35 Books About Maine #bookingusa

For Booking Across the USA (2013) I compiled a listing of books written and/or illustrated by Maine residents.

This year for Booking Across the USA  Trip 2 (2014), I have compiled a list of books about Maine that can be used with preschoolers through elementary. To make it easier to navigate, I have grouped the books in the manner that we used them. Following you will find the title, author and brief summary.

Many are familiar with these well known Maine stories:  One Day in Maine, Blueberry for Sal and Miss Rumphius, so I have not listed them here. I knew we would find non-fiction fact books and stories about wildlife and the ocean, as I have a few in my personal library, but I was surprised at the fairly large number of books available today on Maine and the variety. It has made for some fun exploration and unexpected learning opportunities.

We started this all off with 1) Travels with Charlie book for our section of the country- Travelin’ the Northeast by Miles Backer. charlie The 4 book series by Blue Apple Books is filled with history, trivia facts and bright landmark illustrations on each state in each region.  An extra fun point was realizing we needed to search for Charlie on each state page. Seeing our state in this way, the open discussions comparing Maine to the other states inspired us to spend more time learning more about this state in which we live.

Books that provide more general factual information about Maine:

DSC04522  DSC04518

2) I Love Maine by Jeff Cox and Nancy Griffin – Simple board book with clear illustrations. 1 or 2 sentences per page about the highlights of Maine geographically, it’s main industries and wildlife.

3) Good Night Maine by Adam Gamble – Very simple board book. Starting with a “good morning” and travels through Maine through the day until settle with “good night”.

4) Maine ABC by Susan Ramsay Hoguet – Distinct Maine icons make up this rhyming verse ABC book.

5) L is for Lobster – A Maine Alphabet by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds – This rhyming ABC book covers a bit more of the history of Maine like the Algonquin Nation of Native Americans or the battle between the Enterprise and Boxer. The page sidebars contain a wealth of factual information to be used as appropriate for the age group and lesson material.

6) Maine – The Pine Tree State by Robin Koontz – From PowerKiDs Press and part of the Amazing States series. Real photos accompany most of the factual pages. These pages go into detail, yet remain readable with children. Well rounded resource with symbols, state map and bolded key words on information pages.

7) Maine – Facts and Symbols by Emily McAuliffe – Right off you have state map and fast facts. This book really focuses on the symbols.

8) Counting Our Way to Maine by Maggie Smith –  Join a family as they travel from the city to Maine for a vacation. Love that we get to count to 20 as we see what the family finds in Maine worth counting.

Maine Wildlife Books:

DSC04510  DSC04513

9) Maine’s Favorite Birds by Jeffrey V. Wells & Allison Childs Wells –  This is formatted like a traditional bird book, but contains only birds commonly found in Maine. The bird images are a nice size and make it easy for children to compare to the birds in their environment.

10) The Wildlife of Maine: A Coloring – Learning Book . This book is part of the “Adventures in Maine” Learning – Coloring books. This book contains ready-to-color images of the wildlife of Maine in their habitat. There are also facts about each animal provided.

11) A Loon Alone by Pamela Love – A day in the life of a baby loon chick. We see the other wildlife common to the habitat. The illustrations are scientifically correct, so you get a good real life look at all the animals presented.

12) Moon Loon by Sandy Ferguson Fuller – This story is written from the personal experience of it’s author from her summer visits to a lake in Maine. It’s about a solitary loon.

13) Moose by Anthony Fredericks – Part of the Our Wild World series – This non-fiction book contains pictures of moose from all locations they reside, not just Maine. It is worth including because of the facts presented and the moose is the state animal. So named in 1979.

14) I Met a Moose in Maine One Day by Ed Shankman – With a title like this you know this is a funny, nonsense story. The moose takes a young boy on a trip around Maine from such places as Belfast, Friendship, Camden and Rome.

15) Moose, of Course! by Lynn Plourde – A young boy wants to see a moose, so he sets off to find one. The best advice he got was to “Do nuthin!”

16) The Adventures of Maynard… a Maine Moose by Marybeth Baker – Maynard is a gentle Maine moose who wants to be smaller and quieter like all the other animals in the forest. Moose are big and a bit loud. With the help of his wildlife friends Maynard learns that being different can be special. Being kind and gentle is more important than big and loud to all his friends.

Maine Islands and Ocean Life:

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17) Going Lobstering by Jerry Pallotta – Two children get to go out on a lobster boat one day. Big Joe, the lobsterman, explains everything to them about how one fishes for lobster and includes them in that day’s catches. The story is fiction, but the facts are non-fiction.

18) Lobsterman by Dahlov Ipcar – Dahlov Ipcar’s illustrations are worth reading her books for. Lobsterman is a story about a fishing village on the coast of Maine and what daily life is like for a lobsterman and his son.

19) What the Sea Left Behind by Mimi Gregoire Carpenter – Meet Tessa. She’s a young artist that gathers things left behind by the sea to paint. The Atlantic Ocean leaves many interesting things along the rocky coastland and on the sandy beaches. Through the realistic paintings used for the illustrations you to can get a good understanding of just what Tessa has collected.

20) Surrounded by Sea: Life on a New England Fishing Island by Gail Gibbons – Follow the changes on an island fishing village through the seasons. (This could be any island off the New England states, but since Maine has the most of these, we used it as part of our exploration.) As with all Gail Gibbons books they are factually based.

