Wednesday, November 20, 2013

7 things to do with kids over the Thanksgiving holiday in Denton, TX

Staying in Denton and looking for something to do next week when the kids are out of school? 

Here are some ideas for cheap-to-free activities that will keep your kiddos in a learning mindset while they are enjoying their vacation.

1.  Denton Public Library:  3 branches, each open the first part of the week and the weekend following Thanksgiving. If you're not a library regular, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the games, puzzles, educational displays and computer games (Wii!) available.

2.  Denton County Museums: Historical Park and the County Courthouse Museums are free and have rotating exhibits.  They're walking distance from each other, too.

3.  Clear Creek Nature Center:  On the outskirts of Denton, the Clear Creek Nature Center has several easy trails navigable by tricycle or stroller.  The trails range from a quarter-mile to three miles.

4.  UNT Environmental Science Building (Elm Fork Education Center and UNT Astronomy)  Movies in the Sky Theater and hands-on exhibits in the 1st floor museum will keep little minds engaged while the University is open the first part of the week: ,

5.  Ray Roberts State Parks:  (Isle du Bois, Johnson Branch, and 380 Greenbelt)  The Texas ParksPass is the greatest secret in the state.  Short car trips will get you to all three of these parks, where free fishing, a new, free Junior Rangers program for ages 7-12, beaches and trails await.

6.  Ride the DCTA:  It takes more planning than you might expect due to a schedule aimed more for commuters than tourists, but the DCTA A Train is a guaranteed hit for kids who love to go-go-go. Successful trips have originated in Downtown Denton and gone to Lewisville Lake (a half-mile's walk gets you to lunch at Sneaky Pete's) or downtown Lewisville for a little shopping.  Ride the train to downtown Denton, if you aren't a townie, and spend an afternoon on the square.

7.  Fancy Food Stores:  Get in the car and drive to the nearest Central Market (Southlake) or Whole Foods (Plano/ North Dallas) and kill two birds with one stone.  You can get all those hard-to-find-in-Denton food items that you need for your Thursday feast and your kid can see, smell, and taste new things.  Extra Credit for parents who make it to an Indian, Halal, or one of the many other Asian grocers in D/FW. They can become lessons in history and culture, too!

Friday, November 15, 2013

K13: Stretch

KINDERGARTEN LESSON PLAN                                                         Week of November 18
THIS WEEK’S TEKS:          1 a, b, f, g                 Print Awareness
                                                2 b, c, e, i               Rhymes & Phonological Awareness
                                                3 a                          Phonics
                                                4 a, b                      Prediction & Reading Strategies
                                                6 a, c                      Story Elements & Theme & Genre
                                                7                              Poetry
                                                8 a, b                       Retell Stories, Story Elements
                                                9                              Author’s Purpose
                                                10 b, c, d                 Predict, Evaluate & Retell Stories
                                                18 a                        Oral & Written Conventions
                                                19 a                        Generate Questions
                                                20 a                        Whole Group Research
                                                21 a, b                     Library Procedures
                                                RC(fig19) a,b,d,f,e  Read Assorted Literature, Generate Questions,
                    Whole Group Research, Predictions/Inference,
                    Pair Fiction & Non-Fiction, Retell/Summarize                                           Stories, Reading Comprehension
                                                n/a                           Book Selection
Intent: Make connection between mind & body by moving our bodies to express concrete & abstract concepts.  Find things in the world we are grateful for and show gratitude in a variety of ways.

a.      Welcome Song:  Welcome to the Library (To “London Bridge is Falling Down.”)
Welcome to the library, library, library.
Welcome to the library, please come inside and read.
We’re glad to have you here today, here today, here today.
We’re glad to have you here today, today’s a special day.

b.      Finger Play: Five Little Peas

5 little peas in a pea-pod pressed (fist)
One grew, two grew, and so did the rest (raise fingers individually)
They grew and grew and did not stop (cup hands, start expanding)
Until one day, they all went POP! (expanding… on POP, clap hands, throw out arms)

c. Set Library Behavioral Expectations: (reinforce / commend examples )
d.       Mystery Bag: elastics (yardage used in sewing.)   Once kids have felt the elastics through the bag, pour elastics out onto carpet and let them experience the stretchy-ness of the objects.  Talk about how hair elastics, rubber bands, and other things stretch and how our muscles stretch, too. 

