Posted in Book Life

Top 10 Audible Books: 2021

Last year listing to Amazon Audibles started as a car thing. Driving from school to school listening to a story instead of the radio. Don’t get me wrong, I love music, but I found I really enjoyed listening to a story. I can get lost in an Audible book just as much a physical book and listening to a story is a beautiful distraction from the real world.

I decided to compile my top 10 listens for this year. I am not a book critic, so I am not going to analyze or critique these stories…I’ll leave that for the experts. These are just the books that I really enjoyed listening to in the car, in the kitchen, working out and even getting ready in the morning. Listening to a good book as gone outside of the car and has worked its way into many areas of my life. I find that listening to a book turns off my overthinking brain and allows me to get tasks done in peace….or suspense!

These books are in no particular order. I struggled to pick 10. How could I then rank them?! My reading taste can be all over the place and mood dependent, I don’t stick to one genre, so this is just a mini buffet from my library.

1.

This book was fabulous. I read the Huntress next. I also listened to the mini follow up Smoke Signal. waiting for her next book!!!

2.

This took me chapters to get into. Kinda creepy and dark. Good ending.

3.

Lisa Jewell is great. She keeps my attention. I also love a British narrator.

4.

All the 90’s vibes.

5.

No mystery or suspense here, just a story.

6.

I really liked this one. I read another book by the same author, it was ok.

7.

This was good. Not too dark and easy to follow.

8.

This was included in my subscription and I was pleasantly surprised.

9.

This was a tad like Outlander…but PG.

10.

So I listened to the series…..couldn’t list just 1 book.

There are more books I listening to this year and may have highlighted in other posts. Reading and books have been a huge part of my life and it is refreshing to discover that one can find a new way to enjoy titles and authors you love, when you think you have no time to read…..just read with your ears.

Posted in Teaching Life

Literacy Skills: Spring Sequencing Activity

My students love Splat the Cat stories. I find them easy to read aloud and think the illustrations are cute. Each story typically has enough content and pages to keep my young listeners engaged.

How I Use When Reading Aloud

  • Read
  • Stop and ask questions
  • Predicting
  • Vocabulary
  • Text to self connections
  • Text to text connections

Depending on the student I probably use 2-3 of these ideas when reading the story. I find that reading a fun and simple story can pepper in and layer in many goals or needs a student might have. Story books are one of my favorite tools when working on goals.

I decided with this story I wanted to develop a resource that could be used with various levels of learners. I created different options to sequence the growing process Splat goes through. Creating worksheets that go with the story, but can also be used with other stories is also a goal of mine. I have a student that does not enjoy Splat as much as others, so I know I can use this resource with a few other Spring/planting books I have in my collection.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sequence-Retell-Splat-the-Cat-Oopsie-Daisy-6825500

This resource can be printed and copied in color or black line. I typically love color, but if you have a student who loves to color or needs fine motor practice, then printing the black line version would be awesome. Anytime I can support another therapist or teachers goals is a total win!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sequence-Retell-Splat-the-Cat-Oopsie-Daisy-6825500

The language used in the various options supports different learners. Some of my students are using transition words, while others need just a simple number to support sequencing the pictures.

The prep for this is very easy. Decide what page option suits your students best and print.

How To Use

  • Small group
  • Centers
  • Morning work
  • Whole group
  • One to one

These can be printed on card stock or laminated for durability. Students can sequence and retell after the story. Another option is to have them listen and sequence at the same time. I would do this with a second read through. When my students used the cards the love to self check, so after the sequenced I find the first page, where Splat starts the growing process, and the listen and correct the card order.

Last, I love to connect their expressive writing skills. My students love to share their favorite aspects of most everything, so I take advantage of this joy of sharing and have them write. The illustrations are typically the easiest part of this sheet. Again finding ways to connect to the whole child. Working on fine motor and creativity. Writing and remembering the text is a fantastic auditory memory skill. If they need prompts or gentle reminders I definitely help them out. The “tell me why” piece is typically the hardest component. Wh questions are always a goal and those why questions typically challenge my students. This is a fun, simple and basic way to attack that skill with a personal connection.