21) Island Alphabet: An ABC of Maine Islands by Kelly Paul Briggs – Imagine an island to match each letter of the alphabet and fun little facts to go along with each simple letter poem. Compass, Lime, Mount Desert, Otter, or York for a few.

22) L.L.Bear’s Island Adventure by Kate Rowinski – L.L. Bear (yes, there is an L.L. Bean connection) takes his sea kayak out around Blueberry Island for a last Autumn picnic before all his friends head on their way for hibernation or migration. A bad storm hits and one of the friends is caught in it. Working together everyone turns up safe.

23) Andre’ The Famous Harbor Seal by Fran Hodgkins – This special seal spent it’s summers in Rockport, Maine where a special relationship developed with harbormaster Harry Goodridge. This relationship from when Andre’ was a seal pup until they both died has become a legend.

24) Seal Pup Grows Up: The Story of a Harbor Seal by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld – Just what the title says this book is about what the life of a seal pup is like. Non-fiction told in story form.

25) Fishing for Numbers: A Maine Number Book by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds – Learning about the history of Maine through counting. Each illustration has a simple counting rhyme accompanying it with addition historical information to allow further learning as appropriate. Many sections are connected to the sea which played and continues to play an important part in Maine’s history and economy.

26) Puffin’s Homecoming: The Story of an Atlantic Puffin (Smithsonian Wild Heritage Collection) by Darice Bailer – Each spring Puffins come from the Atlantic Ocean to nest and breed, before returning to the Ocean. Follow this experience in this factual story.

27) Lighthouse Lullaby by Kelly Paul Briggs – Imagine a snowy night on an island in Maine. What would it have been like for the keeper of the lighthouse and his family? This poem and illustrations can help you get there. The illustrations were inspired from a nineteenth-century family photo album from a lighthouse keeper on Boon Island Light.

Poetry about Maine:

DSC04511  28) At One in a place called Maine by Lynn Plourde – This story is written as a poem “I live in a place…..” “I am at one…….” The beauty of the painted illustrations flow along with the expression of the words. For us, Lynn Plourde is know for her sillier stories. The serenity and love in this story was a surprise. She definitely touched on my feelings for this beautiful state I feel lucky to live in.

DSC04523  29) A Kittery Kayaker by Webster Bull – A collection of limericks about Maine its places and the things that make those special.

DSC04527  30) A Garden of Whales by Maggie Steincrohn Davis – A poem about whales. The author’s wish would be to bring back whales to the sea by growing them in gardens. We can not. We need to honor whales. (Whaling itself was not big in Maine, but building ships used for whaling was. The whaling industry here now is all about whale watching.)

Our Backyard Maine:


31) The Henhouse: A true story of life on a Maine farm by Carol Shorey Dean – A young girl begs her father to let her help with the care of the chickens. Once in the henhouse she finds out how scary aggressive roosters  can be. How smelly chicken poop is and how loud 100′s of chicken are. She is rescued by her dad, but being real to life this is not a warm and fuzzy book.

32) Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud by Lynn Plourde – Silly take on a real side of Maine – mud season. Fun rhyming verse and nuthin’ can beat “rud” for a sense of a true Maine expression.

33) Gobble Gobble by Cathryn Falwell – Follow a young girl through a year as she follows a flock of wild turkeys through her back yard woods. Maine has a large population of wild turkeys. We get to watch them in the field behind our place.

34) Turtle Splash: Countdown at the Pond  by Cathryn Falwell – Frog Song Pond is 2 miles from our place. Through this book you can see the wildlife that visit it through a day as 10 turtles disappear into the pond. It’s the same wildlife we are familiar with around our homes.

35) Scoot! by Cathryn Falwell – Visiting Frog Song Pond again. This time with different wildlife visiting and more focus on sounds and movements. What finally makes 6 silent, still turtles scoot? (We have been lucky enough to have been invited to visit the pond and spend time with author Cathryn Falwell. That really makes that connection between children and a book.)



Published in: Book Blog Hops, Themed/Unit Books on May 14, 2014 at6:00 am Comments (2)

Teaching Math thru Picture Books

Part of maintaining my teacher’s certification while I’m operating my in-home family child care is finding college level classes that support PreK – 3. That is not always easy, but this past summer I found a course about teaching math to preschoolers.

I have a strong background in math, but figured it would be good to refresh my practice, so I signed on.

One part of the class that caught my attention outside the required class work was using picture books for teaching math concepts to preschoolers. I have always tried to incorporate math books into my curriculum, but I was surprised with all the new quality books there are now. I was also pushed to look at how books I read for other purposes can be used to draw math into the discussion.

I challenged myself to:

  • develop a resource of books and activity ideas
  • catalogue what books I have in my personal library which can support math concepts I am teaching and exposing my preschoolers too
  • research new books

Using Pinterest and our interlibrary loan I have been able to review many new books that are finding their way into the curriculum. Here are a few of the ones we have been enjoying so far this year:


Resource development was easy with Pinterest:

Here is the board for books and ideas: 1, 2, 3…Math thru Picture Books. There are additional boards about math that I had already established where additional ideas can be found.

My catalogue of books in my personal library was what surprised me. I had many more math books than I realized and have begun to use them differently. I now find myself looking for connections in almost every book I share with the children here.


