Sunday, December 6, 2009

Celebrating Cathy MacLennan

Today I just want to take a moment to give a round of applause to Cathy MacLennan. I must say that her books are the kind of books that encourage English Language Learners (and of course all children!) to play with words. In her books, she uses fun words in a repetitive pattern that makes language so catchy and the reading so engaging! I love reading books like her aloud because my ELLs soak up every word and encourages them to try them and use them.That's the power of language, that's what is all about!
Let me give you some examples from her book. Her first book was Chicky Chicky Chook Chook. In this book chicks, kitties and buzzy bees are ready to play and explore. But the rain gets in their way and soon a storm comes in and gets them all soaking wet.
How does Cathy MacLennan tells this story? In the most creative way, you'll have to read her book to find out what here's a peek...

Chicky Chicky Chook Chook

Chicky, chicky, chook chook
Chciky chicky chook chook

This is the kind of book that children ask you to read it over and over. It becomes a great sharing reading session as well, and let me not forget to mention how great will this book be to teach reading with fluency and expression. Ahhh the possibilities...

The sequel of Chicky Chicky Chook Chook is Monkey, Monkey, Monkey. In this story Monkey is monkey-nuts and he will not settle until he finds some. Check out Monkey's journey while he searches for the perfect nut!
Monkey Monkey Monkey
And this last October Chathy MacLennan published Spooky, Spooky Spooky! A perfect book to celebrate Halloween for those that do. The book starts like this...
Spooky Spooky Spooky!
and horrible howling cats.
Spooky spooky spooky!
Again, she tells the story in a playful manner, so worth to discover. Cathy's art is also worth noticing. She was born in Zimbabwe and her art is inspired by African art and culture. A fun fact about her is that she painted her first painting at age 6 outside her house. Ever since, she has been painting murals.

Hope you take the time to discover her and if you already know her, then you understand the message I am trying to send: words have power and are fun! Take the time to discover them and play with them. Enjoy the journey!

For Just One Day

For Just One DayFor Just One Day by Laura Leuck. Oh this book is tons of fun! Children will love this book because all children love pretending and guessing games! That's what this book is all about, "what if for just one day you could swim the Nile and be a creeping..."(you guess what animal should go here!) The whole book goes back and forth between pretending and guessing! It is a wonderful book with captivating surprises and fun illustrations by the french graphic artist: Marc Boutavant. I highly recommend this book, let your students appreciate and guess each riddle. And may be after listening to it so many times, they will be willing and inspired to create their own version of For Just One Day. What about you...who or what would YOU like to do or be for Just One Day?? Enjoy the Journey.

Monday, November 30, 2009

WOW! Said the Owl

Wow! Said the OwlWOW! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood is a wonderful book about colors that your little ones will enjoy. I must admit I love drawings of owls and I must confess that I find the illustrations in this book so adorable. The text and the illustrations complement each other so perfectly. In this story we a little curious owl who unlike the other owls is not sleeping at night. She took a long nap and woke up just before dawn. As he opened his eyes, he discovered a wonderful daytime world, a world full of colors. As the little owl appreciates everything nature has to offer, she realizes that the colors at night are the best of all.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Meet Sophie Peterman

Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth! You HAVE to meet Sophie Peterman. Why you may ask? Well, Sophie Peterman tells things as they are, she tells the TRUTH. In this hilarious book, Sophie shares with her audience the TRUTH about baby sisters/brothers! Oh yes, written to all the big sisters and big brothers out there, this book is a must for you! According to Sophie there are some things you have to know from the beginning about having little ones at home. Written as "warnings", Sophie's advices and clues are so funny, that I am sure it will get your students laughing in no time. I read it to my group of first graders and they LOVED Sophie, and to a group of fifth graders because several of them have younger siblings and they thought it was histerical! I believe Sara Weeks and Robert Neubecker are quite the team for putting this great book together! Have fun!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Letter to My Loved Ones

