Thursday, December 8, 2011

Best Children’s Books of 2011

Melissa Taylor from the blog Imagination Soup has posted her Top 20 Children’s Books of 2011. There are recommended books from infant to readers 10 and older.  A few of the ones appropriate for younger elementary readers are


 images imagesCAW602T1 

You can find the rest of her list at

Melissa Taylor's best children's books of 2011

“A Book on Every Bed”

Last year Amy Dickinson, of Ask Amy fame, started a literacy campaign in her column called “A Book on Every Bed”. Along with the Family Reading Partnership she wanted to put one million books at the foot of one million beds for one million children on Christmas (or Chanukah) morning. Seven of those beds belonged to our seven grandchildren. They were delighted with our choices and we plan to provide the books again this year and every year in the future. If you missed the Ask Amy column in today’s Press Democrat, you can read it here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Looking for Something to Do?

lhsbuzzflyerv2 The Children’s Museum of Sonoma County is hosting two events on Thursday, Dec 8. The first one is the Lawrence Hall of Science: “Wizards Lab”, a free event from 4 to 5:30 PM. Children can participate in hands-on science projects. Reservations are required. Call 707-546-4069 or e-mail . The second event is intended for ages 10 and older. Science Buzz Cafe host “What Your Mother Never Told Me About the Universe” from 7-8:30 PM. There is a suggested donation of $4. Prof. Lynn Cominsky from Sonoma State University will explore “far out questions” on Astronomy and Astrophysics. Both events will be at the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County, 1835 West Steele Lane in Santa Rosa.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Looking for Gifts?

While I was looking through toy stores this afternoon on my annual quest to find a boat load of gifts, I came across a couple of interesting games and a digital bookmark. All three of these items are less than nine dollars.
Let’s look at the bookmark first.

 Mark my timemmt=close up

The Mark-My-Time Bookmark can be used like a regular timer or it can keep track of accumulated reading time up to 99 hours and 59 minutes. The really cool thing about it is that it can do both. Most teachers ask that your child read at home for 20 minutes each day. The timer can be set for 20 minutes and a buzzer will go off after the time is up. But it can also add that 20 minutes to the reading times from the previous days. This website has videos that show how to program the bookmark and to change the battery: bookmark.

The first game is one our family has played called Scrabble Slam.

Scrabble Slam

The game cards have a letter on the front and on the back. Either side can be used. The game starts with a four letter word such as GAME. The remaining cards are distributed to the players. For older children and adults, the game can be played like the card game of War. For younger children, we follow these rules: in turn,  each player takes a card from his hand to change the word into another four letter word. If a player does not have a letter that will make a word (according to Scrabble rules), that player passes to the next one. The first player to use all his or her cards wins.

My daughter found the second game, Rory’s  Story Cubes.

Story Cubes

There are nine cubes and each of its six sides has a different picture. There are many ways to play. One of the suggested ways is to roll all nine cubes, look at all the face up images and begin your story with “Once upon a time…” . The trick is to weave all nine images into your story. Last week a first grader of my acquaintance, had to write a story about a gingerbread man with a beginning, middle and end. He was having trouble coming up with ideas. These Story Cubes might have helped.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

One Little Leaf

In honor of the fall season and Thanksgiving, an art project from Mrs. Facendini’s first grade class.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Buzz Boy and Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold

FlyGuyBuzzBoymed The holidays and major gift giving time is upon us. For the next few weeks we will be featuring book reviews by kids on the books they like. Our first review is by Zach a second-grader at Yulupa School. He reviewed Buzz Boy and Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold. No, I am not Tedd Arnold’s publicist; this second post about a Fly Guy book just shows you how much both boys and girls love these books. In this book, Buzz has written a comic book called The Amazing Adventures of Buzz Boy and Fly Guy. In it he and Fly Guy are SUPERHEROS! One day Buzz wakes up and he is the same size as Fly Guy. They soon find that a pirate ship has taken their house to a dragon cave! After many adventures Buzz boy and Fly Guy save the day. Zach said he loves this book because it is funny, there is a dragon (and pirates) in it and he likes that Buzz  writes a book to share with Fly Guy.

Zach and Fly GuyZach’s picture shows Buzz reading his book to Fly Guy. Thanks, Zach for a great morning.

You can read what Tedd Arnold says about this book here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


CA Treasures

The third story in book 2 is On The Map. Where do you live? What is your neighborhood like? The sight words are live, place, many and out. Here is the link to the spelling and vocabulary activities On The MAP.

