Word of the Day

Drag the tiles to make one word. When they link together, they are correct. Word Of The Day Puzzle provided by Quote Puzzler.

To find the meaning of the obscure word you just created, go to www.dictionary.com.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Patrick Stewart, A Christmas Carol

Every Christmas, I read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I probably know sections of it by heart. I also watch the movie at least once during the holiday season...first when putting the ornaments on the tree, and then whenever it strikes my mood. However, it can't be just any version....it must be Patrick Stewart's rendition. For those non-nerds who may be saying "Who is Patrick Stewart, and what's so special about his Christmas Carol?" here are a few facts:
  • He is probably best known as Jean-Luc Picard from the series Star Trek, The Next Generation.
  • He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) for 20 years.
  • He became one of Britian's finest classical actors...even opening the Barbican Arts Centre, the new London home of the RSC, with the title role of Henry IV in 1984.
  • While acting as the captain of the Starship Enterprise, he also worked on developing his own one man production of A Christmas Carol.
  • He performed as Scrooge every Christmas from 1988 to 1996.
  • After Star Trek, he has continued to work both on stage and screen, in various roles ranging from Othello and Captain Ahab (Moby Dick) to roles in Conspiracy Theory and X-Men.
Here is a link to a great review of his audio version of A Christmas Carol (which I also own, and highly recommend to anyone who enjoys audio books.) The language of Dickens combined with the voice and acting of Stewart is simply a must-hear.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

William Joseph

William Joseph, playing Ausperius

Can this man play piano or what??? If you're a music lover, and are looking for a new CD to get for Christmas, I can personally recommend his CD "Within." This particular song isn't on it, but what is there is just as amazing, plus there are many more that are absolutely beautiful. He can play fast or slow, and it's all wonderful. (Not to mention, he's pretty easy on the eyes!)

Here's Kashmir, one of my favorites. It is on the CD.

Here is Carol of the Bells, for a little holiday cheer.

And finally, something his father once challenged him to do, and so he practiced until he could.


If you go here in Amazon.com, and scroll down to see the details of the album, you can listen to samples of each song on the CD. My personal favorite is "Piano Fantasy."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Children's Books Meme

I've read 71 of these. Many are picture books!

*Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
*The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg We read it every Christmas.
*Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
*The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
*Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak Scared the heck out of me as a kid. I hated it.
*Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
*The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
*The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle One of Daniel's favorites.
*Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
*The Mitten by Jan Brett
*Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown The first book I read to Daniel.
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
*The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
*Where the Sidewalk Ends: the Poems and Drawing of Shel Silverstein by Shel Silverstein
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
*Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
*Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
*Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola
*Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
*Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see by Bill Martin, Jr.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
*The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Another not-favorite.
*A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
*Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
*How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
*The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka Funny!
*Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by John Archambault A great ABC book.
*Little House on the Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
*The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
*The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
*Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
*Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
*Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
The BFG by Roald Dahl
*The Giver by Lois Lowry Read in college.
*If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
*Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
*The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
*The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
*Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien
*Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
*The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
*Corduroy by Don Freeman
*Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
Math Curse by Jon Scieszka
*Matilda by Roald Dahl
Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
*Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
*Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
*Are You My Mother by Philip D. Eastman
*The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
*Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
*One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
*The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats A classic.
*The Napping House by Audrey Wood
*Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig Another childhood favorite.
*The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter Daniel's nursery theme was this.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
*Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery Of course!
*Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
Basil of Baker Street, by Eve Titus
*The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
The Cay by Theodore Taylor
*Curious George by Hans Augusto Rey
Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
*Arthur series by Marc Tolon Brown
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
*Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
*Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
*The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton My all time favorite.
*The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
*Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
*Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
*Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
*A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
*Stuart Little by E. B. White
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
The Art Lesson by Tomie De Paola
*Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
*Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
*Heidi by Johanna Spyri
*Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
*Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
*The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch

Monday, November 27, 2006

Literacy Conference

I'm so excited! The K teachers are going to this conference tomorrow in Syracuse on "Using Literacy Centers to Enhance Your Reading and Writing Program (Grades K-3)" presented by Linda Holliman. I went to a workshop of hers a couple years ago on math centers, and came back with some really great ideas.