Dear Family,

Today is Thanksgiving in the USA and it is a wonderful tradition. People fly from across the country to be with their families on this day. It is a day to slow down and show gratitude for all the blessing in life. Today I am thinking about you all with all my heart and my soul. I am so incredibly blessed to have you as my parents, to have you Gladys as my sister and you Fabrizio as my godson. I know you are all unique. I know you are one of a kind. You have been my inspiration and my strengths. You believe in me and there are not enough words that can express how thankful I am for that. You supported all my wild ideas and dreams. You gave me your blessings when I wanted to move to the USA to make my dreams come true. I know you cried. I did too. But you still let me go. And here I am today thanks TO YOU. I am the person I became today thanks to you, your endless hours of conversations filled with wise words and advice. Today I am strong, I have faith, I believe. And it is all thanks to you. I wish I had you with me today here but it is OK because Christmas is waiting for us. I just wanted to let you all know what you mean to me. Today I am thankful for all of you.
I love you all, more than words can say.
Happy Thanksgiving Day Familia!

Monday, November 23, 2009

When Lucy Goes out Walking

When Lucy Goes Out Walking: A Puppy's First YearWhen Lucy Goes Out Walking *A Puppy's First Year* by Ashley Wolff is a book that any animal lover will love and appreciate. The author Ashley Wolff traces the growth of this adorable puppy Lucy as she goes on walks all throughout the year. She starts with January, of course, when Lucy goes out walking on those cold snowy days. At the corner of each page there is a peek of a calendar page showing the month that either just passed or will be next. As you go through each month of the year, children are encouraged to pay attention to details, and to little life events that each month brings. At the same time, Lucy is growing and anyone who pays attentions to the vibrant illustrations in this book, will notice that. I enjoyed the sweet short passage on each page and the two spoken lines in each verse. What are you waiting to discover a whole year of adventures with Lucy? I bet children will love to see her grow!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

As you are Doing your Holiday Shopping, Keep This in Mind!

Have you read the book "An Awesome Book" ? Have you heard of Dallas Clayton?
Prepare to be inspired...

Awesome Book Tour from Dallas Clayton on Vimeo.

What an amazing initiative! How many children are enjoying reading this book because of his project! Whoever gets books in the hands of children, deserve a round of applause. If you are interested in getting a sneak peak of the book click here, if you would like to pre-order click here. Thanks to Hula Seventy for posting this at Poppytalk! I love when people share and spread great findings with others! Feel free to do so!

What about you? What do you dream of?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shades of People

Shades of PeopleEvery time I see a book at the library with the cover full of photographs, it catches my attention immediately. I wasn't disappointed at all to pick this book up. Shades of People by Shelly Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly show us through a collection of beautiful photographs the different shades of people. What I love about this book is the rich collection of words used to describe the different shades of people. They use words such as copper, tan, almond, coffee, cocoa, creamy and ivory to describe all the amazing shades. Portrayed in a such a positive way with rich vocabulary this is another one of those books I love to collect and share with my ELLs.
People that follow my blog know how much I love language and learning new exquisite words. I love reading books that give children an opportunity to be word explorers as well. I have reviewed several books that are your perfect companion if you want to go on a journey of learning new words with your students. You can find a review here and here as well. Savour they journey!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

She did it again!!

Sugar Cookies: Sweet Little Lessons on LoveI'm a big fan of Amy Krouse Rosenthal and I was more than excited to see that she published a delicious follow up to the bestselling Cookies and Christmas Cookies. In this new book entitled Sugar Cookies Sweet Little Lessons on Love she defines words associated with love. By using the experience of baking cookies, Amy helps readers understand all the dimensions of LOVE from waiting to lick the bowl together (considerate) to being honest if the cookies tastes funny (constructive). And of course, t the end of the book you will find a recipe to Sugar Cookies.

As a person who loves languages and words, I think this book is one of those GREAT mentor texts to use in the classroom to invite students to be language observers and word learners. The context of the story which is baking cookies is familiar to many students and it is a fantastic way to learn more sophisticated yet every day words. If the context of baking cookies is not familiar to the students, then I couldn't think of a better season than this one to provide our students with this experience while learning and acquiring more vocabulary! This book is definitely another treasure to be added to my personal library.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Animal Poems & Others


African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways
I have two great books I would love to share with you today for Poetry Friday. First African Acrostics A Word in Edgeways by Avis Harley is one of my latest finds. I must say that a couple of things caught my attention right away. First of all, the acrostic poems are literally a delight to read. Captivating titles such as Eye to Eye, Untamed or The Watcher are some of the titles that matches the acrostic poems. Another amazing feature are the photographs that goes along with the acrostics. Photographer Deborah Noyes sure did a fantastic job capturing a strong image of each animal. I can see this book becoming a great mentor text for upper intermediate grades (grades 4 & up) that would like to see how acrostics are done in fun, creative ways.