New York Times Special Children’s Book Review Section

The New York Times publishes a special children’s book review section every November.  It was published today and can be accessed online at NYT Children's Book Reviews.  Because of the ages of three of my grandsons, I was especially interested in the review of three books under the title of Picture Books About Boys With Heroic Alter Egos. Roger Sutton reviews The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy by David Soman and Jacky Davis and Superhero Joe by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman. All three authors have written proven kid favorites. Chabon wrote The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay which about ten years ago was a favorite of my oldest grandson .  Bumblebee Boy was a character in Soman and Davis’s Ladybug Girl series. Weitzman earlier book was You Can’t take a Balloon into The Metropolitan Museum. One or more of these Superhero books might be just the one for your child.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sight Word Games and Activities

Play  Some         Sight words are the words used most frequently in written language. Some like “play” can be sounded out using phonics but others like “some” must be memorized because they do not obey the phonics’ rules. Each week your first grader is given a short list of sight words to memorize. The more words your child knows by sight, the better reader he or she will be. The Educator’s Spin On It blog has some great ideas to help you help your child learn  sight words: Sight word games and activities

Technorati Tags:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Why Books? The Zena Sutherland Lecture


Mo Willems is the author of the Caldecott Honor’s Book Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and a few dozen other children’s books. On May 5, 2011 he delivered the Zena Sutherland Lecture at the Chicago Public Library titled Why Books? This article from Horn Books is an adaptation of the lecture.

Last week I was having a conversation about exactly this topic with my son who has two young children. I think you’ll find the definitive answer to that question in this article.

Hat Tip to Imagination Soup

Technorati Tags:

Monday, October 31, 2011


CA Treasures Last week’s story was The Little Red Hen. The theme was helping out at home. How do you help? What jobs do you like to do? The high frequency words for the week were: who, no, some, of and eat. Here is the link to last week’s spelling and vocabulary activities: The Little Red Hen

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Early Readers

The blog, Imagination Soup, has a list of newly published early readers. Melissa Taylor looks for engaging books with beautiful illustrations  and appropriate text.  I have included a couple of her recommended books because I know kids who love them both.

Fly Guy vs.. The Flyswatter is the tenth book in the Fly Guy series. Fly Guy is the extraordinary pet fly of a boy named Buzz.  In this book, Buzz’s class goes on a field trip to a factory that makes flyswatters. As always, chaos ensues and Fly Guy saves the day.
Ant in Her Pants  is about what happens when Miss Grant gets an ant in her pants. This book is part of a series of readers that focus on phonics for beginning readers.  At the end of the book is a Sight Word game and  Phonics Rhyming, Word Game Bingo and Make a Word games.
Check out the rest of the list at



Family fun at the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County on Sunday, October 30th from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. The museum’s new home is at 1835 W Steele Lane in Santa Rosa. There will be a costume parade at 11 A.M., art projects, a  Mad Scientist’s laboratory, a spooky room and much more. A $5 per person suggested donation includes  a complimentary lunch. For more information go to

Sunday, October 23, 2011

California Treasures Reading Program

 CA Treasures As many of you know, Yulupa has a new reading program this year, Macmillan/McGraw-Hill’s California Treasures. We are a little late to the party but this blog intends to report weekly on what is happening in the first grade classroom. The first grade is working on Book 2, Our Families, Our Neighbors. Last week’s story was Animal Moms and Dads.  How are our families like animal families? The high frequency words for the week are: two, our, her, they.  This is the link to last week’s page  for discussion questions and links to vocabulary and spelling activities.

Eric Carle

Mrs..  Buffleben’s First Grade class read several books by Eric Carle including:


After the class read the books by Eric Carle they made their own art using his collage techniques. First, they colored the paper with paints the same way Eric Carle paints his paper. It took several days for the paper to dry. When the paper was ready, it was time to make the collages. Each student chose a character from one of the books the class had read and chose papers that matched the colors of his or her character.  The results:

Eric Carle

Technorati Tags:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yesterday was the first day that Schools of Hope volunteers were working with some Yulupa first and second graders. Schools of Hope is a program sponsored by United Way of the Wine Country patterned on a program that started in Madison, WI in 1995. Only 46% of third graders in the elementary schools feeding into the Santa Rosa High School District read at grade level. The Schools of Hope goal is to raise that to 90% by 2020. Currently, there are 10 Santa Rosa area schools in the program.
This is the second year for Schools of Hope (SOH) at Yulupa. We worked with 28 first graders last year on phonics, sight words and reading in two half hour sessions per week. These students needed a little extra help to get to grade level. Only two second graders who had tutors last year need that extra help this year. We need several more volunteers to make sure that every student who needs help gets it. If you are interested or know someone who might be, please contact Barbara Fisher at the Volunteer Center (707) 573-3399 x122 or by e-mailing for more information.

I Love to Read!

Once upon a time there was a boy who thought reading was only for school and not for fun. He did well in school but he didn’t think about reading just for fun. One of his teachers decided to have Book Club Fridays. Everyone sat in a circle and talked about the books they were reading. One Friday the boy came home, ran to his mother and gave her a big hug and said, “I love to read! You can go anywhere and be anything; all you have to do is read a book.”
The boy is a grown man who still loves to read and has passed his love of reading to his son and daughter. This blog is dedicated to the teachers who taught the boy how to read and led him to love reading.