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Cuddly Puppy Care

The Puppy Place # 1 Where Every Puppy Finds a Home

Written by Ellen Miles

This is my first time reading a book in this series. I enjoyed reading this chapter book that is perfect for beginning readers who love dogs. Lizzie and Charles are two siblings who really want a dog, but their mom favors cats and feels that their family is not ready to shoulder the responsibility of caring for a dog. One day, their father, who is a volunteer fireman, rescues a golden retriever puppy from a fire. The children plead with their parents to keep the pup. When their two-year-old brother falls in love with “Goldie,” and follows her everywhere, mom reluctantly agrees to adopt the dog temporarily as a foster pup. Lizzie researchers how to train puppies and Charles helps out with socialization training. Mom insists that they advertise in the community for a permanent placement, and the children reluctantly agree. They come up with a plan to keep the pup nearby. In the end, the family is surprised at how this golden retriever has transformed them.

This chapter book is charming; it tells the story from the viewpoint of the children as well as in the first person from the viewpoint of a puppy. In the process, children learn responsibility and the proper way to care for a puppy. Recommended especially for readers ages seven through ten, but the tale can be enjoyed by all ages.

Afraid of Spiders?

Spider Quest: The Secret Life of Lollipop Lisa

Written by Sharon Skretting

Illustrated by Elizabeth Porter

 

Lisa is an independent strong willed fourth grader who isn’t afraid of being different. She does not conform to the crowd in the way she dresses or how she expresses her opinions. Lisa received the nickname Lollipop or Lolli because she does enjoy eating lollipops and because they are as colorful as her appearance.

When Miss Warner decides that the class will keep a daily journal, Lisa is reluctant because she is afraid someone will read her private thoughts. After thinking about it, Lisa decides she will solve that problem by keeping two journals, the second one to record her private thoughts. Unlike the other girls in the class, Lisa is not afraid of the spiders kept inside a jar. One day, they escape from the science corner and screaming chaos erupts inside the classroom. Once Miss Warner establishes order, the students put their minds to work employing all the things they learned about spiders in order to find them. They discuss how spiderlings hatch, the kinds of food they eat, where they hide, how they molt, and the way spiders move from place to place.

Will Lolli and her friends use their smarts to find the missing spiders? If found, what should they do to prevent their escape in the future? In reading this adventure, one discovers a lot about spiders and the reasons we should not be afraid of them. This book is recommended especially for children ages seven to ten. It is an excellent choice for reluctant readers because the length is manageable and the pictures make it easy to follow the text. As an added bonus, both students and teachers are given the opportunity to download their very own secret journal.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Click HERE to get your copy of Lollipop Lisa

Grab the FREE teacher download filled with reading comprehension, writing, and fun learning activity pages, HERE

 

Father’s Day Now and Then…

On the third Sunday in June in the United States, we celebrate Father’s Day. Like most things, the role of a father has changed over time.

Economics and culture had a lot to do with this. In the earliest human communities, men hunted and fished far away from their families, while the mothers and grandmothers foraged locally and looked after the children. Many war-like tribes discouraged father involvement with children. The growth of Christianity encouraged the role of “father” as a detached leader within the family. On the other hand, in rural areas men and women often worked side by side for long hours in the fields, and the idea of young children sleeping in a separate nursery was not common before the nineteenth century. After the industrial revolution, dads in urban areas worked long hours farther away from the home. Women often began to take over traditional “father” tasks. Long wars, including the two World Wars, resulted in fathers being away from the home for long periods of time.

In the 21st century, gender roles are changing rapidly. Increasingly both sexes are working at home allowing more time to be spent with children. The number of dads staying at home while the mom works outside is also rising. More dads are finding time to spend with family and children, while in later life increased mobility means more adult children are now moving far away from their parents. A globally connected world will mean change among roles in all cultures.

History is full of good and bad dads. Charlemagne, who was crowned first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire by the Pope in 800 A.D., is often called “Father of Europe.” In private life, Charlemagne was easy-going. His son Pepin became known as Pepin the Hunchback, because he suffered from a spinal defect. Charlemagne loved and favored Pepin, but when it came time to choose a successor passed over him. Pepin conspired to kill his father, mother and siblings. When Charlemagne uncovered the plot, he showed his mercy by banishing Pepin to a monastery instead of executing him for treason. Charlemagne also doted on his daughters and their children by bequeathing them convents so they could live out the rest of their lives peacefully.

 
 

Teddy Roosevelt credits much of his success to his father, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. Teddy calls his dad, “the best man I ever knew.” Roosevelt says, “He combined strength and courage with greatness, tenderness and great usefulness. He could not tolerate in us children selfishness or cruelty, idleness or cowardice or untruthfulness. As we grew older, he made us understand that the same standard of clean living was demanded for the boys as for the girls; that what was wrong in a woman could not be right for a man.” Little wonder Teddy Roosevelt became one of our most productive and successful presidents.

To all those fulfilling a role of “dad,” we celebrate your achievements. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

Barbara Ann Mojica
Author of the Little Miss HISTORY series:
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to FORD’S THEATER
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to INTREPID Sea, Air & Space Museum
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to ELLIS ISLAND
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT VERNON
Little Miss HISTORY COLORING BOOK, Volume 1
The Adventures of Little Miss HISTORY, Volume 1

WWW.LittleMissHISTORY.com TO SEE MUCH MORE AND PURCHASE BOOKS

A Spiritual Journey Filled with Life Lessons

Spiritual Journey Filled with Life Lessons

Raywyn and the Golden Bow

Written by Angelos Ashes

Young Raywyn and her parents are journeying from London to Australia by sea when they are shipwrecked. Raywyn has washed ashore where she is discovered by beachcombers. When she wakes up in the hospital, she realizes that her parents are dead. Raywyn meets her uncle, Patrick Blake, who will become her guardian. She is whisked away to his home named Black Swan at the southern tip of Australia.

Once there, Raywyn is immersed in a totally different environment. Patrick and his friend Rollo introduce her to archery, philosophy, literature and meditation. Raywyn discovers how to meditate and transform herself from within. The reader participates in her spiritual journey to the netherworld, the City of Light and the Ganges. Raywyn discovers how and when to fight. Her spiritual journey takes the reader on a roller coaster ride immersed in fantasy, science fiction and reality filled with interesting characters and life lessons. Recommended for readers ages eight and older who enjoy these genres.

Barbara Ann Mojica

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Looking for a unique Father’s Day project? “Look” no further

Looking for a unique Father’s Day project? Here it is!

Grab the download on my Teacher’s Pay Teachers

Give Dad Love From Every Angle on Father’s Day

Your students will love making this “magic” art project for their Dad in just 3 easy steps.

1. Create and Color

2. Cut and Paste on to the easy to follow template.

So how did I make these? Just 3 Easy Steps:

1. Choose a greyscale design template and color over each design with dark pencil crayons, markers or paint.

2. Cut along each strip on the dotted lines provided. Then use the template to paste the strips down following a A1, B2,C3…

3. Fold along the cut lines in an accordian fold. Wallah! Look at the masterpiece from each side angle to see the amazing effect! Dad will be thrilled.

Want to know what else is even better? Because I love my followers, I added a few bonuses to the package!
Bonus #1: Family/Caring/Guardian and “Make Your Own Design” templates for those students who do not have a father.
Bonus# 2: Pre-colored, just print, cut and past versions for every template for those who don’t have the time to color the designs.
Bonus #3: Free Birthday agamograph templates included as a sneak preview to more agamograph packages coming soon! I’m hooked. I love making these and I will be making more over the summer break!

Just look at some of the templates I included in the pack now available in my TpT store. Go read the teacher reviews and grab them here.

I sincerely hope this helps you with your Father’s Day planning in the next couple of weeks. Enjoy. As always, I’d love to hear back from you. Let’s chat. Just hit the reply button. 🙂

Getting Stuck in the Story

The War of the Stories

Written by Galia Koplis

This book is an interesting mixture of genres, science fiction, fairy tale, and time travel. The plot is an unusual one combining many themes that will appeal to a variety of middle grade, teen and adult audiences.

Shirley is the protagonist. Her best friend Orelia is retelling the story to us many years after it happened. On the first day of school, Miss Brown has asked each member of the class to relate an interesting story that they have read during the summer. Shirley is embarrassed because she does not have one. She is given an extra day to find one. When Shirley retreats to the library for her search, the adventure ensues.

Shirley becomes trapped in Storyland. Here the short stories are less important than the large and famous ones. Royalty, commoners, and warriors are engrossed in life and death struggles for survival and dominance. Shirley decides to help a princess find her true love, and persuade a shy story to overcome his diffidence. The tides of battle are constantly changing; Shirley experiences difficulty distinguishing right from wrong and fact from fiction. How will she fare in the battle? Will Shirley escape Storyland, and if she is successful how will her life and those of the characters in Storyland be changed forever?

Young and older readers will be able to look in the mirror and see themselves in the pages of this fantasy that has more elements of realism than appearing on the surface. This tale is fun and pleasant to read, and it contains many layers of meaning embedded deep within its surface. Recommended for anyone age nine and older who enjoys fantasy and is up for a unique read.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author

www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

Everything You Wanted to Know About Owls!

Owls: A Children’s Book About Owls: Types of Owls, Owl Facts, Owl Life, and Owl Images

Written by William Widman

There are more than 200 species of owls living on every continent except Antarctica. They live in forests, deserts and the tundra. Owls are raptors or birds of prey. They might be as small as six inches or as large as three feet. Owls are territorial and tend to reuse their nest. They have huge eyes and excellent hearing. Their specially designed wings enable them to be silent in flight and their feather colors help them to camouflage themselves. Sharp and powerful talons and claws assist in capturing and holding prey. Many owls have names determined by their environment like barn owls and snowy white owls. Different types of owls emit different calling sounds; the Great Horned Owl makes the familiar, “Hoo, Hoo sound, while the Barred Owl vocalizes a call similar to a monkey.

The author includes photographs of each type of owl, as well as nesting pictures and owls in flight. They are colorful and detailed. He suggests that you carry binoculars and a journal pad while owl watching in the woods. I really enjoyed the links provided within the book that allow the reader to hear and experience the sounds that various owls emit.

Recommend this book for children ages six and older who enjoy reading about animals. Librarians and teachers should consider adding this nonfiction kindle book to their reference collection.

The Sneezing Season!

Jesper Jinx and the Sneezing Season: The Jesper Jinx Series Book 2

Written and Illustrated by Marko Kitti

Jesper Jinx is an eleven-year-old British boy who lives in a seaside village called Puffington Hill. The name jinx is attached to him because he has a knack for experiencing bad luck or inflicting it on others. At the outset, readers meet Jesper trying to win over Chloe, (the girl he has a crush on), by appearing at just the right moment with the sandwich for which she has no money. Fate intervenes when a seagull swoops in to steal it, knocking him down and embarrassing Jesper.

The following weekend Jesper is lured with a prize of 50 pounds to accompany his family to get a photo of a rare purple buzzard. The journey involves being outdoors in allergy season. Of course, Jesper secretly spits out his medicine and disaster ensues just as he thinks he has the winning photo in hand. A squirrel couple named Ronald and Ramona achieve their revenge for Jesper’s kite ruining their home and injuring them. When Jesper and his friend Oliver challenge his teenage sister to a balancing contest, what appears to be a victory rapidly switches to disaster and embarrassment for Jesper.

Kitti cleverly intertwines plot elements and characters to create a cohesive story. The comic pictures add a whimsical touch to the humorous dialogue. Middle-grade students will enjoy the preposterous circumstances and antics of sibling rivalry. Fans of this book will enjoy all the books in this series.

A Glimpse into the World of Mythical Greek Gods

GREEK GODS: Myths, Legends and Ancient History 3rd edition

Written by Roy Jackson

This book of fewer than 100 pages is one of the easiest to follow that I have read on the subject. As a history major, I spent lots of time incorporating related studies in religion, literature, and culture. Most writers approach the subject of Greek gods in a genealogical fashion. Jackson’s approach is to classify them into groups according to the roles they performed. While he logically begins with the primordial deities followed by creation myths and the Titans, he rapidly moves on to the more familiar names of the Olympian Pantheon and some of the well-known myths. Homer’s gods of the underworld familiar to readers of the Odyssey are discussed as well as the sea gods like Poseidon so integral to a nation of seafaring inhabitants. Many religions were tied to the agricultural gods, Demeter, and the Eleusinian Mysteries. Jackson discusses Aesculapius, the god of medicine, as well as winged and sea creatures like the Sphinx, Minotaur, and Chimera.

This book is perfect for children in the middle grades who are intrigued with the folklore but do not want or need unnecessary details. It gives a solid foundation for readers who will later be better prepared to graduate to reading the classics. Recommended for readers ages eight and older.

Barbara Ann Mojica,

LittleMissHistory.com

Magic and Mayhem

BeachBoundbooks is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for the middle grade fantasy, Initiation: Sky Raiders Academy Book One by Kirstin Pulioff from April 3 – April 24, 2016. 2017-03-16


About the Book

FullSizeRender (14) Title: Initiation: Sky Raiders Book One | Author: Kirstin Pulioff | Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Number of Pages: 150 | Publication Date: March 27, 2017

Summary: Tommy feels lost after his father’s death. To make matters worse, his mom moves him to a new town where he doesn’t have any friends, and he quickly becomes a punching bag for the school bully. He can’t win. So, when a mysterious visitor approaches him with the promise of adventure, Tommy jumps at the opportunity. Whisked away to a school in the sky where magic rules and storms are forged by an elite group of Sky Raiders, Tommy learns that the world’s problems are much larger than his own. When the weather spirals out of control and a rogue Raider’s diabolical plans surface, Tommy must decide how much he is willing to risk to save the world.

amazon2

About the Author

author photo Kirstin Pulioff dreams big, wishes on stars, searches for rainbows, finds treasure in everyday blessings, and lives life to its fullest… Happily married and a mother of two, she lives in the foothills of Colorado. When she’s not writing an adventure, she’s busy living one.
She loves to hear from fans.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Giveaway

Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card or $50 PayPal cash prize (winner’s choice) Giveaway ends: April 24, 11:59 pm, 2017 Open to: Internationally. How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Kirstin Pulioff and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions feel free to send an email to stacie@BeachBoundBooks.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway 8682618_orig

AND NOW FOR MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK

Initiation: Sky Academy Book 1

Written by Kirstin Pulioff

First book in a new fantasy middle grade series. Tommy has recently undergone a double trauma, the death of his father and a move from California back to his mother’s home town in Colorado. As he faces the first day of school as a shy fifth grader in the middle of the school year, he begins by falling as he steps out of his Uncle’s truck. Of course Devan, the school bully, would witness this event and taunt him for the remainder of the school year.

One night a surprise visitor appears in Tommy’s bedroom. Mr. Bellarmie gifts him with a hologram ankle bracelet that transports Tommy to Sky Academy. Tommy is surprised to learn that his father was an honored member of this elite group, but he is astonished to learn that the invention of his father got him killed. At the Academy, Tommy meets fellow newcomers Rachel and Will, who will become his best friends. Every night the members of this elite weather group come together to learn about how to control weather catastrophes down on the earth. Tommy is thrilled to be involved nightly until the increasing number of weather disruptions on earth make it too dangerous for the students; Mr. Bellarmie temporarily shuts the school down. Tommy’s world comes crashing down on him once more.

Tommy’ s frustration and disappointment escalates until he discovers his father’s holographic bracelet in his mother’s jewelry box. Then Tommy is successful in traveling back to the Sky Academy. He is able to call back his friends to enlist their help to end the weather mishaps and unravel the mystery of how his father died and who is manipulating the weather mayhem. Will, Rachel and Tommy go on a wild adventure invoking all sorts of magic, lightning bolts, green slime, poison gas, and gargoyles to name a few. Will Sky Academy be able to survive and restore weather on earth to normal? Who killed Tommy’s father? Can Tommy succeed in preventing Devan from bullying him?

Middle grade students who like fantasy, adventure, mystery and magic will enjoy this first book in a new series. Well suited to the issues facing this age bracket, the book will inform, entertain and inspire the reader. Can’t wait to see what adventures emerge in Book 2.

5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and a Free Gift

Looking for activities to celebrate Earth Day? Help your students learn vocabulary while they learn about caring for the planet.
Try these:
  1. Make recycled paper with your class using your own classroom paper scraps. (See some great instructions in this video.)

  1. Plant trees in your community
  2. Start a community garden to help supply your local food bank
  3. Help your students learn vocabulary while they learn about caring for the planet.
  4. Make musical instruments from recycled materials from home. Then have a mini-concert to show off your class talents!

Finally, help your students learn vocabulary while they learn about caring for the planet with this free word search.  Ecology, recycle, sustainable…and more! This free Earth Day worksheet is appropriate for learners 3rd to 6th grade. The search contains 21 Earth Day vocabulary words. Happy Earth Day!

Your feedback is very much appreciated. Thank you!

Unwrap a Yummy Adventure!

Life in the Gumball Machine

Written by Maureen Bartone

An interesting chapter book targeted for readers in the seven to eleven year age range. On her tenth birthday, Daisy goes for a bike ride with her two best fourth grade friends, Patrick and Michael. Daisy is often considered a tomboy, but one thing her two friends have never persuaded her to do is to play football. When the three friends pause to investigate an old shed, they discover an abandoned gumball machine. Daisy decides that she must have one so she deposits a coin. Soon the machine rumbles and sucks all three of them inside. Little do they realize the adventure awaiting them inside.

Bartone uses lots of human and kid-friendly dialogue to describe how the three humans shrink and meet the gumball people and their exciting world. Our three human friends will discover that outside appearance matters little, the real person is wrapped inside. Daisy will experience that football game and face her hidden fears. Lessons learned include how we behave and what we do are a lot more important than how we look.

Daisy is looking forward to her birthday party that afternoon, but things are looking grim that the three friends will free themselves from the gumball world and return to their normal size. The only way to escape is for another person to come along and discover that abandoned candy machine. That does not appear to be a likely possibility. Will the three friends keep their cool and figure out a way to return home? What will happen to their newly found gumball friends? How will Patrick, Michael and Daisy’s lives be changed forever?

The plot of this middle-grade chapter book is simple and the text straightforward with enough excitement, surprises and humor to keep the reader entertained and the advice from becoming preachy. A surprise near the end sets the scene for a new adventure. Recommended for children in grades two through six.

Celebrating 200 Years of the Star Spangled Banner

America’s Star Spangled Story Celebrating 200 Years of the National Anthem

Written by Jane Hampton Cook

An interesting book that uses each line of The Star Spangled Banner to trace the history of the events of the War of 1812 when the British attempted to control Washington, DC, the key players in the events, background events, and photos from the past and present. The author narrates the history of the battle for control of Fort McHenry relating to the lines of the song as it was penned in the midst of the battle. Occasionally the author dips back in time to muse about the thoughts of the Pilgrims as they landed on the shores of America, and the Patriots as they fought for freedom from Great Britain during the American Revolution. They believed that The War of 1812 and the destruction of the Capitol by the British added insult to injury.

Readers are encouraged to think about the images that each line of this now famous song evoke in their minds and hearts. Perhaps few Americans are aware that the song did not gain widespread notoriety until the end of the nineteenth century and was not made the official national anthem until the administration of Herbert Hoover.

Anyone with an interest in American history and this beautiful song will find the short book entertaining and informative. Appropriate for readers age ten and older.

Barbara Ann Mojica

www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

 

Build Interactive Rubrics in Record Time!

Rubrics Made Easy

Why don’t teachers like to make rubrics? Because it’s difficult and time consuming. But that all changes with this tool!

Wow! I am pumped! I just returned from the Google Summit in Lethbridge and couldn’t be more excited about the multitude of new tools available with Google for Education.  At the summit I presented a  session highlighting new way to use Google sheets to lighten your work load when it comes to making rubrics for any classroom activity! Intrigued? Read on!

In my role as Assessment Coach for our school division, it’s my job to help teachers implement best practices when it comes to assessment.  To this end I’ve been using doing a lot of research and having great conversations with teachers about how to involve kids in their own assessment.  Can our students be involved in the process of collecting, organizing and presenting their evidence of learning. Better yet, can they be responsible for it?  Yes. Yes. YES!

How? First of all we have to let them know what their learning goals are. This is where outcome or standards based assessment shines. When we share with our students the targets we want them to hit it gives them confidence to streamline their efforts toward those goals. Clearly identifying those goals and communicating them to your students is the first step to success.

One way to accomplish such a lofty goal is to break open the rubrics! (And yes, it is just one of our goals, but an important one.) Well built rubrics use specific language that allow students to see clearly defined expectations of work quality and depth of understanding.  Rubrics are useful, however, not as an after thought for marking student work. Instead rubrics must be used at the beginning of the learning process as a means to involve the students in identifying their learning goals and being invested in the assessment process.  When used in this way, rubrics provide the road map for learning success.

The challenge?  Designing well built rubrics is downright difficult!  Time and time again, teachers express to me  how difficult  it is to come up with the right wording for their rubric. It’s a time consuming process that must be repeated and tailored to each new activity, project, unit or lesson. My question is… why keep re-inventing the wheel?  What if we could have a bank of rubric descriptors that we could use for a variety of different purposes. What if we could use that descriptor bank in a myriad of combinations to populate and make a custom rubric for each unit or all the performance based activities within a unit.  Yes… what if?  That was my thinking when I decided to make interactive rubrics.

These rubrics are: (use slides)

Interested? Here’s how the interactive rubrics work. Watch this:

Can you see the possibilities? Could this same process be applied to make other useful tools for assessment in the classroom?  Absolutely!

The response from teachers throughout our school division—to this time-saving tool— has been phenomenal. They love it! It’s so good that we can’t keep it to ourselves.  I’ want to pass these helpful tools on to my subscribers.  If you are interested then subscribe here  to my newsletter and I’ll send you a very special access to a pre-built science rubrics for any grade 1 – 9 ( Disclaimer: They are built for the Alberta Curriculum, but I suspect that with some minor tweaking in the wording they can fit your curriculum, too. They are totally editable but not edible.) You’ll also get access to a prebuilt blank rubric, and step by step video instructions on how to use them to make your own interactive rubrics for any subject.

As always, those who sign up will find these language posters included.  

It’s my goal to empower all of you with the tools you need to make it easy to implement best practice assessment in the classroom. I’m here to help anytime. Just email me at sharon@questteaching.com 

Best,

Sharon

P.S. I’d love to hear how you use these rubrics in your classroom. Respond in the comments below or drop me a line!

 

Texting and Driving: A Not So Magical Mix

Texting and Driving: A Not So Magical Mix

One Creepy Street: Annica’s Broom

Written by Lee Jordan

Interesting book that focuses on the topic of texting and driving, so important in the modern age of cell phones. Annica is a witch who is about to come of age. At age thirteen all witches are given their broomstick, the human equivalent to a teenager getting a driver’s license. Today’s parents worry not only about their children paying attention to driving skills, but keeping their hands off that cell phone to answer a call or text while driving.
On Annica’s first flight, she is tempted and decides to text just one word. Sure enough, she crashes down on Creepy Street where she promptly meets some frightful creatures like a one- eyed policeman, spiders and trolls. Finally a recalcitrant elf tossed out by Santa makes the decision that he might want to help her. Will Annica be rescued and find her way home? What will happen to her if she does succeed?

