"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Celebrate: A week of wonderful learning experiences

Discover. Play. Build.
Learning is always happening in the library. Learning occurs during conversations, read alouds, book searches, research projects, library centers, and in a myriad other experiences. What I loved about this week is that it encompassed two of my favorites. I was spending time reading with students (oh, joy!) and engaged in meaningful and collaborative projects with classroom teachers and their students.

I read two different, but excellent, books as part of Folk Literature units in both the first and third grade. Along with location and access information specific to our library, we began a conversation about the elements of folk literature. For both grades the conversation focused on the social sciences aspect of folk literature, with me sharing a bit about the 300s in the DDC. In the conversation about the 300s,  we discussed how these stories not only deliver some lesson, but can also carry with them some insights into the values of a culture, community, or people. I asked the students to think about that as we read these stories and as they read stories on their own.

With the third graders I read, Lousy Rotten Stinkin' Grapes by Margie Palatini and illustrated by Barry Moser. I love reading this book aloud. 
Palatini has retold The Fox and the Grapes and added a few friends along the way. This is one fun and funny version. The previous week, I had read Aesop's fable, the Fox and the Grapes. It was difficult for the students to pull the moral from the fable. One student asked why it was wrong to make oneself feel good about not being able to get something - that was an interesting conversation. After reading Lousy Rotten Stinkin' Grapes, I asked what lessons or morals they were hearing. Within this retelling, are embedded lessons with which the children could relate: listening to other's ideas, cooperation, and thinking about things from different perspectives, although, the students still struggled with the "sour grapes" concept. We'll be moving into a project where the students retell a fable. I am looking forward to their versions! Stay tuned.

With the first graders, I read, The Clever Boy and the Terrible Dangerous Animal, by Idries Shah. This is another great read aloud. 
Shah retells stories from the Sufi tradition in the Middle East. This engaging and fun tale is supported by richly detailed and whimsical illustrations by Rose Santiago. It is refreshing to read a story from folk literature where nothing bad has to happen for a lesson to be learned. The clear lesson in this tale is about not being afraid of the unknown, but the young protagonist demonstrates many good qualities for today's listeners: he is careful, respectful, and curious. He wants to explore new things. I won't spoil the surprise, but the cover does a fine job of misleading the reader.

The fourth graders were taking the math standardized tests, so I altered the course of their lessons and read Martin and Mahalia: His Words, Her Song by Andrea Davis Pinkney.
I am thankful that Andrea Davis Pinkney has brought this special relationship between Martin and Mahalia, preacher and musician, to today's readers. The importance of music in the Civil Rights Movement is brought to bare in their relationship. After reading and discussing the book, I played them a few specific pieces of footage from The March on Washington. "Tell them about your dream, Martin!" are the words that Mahalia Jackson said to MLK jr. during his speech that day. Those words altered the course of the speech and the course of history. They loved the book and were moved by the scenes depicted in the footage. Next week, the students will be creating poetry with text from the speech. 

The second graders and I shared Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. 
The students created flowers and pictures of the ideas and things that they would plant that they would share and that would make their classroom, our school, their community, and our world a better place. What could they each plant that would positively impact someone else? They planted things like: creativity, peace, love, rain, money, hope, sharing, and friendship. I think this world will be a pretty good place in their hands. This story goes along with the planting that the students will be doing in our school garden and with a new project that I am planning. I want the students to make garden signs with the 3D printer.  (Um, that's right, the 3D printer!) I had the printer running most of the day Friday. I want to try out a number of different projects, to be able to understand what it is capable of and what my students can create.

These fabulous shared reading and learning experiences involved an introduction to the work of Denise Fleming with my kindergarten students. They loved reading Buster and talking about pulp paper making.

These read aloud experiences were interspersed with projects like the Third Grade Animal Riddles, Second Grade African Animal Research, and Fifth Grade Science Movies.  

This week was a celebration indeed!


  1. I enjoyed hearing about all the books, Jennifer, but especially noted those first two, which sound delightful. I just brought a folk tale home from our school library to read this weekend, so glad to add yours to my lists, too.

  2. A week filled with books is one to celebrate! I love Plant a Kiss. The other titles are new for me.

  3. The 3D printer!? Really? Are you going to share pictures? Loved hearing about all of these picture books and what discussion resulted.