The only thing that stinks is we need to meet at the school by 7am to get up there in time, which means I need to be getting Daniel out of bed at 6am, a whole hour earlier! He and I both are NOT going to be happy campers that early.

On that note, I'm off to bed.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Children's Book Links

I was looking for a site that reviewed children's picture books, and came across these sites.

http://www.eleanorsbooks.com/ A collection of interesting links.
"A PLACE TO START: for the writers, readers, collectors, illustrators, librarians, teachers, parents, publishers, printers, storytellers and kids."

http://www.childrenslit.com/ An amazing review site!
"Each month Children's Literature features interviews with children's book authors and illustrators. Also each month Children's Literature features several sets of themed reviews and these are archived continued reference. We provide thousands of links to author illustrator sites, publishers, kids, parent and teacher resources, children's literature collections, upcoming events relating to children's literature and much more."

The Children's Literature Web Guide
"The Children's Literature Web Guide is an attempt to gather together and categorize the growing number of Internet resources related to books for Children and Young Adults."

Through The Looking Glass Children's Book Review Grouped by age.
"Online children's book reviews for the child in your life featuring both new and popular children's book authors."

Into the Woods

It was a beautiful day today. Daniel and I joined Grandma at the park behind our local elementary school. Behind the park is a hill with some wonderful woods to explore. Enjoy the pictures!

Checking out the texture of a fallen tree.

Going up the old "stairs" leading up the hill. I remember walking up this path as a child.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

The first picture Daniel's ever taken! He sat in my lap, looked through the viewfinder, and pressed the shutter. I held the camera though, as it's pretty heavy for him, thus the fairly straight shot.

The next two go together. He came to this tree root while going downhill, and thought he couldn't step over it. Refused to let Mommy help, Grandma had to come help him instead! (I don't think she'll be too thrilled at her face in the picture, but it was the only one I had time to snap!)

I saved my favorite for last.

Online Riddle

If you like puzzles, and aren't scared to learn a little about how web pages work, then the Kelly Clarkson Riddle is for you! Here's an intro from the FAQ about it. (Ignore the lack of capitals, it's the creator's "thing" he does.)

the kelly clarkson riddle is merely an online game of sorts, a collection of puzzles, riddles, and other nonsense, all presented in the form of a loosely queued group of web pages called levels. each level must be completed before progression to the next level can occur, the object of the riddle being the completion of all levels.

It doesn't really require any knowledge of Kelly Clarkson, that's just the theme he grouped his ideas around. I started the riddle knowing absolutely nothing about her, and it didn't really hinder me at all. If you want to try it, I would recommend reading the "general help" section first, and then getting aquainted with the official forum. There are a lot of good hints posted there. Also, if you go to "current ranking", you might see me! I was in the first group to finish it...we worked as a team, which really helped.

(PS- There is a second set of 100 levels after the main riddle, called the "mirror riddle." If you finish the main one, come on over to the mirror! We've been stuck on one level for months now, and could use some new input!)

Click to get started!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

"Our hotels are boring..."

Or so said a friend of mine after seeing these pictures of Propeller Island City Lodge in Berlin. Be sure to click on each number to see the different rooms. No two are the same, all are incredible.

Are you gooder at grammar?

Your Language Arts Grade: 98%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

Ack! What's driving me absolutely bonkers is I've done the quiz twice, and can't figure out what I did wrong!

Thanks to Lady Strathconn for finding this quiz.


Finally! On my fourth try...

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

Be careful on #10, there are two answers that are the same. The last choice is not correct...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Chewy Louie

I was looking back and realized it's been a while since I've reviewed a book. So here is one of my favorites!

