Tuesday, March 31, 2020

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE in American Sign Language

See Maurice Sendak's classic picture book Where the Wild Things Are told in American Sign Language by Jeni Jackerson here!  (If you need the original spoken word, here you go).

Today's a great day to learn the sign language alphabet!  Can you spell your name? If you're into it, you can also check out 25 Basic ASL Signs for Beginners and Sign Language 101.  Can you Facetime a friend in sign language?

Think of the fun you can have when we return to school if you know sign language and your teachers don't.  Just saying.

Stone Bookworms Challenge Question:  What have you learned you say and spell in American Sign Language today? 

General Coronavirus info from your school library here!
Link to COVID-19 homeschool resources here!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Take a Ride at Virtual Disney World!

Admittedly, the COVID-19 stay-at-home order has been a wild ride so far.  Take a mini-vacation by going on some virtual Disney World rides here!  Parents, trust, this is the least expensive trip to Disney you will ever take!

Kids of all ages, can you design your own amusement park ride?  Grabby and I would love to see what you come up with!  Draw and label your ride or even your own theme park!  Send me the image or bring it to school when you return, we'll put them on display!  (The library is already my dream park.)

Three wonderful books if you are interested in a behind-the-scenes look at the world of Disney:

Pencils, Pens and Brushes:  A Great Girl's Guide to Disney Animation by Mindy Johnson, illustrated by Lorelay Bove.  You definitely don't have to be a girl to find yourself inspired by this collection of short portraits of talented artists, chock full of pictures.

Bill Peet: Autobiography by Bill Peet.  True life story of this famous children's book author/illustrator of many favorite animal stories and animator who worked on such favorites as Dumbo.  This book is meaty enough for intermediate readers and won a Caldecott medal for its cunning pen and ink illustrations throughout.

Walt Disney:  His Life in Pictures by Diane Miller.  The man, the myth, the legend.  There's also a lot about Disney's real life in the documentary aired by PBS's series The American Experience here, with lots of great free clips!

My favorite Disney quote:  "It's kind of fun to do the impossible."

Dream big, kids!

Stone Bookworms Challenge Question:  After you design your own amusement park ride or even your own theme park, tell me a little bit about it in the comments section.  You can e-mail it to me, too, for a sneak peek, but in any event, save it...I'll look forward to seeing it and hanging it up to share when we return to school!

General Coronavirus info from your school library here!
Link to COVID-19 homeschool resources here!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Time for a Canadian Cartoon Film Festival!

The National Film Board of Canada, known for quality media, has released over 4,000 films from its collection for free, including its collection of zany and beautiful cartoons!  Sweet mystery of life and of homeschooling and family fun, at last I've found you!!!
Click here for animated rescue!
Which one was your favorite?

Stone Bookworms Challenge Question:  
Which Canadian cartoons did you watch?  Which was your favorite and why?

General Coronavirus info from your school library here!
Link to COVID-19 homeschool resources here!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Kids Ask Authors!

Did you know there is a website where kids can ask authors questions and see them answered?  Check out Kids Ask Authors to learn everything you wanted to know about writing and illustrating but weren't afraid to ask and submit your own question!  Best of all, it is hosted by Grace Lin, author of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, one of our read-at-home recommendations during this COVID-19 adventure!  Click here!

Stone Bookworms Challenge Question:  Which author or illustrator would you like to have lunch with?  Where would you go to lunch and which three questions would you ask that author? 

General Coronavirus info from your school library here!
Link to COVID-19 homeschool resources here!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Limited Time: Free E-Book Version of A Young People’s History of the United States

Wowie kazowie, this is an incredible offer, a free download of a $20 value book, A Young People's History of the United StatesThis is not dry textbook history, this is history come to life and relevant today. Every middle schooler would benefit from reading this book and enjoy it as well! Please do take advantage and download for use now or in the future!

* Note:  due to high demand, the website seems to be having a little trouble.  If the offer is temporarily suspended, just try again later or check it out from one of our many e-library resources

Stone Bookworms Challenge Question:  What are some of your favorite historical fiction or historical non-fiction books you have ever read?  From whose point of view were the stories told?

General Coronavirus info from your school library here!
Link to COVID-19 homeschool resources here!

Wow, Harry Potter Virtual Escape Room and Free Classes at Hogwarts!