Skills Addressed

  • Creativity
  • Fine motor
  • Expressive language
  • Wh questions
  • Auditory recall
  • Personal expression
  • Phonics/spelling
  • Writing

Spring has definitely sprung in my planbook. I am looking forward to reading all of my favorite Spring storybooks. I am sure I will share texts and activities in the upcoming weeks, but for now I hope you found this inspirational and useful. You can find the resource in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Happy Spring planning!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/The-Listening-Ladybug

Posted in Teaching Life

2021 Valentine’s Day Lessons and Read Alouds

This is my new haul of books. I have a solid collection of Valentine’s Day books, but of course I needed new titles.

The title alone brings the kids in. We had fun reading.

I have other stories with Desmond and Clayton. The kids seem to like these two little mice, so of course I needed the Valentine’s Day version.

This one is beyond adorable. We loved the pictures and the familiarity of the story. We read The Littlest Reindeer and The Littlest Elf over the Christmas holiday. Emma Valentine’s story delivered just as much….if not more smiles. The puppy storyline was a huge hit!

The Littlest and Biggest….fun to explore the language.

This is one of my favorite stories. I think it is the illustrations, no matter, I read it every year to atleast one student. This year I decided to make some worksheets and activities to go with it. I found the clip art on Teachers Pay Teachers.

I am having a great time with my students this week. I also read last week Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine. I forgot to snap a pic before I shared it with one of my teams. Love my teacher tribe….not sure how they are using it, but we used the detective story for opportunities to practice predicting.

I am taking advantage of anything cute and fun this year. We are all teaching in a new situation and making the most of it has been my daily mantra. I have a post from last year if you want to see some more Valentine’s Day lesson ideas.

Happy Teaching!

Posted in Book Life

2020: My Library Picks

This year I did a lot more reading with my ears, than I did with my eyes. When I opened our Audibles account I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like hearing a story. I am typically a fast reader and a control freak, so I enjoy reading and skimming at my pace, but with listening I get every word the author intended.

Audibles

Every book listed here I would recommend and enjoyed. I feel like I sort of had a few categories.

Mystery, stories with strong women and guilty pleasures.

This cover and title caught my eye. Sometimes I judge a book by it’s cover…truth. I adore that chair. Granny chic at it’s best. This was a sweet listen.

This book was along timencoming. I remember reading the leaked chapters from a decade ago. I always had hoped Stephanie Meyers would revisit the idea of telling Twilight from Edwards perspective. I read the series when it came out and wasn’t a die hard fan, but I love a series whether it be pages or on the screen, so reading this was inevitable.

This is one guest list to not be on! I loved the flow and narration of this book. I highly recommend.

I am glad I gave this book a chance. I thought it was going to be a rip off of The Giver of Stars. NOT. It is about a pack horse librarian, but the details are a very different story. If you enjoy a tale based in some historical context-give this a try.

This book was a deal and I very much enjoyed it.

I enjoyed this story….very curious tonsee hownit will translate to film.

Can’t go wrong with a classic title with British narration.

This was GOOD. Read it! Listen to it…gasp!!! I recommend to my book club and we selected it for our next meeting….that was almost a year ago. My huge hope is once we are living normally again we will get together and discuss this book, among any others we read in the time apart.

This selection was because I let my mini read the Twilight series and she discovered this book. I guess I was to busy reading other types of books to even realize she wrote this flipped Twilight. I actually enjoyed the story. We listened in the car during our rides to and from school. I love that my little reader and I can listen, discuss and share books!

I pray I never get amnesia….even to forget some aspects of this unreal year! This thriller was good and I enjoyed the narration.

These two books (above and below) were Hallmark like and perfect when I needed some sweet, happy endings.

Paperbacks

So, I have to say that I picked up a book much less than I thought this year. Maybe it was the stress of what this year brought or that I was loving Audible books. Whatever the reason it looks like I need to step out up in 2021 and read the titles that long to be read.

This was a juicy read. Might try another by this author.

I needed some small, chill but of information to digest. This book was perfect with coffee in the morning before I hit the distance learning/teaching.

This book was recommended by my yoga instructor. I love it. I love that it can be picked up, turn to any page and take in the message. There are short passages and passages that take about a minute to read, so essentially it is a noncommittal book. This was perfect for me this year. I didn’t have the mental focus to digest a full novel, so being able to really think or just not was a blessing on the page.