Chewy Louie, by Howie Schneider

I love this book for two reasons. First, Schneider's illustrations of the little black dog Louie are priceless. In almost every picture, that tail is wagging maniacally. You know Louie has been bad, but you can't help but grin at him anyway. Second, anyone who has owned a puppy can sympathize with the plight of Louie's family, who are chagrined to discover that he not only chews slippers or toys, but furniture, parts of the house, and basically anything that he can get his chompers on! It's a great book that both children and adults will enjoy reading again and again.

Black Friday

Whew! I just returned from a 4 hour shopping spree with my mom. She came and picked me up at 7:30am, we hit the stores around 8 (had to go back to her house first to get a coupon she forgot) and shopped until almost noon. I can't believe I'm not more tired than I am. We went to:

Dress Barn
(We peeked into Old Navy, decided it was too insane, then moved on to Bath and Body works, which mom rebelled at when she saw the mobs inside.)
Circuit City (which had sold out of what I wanted)

As the hour got later, the crowds got worse, and the drivers got crankier. Now Doug is heading out to Barnes and Noble to make up his Christmas wish list. He's nuts.

Interestingly enough, "Black Friday" isn't the most profitable day for stores during the Christmas season. From an article over at Snopes.com about Black Friday:
The consistent holiday shopping trend is that sales figures spike on the day after Thanksgiving, drop sharply immediately afterwards, then steadily increase throughout December, peaking on the four days comprising the two weekends before Christmas. The result is that Black Friday nearly always ends up ranking below the last Saturday before Christmas.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

"As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Baby Laughing

How can anyone watch this and not crack a smile?

Roll Call

Just curious if anyone other than my relatively few friends are reading this!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Scrabble Strategy

Almost nightly, I play Scrabble with Fran and Nancy. Being a lover of word games, I find Scrabble to be the ultimate word game. I've decided to try to improve my strategy in an effort to spot bingos (a play using all 7 tiles, worth 50 bonus points) more often. I found this site, which has some good tips for the novice and more advanced player alike. Enjoy!

BigDoggy's Scrabble Strategy Hints

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Update on SK's interview

I just listened to the whole interview. The first 40 minutes are King discussing writing in general, with many rambling side trips where he loses track of the interviewer's original question. It is very interesting though. After that, he does 2 readings: the first was an excerpt of Lisey's rage at her husband's death at around 40 minutes. About 50 minutes in, he reads a section he personally likes because he wrote his own "Hallmark" greeting card in the story. It's pretty funny, especially hearing how tickled he is by his own poem. About 55 minutes in, he answers questions from readers. If you're a fan, I definitely recommend listening the whole way through.

Lisey's Story

I just finished Stephen King's new book, Lisey's Story.


I don't really want to tell too much about it, because part of the pleasure of reading it was unravelling the mysteries of Scott and Lisey's marriage. I will say that it was excellent of course, as I find all of King's books.

I found a link to a British interview with him. It's about an hour long, and I haven't listened to the whole thing yet, but the first 5 minutes is definitely worthwhile. He talks about language and writing. Click the picture to hear it. Thanks to www.meettheauthor.com.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims

This is one of my favorite books to read as Thanksgiving approaches. It's One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims by B. G. Hennessy.

The text is roughly this:

One little, two little, three little Pilgrims.
Four little, five little, six little Pilgrims.
Seven little, eight little, nine little Pilgrims.
Ten little Pilgrim boys and girls.

One little, two little, three little Wampanoag.
Four little, five little, six little Wampanoag.
Seven little, eight little, nine little Wampanoag.
Ten little Wampanoag boys and girls.

Then there's a section of what they're all doing, gathering berries, nuts, etc. to get ready for the feast.

One big, two big, three big turkeys.
Four big, five big, six big turkeys.
Seven big, eight big, nine big turkeys.
Ten big turkeys for the feast.

After that is a listing of all the good foods they are eating, and showing them gathering for the feast.