The Peters Township Public Library in Pennsylvania has developed a Harry Potter-themed Virtual Escape Room you are going to LOVE!  Read about how it works here and then join the fun here!

And did you know you can take free wizarding classes at Hogwarts?  Yes, you can!  Click here and then choose "courses."  These involve downloads, so get your parent's permission.

You can virtually take the "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" ride at Universal Studios from your couch by clicking here!

You can read J.K. Rowling's e-books on line, some with no wait, here

You can also learn to speak like a wizard by visiting the Harry Potter glossary hereAccio books!

Image from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Warner Brothers, 2001, courtesy of giphy.

Stone Bookworms Challenge Questions:  What Harry Potter themed fun did you have today?  
Now that you've used your imagination to go to school in J.K. Rowling's universe, which is your favorite house at Hogwarts?  Which class would you be your favorite of you attended Hogwarts?  Who do you imagine would be your best friend there?  

General Coronavirus info from your school library here!
Link to COVID-19 homeschool resources here!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

MARY HAD A LITTLE GLAM and More Read-Alouds by the Authors!

Check out illustrator Vanessa Newton's awesome read-aloud rendition of her book, Mary Had a Little Glam!  Fans of Fancy Nancy, you will love this!  Boas and pearls optional!

Listen in and check out many other author readings by clicking here on the terrific Kidlit TV site, where you'll also find great episodes for all ages like Game Changers:  The Story of Venus and Serena Williams read by author Lesa Cline-Ransome and The Crayon Man:  The True Story of Crayola Crayons read by author Natascha Biebow.  It's pretty special to have a story time delivered by an author, especially authors of such wonderful books as these.  Enjoy!

Stone Bookworms Challenge Questions:  Watch any 3 videos from the KidLit TV site (if you scroll down, read-alouds are in purple, draw-alongs are in blue and visits with authors are in teal green).  Which 3 did you watch?  Which was your favorite and why?

General Coronavirus info from your school library here!
Link to COVID-19 homeschool resources here!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Excellent Free E-Books!

WHAAAAT!?!?!  A free Zooey and Sassafras e-book?!  We love the Zooey and Sassafras series in the school library!  Thank you, author Asia Citro, for making this possible.  Click here to access!  A great read-aloud and read-along for primary readers and emergent 2nd and 3rd graders can read alone or read to a grown-up!

Don't forget, there's a treasure trove of free ebooks available to Chicago Public School students of all ages at the CPS Virtual Library!

Stone Bookworms Challenge Questions:  Have you read an E-book before?  Can you share a title of a book you have read online and enjoyed?  How does the experience compare with reading a book on paper, is there a way that you prefer? 

General Coronavirus info from your school library here!
Link to COVID-19 homeschool resources here!

Grabby Bunny Check-In

Our library mascot Grabby Bunny misses you all.  Bunny School closed for a while so he is staying home with me.  I am trying to read stories to him, but as you know, sometimes he has trouble paying attention.  Ears that listen, Grabby!  His teacher assigned lots of hopping homework and it is driving the downstairs neighbors crazy.  Mostly we have been working on indoor gardening. We have been learning the names of the flowers by reading Butterflies in the Garden by Carol Lerner.  Well, I have been learning.  Grabby mostly just keeps picking the flowers.

Grabby wishes all the Stone Bookworms a happy-hoppy spring! 

Bloom where you're planted, Stone Families! xoxo Ms. Esme

Stone Bookworms Challenge Question: Will you say hello to Grabby in the comments section?  And if you have any suggestions what books I should try to read to him, maybe ones you have been reading, I would really appreciate it.  Children always know best.

General Coronavirus info from your school library here!
Link to COVID-19 homeschool resources here!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Noodlephant Cyber-Storytime with Author Jacob Kramer on Monday!

Author Jacob Kramer will be virtually reading from his hilarious and unusual picture book Noodlephant  (illustrated by K-Fai Steele) and answering questions on Monday, March 23 at noon on Facebook!  Details here!

General Coronavirus info from your school library here!
Link to COVID-19 homeschool resources here!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Schoolhouse Rock Film Festival!

Complete series of Schoolhouse Rock online here, for your binging or parceling pleasure.
Sing along!

