Friday, April 29, 2016

You Don't Want To Miss This Webinar... "Literacy Through The Arts" With Emily Valenza & Julie Knutson

I just registered for a webinar in the Follett Community that I am very excited about!

It is called Literacy Through The Arts: Standards-Aligned Curriculum for History and Social Studies. 
I believe that bringing art into all subjects can definitely engage our learners in creative, expressive and enhanced learning experiences.  I have a degree in art education and a passion for bringing these experiences, resources and techniques to all students.

This has always been such an important part of my teaching philosophy and was found woven throughout our school library and program too.

When I saw the webinar description....
I just knew this was one I didn't want to miss.

And then I saw you was presenting....Emily Valenza and Julie Knutson!
Emily is the daughter of my dear friend, Joyce.  I have enjoyed following her journey as a teacher and am just thrilled she is sharing her story and talents with all of us.
 With Emily, along with the very talented Julie, this is one webinar you don't want to miss either.
The webinar is on May 10, 2016 at 4:00pm CST.

You can register here.  And read all about the webinar at the Follett Community.

Six Books and Songs Perfect For Our Young Learners As They Visit & Celebrate National Parks This Summer!

As we get ready for summer vacations and lots of time outside, I am also thinking a lot about the celebrations in our National Parks with their 100th Birthday this year. 
You can read all about this in my post Happy 100th Birthday, National Park Service!  
We are planning a trip to Mesa Verde this summer.  I can't wait for Hagan to see it for the first time and to explore again myself.  I haven't been there for a long time.  
Our cabin is Granby is very close to the Rocky Mountains, so we will visit a few times this summer and fall.  But I also hope to get to the Great Sand Dunes and Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which will be all four National Parks here in Colorado.  

As we get ready for our summer in the mountains with family and friends, I turned to many of my favorite books and songs from Cantata Learning which include mountains.  

In the Spring 2016 season, there are five beautiful new books that you just have to check out when sharing our National Parks Birthday with young people in your life too. 
You will find I Love The Mountains, 
Home on the Range, Big Rock Candy Mountains, She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain, 
and On Top of Old Smokey as a few of your new favorites.

They will be the perfect books to share with your children this summer as you travel to different places, because remember every book has a song that goes with it.  You can get this music from the CD in the back of each book or stream it online from the Cantata Learning website.
You can also play each of these Cantata Learning titles from our National Parks Pinterest Board which is filled with ideas and resources too.
You will also love the Songs for Junior Rangers from the New Orlean Jazz NHP.  You can find these above on their Soundcloud.

I can't wait to see where our travels take us this summer in Colorado and other places.  It will be fun to plan these trip with Hagan as he explores his own learning through the parks too.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Emily Arrow Brought Kelly Light's Little Louise To Life Today With Her New Song & Video...Louise Loves Art!

Do you know who Louise is?

The cute little girl that Kelly Light brings to life in her beautiful picture books.

I have shared her with so many children, librarians, teachers and others.

She is one of my favorites.
I adore how much she loves art and how she takes her imagination on the outside as she draws and creates.

Louise is a character that I can definitely relate too.

I love art and creativity too.
It is so fun reading and sharing Louise Loves Art and cannot wait for Louise and Andie..the Art of Friendship, which comes out in June.  

They will soon share a special spot on the shelf together in our library.
I also love following Louise as she travels around the world to libraries, schools and other places with Kelly on the whereslouisenow Instagram.
And today, Louise showed up in a very special new place.

Today was her video debut with my dear friend Emily Arrow for the new song Louise Loves Art!  

I think I listened to it at least a dozen times....smiling and singing each time.

After school I played for Hagan a couple more times as he sang along too.
When I spoke to Emily this morning about the song, she told me a couple fun things about writing this song.

She said, I wrote the song the night before Kelly visited Vroman's, one of my local indies.  

And the funny thing....I made up the bridge ('so do I! I! I!' part) as I went along during my first performance of the song!  

You just have to share the Louise Loves Art Song with your students, teachers, parents....everyone you know.  It will bring a smile to everyone who watches and listens to this song.  