This book has fun illustrations and plenty of humor, which will make its message palatable to pre teens and teens. The book is targeted for readers age six and older, but is most appropriate for readers age nine and older. The text needs editing in some spots, but that will probably not detract from its appeal to young readers. Recommended to parents and teachers who want to impart a serious message without being didactic.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY 12521-0112
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

Inspiration for Left Handers

The Race: an inspiring story for Left-Handers

Written by Janet Hurst-Nicholson

Illustrated by Vanessa Burger

Vicky hates sitting next to Graham in school. He is always bumping into her. Vicky is left-handed and finds it difficult to accomplish simple tasks that seem to come easy for everybody else. She is a klutz in sports and never seems to excel. To make matters worse, everyone seems to make fun of her. Vicky is looking forward to her grandmother’s upcoming visit. She has been busy trying to finish a needlepoint cover as a gift, but even that seems to be coming out wrong. Vicky wants to prove to her grandmother that she is successful, so she and her friend Vicky practice nonstop to win the egg balancing race. Her grandmother will be watching; they are determined to win. An unexpected turn of events leads to a new race being added at the last minute. Will Vicky get a chance to prove to herself and others being left-handed actually be an advantage?

I loved this chapter book. Perhaps being married to a left-hander and having a left-handed son has made be acutely aware of some of the everyday problems left-handed people face. This book presents the problems and enables all of us right-handers to understand how difficult it can be for someone who is a “lefty” to function in a world of right-handed preferences. The world is finally becoming more attuned to the need for left handed tools and devices. Recommend this book highly for teachers, parents and children as a read aloud or a book for families to discuss and share.

 

 

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

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Developing Strong Character

The Adventures of Geraldine Woolkins

Written by Karin Kaufman

A delightful chapter book consisting of ten stories that revolve around a fearless family of mice facing the dangers and challenges of winter. Geraldine is the protagonist who was born in April, but now in October is facing the end of the gathering season. She and her brother Nigel have much to learn and experience. Readers are introduced to their friends in the forest, Penelope, the sparrow and Cheddar, a white rabbit. The children love to hear their father Nigel read to them stories from the Book of Tales. These adventures teach them about common sense, trust, gratitude, empathy and sharing. As October wanes, the family and friends celebrate Thanksgiving and the joys of Christmas. On the other hand, the children’s curiosity put them in danger of being eaten by wolves and ravens, swept down the river on a log and being destroyed by a forest fire. Charlotte is a sensitive and inquisitive mouse who desires to read, write and explore the world around her. She and her brother share sibling rivalry, but at the same time deeply love and care for one another. Their parents teach them to have faith that Very, Very Big Hands will be there to guide and protect them.

This chapter book is geared toward readers in grades three to six. Some younger children may enjoy individual stories as a read aloud. There are no illustrations; a few simple drawings would add appeal to younger children. I would thoroughly recommend the book as a gentle, sweet read for children who love animals. The many lessons learned and bravery in facing adversity allow for lots of discussion on the topics of developing strong character and interpersonal skills.

Ancient Greece and the Olympians

The Rise of the Olympians Book One

Written by Belle Ward

riseolymppic

First book in a middle grade short story series. Lilah is about to celebrate her thirteenth birthday. Her father surprises her with her favorite breakfast of pancakes and bacon. As she departs for school with her older brother, Jay, Lilah looks forward to her first class in which she is studying about Ancient Greece. Mr. Fisher is discussing the Olympians. For some reason, Lilah can’t stop thinking about the lesson.

When Lilah gets home she is surprised by the gift of an angel-winged necklace from her dad. But when she prepares for bed, strange things begin to happen. The necklace heats up, her rainbow colored extensions suddenly become attached to her head, and she experiences a strange dream. The next day, Lilah is invited to join a special dream club. She is astonished to learn that the other members are Apollo and Hades. They think she is the goddess who will help them find the Father of the Monsters. A sudden crash, and all must run for their lives…..Will Lilah cast her fate with these strangers? Will she wake up from this nightmare?

This short story is a good length for reluctant readers. The characters are believable and interesting enough. What some readers may not like is that the tale ends in a cliffhanger. Readers will be left disappointed unless they immediately get a hold of Book Two.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Promote Mental Health with a School Wide Scavenger Hunt

 

A  Little Bit of Social and Academic Fun

Need a great idea for your next school wide climate day? Picture this scene. Kids working happily in pairs, contemplating where the next clue might lead them. They know there is a great reward when their hunt is done. Where are they? Summer camp? A birthday party? An outdoor adventure? A museum? No, they are blissfully at school.
How do we create such a secure, encouraging, and nurturing setting? How can we support the social and emotional learning (SEL) or endorsement for the mental health of all children in school? We know  that  social and emotional learning helps learners to be prepared, gain friendships and to learn about themselves. Kids need not only academic instruction, but must also be taken care of emotionally. Social and emotional approaches can reap so many benefits, especially in the prevention of children’s mental health problems.
  
   How can this be done?
     
One way is in the undertaking of school wide scavenger hunts. Teachers and counsellors can watch and make notes on how children are getting along. How are they being treated by others? How do they interact with others? Are they happy to be involved?

    How do school-wide scavenger hunts work?
   Each students can be given a checklist. When each task is achieved a volunteer or teacher signs or initial the learner’s checklist. Students can also be given one part of a puzzle or treasure map after finding a solution. The pieces need to be joined together. Once all checks or pieces have been collected, each student wins a prize. The prize might be from a wish list or something that is useful, like magnets, dominoes, art supplies, or even a grab bag of different items.
   
   Hints might be given by volunteers or aids on where each clue might be hidden. Students might work in pairs, trios or alone to solve problems, or find clues. The kids need not stay with the entire troupe for the whole time, They each have the freedom to work alone, or find other friends for their expedition.

   Does that mean we must give up on academics for a whole day?
  
   I think that once a month  or every other month might be nice for an amusing afternoon. Scavenger hunts can be a large undertaking, but if you have teams of teachers, and volunteers from the community that specialize in a topic, the process can be made simple. Sometimes, teachers or helpers might use the same clues from year to year. But, in general, it is nicer to have new ideas and components than used, or old ones.

   Where might we have an academic scavenger hunt for kids?
  
   If your school has a large gymnasium, or a lunch room, grade levels scavenger hunt could happen there, say for middle school kids. Another choice could be having stations in the hallways for certain grade levels.
   
   Otherwise, “the littles” or small children can be combined.  The 1st, 2nd or 3nd grade teachers can hide the clues in their classroom and have clue stations. The 1st grade kids enter their own and other 1st grade rooms for clues. The 2nd grade children enter their own and other 2nd grade rooms for clues, and so on. 
So, who makes up the academic clues? 
  
   The teachers and volunteers do, of course. A team of teachers could make interesting clues, but don’t forget music, art, physical education, Spanish, French or other language education in this pursuit. Clues should suit the academic needs of your students
 What about these stations?
   
  Station designs can be made with good old cardboard and paper mache (Papier Mâché). There are many wonderful design books. Once, one of my friend’s mother created a giant lady bug. I have made castles, (a large set for a play),  a small castle for reading, and a spindle. I am no artist! Kids could help build and design the stations before the event with the help of adults. 

   

How do we go about this?
  
   Sometimes, school teams can make up one theme and involve many subject matters. For example, let’s say that most of the kids are learning about Australia in social studies.  So, your theme is about Australia. Now think of a title for the scavenger event, such as, The Mysteries of Down Under. Some panels could research facts about Australia. Then each worker prepares a certain number of clues.  
   
  For example, math teachers could make math word problems for several grades. Social studies teachers could make a map of Australia and have students locate the places where certain peoples live, or work. Learners then answer questions to a short reading. Science for primary could have a station where small stuffed animals are hanging from a fake tree. A young learner could hold a koala as he or she listens to a recording or video about this marsupial. Then, he or she chooses a paper object, such as eucalyptus leaves, that relates to the koala.
   
   What does the teacher do doing the actual scavenger hunt event?
  
   First, there is limited structure or regulations beside usual reminders such as “no running in the hallways” or other safety concerns.The teacher’s, helpers, or guidance counselor’s role is to:

a.    give hints to clues
b.    provide other examples, if needed
c.    gauge students’ progress (make notes…how are they getting along? Is the student laughing and with friends, or mainly left alone?)
d.    assist in advancement (make notes…maybe pair up 2 or 3 kids not normally together to work and talk together)
e.    intercede as needed in group activities (switching up pairs at times, subject assistance)

  Lastly, have no doubts that each student can benefit from this event!

                               Best,

                               Lynn

  If your school has taken on this academic and mental health school adventure, please tell me of your experience. What worked out, what didn’t? If you have any questions, let me know! Contact Lynn

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References
  
Choff.com (n.d). Too cool for school? Organize a classroom scavenger hunt. Retrieved from http://www.chiff.com/a/scavenger-hunts-school.htm
  
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning at the University of Illinois at Chicago. (January, 2008). Connecting social and emotional learning with mental health. Retrieved from       http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED505361.pdf


Gubi, A., & Bocanegra, J. (2015). Impact of the common core on social-emotional learning initiatives with diverse students. Contemporary School Psychology (Springer Science & Business Media B.V.), 19(2), 98. doi:10.1007/s40688-015-0045-y

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2009). Models of teaching (8th ed). Pearson Education, Inc.
  
Moesser, J. (July, 2016). Summer learning: How to make an educational treasure map. Retrieved    from http://momitforward.com/educational-scavenger-hunt/

 

 

 

America’s Star Spangled Story

America’s Star Spangled Story Celebrating 200 Hundred Years of the National Anthem

Written by Jane Hampton Cook

starspangledbanner

An interesting book that uses each line of The Star Spangled Banner to trace the history of the events of the War of 1812 when the British attempted to control Washington, DC, the key players in the events, background events, and photos from the past and present. The author narrates the history of the battle for control of Fort McHenry relating to the lines of the song as it was penned in the midst of the battle. Occasionally the author dips back in time to muse about the thoughts of the Pilgrims as they landed on the shores of America, and the Patriots as they fought for freedom from Great Britain during the American Revolution. They believed that The War of 1812 and the destruction of the Capitol by the British added insult to injury.

Readers are encouraged to think about the images that each line of this now famous song evoke in their minds and hearts. Perhaps few Americans are aware that the song did not gain widespread notoriety until the end of the nineteenth century and was not made the official national anthem until the administration of Herbert Hoover.

Anyone with an interest in American history and this beautiful song will find the short book entertaining and informative. Appropriate for readers age ten and older.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

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A Drawing Book For Kids: You Can Draw Military Aircraft

A Drawing Book for Kids: You Can Draw Military Aircraft

Written and illustrated by Mike Artell

militaryplanespic

I was provided a copy of this book and voluntarily decided to give my honest, unbiased review.

Artell has written and illustrated more than 35 books for children and adults. This book is much more than an I Can Draw book. It does include step by step instructions for drawing helicopters, prop planes and jets, which are easy to follow and simple enough for the targeted audience of seven to twelve year old plane enthusiasts.

For me even more important is the explanation of letter codes that the military use to describe the function of each machine. For example, A indicates attack fighter and M signifies that the aircraft has multiple functions. Each aircraft is preceded by an actual photograph along with statistics about size, speed, altitude and function. These are followed by several pages of step by step easy to follow drawing instructions. Perhaps the best feature is the QR code available as an app for each plane. Readers can use it to access videos of actual flight and tons of additional information on each of the fifteen selections. At the end of the book, the author supplies an extensive bibliography which the military aircraft aficionado may access for detailed information.

I learned a lot about military aircraft from this easy read. Even though my artistic ability is generally limited to stick figures, this guide is so easy that I am tempted to make a serious try to draw them. Recommended for ages seven and older.

Barbara Ann Mojica,

LittleMissHistory.com

 

MAKING THE GRADE: Arriving at Quality Level Consensus in Reporting

The move from grade based learning to quality based learning means that we, as educators, need to be consistent in our measures and interpretations of work quality.  A lofty goal for sure, but well worth the undertaking.   Today we’ll explore the challenges and steps to achieving success.

Challenge #1: Experience Needed!

Our curriculum standards tell us what our students need to learn, but provide little guidance as to what the learning should look like.  Perhaps, after many years of teaching the same grade level, a teacher develops a good idea of the appropriate different quality levels of achievement for that grade in any given subject area. The experience of reading many grade three and four narratives over the years, for example, has taught me what to look for, what to expect at this level, and which qualities distinguish good achievement from exemplary. The challenge is , however, that not all teachers have the luxury of remaining in the same grade for several terms in a row.  Teaching assignments are shifted, new teachers are hired, etc. . Let’s be honest. As educators, we come to classrooms with a variety of personalities, experiences and biases. Teachers are as varied at the students they teach.  How, then, can we be sure that we assign quality based grades fairly and consistently?  We definitely need to recognize that we must arrive at consensus about what the “learning should look like” for each subject area and grade level.  If we don’t have a clear picture of what successful learning looks like, how can we ever hope to help our students achieve it? Furthermore, how will we know when they have reached it?

Challenge # 2: Building Bridges of Common Understanding

What do we need to build bridges of understanding so we can arrive at quality level consensus? We need a process; a blueprint for the bridge that will help us all arrive at the same destination.  This process must be actively engaged upon by colleagues with the same intent. Our goal is to provide our students and their parents the assurance that their learning is being evaluated fairly and consistently.  This will give them the confidence to put in the effort that it takes to reach their higher learning goals. We are setting the target before them and letting them know clearly what is expected and exactly how it will be judged. Bridges can’t be built in haphazard ways we must all follow the steps to get the job done so let’s get building.

Step 1: Gather samples of student work in that subject area. Each grade teacher brings several sample of work that they feel best represent quality work. Samples can include any form that shows evidence of learning: journal responses, maps, reports, projects, problem solving, videos of student performances or presentations, computer projects, etc..

Step 2: Dive into the collections! Look at the collections  and work together with colleagues to develop criteria, rubrics with common, yet age appropriate language.  The criteria should provide a clear description of what quality and success look like at each grade level.  How? Try this:

  • Brainstorm
  • Sort the work into categories
  • Make a chart
  • Use it in the classroom. Discuss and revise it. Use again and repeat the process until a consensus is achieved!

Step 3: Create and/or explore the results of common assessments. Using common assessments can also help teachers arrive at consensus of expected levels of quality.  Collecting student work on these tasks then allows teachers to select samples that demonstrate certain aspects of learning in each of the different levels of the rubric. These samples can then be annotated and redistributed to all teachers so they clearly illustrate student capabilities.

Teachers then take the samples and score them on the agreed upon rubrics and then compare their scores to those of other teachers and discuss any discrepancies. If needed, the language of  the rubric can then be adjusted as necessary. This is a process that needs to take place over time to continue to support and develop consistent teacher professional judgement.

To help you get started, pick up these free rubric descriptors and subscribe for more upcoming teacher resources: CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: Analyze the Data! According to our expected levels of quality, how many of our students are achieving success? What does that mean for our instruction?

Now we have a benchmark. If the results of any given assessment in relation to the agreed upon benchmark are surprising we have to ask ourselves important questions that will drive us to improve our instruction and/or assessment tools. What do we need to do more? What do we need to do less? Did we emphasize what we needed to while teaching? Did we clearly communicate the expected levels of learning to our students?  How should we change our approach? In short, we need to use the data to drive our instruction going forward.

Hopefully, these steps have given you food for thought and some practical steps to take in either your school, or at the district level to structure sessions in which you can come together with the common purpose and goal of developing common levels of quality in relation to the expected standards or learning outcomes. Just remember,

Together, Everyone, Achieves, More

Like this post? Sharing is caring. Comment below, tweet, post or have the conversation with your colleagues. We all learn from each other.

Best,

Sharon

 

References:

Herbst, Sandra. “Grading, Reporting, and Professional Judgment in Elementary Classrooms.”Connect2learning. Connect2Learning, n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.

 

 

 

MAKING THE GRADE: 4 Steps to Setting Up for Successful Assessment Practices in Your Classroom

MAKING THE GRADE will be a regular feature on my blog,  highlighting the “take away” ideas from current books, research and readings  with the common theme of achieving best practice assessment in our classrooms. Let’s get started with this week’s highlights from the book:

 A FRESH LOOK AT GRADING AND REPORTING IN HIGH SCHOOLS

by Sandra Herbst and Anne Davies

Take Away Ideas:

4 Steps to Setting Up for Successful Assessment Practices in your Classroom

Before we teach any unit or lesson, we must first plan for success. These four steps that will go a long way to ensuring that your students are set up success in the learning process! 

1.  Determine the learning destination: organize outcomes into “big idea” categories.

We need to start any learning journey in our classroom by sharing the “big ideas” with our students. Begin with the end in mind. We have to show them the target we want them to hit so they can hit it! Including our students in the process right from the start means they are expected to be and supported as active learners.  What does this look like? First we must start with the expect learning outcomes. If you teach younger grades, you will have predetermined these big ideas and have them ready in “kid friendly” language to share with your students. If you teach older grades and time permitting, you can involve your students in the process of organizing them in to bigger topics for the unit, project or lesson. What are the “big ideas” that you want them to understand after participating in these lessons/activities. Making the destination clear from the get go means your students can figure out a way to get there. Going through this process will also help you see how you can group outcomes to teach together.

2. Research the expected quality levels, create rubrics and gather exemplars to share with students. (Freebie: Link to poster of common descriptor language here. As prompted, request permission.)

Second, we need to communicate the expected quality levels with our students at their grade level.  This means that prior to the unit, project or lesson, exemplars clearly showing different levels of achievement are shared with students.  This is not a passive activity in which students are just “shown”  examples of work. Let them explore them, have them work in groups to identify and sort what makes one level superior to another. Have students really dive in and find the qualities that differentiates and demonstrate critical thinking and good work from great work. Use consistent language when creating rubric indicators students clearly know what the expectations are. RUBRICS  can help with this if they are crafted to describe what a student can do and what they need to do to move their learning to the next level. However, creating good rubrics is not easy.  To help you out with that, I’ve made a FREE poster download for my subscribers. This poster outlines words that you can use at each level. If you’d like your copy and future free teaching resources, then just sign up!

3. Plan how you will collect reliable (repeatable) and valid (measures what you want it to) evidence of learning.

(Conversations, Observations, Products)

At this stage it is time to decide and communicate to students how they will be expected to show evidence of their learning. Best practice means that to have valid and reliable evidence we must triangulate or collect the evidence from a variety of sources. Our students do not all learn the same, nor should they have to show us evidence of their learning in the same way. We have to plan for that. After all, isn’t the point of assessment and evaluation to really know what they have learned so we can help them to reach their learning goals?  As educators, then, we must ask ourselves which products (tests, projects, assignments, etc), interviews/conversations (teacher -student, student-student, etc.), and observations do I need to have so I can make a “no doubt” professional judgement about a student’s level of achievement?  This may involve planning several forms of formative assessments throughout a unit of study, gathering data that will inform our direction of assistance with each student, helping them celebrate their learning and address their needs throughout the process. Again, it is best to involve our students in the process of this decision making. Can they actively participate in deciding how to show you that they have learned the outcomes? (More ideas about ways to show evidence of learning in the FREE poster download).

4. Early in the course, collect a baseline of evidence so you and the student can see the progress and evidence of learning later.

Gathering early evidence of learning is vital to establishing a baseline of achievement. This will establish a helpful reference for  both student and teacher to “see” the learning that takes place throughout the course or unit of study.  Think of this process as much the same as why a doctor takes your blood pressure and heart rate for your medical records. He or she then has it for referral to monitor your health over time. Having the baseline provides evidence as to whether your health is improving, staying status quo, or declining. In the education process, this baseline can inform our programming choices for a student and help them witness their successes while addressing their needs.

Finally, I can’t stress enough, that the authors of this book make the assertion that best practice assessment is only achieved when evidence is gathered over time and from a variety of sources. Assessment is a process that provides data driven instructional practice, whereas evaluation is the final professional judgement of the process. When approached in this manner, the research clearly shows that higher student learning results. The research of Sandra Herbst and Anne Davies, then,  should inspire all of us to evaluate and improve our assessment practices for the good of our students.

Best,

Sharon

Teacher, Author, Assessment Coach, HSD

References:

Herbst-Luedtke, Sandra, and Anne Davies. A Fresh Look at Grading and Reporting in High Schools. Courtenay, BC: Connect21earning., 2014. Print.

African Wild Dogs: Amazing Animals

African Wild Dogs: Amazing Facts and Fun Photos About African Wild Dogs

Written by Rita Terry

africanwilddogspic

An interesting picture book for elementary school children and all those who are interested in unusual animals. African wild dogs are related to canines and wolves. Unlike domesticated dogs they have four claws instead of five. Like wolves they live in packs. They are carnivores and their hunting habits require a rather large habitat area of 1,500 square kilometers. African wild dogs are sometimes called painted dogs because they are covered with patches of red, black, white, yellow, and brown patches. Today their habitat has been largely reduced to South Africa due to rabies, vehicle accidents and the rapid encroachment of farmers upon their territory.

Terry discusses how these creatures communicate and the rituals they perform before the hunt. She explains how the pack is dominated by an alpha male and female, but stresses the fact that all members of the pack understand their roles and are protected and maintained by the rest of the family. The inside photographs are excellent; they capture the spirit and character of the animal. The print is large and easy to read for the younger reader, and the text well-written for the most part. Nice book to put on a classroom reference shelf for those interested in animals or dogs in particular. The author has written other nonfiction books about many other animals living in the past and present. Available in kindle and print format.

 

Barbara Ann Mojica,

LittleMissHistory.com

Running Away Doesn’t Always Mean Freedom

Running Away to Freedom or Forlorness

Gumbo Goes Downtown

Written by Carol Talley

gumbopicA tale that is charming and sweet, yet focuses on some important issues. The obvious story line is about a guard dog named Gumbo, who lives in a shotgun house on St. Charles Street in New Orleans. He spends most of his time barking at any one who comes near the chain link fence, such as the girl in a polka dot dress and the postman. When the postman fails to close the gate one day, Gumbo seizes the opportunity to see the world. He follows the trolley tracks downtown to New Orleans. Here he meets up with a poodle named Pompon and a champion pure breed named Stella. Gumbo has the time of his life in Jackson Square with clowns, dancers, jugglers, musicians and the like. Soon his friends leave to go home and be pampered by their owners. Gumbo begins to miss his house and owner Gus, whom he never appreciated. Will Gumbo decide to remain free in the big city on his own and fend for himself or return to his former life?

The book description suggests an audience of K-2. While the simple story of Gumbo’s adventure is appropriate for that age group, the larger issues of homelessness and running away from home are better addressed to a middle grade audience. Talley provides a nice guide for parents and teachers to set up a discussion on these issues. Maeno’s illustrations are soft, colorful and appealing, but the text is small and difficult to read on some of the pages. I recommend the book especially for parents and teachers who would like to open up a discussion on homelessness, running away, and poverty. Talley also includes an interesting background section on New Orleans and the points of interest mentioned in the story.