General Coronavirus info from your school library here!
Link to COVID-19 homeschool resources here!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Breakfast with a Sloth on Thursday!

Scramble some eggs and enjoy a remote breakfast with baby sloth Coconut from the St. Louis Zoo by clicking here!  9:45 a.m. on Thursday!

More cyber zoo and aquarium tours and animal cams here!  You can virtually visit real live animal friends from all across the country.  You'd better believe that's what me and Grabby Bunny are doing today!

Stone Bookworms Challenge Question:  Which zoo and animal did you virtually visit today?  What did you notice?

General Coronavirus info from your school library here!
Link to COVID-19 homeschool resources here!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Doodle Along with Author-Illustrators Mo Willems, Jarrett J. Krosoczka and More!

Stone Bookworms are also often budding illustrators and love Mo Willems and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and his Elephant and Piggie series.  Now, "Mo Willems invites YOU into his studio every day for his LUNCH DOODLE. Learners worldwide can draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing by visiting Mo’s studio virtually once a day at for the next few weeks. Grab some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons and join Mo to explore ways of writing and making together.  New episodes will be posted each weekday at [noon] and then remain online to be streamed afterwards. "
Click here to cyber-meet Mo and doodle along!  

There is also an awesome YouTube series, Draw Every Day with JJK, featuring the popular Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author of the Lunch Lady and Peanut Butter and Jellyfish series (and National Book Award finalist for his very young adult graphic novel, Hey, Kiddo), sure to inspire what I hope are the many participants in our Stone Graphic Novel Contest!  Check him out here!  

Other fun drawing sites are on Kidlit TV (all the drawing videos are in blue).

**NEW!**You can also draw along with illustrator Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame here!  

With all this practice, I think we are going to have some pretty great new budding artists when we get back to school!

Stone Bookworms Challenge Question:  Which illustrator did you draw along with today using these links?  What did you draw?  

General Coronavirus info from your school library here!
Link to COVID-19 homeschool resources here!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Pete the Cat Live Virtual Story Time with the Author James Dean on Instagram on Tuesday, March 17!

Head over to @petethecatofficial on Instagram March 17th at 11 A.M. to join James Dean for a LIVE story time! See you there, cats and kittens. 💙😻🍀📚 http://ow.ly/iqvT50yNfJ0

Stone Bookworms Challenge Question:  Who is your favorite children's book character?  
Pete the Cat, sure! And who else?

General Coronavirus info from your school library here!
Link to COVID-19 homeschool resources here!

Sunday, March 15, 2020


Art by Garth Williams, 1948 from Wait Till the Moon is Full by Margaret Wise Brown

Oh, Stone Families!  How sad it is that we won't be seeing each other for a little while! In the meantime...

Fun at-home activities from the library:

• Book check-out!  All students will be given time on Monday, March 16th to check out a big pile of books!  Students should return these resources on their scheduled library day the week of our return.

There are no late books during the period of the Coronavirus hiatus; please ignore any automated email notices you may receive from CPS that suggest otherwise.  If you select not to have your child to attend school on Monday, please avail yourself of the CPS Virtual Library and other online reading resources here.

• Tra-la-LAAAAA!  The Junior Librarian Team will be sponsoring a graphic novel contest and showcase after the quarantine, open to all grade levels! Stories should be original and school appropriate, full-color and unlined paper preferred, all mediums accepted (marker, ink, crayon, pencil).  You may work with a friend (if possible) or a sibling!  Don't forget:  personal narratives and non-fiction make great subjects for comic books!  We are not looking for great art, we are looking for great laughs, great stories, great information or great feeling.  Have fun making it and it will be fun to read!  Children can make more than one and submit a favorite.

• Book Club!  Grades 4 and up are welcome to join in a community read:  City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin!

Access to books is going to be different for different families, and these are not mandatory...but for students looking for reading community, read these books and be prepared to join in fun conversations online and upon your return! These books also make great read-alouds and fodder for a family book club.

• VIRTUAL LIBRARY!  Speaking of book access, don't forget the CPS Virtual Library, which includes lots of FREE e-books and books on tape for every CPS student!  Children can "check out" e-books using their CPS login information (Ms. Johnson has personal logins if you don't remember yours).  Your child should never be without something to read online using this resource!  Also, check out the International Children's Digital Library which has books in many languages and from around the world, no login required.