I think there's a final section of them coming together for the feast at the end. I like that it uses the name "Wampanoag" who were the Native Americans around for the first Thanksgiving. I never thought that word would roll off my tongue so easily! I also like that some of the activities are distinctly Massachussets area things...at one point they're digging for clams on the beach and fishing for cod. One review I read said "Its purpose is to reflect the daily lives of the pilgrims and the Wampanoag children during the 1600’s." The kids really seem to enjoy it!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Pictures of the flash floods

Well, luckily it seems to not have been as bad as this summer. The difference is how long it rained. In June, it rained for days. Thursday was the only day it rained this time. Here are some pictures of the flash flood damage from our local newspaper's website. There are photo galleries there, if you're interested in seeing more, or reading more. www.pressconnects.com


All right. After trying several ways, I cannot get the pics to show up here. So just go to the website. I was hoping to show you my favorite, of a sheriff pushing somebody's car out of the water. I think I like it because of his expression, and the tank top combined with the gun. Maybe a link to the photo will work: Here.

2 Hour Delay

Normally, when there's some kind of weather (snow) emergency, all the main schools in the county do the same thing. Today was interesting. One was closed, some were delayed one hour, and some two hours. We got the two hour delay. Which drives me nuts! By the time we get to school, the kids barely have time to do anything, and then it's time to go to lunch. I'd rather we either went in to school or stayed home, none of this time-eating delay stuff!

Ah well, I did get to sleep in a bit at least.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Flooding again

We're being deluged by water. Again.

This past June, our area experienced terrible flooding. It was only a few weeks ago that the final deadlines for applying for federal aid passed. People are finally recovering from the summer's rain. And here we go again.

My husband, Doug, had to search for a way to get home tonight. Small creeks have flooded their banks, and the streets themselves are torrents. The rain was coming down so hard at the end of the school day that we had to dismiss the kids from the main lobby doors only, rather than all the side doors, so they could stay under cover while going to the buses. One local school didn't get all their children home until about 6:30, due to so many roads being flash flooded. An estimated 1 1/2 inches of rain fell between 3 and 4 p.m. and nearly 3 inches fell during the storm.

Thankfully, our dead end road did not wash out this time. In June, ours was one of the first roads to get washed out. And I don't mean just standing under water. I mean GONE.

This was the road in the early morning. The culvert going under the road was simply overwhelmed. The road kept crumbling little by little, until the backhoe came to start repairs.

On the plus side, my son Daniel had a wonderful time watching them repair the road!

So right now, we're in a state of emergency, and I'm sitting here watching the local paper's website, wondering if there will be school tomorrow or not. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Jan Brett

Hopefully, if you read children's literature (specifically picture books), you know the name Jan Brett. She is the author and illustrator of books such as Trouble with Trolls, The Mitten, Annie and the Wild Animals, Comet's Nine Lives, Gingerbread Baby, and The Umbrella, to name a few. What you might not realize is that she has an extensive website that is very educator friendly. There are activity pages, coloring pages, videos, games, recipes, projects, cards and envelopes, and of course, tons of beautiful artwork. In the activity pages section, she has a wealth of resources: alphabet pages, math pages, flash cards, bulletin board printables, High Frequency Word lists, etc.

Here are a few facts about her: (I found these listed on many different websites, too many to cite!)
  • Each book begins with the art first.
  • Jan likes to listen to audiobooks while drawing--usually thrillers!
  • Each book takes about a year to complete. (Take a look at a single page of one, and you'll see why!)
  • The pages of each book are not created in sequence (she saves the front materials and endpapers for last).
  • Each book is carefully researched--she created The Umbrella after a trip with her husband to Costa Rica.
  • Jan prefers to use her memories of a place to create her art, rather than relying on pictures.
  • By the time she was six years old, she knew she wanted to be a children's book illustrator.
  • She is known for very detailed drawings, with glimpses of what is to come in the side illustrations of each page.
  • If you look carefully, you can often find a hedgehog hiding in the pages of each book!
(Click on this one to look at the details of the artwork.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Social Bookmarking

At our beginning of the year superintendent's day we had Alan November come talk to us. He spoke about technology and education. It was sort of amusing to look at the audience of elementary to high school teachers and realize that about half of us were totally fascinated (me) and the other half were totally lost and/or bored to tears.