I also enjoyed reading the Nature Notes found at the end of this book where the author gathered relevant information about each African Animal. You will also find the photographer's note where she shares information about Namibia, a country in southern Africa where most of the pictures were taken.

The second book that is also now part of my Poetry collection is this creative book entitled A Whiff of Pine, A Hint of Skunk A Forest of Poems by Deborah Ruddell and Joan Rankin. Are you ready to go for a walk through the forest? Are you ready to live through the four seasons as you explore the different creatures that surround this amazing environment? Well, that's what this book is all about. During your hike, you will encounter squirrels, an overachieving beaver, and quite the snail. My favorite poem is definitely the one about the weaver.

Biography of a Beaver

Bucktoothed Cleaver
Tree Retriever
Building Conceiver
True Believer
Waterproof Weaver
Hooray for the Beaver!

I hope these two brighten up your children's literature world like they brighten up mine! Happy Friday. Enjoy the journey!

Thank You Mary Lee and Franki!

[nctedayonwriting.jpg] NCTE's National Day on Writing is finally here!
Our amazing friends over at A Year of Reading compiled all the amazing writings from our Kidlitosphere World into this amazing Writing Gallery Title " A Lifetime of Reading". You simply can not miss it. Grab a cup of coffee or better yet apple cider, sit back and enjoy reading a wide variety of writing from your favorite Kidlitosphere writers. My World/ Mi Mundo was present with a short piece entitled Pay It Forward with a Good Book.
Mary Lee and Franki, thanks for your hard work! It looks fantastic!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

THe celebration continues...

Product DetailsMy Name is Gabito The life of Gabriel Garcia Marquez is another wonderful biography written by Monica Brown. Again, she did a terrific job portraying and talking about the amazing Hispanic writer in an authentic and accessible way for children to understand. I particularly enjoyed how Monica Brown discusses Gabriel's passion for stories...

"The more words Gabito learned, the more stories he told..."
"The more people Gabito met, the more stories he told..."
"The more things Gabito saw, the more stories he told.."

What a powerful way to send this message across: Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a storyteller, he was on one of the greatest writers in South America. He has written over 30 books including Love in the Time of Cholera, and his most brilliant novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. In 1982 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Colombia and the rest of the world celebrates his success as a writer, novelist, and journalist.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

THe celebration continues...

My Name is Gabriela/Me llamo Gabriela (Bilingual): The Life of Gabriela Mistral/la vida de Gabriela Mistral
Here at My World/Mi Mundo we keep on celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with books recommendations. Since it is Poetry Friday, I thought I will share this fantastic book about Gabriela Mistral, our first Latina Nobel Prize winner in 1945. This book titled My Name is Gabriella/Me Llamo Gabriella by Monica Brown talks about the love and passion that Gabriela had for words. This book is written in first person and describes Gabriela since her early years as a school child when she decides to change her name and teach herself how to read. Gabriela Mistral is actually the pseudonym for Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga. Then the book takes us when Gabriela becomes a school teacher. She was a very active woman in education in Mexico and Chile. Monica Brown captivated Gabriela's passion for expression and words really well through this book. As a teacher and as poet Gabriela encouraged children around the world to express themselves through writing and mostly, to follow our dreams. This book is the second book in the Luna Rising's bilingual biography series.

Gabriela Mistral is definitely one of our biggest pride in the South American Literature World. I want to celebrate Gabriela in our Poetry Friday and encourage anyone who wants to find out more about the life of this amazing woman to keep on reading. Trust me, she is an interesting person to discover. Here are a couple of interesting facts about Gabriela Mistral:

* Gabriela was born in Chile. Both of her parents came from Basque and Indian heritage.
*Her father, who was also a teacher, abandoned them when she was 3 years old. But before he left, he made a garden especially for Gabriela.
* At age 16, Gabriela started working as a teacher's aide so she could support herself.
* One sad event in Gabriela's life are reflected in some of her earlier poems like the suicide of her boyfriend in 1909. Most of her first poems are written to him. Gabriela's writing helped her cope with the sadness in her heart.
*Gabriela Mistral was the principal of an important school for girls in Chile.

