common name.
Collect many different sketches of animals in your Nature Notebook. Don't forget to add color!

You can help create a wonderful composition by looking through the questions we asked about the American Robin. These will help you create masterful art. Who knows: you may be the next Great Artist!


Audubon, J. (1840-1844). American robin [Painting]. Retrieved from http://www.watsonswildlife.com/John_James_Audubon/American_Robin_1.jpg

How to judge art: Five qualities you can critique whether you're an artist or not. (2006). Retrieved June 12, 2011, from http://emptyeasel.com/2006/11/18/how-to-judge-art-five-qualities-you-can-critique/

Video of my class