Just as Louise does in Kelly's books too.   
It made me smile to read Emily's post on Kelly's Facebook today.  

I am thankful they shared their story and this sweet gift for all of our children who will fall in love with this song.  
On Kelly's website, you can find the Louise Loves Art Teacher's Guides to use with the books and now the song too!  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

6 Special Mother's Day Projects With StoryboardThat....And Don't Miss Our Fun Webinar Tonight Too.

 We will celebrate Mother's Day on May 8.

As parents and teachers we love looking for projects children can create with their own voice and creativity for their moms.

Our friends at StoryboardThat have created six wonderful student activities for Mother's Day that will give them lots of ideas to share with their their mom's on this special day.
On the StoryboardThat website, you can find these wonderful ideas on the Mother's Day Activities page.
They can focus on Mother's Day Story, Mom Roles, Mom and I, Mothers Day Card, My Day with Mom and Thanks Mom. 

And like anything we do on StoryboardThat, the projects can be personalized with so many things.

Now if you are new to StoryboardThat or want to know more about this amazing digital tool, please join my friend Jane Lofton and I for our AASL Best Websites presentation all about StoryboardThat.
You can watch Digital Storytelling in the Classroom: 7 Projects to Get Students Storyboarding tonight, April 27, at 7:00pm EST.

Please join us from this page.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone.  Enjoy your special day and give your student a voice with these ideas from StoryboardThat.  

Reading & Singing To Babies Gives Them A Jump Start As Readers

This is Lydia.  

She loves books.  She is learning how to read.  Her mom and dad expose her to wonderful books and read to her every chance they get. 

They are giving her the special gift of developing a lifelong love of reading through this exposure, excitement and interaction with books. 
This is Reese...Lydia's dad.

He was one of my students at Van Meter several years ago.

When they sent me this picture it made me so happy.  We sent several Cantata Learning books to them last week.  You can see the excitement and love shared as they read in this picture.
This is Jessica...Lydia's mom.  She was also one of my students.
And a friend.

She is a special education teacher and the Cantata Learning books and music will be a perfect fit for her classroom and students.

But first, she tried them out with Lydia.

Not only was Lydia hooked by the stories and songs, Jessica and Reese were as well because they know the importance of reading and singing traditional nursery rhymes and melodies to their baby.
In the article Singing To Children May Help Development of Language Skills from The Guardian, the book The Genius of Natural Childhood, by Sally Goddard Blythe, is discussed.

In Blythe's research and within her book she states,

"Singing traditional lullabies and nursery rhymes to babies and infants before they learn to speak, is 'an essential precursor to later educational success and emotional wellbeing'. Song is a special type of speech.  Lullabies, songs and rhymes of every culture carry the signature melodies and inflections of a mother tongue, preparing a child's ear, voice and brain for language."
As babies and infants listen and sing along with songs and rhymes, both sides of their brain are developing.  This will prepare them for learning as they enter preschool and grade school.

You can see the influence that music has on learning in this infographic of the brain Cantata Learning developed.  The effect music has on reading is obvious.  There is no question of the importance.

Daniel Dwase, editor of the online Child Development Guide, also supports the importance nursery rhymes set to music can support a child's development.

"Music assists in the development of a child's speech," he said. "Singing nursery rhymes and simple songs teach children how language is constructed and assists with the acquisition of language.  

Singing songs with your child will also teach them about tone, beat and rhyme.  Even better than just singing, though, is to teach songs with actions and encourage your child to dance along to the music, they will learn balance, co-ordination, body awareness and rhythm."  
Cantata Learning has over 30 traditional nursery rhymes which include engaging, brightly colored illustrations, fun stories and beautiful music with each.

They are perfect for bringing these important elements to infants, babies and their families at home and within the daycares they may attend.
The music is included on the CD in the back of the book, but is also available online free at

Jessica told me that Lydia just loves listening to all of the nursery rhymes, especially as her mom and dad sing along.  She claps her hands, smiles and is obviously enjoying this very special learning experience with her family.