e.       Word of the Week:  (Forms a cornerstone of the lesson, aids in understanding and connecting text themes)
i.                    English: stretch .  Say it, syllabicate it, spell it in the air.  Rhymes with…
ii.                  Spanish:  estirar.  (ES-teer-arh)
iii.                ASL (American Sign Language.)  Sign language is a real language where people use their hands to communicate.  Here is the sign for stretch.  Pretend you’re holding one of these elastics and pull.  That’s it!

f.        Intent & Agenda:  This week we are going to be doing some stretching ourselves, both in our bodies and our minds.  First, we will read a book and then we will stretch to a book!  We’ll get to read about a dog who stretches on Tumblebooks, and we’ll do some coloring of mandalas, which are symbols of gratefulness and peace.

2.  STORY/RESOURCE #1: (You Are A Lion by Taeeun Yoo.  Penguin, 2012.)
a.  Pre-reading:   Look at cover & predict what story is about.

b.      READ:  involve students with each page, allow them to stretch and experience
each page vocally when demanded, or just physically.

c.       Reflection:  Why did author write this book (to show you stretches!)  Did you enjoy the book?

d.      Extension Activity:  This is the Way (trad. From: Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush)
This is the way we reach up high, (x3.)  This is the way we reach up high, so early in the morning.
      Touch our toes, curl in a ball, lay on the floor…

3.  POEM:  Little Wind by Kate Greenaway
            Little wind, blow on the hill-top.
            Little wind, blow down the plane.
            Little wind, blow up the sunshine.
            Little wind, blow off the rain.

Have children make deep breaths directed towards the “things” (or directions) in the poem.

4a.  STORY/RESOURCE #2:  (Stretch by Doreen Cronin, Simon & Schuster 2009.  Available electronically on Tumblebooks, running time 2:30)
a.      Pre-reading Let’s extend our stretching theme (J) and listen to a funny story about a dog who loves to stretch.
  1. READ

c.       Reflection : what was your favorite animal in the story?  How does that animal look when he stretches?

4b.  STORY/RESOURCE #3:  (Thank You World, Alice B. McGinty, Dial Books, 2007)
d.      Pre-reading: Our last story today is going to take stretching to a new level.  We know that Thanksgiving is coming next week, the time of the year where we’re showing we’re thankful.  This book shows some things everyone in the world is thankful for.
  1. READ or INVESTIGATE Resource
This is another book with actions.  Find suggested stretches/poses at Lamb Puppet is going to help us stretch today!!!

f.        Reflection  Which part of the book is your favorite?  What are you thankful for?

5. ACTIVITY (Mandalas)

a.      Video (Crow Art Collection Mandala-building:
b.      Students are offered a choice of mandala coloring pages found at:

6.  Check out books

7.  Conclusion

a. Circle:
    i.  review intent
    ii.  word of week in English, Spanish, and ASL.
iii.     closing song (Open, shut them.  Open, shut them.  Raise you hands up high. 
Open, shut them.  Open, shut them.  Wave and say goodbye. )

b.      Pet the Puppet.  Lamb comes out again…

c.       Line Up By… Who can stretch the highest?

Additional Resources:
Sleepy Little Yoga by Rebecca Whitford
Hop, Hop Jump by Lauren Thompson
Little Yoga by Rebecca Whitford
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (song)

Thanks to Dana Tucker at Denton, Texas North Branch Library and Lisa Furrh from Mommy and Me Yoga for book and activity ideas.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

5 Active Story Time Ideas

Whether you're planning a library story time for 50 or just looking for a fun, active way to enjoy books with your youngster, these ideas will get your mind and your body moving!

YOGA:   (or if you prefer... STRETCHES!)  Namaste Kids is one of many good sites.  Pick a few stretches that relate to your story, or come up with a routine to include at the end of story time to refresh and calm the little one down. We love doing the Lion pose after reading Library Lion.
       AUTHOR WEBSITES:  Our #1 favorite author these days is Mo Willems, with little wonder why.   Elephant and Piggy's Dance Party has to be the best literary-themed jump-up-and-down activity ever.  I let the kids choose dances and have them divide up- half do Piggy's part, half do Elephant's at  Explore your favorite author's websites for other crafts and games.