These are just some basic facts about her. There are so many interesting stories to discover about Gabriela. During Hispanic Heritage Month, I wanted to make sure she has a page in My World/Mi Mundo.

"What the soul is to the body, so is the artist to his people." Gabriela Mistral

The Sad Mother
By Gabriela Mistral

Sleep, sleep my beloved
without worry, without fear
although my soul does not sleep
although I do not rest.

Sleep, sleep and in the night,
may your whispers be softer
than a leaf of grass
or the silken fleece of lambs.

May my flesh slumber in you,
my worry, my trembling
In you, may my eyes close
and my heart sleep.

Love Poetry Friday! Please stop by Susan Writes where Poetry Fridays round up will be! Have an excellent weekend!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hispanic Heritage Month 2009

Please keep your eyes open for this book...

Coming up Fall 2009.
I'm expecting this publication by Children's Book Press to be another successful one! This is the story about the famous artist and muralist Diego Rivera told through his daughter's eyes Guadalupe Rivera Marin. I have always been a big fan of Diego Rivera's work but this memoir is adding a new dimension to the famous life of Diego. Please check out this sneak peek video about the book, I absolutely enjoyed listening to Diego's daughter. I especially enjoyed the story behind one of the unfinished paintings by Diego when he asked his daughter to pose with an orange but all she wanted to do was eat it!

I can't wait for this book to be in my hands. This memoir will be a wonderful mentor text to teach children to pay attention to photographs, paintings because there is always a story behind it, whether it comes from our own imagination or real life experiences. Even though I don't hold this book in my hands yet, I believe in Children's Book Press publication so much. Their books are some of the finest I have seen and I believe this one will fit right up with their rest of their publications.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about this famous Hispanic artist, his life and work as an artist, I would also recommend Diego by Jonah Winter and Jeanette Winter. This biography ivery comprehensible for our students in grades 3 and up. Available in Spanish and English, published by Scholastic.
Diego: In English and Spanish

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

My dear fellow bloggers, teachers and friends,

What an exciting month September is! Not only is the beginning of a school year, new adventures, new learning and new journeys but it is also Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15). Last year, I shared some details about this special month celebration. You can go back to that edition by clicking right here if you are interested in some basic facts.

One of the things that I love about this special month is the opportunity given to all of us to celebrate diversity in our world, in our classroom, in our school. It is up to each of us to ignore this month or to dedicate a couple of minute each day acknowledging this special celebration of cultures. It does not take a lot of effort or changes to our daily routine in order to make this happen. It can all start with a read aloud and followed it up with some discussion. With simple gestures and actions like this one, you can open a door of possibilities, of discussion, of appreciation and respect in your own classroom. Please understand that it is not necessary to have Hispanic students sitting in our classroom in order to celebrate this month. Remember that our students are citizens of the world, and it is our duty as educators to open up the world to them so they can live their lives with open minds and open hearts. Let's start that journey, shall we?

I would like to share with you a special book with you today. My Name is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada. This is the story about a little girl named Maria who arrives at a new school when the year has already begun. Her teacher decides to call her Mary since there are already two Marias in the classroom. With this decision, came a string of problems for Maria because she did not respond to the teacher when she calls her. The problem is that Mary is not her name and her teacher is not understanding how special her name Maria is. Her name is more than a name, there is a story behind it, a special story about family and Puerto Rico.
When the teacher assigns a writing project entitled "My Greatest Wish" for the Winter Pageant, Maria sees this as an excellent opportunity to let her teacher know how she feels about her real name, the origin and special meaning it carries. Maria's Greatest Wish writing project is one that will get to your heart, without any doubt.
My Name Is Maria Isabel (An Aladdin Chapter Book)
I define this story as unforgettable, inspiring and touching. It captivates the Latino culture with beautiful language and interpretation. One of my dear friends and 1st grade teacher at my school, Michelle, reads this story to her class every year. She also gives her young students a chance to write about "Their Greatest Wish" and year after year, their stories are captivating and inspiring. I look forward every year to see that display on her classroom wall. Today I invite you to take Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrate it with the best ingredients anyone can ask for: BOOKS!