It is one of the sweetest bonds I had with my three children and I enjoyed every minute of developing those skills as I read, sang and danced with them.
Lydia is a blessed little girl.  Her parents know the importance of creating rich reading experiences and surrounding her with wonderful books and music.  

She will gain the skills that she needs as her reading and learning skills form.  

And best of all....Lydia will develop a lifelong love of reading.  One that she will share with her mom and dad for years to come.  

Singing to children may help development of language skills. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Guardian website:  http://www.theguardian/lifeandstyle/2011/may/08/singing-children-development-language-skills

Win One of 1,000 Tynker Premium Courses!

I have been seeing a lot of tweets, Facebook posts and buzz about something wonderful happening over at Tynker.

They are giving away 1,000 free classroom licenses to teach coding!
Tynker, along with Infosys Foundation USA, are proud to announce they have partnered to bring Tynker Premium programming course to 1,000 classrooms in high need schools across the country.

Their mission is to make high quality computer science education easily and widely available by creating opportunities for high participation within communities.
For those 1,000 who win, they will receive the Tynker Classroom plan which includes one premium course for up to 30 students.  This includes everything you need!
It is easy to apply by visiting this link....This link is towards the bottom of the page.

Teaching our young people to code is such an important and essential skill.  It is one that can make such a difference in their lives.  And one that will make learning and teaching engaging, innovative and creative.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Teaching Our Little Ones To Love & Respect Animals With "The Barnyard Song".....Just Like Brianna Did!

My daughter Brianna has loved horses her entire life.

She wasn't even one when would imitate the sound a horse makes and want us to gallop around the house with her.

When she was 11 years old, her dream came true and we brought home Roman, one of the horses that she learned to ride on.  She would brush him, braid his tail and mane, ride him out in the pasture and country, and talk to him for hours and hours on end.

Today when Brianna and I were working on a couple projects together, we brought up Roman and her love for horses because it is ASPCA's Help a Horse Day.  

We talked about the importance of teaching children about animals and how to care for them and treat them with love and kindness.

There is the perfect book from Cantata Learning that could be used when teaching young children about the different animals we find on a farm and the sounds they make.
It is called The Barnyard Song and is one that may sound familiar to you as it is a classic American folk song.
In the Cantata book, Steven Anderson retold The Barnyard Song along with sweet illustrations by Dan Taylor and music by Steven C Music.

We love this song as they go through the barnyard finding all of the animals they have the sharing the fun sounds they make.
You can listen to Cantata Learning's The Barnyard Song here.  

This is the perfect way to teach babies and young children animals sounds and features, while helping them develop a love and respect for animals.

I Loved "Be Light Like A Bird" By Monika Schroder & Published By Capstone.....I Know You Will Love This Beautiful Story Too.

A few weeks ago my friends at Capstone sent me a very special package.

Inside was a beautiful new book, Be Light Like A Bird by Monika Schroder which comes out in September 2016.
A heartfelt coming-of-age middle grade novel about self-discovery and the power of family, pulled me in and kept me there as I read this book.  

A bittersweet, coming-of-age story of a child forced to overcome grief and adversity, Be Light Like A Bird deftly handles themes of loss, connection, self-discovery and environmental concerns-weaving them all together in a story like none you've ever read.  

As I followed 12-year old Wren throughout her journey, I found myself connecting with her and the pain, loss, joy, friendship and love she felt.  

I wrote this quote from her Dad on a piece of paper so I won't forget it....You are braver than you think you are. 

This is one that I will share with my own children too.  
As Barbara O'Connor shared, It will pull you in, break your heart and take you by surprise.  

This is what will appeal to readers as Monika focuses on topics that all of us experience at one point in our life.
I can't wait to read more from Monika especially My Brother's Shadow that was nominated for the 2014 New York State Reading Association's Charlotte Award.  

You can visit Monika's website here and...
on her Facebook page here.   You can also find her on Twitter at @monika_author.

I hope you all read this heartfelt book.  I know you will find it very special too.