This is my current read. My plan was to finish it, but like everything this year….eghh. I want to keep reading it for fun and I wasn’t going to push myself. I think that has been a huge take away this year. I don’t have to. I don’t have put pressure on myself, especially when it comes to things I should be doing for enjoyment. I will get to this and when I do I’ll let you know how it was.

Until then, I will keep listening and reading what and when it suits me. 2021 is going to be what it will be. Hopefully it will be another healthy, safe and productive year. Read on friends!!!

Posted in Teaching Life

Giving Thanks and Having Fun with Online & In Person Activities

School has obviously looked very different for so many of us this Fall.  I have been trying to adapt, adjust and maintain some normalcy.  Thinking about how I am going to use resources and materials has been more time consuming than usual, but I have found ways to make lessons enjoyable.

https://wow.boomlearning.com/deck/would-you-rather-thanksgiving-HZ2qXsuxEpJeurhGj

I have created some Boom Cards to offer light fun for students. These activities are quick and the task is familiar. I am trying my best to keep our favorite things safe and efficient.

Boom Cards have been a blessing. I love making them and the kids love playing the decks. These activities support multiple skills.

  • Reading
  • Comprehension
  • Language
  • Choice making
  • Humor
https://wow.boomlearning.com/store/bundle/7buxqaBByE2iatu9h

This bundle is everything I have made Thanksgiving related. My hope is to put one or two more decks together. I have a couple of ideas on the back burner. The time has been the challenge. I’m sure if you are currently teaching, you can totally relate to the multiple to do lists!

This book is an oldie but goodie. I love any books that get kids thinking about how they can be a helper. I added these cards from a sequencing resource for support. We explored the language and message of the story.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Listening-Speechreading-Fall-and-Halloween-4968299

We used the pictures for listening or speechreading and then generated sentences to support phonics, handwriting, vocabulary and language.

These are some of our favorite Thanksgiving stories. Each is very different and depending on the student I am with is used differently.

  • Listening
  • Comprehension
  • Retelling
  • Vocabulary
  • Text to Self Connection
  • Predicting

This is the resource that I use to support the stories or use independently. I created different mats and pictures to support IEP goals in a fun and festive way. They are in my TPT store.

I laminate these for durability, but this year it has been a time saver. I wipe everything after a student uses it. I don’t have to have multiple copies. The stories are only touched by me, so they stay safe. I have used these mats with mini erasers in the past. Not this year, sadly. I might use candy corn or skittles. I’m sure those will be way more enjoyable!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Fall-Halloween-Bookmarks-4952078

I made this resource last year, gave it to students and blogged about it. I am so thankful I have this resource. Things have been so difficult and foriegn this year, so being able to print and laminate these add an extra level of care to my relationship with my students. They all know how much I love to read, believe in them as readers and want them to read for enjoyment. I love giving them a fresh bookmark with an uplifting phrase.

These are in my store as well. I also have different holidays and some basic sets. Add a ribbon or not, your students will love these!

This little beauty just arrived at my door! I have 3 more titles coming. I just can’t help myself when it comes to books. This will be a new read for me and hopefully my students. I will put another post up with the activities and other books once I use them. Stay tuned.

I am counting my blessings and am feeling very grateful that I have been able to be in person with my students. Hearing their laughs, listening to their awesome questions and feeling that special something that happens when you turn the page and they are totally absorbed into the story had been very gratifying. Everyday I get…I will happily take.

Posted in Book Life, Family Life

How We Have Raised A Reader

Today while I was at Barnes and Noble, enjoying a Sunday browse with my mini me, I saw a book that caught my eye and really inspired this post. I am sure this book could be incredibly helpful for some parents, but I honestly didn’t crack the cover. I sort of said to myself “thank God I don’t need this, but it has been hours since I was in the store and I am coming back to this title.

We have always been very thankful our daughter has always loved books. We have never forced her or even had to mildly encourage her to turn some pages. As a teacher I am aware that many children do not love to read.  Maybe they have legitimate difficulties.  Maybe they just don’t find joy on the page.