Enjoy the journey!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Celebrating Hispanic Month

Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15- October 15) is around the corner. It is very exciting and comforting to live in a country that values and appreciates other cultures. Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate all Hispanics, their cultures and traditions. It is an opportunity to acknowledge all Hispanics that contribute and enriches this country by bringing their talents, their knowledge, their skills. My World/Mi Mundo will feel honored to share the work and talents of so many of these wonderful people. Stay tune this month for more information coming your way. For Poetry Friday I thought this book is a perfect choice for today. Mama Goose A Latino Nursery Treasury by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy is truly exactly that: A TREASURE. This book is packed with lullabies, jum-ropes songs, riddles, proverbs and many many songs! This book is a great introduction to Latino folklore, and the fact that this book is bilingual, written in Spanish and English, makes it accessible to everyone. Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy are both distinguised Hispanic authors who deserve a round of applause for their contribution to enrich the literature experiences for all children. The illustrations done by Maribel Suárez complete their work in a beautiful way. Enjoy the journey and don't forget to stop by Crossover to fill your day with beautiful poetry.

Dos Palomitas

Dos palomitas en un palomar

la una se fue, la otra tambien.

Dos palomitas en un palomar

una volvio, la otra tambien.

Two Doves

Two little doves, next to each other.

One flew away, and then the other.

Two little doves, high in the sky.

One flew back home

then the other by and by.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Anything But Typical

Anything But TypicalAnything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin stole my heart. I feel very lucky that this book landed in my hands. This story is about Jason Blake, a 12 year old boy with autism. The story is told by Jason, in his language, in his way, in the way he sees and perceives the world. Through this story, Jason let us in his world, the way people talk, the way he perceives them, the way most people don't wait long enough for the right answer to come out. Jason's world is anything but typical. As Jason tries to understand and cope in his world, he writes and shares his story online. Jason has a beautiful way with writing, he understands how writing works, how to develop his character, how to create an engaging plot. What Jason never imagined was that there is a someone on the other side of the online world reading his stories, enjoying them, and learning from him. Jason is starting to grow a strong online friendship with this person, who is a girl. But Jason's biggest fear is that this girl will only see his autism and not who Jason really is.

There are a couple of things that really impressed me about this book. Like I mentioned before the story is told by Jason, and you can "read" his thinking. He also presents the other side, what the other people are "thinking" or "doing." This type of description in the book makes it accessible for readers to be exposed and understand his world, and the things that people around him do that might help or might not help him. This book made me wonder of all the things we do as teachers in school that actually might not work or help a child. It brings a perspective that we are not usually exposed to. This book makes you want to read more about Autism and how to help children in the classroom. It makes me want to keep growing on my journey of understanding their world. I believe this book is a MUST for teachers. I strongly believe this. This chapter book is geared for students in grades 4-8.

As I am reading the authors' acknowledgments in the first page, I see that she is thanking Michael Moon, current president of the Autism Acceptance Project, who gave the author an amazing appraise for this book. If you are interesting in expanding your reading and understanding on Autism, you can read more about the Acceptance project right here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Welcome to the ESL Cafe! Part II/ Celebration of Ramadan

It is truly amazing how every year, the eve of the first day of school, those butterflies in my stomach keeps me excited and awake! I love that feeling, though and wouldn't change it for anything at all. Our dear ESL CAFE is ready! I have received so many sincere compliments that it truly made my heart so big. The phrase I heard the most was, "it makes you want to be here all day long!" Mission accomplished. Earlier this year when I read the book Teaching with Intention by Debbie Diller, one of the things she asked is for teachers to reflect on the classroom environment. In other words, is it a reflection of the things that are happening in your teaching, is it a reflection of your teaching beliefs? I definitely feel very strong about how the environment plays an influential role in our daily learning. A clutter, noisy, disorganized space is not conducive to learning, that's for sure. Like I explained in my first post about the idea behind the ESL CAFE, this concept stem from the Literary Cafe back home, a place where I got lost in books, and one that helped my journey as a reader tremendously. I see the children's and parents enthusiasm in their faces when they see the room, so now, let the learning journey begins.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to listen Asma Mobin-Uddin talk about her latest book A Party in Ramadan. She gave an insightful presentation and book talk at our dear local bookstore Cover to Cover.