Barbara Ann Mojica
Little Miss History

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Lollipop Lisa Gives Reluctant Readers A New Reason To Read!

NEW RELEASE! Lollipop Lisa Series Promises to Entertain as Much as it Informs

We all know them, perhaps you’ve seen them in your classroom —those students who rarely settle into reading a book. In fact, they would seemingly do anything but read. Are your students intimidated by longer books?  They want to read the longer diary type books like Diary of A Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries, that are so popular, but they never seem to finish them. Too many pages and too many words intimidate them. Even if the book looks interesting, they will shy away from a thick novel.

It’s not your fault. As their teacher, you’ve tried everything. You’ve provided extra support, extra time—a lot of extra time. Still, they seem unengaged and uninterested. If only you could hook them into a good reading series.  A series that can capture and captivate. A series that introduces a main character with which they can identify, laugh, and adore.

Wait no longer. Lollipop Lisa has arrived! Lisa is the sassy new character that will give your students a new reason to read! Furthermore, Lisa’s short, hilarious, diary accounts of the zany events in her life will have your kids laughing while they learn and learn while they’re laughing!

As an author, and a teacher I’m so excited to finally bring Lisa to life for readers aged 6 – 10 years old.  Having taught for over twenty years, I’ve seen plenty of disengaged kids over the years. That’s why I wrote this book series specifically for those hard to engage readers. These stories have all the elements that I know will move and motivate the kids to want to read more. This is a new brand of nonfiction! The Lollipop Lisa series promises to entertain as much as it informs.

What are teachers saying about it?

Where can you get it? Spider Quest, the first in the series, is available at the introductory price of  99¢ at :

GET SPIDER QUEST NOW!

To celebrate the new release of Spider Quest, I’ve also got some special giveaways for my readers and teachers. These “Secret Journals” are  with comprehension questions, fun activities, mazes, word searches, art activities and secret journal entry pages. You can find out all about them and grab your FREE copy here:

 

Click on the picture to get your free “Secret Journal”

It is my goal, with this book series, to help you turn your reluctant readers into voracious readers!  Giving our students  A NEW REASON TO READ is the ultimate satisfaction as reading is the gateway to their learning. What greater gift can we give them? Let’s make learning with literature the best experience ever!

Best,

Sharon

(www.questteaching.com)

Questions? Shoot me an email at: sharon@questteaching.com

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Set Up a Happy New Year in the Classroom

Involve Your Students in Creating A Happy New Year  in the Classroom

As we head back to school after the Christmas break, it is important to set our students up for success in 2017 and truly create “A Happy New Year” in our classroom. To do so our kiddos will need some reminders about the citizenship qualities and behaviors that help make the class a safe place for learning. We know this as teachers, but the question is, how do we make the message stick?
How about getting the kids involved in the process?  One way would be to show this example of a multi-media presentation that reminds students of those qualities. Still, just watching may not be enough. But could we use this presentation as an engaging starter to having the kids get really involved in their own plan? How about using this presentation as an example, and then having them work Ho.
Let your students decide which behaviors they see has worthy of highlighting in their presentation and give them clear criteria that they will have to back up their choices. The result? You’ll most likely see a real difference in your classroom as your students internalize the “reasons for the rules”. Doing this presentation to “teach” younger students or for younger grades would provide even more incentive and purpose to the project.
Here’s how I would set up the lesson:
  1. Get them excited that they are going to start the year off by creating an engaging multi-media presentation that will help teach other students about the citizenship qualities and behaviors that will help make the classroom/school a safe and caring place for all.
  2. Show them the example presentation, “How to Be a Great Student
  3. Brainstorm with the class a list of possible slides/topics that could be included
  4. Share with your students the criteria of what you are looking for in their presentations (how they will be evaluated – see attached rubric for an idea)
  5. Break students into small groups – assign roles within the groups if needed, and have them get started on their story mapping out their slides on paper first.
  6. Then go to the computer lab, or arrange for small group computer/chromebook access within the classroom to put their slides together.
  7. Set a time line and schedule a day for the presentations. Also, ask permission for your students to be able to share their presentations with the other classes for whom the presentations were made.
Let’s this multi-media presentation to help them create a Happy New Year in the classroom and you might be a winner, too! Click on the link below to grab the presentation and find out more.
Two lucky winners will be selected. Sign up now for How to be a Great Student presentation. It is never too late to be a great student.
Lesson Plan by Sharon Skretting
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The History of Winter Warm Ups

The History of Coping with the Cold of Winter

 

When January brings us temperatures in the single digits, most of us turn up the thermostat or pop a container of soup into the microwave to whisk away the chill. If we lived four or five hundred years ago, it would not be as easy to snuggle up and keep warm.

Winters then were more severe, but people were more acclimated to the cold. At first, European settlers in the New World lived in caves or mud huts dug into the ground. As groups formed they began to fell trees to build log cabins. These usually consisted of one large room with a fireplace for cooking and heating. Candles provided the only source of light. In winter they huddled near the fire for warmth and sat on high-backed chairs to keep the cold drafts from the dirt floor off their necks. Windows were simply openings in the logs covered by oilskin cloth to keep out wind and rain. Before retiring, hot stones that had been placed in a brass container were removed from the fireplace and passed through the cold sheets in an effort to warm them. Indoor plumbing did nor exist, and a trip to the outhouse on a winter night was not a pleasant experience. Water wells were shallow because they were dug by hand; they frequently froze in winter. Stones had to be dropped down into the water bucket to break the ice so they could use it. Travel in winter was limited because many families could not afford a horse or donkey and were required to walk most of the time. The horse drawn sled was the best mode of travel in winter as the ground was usually covered by snow. Even so, there were few roads, hardly any bridges, and travelers had to negotiate many obstacles.

Most settlers spent winter indoors. Men could not work the land or perform outdoor maintenance chores. Children were assigned tasks like gathering eggs and tending small animals. The women canned and preserved food and smoked whatever meat they had. They spent time at the spinning wheel with wool that would be spun into cloth. They sewed sheets and clothing for the family. Because they did not have modern heating conveniences, clothing was their most important asset.

Early Americans were influenced by fashion and trade with England. The wealthy imported wigs, velvets and brocades, but this was not the case for most colonists. The lower class had to make their clothes from a coarse fabric they called “Lindsey-Wolsey.” “Dress” clothes were those you wore outside the home. To “undress” meant that you would be dressing to stay at home. Kind of like staying home today and wearing sweatpants. But don’t think the clothing was really comfortable.

Let’s look at woman’s apparel first. Gowns consisted of a bodice and skirt joined together. Underneath lay a visible underskirt and stomacher, which was a panel pinned in front of the bodice A decorative apron and lace neckerchief finished the outfit. The costume was supported by hoops and stays; undergarments that extended around the midsection. These were made of wood, whalebone or metal! She wore stockings made of cotton, wool, silk or linen held up by garters that were tied like ribbons. Dark leather shoes held together with a buckle adorned her feet. In the home, she wore a cap to keep out dust. When outdoors she wore a wool coat and a hat covering the cap. Mittens were fingerless and elbow length. Perhaps, she would carry a muff in the shape of a tube to keep warm.

Men wore durable linen trousers to the ankle or breeches to the knee for special occasions. Linen shirts were usually white and extended from neck to knee. Oversize shirts tucked in britches served as underwear. They wore stockings, garters, and similar shoes to women. Men added a wool waistcoat in winter as well as a three-cornered hat which could be carried under the arm.

Babies wore long sleeved gowns with aprons on top to keep out dirt. A biggins hat made of linen or wool was tied around the neck. Toddlers had straps of cloth sewn on the shoulders known as “leading strings” for the adult who was walking them. Sometimes a “pudding”, a padded roll on the forehead, would be worn to protect the child from falls. Around the age of six or seven boys and girls transitioned to adult clothing.

Hope you are warm and cozy right now. Think about the early settlers and be grateful for modern conveniences!

Barbara Ann Mojica,

LittleMissHistory.com

Who is Santa?

Who is Santa: And how did he get to the North Pole?

Written by Stephan W. Bigalow

Illustrated by Bill Megenhardt

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I received this book from the publisher and decided to voluntarily review giving my honest opinions.

An interesting book that tackles many of the legends associated with Santa Claus using a realistic, straightforward approach. This collection of short chapters containing two to five pages interspersed with full page color illustrations is intended to be an independent read for middle grade students or a read aloud broken up into sections for younger children.

Bigalow introduces Santa as a wealthy farmer living in the North Forest region. Santa enjoys crafting toys for a hobby. Mrs. Claus enjoys cooking; she understands her husband well and is adept at keeping him in tow, while at the same time providing advice and guidance. When their barns become overcrowded with toys, he decides to give his toys away. Not wanting others to feel obligated to repay him, Santa loads up his wagon on a dark winter night and the tradition of the Christmas Eve toy run springs forth. Word of his generosity explodes so Santa and Mrs. Claus set out for a larger more private location.

The following chapters will explore how they discover the Hidden Valley at the North Pole, strike up an improbable working relationship with the elf community, invent candy canes, build an enormous business enterprise, figure out how to use a sleigh and reindeer, and spread the true message of Christmas giving among themselves and others.

I used to read “The Night Before Christmas” each Christmas Eve to my children. This book could be shared as a family tradition during the weeks before Christmas, read together by older and younger siblings, or read independently by older children seeking to reignite the Christmas spirit in their hearts.

Barbara Ann Mojica
LittleMissHistory.com

A Christmas Holiday Gift of Self Worth

Snow Pup: Holiday Heartwarmers (Book2)

Written by Mimi Barbour

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A Perfect Read for the Holiday Season.

This is the second book in Barbour’s holiday series. Well-written plot with realistic characters that has no real connection to the Christmas holiday other than the setting. Deputy Shawna Mallory is a thirty-one year old single cop who lives in the rather sleepy town of Carlton Grove. She has a deep commitment to her job, and moves quickly when she hears an amber alert on the radio for a missing eleven year old boy. Mallory hears a dog barking; she finds the boy under a snow drift being guarded by the pup. The sheriff agrees to take the boy in while he awaits a new foster care family.

Complications arise when the boy’s real father arrives back on the scene from an overseas assignment in Chile. John Reid McCrae appears to have a poor parenting track record, but Shawna’s friend Alice knew him many years ago and offers a different opinion. In the meantime Shawna grows attached to Billy, who is about to be given to a new foster family. Billy runs away once again, but even more puzzling is the strange affect Billy’s dad has upon Shawna. What outcome ensues for Billy, John, and the Deputy Sheriff whose lives have become entangled.

A heartwarming story revolving around coming of age, domestic violence, foster care, romance, pets and peer relationships that will tear at the heart strings of young adult and adult readers. Actually, the book could be a middle grade read if one is willing to look past a few curse words and one or two light romantic scenes. Snow Pup is the kind of story that will put the reader in the mood for the holiday season.

Barbara Ann Mojica
LittleMissHistory.com

Muhammed Ali, Born to Win

Muhammad Ali: BORN TO WIN

Written by Stephen Croke

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The author describes Ali as one who never let others define or limit him. Croke hits the nail on the head. Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay in 1942 in Louisville Kentucky; he was named after his father. Clay changed his name when he later converted to The Nation of Islam. Ali began training for boxing at the age of twelve. His ego prodded him to be arrogant and taunting of his opponents. In 1960, Ali won the Olympic Medal in Boxing for the US. By 1974, he had defeated Sonny Liston and obtained The World Heavyweight Champion. The seventies also witnessed victories over Joe Frazier and George Foreman. After the mid-seventies, Ali’s health began to decline; he would fight a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Ali is perhaps just as well known for his behavior outside the ring. He became a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War and refused to be drafted. He opposed the Soviet War with Afghanistan and sided with Palestinian families in Israel. The boxer took part in the Long March in which Native Americans stood up for their rights. Ali was active in the Black Lives Matter Movement. With his Parkinson’s Disease rapidly progressing, Ali got to carry the Olympic Torch in 2012. After being admitted to the hospital, he died of septic shock in June 2016 and was buried by fans and family in Louisville.

This is a well-written book that presents a non-biased portrait of the man and his times. Available in kindle and paperback, this approximately thirty-page read is appropriate for readers aged eight and older.

Epic Fantasy Adventure

Epic Fantasy Adventure: The Sands of Time: Holy Paladin’s Quest: Book 2

Written by Blaine Hart

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This is the second book in an epic fantasy series. I did not read the first book, and so it took me a while to get my bearings and catch the drift of what was transpiring. In the opening chapter, a woman in a cistern has taken the form of Anna. She informs Kell, Longo and Wandfala that there will be 99 days and nights of rain. The earth will soon perish. Gavial and Anna are now prisoners; the previous victories over the Bone Dragon are deemed worthless. Master Kell is a Holy Paladin who is in a state of communion. Wandfala tells Longo that it will be up to him to rebuild their ship, Chaos, if they are to continue their quest. The trio will sail to an island where the tree of life resides to seek the blessing from the Angel of Life in order to challenge the witch Monmalla. Along their journey, they will encounter sea creatures with green hair, a swarm of vermin, black crows, and a mysterious young boy with a sense of humor who taunts them for their foolishness and stupidity. Will the three travelers succeed in their mission to rescue Anna? Where will the time travelers land next?

I would strongly suggest reading this epic fantasy, science fiction series in the correct order to understand the nuances of the plot. These tales are short, but require careful reading. Suggested for fantasy and time travel devotees age ten and older.

Shopping by Mail: The History of a Thanksgiving Tradition

Canadians have already celebrated Thanksgiving and Americans will be sitting around the table with family and friends soon.

How do you like to do your holiday shopping? Many of us prefer to do it in the comfort of our home. Thought I would investigate the history of shopping by mail.wishbook16

Mail order is buying goods or services through a merchant by a remote method and then receiving delivery of these goods from the merchant. A mail order catalog is a listing of goods available from a particular merchant called a cataloger. The catalog is produced in a fashion similar to a magazine and then delivered to customers via the postal service or the internet.

aaronmontgomeryIn the U.S. The Tiffany Blue Book was the first mail order catalog produced in 1845. A few years later in 1872, an enterprising entrepreneur named Aaron Montgomery Ward of Chicago purchased merchandise and then resold it directly to his customers, cutting out the middleman and slashing his prices. His very first catalog consisted of one 8 x 12 inch page listing his merchandise with ordering instructions. His business continued to grow; in the 1920’s and 1930’s he even sold prefabricated house kits called Ward-way homes.

In 1888 Richard Warren Sears started his catalog business in Minnesota. Six years later his catalog had grown to 322 pages including items such as sewing machines, sporting goods, bicycles and automobiles. In 1895 clothing manufacturer Julius Rosenwald partnered with Sears to make the business more efficient and economical. Dolls, refrigerators, stoves, and groceries were added to their inventory. Within a few years time, the Sears catalog became known as a “Consumer’s Bible.” By 1933 the famous “Sears Wish Book” containing toys and Christmas gifts as a separate edition from the regular catalog appeared. Sears did not fail to capitalize on the housing market. As 1940 dawned, Sears had sold 70 to 75,000 house kits; many of these houses are still standing today.

Another famous cataloger began in a different way. J.C. Penny opened a retail store first. Later on, in 1963, he launched a mail-order catalog which made their store merchandise available to the public in rural areas in at least eight states. Four years later in 1967, Lester Wunderman coined the term “direct marketing.” Lester invented the toll free 1 800 system as well as customer loyalty programs like, magazine subscription clubs, Columbia Record Club, and the American Express Rewards Program.jcpenny

In the twenty-first century widespread internet access is rapidly becoming the preferred method of shopping by mail. This form of mail order is frequently referred to as online shopping or e commerce.
But the only shopping difference lies in the way the product is ordered, which is by computer instead of by phone or a mail order form. Most traditional mail order companies now also sell online through their own website. The high costs of printing and postage is forcing some of the mail order companies to stop printing catalogs and rely solely on online sales. Still there are many customers who prefer browsing through those colorful catalogs before hitting the keyboard.

No doubt technology will continue to provide more options for our holiday gift shopping. Just a reminder—procrastinators you only have a few weeks left, get out there and shop till you drop!

I wish all my friends a Happy Thanksgiving and holiday shopping season.

Barbara Ann Mojica
LittleMissHistory.com

Philosophy for Middle Graders

Ping Poo, the Astronomer: A strange discovery

Written by Pierre Moessinger

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Interesting essay of nine pages which presents a discussion of discoveries by Ping Poo, an ancient Chinese astronomer who lived during the Zhou Dynasty in China around 550 A.D. Ping Poo believed that stars held on to the sky like flies on a ceiling. His colleague Li Fu argued that they hung from the sky with strings. One day Ping Poo sees a red glow in his white jade ball. Following a dream, Ping is determined to journey to Mount Yugo to investigate. His friend Li decides to accompany him, When Ping disappears, some peers believe he was pursued by a dragon and drowned in the Yellow River; others theorized that he stole the elixir of immortality and fled to the moon in an effort to escape the anger of the gods. As time passed the two scholars were forgotten. Years later in 1830, two children Lou and Wang discover a linen bundle of paper inscribed with calligraphy. They turn it over to their father, a professor of ancient Chinese. Turns out to be the journals of Ping Poo in which he set forth the hypothesis that the earth is a sphere turning around on its own axis, the first astronomer to do so. At the end of the essay, Moessinger offers some questions for his readers to ponder and answer. As a footnote, the author briefly explains Piaget’s ideas and suggests this book as an introduction to philosophy for children.

Recommended for readers in the eight to thirteen age range, this book is an interesting way to introduce philosophical thought to middle grade children. While the historical backstory is certainly worthwhile, the audience for this book is geared toward the child who likes to apply critical thinking skills to her reading. Youngsters who are looking for a quick read will probably not find this book appealing. Best suited for readers in the ten and up age range.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Saving Chocolate Thunder

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Cory is an eleven year old fifth grader with a vivid imagination. He loves his three year old brother David who likes to pretend he is a superhero. One day Cory decides to help David fly by taping him with duct tape to the door knob and kicking the chair out from beneath him. His parents don’t think he is funny and ground Corey in his room for one week. What really bothers Corey is that his workaholic father never seems to have time for him anymore. Corey schemes to hide his father’s phone. That gets him grounded again. While in his room, reading Goosebumps, Corey suddenly finds himself in the book. He meets a conch shell, a talking horse, and a purple jelly-like character named Mother Imagination. Nicknamed M.I., Mother Imagination seems to know all about Corey and his family. M. I. reveals a boy in a video who wears a strange costume, sings, and identifies himself as Chocolate Thunder. M.I. informs Corey that this boy is an imaginary friend from his father’s past. With the assistance of his friend Leo and his grandma, Corey conspires to imitate the character in the hopes of jogging his father’s memories, but not before a series of mishaps and adventures ensue. Will Corey embarrass himself or will he succeed in reconnecting with his dad and strengthening their relationship?

This approximately eighty page chapter book with cute black and white illustrations sports a creative plot and is filled with humor and realistic family scenarios. Recommended especially for readers in the seven to ten year age bracket, but it will be enjoyed by younger and slightly older readers as well. Could be an interesting ongoing series.

Rats!

Rat Books for Kids: Amazing Pictures and Interesting Facts for Kids

Written by Susie Eli

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Interesting nonfiction book especially suited for students in the elementary or middle grades. I will readily admit that I learned quite a bit from this thirty page book so I do not hesitate to recommend it for adult readers who have an interest in the subject. Royalty free common stock photos enhance interest and add an additional dimension.

Originally rats came from Australia and Asia, but are now found anywhere in the world. Readers learn that there are 60 types of rats, the brown rat and the house rat being the most common. Topics covered in the book include their behavior and habits, how they eat, grow and multiply, wild and pet rats, and the Gambian Pouched Rat. Some interesting facts that I gleaned from the book include: a group of rats is called a mischief, males are bucks and females are does, rats are smart and make good pets, happy rats might roll their eyes or make grinding sounds with their teeth, and one female may have as many as 2000 babies in one year! While rats are often seen as a nuisance, the Gambian Pouched rat can detect deadly land mines and diagnose a patient with tuberculosis.

Animal lovers will enjoy learning about this often maligned animal. Great resource for a science research project or report. Recommended especially for children in third through fifth grade. Fascinating read for adults as well as children. Available in kindle and paperback.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

The Witch and the Glitch: A Fairy Tale Adventure

The Witch With The Glitch: A Fairy Tale And Adventure (A Lost Book Adventure)

Written by Adam Maxwell

Cover by Dale Maloney

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Charming adventure of Nina and her two friends Ivy and Oswald who frequently meet in her Aunt and Uncle’s bookshop. Doesn’t sound like the place for a real adventure? Well, it turns out there is a hidden room in the bookshop, and once Nina places the key in the lock the children are on their way to a journey into the unknown. This time the children find themselves in the parlor of a gingerbread house. To their chagrin the three friends find themselves transformed into a vampire, ghost, and a werewolf!

They will meet a witch who has a problem using and controlling her powers, a village of strange little people, two kidnapped children, and a magical cat named Izzy. The three friends will have to learn to control their new identities and transform themselves. If they are unable to find Izzy before midnight, Belinda the witch will be unable to undo their spells, and they will be trapped forever. Will they be able find their way back to the bookstore and their families?

The author combines fairy tales, adventure, paranormal and lots of humor to keep the plot interesting. Characters are well-developed and the dialogue crisp and clever. This book is perfect for readers in grades three to six. Chapters are short and vocabulary provides enough challenge while not being overwhelming for the early reader. A few illustrations would have enhanced the book’s appeal. This could be a fun story to share with a family or class around Halloween.

The History of Ghosts

1496752We are rapidly approaching Halloween. Time for ghosts, goblins and things that go bump in the night. Got me thinking about the history of ghosts so I did some investigating. Let’s take a quick look.

Ghosts are usually imagined as disembodied spirits. We visualize them as evanescent (quickly fading) forms. The old English word gast means a “soul, spirit or breath.” The details surrounding the word ghoul are far more ominous. The Arabic word ghul signifies a creature that eats children and corpses snatched from graves. Like ghouls goblins can be mischievous. The word goblin comes from the German word kobold. In traditional folklore a goblin is a grotesque spirit or mischievous elf who can be helpful and sing to young children. On the other hand, it might hide household items, kick people or fly into a rage when hungry.

It is difficult to tell whether the earliest records of ghosts were literary stories or actual recordings of observations of spirits. We know that the ninth century Greek poet Homer believed that ghosts were passive harmless beings. The living did not fear them or feel bothered by their presence. Upon death the spirit departed to Hades, the underworld. Priests and oracles visited caves and grottoes to acknowledge their spirits. Over time the Greeks came to believe ghosts were helpful and consoling, but at times they could be threatening if they died prematurely or came to a violent end. The Greek philosopher Plato in the fourth century B.C. warned against prowling near tombs or sepulchers where the apparitions of souls who have not departed pure might be lurking.