      MOVEMENT GAMES:  Animal Statues:  use your body like the animal character in the book... now freeze!  You can also have kids use their body to show an emotion a character was feeling.  I've used trees growing, storms, and seasons as topics to get kids thinking about how to express ideas with their bodies, a kind of modern dance.  You can also have kids move like the characters do (think Tortoise and the Hare) to get them involved during or after a story.

       BOOKS THAT BEG FOR ACTION: Lots of books involve kids with more than just text.  Search for "tactile books" that might have raised ink: The Black Book of Color by Menena Cottin and The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle.  Herve Tullet's Press Here has you manipulate the book to get to the end of the story; lift-the-flap books, and classics like Pat The Bunny involve hands as well as minds, too.  The books below involve lots of whole-body movement.
  •   The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams.  Shake like a scarecrow with a slightly spooky fall/Halloween theme.
  • Doreen Cronin's Bounce, Stretch, and Wiggle books do just that.
  • Blow A Kiss by Lorinda Bryan Cauley.

SINGING!:   Action Songs (Shake Your Sillies Out, Hokey Pokey, If You’re Happy and You Know It, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Henry Bangs With Hammers) are good ways to break up sitting-spells during story time.  The 782 section of your library has illustrated songs, which engage the voice and hands by page-turning.  Find lots of folk songs and some popular songs there.  The Rainbow Dance is a good one for a crowd, and once you make ribbons, they can be used for years.  (

Keep reading and keep active!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

K12: Airplanes

KINDERGARTEN LESSON PLAN                                                         Week of November 11

(This is new!  All the TEKS I cover on lessons are now searchable/verifiable.  I'll start including the exact ones every week again next week, but frankly I've spent so much time examining and cross-referencing TEKS that my eyes are spinning!)

Intent: Reinforce K TEKS and introduce students to airplanes and reasons for flight.  This goes along with an upcoming field trip to the airport for my K students.
i.        Welcome Song:  (Sung to London Bridge is Falling Down)
Welcome to the library, library, library. 
Welcome to the library; please come inside and read. 
We’re glad to have you here today, here today, here today. 
We’re glad to have you here today, today’s a special day.

ii.      Finger Play: 5 Little Peas
5 little peas in a pea-pod pressed (fist)
One grew, two grew, and so did the rest (raise fingers)
They grew and grew and did not stop (cup hands, start expanding)
Until one day, they all went POP! (clap hands, throw out arms)

iii.    Set Library Behavioral Expectations: (reinforce / commend examples )
                                                              i.      Graphic CHAMPS reminder
iv.     Mystery Bag :  Flying by Donald Crews (story, not an object)
v.       Word of the Week:  
                                                               i.      English: AIRPLANE Say it, syllabicate it, spell it in the air.
                                                             ii.      Spanish: AVIÓN (av-YON)
                                                            iii.       ASL (American Sign Language.)  Sign language is a real language where people use their hands to communicate.  Here is the sign for airplane.  Take your right hand and make the letter Y (3 and 4 finger down, other 3 up.)   Now pretend your hand is an airplane and poke the sky twice, once for each syllable.
vi.     Pre-Reading   What flies in the sky?  (Birds, airplanes, hot air balloons, helicopters…)  Have you ever been on an airplane?  Where did you go?  Who drives an airplane? (Pilot)  Where did you go to get on the airplane?  (Airport)  Have pictures ready.  Today we are going to read and learn about airplanes and flying.  First, we’ll watch a video about what it’s like to fly.  Then, we’ll read a book about airplanes and do some rhymes. Finally, we’ll do a little coloring and check out books before you go back to class.