A Party in Ramadan is the story about this little girl Leena who gets invited to a party during Ramadan. Leena decides to attend the party anyways, but she will continue her fast. Her determination and strength is admirable. I enjoyed seeing how Leena's observation of Ramadan gives an opportunity for friends and neighbors to learn more about her faith.

After the booktalk, Asma Mobin-Uddin gave a presentation about Ramadan so that people would have a better understanding about this Muslim holiday. One of the challenges the author herself faced growing up was the fact that she was the only Muslim child in her school. Students, teachers, and friends didn't know much about this Muslim holiday and the importance of fasting during this time. Thus, she was asked a lot of questions and found herself explaining about it all the time. As she stated, "It would make things so much easier if people have a understanding about Ramadan." She is right, as teachers of children from diverse background it is our responsibility and personal journey to invest the time in learning more about our students.

Here are the things I learned about Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim year:

* Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar.
*The fast of Ramadan lasts the entire month. All those who reached the age of puberty are expected to fast during this month. Younger children are not expected to fast, but they are welcomed to fast as well if they would like to join.
*During the fast, Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours, but they may eat after sunset.
*Ramadan is a time for Muslims to concentrate on the practice of their faith. They spend time praying, practicing and observing their religion. They are encouraged to practice patience, being kind and generous, avoid fighting or losing temper.
*Muslims believe that God reveal the Koran to people during Ramadan. Ramadan is a time to remember the poor and practice self-control. Ramadan teaches Muslims to be thankful for their blessings.

What are some implications for us educators? It is important for us as educators to...

*know who are our students that are observing Ramadan.
*find a place where they can go during lunch time like the library, help a teacher in a classroom.
* understand that gym class might be hard for Muslim students since they can't drink water. It would be wise to avoid or restrict some physical activities at school during this time.
* help other students and teachers understand and learn about Ramadan.

Friends, I hope this is helpful. I do believe it is our own personal journey to learn more about our students not only as learners but also as individuals. I wish you an extraordinary school year with many positive memories to hold.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Zoo I Drew

The Zoo I DrewI'm super excited about my latest purchase: The Zoo I Drew by Todd H. Doodler. Let me just first mentioned a couple of things that grabbed my attention toward this book when I first saw it. The cover of the book is made out of corrugated cardstock which I must say makes it very attractive. The simple yet colorful drawings on the front cover also caught my attention. And when you open the book, the fun begins. This is an ABC book in which the author and illustrator Todd H. Doodler chose the zoo animals as the animals for each letter of the alphabet. So it starts with the alphabet, the animal that starts with that letter, and a huge drawing. Each letter takes both pages when you open the book flat. Besides, the author included a small description of each zoo animals mentioned in the book. I love the HUGE illustrations, the facts mentioned under each animal, the colors he chose for each page, the big letters, and the glossy pages makes you want to read the book over and over. I am expecting this book to be a favorite of my Kindergarten and 1st grade students. What a terrific way to learn vocabulary and some animal facts before their annual trip to the zoo!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Welcome to the ESL Cafe! Part I

This summer 2009, I went to the beach for vacation with my 2 long time friends, rode roller coaster rides, rode fair rides and enjoyed tons of funnel cakes! I also did a lot of pool time and bonding time with my girls here in Columbus. I enjoyed late nights, indie movies, summer reading with bowls of popcorn! :) I shopped at farmer markets, did tons of scrapbooking and journaling. Did a lot of Dance Jam at Lifetime Fitness, and went on long, inspirational walks. I feel a very positive balance and feel very thankful and blessed for these restful weeks.