The first written report of a haunted house is seen in the writings of Pliny the younger in the first century B.C. He wrote to his friend Lucias Sura concerning a villa in Athens that no one would rent because it was haunted by a ghost. In the middle of the night an old man with matted hair and beard shackled by irons and chains moaned never stopped moaning. Even worse, disease and death struck down anyone entering the building after dark. All of this did not deter the penniless philosopher, Athenodorus from leasing the property. On the very first night after moving in, he met and followed the apparition into the garden where it disappeared after pointing to a spot in the ground. The next day Athenodorus related his story to the local authorities who promptly dug up the spot and found the bones of a human skeleton bound in chains. The bones were given a proper burial, the house was given purification rites, and the ghost never reappeared.ghost3

By the third century A.D. Christianity had spread throughout Greece and Rome. The new religion adopted many popular beliefs especially those concerning ghosts or the afterlife. Early Christian writers like Justin Martyr acknowledged belief in the existence of the soul after death. Still other Christians argued that ghosts existed in spirit form alone. That meant after death all people would be social equals. This was a strong influence on the poor masses.

Little has changed over centuries. The question of life after death and ghostly spirits still eludes us. We are intrigued; yet most of us are well satisfied not to venture death as it is the only way to discover its answer!
Barbara Ann Mojica
Author of the Little Miss HISTORY series:
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to FORD’S THEATER
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to INTREPID Sea, Air & Space Museum
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to ELLIS ISLAND
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT VERNON
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

Problem Solving Knights of the Square Table

Knights of the Square Table: Book 1

Written by Teri Kanefield

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Six precocious teenagers from different backgrounds share one thing in common; they are all members of the San Francisco All Star Chess Club. The ninth graders are on the way home from Germany after a sixth place finish in an international competition when their plane goes down due to an avionics failure. They land on a remote island in the North Atlantic in the subarctic. More than sixty passengers face freezing conditions and lack of food supplies to survive. These six teens take charge and prevent disorder, using their multiple talents to create a source of heat, trap food in the ice, and calm the fears of panicked passengers. They even figure out a way to handle Veronica, a kleptomaniac who keeps stealing food from the other passengers. Thanks to their efforts, the survivors are eventually rescued.

But the story does not end there. These six friends gather together to figure out a solution to a nuclear missile crisis. When an Asian dictatorship threatens to fire a nuclear missile, the teens figure out a way to break into that country’s computer system and bribe them into entering peace negotiations to save face. I am sure the world is in for lots more from these indomitable teens in the next two books of the trilogy. This series is targeted for ages nine and older. While the inevitability of the solutions seems too simplistic in some instances, the characters are well-developed, each having strengths and flaws. Middle grade and young adult readers will find much in common with them. Plot is fast paced and I felt compelled to keep reading. Recommended for readers who enjoy adventure stories with clever protagonists and plots containing thought provoking issues.

Barbara Ann Mojica,

LittleMissHistory.com

Get Out of the Classroom and into Learning

   

   Here is a small little classroom with children’s desks all in rows.  The teacher’s desk sits prominently in the front of the classroom and lectures might be given at a podium. Most of the student’s daily work is done here, while being seated in this relatively small space. Does this sound something like your classroom? Probably not, as this is a description of The Oldest Wooden School House in Saint Augustine, Florida, which dates back to the early 18th century. This was the daily life of colonial school children. So, what is wrong with that?

Lack of  Physical Activity
   When my grandmother was a child, she once told me that she would walk to school five miles there and five miles back every day. I thought to myself back then, it was probably a welcomed relief for her to be seated in school.  My parents also walked to school. In the old days, most all teens worked at home, on farms or at a part-time job. My dad worked carrying blocks of ice for an ice truck company. My mother worked at an old time soda fountain. Today,  many children don’t work and most children ride the bus, only to be sitting much of the day.  It is known that remaining seated for hours has detrimental effects. As Thompson (2011) stated, there is a need to offer better design solutions for people in the environment, considering the present health challenges (Thompson, 2013). 
Imagine This!
It is the status quo to teach in a small classroom. But, so much more can be done to make learning more interesting and active. Other settings for instruction can inspire everyone’s creativity and make school an even more inventive place.  Shouldn’t schools be involved in some new ideas? Thompson (2013) wrote, “The outdoors leads to greater levels of activity than remaining inside buildings,” (Thompson, 2013).  Here is an example.  Imagine being able to use the 5 senses: hearing, smelling, seeing, touching and feeling motion (Wood & Hall, 2011 in Chin-Shyang & Mei-Ju, 2015).  How about being able to see artwork which reflects the grass, paths, and even a facilities shape? One museum does just that. A children’s playground with famous artist’s work adorns the landscape (Wood & Hall, 2011 in Chin-Shyang & Mei-Ju, 2015).  
Solutions
Obviously, not all communities offer museums with playgrounds or can even afford to transport children back and forth on a regular basis.  But,  the good news is that Outdoor Education (OE) settings can be designed right on school grounds.  The OE designers can be a team of teachers.
Experts suggest that OE designers incorporate the ideas of using the 5 senses in the project, just like the museum (Brittin, Sorensen, Trowbridge, Lee, Breithecker, Frerichs & Huang, 2015). Here are some suggested steps to follow.
1. Choose an outdoor classroom area.  
Weather conditions might require an awning cover or canopy.
2.  The OE space should be near natural learning settings, such as fields, woods or gardens.  
3. OE spaces should make available
(a) gardens for learning and activities 
(b) trails 
(c) natural terrain 
(d) water fountains, and
 (e) power, water, and light to support OE classrooms settings 
(Brittin, Sorensen,Trowbridge, Lee, Breithecker, Frerichs & Huang, 2015).  
A team of teachers can create lesson plans regarding the surrounding environment of the school.  In the middle school I attended years ago, the Boy Scouts blazed a trail for the school children. We took our science journals, wrote about the flora and fauna and drew pictures of what we saw on the trail. My science teacher spoke of the plight of the Monarch butterfly and milkweeds were planted in a field for them to eat. 
But, what about extreme weather conditions? Urban schools? Costs? Read more in my next article, Settings Other Than Schools, Part 2
Imagery supplied by Thinkstock
References
Augustin.com. (n.d). Oldest wooden schoolhouse. Retrieved from  http://augustine.com/thing-to-do/oldest-wooden-school-house

Brittin, J., Sorensen, D., Trowbridge, M., Lee, K. K., Breithecker, D., Frerichs, L., & Huang, T. (2015). Physical activity design guidelines for school architecture. Plos ONE, 10(7), 1. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132597

Chin-Shyang, S., & Mei-Ju, C. (2015). Whose aesthetics world? Exploration of aesthetics cultivation from the children’s outdoor playground experiential value perspective International Journal of Organizational Innovation, 8(2), 158-171.

Thompson, C.W. (2013). Activity, exercise and the planning and design of outdoor spaces. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 34, 79-93

Regards,
Lynn @ TiePlay Educational Resources
TiePlay Educational Resources LLC

“Find the Similes and Metaphors” Game

3pic_touchup-2Secrets from CurricuLaughs in Language Arts
“Find the Similes and Metaphors” Game

 

A spoonful of sugar not only helps the medicine go down; it makes the medicine more effective—at least that’s what I’ve seen in education and I’m sure you have, as well.

When I once announced to 4th graders that we were going to work on similes and metaphors, they frowned, grumbled, fidgeted, and shut down. That’s why I now announce the lesson this way: “It’s time to play a game!”

All I did was reposition what we would be doing and I get cheers! Okay, it is fair to say that when I tell them that the name of the game is “Find the Similes and Metaphors,” some of the more astute students’ smiles diminish, but it is TOO LATE—they have already moved themselves into “FUN position”.

“…The ironic thing was that they got a lesson like they would get in their classroom but they saw it as pure fun…”
Dr. Dael Angelico-Hart Linden School Principal Malden, Massachusetts

So what is the “Find Similes and Metaphors” game?
It’s a quiz!

It is nothing more than a quiz with a small but important twist: the quiz is done orally by volunteers and the student volunteers become the teachers. I can’t tell you how exciting it is for me to see the flow of illuminating light bulbs (to mix metaphors) in this simple exercise. (The mixed-metaphor game is ANOTHER really fun and effective game for the kids so please feel free to e-mail me for that.)

I project a list of lines taken from poems that I shared with the students during their wild and crazy assembly. In each of the lines is a simile or metaphor. They had seen me dressed as Sherlock Poems, Poetry Detective, reading one of them. They may have seen me juggling or falling on the floor as I shared another. Now, though, they are just seeing the lines with no entertainment, other than the challenge of beating the “game”.

The rules to the game are simple:
1. Tell me which part of the line is the simile or metaphor part
2. Tell me whether it is a simile or metaphor, and
3. Tell me WHY it is one and not the other.

A different student is chosen to do this for the each line. The best thing that can happen in this game is an incorrect answer. At that point, another student helps them to see the presence (or lack) of “as” or “like” in the simile or metaphor part of the line.

It is a very simple but EXTREMELY effective way to get the point across because a) they are being put in the position of having fun, and b) they learn from each other, rather than from me.

Please e-mail me if you would like information on more games or my school visit programs and please come hear me speak at the Reading for the Love of It conference in February.

Thank you for reading and please keep adding fun to your classroom.

jeffnathanJeff Nathan,

2015 Ben Franklin Award Winning Author, Jeff Nathan
                  www.IncredibleAssemblies.com

Teaching Good Money Habits to Children

Teach Your Child to Fish: Five Money Habits Every Child Should Master

Written by Holly D. Reid

teachchildtofishpicThis is an excellent guide for teaching children how to handle and save money. The book has nothing to do with fishing. Written by a CPA, the language is not complicated but clear and easy to follow. As a bonus, the author includes a downloadable printable workbook to accompany the text. In the first chapter children are introduced to why we work and the kinds of tasks children might find engaging. Chapter Two explains how to be conscious about spending and how to do so wisely, stressing what is worthwhile and how we can help community, Chapter Three encourages children to save and invest and lays out different ways to do so. In the fourth chapter children learn how to be responsible with credit, how it works, and how to minimize debt. In the final chapter the author talks about how give generously to others in their community.

I particularly enjoyed the recommended activities section at the end of each section and the final thoughts in which the chapter is pulled together. While the author is a CPA, she also presents a strong Christian viewpoint and quotes scripture to reinforce her lessons. This book may serve as a reference manual to be implemented at many different stages in a child’s life. I particularly recommend it for parents of children in the eight to twelve age groThis is an excellent guide for teaching children how to handle and save moneyup.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY  12521-0112
Tel/Fax: 518-325-5199
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

How Education has Changed Over the Centuries

A Brief Back-to-School Glance at the History of Education

PlatoThe air in the morning is becoming crisp and cool. Time for back to school, which made me think about how education has changed over the centuries.

Plato, who lived from 428-347 B.C., had been a student of Socrates, a philosopher who wandered Athens. Plato changed his mind about becoming a politician after rulers poisoned his teacher. Disillusioned, Plato traveled for more than a decade after his mentor’s death, studying astronomy, geology, geometry, and religion in Egypt and Italy. His best known work, The Republic, written in question and answer format touched on wisdom, justice and courage, specifically how an individual relates to himself and to society as a whole. Plato thought society ought to be structured into three groups: governing class, warriors and workers. An ideal government would have philosophers as rulers.Justinian

Plato created his Academy on a site connected with a mythological hero, Akademos, around 387 B.C. Situated near the walls of Athens, the area contained a sacred grove of olive trees dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom. Plato’s Academy became the first university in Europe. It offered courses of study in mathematics, biology, political theory and philosophy. Above all it advocated skeptical thinking. Plato believed that absolute truth did not exist. Humans perceive everything through their own subjective senses; the most one could hope for is a high degree of probability. Nevertheless, educated citizens could exert major influences on government, logic and philosophy. Plato remained at the Academy with his students for the rest of his life and his philosophy continued to flourish for almost one thousand years after his death.

Things deteriorated when the Emperor Justinian came into power. (481-565 A.D.) Justinian is probably most famous for his rewriting of Roman law, the basis of contemporary civil law. But he was committed to restoring the Byzantine Empire and used force when he felt it necessary. For example, he demanded his subjects convert to his form of Catholicism or face torture and death. Justinian ordered that Plato’s Academy be shut down and its property seized, citing it as a pagan institution. In addition, the emperor insisted on erasing all forms of Hellenism and Greek culture. This meant the elimination of democratic constitutional reforms, dramatic tragedies, the philosophy of human dignity, and the tradition of the Olympic Games. Justinian attacked Western institutions and the concept of humanism, which was at its heart.

Following the long dark period and chaos of the Middle Ages, Western Europe again witnessed rebirth in the Renaissance Period during which education flourished and modern universities came into existence. Some thoughts from history as we head back to school this month.

Barba Ann Mojica

Little Miss History

Angel Guide

The Angel Knew Papa And The Dog

Written by Douglas Kaine McKelvey

AngelIKnew,pic

A heartwarming tale of love, faith and heartbreak narrated by a charming, sweet girl named Evangelina Elizabeth Blake. Living at the edge of the woods in a small log cabin by the river, she works hard alongside her father to farm the land, borrowing a neighbor’s mules to help them plow. Evangelina has lost her mother; she takes delight in nature and the few books her father has managed to purchase for her to read. One of her favorite stories from the Bible is Noah’s flood; this foreshadows the adventure that will follow.

When Evangelina is six, a huge dog rescues her from a serpent which appears during a thunderstorm. She names the dog, Lewis and Clark because he likes to explore and frequently disappears. Not long after, a flood overtakes the area and Evangelina’s father is swept away while trying to rescue one of the mules. She is terribly frightened as the cabin is flooded. An angel carrying a lantern appears to guide her. The young girl hears Lewis and Clark barking. A woman named Mary rows to her and pulls her into the boat. Taking her downstream, Evangelina is gratified to learn that her father is alive, but seriously injured. Is Evangelina dreaming? What will her future bring?

This book is well written in almost a lyrical style. The reader empathizes with the carefully crafted characters and is swept up in the adventure. I would consider this less than one hundred page book perfect for middle grade readers, but teens and adults will enjoy it as well. Look forward to reading more by this author.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY 12521-0112
Tel/Fax: 518-325-5199
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

The Wonders of Ancient Greece for Elementary and Middle Graders

If You Were Me and Lived in …Ancient Greece

Written by Carole P. Roman

Illustrated by Mateya Arkova

ancientgreece,picThis book is part of a new series which looks at the cultures and customs not of individual countries but about civilizations throughout time. Ancient Greece is the topic of the first release. The author begins by describing the geographical location of Greece and how Greece may have looked in the past contrasting it with the present. Unlike the other series, this book covers a much broader time period, and the author chooses to stage her character as a child living around 350 B.C. in classical Greece. There is no mention of the previous Greek Archaic Period, the rule of the aristocracy or the tyrants which eventually evolved into the establishment of democratic city states. Much of the book discusses everyday life, food, dress, education, family structure, occupations, and religion. Roman ends her discussion with the military conqueror Alexander the Great who established an empire, and whose death would usher in the end of the classical period and the beginning of the Hellenistic Age.

There is a great deal of information simplified and condensed for the elementary school and middle school reader. I would have liked to see more detailed maps showing locations and some actual photographs, though the simple, soft pastel illustrations are lovely and appealing for a younger reader. The glossary and list of gods and goddesses are helpful because readers will need to reference these to keep track of all the information. No doubt this book will open a child’s eyes to the vast legacy of ancient Greece and provide an excellent starting ground for future explorations on the political, social, religious,scientific and educational contributions of ancient Greece.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY 12521-0112
Tel/Fax: 518-325-5199
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

8 Ways to Improve Your Students’ Writing

Coaching Your Students to Writing Success!

WritingProcessPack_Page_2WritingProcessPack_Page_3

Well, it’s almost September and time for back to school with a whole new bunch of young learners that will teach us as much as we teach them. If you’re like me, one of the toughest challenges we face each year is to find new ways to help our students improve their writing.  It can be a daunting task, but like with anything, if we give our students the right tools for the job, then the path to success is made easier.

What? I can’t just give them a pencil and some writing topics and tell them to write everyday? Okay, Okay, I know you wouldn’t do that anyway, but I do have some tools and tips to share with you that I think will help as you coach young writers.

  1. Plan- Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, good writing starts with a good plan. The author needs to know where they are going with their writing.  What is their purpose? Who is their audience? And what is the mood of their writing?  Each of these could be a quick focus lesson.

Once these decisions are made, it’s time to put a plan on paper. It took me a long time (years, in fact) to come up with a story planner and a non-fiction planner that I really like.  My kiddos find them easy to follow and fill out. Because of this, they actually follow them as they are writing and that makes a huge difference to the creative process. These planners keep them focused.  Yay! ( Don’t worry, I’m going to give you a free copy of these planners with this link and a link at the bottom of the post. Just click  here to get it now.

2.  Content – All good writing starts with a good idea. Teach your students to ask questions about their character or subject. What would they want to know about him/her/it as the reader? What about personality? Quirks? Habits? etc.  Rich details make readers identify with the character and/or subject matter and add to the reading experience. Be careful, though, young authors must be taught to ‘sneak’ the details in context rather than just list them.  Otherwise we end up with the dreaded ‘info dump.’ Not good. Modelling is the best teacher here.  Show your kiddos how to put in the details without explicitly listing them.  Use great examples from authors you love. Kenneth Oppel and Rick Riordan are masters of this.

3. Organization – Kids need to be explicitly taught organization. It doesn’t come naturally to most.  Brainstorm ideas about a topic and write them down, then cut them apart and organize them into topics.  You can set this up in centers and have students do the same.  ‘Sticking to the topic’ is an essential skill in both fiction and non-fiction writing. It’s more obvious in non-fiction, but have you ever read a story that rambled with no clear focus?  Teach your students to keep coming back to the plot line /problem so that every detail, every action and every event have something to do with that plot line/problem.  If it has nothing to do with the plot, leave it out.  Teach them to keep the beginning, middle and end related to the central problem.

4.  Sentencing- Ooh this is a big one, grammar is tricky, but start simple by teaching them big ideas concepts like: Good authors never begin two sentences the same way in a paragraph.  Then have them use colored crayons to underline their beginnings and read them back. Soon they will be able to spot repetitions and problem beginnings.

5. Word choice – Teach your kiddos that a thesaurus is a writers best friend!  Show them how to use it, model using it as you write, and let the kids make a journal/lists of interesting words they’d like to use in their writing during their word work time. Because it’s words they want to use, they will be motivated to find WritingProcessPack_Page_5and use those words. Choice is a powerful motivator!

6. Editing – Students need to have a useful rubric for self evaluating and self-editing their work. I always tell my students that ‘They mark it first’ and ‘I mark it second’.  I created this rubric that helps them go through the process. I photocopy several and they take them as they finish up their stories and go through, mark, and fix their story before handing it in. It’s also wonderfully handy when addressing the next two goals.

7. Set goals to improve your skills- A student can’t focus on everything at once,but needs guidance to focus on just one area that s/he can improve their writing. During conferencing, I use the boxes in the above rubric/marking guide to set a goal each student.  We only focus on one boxed skill area for improvement and set a goal to address that with their next writing project. This keeps students from being overwhelmed and helps them see their progress!

8.  Feedback, feedback, feedback. I can’t stress enough how much students need consistent feedback about their writing.  They need you to care, to listen, to appreciate what they tried to do, and finally, to model how they can improve it.  Give them examples of more interesting ways they could ‘say the same thing.’

Writing is a love of mine, so you can see that I get excited about teaching young people to communicate their ideas more clearly with the written word.  I hope these ideas help you in that endeavour, also. Now for your freebie as promised click on the word below:

WritingPlanner

 

Creating Literacy Centers, Part 2: Using Multi-Media

Using Multi-Media to Inspire Learning

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Hi Y’all!

   Last time, I discussed (in an example) that many kids were having difficulty understanding the concept of cause and effect in my class. Then, I found some topics from my curriculum that I could use to create centers. Now, I am going to use those topics to find or create multi- media centers that correlate to my fictitious XYZ curriculum.

Glitter Words

Science: Pollution
A Breathe of Fresh Air
http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/administration_pdf/c4kairfl11.pdf
New York State Conservationist for Kids magazine

Create a Poster
Print out the pages and place the magazine at a center. In pairs, students read the magazine articles. Each learner finds some reasons for air pollution as well as and pollution’s impact on the Earth. Then, the partners can create a poster together (like the one on page 5) showing good ozone, bad ozone, factories, power plants, fires, trucks and buses.

Social Studies: The Silk Road
The Silk Road Lesson Plan
http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/citi/resources/Rsrc_001878.pdf
Provided by the Art Institute of Chicago Department of Museum Education

Travel Journal
The Silk Road Lesson Plan by the Art Institute of Chicago Department of Museum Education has some great ideas. I loved the idea of a travel journal. I thought having your learners create a travel journal would be another great center.
Learner pretend to travel the Silk Road either as a merchant or a missionary. They can describe and draw their insights and some cases of cause and effect on the trade route. Completed travel journals can be placed on a table or hung on a wall for others to read.

Language Arts: Expository Text on Natural Disasters
Flooding
http://www.watersafetykids.co.uk/pdfs/flooding.pdf
Facts about Hurricanes
http://www.azpbs.org/mastersofdisaster/pdf/Hurricanes/HurricanesLevel2.pdf
Facts about Tornadoes
http://www.azpbs.org/mastersofdisaster/pdf/Tornadoes/TornadoesLevel3.pdf
Gather different natural disaster text at a center, such as the above print outs. Learners can choose one topic for a report. Have individual students pretend they are a newscaster or meteorologist explaining the cause of a faux or real natural disaster, such as a flood happening now, and its effects. Students can create a recording, video, scrap book of photos or PowerPoint in this activity to show to other class members.

Mathematics: Money Problems Involving Interest
Practical Money Skills

    At this center, provide each student with a bank account book. Sometimes, your local bank might donate lined record books to your students. Each students has a weekly allowance which can be drawn out of a hat. The center has catalogs of various merchandise. Students decide how much they will save or spend over the course of two or three weeks. State that the bank will give interest for money saved. If a student saves only 50 cents a day, a savings account could grow to over  $182 in one year. After two weeks, students reflect on their allowance spending or saving and the reasons for the final amounts in their faux bank accounts.

Interventions
 As an intervention, view the following videos and discuss cause and effect.

Ormie the Pig

Cause and Effect Review Lesson for Elementary Students!

If you have any questions or comments about literacy, I’d love, love, love to hear from you!

Best,
Glitter Words
@ TiePlay Educational Resources

For more ideas, freebies and resources, check out Lynn’s blog and stores.

Confessions of a Nine-Year-Old ADHD Reluctant Reader


How one suggestion from an astute school librarian changed my view of history, reading and me

by Jeff Nathan

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As a 4th grader with undiagnosed ADHD, I didn’t HATE reading; I just approached it with a very narrow brush. I was unable to find anything non-fiction for which my eyes would travel through the words rather than over them. We were studying the American Revolution. History—I HATED history! Why? Because it required remembering occurrences, dates, and places. I had so much trouble remembering the things that were currently happening in MY life. How could I do it for something so foreign as “the historical past”.

