June 2014 | Peace, Love, and First Grade


**You may wonder how this post applies to the classroom,
but I promise if you stick with me, you'll see.

For three years, I had the privilege of chairing a dormitory makeover
at the MS School for the Deaf.

It was one of the best experiences of my life. 
Our task was to take a stark white dormitory and transform it into a home
for children who spend 5 days a week at the school.

We wanted parents to be comfortable leaving their babies here.
We wanted it to feel like home.
The Idea
There are dry erase boards throughout the dorms,
placed in prominent spots to allow students to read reminders and important updates.

We either had to work around the boards or include the boards in the decor.

We chose the latter.

Our solution was simple.

Paint colorful frames around the boards that complemented the new decor.

I still love seeing the finished product!

 The High School Girls Living Room with marker board on the back wall

Here's a close up!

 Zebra Frame in High School Girls Entry
 Fun and Funky Frame in Middle School Girls Entry
(We cleaned the area around the light switch.) 

So...if you have a board placed in an inconvenient place in your classroom,
try painting a bright frame around it.

You'll love the way it looks!

If you liked this bright idea, please check out
My Facebook page and My TpT store,

30 Books to Celebrate Color!

Another Summer Tuesday has rolled around again!
Flying, I'm telling you! Summer is flying!

With Tuesday, comes Book Talk Day!

I use a ton of books when teaching individual color!
Today, I'll share those with you!

This is a long one, friends!
We spend two weeks at the beginning of the year working with colors.
We devote one day to each color.
The kiddos love this, and so do I!

Here are my favorite books to use with Primary Colors!

The links take you to Amazon where you can look inside the books. 

Nonfiction Color Books by Sarah Schuette
If you have never seen this series of books, find them!
There are 10 books in the series, and the photographs are stunning!

Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell 
You can't leave him out of a list of books on the color red. He's Clifford!

The Red Book by Barbara Lehman
The precious wordless story of a girl who gets lost in a book.

 Red is Best by Kathy Stinson
Kelly's favorite color is red, and she tells why in this simple story.

Red is the Color of... by Tiffany Haisten
Tiffany dislikes her red hair,
and it's up to her mother to convince her that red is beautiful.

Red is a Dragon by Roseanne Thong
Although the title of this book is red, it's actually a book about finding colors around us. I could have added this one to my color list last week.

A Blue-Footed Booby Named Solly McBoo by Dwayne Magee 
This cute little bird has big blue feet, and he doesn't like them.
A great book for celebrating differences.

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
I love Robert McCloskey!
In this sweet book, Sal and her mom are picking blueberries
while a mama bear and baby bear look for blueberries, too.

Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James
Emily writes to her teacher, Mr. Blueberry,
asking him for information about the whale she found in her pond.
A fun book to use in a letter writing unit, too.

Dandelion by Don Freeman
I use this book with yellow. I know others who use it with orange.
Either way, it's a great book about a precious lion who tries to be someone he's not. 

Children should not miss!

In My New Yellow Shirt by Eileen Spinelli
A little boy goes on many adventures in his new yellow shirt.
Perfect to use for creative writing.

Press Here by Herve Tullet
No plot here. Just press the yellow dot and see what happens.
Fun for kids to follow the colorful directions.

Here are my favorite books to use with Secondary Colors!

 Nonfiction Color Books by Sarah Schuette
Again, find this series if you've never seen it! You'll be hooked!

Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley
Ed Emberley is just super cool!
Watch as a monster appears and then disappears in this colorful book.

We love Emberley's drawing books, as well.

 Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni
To me, Leo Lionni is like the intellectual children's author.
I love that about him!

Little Blue and Little Yellow change colors in this story. Kids love this one!

 Aminal by Lorna and Lecia Balian
In this story, a boy named Patrick describes the aminal he recently found.
This story works well when teaching about making visual pictures.
It's fun to have students draw the aminal according to the descriptions in the book,
then show them the actual aminal at the end.

Harold and the Purple Crayon
by Crockett Johnson

Harold goes on an imaginary adventure with his purple crayon.
After reading this book, see what your students can make with just one color.

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse
by Kevin Henkes

If it's Kevin Henkes, it's got to be good, right??
Lilly's affection for her purple purse gets her into all kinds of trouble.
Henke at his best!