  • *Press Here ~ Henre’ Tullet
  • *Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? ~ Bill Martin, Jr.
  • *The Dress I’ll Wear to the Party ~ Shirley Neitzel
  • *The Very Busy Spider ~ Eric Carle – repetitive text
  • *Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones ~ Ruth Heller – all egg layers
  • *Paddington’s Opposites ~ Michael Bond – opposites are AB pattern
  • *Jump, Frog, Jump! ~ Robert Kalan – cumulative tale, pattern in Jump, Frog, Jump! refrain
  • *Chicka Chicka Boom Boom ~ Lois Ehlert – pattern in the rhythmic chant/language
  • *Silly Sally ~ Audrey Wood – repetitive language pattern, cumulative
  • *Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar? ~ Bonnie Lass & Philemon Sturges
  • *Good Night Gorilla ~ Peggy Pathmann
  • *Caps for Sale ~ Esphyr Slobodkina
  • *Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes ~ Eric Litwin – language pattern


  • *Mouse Shapes ~ Ellen Stoll Walsh
  • *The Shape of Things ~ Dayle Ann Dobbs
  • *Red Bear’s Fun with Shapes ~ Bodel Rikys
  • *If You Look Around You ~ Fulvio Testa – 3D shapes
  • *Lines ~ Philip Yenawine – Museum of Modern Art NY, vocab of artists, lines
  • *Shape Capers ~ Cathryn Falwell
  • *Shape Space ~ Cathryn Falwell


  • *Ten Black Dots ~ Donald Crew – counting
  • *100 Hungry Ants ~ Elinor J. Pinczes – regrouping 100
  • *Counting on Calico Cat ~ Phyllis Limbacher Tildes
  • *The Right Number of Elphants ~ Jeff Sheppard – reverse counting
  • * Many Bunnies: a bedtime abc and counting book ~ Rick Walton – count to 26
  • *Ten Terrible Dinosaurs ~ Paul Stickland
  • *Gray Rabbit’s 1,2,3 ~ Alan Baker
  • *One, Two, Three, Oops! ~ Michael Coleman – figuring out how to count things that move
  • *Turtle Splash! ~ Cathryn Falwell
  • *One Potato: A Counting Book of Potato Prints ~ Diana Pomeroy
  • *Rooster’s Off to See the World ~ Eric Carle


  • *Alligator in the Elevator ~ Rick Charette – ordinal
  • *The Twelve Days of Christmas ~ Jan Brett
  • *How Much Is A Million? ~ David M. Schwartz
  • *teddy bears 1 to 10 ~ Susanna Gretz
  • *1,2,3 To The Zoo: a counting book ~ Eric Carle – counting, wordless except for Number symbols
  • *Can you imagine…..? a Counting book ~ Beau Gardner – numeral/representation/ word
  • *Who’s Counting ~ Nancy Tafuri
  • *The Icky Bug Counting Book ~ Jerry Pallotta – non-fiction
  • *Feast for 10 ~ Cathryn Falwell
  • *One Potato: A Counting Book of Potato Prints ~ Diana Pomeroy


  • *Mouse Count ~ Ellen Stoll Walsh – addition/substraction
  • *Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree/Jumping on the Bed ~ Eileen Christelow – subtraction
  • *A Remainder of One ~ Elinor J. Pinczes – working with 25, regrouping, division
  • *Five Little Pumpkins ~ Ben Mantle
  • *Puppies in the Snow ~ James Young
  • *Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons ~ Eric Litwin – subtraction



  • *Biggest, Strongest, Fastest ~ Steve Jenkins
  • *Town Mouse Country Mouse ~ Jan Brett


  • *If You Give a Mouse a Cookie ~ Laura Joffe Numeroff (any books from this series)
  • *Somebody and the Three Blairs ~ Marilyn Tolhurst




  • *The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear ~ Don Wood – fraction
  • *Thunder Cake ~ Patricia Polacco – recipe for cake at book end



  • *The Wild Christmas Reindeer ~ Jan Brett
  • *The Very Hungry Caterpillar ~ Eric Carle – calendar and counting
  • *Cookie’s Week ~ Cindy Ward


  • *Seven Blind Mice ~ Ed Young – problem solving and collaboration.  By working together, and comparing thinking solve the problem.


How many math books do you have in your classroom or personal library?



Published in: Math on February 17, 2014 at1:55 pm Comments (0)

Movement and Books?

With young children we know it is of benefit to have activities that will support them in getting their bodies moving. There are times that we need those quick 5-10 minute movement activities. The following is a list of books that have a movement component to them:DSC03731

  • Wriggly Pig by Jon Blake
  • Tumble Bumble by felicia Bond
  • Silly Sally by Audrey Wood
  • Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Bryan Cauley
  • Shake My Sillies Out by Raffi

An activity that is fun to follow these books up with, but can be used at any time you need a simple movement break, is to take colored jumbo craft sticks and glue movement idea strips to them. Could also write, but printed out and glued stay clearer longer. Ideas can also be added as favorite actions change with the group. Following are the movement ideas from our sticks:

  • pretend hula hooping
  • walk backwards
  • jump backwardsDSC03730
  • frog jumps
  • wiggle worm
  • highest leap
  • helicopters
  • jump sideways
  • ants in your pants
  • walk sideways
  • twisting toe touch
  • hop one foot then other
  • silly walk
  • jumping jacks
  • tree in a stormy wind
  • giant steps
  • head, shoulders, knees, toes
  • jump in a circle
  • two foot jumps
  • pretend on balance beam
  • pretend to pedal a bike
  • egg rock and roll
  • side stretches
  • jack in the box
  • run in place
  • tree in a breeze
  • dance
  • pretend climbing stairs
  • leg swing right, then left
  • pretend bowling
  • hop like a rabbit
  • touch your toes

For a printable list click this link.