History required regurgitation of the specifics that I never fully consumed. Memorization WAS more difficult for me than my peers so I deemed history too difficult for me to learn—an exercise in futile torture. I went through the motions but absorbed little to nothing because of my perceived incompetence.

1675771How fortunate I was to have so many educators at Craig School in Niskayuna, NY, who did not give up on me as easily as I gave up on myself. One such educator was the school librarian, Ms. Savage. A group from my class was sent to the library so each of us could pick out a book about the American Revolution. I felt like I was being sent to the dentist for some drilling. Who would want to read about history? I wasn’t very good at hiding my disdain for the assignment. As my classmates immediately began looking at potential books to check out, Ms. Savage walked over to me and asked what was wrong.

“Would it be okay to get a book about something else?” I requested. She smiled and asked what I liked. I told her I liked fiction, not history.

“Oh, do I have a book for you,” she exclaimed, just as excited as I was disinterested. From the shelf, she pulled out Paul Revere and I by Robert Lawson. Seeing this historical name in the title, I protested, “But this is history!”

I don’t remember exactly how she got me past my insolence. It could have been the explanation that the story was told by the horse or it could have been the offer she made for me to just read the first page and if I didn’t like it, she would look for something else. Whatever it was, though, I owe her immeasurably. I LOVED this book, and the introduction to historical fiction was a turning point in my education.

I experienced something that could make aspects of history enjoyable, even for a devout history-hater. I found that reading the right book could help me learn what seemed impossible to learn otherwise. This also demonstrated how a spoonful of sugar could work wonders, even for someone as unreachable as I was at that point. To this day, I continue utilizing that lesson in everything that I create for kids, from educational assemblies to books intended to excite reluctant readers into the fold.

 

 

Jeff Nathan, “Boston’s Animated Children’s Author,” will be back for the third year in a row at the Reading For the Love Of It Conference in February. He travels internationally sharing his CurricuLaughs in Language Arts programming, applying music, performing arts and heavy doses of HUMOR to the most challenging aspects of language arts at each elementary grade level. (See www.IncredibleAssemblies.com) His most recent book, Sherlock and Me, was just announced as a 2015 Ben Franklin Award winner for innovation in children’s literature. (See www.SherlockAndMe.com)

Image Credits Copyright: Image by StockUnlimited

Sixth Grade Superhero

Frogman: The Incredibly True Confessions of a Sixth Grade Superhero

Written by Emily Cosentino

Frogman,pic

Humorous middle grade adventure centering on the life of Alex Addison, who leads a fairly normal life until the day he picks up a frog at the beach. Alex’s family consists of his computer nerd professor, dad, his super nervous mom who is an ex nurse, an annoying eighth grade sister, Libby, and a four year old brother, Sam.

A couple of days after picking up the frog, Alex begins to change. Suddenly he is able to leap great distances, develops webbed feet and the ability to stick to any surface, and grows a super long tongue capable of picking up and flinging objects great distances. Upon returning to school in September, his voice croaks when Alex tries to sing in chorus, and he develops a passion for eating insects. That enables Alex to become a school sensation when he challenges the school bully, Dirk to eating the grossest lunch in the cafeteria on Fear Factor Friday. When Sam discovers Alex’s secret, he promises to keep quiet. Alex’s friend Joel is determined to prove that Big Foot is real, but he soon shifts his attention to studying the strange creature who is hanging out by the pond. Of course that is Alex sneaking off to the pond to keep his skin moist during the drought. Alex will have his ups and downs, becoming a hero when he rescues a cat in trouble, momentarily becoming a football star by punting down the field, and rescuing both friend and foe from a fire. Alex is a sixth grade superhero, whether he likes it or not.

This book is just under two hundred pages and is intended for the middle grade audience ages eight through twelve. Boys especially will appreciate the humor in sibling rivalry relationships. There are lots of laughs as well as a discussion of serious peer issues like bullying, coming of age, and problems at school. Recommended for readers in grades three to six who enjoy tales about characters facing their everyday issues and crises.

Best,

Barbara
Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
Website: Little Miss HISTORY.com

How Has the Role of Children Changed?

The role of children has changed dramatically over time. Children in the twenty-first century are treated as an important, if not central, part of the family unit. That was not always the case!

Circumstance and environment had a lot to do with how children grew up. In the Middle Ages up to one-quarter of infants died before the age of one, mostly due to accidents and diseases. The poorer the family, the less likely medical attention was available. On the other hand, healthy infants were seen as a special gift from God; they were usually named after saints or biblical characters. Babies were often swaddled, which involved strips of linen wrapped around their arms and legs. Parents did this so the limbs would grow straight. The practice had the added benefit of keeping the child out of trouble. Once the child was able to sit up independently, the wrappings would be removed. The mother remained the primary caretaker who fed the baby. If the mother should die, a nurse would be found to feed the baby. Richer families could employ a nurse to provide affection, bathe, sing lullabies, console, and take care of the baby when sick. Some nurses even chewed the meat for the baby before feeding, much like a mother bird. The wealthiest families kept a nurse through early childhood because these women spent much of their time at society events like banquets and court affairs.

A glance at art and literature of the period reveals few references to children. It indicates the prevalent attitude toward children. In general, childhood was simply a period of immaturity when a person was not productive enough to do much useful work. When, and if, a child reached adolescence, he might become an asset. The poorer the family, the more work the children performed. Chores might include feeding the livestock and animals, washing dishes, and caring for younger siblings. There was little time for play. Toys were handmade dolls, blocks or tops. Older children told myths and stories learned from their elders; some of these might include heroes like Robin Hood. The younger children played dress up, perhaps becoming princesses or lord of the castle.

Little formal education was available. Most parents taught their children by word of mouth. Those who had money brought their children to clergy members who could teach the child to read and write in Latin and their native language. Until the end of the eleventh century, clergy were the educators. Later on as the universities sprang up, wealthier male children might have a lay tutor to teach law or the administrative professions. Boys who were interested in learning a trade would be apprenticed with a trade master like a mason or a blacksmith in the profession. Few women were formally educated.

Life for children remained pretty much the same until the twentieth century when technological and medical advances freed the adults from many of the limitations imposed on the family. As societies began to protect the rights of individuals, children began to be seen as important to the future of the family and society and assumed a dignity in their own right.

Time Travel Trouble

Youngtimer: Adventures in Travel Book 1

Written by G.G. Fulton

Youngtimers,pic

First book in a series of middle grade time travel adventures. Carly is a twelve year old sixth grader who is very bright. So bright that her school is determined to skip her two grades. When Carly gets wind of this, she comes up with an ingenious plan to prevent that from happening. Her scheme includes bribing a fellow student to pretend to be her boyfriend by doing his homework for him, and slacking off in school assignments so that she appears to be a love sick preteen incapable of earning her teacher’s trust and unenviable nerd status.

In terms of everyday life, Carly and her best friend Patti are pretty ordinary. Carly is very close to her grandpa who is a bit of an eccentric because he spends lots of time locked up in his workshop. When her grandfather unexpectedly passes away, he leaves her a box of instructions with a letter. He tells Carly not to open the box until she turns eighteen. Patti convinces her to give in to curiosity. After all, who can possibly wait six years, an eternity in a twelve year old’s life.

Now Carly often acts first and thinks second. That will lead the friends into trouble when they start experimenting with using the time machine locked in grandpa’s garage. The friends go back in time to visit a One Direction concert, the filming of their favorite movie on the island of Santorini, and visiting a school bully named Lulu, with unexpected consequences each time. But Carly receives her biggest scare when she attempts to go back in time to prevent her parents from meeting. What was she thinking? Now her life as she knows it won’t exist.

Readers in the middle grades will love the strengths and flaws in both the children and adult characters in this series. Targeted for grades four through eight, boys and girls will find a lot of familiar problems and situations. Good book for classroom discussion. I look forward to examining other books in the series.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY  12521-0112
Tel/Fax: 518-325-5199
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

Middle Grade Magical Power!

Benjamin Dragon: Awakening (Chronicles of Benjamin Dragon Book 1)

Written by C.G. Cooper

BenjaminDragon,pic

Ten year old Benjamin Dragon is a very bright child who has already skipped two years in school. He is the son of Tanya and Timothy Dragon, a powerful lawyer and businessman. Their frequent moves plus Benjamin’s small statue and last name provide fertile ground for bullies. On the first day of a new school Benjamin is bullied on the playground. Egging him on to fight, Nathan lies on the ground bloodied and injured. But Benjamin is puzzled because he never even touched the boy.

When his parents urge him to go to the hospital to apologize, Benjamin discovers that he and Nathan have a lot in common. They become good friends, but Nathan is just as puzzled about what happened. When Benjamin is at the scene of a close-call car crash, and the car swerves away to avoid hitting a young girl, Benjamin begins to suspect he had something to do with it. Weird things begin happening. Benjamin swears Nathan to secrecy.

A strange old man named Kennedy pays a visit to Benjamin and explains that there are certain special people in the world. Some have the gift of healing, some the gift of growing, and others the gift of destruction, which roughly translates to telekinesis. He informs Benjamin that he will be trained in his gifts.

Benjamin is scared, but he is elated that he will be attending Camp Walamalican with his friends Nathan and Aaron. There he meets another gifted one named Wally who is a healer. On the other hand, Benjamin will come face to face with a destructor who threatens to corrupt him and destroy people that he loves. Will Benjamin learn how to use his powers? How can he adjust to living a normal live, while coping with extraordinary power?

Recommended for a middle grade, young adult and adult audience. The characters and plot are well developed. Addresses lots of issues pre teens and teens face like bullying, fitting in with peers, being gifted, and getting along with parents. Look forward to more in the series.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY 12521-0112
Tel/Fax: 518-325-5199
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

Young Adult Science Fiction with Special Powers!

Brian: The Helmsworth Project: Book Two

Written by Madison Key

Brian,picI did not read the first book in this science fiction, coming of age series, but I caught on after the first few pages. Sixteen year old Brian has managed to escape after his parents are killed and his home blown up. Brian’s sisters Claire and Jenna are under the protection of the FBI, as were his parents. He is being held off the coast of Mexico. It appears that his captors know of his psionic and pyrokinesis powers. While being held, Brian keeps in mental touch with his sister. But he is having difficulty figuring out who is the real enemy and being forced into submission to do their bidding.

Will Brian be able to untangle the web of deceit in time to get back to his sisters and safety? This book of less than fifty pages moves along quickly. Young adult and adult science fiction and genetic engineering fans who enjoy a light, quick fast moving read will probably like this series.

Sharing is caring! If you liked this book review, please share with the buttons below.

 

 

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY  12521-0112
Tel/Fax: 518-325-5199
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

Baseball History That Didn’t Hit a Homerun

Comiskey,picHot dogs, popcorn and the crack of a bat hitting the baseball is an iconic image associated with summer. Many of us look forward to watching baseball games at the stadium or on TV. Though we are all too familiar with sports scandals today, almost one hundred years ago, the “Black Sox” scandal rocked America.

The name “Black Sox” may apply to team owner Charles Comiskey’s refusal to pay for the laundering of players’ uniforms when they got dirty. Eventually, he had their uniforms washed and deducted the cost from each player’s salary. Others insist that the name came about due to the World Series scandal of 1919, which blackened the name of the White Sox baseball team.

The 1919 World Series pitted the Cincinnati Reds against the Chicago White Sox. Chicago lost to the Reds, but eight Chicago players were accused of intentionally fixing the results and taking money from gamblers. At the time the Chicago team was divided into factions who rarely spoke to each other when not on the field. Players Eddie Collins, Ray Schalk, and Red Faber were considered strait-laced, clean team members. By September, 1920, rumors of a fix became widespread so a Grand Jury convened to investigate the charges. Eddie Cicotte and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson confessed to their part in the scandal. All together eight players and five gamblers were indicted. Shortly before the formal trial in June, 1921, some key pieces of evidence mysteriously disappeared. Among these were signed confessions of Cicotte and Jackson, who later recanted his involvement. The baseball players were acquitted. Perhaps Comiskey was not such a miser after all. He issued checks of $1500, the difference between the winners and losers share, to the ten players who were not a part of the scandal.

This scandal led to major changes in governing the sport of baseball. Kenesaw Mountain Landis was appointed the first Commissioner of Baseball. He placed the names of the eight indicted Sox players (Eddie Cicotte, Oscar Felsch, Arnold Gandil, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Fred McMullin, Charles Swede Risberg, George Buck Weaver, Claude “Lefty” Williams) on the ineligible list, banning them from any role in organized baseball. The White Sox team took a nosedive into seventh place. They would not see a pennant race again until 1936.Landis,commissioner, pic

Ironically, the following poem was published in the Philadelphia Bulletin before Game One of the Series on October 2, 1919.

Still it really doesn’t matter
After all who wins the flag.
Good clean sport is what we’re after
And we aim to make our brag
To each other or distant nation
Wherein shines the sporting sun
That of all our games gymnastic
Baseball is the cleanest one!

Get out there and play or enjoy watching a game of baseball, an iconic summertime pastime!

Sharing is caring! If you liked this article please share.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY  12521-0112
Tel/Fax: 518-325-5199
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

How to Create Literacy Centers

    When children create and invent, they develop self-esteem and gain a love for learning. Using literacy centers are really ideal for any grade level. Small groups learn to work together, cooperate, and speak in low voices, when needed. Learning centers can be so exciting when mixed with various subject matters.

Analysis of Skills

When looking for literacy center ideas, I first look for skills that need practicing and for most all of the class members. Let say, after an analysis of student skills, that most learners are having difficulty with understanding cause and effect.

Students will understand the concept of cause and effect.

Research Topics

    A teaching team can then look for topics that are introduced in the school’s established curriculum that relate to cause and effect topics. I end up finding some topics that could involve cause and effect quite easily.

 

Cause and Effect Topics in XYZ Curriculum

Science; Pollution/ Waste in Our World
Social Studies: The Silk Road
Language Arts: Expository text on Natural Disasters
Mathematics: Money problems involving interest

Search for Sources

I then look for sources, (worksheets, activities, stories, games, comic strips and hands-on activities) that goes along with the specific topic to introduce to a literacy center.
For an intervention,  I try to incorporate  mini-lessons for students with various learning mode preferences. For the Birds and Cause and Effect with Music are funny, short and wordless videos that can lead to a cause and effect discussion.

 For the Birds

This video was created by Pixar.  Learn more about it at: http://www.pixar.com/short_films/Theatrical-Shorts/For-the-Birds

Cause and Effect with Music

This video was created by KLM videos for schools at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0aO7spGHNCot8Dqq0HIN-g

  In How to Create Literacy Centers Part 2, I will show you what activities I found or created  for each subject matter,  along with some interventions. Until next time….

Best,
Lynn

For more ideas, freebies and resources, check out Lynn’s blog and stores.
http://www.tieplayeducationalresourcellc.com/
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Tieplay-Educational-Resources-Llc
https://www.teachersnotebook.com/shop/TiePlay+Educational+Resources

Science, Mystery and Mayhem!

Frankie Dupont AND THE SCIENCE FAIR SABOTAGE (Frankie Dupont Mysteries Book 3)

Written by Julie Ann Grasso

Illustrated by Alexander Avellino

FRankieScienceFair,picEleven year old Frankie Dupont’s parents are off for the day to attend an awards ceremony. Frankie’s dad leaves him in charge of his detective agency. Sounds strange? Well, Frankie has already proved his mettle in assisting his father in previous investigations.

Shortly after they leave, Frankie gets a call from his cousin Kat and her friend, Amy Appleby, to assist in solving a mystery at the science fair being held in Enderby Manor. Seven kids are competing in a science contest in which all the entries must be made from recyclable materials. The winner will receive $300 and a ticket to science camp. Seven contestants have employed creativity in projects such as a musical instrument made from drinking cans, Lego blocks made from Stevia, a balloon recycling center and cloned blue salmon. Upon his arrival, Frankie discovers that Angus and Archie Appleby’s robotic chip has been stolen while they were arguing over how to assemble their robot made from household items. Frankie has the scene secured and methodically proceeds to interview each of the contestants in order to collect clues and solve the mystery.

Middle school readers will enjoy the adventure as the clues are revealed by Frankie as he investigates. But things are not as they appear on the surface. Readers may be surprised by the end result of the investigation and the just rewards that follow. Recommended for Encylopedia Brown fans in the eight to twelve-year-old age range.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY 12521-0112
Tel/Fax: 518-325-5199
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

Animal Rescue for The ‘Beary’ Brave

SUGAR AND CLIVE AND THE CIRCUS BEAR (DOGWOOD ISLAND MIDDLE GRADE ADVENTURES Book One)

Written by Alexandra Amor

SugarClive,pic

The format of this book is a bit unusual for a middle-grade adventure. The author begins with a prologue setting the scene for the climax of the book. She ends with an epilogue that answers the questions left in the reader’s minds.

Sugar is an energetic, caramel colored dog who lives a carefree life with her mistress Marion on Dogwood Island. Sugar has a somewhat unusual best friend, a barn swallow named Clive who lives on the farm with her. One day, while traipsing through the island, Clive urges Sugar to come to the library to see a strange site, a bear in a cage in the town square, who apparently has been abandoned on the island. The two friends strike up a conversation with the bear named Sebastian.

Soon it becomes apparent that the circus has closed up shop and Sebastian has been left in his cage to fend for himself. The townspeople decide it would be best to place the bear in a zoo, but Sugar and Clive feel that they would like to help Sebastian find his freedom At first the bear is reluctant, but after his brief separation from the circus, he decides they are right.

Clive and Sugar enlist island animal friends like Larry the Seagull, AnnMay, a Siamese cat, and a human friend, Stewart, to find a way to move the 500 pound bear off the island into a forested area where he could roam free. But the zookeepers are fast approaching, will they be able to carry out their daring plan?

I love the dialogue and clever conversations among the animals, and the ingenious solutions they come up to solve one problem after another. At just over one hundred pages this chapter book is just the right length to hold the interest of young readers and middle grade students with enough interesting plot twists and suspense. This book would be an excellent choice for a class read aloud and discussion book. Young animal and adventure lovers will not be able to put this one down.

Good choice for animal lovers; also good discussion on human vs. animal rights.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY  12521-0112
Tel/Fax: 518-325-5199
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

Dad’s Daily News Project for Father’s Day

Hey all,

Need a really cool class project idea for Father’s Day? Try this one on for size. I just made this ‘Dad’s Daily News’ template that you can use as a great gift for Dad, while encouraging your students to write a variety of different articles and entries that Dad will absolutely love! How about these ideas?

  • Write a news event that features Dad in it: Dad Catches Biggest Fish Ever, Dad Invents Magic Golf Ball That Never Gets Lost, etc.   Have fun inventing these!
  • Write a how-to article: How to  Make Dad’s Favorite Pancakes, Chocolate Chip Cookies or Desert, How to Build a Tree House, etc.
  • Write a poem for Dad
  • Write a few jokes for Dad.
  • Make a crossword on grid paper and glue it in one of the empty frames with the clues beside.
  • Add a cartoon in the template provided.

These are just a few of the ways that you can use this fun template.  If you find it useful I accept thanks in cold, hard cash. Just kidding. You don’t owe me a thing, but I would appreciate if you would spread the word about Quest Teaching and sign up for futures freebies here : http://questteaching.com/wordpress/go/teacher-treasures-sign/ I’d also love to hear about how you used this in your classroom. Send pictures and add them to the comments below.

Best,

Sharon

www.questteaching.com

The Benefits of Cooperative Learning

http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/cooperative/howto.html

Cooperative learning can be so much fun for students and teachers. But, what is cooperative learning, and can it be successful in teaching objectives in the classroom?

Cooperative learning is team work and students working together to complete an assignment. Each team member is expected to do his or her share of the work.  Group work in the classroom is known to develop better learning and colleague skills.Students also become better prepared for the work world.

Yes, studies indicate that cooperative learning can be very effective. But, there are methods that teachers should follow in order to develop the maximum student achievement.

Cooperative learning involves may types of skill sets.Group interaction, accountability, social skills, and positive interdependence abilities are encouraged. The teacher is able to see how group members
interact.The instructor is also able to talk to the group or individuals about any difficulties that they are having with the material.

Learners of all ages enjoy cooperative learning. How about your class? For more resources, and a list of cooperative learning how-to’s read on!

For task cards, a form of cooperative learning, visit my store at
 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Tieplay-Educational-Resources-Llc

by Lynn Horn

Tie-Play Educational Resources

Continue Reading >>

New Release! The Gladiator and the Guard

I’ve been waiting for this one for awhile and now I’m totally thrilled to introduce my readers to the new release, The Gladiator and the Guard, by Annie Douglas Lima. Annie is a fellow teacher and author. I could go on and on about her works and how great they are, but you’ll have to experience them for yourself.  So grab ’em quick with this new release and earn yourself the right to rave to your friends about how good they are! Here’s Annie to tell you more about her new release:
 I’m excited to announce that my young adult action and adventure novel, The Gladiator and the Guard, is now available for purchase! This is the second book in the Krillonian Chronicles, sequel to The Collar and the Cavvarach


First Things First: a Little Information about Book 1: 

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?


The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone.  Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).  

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

Click here to order The Collar and the Cavvarach from Amazon 
for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!

 

And now, The Gladiator and the Guard, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!

 

 

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

 

Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard in Kindle format from Amazon 
for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!



Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard from Smashwords (for Nook or in other digital formats) 
for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!

 

 

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published twelve books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, and five anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

Connect with the Author Online:

Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com

 

 
Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of The Collar and the Cavvarach!
Or find the giveaway at this link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ad2fd99a3/?

 

Hippie Happening

What Was Woodstock?

Written by Joan Holub

Illustrated by Gregory Copeland

Woodstock

This book is part of the Who, What, Where series of books written largely for the beginning reader and pre-teen audience. Woodstock is one of the most famous events in the 1960’s, one of the most tumultuous decades in American history. Not only does this book portray in words, drawings and photos, the Woodstock music festival, but it furnishes a birds-eye view of the history of the 1960’s. Well-written concise profiles of the Vietnam War, political and social change, and sixties slang are included. There are timelines of the sixties for the United States as well as one of events happening around the globe. An age appropriate bibliography for additional reading on these topics is also included.

Music promoter, Michael Lang conceived the concert idea. Desiring to open up a recording studio for young artists in Woodstock, about 120 miles north of New York City, he convinced Artie Kornfield of Capitol Records that this was a good idea. While playing a game of pool one night, they decided to raise money for their project by having a giant outdoor music concert. They needed a large space, security, lighting, outdoor toilets, food, water, a stage and lots of music bands. Problem after problem arose. Their plans fell through and the location was changed three times. Eventually, they contracted with a local farmer, Max Yasgur in Bethel, NY. They planned for 50,000 people, but 500,000 came. The roads were so clogged that people had to walk ten miles from their cars, and bands had to be flown in by helicopter. A thunderstorm threatened to destroy it, but the three-day event in August, 1969 became a message of peace and hope for people young and old. Well-known artists like Jimi Hendrix and Joan Baez played as well as then unknowns like Santana and Credence Clearwater Revival. The organizers made no money. Despite its success, organizers wound up letting everyone in free because they could not manage to collect tickets.