Some helpful hints for parents for your homeschooling adventure:

It is anticipated that most families will be having a little more screen time than usual during the quarantine.  By turning on this feature when your child watches a show, you are ensuring important exposure to print even when your child is not reading a book.  Please!  This is a small thing to do that can make a big difference...it's a great way to painlessly increase a child's sight word vocabulary and reading fluency!

Filling the days with piles of worksheets and assignments will likely bore your child and create conflict. Keep in mind, many children can get a lot more done in less time working at home, where there are fewer bathroom breaks and transitions between classes and peer distractions.  Children learn from relationships.  Teach your child to make scrambled eggs or walk them through a family recipe.  Play board games.  Work on tying shoes.  Read aloud.  Interview an elder.  Write letters to friends.  Plant a windowsill garden.  Learn a craft on YouTube together.  Watch a classic movie together (suggestions to come). Build indoor forts, or models, or cardboard box dollhouses.  Whatever you can do is enough, whatever you have can be enough.  Don't stress.  This can be a positive and memorable time just by being as present as possible. Find your own flow and put the mental and physical health of your family first.

The internet has rich offerings during this time but also potential pitfalls.  Have a conversation about screen time and phone use at the outset.  Especially with older kids, come up with a plan you can agree upon and a cut-off time for phone usage to avoid conflict as the days wear on.  While we don't want to isolate children during the quarantine, we also don't want them to develop poor habits.  Increased unsupervised online activity can also be a recipe for exposure to inappropriate thematic content or contact with inappropriate strangers or online bullies.  Check histories, activate filters and put screens where activity can be monitored.

TALK TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT THE NEWS.  In middle school library classes, we have been talking about citing sources and the credibility of what we read, where information comes from and considering the viability of who is speaking or writing.  Who do we believe?  What makes information fact and what makes something an opinion?  Use the news that the children encounter online and on television to continue that conversation and to mitigate fears during this stressful time.

ENCOURAGE JOURNALING.  Children can keep a personal diary of life during this time or make a daily family newspaper.  Remember, this is an unprecedented time.  Remind kids they are living the history we read about.  Their stories matter and will matter.

GIVE YOUR CHILD THE RECESS WE CAN'T.  Your child loves, craves and needs physical activity.  Because of mandates of the way time is spent during a school day, we can't give them the long recess they developmentally deserve.  You can.  Long, long walks and bike rides are encouraged while keeping social distancing. It will help focus and mood.  Recognizing that many parents work; do it as you're able.

IT'S OKAY TO BE A LITTLE BORED.  While it is helpful to have art supplies and books and resources within your child's reach, it is not your job as a parent to fill and schedule every moment.  A little down-time fosters creativity, imagination and autonomy...and reading!  Speaking of...

Comic books are real reading.  Sports magazines are real reading.  Cookbooks are real reading.  Books on tape are real listening (and reading, if you get a copy of read along).  Picture books are real reading and promote visual literacy.  Read-aloud across the grade levels is one of the most academically beneficial things you can do for your child during this and any time.  Even when your child knows how to read, reading aloud with your child following along in the book (you can run your fingers under the word as you read) does wonders and also fosters positive connections with books and with you. Additional and specific book recommendation blasts from the recent past may be found here,  here and here, and on my personal children's book review website here, but again, access to specific titles is going to differ from house to house and there are no wrong choices.  Your assignment:  read what you have and read for fun.

SET REASONABLE GOALS IN READING AND ALL THINGS.  Try a Book Bingo (sample card here, but tons from which to choose).  Or create a reading batting average (picture book = single, nonfiction = double, chapter book = triple, classic finished as a family = home run; use the sport of your choice and the categories of your choice).  Or, how many award-winners (or any genre) can you read?   Small, attainable steps toward a goal or open-ended achievements build confidence.

ADDITIONAL HOMESCHOOLING ONLINE RESOURCES here!  Try not to be overwhelmed; remember, you don't have to do them all or any of them at all, they are tools to be used if needed.  An "assignment" might be for children themselves to explore five a day and write "reviews."

Please check back to this blog for updates and special hellos from our library hero, Grabby Bunny.  Wishing you all health and enjoyment of books and one another, from my house to yours.

Ms. Esme