Monday, November 22, 2010


Written by Candace Fleming
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 978-0-375-84979-4

FROM THE FLAP: What would you do if you were invited to the princess’s tenth birthday party but didn’t have money for a gift?

Well, clever Jack decides to bake the princess a cake.

Now he just has to get it to the castle in one piece.

What could possibly go wrong?

Here’s a deliciously fresh and funny picture book by the creators of the bestselling Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!

KATE’S TAKE: Sometimes a book makes me want to jump for joy, which is exactly what I did after I read this book.

FRACTION CAKES: Interpersonal and Logical/Mathematical
Cut out several different colored, large circles. Cut each one into different fractions such as: ½, 1/3, ¼, 1/5. Give each child a slice of cake. Then ask them to walk around the room and find the rest of their cake. When all the cakes are whole, ask them to line up in order from the smallest piece of cake to the largest piece of cake. Point out how with fractions the larger the number in the denominator, the smaller the fraction or the slice of cake is.

READER’S THEATER: Verbal/Linguistic and Interpersonal
If you’re looking for a story to act out as a class, this is a great pick. There’s a role for everyone and the dialogue is short and snappy.

STORY ELEMENTS LAYER CAKE: Verbal/Linguistic and Visual/Spatial
Give each child four strips of lined paper. Each strip of paper should have one of four story element headings: main character, setting, problem, and solution. Ask the children to write the appropriate information onto each strip of paper. Then, have them arrange these strips, the cake layers, in order from top to bottom on a piece of construction paper. With their pencils, they can outline each cake layer and top it off with a strawberry. Finally, they can outline their cakes with black markers.

THE TROLL’S BRIDGE: Interpersonal, Kinesthetic, Logical/Mathematical
Jack has to pay the troll, half of his cake, to cross the bridge. Set-up a small balance beam or a line of duck tape that crosses the classroom rug. Ask one student to be the troll. Give other students play coins that add up to a dollar. If you don’t have enough play coins, you can make them out of construction paper and write Q for quarter, D for dime, P for penny, and N for nickel, on each coin. Then have each student ask the troll how much money he or she needs to pay to cross the bridge. After the student pays the troll and the troll returns the correct amount of change, the student may cross the bridge.

WALTZING WITH BEARS: Kinesthetic, Musical, and Interpersonal
When Jack stops to dance with a bear, he loses his gift for the princess—his cake. Usually though dancing is a cause for celebration, not mourning. Show students the basic waltz step and ask them to dance around the classroom, or better yet, the gymnasium, while playing Priscilla Herdman’s “Waltzing with Bears.” Here’s the musician’s site

-Happy Birthday to You by Dr. Seuss
-Jack and the Beanstalk by John Cech
-Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young by Jack Prelutsky
-The Three Billy Goats Gruff/Los Tres Chivitos by Carol Ottolenghi
-The Lion's Share by Matt McElligott

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Dear Readers,

When I opened my e-mail, I was thrilled to learn that Guide to Online School's list of the Top 50 Early Childhood Education blogs featured my blog. The list of all the winners can be found here:

It's so refreshing to know that other people find the blog useful. Thank you all for your support.

Best wishes,

Monday, November 15, 2010


By Kate Banks
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
ISBN: 0-374-39949-2

FROM THE FLAP: Benjamin collects stamps. Karl collects coins. When their younger brother Max decides to collect words, one word leads to another until Max has a story worth telling. Now all he needs is pictures.

Enter Boris Kulikov in a brilliant collaboration with Kate Banks that attests to the wonder of words.

KATE'S TAKE: A fantastical tribute to imagination, collections, and a can-do attitude.

COIN COLLECTIONS: Logical/Mathematical and Visual/Spatial
Max’s brother collects coins. Give each student a dollar’s worth of cut-out paper coins. Label each coin with a Q for quarter, D for dime, N for nickel, and P for penny. Then ask them to draw a picture of their favorite pet and label it with a price under a dollar. Hang the pets up at the front of the classroom and ask students to come shopping at the pet store. In order to take their pet home with them, the students must give the proper amount of change to the cashier to pay for the pet. Many thanks to Andy Hacket for this activity. Check out his blog here

COLLAGE TALES: Verbal/Linguistic and Visual/Spatial
Word process words in different colors and cut out for kids. Ask students to choose ten cut-out words and create a sentence. Then, have them glue their sentence to the long side of a piece of 11x18 piece of construction paper. Last, ask them to illustrate their story.

COLLECTION BOOKS: Verbal/Linguistic, Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Visual/Spatial
Give students an 8x11 sheet of paper that has space for writing a sentence at the bottom of the sheet. Ask them to finish the following sentence: If I could collect anything in the world, I would collect_____________________ because____________________________________________.
Have them illustrate their sentence and bind the papers in a book to send home with students.

CROCODILE AND ALLIGATOR SEE-SAW BOOKS: Verbal/Linguistic, Naturalist, and Visual/Spatial
Collate an eight-page book for each students, and ask them to fill in the blanks.
Page 1: Crocodiles and alligators hatch from __________________(eggs) but,
Page 2: crocodiles have a _______________(v-shaped) snout, and
Page 3: alligators have a _________________ (u-shaped) snout.
Page 4: A crocodile’s fourth tooth_____________( sticks out) when its mouth is closed, but
Page 5: an alligator’s fourth tooth is ___________ (hidden) when its mouth is closed.
Page 6: Most crocodiles live in ________________ (salt) water, but
Page 7: most alligators live in __________________ (fresh) water.
Page 8: Crocodiles and alligators are _________________(reptiles).
After they have filled in the blanks, ask students to illustrate the books.