Young pre-teen readers will love this book. History, music and popular culture are woven together into a mesmerizing look at sixties people, places and things. Readers absorb a great deal of knowledge without even realizing it. Highly recommended for students, teachers, parents and all those baby boomers who lived through or have heard about Woodstock.

1955 – Making the Best of It

PureTrash, pic
Written by Bette A. Stevens

By way of disclosure let me say that I read this prequel after I read the full-length novel. Some reviewers have indicated they felt the ending abrupt or incomplete, but I loved this short introduction to the characters of Shawn and Willie just as much as I did the full-length novel.

Nine-year-old Shawn and his six-year-old brother Willie live in a run down house without plumbing along with their hard-working mother and alcoholic father. The setting is 1955 when life for two poor boys was hard, but everyday life was simple. On a Saturday morning, the two brothers ride their bikes, play with slingshots, and collect bottles for change they can cash in for candy and soda at the local general store. But the well to do town citizens look down upon them, and they are bullied for being “dirty trash” by children and adults alike. Anyone familiar with the baby boomer generation will enjoy and empathize with these lovable characters. Recommended especially for middle-grade students.

Fun read for a lazy afternoon. Don’t miss the full novel,Dog Bone Soup.

Explore, Identify, Create and Compare Fractions!

“What did you do to my son?” a mother of one of my grade four students recently commented.

At a loss for reference to any incidents at school,  I responded, “What do you mean?”

“Well, he came home from school so excited about fractions!   All he wanted to talk about were the discoveries he made about fractions!”

That brought a smile to my face. Is there anything more gratifying than having your student make those connections and experience those aha moments?

So what led to such excitement? It all started last week when I made some new tools ( a fraction number line set ) and let my students take some time to explore and compare. Then I challenged them to find all the fractions that were equivalent to 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 and so on.  Well, in no time they were making all kinds of discoveries and asking to find equivalents for other fractions

“Can I do 1/5? How about 1/10?”

“Did you know that 2/5 is like 40/100?”fractionstripdesktopper_Page_2

These were just some of the comments I was getting as I moved around the room with guiding questions. As I observed, I wondered why I had never started our study of fractions in this manner before?  In the past I started by showing instead of exploration, but this approach ignited a curiosity in my kids that pushed them on to deeper learning.

This experience is not unique to learning about fractions.  I find it to be true whenever I am introducing new math concepts. Exploring first and working toward solving problems  is a great motivator and results in deeper understanding. Isn’t that what we want for our students?

frontpagefractionstrips_Page_1

Click to grab this at half price.

Yes! I believe it is. That’s why you can get this Fraction Pack on sale at 50% off this week for only $2.00. That’s less than a coffee and it helps kids learn fractions with ease! Just click on the product photo to grab it before the price goes up!

 

Healthy Schools: Climate Matters

kidsgroupA healthy school climate is needed for most students to achieve academic success. What is a healthy school climate? A healthy school climate is where all school employees are friendly, kind and considerate. A healthy school climate is where community members feel welcomed into the school. A healthy school climate is where students believe that they are an important member of their class, and are able to contribute in their own way. And more.

Okay, but why should school employees not act indifferently, like in other professions? The fact is education is not a business. The way persons interact within a school district is known to greatly affect students’ academic achievement, emotional well-being and even physical condition (Blum, 2007). When school district professionals are warm, caring, and encourage student triumphs, students are very likely to do well. On the other hand, negative attitudes are known to gravely impact effective teaching and learning, which often results in an overall low staff and student morale (Blum, 2007).

Students need to feel socially united and be of the opinion that they can achieve the academic standards set forth for them (Blum, 2007). Yet a great school environment not only also focuses on the well-being of the whole child but also the community and staff members. An educational system is important for all community members and therefore, should unite the population and encompass equal opportunity for all. In other words, a successful school is one big and happy family.

studentsbarteal

howdoes schoolrate

  • School buildings and grounds are well maintained and with help of the community
  • Teachers are released from non-teaching tasks (hall duty, bus duty, lunch monitoring, recess, etc.)
  • Reward teachers for innovated teaching skills
  • Materials for teachers are evenly distributed
  • Involve parents in skill building workshops
  • School rules involve kindness, respect for others and personal property, discourage leaving others out and all can contribute to the school rule creation process
  • Provide support for students that need academic, social and guidance assistance
  • Speak to students about their future
  • Allow students to try an assignment over again if they have not succeeded
  • Expect students to do their work and be responsible
  • Older students are expected to help younger students to achieve skills in a buddy system
  • Reward student for academic achievement, talents, and contributions such as kindness and progress
  • Maintain fair school rules and consequences that apply to everyone
  • Staff members avoid teacher cliques, exclusionary behaviors and instead model appropriate kind behaviors toward others and students
  • Collect materials that interest students and provide hands-on and real life projects.
  • Inclusive behaviors involve all staff and community in various school functions in some way

16 = Awesome school!

14 = Getting there, but needs some work

12 = Really, really, really needs work

Below 12 = Needs a new agenda!

References:

Blum, R.. (2007). Best practice: Building blocks for enhancing a school environment. Retrieved from http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/military-child-initiative/resources/Best_Practices_monograph.pdf

Imagery supplied by Thinkstock.com

Blog: http://www.tieplayeducationalresourcellc.com/

 

tieplayWritten by Lynn @Tieplay Educational Resources, LLC, on May 1st, 2016.

Magical Manhattan!

Magical Manhattan

Written by Gregory Hoffman

MagicalManhattan,pic

An intriguing urban fantasy tale that will appeal to young adult and adult audiences, but one that might be enjoyed by children as young as ten who will “grow into” the meaning of these fantasies as they mature.

Fourteen-year-old Sam has just received a bad report card. On Saturdays, he has a ritual of accompanying his mother to her job in an antique store on 80th street in Manhattan. Once there, he leaves to spend the day walking down to the twin towers in Lower Manhattan and back again. As they leave their apartment, Sam ponders how to break the bad news. He places the report card on the console after they cross the Brooklyn Bridge. Little does he know that he will experience an adventure that changes his life on his walk today.

Sam will meet a homeless man named Elijah who asks Sam for his shoes. Subsequently, they will meet a bicycle messenger a human antenna, a talking train, spirits of artists in the Metropolitan Museum , a princess cloud and many others. The streets of Manhattan are transformed into a water paradise filled with lush vegetation. What does it all mean? Will anyone else believe Sam’s story? Does the experience have an impact on Sam’s future?

The adventure is magical on several levels. It is a wonderful walking tour of Manhattan; the author expertly captures the essence and spirit of New York City. The imagination and allegories presented by the author to the reader as food for thought have many layers of meaning. Clever and creative with no objectionable content. This book could be used for so many topics as a classroom discussion or starter for creative writing assignments.

A Great Family Read Aloud

Whispers of Trees (Mythic Adventures Collection: Book 2)

Written by Ben Woodard

WhispersofTrees,pic

 

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest, non-biased review.

Bridget and Colin are walking through the Irish woods ahead of their parents and ten-year-old brother, Declan. Suddenly Colin disappears; Bridget thinks that he has been eaten by a wolf. A park ranger assures the family Colin will be found. When they go into town to file a report with the town constable, a strange looking lady named Mrs. O’Leary suggests that they must go into the woods so that the trees can guide them to Colin. Colin’s dad angrily puts his foot down, refusing to listen. Declan sneaks out and goes back into the dark woods to find the strange old woman who may be able to lead him to his brother. When Declan finds her in an odd cabin filled with computers and a bubbling cauldron, he is puzzled, but also drawn to follow her. Mrs. O’Leary demands that he go into the woods where the spirits of the trees will speak to him. By taming his fears, not only will he be successful in finding his brother, but he will also bring peace and tranquility to the family.

This mystery set in the mythical woods of Ireland mixes elements of adventure, myth, thriller, and family relationships. Targeted reader audience is age seven through twelve. This is a story with many layers of meaning which are exposed by repeated readings, and one that could definitely be used for guided reading in a classroom discussion on many topics. Perfect as well for a family read aloud and group discussion.

Raspberry Red Goodness from Mother Earth

Raspberry1The sun is shining and the birds are singing. I notice a few wild raspberries blooming among the shrubbery, and it reminds me of walking with my children happily collecting and eating the berries as we ambled through the countryside. Today we don’t find nearly as many bushes growing untamed along the roads as more construction and fewer farms are seen in my area. Still I wondered where did these berries come from and how did they get here.

There is some archaeological evidence that Paleolithic cave dwellers ate raspberries. Red Raspberry, or Rubus idaeus, is native to Turkey and was gathered by the people living in Troy as early as the first century B.C. Rubus idaeus means bramble bush of Ida named for a nursemaid and the mountains on which they grew in Crete. During the Hellenistic Age they were associated with a Greek fertility myth that the berries were white until Ida, the nursemaid of Zeus, pricked her finger on one of their thorns and stained them red. Later on the Romans conquered vast territories and spread the seed of raspberries throughout their empire as evidenced in archaeological ruins of buildings and forts. These berries are mentioned in the fourth-century writings of Palladius, first Christian bishop of Ireland. During the Middle Ages raspberries were used for food and medicine. Artists employed their red juice in paintings.Only the rich could afford them until King Edward I in England encouraged their cultivation and made them popular in the late 13th century.Raspberry2,pic

The red raspberry may have originally come to North America with the prehistoric peoples crossing the Bering Strait. Explorers arriving in North America found Native Americans eating berries of all kinds. They dried them to use while traveling. European settlers brought seeds and new species of hybrid plants. In 1737 William Prince established the first plant nursery on the continent in Flushing, Queens, NY, and raspberry plants were listed for sale. Estate records from George Washington’s home in Mt. Vernon, dating from 1761, reveal raspberries being cultivated there. One hundred years later, more than forty varieties of raspberries were known throughout America.

Luther Burbank introduced many raspberry hybrids to Americans. He produced a multitude of crosses providing an unlimited variety of qualities. These raspberry plants may be a bush or a vine that grows up to three feet high. Their fruits are ready to eat right off the stems and separate easily by using your fingers, as long as you are careful of the prickly thorns. Wild berries supply food for birds and small animals. Many useful products are gleaned from raspberries: jam, jelly, juice, pies and ice cream. Health benefits are limitless. Raspberries contain high amounts of antioxidants that are believed to fight cancer and heart disease. The high content of Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B2, and Vitamin C, and Niacin keep our bodies strong. In addition the minerals of calcium, phosphorus, iron and potassium benefit all.

Today more than 70 million pounds of raspberries are sold within one year. So take a walk this spring to see if you can find some of these tasty and healthy raspberries.

Barbara Ann Mojica

Little Miss History

The Amazon Rainforest: Animal Facts and Photos

The Amazon Rainforest: Animal Facts and Photos

Written by KC Adams

amazonrainforest,pic

Despite the title, this book is not merely a list of facts, but a comprehensive view of the Amazon RainForest and the life within it. I knew that this rainforest was the largest on earth, but I did not realize that this rainforest receives a whopping 52% of the daily precipitation for South America containing 2/3 of the world’s fresh water supply and 20% of the world’s oxygen.

The animals inhabiting this world are diverse and bizarre. Most of us are familiar with tropical birds like the macaw and toucan and monkeys like the squirrel monkey and marmoset. Some of the unusual animals include the sloth who sleep fifteen to eighteen hours a day and the nocturnal maned wolf that is often called a red fox on stilts. Poison dart frogs can be as small as a paper clip, but their poison excreted through their skin is powerful enough to kill a human. Capybaras are the world’s largest rodents, who are friendly to humans. On the other hand, the piranhas living in the river eat their prey alive. Be on the lookout for the anaconda, the largest most powerful snake on earth. Living in the water, these hunters catch their prey with their fangs and drag them under water to drown it before they swallow it alive.

Animal selections are written well even if they are succinct. Pertinent information on diet, habitat and lifestyle is presented. Questions follow the descriptions for discussion. The photos are clear and appealing, I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in learning about this intriguing region. Great choice for elementary and middle school students or homeschooling parents.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
Website: Little Miss HISTORY.com
Tel/Fax: (518) 325-5199

Students Make Mind Movies with Graphic Novel Templates

I was thinking the other day about how I write my books and how I read them. The truth is I can’t do either unless I can “see” the action in my mind.  Some say I have a vivid imagination. My husband says I have my ‘head in the clouds’, but the truth is, being able to daydream is a vital skill when it comes to formulating deeper understanding.

A key component  of our reading instruction, then,  must be to teach students to make “mind pictures” or “mind movies” as they read. The ability to do this is vital to their ability to understand what is read.  Students who can’t generate pictures struggle to understand.  So how do we know if our students can do this?  Multiple choice tests and other forms of assessment often fail to give us a fair assessment of this important ability. Have no fear… graphic novels to the rescue!

Now hold on, I know that graphic novels can somewhat limit the skills  of our students in that they “provide” the picture for the student already instead of making them generate the picture, it’s already given. However, we can’t deny the popularity of the “beasts” (my favorite name for graphic novels). So why not capitalize on their popularity to motivate your students to show you their picturing process?  That was my thinking when I created this week’s Teacher Treasure Freebie.

That was my thinking when I created these Graphic Novel Templates. This package provides 23 pages of different graphic novel templates to spur on the imagination and provide evidence of visualization while reading.  Just choose the one most suitable for the current reading activity  and you’re all set!

mindpicturetemplates

Click on this picture if you’d like to grab these templates for your classroom.

I often assess my students on Content (could you picture X amount of scenes and fill in each picture with details), Accuracy ( do the details match the details presented in the story/chapter/passage) and Presentation (organization and clarity of ideas).

I have used these templates and the students love them.  They get to try their hand at creating their own graphic novel pages, and I get a great assessment of how well they can “picture” while they read.  I hope you find them as useful as I do. I would love your feedback.

mindpicturetemplates2mindpicturetemplates22mindpicturetemplates21mindpicturetemplates10

 

Best,

Sharon Skretting

Teacher,

Assessment Coach,

Author of The Jewel of Peru

www.questteaching.com

 

 

Wasted Wood: Will the Bullies & the Boys Survive?

Wasted Wood

Written by Brock Eastman

wASTEDWOOD

I struggled to decide what rating to give this middle-grade novella; I decided to go with four stars because the writing is appropriate for its intended audience. The dialogue is on point for thirteen-year-old Hudson and his friends. Lots of adjectives and onomatopoeia to keep the story interesting as well as those illustrations of the tree troll.

Hudson is a typical teen; he loves to play video games and test the limits with his parents’ rules. Hudson gets grounded when he comes home late because he took a short cut and trespassed on Mr. Gilbert’s property nearly falling off the bridge in the process. Of course that wasn’t the whole story, Mr. Gilbert had called his parents catching Hudson in a lie. Hudson doesn’t take long to decide to sneak out and join his friends for their camp out.

Orin, the neighborhood bully and his friends, come across Hudson with his friends in the woods. They dare them to trespass on Mr. Gilbert’s property to prove that they are not afraid of the legend that a Tree Troll exists. When they take the dare; the real adventure begins. Soon the Dark Demon appears. Is the legend real? All the teens including the bullies must struggle to survive. What will happen to the boys? Will their parents and Mr. Gilbert find out?

Lots of adventure, danger, paranormal and coming of age issues combine to make the novella appealing to the middle-grade audience. Despite the fact that there is lots of passive voice and the writing style could be sharper, this is a tale well worth reading for the eight to twelve-year-old target audience. The author has developed a set of discussion questions for each chapter, which makes the book a good choice for a classroom read aloud and discussion.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY  12521-0112
Tel/Fax: 518-325-5199
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

Art Lesson: Create Your Own Mandala Art!

What are you doing in your art class this week?

 I wanted a project that would help reinforce the concept of symmetry with my students.  I thought Mandala art would be the perfect project and with the coloring-book craze right now, Mandala is all the rage! Now you can have your class do it with this easy template. I can’t wait to try it out with my class.

“Mandala” is a Sanskrit word meaning “circle” or “completion”. It is often recognized to represent wholeness.Which shapes and colors will you use to express your whole self? The best thing about creating your own Mandala art is that you can choose any shapes and colors you want. Make one or more than one, but the important thing is to have fun!

Mandala Art_Page_1 Mandala Art_Page_2Here’s how you can have your students create their very own Mandala art in class using this template that I made for you. Good luck!  Come back and send me some pictures of your class creations. I’ll post them on the site. It’s fun to share!

Here are the steps:

1. Cut out along the black square lines.

2. Fold in half along the center vertical line and then open and refold along the center horizontal line.

3. Now fold along each straight diagonal line and unfold again.

4. Starting from center make a design in only one “pie-shaped” piece of the circle.

5. Now repeat that same pattern in every other section either by folding the paper and tracing over the original design,

or use a Mirra board along each dotted line and try to duplicate the original design in each section.

6. Once your finished drawing, add colors. Remember to color each section with the same color scheme. Look at the examples

to help you.

Now how do you get the template? Easy. If you are a subscriber to my newsletter, then you get my fabulous freebies.  It’s totally free and I promise not to share your email with anyone else.  I respect your privacy and I hate spam, too, so I won’t do that to you. The best part about signing up is that you’ll also get all the FUTURE FREEBIES that will come to your inbox with the Quest Teaching Newsletter! I can’t wait to hear from you!

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Hieroglyph: Time Travel with a Twist

Hieroghyph (TC’S ADVENTURES BOOK 1)

Written by WJ Scott

Illustrated by John Helle-Nielsen

Hieroglyph,pic

I will be honest in saying that this book was different from what I expected. The cover is a bit of a mystery and the table of contents lists numbers only with no word clues. Once into the book, the reader is quickly drawn into the narrative. Thirteen-year-old TC is sitting in the Vice-Principal’s office trying to explain how she knew where a stolen ring could be found. TC lives with her Aunt Letty in New Zealand since her archaeologist parents were killed in a cave in. Aunt Letty is off on an environmental expedition, and TC will be going off to spend a weekend with her uncle in Australia.

Here is where the book takes a dramatic departure. The reader learns that TC has a special gift. She is able to time travel and connect with past history when she touches hieroglyphs. Her uncle Max is trying to get funding for an archaeological expedition to prove that ancient Egyptians traveled to Australia in search of gold.

I will not reveal details of the plot, but Scott seamlessly takes the reader back and forth as TC alternately explores the shipwreck and explorations of Prince Setka and Prince Kanefer in ancient times and back into the present with TC, her Uncle Max, her friends and enemies who seek to undo their discoveries. Characters are well developed and the narrative carefully written to make the plot believable. TC is a strong-willed female who faces modern problems and crises, while longing to solve the mysteries of the past.

Targeted for readers nine and older, the book will appeal to younger and older audiences. Promises to be a good series for lovers of ancient Egypt, adventure, mystery and intriguing characters.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS FEED button in the upper right hand corner of this page.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY  12521-0112
Tel/Fax: 518-325-5199
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

 

A Delicious Change of Mind

Thought Soup: A Story for Youngsters and the Adults Who Love Them

Written by Lyle Olsen

Illustrated by Marnie Webster

ThoughtSoup,pic

This short ebook packs a lot of punch in a few pages. A stranger ambles into a small town carrying an iron kettle on his back. He unloads it in the middle of the town square and proceeds to set up cooking. The townspeople distrust him, having been tricked into contributing to strangers many times before. When the mayor confronts the stranger as to what he intends to cook; he answers, “thought soup” and offers to demonstrate.

The stranger says that he will solicit thoughts from them and pulls out a large sack from his belongings. He requests each of the townspeople place his head in the sack and deposit his thoughts within. Once they are finished, the stranger empties his sack into the boiling water and asks that each bring a bowl and spoon to taste the soup. Much to their surprise, the soup is so bad that many believe themselves to be poisoned. The stranger admits that the soup tastes bad. All the citizens want to run him out of town, but the stranger convinces them to give him another chance with dinner. If they will only think delicious thoughts, he will produce a wonderful soup. So they throw him into jail until supper.

During that same day, the townsfolk reflect on what could have made that soup taste so bad. Each of these colorful characters remember how negative their thoughts were that morning and think about how to make their lives better. For example, the candlestick maker realizes how greedy she has been and resolves to make better candlesticks quicker using cheaper materials while offering better prices. The town crier admits to himself that he has been spreading gossip and should concentrate on positive things. Even the mayor recognizes that deep inside he has not lived up to his campaign promises and owes it to the citizens to do a better job.

Dinner time arrives and the soup-maker is released. Each of the townspeople once again add their thoughts to the sack. There were so many positive thoughts they had to use a basket to keep the sack from flying away. How do you think the soup will taste? What will happen to the stranger and the members of the town in the future? Our author ends the book with the caveat, “This is Not the End.”

This book is really a delightful read for children and adults. I would recommend it as an independent read for ages eight and up, but parents and teachers can certainly use it as a read aloud and valuable teaching tool to discuss how our negative feelings can poison oneself and others. My one regret is that the pictures were not larger and more detailed because the nostalgic setting and characters are charming, and if illustrated in detail, would really bring this book to life.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Exploring the Treasure Box – Writing with Self- Assessment

Last newsletter, I gave away  a treasure box (drop box) full of my teaching resources for free! If you missed out on that, I’m sorry, but be sure to subscribe to the newsletter so you never miss out on more fabulous freebies.  This week I wanted to take a few moments to explore some of those resources that I spent time putting together for teachers, and how I use them in the classroom.

Slide14

Take a closer look!

First up?  Let’s talk about a subject I’m passionate about; writing!  For a long time, I’ve wanted a student self-evaluation tool in kid-friendly language to give my students more ownership and focus to improving their writing.  I could never find a commercially made tool that I liked, so I decided to make one myself.  Here it is:

I just run this off on both sides and have my students staple it to their story. Now when they say they are “finished” a piece of writing, I have them go through their story one “box” at a time. By the way, I love the boxes! It makes the evaluation process so flexible, yet target.  Here are just a few ways that I use the boxes:

  • Mini-lessons on each box: e.g., Today we are focusing on Content. Take a look at the content box on your marking guide. What are we looking for? What does that look like in a story? Exemplars are great for this. Now look at your story. Focus only on the Content box.  Does your story have quality content?
  • Have the whole class edit their existing story for one of the boxes one checkbox at a time. Break out your blue crayon for one checkbox, a red for another, and so on.  This works especially well when focused on the conventions box.
  • Conferencing and goal setting with a student.  The boxes really allow you to focus in on one specific area that the student needs to work on to improve his/her writing. I use this along with my writing conference sheets. After reviewing a piece of writing, the student and I will discuss a “next step” goal to improve their writing. I ask them which “box” they think they need to work on most.  The process really helps them take ownership for improving their own writing.
  • You Mark, then I mark.  Finally, I love, love, love, the idea that the students always mark their writing first, before I do. Along with all the checklists, there’s a place for them to assign a mark to their work before I mark it.  This gives them the opportunity to evaluate and improve their writing before they come to me with it. It also gives me the opportunity during conferences to point to the checklist and say can you show me where you found examples of this or that in your story?
  • As an added bonus I included new story planners in the package. I was so tired of students trying to navigate the “rising outline” story planner, so I re-invented it with kids in mind. The result is below.  The kids love it.  They are creating much more detailed plans because the spaces direct and focus their thinking.  Several students have all told me that they like it better. It’s definitely a keeper in my writing program.

