Sunday, July 29, 2012

Favorite reads to start the year!

As always, I am both nervous and excited to start the new school year.  This year especially, I am looking forward to working with the students and staff at the building where I've been placed (Robinson, First Grade) since I am returning to the classroom after coaching for the past 4 years (due to budget cuts).  So, here are some of my favorites to start off the year! 

First of all, I want to share the book This School Year will be the Best! by Kay Winters.  In this story, the children of the class share their wishes or hopes for the new year ( a great first day of school read aloud).  I want each child to share their hopes/dreams for this year and then record them and post them for all who visit to know our thinking.  In the past, this book actually inspired a former principal to kiss a pig if students met their reading goals-they did and she actually kissed a real live pig!

Next up, I want to share two books about building friendship and community-Enemy Pie by Derek Munson and How Full is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton.   I am happy to know and share these books because I think they both have main characters children relate to in their lives.  Also, I hope to purchase buckets and put each child's name on a bucket along with bucket filling slips which will allow them to write positive messages to each other and place in their buckets.  I want to read aloud the story of Wonder by RJ Palacio, but I am not sure it's appropriate for first graders.  Not sure... but I will be sharing the "choose kind" cards I am making as inspired by the story.

And then, my mantra for the year, Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin, "It's all good!"  Not only does Pete share about the color of his shoes, he shares about types of shoes in Rocking in My School Shoes and also Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.  Pete is such a calm cat-nothing rattles him!  I need to be like Pete and not let things worry me so much-and remember like my best friend Marianne says, "It's all good!".

Next on the agenda, I am going to share the Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk.  The reason this story matters so much to me and I hope to the children is because this summer, I have focused on becoming better at writing.  I want the children to know from the start that they are all authors!  I want them to know that they are writers who need to spend time developing their thinking and writing every day.   This is one area that I am looking forward to improving in for the coming year.

In looking to be inspired, I look to the work of Peter Reynolds.  The two stories that I love from his work are The Dot and Ish.  I hope to get frames either through donations or digging into by own pocket and framing a special piece of work for each child to hang in the classroom.  I don't have any of my own artwork to hang in the room, but I am inspired by my son's artwork which I plan to hang near my desk.  I don't plan too much decoration to start because I want the room to be a work in progress decorated by the work and creation of the children as we move through the year.

Last of all, I want to use The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn to inspire and reassure parents and children that things will be ok, that their hands hold the kiss of love anytime the world seems a little bit scary. 

So, in a nut shell, this is how I plan to start the school year!  Sometimes, in life, we aren't sure how we can offer support, or find support and so I hope to do both this year, as inspired by the squirrels and the people in the video below:

What "hot reads" will you use to start-off your year? Please let us know in the comments below!

Happy start of the school year,

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