The Big Orange Splot
by D. Manus Pinkwater

Mr. Plumbean is a funky little guy who decorates his house around a big orange splot. My kiddos always love this one.

Mop Top by Don Freeman
Another classic from Don Freeman.
In this story, a little boy isn't excited about his first hair cut. 
The book calls his hair red. We know it's really orange. Love the warm colors in this book.

 Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
This is not really a book about color,
but the illustrations help tell the story of a tiger who wants his freedom.

Pink by Janet Holmes
This is the simple story of a very particular girl who loves pink.
Pinkalicious, Purplicious, and Emeraldalicious by Victoria Kann
The kid favorite stories about Pinkalicious and her colorful problems.

Here are my favorite books to use with Neutrals and Brown!

Nonfiction Color Books by Sarah Schuette and Michael Dahl
The last 3 books in the series are above.
I so wish for a Gray title in this series!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
Bill Martin, Jr. is a genius, and all good teachers know to keep him in their classrooms. 
I have been through so many copies of this book. 
Can you say WELL LOVED??

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Another one from McCloskey. Gosh, I love classic children's lit!
The simple pencil illustrations in this story are perfect!
In my opinion, the neutrals really make the story!

Frederick by Leo Lionni
 Another one of Leo's books, and one of my favorites!
Frederick is a dreaming mouse among all the working mice getting ready for winter. When winter comes, though, Frederick has much to offer.

Olivia by Ian Falconer
Olivia, the pig, is just about one of my favorite characters!
She thinks she's beautiful in her tutu and believes her finger painting is better than the art at the museum!
Like Make Way for Ducklings, the pencil illustrations in Olivia truly tell the story. 

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
Peter Reynolds has some very interesting books about art.
This is one of them.
Ish tells the story of a boy who finds his creativity with the help of his younger sister.

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by James Dean
What more can I say? Kids love him, and teachers can't get the tune out of our heads! He's all about some color, though! Love his attitude!

Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes
A sweet little white rabbit goes on an adventure.

365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental
This is a fun over-sized book about a family of penguins that just keeps growing.
Love the simple illustrations for black and white day.

Harry, the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
I have loved Harry since I was a child!
He's a dog with spots and he gets into mischief! What's not to like??
There are several other books about Harry, and littles love them all!

Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews
Two skills-one book! Love that!
This is truly a counting book but lends itself to a fun art activity with colors and shapes.

Big Black Bear by Wong Herbert Yee
In this story, Big Black Bear needs to work on his manners
as he walks into a big brown house. Fun rhyming book.

WHEW! That's it, friends!
If you are still with me, Thanks so much!

I hope you found some books that made you smile!

If you have any to add to the list, please let me know in the comments below!

Next week, Alphabet Books!

All the links here are Amazon affiliate links, but these books are available on other sites, as well.

11 Favorite Color Books

Happy Tuesday, friends! It's Book Talk Day!
Our kiddos start school on a Thursday next year.
We'll do two days of Back to School then jump into two weeks of Color!

This week, I want to share my favorite books to use during our Color unit.

Next week, I'm going to share my favorite books for teaching individual colors! 

Let's get started!

Cat's Colors by Jane Cabrera
The sweet story of a young kitten discovering all the colors around him
and choosing his favorite. 

A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni 
Leo Lionni's classic story about a chameleon who just wants a color all his own.
In my opinion, this is one of Lionni's best!

The Crayon Box that Talked by Shane Derolf
This colorful story is based on a poem about a box of crayons that can't get along.
Great for team building! I love this book!

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
This is a precious story of a box of crayons who have had enough!
Each crayon seems to have its own problem.
Super fun book about cooperation!

Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd
Dog has just one black spot, until...he gets into mischief at home and in town.
Great to use with counting, too.

Elmer by David McKee 
Elmer is a classic! The story of a sweet patchwork elephant trying to fit in!
Amazon sells a stuffed Elmer, too.

Mary Wore her Red Dress by Merle Peek
In this book based on a folk song, the pages become brighter as all the characters
come to a birthday party dressed in different colors.
Great for use when creating a class book.

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
The simple story of three white mice who get into some paint.
Perfect for introducing primary and secondary colors.

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
This book uses Seuss rhyme to connect color to our different moods.
Published after Seuss' death and not illustrated by him, but it's still Seuss!