Writingprocess&planningpackage2_Page_6

This is just one of the tools I’ll be highlighting  from our treasure box over the next few weeks. Do you have ideas for other teacher resources you’d just love to have?  Subscribe and shoot me an email about it.  It just might become our next fabulous freebie and you’ll get it free!  What could be better than that?

Until next keep teaching and “treasuring” our special young people.

Best,

Sharon

Book Review -Wagon Train Kids –

Wagon Train Kids Headed West for Gold

Written by K.B. Shaper

Wagontrainkids,pic

Middle-grade historical fiction tale focusing on Jack and his younger sister Mary. The family lives on a farm in Connecticut. One day the children are shocked to learn that their parents are selling everything and heading West on a wagon train in the hopes of finding gold in the California hills. The author traces the journey as the family heads north to Albany and then west to Missouri. There they meet Mr. Booth, the wagon master who will guide them to California.

Shaper goes into detail about the supplies and the preparation needed to prepare for the journey. I do think more time should have been spent describing in detail what the children saw on the journey. In that respect the plot is a bit uneven. One night the members of the wagon train observe someone watching them. Jack and Mary are warned to run if their father signals them. The adventure begins when the children become separated from their parents and are left on their own. A kindly stranger rescues them and brings them into San Francisco, where they work to earn their keep. Will the children be reunited with their parents and what happened to the rest of the members of the wagon train?

The story ends abruptly, if satisfactorily. Some readers may question whether telling the children to run and hide and that they will be found when the danger has passed is a realistic scenario. The plot features a traditional nuclear family story with a bit of history about the mid-nineteenth century, but may be short of adventure for some 21st century readers. I would still recommend it as an easy chapter book for early middle-grade readers. Teachers might use it as a read aloud to supplement this period of American history.

Barbara Ann Mojica
LittleMissHistory.com

February 29, 2016

GrassNow that we are approaching March, most of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere are dreaming of warmer weather as we start to see patches of green sprouting up around us.

I sat down to think about the words “everything green” and was amazed at the number of images brought to mind. Some are associated with facial expressions: You look green, meaning one who has lost color and looks ill or “green with envy, one who is sneering with jealousy over another’s possessions. Then there are those phrases that apply to something or someone new, inexperienced or untested. New lumber is “green lumber”; a newcomer to a job is called a “greenhorn.” Not surprisingly, the word green is applied in the plant world. If you have a gift for gardening, you have a “green thumb.” When told to eat her vegetables, a child may be told to “eat your greens.” There is another set of words referring to places. A greenbelt is an area of land that is left largely undeveloped to conserve the environment. A “green room” is a lounge where performers wait before going on stage or television. Even the White House has a green room in which guests gather before a formal state affair begins.

In mid-March our attention turns to St. Patrick’s Day and the “wearing of the green.” Actually, blue waShamrocks the color originally associated with St Patrick. The term “wearing of the green” came from an Irish ballad written in the 18th century. Because the country of Ireland has more than 400 shades of green within it and became known as the “Emerald Isle,” green seems more appropriate. Also, St. Patrick is alleged to have used the green Irish shamrock to explain the Trinity. The Irish flag contains the color green. Over time the color associated with him became green. Today cities like New York and Chicago dye street lines and rivers green for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

What I find especially interesting is the story of the “greenback.” In 1862 after fighting the Civil War for one year, it became evident that war would be long and costly. State banks had already placed paper money in circulation, but the federal government issued gold coins only, which were rapidly disappearing as the war continued. So on February 25, 1862, the United States government approved the issue of paper money not backed with precious metals but with “full faith of the government” to be valid for all public and private debts. To avoid counterfeiting this paper, a patented ink which was difficult to erase and strictly guarded as a secret formula, was used on one side of these notes. The green color was difficult to photograph or copy. Because of this green color, Union soldiers who received them as pay began calling them greenbacks. Soon everyone else followed suit. Similarly, the gray or blue paper money issued by the Confederacy were known as bluebacks or gray backs.Greenback

Throughout the rest of the 60’s and 70’s the federal government issued approximately three to four million of these greenbacks not backed with gold. The increased amounts of cash was attractive to southerners and westerners who did not want to rely on the national banking system of the east which limited their ability to expand. Many of these proponents known as Greenbackers who sprang from agrarian, Jacksonian roots distrusted banking and big business. The debate continued until the Greenback party could not agree on other issues and their opponents succeeded in returning to the gold standard in 1879.

We find ourselves in the same controversy today asking questions about how much money should be in circulation,and how it should be controlled. In any case, the greenbacks are here to stay.

Enjoy the green that is popping up all around us. Happy Spring!

Barbara Ann Mojica

DWARVES AND DRAGONS

Dingo the Dragon Slayer:Master Zarvin’s Action and Adventure Series #1

Written by M.R. Mathias

Dingo,pic

 

This author has written many short stories and young adult tales about dragons and wizards. In this selection of under one hundred pages, Mathias is aiming toward a wider audience, targeting this book for ages seven and older. There are no illustrations and the text might be a stretch for seven and eight year olds, but I do think that middle grade readers who love fantasy will enjoy the book. The characters are well-developed, the reader rapidly feels their strengths and weaknesses.

Plot centers around Dingo, a dwarf who is the great grandson of Dingo, the Dragon Master who succeeded in roping a young blue dragon. Dingo is far less famous. His job is to guard the vent holes of the cave in which the dwarves of Dropull Mountains live. One day Dingo encounters a human heading toward the cave. The old man urges Dingo to abandon his post and follow him. Reluctantly agreeing to do so, Dingo discovers a dragon wants to lay her eggs in their shaft. He must warn the king.

So the adventure is set for Dingo to somehow convince the dragon to abandon her plan. How will the little dwarf succeed in that monumental task to save his people.? Who is the mysterious old man who suddenly appears to warn them.

Readers who enjoy dragons, magic, dwarves and adventure will enjoy this book. Also makes a good classroom read aloud choice as the chapters are fairly short. Reluctant readers will find the book interesting and appealing .

Barbara Ann Mojica
LittleMissHistory.com

Google Classroom is Calling!

Today we’re going to dive into Google classroom! Let’s take a good look at how to set up your Google classroom and get started with the powerful tools it offers.

What is Google Classroom?  Google Classroom allows you to set up an on-line virtual classroom complete with the ability to set up assignments, grade assignments and provide feedback and send out announcements to your students via the internet.  No more taking home suitcases full of assignments as your students’ work will be literally at your keyboard “fingertips”.

How do you set up your very own Google Class?

  1. Go to classroom.google.com/
  2. Check the upper right-hand corner of your browser to be sure you are signed into google with your school email address (Your tech department will have set this up.)
  3. Now you are ready to set up your first class. I like to set up a class for each subject area even though I have the same students for all classes. To set up a class, just click on the little + sign up by your name. Then type in the name of the class and a descriptor. That’s it! You’ve made your first class.  Want to see it in more detail? Here’s a great tutorial that shows how!

In Google Classroom, you can STREAM announcements, add assignments, give STUDENTS feedback, and set up information ABOUT your class.

4.  Next you can put in some information about your class.  Just go to the ABOUT button and tell your students about your class with information like where the class takes place, a description, etc.

5. Now your ready to add some assignments. It’s easy to do .  Just watch this tutorial to get you started.

6. Finally, Let’s take a look at what your students will get and how they can open and complete assignments.
First they can attach almost any kind of work to hand in: file, google doc, or link to their work on the web. Here’s how:

If they’re working with a google doc or form that was teacher created, then they can simply complete their copy and hit the “turn in” button. Here’s a good student tutorial to show your students how:

So there you have it,  you are ready to set up your google class and get googlin! Have fun, and enjoy the learning journey.

Book Review: Runaway Smile

Runaway Smile: An unshared smile is a waste of time (Niditales Book 1)

Written by Nicholas C. Rossis

Illustrated by Dimitris Fousekis

RunawaySmile,pic

Readers who take the time to read the Prologue will discover the secret of this book. Plot is simple: a little boy wakes up one morning and finds that he has lost his smile. Shortly after, the reader is introduced to a set of quirky characters that will definitely make him smile. The boy’s dog, wears glasses, reads Proust and drives a car. A clothes-eating monster lives in the bedroom closet and ants windsurf across the boy’s breakfast cereal, but the boy is steadfast in his search to find the missing smile.

The boy meets several adult characters on his way to school. A workman, a man walking his gold;-) fish, a king being photographed, the greatest salesman in the world, and a clown, each display smiles that they are unwilling to share with the boy. At school, the boy asks his teacher, but she replies that a classroom is no place for a smile and proceeds to pass out a test! By this time the poor boy is completely disheartened. When he gets home, he asks his mother how to find his smile. She reveals the secret.

The sepia-toned illustrations in this book are done beautifully; they capture the spirit and humor of the tale. A poem, “Ode to a runaway smile,” included at the end portrays the cleverness and wit of the author. Adults will understand all the nuances of this story. The simple illustration on the cover is a bit misleading as to the underlying story. Young children will enjoy the pictures but probably won’t grasp some of the concepts without adult guidance. I feel the book is best suited for independent readers who enjoy different kinds of books with an unusual plot so I would especially recommend it for ages ten and older.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Book Review: PotPourri

WILLAKAVILLE: Baffling Ballads of Boisterous Braveness

Written by Bald Guy

Willakaville,pic

I was drawn to this book by the mysterious title as well as the pseudonym of the author. The dedication is for anyone trying to follow their dreams. They are strange dreams indeed. Ten stories centering around children learning how to deal with life and its problems. For example, in the first tale, Daisy and her mother are working in the garden when suddenly the plants and garbage are at war with one another. Soon the planet is being overcome: Daisy figures out a war to initiate a truce. She and the residents of Willakaville find a solution to please everyone. In the Lost City, Jeremy receives a mysterious necklace that proves to be his salvation, but he will have to keep what he found a secret forever. Equestrian lovers Kara and Judy get a lot more than they bargained for while riding one day. They are enlisted to help Acknothilus save Snobbleland, meeting dinosaurs, two-headed beasts and a golden nose. Readers will also meet Suzy, who has an overactive imagination, robot insects trying to take over the world, and a boy named Eric who is trapped under the town in a sewer. I think you get the idea. Creative stories involving interesting characters based on real issues that tweens and teens face in real life.

Magic, fantasy, science fiction, bullying, coming of age issues, family relationships and ghosts are just a few of the elements woven into the tales. The plots might seem far-fetched but they strike familiar chords. Recommended for readers who like to use their imaginations and enjoy getting lost in a fascinating read. Most appropriate for ages ten and older though younger children will certainly enjoy these stories if read aloud with guidance.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Take Out the Tobaggans! The History of Sledding

Flyer2On a recent trip down to my basement, I spotted my old flexible flyer sled. Thinking about winter recreation, I sat down to do some historical research on sledding.

The word sled comes from the Middle English word sledde. That word goes back to the Old Dutch word slee which translates to slider or sliding. The word has a common ancestry with sleigh and sledge. Our neolithic ancestors may have used a variation made of whalebone. Ancient Egyptians are thought to have used a type of sledge to haul the huge stones over the land for their public works. Both sleds and sledges have been found in Viking ship excavations. The sledge appeared to be valuable for an economic reason as well; because it had no wheels it was exempt from toll collection. The British used sledges hauled by men in their early Arctic and Antarctic explorations. Dog sleds were used by other early explorers like Roald Amundsen.

A sled, sledge or sleigh is a land vehicle that has an underside that is smooth or maybe even a separate body that has two narrow long runners supporting it. It moves by sliding across a surface that does not offer much friction like snow or ice. Some of them were used on mud, grass or even smooth stones. Such vehicles might transport passengers, cargo or a combination of the two. A preference for one of the three names depended on the region and climate. Here in America, sled is the general term but this usually refers to a small device used for recreation. Sledge or stone boat is more often used for a heavy sled intended to move heavy objects. The word sleigh usually implies a moderate sized open vehicle having passenger seats used during the cold season as an alternative to a wagon or carriage most often drawn by horses. In the Santa Claus legend, the Scandinavian reference to reindeer supplanted the horses.

 As the advances of the Industrial Revolution progressed, men and women found themselves with more leisure time and sleds quickly transformed themselves into a form of recreation. There are several variations geared for downhill sledding. A toboggan is a log sled without runners that is most often made of wood or plastic. That name comes from either the Algonquin word odabaggin or the Anishinabe word nobugidaban. Inuit tribesmen made them out of whalebone. Other tribes used either birch or tamarack wood. These sleds had curved fronts but no runners. The Russians built a toboggan wooden structure to slide down toward the end of the nineteenth century in St. Petersburg. The sport of tobogganing started around the same time in Canada and rapidly gained popularity. Tobogganing also became a fashion event; women wore their best clothes and men their top hats while sliding down the chute. An unknown inventor added a handlebar and a pair or runners to a timber sled, and the kicksled powered by human leg power emerged. They were used on hard, slippery surfaces like lakes and rivers and could reach speeds of eighteen miles per hour. Clippers and cutters were first mass produced in the United States in Maine. The flexible flyer received its patent in 1889. Samuel Leeds Allen developed sleds to keep his workers busy at his factory during the winter. This type of sled had a slatted wooden seat and steel runners with something resembling a hinge near the back that allowed some steering. By the twentieth century, new shapes and materials were introduced for sledding. There are round plastic saucers, inflatable plastic sleds and foam sliders made of durable foam with handles.Flyer1

A few types of sleds are used competitively in sports: the bobsled, luge and skeleton. An unknown inventor created the bobsled when he added a mechanism for steering to the toboggan. Its name came from the fact that early users thought it helped to “bob” their heads to gain speed. The two variations on the bobsled are the skeleton which is a one person sled ridden lying down head first, and the luge in which one or two people sled feet first steering by pulling straps attached to its runners. Beginning in 1924 as an Olympic sport, today bobsledding is a part of the Winter Olympics for men and women. Whether you enjoy hitting the slopes for fun or watching the Olympics, winter sledding remains a popular winter activity.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

A Little Late, But Still Worth Celebrating!

BloggerMCBD2016

I was sent this  post from a dear friend who is a part of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day. My bad that I didn’t get it up on Wednesday, but it’s still worth celebrating this wonderful effort to raise awareness!  Enjoy.

1. Our Mission: The MCCBD team’s mission to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.

The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. You can find a bio for Mia and Valarie here.

Multicultural Children’s Book day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors! #ReadYourWorld

Platinum: Wisdom Tales Press * StoryQuest Books*Lil Libros

Gold: Author Tori Nighthawk*Candlewick Press,* Bharat Babies

Silver: Lee and Low Books*Chronicle Books*Capstone Young Readers T

Tuttle Publishing ,NY Media Works, LLC/KidLit TV

Bronze: Pomelo Books* Author Jacqueline Woodson*Papa Lemon Books* Goosebottom Books*Author Gleeson Rebello*ShoutMouse Press*Author Mahvash Shahegh* China Institute.org*Live Oak Media

Our CoHosts

All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share,Educators Spin on it,Growing Book by Book,Imagination Soup,I’m Not the Nanny,InCultural Parent, Kid World Citizen,Mama Smiles,Multicultural Kid Blogs,Spanish Playground

Teachers! Earn a FREE #Multicultural Kids Book for Your Classroom! #teachers, #books #teacherlife
http://ow.ly/UUy96
The Classroom Reading Challenge has begun! Teachers can earn a free diversity book! #teachers, #books
http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/?p=1796

 

 

 

NOW I AM PLEASED TO PRESENT MY BOOK REVIEW

Obstacl
ēs

Written by Gregory E. Ransome

OBSTACLES,pic

Obstaclēs has a difficult problem. He is facing his thirteenth year and his prospects of being accepted at Fo Fum Prep, the school for training giants is next to nil. While he has a stout heart, he lacks the size of a giant and he suffers from AED (Attention Elsewhere Disorder). If Obstaclēs is not accepted, he faces banishment from his homeland of Humongopolis. But Obstaclēs has a plan, he will introduce the dreaded Dragonbush Rash and then swoop in with the cure of Saw Grass Tea and become a hero.

Unfortunately, Obstaclēs never gets a chance to implement his plan. His grandmother engages her neighbor Zorgon, the bean giant farmer to whisk Obstaclēs away to Podunkia Educational Academy and Remedy for Lost Sheep (PEARLS). To get there, the travelers will have to cross The Forest of Future Regret,the Lake of Lost Souls, the Willow Hawk Raptors and the lizard kingdom. Obstaclēs,will meet up with a human friend named Griff, and together they will outsmart their enemies. As the adventure unfolds, Obstaclēs learns a lot about himself, those he loves, and how to be true to oneself.

This book is the perfect choice for middle school students coping with issues of bullying,mental or physical disabilities, self-esteem and coming of age. The author artfully combines alliteration, onomatopoeia, and colorful imagery to paint the plot. There are a few well-drawn black and white illustrations inserted at critical junctures of the story line. Combining elements of fantasy, science fiction, fairy tale, and adventure, this fictional account of less than two hundred pages is a good choice for multicultural students ages eight through twelve, reluctant readers, and parents or teachers who want to enjoy a well-written story that hits the mark on addressing so many issues children growing up in today’s complex world.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS FEED button in the upper
right hand corner of this post.

HERE IS A GAME THAT PARENTS OR TEACHERS CAN SHARE WITH THEIR CHILDREN TO PROMOTE FEELINGS OF SELF-WORTH:

selfesteemgame

 

 

Barbara Ann Mojica

Book Review: A Tale of Courage

Dearie: A Tale of Courage (Chapter Books Book 1)

Written by Gita V. Reddy

Dearie,pic

Beginning chapter book of approximately thirty-five pages which is just right for a new or reluctant reader. The protagonist is a deer named Dearie. At first, it appeared that Dearie was too weak and frail to survive. Beating the odds, he soon grew strong and fast. As time went on, a bigger problem surfaced. Whenever danger appeared, Dearie froze. He could not respond to danger. That put the rest of the herd at risk.

Despite the pleadings of his mother, it is agreed that Dearie must leave the herd to learn how to overcome his fears and master the skills needed to survive. Dearie must face wild boar, wolves, lions and crocodiles. Will Dearie find his courage, and more importantly, will he ever rejoin his beloved herd?

This is an animal coming of age story that teaches children we all must not be afraid how to learn to be independent. Simple pen and ink drawings accompany the short chapters. I think the plot begins a bit slowly; the real story unfolds halfway through the book in Chapter 5. Recommended as an independent read for eight to ten-year-olds or for reluctant readers who feel challenged by the length of most middle-grade chapter books. Short enough to be used as a read aloud classroom discussion.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Let Students Tell Their Story with Adobe Voice

Wowza! I was so excited this week to happen across a new tool (new to me, anyway) called Adobe Voice.  Adobe Voice is a free app for the ipad that will make it easy peasy to do any kind of digital storytelling or report presentations with your class. In about 8 – 10 minutes you’ll have a digital story complete with text, music and images. What I like about it most, is that it’s fast and easy to use. Kids  and teachers need that!  Here’s a quick guide on how to use it:

  1. Download the free app onto your ipad.
  2. Hit + Create a New Story. It will prompt you to give a name to your project. Just type it in.
  3. Then it will give you a variety of story structures to choose from: Share an invitation, Promote an Idea, Tell What Happened, Explain Something, Follow a Hero’s Journey, Show and Tell, Teach a Lesson, or Make Up Your Own. Just click on one to get started.
  4. Now you see a screen that lets you add an icon, a photo or text, or any combination ( by clicking on layout at the top you can add more than one). You can choose a photo from your ipad gallery, take a picture, use dropbox, or search for royalty photos on the internet right from the app. Make your choice to add it to the slide.
  5. Then hold down the record button and speak your narration for the picture. There’s a playback button to hear the results. If you don’t like them, just hit record again and try again. It records over your first attempt.  It won’t take long to get it right.
  6. That’s it! That’s all there is to making a slide. The app automatically puts a blank background and background music behind with your slide, but you can easily change all, if you like, by clicking one of the features at the top: Layout, Themes, Music.  All are easily customized with simple clicks.
  7. You are done! Now you can share to Facebook, twitter, etc. or download to the cameral roll to save it to your PC for sharing. It’s just that easy!

Here’s a sample Voice Story that I made in about 10 minutes:

What a powerful tool in teacher’s hands! Now you can have students tell their story in a matter of minutes, use this to create lessons, or modify materials for students. (I can think of so many applications for this app!)

If you’d like to see more tutorial on this, you can find a great one here: How to Tell Your Story with Adobe Voice

Hope this is helpful.

As always, if you have questions, I’m here.

Best,Sharon

Sharon

Book Review: Step into Another World

The Crumbling Brick: The Land of Neo Book 1

Written by JoHannah Reardon

Crumblingbrick,pc

This approximately one hundred page book might be likened to a Christian fairy tale. Some reviewers have noted similarities to The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. Targeted for readers age seven and up, I feel that it will appeal most to tweens and young teens. The characters are charming, appealing, and fairly well developed for the length of the story.

Plot involves a twelve-year-old girl named Ella, who lives in her grandmother’s urban house. One rainy day, she is asked to clean the basement. Ella reluctantly agrees; she finds a loose brick behind an old trunk. When she removes it, Ella finds a beautiful fantasy world on the other side. She steps into it and embarks on an adventure that involves a princess, her suitors, a unicorn, some mischievous monkeys, and a bear mentor named Sequor. Ella learns that the wise and all-knowing Kosmeo has chosen her to save the land of Neo. Ward, her unicorn friend, will assist her in warning the princess Onyma that one of her suitors is involved in a plot to overthrow her kingdom. While the story is somewhat predictable, there are enough twists and turns with delightful characters and moral lessons to give the fairy tale a wide appeal to boys and girls alike.

This book is the first of a series. It can be used as bedtime story, an independent chapter book or a classroom read aloud that combines many interesting elements for classroom discussion. If you enjoy fairy tales, give this one a look.

Barbara Ann Mojica,

www.LittleMissHistory.com

Book Review: The 3 Monkeys Christmas Treehouse

The 3 Monkeys Christmas Treehouse (Monkey Tales Book 5)

Written by Rob “Nanook” Natiuk

3Monkeys,pic

This is my first time reading a book in this series. Delightful story about three monkey siblings, Booey, Fooey and Hooey and their Jungle friends. The book is an interactive reading experience with ample opportunities for the reader to pause and allow the listeners to blurt out their responses by repeating, singing, or animating the sounds and actions of the characters in the stories.