2.        Story/Resource #1: (Reading Rainbow video: Pioneers in Flight and Visit the Airport segments, approx. running time 6 minutes, from Discovery Streaming.)
c.       Reflection:  What did you learn about airplanes?
d.        Action Rhyme: The Airplane
The airplane has great big wings (arms outstretched)
Its propeller spins around and sings (zzzzzz, spin one arm)
The airplane goes up (lift arms)
The airplane goes down (lower arms)
The airplane flies high (turn body around)
All over the town! (spin, fly, land.)

e.      Jokes:  What did the ocean say to the airplane?  Nothing, it just waved.
3.        POEM Listen for rhyme and story on “Jet Plane”
I'm a jet plane, up so high,
See me take off, wave goodbye;
Jetting to some far-off site,
Fly by day and fly by night.

See the Captain, there's the crew,
Making sure it's safe for you;
Buckle up, no smoking, please...
Fly you home or overseas.

Taxi down the airport road,
Calculate the fuel and load;
Slow right down and join the queue,
Other planes are flying, too.

Finally, our turn has come,
Hear my big jet engines hum;
Runway racing, speeding past,
Lift so smoothly, off at last.

Thank me when our flight's at end,
Once again I've been a friend;
Jet plane up above so high,
Spread my wings and watch me fly.

4.        Story/Resource #2:  (Going on an Airplane,  Melinda Radabaugh, Heinemann,  2004)
a.        Pre-reading (Now that we’ve seen some videos about flying, let’s think about doing it ourselves.  KWL.)
b.      READ
c.       Reflection:  The quiz on pg. 24 is a good reflection.
5.        Extension Activity Color the jet liners @ (

6.       Check out books
7.        Conclusion
a.       Circle:  review intent of lesson and word of week in English, Spanish, and ASL.
                                                                          i.      Review what we learned
                                                                         ii.      Word of the week
                                                                        iii.      Closing song (Open, shut them.  Open, shut them.  Raise your hands up high.  Open, shut them.  Open, shut them.  Wave and say goodbye.)
c.        Line Up By… Every week, we line up according to different criteria, makes kids pay attention, work on grouping, differentiating among options. Today it’s by who’s been on an airplane/ how many times.

Additional Resources:
Books: First Flight by David McPhail
                Flying Donald Crews
Going on an Airplane
The Little Airplane by Lois Lenski
                Mighty Machines: Airplanes
                Plane Ride by Pamela Walker

Internet: airplane poem, doesn’t stink.

 Fingerplay: This is the Tower:   This is the Tower, This is the Plane, This is the Pilot, This is the Rain.  Pilot to tower, Tower to Plane, Come in for a Landing, but Look Out for the Rain.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Kindergarten Texas TEKS in the Library

It took a while, but here it is: a comprehensive list of every ELAR TEKS for Kindergarten that I teach in the library.  (Translation for people who aren't Texas teachers: this is what curriculum I teach in the library.)  This was a huge task and I'm glad I did it -- now I see how relevant school librarians are!

