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Is it a duck or a rabbit?

Years ago I was in a first grade classroom introducing new words to a small group. The word we were examining was "ditch."

I remember a little boy, Paul, recognized the word and was eager to share. I also remember the ooohs of the other kids when Paul replaced the "d" sound for a "b." (We wound up sounding out the word and coming up with a synonym for a trench, by the way.)

I was reminded of Paul when I recently came across a book entitled Duck! Rabbit! (Chronicle) by Amy Rosenthal and Tom Licktenheld.

'Tis the season, again!

Was it really a year ago that I wrote this post about feeling frenzied and guilty about the lack of quality reading and writing time at our house? Because it's happening again! And once again I realize that my girls ARE engaged in reading and writing. It just looks different this time of year.

Here what we're doing, language arts style, to get ready for the holidays:

How do you cook a turkey?

Every year our paper goes into a preschool to ask the kids their expert advice on how to cook a turkey. I couldn't resist sharing a few of their answers. As a teacher, I'd feel compelled to put these into a class "cookbook," and as a parent, I'd hang the page in the kitchen!

Here are some of their recipes:

Maya: Put in salt and tomatoes and strawberries and ice cream.

Miles: Put it in the oven. Cook it for 6 minutes. Yell for my dad to come to the table.

Reading logs: Our own hot topic

I've written twice before about reading logs: back in August 2007 with "Reading logs, reading blahs" and then again in April 2008 with "Should reading with parents count?"

Those two posts have sparked lots of comments, all of which carried valid points about the purposes and pitfalls of reading logs.

Pen pals, old school style

On the last day of school, Anna came home with a stamped envelope from her kindergarten teacher. Mrs. Z had offered to be pen pals over the summer with kids from her class. By 4:00 that day (the last day of school, after getting home at 3:00), Anna had written her first pen pal letter.

Are word searches a waste of instructional time?

A question came to me via the Ask the Expert service that Reading Rockets provides. With the teacher's permission, I'm including it here to get your opinion.

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"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away. And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall." — Roald Dahl