Steal Like an Artist

I love this book–Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative.  Austin Kleon probably wrote it for adults, but I think it would be a great to use in the classroom.  What kid doesn’t steal from other artists?  It’s what we DO.  It’s a quick read, has lots of inspirational quotes (for when you need something get you through the day), and contains some cool artwork, too.

After Sandy…

Today’s blog was written by third grade teacher, Cindy Piano, of Bogota, NJ.

Today was our first day back after the storm.  I gathered the kids together and we talked about the storm itself but mostly about “What we did after the storm.”  We brain-stormed and made lists of things we did. (played, learned new games, played outside, ATE lots of food, ran out of books to read and library was not open)  Then, we decided to write to our pen pals at Bixby {a nearby school}  (One asked if the hurricane happened at Bixby too!)  They decided to write about the hurricane, describing it  the best they could, wind, creaky house, trees bending, etc.  Some had fires right outside their houses at the transformers!  Then they wrote about what they did during the week when there was no electricity.  After they finish they will share with partners and talk all about their experiences.

It was very scary for them and I thought it was a good way to really get out some of their feelings and be able to share and write at the same time.

Three Things I Learned from Sandy

Today’s blog was written by my seven year-old son, Ari.

1.  Be nice to people who lost power.  They might need food.

2.  Let your friends sleep in your bed.  Give them Teddy bears in case they’re lonely.  Give them a flashlight and water, too.

3.  Get food before you lose power.  (Especially brownies!)

*Tip: if you have power watch the news to see if you’re in danger.


Opinion Writing

Some teachers have asked about opinion writing for little kids.  This is one of the Core Standards, but what does it look like?  In my mind, opinion writing can range from kids expressing opinions about favorite books, TV shows, movies, foods, stores, toys and people to kids writing letters to speak out about big issues to students writing reviews about video games, restaurants, and books.

I personally love to teach kids using mentor texts as springboards for ideas.  Here are some books that express opinions and might help young children express theirs.

I Like Books by Anthony Browne

My Grandma is Wonderful by Nick Butterworth

Teeth Are Not for Biting by Elizabeth Verdick

Words Are Not for Hurting by Elizabeth Verdick

The Peace Book by Todd Parr

It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr

Grandpas Are for Finding Worms by Harriet Ziefert

Check back for more titles!


Just Read!

Here’s one of the questions people ask me a lot: Is there still a time when we read to kids without stopping to ask questions?  There has been so much talk about using every reading opportunity to teach big skills that teachers are afraid to read a book for pleasure, or because it’s funny or touching or interesting.  They’re afraid they may be doing something “wrong.”  But my answer is this: there is always time to read books all the way through.  Kids deserve to hear a whole story.  They deserve to get the whole picture at once, all the way through.  Anybody who has a kid knows how important this is.  When I used to do the teacher-thing with my son, stopping to make connections or talk about character behaviors, he’d flick the book and say, “Just read, Mom!”  So I take it from him.  Just read!


Here in the northeast we’re digging out from the worst storm to ever hit our region.  My house wasn’t hurt, but a lot of places around us were.  Death, property destroyed, long periods of time without power, and a serious gas shortage.  Our schools were closed for the week, and we don’t know yet about next week.  So what do I tell my seven year-old son when he asks what’s going on?  And he wants to know why?  Of course, I don’t know why.  But what I’m trying to teach my son is that this is an opportunity.  An opportunity to help others.  Last year we were hurt by Irene, flooded beyond belief.  The biggest help we received came from individuals–the neighbor who pumped out the basement, the neighbor who helped us clear out the basement, the neighbors who babysat, those who loaned us tools and showed us how to use them.  Individuals.  So that’s what I tell him–we can help one person, or one family and just keep doing that over and over till we all recover.