Published in: Picture Book on December 17, 2013 at5:40 pm Comments (0)

9 Favorite Farmyard Books

At some point each year we seem to do a lot of learning around the Farmyard. Young children in my program seem to have a love for barns, tractors and farm animals. Being surrounded by the fields worked by an active dairy farm helps maintain the interest year round here. We read many books over the year having to do with the farm, tractors and animals. I’m always on the lookout for new ones, but there are some that are always being pulled from the library shelves (my personal collection or local library). These books offer a variety of illustration styles, variety of writing styles, and non-fiction to more factual.

Are they all of the highest literary quality? A few may not be, but I have learned if children do not enjoy a book it doesn’t really matter about the quality.

Our top 9 Farmyard books:



  1. Farming by Gail Gibbons – Using simple text and illustrations this book offers a good introduction to farming and the work done on a farm throughout the seasons. (Nonfiction)
  2. Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown - Rhymed text and illustrations introduce animals that live in the big red barn. The animals are ones children associate with farms. The story follows the barnyard animals as they play one day from sunrise to nightfall, while the children are away.
  3. The Year at Maple Hill Farm  by Alice Provensen -  Slightly humorous text takes us month by month through the seasonal changes and the affect on the animals on the farm. Changes are depicted in simple, yet detailed illustrations.
  4. Old MacDonald Had a Farm illustrations by Carol Jones –  As the story follows the song, guess the next animal to be found on the farm, by looking through each page’s peephole. Wonderfully illustrated with realistic detail and more of a pen/ink and watercolor style.
  5. Night in the Country by Cynthia Rylant - Text and illustrations describe the sights and sounds of nighttime in the country. While the people dream of daytime things, the nighttime world awakens through the lyrical text and soft illustrations. The story describes the sights and sounds of nighttime in the country. Love the questions the text asks: Who else is up so late? Who else watches and hears the sights and sounds of night in the country — the many stirrings of silence, the many colors of the dark? Leads into natural discussion while reading.
  6. Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming – It’s another noisy morning on the farm, and all of the animals are where you would expect the, except Goose. You get hints of where Goose, who is chasing a butterfly, is as you move through the noisy farmyard. Do not think there is a better book of farmyard animal sounds. The strong rhythm and rhyme, and fun onomatopoeic animal sounds makes this a perfect read aloud book. The strong and bright illustrations add to the energy of this book.
  7. Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones by Ruth Heller –  A pictorial introduction to the animals that lay eggs, including chickens as well as other birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, insects, and mammals.
  8. The Scarecrow’s Hat by Ken Brown - Nice book for problem solving and discussion of giving of oneself. Chicken admires Scarecrow’s hat. She finds out Scarecrow would gladly trade his hat for a walking stick to rest his tired arms. Chicken doesn’t have a walking stick to trade—but she knows someone who does.
  9. Tremendous Tractors (Amazing Machines) by Tony Mitton - Through tidy verse, colorfully illustrated pages Rabbit, Bird, and Mouse show off how their tractors on the farm are used to plow, pull the harrow, the roller, the seed drill, the mower, and the bailer. Tractors get to do all kinds of fun jobs.

To see activities we used as part of lessons while reading these books check out the Preschool blog’s postings around the Farm Unit.


Published in: Picture Book on October 22, 2013 at4:25 pm Comments (0)
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TIme for Non-Fiction Discovery

We completed the Fiction part of the Summer Library Challenge. We did not get to the non-fiction challenge, but have decided to continue with it once the school year starts again.

Challenge #1– World Geography and Culture
Ask a librarian to help you find an atlas. Find and locate a country you’ve never visited. Using the library catalog, locate and check out three books about that country and its culture.

Advanced Library Challenge #1: Using the books you chose, find 5 ways the country’s culture is different from your own.

Advanced Library Challenge #2: Does the country have a special holiday? How would you plan a party to celebrate that holiday?

————– We’ll be doing this challenge around the Holiday season when we discuss traditions for families.

Challenge #2 – Plants
In your libraries catalog, type in the subject word, “plants”. What is the general Dewey Decimal number for most of the books? Browse that section of the children’s non-fiction shelves. Find and check out 2 books: one about identifying flowers and trees and one about how to grow a home garden.

Advanced Library Challenge #1: Take your first book to the park, identify 3 different flowers and 3 different trees.

Advanced Library Challenge #2: Design and draw your dream garden! Make sure to identify the plants in your layout.

——————This challenge has been done this past year when we studied trees in the Fall and when we planned the garden this past Spring.garden planning

We accessed multiple books about about vegetables and perennials. We were able to use our tree books right in our yard and surrounding woods.

Challenge #3– Poetry
The non-fiction sections contains more than just factual books! Find the poetry section and check out three types of books poetry: an anthology of works by different poets, a collection by a single author and a book of themed poetry.

Advanced Library Challenge #1: Find the definitions (using books from the poetry section, not the internet!) of three kinds of poetry (such as haiku, limericks, sonnets, concrete, acrostic, etc.)