As a reader myself I can not relate to people, children or students that do not enjoy reading for pleasure.  I myself was a rabid reader.  The kid with a flashlight under the covers. I now have that child.  I lovingly kid that if we allowed her to get every book she wanted we would live in a shack. She tells us it would be a shack made of books. Maybe we could be the fourth Little Pig house…do you think a house made of books would withstand the Big Bad Wolf???

I started to think what did we do to foster her love of reading?

We started reading to her when she was a baby. We started with cute little board books.  She enjoyed books that were interactive and tactile.

We had books in the bathroom, in the car and in her tote bag. We made books more accessible than toys at times. This was not intentional. We are readers and we find value in books. We now share our fabulous finds. She manages our lending library.

We made trips to the book store and library very common. She must have showed everyone in our family her library card. For her birthday she is always pumped to get a Barnes and Noble gift card. She is also very blessed to have a great aunt, a former librarian, send her books.

Reading is a family affair.

We read to her at night. This seems like something most parents do. However we also made up stories and she in turn made up her own stories. They could have been totally original or variations on stories we had read.

We have always been positive and sort of braggy that she is a reader. Maybe that makes us annoying or obnoxious, but I’ll take a bit of criticism, because we don’t have to nag her to get summer reading completed.

We have made being a reader part of her identity. She is confident and proud that she is a reader. This confidence with reading has naturally helped school work and she has become confident with public speaking. Being able to confidently read aloud built up her self esteem and when asked to read to a crowd at an assembly or church, she has done a spectacular job.

We have allowed her to explore genres. Fairytales and books about families were popular when she was three. Then she moved on to popular characters like Pig and Pete the cat. Once she started school and grabbed on to simple chapter books she really took off as an independent reader.

We now encourage her to explore new authors and titles. She loves fantasy and mystery, but I also like her to dabble in stories about feelings, growing up, and classics. Getting her to branch out is getting easier….thankfully. We have a solid selection of magic and mystery.

We also watch “the movie”. We will watch popular titles that have gone from the page to the big screen. I love how she will comment and critique the two mediums. She loves to find the differences and share her opinions. She is finding the book is usually better than the movie.

She recently was out of her own books and was desperate, so she tried to read off my shelves. If you follow me, you know there aren’t many titles on my shelves a tween could read, so it was a stretch. She dipped her toe into the Twilight pond. Well, she was hooked. She read the entire series. She has asked for Midnight Sun to be put on her Christmas list.

We are incredibly lucky to have a child that finds joy from all sorts of books. I am sure that the book I saw today is well written and helpful. I am just very thankful that we are readers and have parented a reader. I hope she never loses her love of reading. I know when I was in college I did for a bit. When something becomes a chore or just an overwhelming necessity it is hard to find the joy, but thankfully once I was done reading textbooks and required readings, I found happiness in characters and plots again.

Here’s to a lifetime of reading for pleasure and entertainment. May our bank account always be able to support her healthy habit!

Posted in Book Life, Family Life, Teaching Life

Books to Inspire and Educate Little Women

Since the passing of RGB I have been feeling like I needed to post about books out there that can educate and inspire young girls to dream big. I know in recent years there have been more titles published to share the stories of bravery, courage and innovation women have contributed to the world. As I was looking for titles related to Ruth Bader Ginsburg I came across these ideas and thought I would share.

I love that people have put collections together. I looked up some these titles on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It makes my heart happy that there are titles for girls of differing ages and interests.

Since there has been such a push for women and girls in science these looked like great choices. I think is fabulous learning about smart and science minded women.

I was really happy to find a few books that were not just about inventing or science. I personally am not science minded, so if I was a young girl in would be looking for titles about women who made different contributions.

Our young people need to read and see titles showing the struggles, challenges and accomplishments of women, to know they too can do amazing things. Future men need to have these books in their heads too. Everyone needs to learn how women have had instrumental and necessary actions that have shaped all our lives for the better.

We are living in turbulent and unsettling times. There are so many things on the news everyday that make me stop and think about what I need to do to make the world a better place for my students and my own daughter. I feel like exposure to texts that are positive and explore the real life successes of women is a simple way to uplift and instill messages of confidence.

My daughter asked who was RBG? My response is you need to read about her. What I know is not enough, I know I too can learn more about her, so I preordered a book.

We have many My Little Golden Books. I thought this would be a wonderful addition to our collection. There are other titles that are currently available for use to read about the accomplishments of Ruth Bader Ginsburg until this becomes available, in December.