One of the things I took away from that lecture was the realization that Google is not always the best search engine. Google is basically a popularity contest. I lost track of the specifics, but it somehow counts how many links lead to a site. The more links leading to it, the higher it is listed in the results page. So the first site may not actually be the most relevant to your search. I still like to use Google for various things (I love Google Maps), but I've started using Ask.com as well. Along with searching differently, it also has a handy feature that gives you suggestions on how to either expand or narrow your search.

The other thing that caught my interest was the concept of "Social Bookmarking." Basically, there are websites that allow you to store your bookmarks or favorite places online. This is not only convenient for you, as you have your list of favorite websites no matter what computer you're on, but it has great searching possibilities for everyone. Think about it...if you search a social bookmarking site such as del.icio.us, you'll get a list of results of sites that other people have already checked out and deemed good enough to save in their favorites!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Janell Cannon

Teaching kindergarten, I come across many children's picture books. One of my favorite authors is Janell Cannon. Whenever I read her stories to the class, they sit spellbound by the rich language, beautiful pictures and new creatures to learn about. Here are some examples:

Stellaluna is about a young fruit bat who loses her way from home one day. She tries to fit in with a family of birds, and is amazed to discover that even though we all look and act different, we all feel the same things inside.

Verdi is a little tree snake. He loves his bright yellow skin, and loves being able to do all the great things a young snake can do. He doesn't want to grow up and be boring like the bigger green snakes. A wonderful book about the fear of change and of growing older.

Only Janell Cannon could make you feel empathy for a cockroach! Crickwing gets bullied by the others because of his crooked wing, and he starts to take it out on the leaf-cutter ants. A good story to launch a discussion of acceptance and bullying.

Here is an interview about her latest book, Pinduli. I have not had a chance to read this one yet, but I'm sure it's as brilliant as the rest!

What is a "FeatherBee?"

Ok, since most people are probably wondering what the heck "FeatherBee" means, here it is: nothing. Seriously, it's just a nickname that someone gave to me years ago on a message board. It actually reminds me of that song "Willaby Wallaby Woo" by Raffi. Our music teacher sings it with the kids every year, and for a few weeks, I go around singing it in my head.

"Willaby Wallaby Weter,
An elephant sat on Peter.
Willaby Wallaby Weather,
An elephant sat on Heather."

Over...and over...and over....

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Early Reading Memories

This is a spin-off from Nancy's blog posting about a meme she did.

1. How old were you when you learned to read and who taught you?
I honestly don't remember actually learning to read. My mom always read to me, and I know I went to kindergarten reading. I guess I'd have to say my mom, but I don't remember being "taught." I also loved Sesame Street, that may have helped!

2. Did you own any books as a child? If so, what’s the first one that you remember owning? If not, do you recall any of the first titles that you borrowed from the library?
I owned books and books and books. Whenever my dad took me for the weekend, he said he would always buy me a book, no matter what. The earliest book I remember is Richard Scarry's big huge story book...I forget the title, but could go look it up, as it's in Daniel's bedroom right now! It has stories, word pages, ABCs, everything. It was given to me by my grandparents when I was 2.

3. What's the first book you bought with your own money?
I have no idea. I don't think I actually needed to buy my own books for a long time, since both my parents were so willing to get them for me.

4. Were you a re-reader as a child? If so, which book did you re-read most often?
Yes, I do remember rereading books, but not which ones specifically. The only one that stands out is Anne of Green Gables, and that's probably only because I continued to read her into adulthood.

5. What's the first adult book that captured your interest and how old were you when you read it?
No idea. I do remember looking at my mom's books however, and marvelling at the "tiny" print compared to mine, and wanting to be able to read books like that someday.

6. Are there children’s books that you passed by as a child that you have learned to love as an adult? Which ones?
Hmm...I can't think of any really. There weren't too many I passed by as a child. And the ones I wasn't interested in, I never really went back to read later.