Advanced Library Challenge #2: Use books in the library to write a “spine poem” (here’s a how to link: http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2013/04/spine-poetry-activity-for-kids.html), or write your own poem!

——————We experience poetry throughout the year. We’ll try to write our own as part of our unit studies this year.

Challenge #4 – Fairy and Folk Tales
Find and check out a fairy or folk tale anthology and read at least three different stories from it.

Advanced Challenge: Chose your favorite fairy or folk tale and locate three versions of the tale from three different cultures.

—————— Enjoying the Three Little Pigs and thinking will include with our Farm unit this Fall.

Challenge #5 – Sports (NOT just for boys!)
What is your favorite sport? Find the sport’s location in the non-fiction section of the library. Write down the Dewey Decimal number. What is the sport that comes right before it on the shelves? Right after?

Advanced Challenge: Find and check out three books on your sport: a history book, a biography and a rule-book.

Advanced Challenge: Create 10 trivia questions based on the facts you learned about your favorite sport. Quiz your parents or your friends.

———————— Thinking would be fun to do this with the 2014 Olympics.

Challenge #6 – Biography:
Find the biography section. Browse the shelves and find 2 books to read and check out: one about a person whose name you’ve heard, one about someone new to you.

Advanced Challenge: Using the library catalog, find more books about one of those people. Discuss with your parents how the books differ in their representation of the biographical subject.

Advanced Challenge: Write a biography about someone in your life.

————————- Will pull this in as part of our unit of study “All About Me”. No sure when will do this year, yet.


Published in: Informational, Nonfiction on September 3, 2013 at9:43 am Comments (0)

Part 2 of the Fiction Challenge

The Cathryn Falwell books we reserved online were:

  • Hands by Virginia Kroll/ Illustrated by Cathryn Falwell
  • New Moon by Pegi Deitz Shea/ Illustrated by Cathryn Falwell
  • Butterflies for Kiri
  • Clowning Around

A couple of these I have read, but not to the children. As you can also see 2 are ones she illustrated only. Go instructional opportunity to teach about what illustrators do.

We enjoyed reading the books from that big list from Part 1. Many will added to unit ideas for the future and workshops to share with others, but two books needed a quick comment right now:

  • Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge had me choked up by the end. The school-age kids were familiar with and immediately commented how they “Loved” that book, which drew the younger kids attention.
  • Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend was read only to the school-age as I felt they would get more at this time from this story set in the South about Martin Luther King, Jr. Definitely one I’ll be doing more review on for future use.

#4 – Introduce Your Kids to a Classic
Tell your kids the names of 3 favorite books from your childhood. Show them how to use the library catalog to find the books.

We did this right from the laptop using our local library’s site and access to online catalogue. I’ve read favorites to these kids over the years. It’s the new books I feel I need to be sharing more.

3 favorites we looked up: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, Babar the Elephant by Laurent De Brunhoff

#5 – Find new fiction books on a favorite topic

Advanced #5 Challenge - Check out several picture books on a particular topic and compare and contrast the illustrations and style of writing. Talk with your kids about how different authors and illustrators portray the same subject.

Still looking for “new to me books”, I pulled books across the different reading levels of the kids on 2 topics of  general interest within the group.

Topic one – Cats: the cat The Cat at Night by Dahlov Ipcar, Pete the Cat Play Ball! by James Dean, A Cat and a Dog by Claire Masurel and Bob Kolar, Pretend You’re A Cat by Jean Marzollo and Jerry Pinkney, th-2 Omen of the Stars Warriors – the Fourth Apprentice by Erin Hunter

Topic two – Fairies: Rainbow Magic – Sunny the Yellow Fairy by Daisy Meadows, fairy house Fairy Houses by Tracy Kane,  A Book of Fairies by Patricia Saxton, Dear Tooth Fairy by Alan Durant

#6 – Explore different reading levels of the children’s fiction section: picture books, early readers, and chapter books/middle grade novels.

Advanced #6 Challenge – Ask your librarian to identify at least one popular author in each level of children’s fiction books and find a book by each of those authors to check out.

I asked for recommendations of popular authors I did not usually read. Recommended:

  • middle grade chapter: Erin Hunt
  • picture books: Dahlov Ipcar, Jean Marzollo
  • easy reader: James Dean

I also asked for a recommendation of an author who was popular over a few levels and especially for middle grade boys. Dan Gutman was recommended. I checked out 9780060745226_p0_v1_s260x420Mrs. Cooney Is Loony! (My Weird School series), which I’m reading to the group as a simple chapter book and and Getting Air which is being read independently by one of my older school-age boys.


Published in: Fiction on June 28, 2013 at11:31 am Comments (0)
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2013 Summer Reading Challenge

Reading over the summer is important and when you have a mixed ages program I’ve found I need to have some kind of summer reading challenge. This year No Twiddle Twaddle, one of the blogs I follow, posted about a library challenge.summer-library-challenge91

The idea of learning more about our library tied right in with my workshops on books and extension activities. In those workshops I’m trying to expose others in early childhood education to books that they may not be aware of. Developing the workshops pushes me to be on the lookout for new material all the time. To that end I have a slew of Pinterest boards about books that others recommend. Even with all the usage and past volunteering I’ve done in the children’s room of our local library, I figured this challenge would open up more possibilities for me that I could also pass along to my families and future workshop participants.