Purple, Green, and Yellow by Robert Munsch
Munsch's classic story of a little girl with a new set of markers.
She gets herself into some color-filled trouble.
Robert Munsch is always so much fun!

White Rabbit's Color Book by Alan Baker
Another simple book about color blending
as a cute little bunny lands in a bucket of paint.

Hope you found a few books that will add to your color unit!
Check back next week for my favorite books about individual colors!

All the links here are Amazon affiliate links, but these books are available on other sites, as well.

7 Animal Friend Picture Books

If you've been reading my blog or checking my fb page,
you know I'm on a search for books this summer! 

Deanna's Book Talk linky is the perfect time to share what I've found.
Each week, I'm going to share several books I plan to read with my kiddos next year.
Today, I want to share a few animal friend picture books on my list.
Here we go!

My New Friend is So Fun by Mo Willems
I'm a big fan of Elephant and Piggie.
In this new adventure, which goes on sale today,
Piggie has a new friend, and Elephant feels left out.
I love how these books serve several purposes:
They are fun read-alouds that children can read independently,
AND they have great messages, as well!

The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems
Look who's back!
Love the pigeon, but this time he doesn't believe he smells badly! Funny!
This books is only available for pre-order right now.

Flight School is the story of a group of birds learning to fly,
including one very determined penguin.
A sweet story of friendship and persistence!

I posted this book on my fb page, but it's worth another post.
Memoirs of a hamster is all about the day in the life of one adorable little hamster.
For even more fun, read Memoirs of a Goldfish, too!

Not Norman is the precious story of a boy who wants a pet,
ANY pet except his fish, Norman. This fish makes me smile!


Scaredy Squirrel is afraid of many animals, but in this story, he's ready to make a friend. Perfect for those sweet kiddos who may be a little hesitant to make new friends.
Love Scaredy Squirrel!

That's it for this week, friends!
Check back next week for more favorites!
I'll post more books on fb, too!

Do you have any favorite books or new books you want to try?

All the links here are Amazon affiliate links, but these books are available on other sites, as well.

On the Hunt for New Read-Alouds

Summer is the perfect time for teachers to shop for books!
One of my summer goals is to find new books to share with my class.

I want my students to hear quality children's literature every single day next year!
This year, I especially want to find some new chapter books for my kiddos.

I cleaned out my children's books this year.
I had too many to count.
I decided it was time to simplify and find out exactly what I had.
I want to share only "The Best of the Best" with my kiddos.
Yes, I am a nerd. 

Here is a list of some of the chapter books I read this year.

My 2013-2014 Read-Alouds

Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo
We read the entire 6 book series about this lovable pet pig.
Mercy just makes me smile, and firsties love her!! 

Chris Van Dusen's illustrations are incredible!
You can also find Mercy's stories on Tumblebooks-great for rainy day recess!

Lulu & the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst
This was new for me.
The story of a spoiled little girl who wants a dinosaur for her birthday.
The kiddos and I both loved it! A keeper!

Lulu Walks the Dogs by Judith Viorst
Lulu is trying to raise money and takes a job walking dogs.
I'll read this one again, too, but later in the year.
The humor will be easier to grasp in spring.

There is a third book in this series I'll read this year, too: Lulu's Mysterious Mission.

The Littles by John Peterson
I love this story about a family of little people who live in the walls of a house.
Kids love this one, too!
I read the first one in this series book.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
A favorite from my childhood.
The kiddos adored this one.
It may have been their favorite read-aloud this year!
Great for late spring!

My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
I still hear so many great things about this book.
The kiddos liked it, but honestly, it wasn't my favorite.
I'll give it another go this year, though.

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
One of the characters stays looped on "ale."
Had to read around that.
Will skip this one next year and try a few other Dahl books instead.

Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park
Her grammar is atrocious!
If that bothers you, you'll want to skip.
Kids love her, though! 

Horrible Harry in Room 2B by Suzy Kline
Harry is quite funny and a little horrible, but he's fun.

Not the best read-aloud ever, but perfect for introducing kiddos
to beginning chapter books they can read independently.

So, on the hunt I go for new chapter book read-alouds!
I have a stack of about a dozen chapter books to read over the summer.
Stories about Gooney Bird and Clementine and Andrew.
Stories about Chickens and Dragons and Toads.

Stories about friends who are complete opposites.
 Goodness, I love Children's Lit!!

Check back Tuesday to read about one of my new favorites!