Friday, June 28, 2013

Where's Waldo? Blue Manatee Bookstore Contest!

Find Waldo in Cincinnati

Beginning July 1st, Waldo will be hiding in 25 local businesses around Cincinnati. Come in to blue manatee and pick up a passport, or download one here and you'll know where to look. Take the passport to the locations, find Waldo, and have a member of their staff sign or stamp the passport. When you have 10 signatures/stamps, return the passport to blue manatee to receive a sticker and a coupon for $1 off Waldo books. Keep searching and find 20 or more Waldos and be entered to win prizes from our participating businesses. Prize drawings will take place at our Find Waldo Local Wrap-Up Party on July 31st at 5:30, which will be hosted by Thane Maynard, director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. 
Waldo FAQs:
What is it?: A city-wide search of local businesses and attractions for Waldo, the famous stripey-shirted character from the Where's Waldo? books.
Who can participate?: Children!
When? The entire month of July.
Where? 25 locations around the city. All addresses of locations are listed on the passport. 
Where can one get a passport? At blue manatee, blue manatee's website or one of the participating locations. 
What's the Grand Prize? A set of Where's Waldo books as well as gift certificates and merchandise from our participating stores.  
What if someone finds Waldo? Each location will sign or stamp their box on the Waldo passport when Waldo is found. 
What if someone finds all 25? They will be recognized at the Waldo Wrap-Up party at blue manatee on July 31st at 5:30, and will be given a prize of some sort (TBD).
What do we do with the passport when 10, 20, or 25 Waldos are found? 
Passports are to be returned to blue manatee for all prizes. Those with 10 Waldos can receive a sticker and a $1 off coupon to be used at blue manatee.
Those with 20 Waldos are entered to win the Grand Prize. Those with 25 Waldos are entered to win the Grand Prize and will be recognized at the Wrap-Up Party.
Do participants need to be present at the Wrap-Up Party to win? No, but it will be a lot more fun if they're there to receive the prize!

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/24/13

Head over and meet Jen & Kellee at 
for more on this awesome meme. There are many other "It's Monday" links.

Books I Read this Past Week...

Tears of a Tiger by Sharon M. Draper

Tears of a Tiger by Sharon M. Draper (4 out of 5 stars)

Talk about a page turner! The book tells the story of Andy, whose friend dies tragically in a car crash (when Andy is driving). The book uses a mix of student conversations, newspaper articles, and school assignments to tell Andy's story of struggling to heal. This is book one of the Hazelwood High trilogy and I cannot wait to read the next one, Forged by Fire.

Hello, Bugs! by Smriti Prasadam

Hello, Bugs! by Smriti Prasadam (4 out of 5 stars)

Can I count this board book? Well, I am! Enjoyable little book. A good introduction to bugs for young kids. I loved the color design.

I didn't really get to read as much this week as I wanted. I need to turn that around this week!

Main Books I Will Read and Hopefully Finish This Week, but I am sure I'll read a few others =)

Ida B by Katherine Hannigan

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Forged by Fire by Sharon M. Draper

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cat Beards? WHAT?!?

One of my awesome students this past year named Ahja, who has a wicked sense of humor, sent me an e-mail yesterday updating me on her summer reading. She reports that she has been reading a lot this summer and has finished several books from the Warriors series by Erin Hunter.

In class, I always talk about my crazy cat Dallas. It is well-known that I am a cat lover, so imagine my surprise in learning about a new phenomenon called a Cat Beard. Ahja sent a hilarious picture of her own "cat beard" (below) and sent me a link to a website with photos of other people's "cat beard" pictures. The website's tag line? Sometimes cats are also beards. Visit this crazy site at:

As they say, you learn something new EVERY day!

Monday, June 17, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/17/13

Head over and meet Jen & Kellee at 
for more on this awesome meme. There are many other "It's Monday" links.

Books I Read this Past Week...

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt @lynmullalyhunt
(5 out of 5 stars)

This was an amazing, lovely book. I hope my students read it! It tells the story of a foster child, named Carley, and her experience in a new foster family - the Murphys. You'll laugh and cry. 

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt
(3 out of 5 stars)

Overall I really liked this book! The characters come across strongly because of the way the author writes with voice. This book would be for middle-schoolers and older - not elementary students. 

Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
(3 out of 5 stars)

Such a cute, rhyming book in the Llama Llama series. I borrowed this from a local Little Free Library and plan to return it. 

Horrible Harry and the Dragon War by Suzy   Kline
(3 out of 5 stars)

Horrible Harry is a great series for students who are in second or third grade or students who may be reading below grade level in fifth/fourth grade. Harry is an entertaining character and in this book he learns some interesting facts about Japanese dragons from Song Lee. I didn't think Harry came across as horrible at all!

Main Books I Will Read and Hopefully Finish This Week, but I am sure I'll read a few others =)

Ida B by Katherine Hannigan

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Tears of a Tiger by Sharon M. Draper

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Thoughts on Summer and Reading

Several posts back, I talked about the summer slide and connecting with students over the summer. I have an exciting update on connecting with students over the summer. I decided to give each of my homeroom students a self-addressed card with postage so they could communicate with me over the summer about their reading. So far, I have received cards from 2 of my students and several e-mails. It is so exciting to get them in the mail! What ways do you all connect with your students over the summer?

My first two letters from Gabby and Olivia W.!

To combat the dreaded summer slide, we created a summer reading program and also did a really fun summer reading kickoff  (videos below). My colleagues and I spoofed the very popular viral video "How Animals Eat Their Food". Our take: "How Animals Read Their Books." The kids went wild! Hopefully these two new ideas - cards for students and a school summer reading program - will help with igniting the reading passion, even when school is not in session.

Our Version!

I feel that my instinct about the approach to summer reading was eloquently confirmed by this awesome post on the Nerdy Book Club website by Donalyn Miller @donalynmiller: Let My People Read As she states, reading during the summer should be fun and should be all about student choice, not requirement.

So the summer reading committee from my school, with assistance from Travis Jonker @100scopenotes (who is VERY helpful), planned a fun and student choice centered summer reading program. We made it very simple - kids would choose summer reading activities from a Bingo Board and try to get a "Bingo" each month of summer. The activities we came up with are fun - such as read to a stuffed animal, read with a friend, or read wearing your sunglasses. Our READ! Board is attached below.

Each student left with them a week before the end of school. We did this so that we could get a gauge on how many students may be interested in participating. After a week of collecting participation letters, signed by students and parents, we had well over 100 students committed to the program! Those that participate in the program will be invited to a special breakfast upon return from school and entered in a raffle for a chance to win a Kindle Fire. My wonderful colleagues have also agreed to meet twice during the summer at our local library to give out smaller prizes, read with students, check progress, and book talk books.

I'd love to hear everyone's ideas for good summer reading programs, as we will be looking to expand and improve next year. Here's to summer reading =)