The first challenge was all about Fiction. I made my challenge visit to the library last night and following I’ll share the “new to me” books that I checked out and will share with the children here.

#1 – Utilize your librarian’s recommendations

This is something I do on a regular basis, but in doing so last night learned something new. I knew about our state’s  annual book award program: “Chickadee Awards”, but I did not know that our library put stars on their copy of the Chickadee books.

  • The Bear Who Shared by Catherine Rayner
  • Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Betty Stroud
  • Dog in Charge by K.L. Going
  • Bad Apple A Tale of Friendship by Edward Hemingway

This book was  a librarian recommendation for a favorite and 2013 Caldecott Medal winner. Two advanced challenges covered.

  • This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen 2013-06-13_1235

#2 – Find a Popular Book

Usually I’m looking for books around the interests of the children and units we are working on. I have never just browsed the shelves looking for sets of multiple copies. It was interesting how many I found. I picked six that cover a variety of interests, illustration and language styles.

  • And Here’s to You by David Elliot
  • Serious Farm by Tim Egan
  • Grandma Drove the Garbage Truck by Katie Clark
  • Hedgie’s Surprise by Jan Brett
  • Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
  • Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle  and Glenn Murray

#3 – Discover a Popular Author

There is an author that I see all over the web, but have only read one of their books previously. Our library has a good collection of their books, so I grabbed 6 new ones:

  • Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox
  • A Particular Cow by Mem Fox
  • Hunwick’s Egg by Mem Fox
  • Koala Lou by Mem Fox
  • Wilford Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
  • Where the Giant Sleeps by Mem Fox

and the one I have previously read.

  •  Where Is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox

I also checked out “new to us” books by an author we have recently been reading – Denise Fleming.

  • Buster
  • The Everything Book
  • The First Day of Winter
  • Underground
  • Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!

For the favorite author challenge I accessed our online catalogue and reserved some “new to us” books by Cathryn Falwell. We have quite a collection of her books in-house, already follow her blog and through communication this year has been invited to visit her studio this summer. We’ll be making those arrangement once school is out and summer camp weeks known. The older kids are really excited about this visit.

This is only the first part of the Fiction Challenges. I’ll be heading over to What Do We Do All Day?  next week to tackle the rest of the Fiction Challenges. Must say I’m excited by the books I found. Have a bit of pre-reading ahead of me tonight to be sure of what books will work with this group. :)

I’ll post reviews and extension ideas for the new books we really enjoyed. I’ve learned that not every book I pull off a library shelf, or every one recommended by others is a good fit for the specific group I’m working with at the time.


Published in: Fiction on June 13, 2013 at12:31 pm Comments (3)
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Books Across the USA: Arkansas

It’s been more than a few years since I enjoyed one of my most rewarding years of teaching in El Dorado, Arkansas. I had the chance to teach 2nd grade in a region of the country with very different cultural experiences than the New England I had been born and raised in. The lessons I got to experiences with that class have remained with me since.

I made it back to my beloved New England, Maine specifically, and now find myself sharing some stories of my experiences with the young children in my care as they learn about different cultures, traditions and the similarities that are shared across the USA.

The hit is always my Razorback hat. I’m not sure if this tradition continues, but in the ’70’s & ’80’s these hats were worn and the snouts rubbed for good luck at the University of Arkansas football games. Not a tradition we have in this area. The hat does lead into a culture for many families in our state – hunting. Asking what a razorback is we learn it’s a wild boar or hog that is hunted. “Wild pig” to the kids as they always seem to want to play with the hat, often pretending to be hunters.

Then I get to share my snake stories about making lots of noise before putting the trash out or heading to the car left outside overnight, and never reaching into a pile of wood – you used a stick. The best story however is having to go out before children went out to play at recess with long poles to clear away any snakes that were sunning on the hardtop play area.  It’s hard for these kids to understand the need to be careful in any grassy area and to stay out of any area not mowed. We are always running through the fields here, playing barefoot in the grass. We have no poisonous snakes in Maine.

We have fun making as much noise as we can pretending to scare away any snakes in our space. Snakes are such an interest point for children that we have rubber snakes for play and often do snake crafts. A nice free plain template for snake finger puppet can be found at MrPrintables.com.

Another experience I share is the time I went mining for diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Now Maine has a lot of beautiful gems actively mined within an hour of us, but not diamonds. We head online to see the park and information about mining. Then we head to the sandbox to practice the steps that I used to mine for diamonds (No luck that day, but another fun experience): gather a bucket of sand (dirt), sift it through screening or sifting pans, checking for small rocks (diamonds).

In Maine we have lots of water around us between the lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and ocean. We also seem to have a lot of hot tubs. I use that knowledge when I explain to the children about Hot Springs, and the National Park there.

Usually the best response comes from my story about going “gigging”. Now that may only be a local slang term, but that’s what I was told the activity was called. Most would call it bullfrog hunting. We went out at night, waders on, hunters with gigs in hand (I just was along for the experience). Now we have frogs in our back woods, almost yearly collecting some tadpoles to watch and hear peepers many summer nights, but eating them….No. For a quick lesson in Bullfrog hunting click here.

I have always found that having personal stories to tell adds to books when shared. These 2 books about Arkansas by Michael Shoulders with illustrationsby Rick Anderson tie into my personal stories through the material presented.