Now, after a restful vacation, I'm starting to think about the school year ahead of me. The way my mind works, I figured out, is that I am always constantly on search for "something". Sometimes I am looking for inspiration and ideas.Other times, I am completely immersed in the world of books and thinking of its endless potential in my classroom. Other times, I need visual stimulation in order for my creative mind to emerge, I go on walks to Short North and visit boutiques, bookstores, cafes to "see" how things are displayed, portrayed, organized. That is just how my mind works. And honestly, I love it. One lazy afternoon this summer I was telling a friend about this special place in Asuncion, Paraguay called Cafe Literario, which means, Literary Cafe. That place holds special memories for me. I spent lots of mornings, evening, or nights totally diving into books. I finished tons of books there while sipping my cafecito. One thing you ought to know is that sadly, in Paraguay books are very expensive and teachers don't really make that much money. I couldn't really afford to buy books as often as I would like. As a matter of fact, I came to the United States with three books in my suitcase. The idea of Cafe Literario was for people to go and read books in there. You could order a cup of coffee, a soda, or juice. The place was inexpensive so I spent numerous days of my years in Paraguay reading there.

After I explained to my friend about Cafe Literario, I realized that I would LOVE to recreate the concept of that place in my classroom. A place where children go to read for fun, relax, disconnect, and be themselves. So, inspired on my favorite place in Asuncion, Cafe Literario, I am turning my classroom into the International ESL Cafe at Beechwood Elementary. I'm seriously very excited about this and what the concept could represent not only for my students but for the families as well. The changes are not HUGE changes but rather small and subtle but
that I'm hoping it would have some impact. Here is what the International ESL Cafe will be all about..

1. an inviting place to do some quiet reading (and other great learning!) where parents, teachers and students are welcome.
2. a place where you will find lots of books in Spanish and in English
3. a place where families can check out family fun board games for 2 or 3 nights.
4. a place that will hold seasonal poetry nights
5. a cozy, environment where memories are being created everyday

Now, in order to recreate that fond memory I have o
f my dear Cafe Literario in Asuncion these are the little changes I made in the classroom:
1. inviting cafe tables..
2. lamps and a couple of cozy friends for the little ones
3. plants...lots of green inside
4. lights (lamps in different corners)
5. A "Weekly Special" display right at the entrance of my classroom featuring the book recommendation for the book

So what do you think? Like I said, there are not HUGE changes in my classroom environment but rather little ones to recreate that cafe environment. Now, I would love to work on growin
g my selection of books for adults in Spanish so our dear ESL families can check out book as well. Any suggestions of how to go about it? Remember, we are teachers, our budgets are limited! But I love bargains and donations too, of course. :)

The classroom is a work in progress right now but I'll give you a sneak peak of what I am working on and was able to get accomplished in the last couple of days.

I am using a lot of chalk writing around the room because I notice lots of coffee shops has chalk writing displays. I used that fabulous chalkboard paint to paint those little wooden tags and just used chalk to labels some of those baskets of books.

I had fun playing with the "tablecloth look" for the room and the checkered ones are definitely my favorite.
Yes, those are candles. But don't worry I found these little flameless candles at Target in the clearance section. Loved them. I would mainly used those for our seasonal poetry reading evenings.

Like I have said before, this is still a work in progress. You'll see more in the upcoming weeks as I put the ESL Cafe together. I can't wait for our journey to begin.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Poetry Friday

My Tribute to Summer Days
by Stella Villalba

Summer Days

Please don't come to an end
You feel so good in my hands
Love to have you by myside
Love to know you mean late nights

Summer Days

I enjoy you, oh! so much
waking up any time I want
feeling lazy, feeling energized
Love to know I got so much done!

Summer Days

You help me get caught up
in so much summer reading fun
you were to witness of all those nights
Love to know I grew so much

Summer Days

It's Ok, I should let you go
and feel grateful I had you at all
You make new memories for me
and unforgettable moments that will stay


Here is my book finding for this week and I couldn't be more excited! Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year by J. Patrick Lewis is a wonderful new addition to my personal library. You're reading the title of the book and you are probably thinking Countdown to Summer? But we're almost finishing summer! This book is the perfect book to start the school year. Imagine having at your fingertips a poem for each day of the school year? Yes, I think what J. Patrick Lewis did is very creative as well! The first poem in the book is numbered 180 and so the countdown begins. Ethan Long created the illustrations that paired each poem perfectly. You will find in this book limericks, haikus, riddles and shape poems! Some of my favorite poems include poem # 130 American Autumn, # 98 A Monthly Calendar, and of course # 1 School's Out! I believe this p0etry book is a great companion for students in grades 3 and up.

