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Book-inspired costume ideas

I don't know what to be! Every day my girls have a different idea for their Halloween costume. One year, Anna changed her mind around 5 PM! Thankfully a stocked dress up box meant she could throw something together last minute. That year she went as a … hmmmm … someone wearing crazy mixed-up clothes!?!

Summer symphony

There are special sounds associated with summer. The sounds of cicadas are a melody but I don't enjoy the percussive sounds of a thunderstorm.

Neither does a little boy named Brannon while his bigger brother, Chad, looks forward to the coming storm in a recent book by Marion Dane Bauer, Dinosaur Thunder (Scholastic). Adults in the family try to calm poor Brannon. Brannon rejects the idea that "thunder is only a big cat purring" or is "angels bowling in heaven." He's met cats and has been to a bowling alley. He knows that's not it.

Fun ideas for parents on Pinterest

I'm off for a quick Spring break this week, but I thought I'd recommend stopping by our Ideas for Parents board on Pinterest. Frankly, all our boards are so much fun! If you haven't started your Pinterest addiction, your Spring break may be a perfect time to check it out.

Our Ideas for Parents board has some cool literacy-based ideas like magic message bananas, a very sweet hungry caterpillar hand print, and a graphing idea with colored eggs — but there's a lot more too.

Enjoy your week!

Why getting out matters

I remember many years ago sharing a book with photographs by Bruce MacMillan with a group of inner-city preschool children. They were bright and vivacious and eager to share what they knew.

While I no longer remember the title of the book, I'll never forget a little boy's response when I asked what the full-color image of a black and white cow was. He exclaimed with authority, "A dog!"

Word walls in math

Many elementary teachers use word walls in the classroom. A word wall is an organized collection of words displayed in a classroom. Word walls provide easy access to words students need. The specific organization of the word wall will match the teacher's purpose: sight words organized by alphabet letter, unit-specific words, new vocabulary words, etc. The most helpful word walls grow and change throughout the year and are used as a learning reference.

Comprehension posters for your classroom

I recently stumbled on a site that promises to consume far too much of my time! But I love the possibilities of Pinterest, a virtual pinboard. Pinterest lets you organize and share all the great things you find on the Web in a very visual way. It's free to join, but there's an invitation process you'll see on the site.

The textures and textiles all around us

It's all around us. We wear it, walk on it, and admire it. It comes in different colors, made with different materials and assorted textures. And it often reflects who we are, where we live, our climate, culture, traditions, even our beliefs.

I'd never really thought about any of this until I visited the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. Textiles are ubiquitous — everything from clothing to curtains to art — with lots in between. And to explore them at the museum is a really cool thing (literally and figuratively) to do on a hot summer day!

How do you encourage summer learning?

Many teachers find creative ways to keep kids learning over the summer. These efforts are fueled by summer learning loss research whose finding is clear: Children who don't read during the summer can lose up to three months of reading progress and that loss has a cumulative, long-term effect. Summer learning is loss is bad for kids, and it's especially bad news for kids who struggle during the school year.

Free Language Stuff

I juggle between posts that address big issues such as curriculum and leadership with posts that provide educators with resources that could be used in the classroom. Today. With the right student or students.

Flat Stanley goes to the gym

A while back, a child mailed a Flat Stanley to me. I took pictures of the intrepid traveler at local landmarks and with college students before mailing the paper thin guy back home.

Even more recently, Flat Stanley made the Sports section of The Washington Post.

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"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx