Picture Books for the First Week of School!

I know it's mid summer and you are probably not thinking about the beginning of school quite yet, but you might be.
And if you need to purchase any of these books then you have the rest of the summer to decide about it.
So, that's good!
I also know this is a science blog, but y'all I taught a regular third grade class for 17 years, so I know a little something about reading aloud to kids! 


So, the question is: What picture books do you read aloud the first week of school??? 
READ ALOUD Books for the beginning of the school year! I can highly recommend all these to use at the beginning of the school year! They will all help with building community in your classroom!



FIRST, and always on the first day of school I read The Summer My Father Was Ten by Pat Brisson.
READ ALOUD: This beautiful book will inspire your students to offer friendship to people they might otherwise not. The amazing story of Mr. Bellavista and the dad telling the story will warm your heart as well!
This is the story of a dad that tells his daughter the same story every summer as they plant a garden. When he was a boy he and his friends ruined the garden planted by a neighbor named Mr. Bellavista. The man was an immigrant and lonely, but after the garden incident was befriended by the young boy. Every year they planted a garden together, made spaghetti sauce, and listened to opera. The boy's family became Mr. Bellavista's family. Later, when Mr. Bellavista has to go away to a nursing home the boy visits him anyway and promises to plant a garden when Mr. Bellavista comes home. But he never comes home.

So, you ask, WHY on earth do I read this book. It's all about community. I start the year building community and teamwork from day one. This book touches the heart of every kid in the room. The drawings are wonderful and you cannot help but feel the pain and then the joy on Mr. Bellavista's face. We refer back to this book often during the year, so I know it makes an impact. It grabs the kids right on day one and then they know that every book I read will have a special quality. I think it helps cement that our circle time is a major event and one that brings meaning and the spirit of community into our room.



Book Two: This one is purely for fun and it also leads us to talking about a need for some classroom expectations and behavior qualities. It's called: Monsters of Class 7 by Michael Ratnett:
Read Aloud: This delightful book tells the story of Princess Priscilla and her silly antics on field trips. In the end the class is challenged to never behave like her! It's a great book to read to your students as you establish classroom rules!
It's the story of Princess Priscilla's visit to a room of misbehaving children. It turns out that she takes the class on a field trip to Mars where the children learn how to behave. Quite funny; kids love it because the children in it are so bad!


Book Three: I read this little book for many reasons. Again, I think it forces us to talk about community and how we live and  live together. It's the story of a boy and his dad and they live at the airport. It's called: Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting:
READ ALOUD: This amazing and haunting story is about a boy and his dad who live in an airport. They have learned to remain hidden within the busy place. Your students will be mesmerized as they become part of this effort to just fly away home.
The talks we have after this book is read are truly amazing. You cannot help but think of your own family, home, school, etc. when you read about a little boy that bathes in an airport bathroom. It's a community builder, but I also use it to talk about the schema we need to understand a book.

Book Four: Another community builder! This one is  A Chair for My Mother  by Vera B. Williams.
READ ALOUD: This is the story of a girl and her mom who need to save money to buy a comfortable chair after a fire destroys their home. It's a beautiful story about sacrifice, family, and community! Perfect for the beginning of the year!
This is the story of a girl, her mom, and grandmom. Their furniture was destroyed in a house fire. Even though their neighbors have pitched in to help with replacements, they still need a comfy chair they can all enjoy. So, they are saving coins in a jar. When the jar is full they can buy a new chair. Again, it's about teamwork, sacrifice, joining together, family, community.

These are the main books I read every year. They are profound stories that helped bring us close together as the family we were for 180 days!

*Note: The book covers are linked to Amazon for your convenience, but I am not receiving compensation for this.



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Another Summer Craft!

Most, if not all, the blogs I follow are teacher's blogs and many of them are still in school. So, they are writing about teacher related things right now. I am in the project mode right now and checking things off my Summer Things I Need To Do, But Don't Have Time For list.

This includes a lot of Crafts!
And, of course, since we have now discovered Pinterest we all have so many ideas and tutorials we can follow.
So, stick around and I will give you a step-by-step on creating a really neat idea that involves a little bit of paint and a few buttons!
Craft for Keepsakes: Make this amazingly easy tree outline and then use old buttons to trim it. Beautiful way to use those old buttons from your grandmom or mom!


I made lanterns last week and they turned out really cute! Click {HERE} to read about those!

This week I saw several pins on Pinterest that all had swirly trees. Many of them had wild colors of swirls that reminded me of something!
Craft about trees! Take a look at all the swirly trees! Can you decide what to create using these as inspiration?

I decided those little circles could be buttons and then had a BRAIN POP. I have my mother-in-law's button box and I have a button box and guess what? I went to visit my mom and she had two button boxes. Quick trip to Hobby-Lobby and here are the steps for the picture:


1. I chose a 12x16 canvas and painted most of it a light purple color. I added some darker purple and white to give it some highlights or dimension.
DIY Tree Painting: Step by step directions to create a button tree!


2. I painted the grass/dirt area at the bottom.

DIY Tree Painting: Step by step directions to create a button tree!

3. I was not happy with it and decided to paint over it and make it greener.
DIY Tree Painting: Step by step directions to create a button tree!


4. Now for the tree. I had planned to free hand the curly-cue things but gave up quickly and drew them with a pencil.
 Now for patiently outlining with a tiny brush and brown paint (listening to an audio book at the same time-- Stephen King's Joyland). It took about an hour to do the whole tree.
DIY Tree Painting: Step by step directions to create a button tree!


After finishing what I had drawn with a pencil, I went back and added extra curlies and loops to fill in.


6. I splotched on some grass clumps and flowers. I also added some lighter brown and yellow to give the tree some dimension.
DIY Tree Painting: Step by step directions to create a button tree!

7. Now, for the buttons. My mommy-in-law had some really old buttons that had loops on the back. I knew I could not attach those so I started whacking the back of the buttons with a hammer. Well, that somewhat worked! The loops either smashed flat or broke off and I made usable buttons! My mom's buttons were mostly flat but she did have some interesting shapes and colors. My buttons were mostly colorful. I picked out an assortment from each group and tried placing them on the tree.
DIY Tree Painting: Step by step directions to create a button tree!
Once they were all arranged I hot glued them in place.

8. Hobby Lobby's open backed frames are 50% this week so I made a trip this morning and found a great frame!
DIY Tree Painting: Step by step directions to create a button tree!

What an amazing keepsake from both my moms and me! That painting is for my daughter. I am in the midst of one for myself. And, then I will do another to give my son!


Do you have old buttons you can use for a craft like this? Try it with the steps I listed and use the ones below for inspiration!






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A Craft Day! Thank you Summertime!


Once again....a teacher with too much time on her hands....it's the good old summertime!


Time to get crafty!

Now, I know you are a fan of Pinterest and you are just like me.
You see things you like, you pin them, and then you try them one day! (At least we hope you try them!)
Anyway, here's a quick tutorial on a Pinterest craft I tried- successfully!
Don't just pin those crafty things! You need to actually try them! Here's a post about a really easy craft for your home that requires very little! Have fun designing your keepsake lantern!


I saw this picture pinned some time back and liked it. It's a fabulous inspirational craft that I thought I could do.

Don't just pin those crafty things! You need to actually try them! Here's a post about a really easy craft for your home that requires very little! Have fun designing your keepsake lantern!

There's just one major problem with this craft!
Don't just pin those crafty things! You need to actually try them! Here's a post about a really easy craft for your home that requires very little! Have fun designing your keepsake lantern!

So, I have been looking for a lantern ever since then....finally TARGET had this one! It has a rustic looking paint on it and was a good size and IT WAS HALF PRICE! How could I not buy it?!

Now, on to the insides of the lantern. I needed a giant letter!
Don't just pin those crafty things! You need to actually try them! Here's a post about a really easy craft for your home that requires very little! Have fun designing your keepsake lantern!
So, I went off to Hobby Lobby to get paint and a big letter.

I found a wooden D in the wooden crafty section and bought acrylic paint and crackle paint.

Here's the steps I followed:

1. Sanded the letter
2. Primed the letter with some primer I had from painting drywall
3. Painted two coats of the navy blue
4. Painted two coats of the crackle (crackle didn't work great but I liked it anyway)
 So, there's my big D. What;s next? Decorate a space using the lantern.
It fit perfectly in my guest bathroom! 



Don't just pin those crafty things! You need to actually try them! Here's a post about a really easy craft for your home that requires very little! Have fun designing your keepsake lantern!
The guest bathroom already had some doo-dads from a vacation we took a few years back- all with a beachy feel to them, so I decided to use some more I decided to use beach objects in the lantern.

Steps:
5. Filled the bottom of the lantern with sea glass (actually from the Dollar store, but it's pretty)
5. Placed shells, a starfish skeleton, and coral around the space
6. Placed the D
And here it is in the bathroom.......
(Yes, I know themed rooms are yucky, but this was a special trip and this front bathroom is a great place to share our collected items and photos!)

So, there's an easy summer craft for you that worked very well. I t was easy! Really, the hardest part was finding the lantern.
Maybe, Target will help you out with this, too! 

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