FAMILY LETTERS: Verbal/Linguistic and Interpersonal
Ask students to write a letter to a family member or a friend who lives far away. Ask parents to send in an addressed envelope and give students a stamp to affix to their letter. Relatives are always thrilled to receive the kids’ letters.

-Alligator Tails and Crocodile Cakes by Nicola Moon
-Max’s Dragon by Kate Banks
-Snap! A Book About Alligators and Crocodiles by Melvin Berger
-The Coin Counting Book by Rozanne Williams
-Word Wizard by Cathryn Falwell

Monday, November 8, 2010


By Laura Ljungkvist
Published by Viking

FROM THE FLAP: Follow the line on a journey from the city to the country, from the sky to the ocean, from morning till night. In this stunning counting storybook, Laura Ljungkvist uses her trademark continuous line to create an array of crisp, innovative, detail-packed pictures.

Each scene contains questions designed to get children counting, thinking, and observing. Young counters will enjoy following the very same line all the way through the book, from front to back.

KATE’S TAKE: Line up some fun activities with Laura Ljungkvist’s Follow The Line.

HOW MANY? MATH Logical/Mathematical and Visual Spatial
Ask children to solve these math problems which are based on spreads in the book, and ask them to draw a picture to illustrate each problem.

1. A house has two rows of windows. If there are three windows in each row, how many windows are there all together?

2. There are four blue fish in the ocean and three red fish, how many fish are there all together?

3. There were nine trees in the forest, two fell down. How many trees are standing in the forest?

4. There are three apple trees and twelve apples. If each tree has the same amount of apples, how many apples are on each tree?

LINE CLASSROOM BOOKS Visual/Spatial and Verbal/Linguistic
Draw one line on a sheet of 8x11 paper. Draw a different line for each child in your class: squiggly, jagged, curved, straight, vertical or horizontal. Ask them to turn the line into a picture. On the bottom have them finish the sentence starter: I turned my line into _______________________. Special thanks to Ingrid Holmes for this activity.

LINE DANCING Kinesthetic and Musical
Do a line dance with the kids. This site has a great line dancing video to the tune of Grand Old Flag.

Kinesthetic and Interpersonal
Ask kids to stand in a line. Have a child step out of the line and face their peers. Ask the child to lead the class in simple movements such as tapping, patting, or stretching. Everyone in the line mirrors the leader’s actions. This is a great way to build confidence in the leader and classroom community.

LINE PATTERNS Logical/Mathematical and Visual/Spatial
Give the students small strips of paper of various colors. Ask them to form a pattern with the strips of paper. Students might choose to make a pattern out of straight lines, or they might choose to form shapes with the strips and make a pattern with shapes.

-Harold And The Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
-Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
-Follow The Line Around The World by Laura Ljungkvist
-Follow The Line Through The House by Laura Ljungkvist
-The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Monday, November 1, 2010


By Janice Shefelman
ISBN: 978-0-375-95881-6
Publisher: Random House

FROM THE FLAP: After her father’s death, Anna Maria is sent to the Pieta, an orphanage in Venice. She misses her father, but at least she will always have the violin he made for her. When she plays it, she hears his voice.

Luckily, the Pieta is not just any orphanage. It’s also a famous music school, and the teacher there is the great composer Antonio Vivaldi. Anna Maria quickly becomes his favorite student. But not everyone at the Pieta likes Anna Maria. Soon she has a rival—the talented, cruel Paolina, who throws Anna Maria’s violin into a canal. With the help of her beloved teacher, and new friends, Anna Maria searches Venice’s bridges, streets, and canals. Will Anna Maria find her father’s violin? Can she ever be happy in Venice without it.

Inspired by a real orphanage, this lyrical story by Janice Shefelman perfectly captures the beauty of Venice, the joy of music, and the way a little kindness can help make a scary new place feel like home.

KATE’S TAKE: Great characterization, and a peek inside Italy’s impressive musical culture.

FOUR SEASONS SKITS Musical, Intrapersonal, and Verbal/Linguistic

Divide the class into four groups, one for each season. Have each group listen to The Four Seasons by Vivaldi. Then, ask each group to design a two to three minute skit that’s inspired by the music. If you have any musicians in the class, they might choose to play musical accompaniment for their group’s skit.

GREAT GONDOLAS: Visual/Spatial, Logical/Mathematical and Interpersonal

Ask students to work in pairs and give each pair a 10x10 sheet of aluminum foil. Ask them to construct boats out of the tinfoil. Then place pennies inside each boat to determine which boat is the strongest. Boats with the most surface area are able to hold the most pennies.

INSTRUMENT-SHAPED POEMS Verbal/Linguistic and Visual/Spatial

Have students write a poem about an orchestra instrument. Then have them outline the shape of the instrument on the paper. Next have them copy their poem along the outline of the instrument.

SILVIA OF THE CELLO PARAGRAPHS: Verbal/Linguistic and Intrapersonal

Author Janice Shefelman explains that most of the orphans did not have last names. So, they were given the last name of whatever instrument they played. Ask students to think about a talent or a hobby that best describes them. Ask them to write a paragraph explaining why they chose this last name.

VENICE VIEWS: Visual/Spatial

Anna Maria thinks the city of Venice floats on a lagoon, but her guardian informs her that Vienna stands on thousands of posts set on the bottom of the lagoon. Give each student a blue 11x18 sheet of construction paper. Ask them to cut out different shaped houses from various shades of construction paper and make views of Venice.


-Gabriella’s Song by Candace Fleming
-I, Vivaldi by Janice Shefelman
-Mole Music by David McPhail
-Zin! ZIn! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss
-Zoe Sophia’s Scrapbook: An Adventure in Venice by Claudia Mauner