I love anthologies. One book that can give options. A buffet for the eyes and brain. This one caught my eye because the cover art is fun and the subtitle is what I want girls to think about….how can they dare to be different, even if they are just an ordinary person. How can they be brave to just be themselves and by being themselves contribute to society. I think everyday choices and actions have a profound impact on the greater good. Being mankind and thoughtful person is an accomplishment in today’s world.

Counting on Katherine is a great title and I feel like this can be applied to all of us. You may not be a math genius getting astronauts to the moon, but each one of us has a role and I am counting on each person to to their best and try to lead the most positive and powerful life they can lead. This is a message I am teaching to my students and my child. I try to remember that I still have lessons to learn as well.

Books have meaning and can be powerful. I hope that you find some inspiration from these titles. Maybe add one or two to your classroom library, buy one for the school library or for your home library. Sometimes the truest messages are found in the pages of a beautifully illustrated children’s book.

Posted in Book Life

Audibles Are Changing My Groove

How do you drive??? My new obsession, while I’m accumulating milage, is listening to books. I used to listen to a book every once in a while, via CD. I have know about Amazon Audibles for a while now, but I didn’t really embrace it until we decided to get unlimited data. Now I am an audio book eating machine.

Oh and I am getting nothing from Amazon…I am just genuinely pumped how this is making my work day better.

I first started with a book club book because I thought I could get those “pages” completed while I drive from school to school. I totally thought this was awesome mom juggling, but unfortunately our book selection was Where the Crawdads Sing. This book is a fantastic story, but not one for the school day. I found it to be a very emotional story. I was sort of bummed out going from school to school. I recommend this highly praised and purchased book if you are not a total over thinker like me. I let myself get lost in books and characters, sometimes to a fault, so my lack of desire to push play is no reflection on the text.

As someone recently pointed out to me I like being a problem solver, so giving up audio books was not an option. I needed to find the right stories for my stop and go school day. I have been selecting titles that range from sweet and sentimental Hallmark-ish stories to nail biting, gasping out loud thrillers. I am finding these types of titles fill my rides with pure delight.

I love this cover…makes me want to wander a museum.

The Dutch House was a fantastic book. I love the cover and once I pressed play, I couldn’t get enough. I was incredibly delighted to realize Tom Hanks narrates the book….he is the perfect voice to tell the ups and downs of this unique family. Being a sister to a younger brother I could very much connect to the characters codependent relationship and struggle for survival among adults who seems to make interesting life choices.

This thriller was very good. The two women who narrated this web of lies and deceit were perfect. I could not relate to either of these characters…well except for they are women, but regardless this was a book I could get lost in and it made the routine itinerant drive spicy!

I was on a thriller/mystery kick for a bit and this book did not disappoint. This was my first book by Lisa Jewell. I do not think it will be my last. I very much enjoyed the British narrator. It took me a few beats to get used to her tone, rhythm and inflection, but once I was channeling my inner Mary Poppins or Eliza Doolittle, I couldn’t wait to see where this story was going to go. If you enjoy reading about messy, less than perfect characters…give this a listen or read.

This was a light, quick chic flick “read”. I laughed, caught myself talking outloud and could genuinely relate to this modern day busy mom. Amy Blyer’s life is a tad different from mine, but I think any working mom can relate to the struggle to be super mom, super wife and still hold onto a bit of who you think your are or once were, before acquiring new titles. I really liked this book and was very happy to see I could pick up a free book from Kelly Harms.

Every time I see the cover I salivate and want to eat pie!!!

This was my freebie with my Amazon Audibles membership. It is a quick little novella. The story was not as funny as The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, but I kept listening. It tugged at heart strings, without taking me down a overthinkers rabbit hole. It took a day or 2 of driving to zip through.

I think because this is something I am loving and because I am pumped every time I listen to a new selection, I am going to start to post smaller posts…easier to read and digest, about my ever growing library. If you are a reader or a listener I hope you look for my posts. I’ll also take recommendations.

You can always like or comment to a post. And if you wanna follow me there is a link to follow as well. If you are reading this on your phone…scroll to the bottom. If you are on a computer the side menus have all the ways to connect, plus updates to my photo gallery.