  N is for Natural State: An Arkansas Alphabet

    Natural Numbers: An Arkansas Number Book

Rick Anderson, who lives in the neighboring state of Mississippi, is a wildlife painter and his illustrations in these books show the natural beauty of Arkansas’ vast variety of terrain and landmarks.



Published in: Uncategorized on February 28, 2013 at11:24 am Comments (2)

A Winter Silhouette in Maine (Booking Across the USA)

Booking Across the USA button and link

It’s especially fun to share books with children when the stories are written about their town by someone living there. Cathryn Falwell, both author and illustrator of over 20 children’s picture books, lives about 3 miles from us. Cathryn and her family has lived in Gorham, ME since the last 1990′s. She has given of her time to local schools and libraries. Our town library has a wonderful mural by her in the children’s room. Cathryn Falwell has become an author we read and enjoy throughout the year, especially her books which are written from her experiences here in Maine. I had planned on posting about our extension project around one of our favorite Cathryn Falwell books which is about the turtles found in a small woodland pond, Turtle Splash. The pond the story is based on is located at the end of the author’s street and the animals and habitat are ones we see in our surrounding woods. The copy of the book we have to enjoy is signed by the author, which adds to the specialness of it for the children. I have also been able to attend a literacy workshop on how she develops her books at our local library, which enriches the discussions we have about her books.

However, we have been really hit with a lot of snow the last few weeks, so our interests have not been around turtles and pond life. We’ll save Turtle Splash and Scoot! for when Spring really gets here. Besides playing in the snow we have been caring for the birds and squirrels enjoying their visits to the feeders in the trees just outside our space.

We have also been keeping an eye out for the start of maple sugaring and the trees being tapped. With all this focus around trees, I have switched our book to another by Cathryn Falwell, David’s Drawing, which was on our reading shelf for this month.
This month we are doing some extra work on understanding group vs personal needs. David sees a tree he wants to draw on his way to school. When he gets to school he sits down to draw the tree. His classmates start to suggest what could be added, which leads to a classroom picture. David draws “his” picture when he gets home that night. It’s a well written simple story that is perfect for preschoolers, especially those getting ready for K.

I think it’s a favorite here because we see trees just like David’s right outside our windows.

The last few years we have done our own version of a bare tree drawing. Sometimes as a group, but usually it’s the following project. I have worked with stencils, batik, and watercolors for years in various art projects. I thought that maybe I could do some type of stencil with watercolor to get a tree silhouette. I tried a few different things, but they were all too teacher directed. I wanted hands on for my preschoolers. I found a roll of painter’s tape – the light bulb went off so to say – use the tape for getting the tree shape, would work like a stencil or better batik (remove the wax = remove tape). I tried it out and liked what I got. This could be totally done by a preschool age child. I had our project.
  • Read the story, with additional discussion on the silhouette of the tree
  • Check out the trees around our space for inspiration on shape, their shadow and silhouette
  • Take pieces of tape and place on watercolor paper to form a tree silhouette
  • Paint over with watercolor
  • Dry
  • Remove painter’s tape
  • Stamp with our foam circle sponge to get falling snow/snowflake look
  • Finished project
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This was a simple, fun, low cost project that is totally done by the children. Lots of fine motor skills and language development. A project idea I have used again and again. So many ways to adapt – anything you can think to make by placing tape on paper can be done. The watercolor  has the affect I want with this type of project.  This year we have done this technique using our homemade watercolor paint from dried up markers.
Maine has a wonderful history of authors and illustrators who have been involved in the production of quality children’s literature past and present. We also have a wonderful statewide program  Read With ME that provides the opportunity for every kindergartener in the state to receive a free book. The program’s aim is to support the improvement of literacy and reading skills among Maine’s students. Each year the chosen book includes literacy information including activity pages and a resource of literacy outreach contacts. To be selected a book must by written or illustrated by a resident of Maine and there is a commitment to also make personal appearances at a variety of locations throughout the year. These books may not all be about special places in Maine, but a few are and the rest have the tie to Maine through the writer or illustrator.

Books Selected for Read With ME. 1999-2011

One Morning in Maine (Robert McCloskey) –1999

Blueberries for Sal (Robert McCloskey)

Little Beaver and the Echo (Amy MacDonald)

Pigs in the Mud (Lynn Plourde)

Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp (Scott Nash)

Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee (Chris Van Dusen)

Schoolyard Rhymes (Melissa Sweet)

Shape Capers (Cathryn Falwell)

The Cat at Night (Dahlov Ipcar)

A Place to Sleep (Holly Meade)

The Circus Ship (Chris Van Dusen)

The Very Best Bed (Rebekah Raye) — 2011




Published in: Picture Book on February 27, 2013 at7:51 am Comments (0)
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Books Across the USA Blog Hop

All 50 States for Booking Across the USA Blog Hop,  A book review and crafts, activities, or freebies are included in each post.  All the posts were live on February 25, 2013.
Booking Across the USA Host:  Growing Book by Book
Blogging Across the USA Blog Hop button

Flag of Alabama from Wikipedia CommonsAlabama Blog Post by Everyday Snapshots Blog

 Flag of Alaska from Wikipedia CommonsAlaska Blog Post by Little Wonders’ Days Blog

Flag of Arkansas from Wikipedia CommonsArkansas Blog Post by Country Fun Book Files