K TEKS IDENTIFIED Topic Frequency Library Scope & Sequence
1 (A) words represented by print Print Awareness Weekly (1e, 2b, 3 & 4b) Year-round
1 (C) 1:1 correspondence of word and print Print Awareness Weekly (1e, 2b, 3 & 4b) Year-round
1 (F) conventions of print: right side up, turn pages, read top-to-bottom & left-to-right Print Awareness Weekly (2b & 4b) Year-round
1 (G) parts of a book Print Awareness Weekly (2a & 4a) Year-round
2 (C) generate rhymes in response to spoken words Rhymes Weekly (1e & 3) Year-round
2 (E) recognize alliteration Rhymes Weekly (3) Year-round
2 (B) identify syllables in spoken words Phonological Awareness Weekly (1e) N/A
2 (I) isolate segments of words into phonemes Phonological Awareness Weekly (1e) N/A
3 (A) identify common sounds that letter represent Phonics Weekly (1e) N/A
4 (A) what might happen next based on cover, illustrations Predictions Weekly (2 a,b & 4 a,b) Year-round
4 (B) ask and respond to questions about texts Reading Strategies Weekly (2a,c  & 4 a,c) N/A
5 (C) sort pictures into conceptual categories by attribute Graphic Organizers Regularly (5b) Year-round
5 (D) use a picture dictionary to find words Picture Dictionary Skills Regularly 5th 6-weeks on
6 (A) identify elements of a story: setting, character, key events Story Elements Weekly  (2c & 4 c) Year-round
6 (D) recognize recurring phrases & characters in traditional tales from various cultures Compare/Contrast Familiar Stories Regularly (2b,c) 2nd 6-weeks on
6 (B) themes of well-known folktales & fables Theme & Genre Periodically (2b,c) N/A
6 (C) Recognize sensory details Theme & Genre Regularly (1d, 2c, 3 & 4c) N/A
7        poetry can have regular beat and similar word sounds (rhyme, alliteratons) Poetry Weekly (3) N/A
8 (B) describe characters in a story and reasons for their actions Story Elements Weekly  (2c & 4c) Year-round
8 (A) retell a main event from a story read aloud Retell Stories Weekly (2c) Year-round
9         author's purpose Evaluate Stories Weekly (2c & 4c) 6th 6-weeks on
10 (D) use titles and illustrations to make predictions about text Predictions Weekly (2 a,b & 4 a,b) Year-round
10 (B) retell important facts in an expository text Retell Stories Weekly (4c) Year-round
10 (B,C & D) analyze & draw conclusions in expository texts Evaluate Stories Weekly (4c) 6th 6-weeks on
12 (A) analyze graphics Graphic Organizers Regularly (4b) 3rd 6-weeks on
12 (A) identify various forms of media (ads, newspaper, radio) Various Media Forms Periodically 5th 6-weeks on
12 (B) identify techniques of media (sound, movement) Techniques of Media Periodically 5th 6-weeks on
13 (A) plan a first draft by generating ideas through class discussion Generate Questions Periodically 3rd 6-weeks on
14 (A) dictate or write sentences to tell a story & put sentences in sequential order Writing Literary Texts Periodically N/A
15 (A) dictate or write information for lists, captions Document Research Regularly Year-round
18 (A) use phonological knoweldge to match sounds to letters Oral & Written Conventions Weekly (1e, 2b, 4b) N/A
19 (A) ask questions about topics of classwide interest (with adult assistance) Generate Questions Weekly (1f) Year-round
19 (B) decide which sources/people can answer questions (with adult assistance) Whole Group Research Regularly 4th 6-weeks on
20 (B) use pictures & writing when creating graphics Graphic Organizers Regularly 3rd 6-weeks on
20 (A) gather evidence from provided text sources (with adult assistance) Whole Group Research Weekly (4b) 4th 6-weeks on
20 (B) use pictures in conjunction with writing when documenting research (w/ adult assistance) Whole Group Research Regularly 4th 6-weeks on
21 (A)  listen attentively by facing speakers and asking questions to clarify information Library Procedures Weekly (1, 2, 3, 4 & 6) Year-round
21 (B) follow oral directions that involve a short, related sequence of events Library Procedures Weekly (1, 5, 6 & 7c) Year-round
RC(fig19) (D) make inferences based on cover, title, illustrations and plot Predictions/ Inference Weekly (2 a,b,c & 4 a,b,c) Year-round
RC(fig19) (A) discuss purpose for reading & listening to various texts Read Assorted Literature Weekly (2, 3, 4 & 6) Year-round
RC(Fig19) (F) make connections to ideas in other texts Pair Fiction & Non-Fiction Weekly (2 & 4) Year-round
RC(fig19) (B) ask and respond to questions about texts Generate Questions Weekly (2 a,c & 4 a,c) Year-round
RC(fig19) (E) retell or act out important events in stories Retell Stories Weekly (2c) Year-round
RC(fig19) (B) ask and respond to questions about texts Whole Group Research Weekly (2 a,c & 4 a,c Year-round
RC(Fig19) (E) retell or act out important events in stories Summarize Stories Weekly (2c, d) 6th 6-weeks on
RC(fig19) (A) discuss purpose for reading & listening to various texts Reading Comprehension Weekly (1f, 2a, 4a) Year-round
N/A (related to 1 (F)) Book Care Year-round
N/A Cyber Safety Regularly (4, 5b) 2nd 6 weeks on
N/A Book Selection Weekly (6) 2nd 6-weeks on