Would you like to know where to go next? Head to Poetry for Children where Sylvia Vardell is compiling all the round ups for this week!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm Your Bus

I'm Your Bus I'm Your Bus by Marilyn Singer and Illustrated by Evan Polenghi is a perfect read aloud for early primary bus riders! For many of our students, riding the bus will be a new experience this coming school year. This book will be a delight to listen to especially since it is filled with juicy, fun sounding words like sweeping, zipping, parking, creeping. This book is written as if the buses are talking to the audience. The buses describe their busy day, their adventures, their caring and the places they will take you throughout the year. This book was done by two creative and successful souls who give a lot to the community. Marilyn Singer has won several Children's Choice and Parents' Choice awards as well as a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor. Evan Polenghi is an art director for a children's music publishing company. He even created designs for Gap Kids and Baby Gap. What an award winning team these two individuals are!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Recycle This Book!

Recycle This Book

Recycle This Book 100 Top Children's Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green Edited by Dan Gutman is one of those great findings that you can't put down! I am so excited I got my hands on this little treasure. There are many great picture books like this one that discuss important topics about recycling, protecting our Planet, saving the environment, but what I really really really LOVE about this one is that it is a collection of short essays written by PHENOMENAL children's authors! Picture this: an afternoon hanging out and talking about the little and realistic things we can do to help our planet in the company of...

Seymour Simon
Jane Yolen
Ralph Fletcher
Gail Gibbons
Shannon Hale
Andrew Clements
Ann Brashares
Linda Sue Park
Rosemary Wells
Jerry Spinelli
Sara Pennypacker
Jeanne DuPrau
Joseph Bruchac

and so many other AMAZING authors! This book is divided in four parts so that it shows you what you can do to help the environment in different places: your home, your school, your community, your world. As I am reading each essay I realize how simple, realistic, doable things are their suggestions. The essays are written in such a comprehensible, easy to follow kind of way, definitely written having children in mind as their main audience. I can see how I can use this book with either my 2nd grade ESL students as well as with my 5th grade ESL students. I enjoy thinking of the different possibilities and the potential this book offers: reading aloud with my students one author each day, summarizing our learning with one or two sentences, having a bank of practical ideas accumulated by the end of the book, creating a mural of our learning as we read them! The possibilities are endless, I honestly can't wait to share this with my students! They will love it!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Visit to Cedar Point!

I love the possibilities with the Flip Video camera! I love how easy everything is! I love how I don't have to carry this heavy thing on my shoulder in order to record a moment I don't want to forget. I love the lack of cords when you use the Flip Video. I love how I can make simple movies in matters of minutes. I love how I can share videos with my family in South America!

Did I mention I love this little pocket video camera?

Oh friends...say hello to endless possibilities?

Twitter Mosaic Meme

Oh! I have been tagged by my friend Franki over at A Year of Reading to create this fun post! So here's is my mosaic and looking at it you can tell it is actually a small mosaic in the amount of friends and followers. I must confess: I like it this way. I like it this way for two reasons:

1. I find it manageable in the amount of people I can follow and actually have the time to read their updates.
2. I get overwhelm sometimes with the many things available to us in our modern technology world but I truly still enjoy twitter! I get a lot of useful, fun information. It is the "sharing" world of cool facts, quotes and findings.

When I look at my twitter friends I see a rainbow of possibilities. I have friends that share with me the joy of our teaching world, I have friends who are into the creative side like scrapbooking, photography or all things handmade like Etsy. I was also very thrilled to find Paulo Coehlo, author of The Alchemist, one of my favorite authors of all time. He is such an inspiration to me and I am one of those people who read every single book he has written. And better yet, loved them all. I also get to Twitter in Spanish and in English. How great is that? I also have friends or follow individuals whose souls are so creative, or adventurous, or just life lovers who are very inspirational to follow!

So, let's keep having fun, shall we? I'm tagging anyone who:
1. loves this kind of Meme
2. Haven't discover Twitter yet (never too late!)

So, here are the rules:
1. Go to to create your mosaic (you can choose friends or followers).
2. Copy the code and paste it into a blog entry.
3. Reflect and comment on your mosaic.
4. Tag some “tweeples.”
5. Link back to this post or the post where you were first tagged.

Have a lovely weekend friends...