In the first tale the three siblings receive a gift from their Grandpa Monk. At first they are puzzled by the red, white and green Christmas balls and stringed lights. Booey, the female, figures out they must be ornaments for a Christmas tree like the one she saw in the town. So they set off to find the perfect Christmas tree. Readers will meet some of their friends like the gorilla, crocodile and turtle. In the end, they find the perfect tree right under their noses. Tale two finds our friends looking over their Christmas list. As they travel to Coconut Town, they sing clever monkey songs adapted to familiar Christmas songs like “Jingle Bells,” and “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” They knock on doors of animal friends seeking to find the true meaning of Christmas. Finally, they discover that, “ A friend in need is a friend indeed.” In tale three, wise old Grandpa Monk tells his grandchildren the story of Santa Paws in the Jungle with his circus wagon pulled by eight zebras. Will the siblings find presents under the tree? The fourth tale speaks of the let down feeling many of us experience in the days after Christmas. Our friends have already tired of their presents; they ponder their New Year’s Resolutions. What do they share with their readers?

This book is perfect for elementary school children. Older siblings can read to younger brothers and sisters or the family can share the reading experience. Young children will love the repetition and songs. I will be reading other books in this series. Very entertaining, clever, and highly recommended.

Best regards,
Barbara
LittleMissHistory.com

Middle Grade Ebooks for FREE!

Hey there teachers, homeschoolers and parents who are looking for ways to get their kids interested in reading,

out of world promo

Oh yeah, and did I mention for very little cost?  I don’t know about you, but I like getting quality for cheap! So…read on to find out how!

First let me say how exciting it is to have my own novel, The Jewel of Peru, offered for free, alongside so many other talented authors who are also offering their books for just .99 or FREE! But of course you have to act fast, because this is only for a limited time. Yep, it’s time to fill the Kindles and ipads of our middle-grade readers (or those like me who like MG lit) with great reads at very little cost.  What have you got to lose?  Scroll all the way down and check out the titles, then download away!

Now, a note from the organizer :

I’m excited about this promotion because it’s geared to one of my favorite audiences: middle-grade readers! I’ve always been passionate about books written for kids ages 9 through 12. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Fablehaven, Diary of a Wimpy Kid… all excellent. 🙂 I wrote The Key of Kilenya when my younger brother, Josh, who was 12 at the time, told me there weren’t enough books for him to read. He’d ripped through everything our local library had and was hungry for more.

I dedicate this promotion to him and to all other readers who love and are searching for books written for middle graders!

The Multi-Author Middle-Grade Book Promotion starts January 4, 2016 and ends January 7, 2016.

 

From $5.99 to FREE
Kindle Nook  * iTunesAll Jacob wants is to make the basketball team. All the Lorkon want is to control the magical powers Jacob doesn’t know he possesses.

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KindleTwelve-year-old Steven never wondered where the Loch Ness monster or Big Foot came from until he found a stone box with a dangerous secret–one people are willing to kill for!

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Kindle * Nook * KoboMore than anything, Benjamin Ravenspell wants a pet, but when he buys a mouse named Amber, he gets more than he bargained for.

 

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Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iTunesCassandra’s ordinary life is riddled with hilarious and sometimes heart-breaking mishaps as she guides herself through the world of pre-teens on the brink of adulthood.

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Kindle * Nook * KoboPart Neanderthal, but raised as a human, Arken Freeth finds that he doesn’t fit in either world as he struggles to survive.

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Kindle * Nook * KoboAn eleven-year-old girl discovers she has the power to grant any living thing its one true wish.

 

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Kindle * Nook * KoboWhen a malnourished horse shows up as a rescue at the farm where she volunteers, Jacinda, a bullied girl, takes it on as a project horse, and the mare’s sweet nature inspires her to spread kindness around to make a positive difference in the world.

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Kindle * Nook * KoboJenni Kershaw and her eighth grade science class take a field trip they will never forget. Dragons and goblins and spirits, oh my!

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Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iTunesWhen Colin suddenly learns he has magic, he discovers that Atlantis is real, and that his new mermaid friend, Alleya, is in trouble.

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Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iTunesBed bugs, burglars, and a missing mother. For Doodle, itís just part of a dayís work. A laugh-out-loud mystery for dog lovers of all ages.

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Kindle * Nook * KoboTo save her brother, the banshee Seven must save Atlantis.

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KindleOne girl with a nightmare to live through; one ghost with a dream to live. With so much to lose, can anything be gained?

 

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KindleEnter a world of myth and magic as young English boy Thomas Farrell seeks to discover the identity of his late father, and why he left him a strange glass orb containing a serpent…

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KindleWhen eating dog kibble on a dare gives 10-year-old Tawny special powers, her life nearly goes to the dogs!

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Kindle * Nook * KoboTwins Justin and Janine discover a mysterious egg … can they protect the hatchling while lost in Montana’s Absaroka wilderness?

 

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KindleDaniel doesn’t think there’s anything worse than spending a week at Camp Bigfoot . . . until he loses his prized possession: a pencil that brings his drawings to life.

 

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Nook * KoboLaughing and Learning Little Life Lessons

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KindleWhen a blast from the past shows up and makes her BFF go nutburgers, Ginnie is torn between helping her friend and getting some very important questions answered.

 

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Kindle * Nook * KoboHarry Potter and The Hobbit rolled into one captivating and humorous epic fantasy series that will have kids begging for more.

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Kindle * Nook * KoboWinner of the Mom’s Choice Award honoring excellence in media for children. Classic fantasy adventure – quirky, funny, sinister, and action-packed

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Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iTunesTo save his friends from a dystopian future Earth, Nikolas leads them to a fantastic Moon in the past. But what happens when the fantastic becomes fatal?

 

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Kindle * Nook * KoboExplore the magical history of Kendra Kandlestar’s world in this collection of bonus tales from the Land of Een.

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Kindle * Nook * iTunesDREAMS: Dorothy called it Oz, Alice called it Wonderland, but Nightmares call it HOME.

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Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iTunesWhat’s worse than stumbling upon the dead body of the Cat Lady? Being accused of her murder. Sarah Cole and her friends take it upon themselves to catch the Cat Lady Killer.

 

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Kindle * NookWhen Turik finds a special egg his Grandfather is kidnapped and he must balance his power for good with the strength of the evil that wishes to consume him.

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KindleFelicity, an ordinary sparrow learns that she can do extraordinary things!

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Kindle * Nook * KoboWhen a group of crazed ninjas take over their school, the Smartboys fight back. And it all happens on a day when Monkey has the worst case of flatulence imaginable.

 

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Kindle * Nook * KoboGeorge, the magical basset hound, is on the trail of the mysterious ghosty haunting his Packmate, Tillie.

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KindleThe legend of the little red hen, as told by the acorn that smacked her in the head. NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO CHANGE THE WORLD!

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KindleCarter’s life changes when an old man entrusts him with a book of magical spells, one of which grants the power to raise people from the dead.

 

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KindleEver wonder what it would be like to be pulled into your computer? Sarah is about to find out.

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Kindle Nook * Kobo * iTunesIt takes more than a school trip to change Christy’s life. It takes murder.

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Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iTunesWhen a savage pirate and a corrupt businessman join forces to steal the treasure for themselves, Christopher and his crew get caught up in pirate chases, time travel, and an underground network of spies!

 

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Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iTunesSemi-autobiographical adventures from a 20th Century Northern California outdoorsman

From $2.99 to $0.99
Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iTunesThe future looks bleak unless eighteen-year-old Lance and his young New Camelot Earth Warriors can save the planet from catastrophic climate change.

Enjoy your new books! 🙂

photo credit: BlueSpace via photopin (license)

Book Review: Wishapick, Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk

Wishapick Blog Tour Header Image

Book and Soundtrack Review: Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk

HOPE FOR TOMORROW

Wishapick Tickety Boo And The Black Trunk

Written by M.M. Allen
Wishapick Music and Lyrics by Deborah Wynne

I agreed to review this book as part of a blog tour, and was really delighted once I opened it. Targeted for a middle-grade audience of 9-12 year old children, this well-written book contains elements of adventure, fantasy, magic and humor in just the right combination.

Jack and his younger sister Lilly are the main protagonists. Since his father’s death two years before, Jack has remained angry and sullen. In the opening scene, readers feel this tension between them when Lilly accidentally breaks the spy drone Jack has built for a science project. But Lilly has a surprise for Jack; she has overheard their mother talking on the phone and now knows the location of the key that will open the mysterious black trunk his father left behind. Their mother has expressly forbidden them to open it. Jack cannot contain his curiosity. When he opens the trunk he falls inside, and down into a black hole surrounded by snakes. Unknown to Jack, Lilly follows him inside. So the adventure begins….

The siblings will meet a fascinating cast of animal characters including snakes, possums, skunks, and wolves. They will learn the meaning of their mother’s mantra, “Breath of all good things.” The mystery of their father’s death will be revealed, and they will discover the value of embracing hope versus despair while displaying courage and teamwork.

This book reminds me a bit of Charlotte’s Web and Alice through the Looking Glass, but this plot is unique and the language colorful. Length of the book is under 150 pages, one that I feel is just right for a middle-grade audience. As a bonus, readers may purchase a companion CD with music that matches the various moods and scenarios presented in the book. Listening to the music and closing one’s eyes, the reader can easily feel transported inside a Disney movie.

I highly recommend this Five Star Readers’ Favorite book to middle-grade readers interested in a humorous, imaginative adventure fusing realistic and magical elements with characters with whom they can easily empathize. Librarians and teachers could use this book as a read aloud to open up discussion on many topics relevant to this audience.

Barbara Ann Mojica
LittleMissHistory.com

The History and Traditions of Celebrating the New Year

TimesSquareHow did you ring in the New Year? Were you dining out on New Year’s Eve with loved ones, watching the ball drop in Times Square, watching The Rose Ball Parade and football on TV or enjoying a traditional family dinner with friends on New Year’s Day?

Our New Year traditions can be traced back to the Romans. Parties to celebrate the New Year were rowdy and boisterous with much drinking and partying. They probably are the source of the New Year’s kiss tradition. In medieval and Renaissance times the wealthier Europeans held masked balls believed to help purify the New Year. The masks that they wore symbolized the bad spirits; only after midnight could their masks be removed. After the mask was discarded, people were permitted to kiss. This kiss was a sign of purification for the New Year.

The song “Auld Lang Syne” is popular in many countries. A Scotsman named Robert Burns restored the song based on an old ballad and added some of his own verses. The song was first published in1796 after his death, and soon became a popular tune to be sung as the clock struck midnight.

A historical event occurred on January 1, 1863, which ushered in the New Year’s tradition of Watch Services. President Abraham Lincoln had warned the Confederacy that if they did not return to the Union by that date, he would release the slaves. They did nothing; so on January 1, 1863, his famous Emancipation Proclamation became effective. Americans throughout the country began the tradition of Watch Services, which was a celebration of that Proclamation becoming the law of the land. Today many Americans still gather in homes and churches as they did on that first “Freedom’s Eve.” They celebrate with prayers and joyful songs.RoseBowlold

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, members of an organization in Pasadena, California known as The Hunt Club arranged an event with their former friends on the East Coast. It consisted of chariot races, foot races, polo, jousting, and tug of war games. Because of the warm California weather and the availability of flowers, they introduced a pre-event parade in which the contestants decorated carriages with flowers. Later on, they added marching bands, floats and viewing stands. This parade grew so fast that by 1895 the Tournament of Roses Association was set up to organize it. Recently it has evolved to include computerized animation and professional float building companies. The Rose Bowl Football game was added in 1902. Today millions of people view the Rose Parade and football game which follows.Modernparade

Shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, Alfred Oaks, owner of the New York Times building, began the tradition of dropping the New Year ball on a pole in Times Square, New York City exactly at midnight on New Year’s Eve.The original ball was made of iron and wood. It took one minute to descend down the pole, and arrived exactly at midnight. Today that ball is made of Waterford Crystal six feet in diameter and weighs 1070 pounds. More than a million people often crowd intoTimes Square on New Year’s Eve. They party as the celebration is televised throughout the world. No matter which of these traditions or any other your family celebrates, I wish you health, happiness and prosperity for the coming New Year!

Barbara Ann Mojica,

Do I Have to Teach Vocabulary in Math?

As a member of the numeracy committee for my school division, I get the chance to listen and learn from many gifted math teachers in our division.  I love the collaborative nature of the meetings, designed to move us in the direction of better instruction for our students.  This week one of the important topics of discussion stemmed around our desire for continuity in the teaching of math vocabulary.

So what’s the deal?  Would teaching common terms to our students really make a big difference? Should we be taking our math time to address vocabulary? Yes!  The research is clear.  Math vocabulary instruction is effective and vital to support deeper math understanding.

Research has informed us that semantics, word identification, and vocabulary (e.g., repeated readings, rhymes), as shown in Figure 1, are essential cognitive features in word problem solutions (Capraro, Capraro, & Cifarelli, 2007) just as they are in reading comprehension and understanding (Pressley, 2002; Smagorinsky, Cook, & Reed, 2005).
Figure 1. (Capraro, Robert M., Mary Margaret Capraro, and William H. Rupley. 2010)vocab fig1
Another great resource is the article by Pamela Dunsten and Andrew Tyminski.  I’ll try to summarize some of the important points here, but take a moment to read the full article for a more comprehensive explanation. What’s the Big Deal about Vocabulary?
  • Math vocabulary terms should be taught in the context of learning math concepts.
  • Using a variety of different models/graphic organizers for students to express their understanding, is effective.  (ie. The Freyer model, tables, Four Square model, Feature Analysis tables, etc.)
  • Providing examples of what a term is, and what it is not, leads to deeper understanding.
  • Associating new vocabulary terms with words or concepts that a student already knows helps them to retain the new word with a meaningful context.
  • Having students express their understanding of terms with pictures, numbers and/or words, leads to deeper conceptualization.
 In the meeting, we all agreed that it would be beneficial to come up with a common list of vocabulary assigned according to curriculum standards at each grade level.  This would be an important first step in the process. My many thanks to Rebecca Nelson-Fitzpatrick for sharing the list developed at her school.  Though the list is not comprehensive, it is a great start taken from the AB program of studies.  It definitely is a great first step and one that should be shared in the interest of meeting student needs. The next step is to provide direct instruction and practice.
Can we achieve the dream of weaving good vocabulary instructional practices into our math instruction?  We absolutely must. With that end in mind, this week’s newsletter freebie is a complete word wall of the common words from AB’s Program of Studies for Kindergarten to Grade 6. Not only that, but I’ve put together some printable graphic organizer black-line masters to help you “achieve the dream” in your classroom!
 To get access to this FAB FREEBIE, and others,  just subscribe to my newsletter on the sidebar or in the pop-up.  I can’t wait to connect and share with you.
Best,
Sharon

Sources:

Capraro, Robert M., Mary Margaret Capraro, and William H. Rupley. 2010. “Semantics and Syntax: A Theoretical Model for How Students May Build Mathematical Misunderstandings.” Journal of Mathematics Education 3 (2): 5866. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02702710600642467

Fisher, Douglas, and Nancy Frey. 2008. Word Wise and Content Rich, Grades 712: Five Essential Steps to Teaching Academic Vocabulary. Portsmouth, NH:Heinemann.

Dunsten, Pamela J. and Tyminski, Andrew M., “What’s the Big Deal about Vocabulary?” Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School. Vol.19, No. 1, August 2013, The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Inc. .www.nctm.org.

Book Review – Saving Christmas

Children’s Book: Saving Christmas (Kids Action Adventure)

Author: Morris Fenris

SavingChristmas,pic

The book description, cover, and reviews suggest that this book is appropriate for children of all ages. Some parents might argue that it is not at all appropriate for children, but rather suited to young adults and adults.

There are four parts. In the first, readers meet a girl named Mary who generally spends Christmas alone. On Christmas Eve, she is out for a ride on her horse when she hears a strange noise and meets with an accident resulting in her being thrown from her horse. When she wakes up, Mary finds herself in a strange cabin with a white haired man. She is surrounded by unfamiliar sights and sounds. The second story features Mrs. Claus at the North Pole many years later supervising the elves on Christmas Eve. She experiences a strange sense of foreboding and a dramatic change in Santa’s personality. Part Three leads Mary to a sleigh ride in order to find Santa’s mother. The reindeer Vixen knows that she will be able to save Christmas. Finally in the fourth part, Mary realizes her true role and the reader learns what happened to Mary’s horse on the night of her accident.

The stories contain many run on sentences and grammar that needs some editing. It is difficult to classify the genre of these stories. Elements of romance, mystery, and adventure, but definitely not a kids book. This book contains some familiar characters and symbols, but adults should be aware of multiple layers of meaning and some inappropriate language.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Middle-Grade Book Review- Egyptian Diary

Egyptian Diary: Journal of a Young Scribe

Written by Richard Platt

Illustrated by David Parkins

eGYPTIAN DIARY2

An unusual picture book, in size and scope. I read the paperback version, written in large print and generous in its approximately 10 X 13 inch size. This book is written in first person diary format. Nakht is a nine-year-old boy living in the reign of Pharaoh Hatshepsut in ancient Egypt. His father has just been given a promotion in the city of Memphis. Nakht writes in his diary about his adventure, including lots of details about daily life in Egypt, cultural mores, religion, farming, hunting, and craftsmen. The plot takes a dramatic turn when Nakht and his sister, Tamyt discover a tomb robber conspiracy which will take them to the city of Thebes and land them in the court of the palace of Hatshepsut. They are astonished to discover that the Pharaoh is a woman.

Illustrated with beautiful color drawings by Parkins, the reader is transported back 3,500 years. These drawings are beautifully done; the expressions of the faces are somewhat exaggerated to display characters’ emotions. The author provides an extensive appendix which includes notes about geography, society, religion, the pyramids and archaeology.

Targeted for children in grades four through seven, the large pictures might even draw the attention of children slightly younger. Generally recommended for children in the eight to twelve-year-old range. Anyone interested in ancient Egyptian history will delight in this book. Great choice for homeschooling parents as a fine introduction to the study of this topic.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe by clicking on the word Follow or by hitting the orange RSS FEED button in the upper right-hand corner of this page.

Barbara Ann Mojica
LittleMissHistory.com

Book Review: An Olde Christmas Carol

An Olde Christmas Carol: A Storm Ketchum Tale

Written by Garrett Dennis

OldeChristmasTale,pic

Part of a series of books focusing on the character of Storm Ketchum and a series of mysteries which take place on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This particular short story is an introduction or a companion piece to that series.

Ketch is sitting in his rocking chair on the porch of a rented cottage on a cold January morning with his beagle named Jack; he is about to retire to Cape Hatteras. Thinking about what to do, he vacillates between staying put or attending the Rodanthe celebration. Following a strange feeling pulling Ketch to drive there, he is startled to meet his ex-wife with whom he reminisces about the past, confront the ghost Old Buck, and together with Jack, solve a crime. Did Ketch imagine all these things, or did they really happen?

There are echoes of Dickens in this short story, a chance at redemption and a new beginning. A pleasant read for teens and adults and a great way to get into the mood for the Christmas season.

Book Review: The Secrets of Sinbad’s Cave

The Secrets’s of Sinbad’s Cave (Book 1 in the Natnat Adventures)

Written by Brydie Walker Bain

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The first book in this adventure series combines myths, legends, fantasy, magic and treasure hunting into an exciting read not only for tweens and teens but for adult readers as well. Set in New Zealand, the book also offers a glimpse into a part of the world unknown to many.

As the story opens, readers meet Drake and Cortez, who are professional thieves seeking to find a long lost treasure hidden in the caves. In the second chapter, we meet Mike and his children, Nat, Jack, Kathleen who are struggling to save the farm and their beloved horses, which they are about to lose due to financial troubles. When Kathleen falls through a hole in the roof of the attic, she finds a hidden room complete with a treasure box of clues, and the adventure begins. The children have only two weeks left of summer vacation to solve the mystery and save the farm before they have to return to their mother living in the city.

Assisted by their friends, Elijah and Barnaby they set off on their quest. Their clues lead them to seek help from the Maori, Abraham Te Kaitiaki and his niece, Riki. When thieves break into the children’s home seeking the box, all realize the danger. But the children and their Maori guides are relentless. A giant eagle, pixies (Patupaiarehe), and a tiny magic bird encourage the children not to give up. Where did this legend come from and how is it connected to this family? Will they be able to unravel the clues ahead of the professional thieves and save the family farm?

The author does a great job of moving the plot along and introduces enough complications to keep the story interesting. I read the book in one sitting, but the book could easily be used in a classroom as a read aloud or link to many subject different areas of curriculum. Bain entices the reader by giving a preview of the next adventure, which sounds just as exciting as the first. Highly recommended for treasure hunters age nine and older.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Writing A Christmas Circle Story

To get my Class in the Christmas mood, we started writing Christmas circle stories last week! (You know, the kind of story that ends in the same place it started).

First we read The Carpenter’s Gift, by David Rubel. This touching story about the huge Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center,  is a great way to introduce the circle story plot.

TheCarpenter'sGift

After reading the story, we used a picture prompt to brainstorm ideas for our own circle story.  Then we used this story planner to plan our stories.  The kids are excited to get writing their stories this week and I am excited to show them how they can develop each story event with “showing” using sensory imagery. I can hardly wait to read the stories they create!

Circlestoryplanner

Free this week only. Click on the pic!

If you’d like a copy of this story planner, just click on the pic!   Also included, are bonus story started pictures to get you started!

If you have some students who would like their stories published online, or would like to share with my class, let me know. I love to celebrate student writing.  Message me to see how we can share!

Have fun creating circle stories in your classroom!

Best,

Sharon
720 × 90

Flipped out over Flippety! Simple Flashcard Review Tool

I just learned about this awesome review/flash card tool called FLIPPETY that I am flipped out for and excited to share with you!  Let me explain.

FLIPPETY  is a tool that let’s you convert a simple Excel doc. into “flippable”—I’m not sure that’s a word, but I’m using it anyway— online flashcards, in a flash!  The tool is a fast easy way to create a review for test, new vocabulary, or any content that you want to go over with students. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Flippety.net.
  2. Read the simple instructions, which are basically:
    1. Make a copy of the template, change the questions and name them.
    2. Go to file ->publish to web ->publish. Then copy the link.
    3. Click on “get the link here” tab. Paste the link into the light blue cell (you’ll see the tab at the bottom of your flippety doc), to get the link to your flashcards.
    4. Click on the link to view your cards.  Be sure to bookmark or post the link, so you can access them easily in the future.
    5. Wallah! You are done.  You can share the link with parents, collaborative teachers, or your students so they can access the review from any device.  Cool, huh?

I made this review for my class in about 5 minutes.  It was easy and fun.

The Rocky Mountain Region Review

You can even color code the flash cards according to question type, or just add color for interest. Check it out!

One final bonus? Flippety also generates a printable list of the questions/answers, a word cloud, and a printable quiz! And… if you prefer to make it into a Jeopardy type game board, instead of just flashcards, you can! Great just got better! Here’s the link with instructions: Flippety Quizshow Link

This tool is now on my list of “Most useful” for the classroom. I hope you find it useful in your classroom, too!

Sharing is caring! If you found this post useful, please share, like or tweet about it! And before you go, be sure join our weekly newsletter so you’ll never miss another post. Newsletter subscribers also have exclusive access to fabulous freebies.  Each week I give away new resources for your classroom, absolutely free! Sign up to get access to these freebies each week!

Best,

Sharon