Flag of Arizona from Wikipedia CommonsArizona Blog Post by Simply Kinder

Flag of California from WikipediaCalifornia Blog Post by Juggling with Kids 

Flag of CaliforniaCalifornia Blog Post by The Outlaw Mom

Flag of Colorado from Wikipedia CommonsColorado blog Post by Learners in Bloom

Flag of Colorado from Wikipedia

Colorado Blog Post by Living Montessori Now

Flag of Connecticut from Wikipedia CommonsConnecticut Blog Post By Teacher Park Blog
Flag of Delaware from Wikipedia CommonsDelaware Blog Post by Mama Miss

Flag of Florida from WikipediaFlorida Blog Post by the Teaching Stars Blog

Flag of Georgia USA from Wikipedia CommonsGeorgia Blog Post by Fabulously First Blog

Flag of Hawaii from Wikipedia CommonsHawaii Blog Post by Teaching with Style


Flag of Idaho from Wikipedia Commons

Idaho post by True Aim Education Blog

Flag of Illinois from Wikipedia CommonsIllinois State Post by Growing Book by Book

Flag of Indiana from Wikipedia CommonsIndiana State Post by Teach Pre-School Blog
Flag of Iowa from Wikipedia CommonsIowa Blog Post by Surviving a Teacher Salary Blog Flag of Kansas from Wikipedia CommonsKansas Blog Post by KCEdventures 
Flag of Kentucky from Wikipedia Commons wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Kentucky.svgKentucky Blog Post by Chicken Babies

Flag of Louisiana from Wikipedia CommonsLouisiana Blog Post by Your Child’s Next Book and Project Blog

Flag of Maine from Wikipedia CommonsMaine Blog Post by Country Fun
Flag of Maryland from Wikipedia CommonsMaryland Blog Post by Picture Books and Piourettes

Flag of Massachusetts from Wikipedia CommonsMassachusetts Blog Post by Mama Smiles Blog

Flag of Michigan from Wikipedia CommonsMichigan Blog Post by Play Dr. Mom

Flag of Minnesota from Wikipedia CommonsMinnesota Post by the Wise Owl Factory Book a Day Blog

Flag of Mississippi from Wikipedia CommonsMississippi Blog Post by Hey Mommy, Chocolate Milk

Flag of Missouri from Wikipedia CommonsMissouri Blog Post by Ready, Set, Read Blog
Flag of Montana from Wikipedia CommonsMontana Blog Post by The Honey Bunch

Flag of Nebraska from Wikipedia CommonsNebraska Blog Post by The Good Long Road

Flag of Nevada from Wikipedia CommonsNevada Blog Post by Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy Crafts Blog


Flag of New Hampshire from Wikipedia CommonsNew Hampshire Blog Post by Elementary Matters


Flag of New Jersey from Wikipedia CommonsNew Jersey Blog Post by The Pleasantest Thing


Flag of New Mexico from Wikipedia CommonsNew Mexico Blog Post by The Enchanted Homeschooling Mom Blog


Flag of New York from Wikipedia CommonsNew York Blog Post by What Do We Do All Day Blog

Flag of North Carolina from Wikipedia CommonsNorth Carolina Post by the Realistic Teacher Blog
Flag of North Dakota from WikipediaNorth Dakota Post by ND Health Works

Flag of Ohio from Wikipedia CommonsOhio Blog Post by the Smart Chick Teacher Blog

Flag of Oklahoma from Wikipedia CommonsOklahoma Blog Post by Herding Kats in Kindergarten

Flag of Oregon from Wikipedia CommonsOregon State Post by Journey of a Substitute Teacher Blog


Flag of Pennsylvania from Wikipedia CommonsPennsylvania Blog Post by the Land of Once Upon a Time 

Flag of Rhode Island from Wikipedia CommonsRhode Island Blog Post by Smiling in Second


Flag of South Carolina from Wikipedia CommonsSouth Carolina Blog Post by Cookies and Kiddos

Flag of South Dakota from WikipediaSouth Dakota Blog Post by Wise Owl Factory Book a Day

Flag of Tennessee from Wikipedia CommonsTennessee Blog Post by No Monkey Business

Flag of Texas from Wikipedia CommonsTexas Blog Post by Curls and a Smile

Flag of Texas from WikipediaTexas Blog Post by Kid World Citizen

Flag of Utah from Wikipedia CommonsUtah Blog Post by Teach Beside Me Blog


Flag of Vermont from Wikipedia CommonsVermont Blog Post by Vermont Moms Blog


Flag of Virginia from Wikipedia CommonsVirginia Blog Post by Once Upon a Story Blog

Flag of Virginia from WikipediaVirginia Post by the Freckled Homeschooler Blog


Flag of Washington State from Wikipedia CommonsWashington Blog Post by Home Learning Journey

Flag of West Virginia from Wikipedia CommonsWest Virginia Blog Post by Great Peace Academy Blog

Flag of West VirginiaWest Virginia Blog Post by Mamas Like Me

Flag of Wisconsin from Wikipedia CommonsWisconsin Blog Post by Reading Confetti


Flag of Wyoming from Wikipedia CommonsWyoming Blog Post by No Twiddle Twaddle


Flag of the United States of America from Wikipedia CommonsUSA Blog Post by the Corner on Character Blog

Published in: Book Blog Hops on February 26, 2013 at8:54 pm Comments (0)