Monday, October 31, 2016

Best Gift Ideas for your Reader!

With the holidays quickly approaching, it is time to be thinking about what kinds of gifts you could give to your children that they will both enjoy and will have some benefit for them. It is easy to buy them this year's coolest toy or the most fashionable outfit, but what about things that support their learning? Here are some fun gift ideas for your reader.

1. Book Themed Tablet or iPad Case: Does your child have a favorite book? Do they have an iPad or tablet they use? Why not combine the two with a book themed case like this Harry Potter themed iPad case.

2. Book Themed Clothing: Graphic tees with fun sayings are always a hit with my family. They can be funny and even be a sort of inside joke. Help your child show off their fashion sense and begin discussions about their favorite books with book themed clothing like this Diary of a Wimpy Kid Cheese Touch Tee.

3. Book Art and Posters: In my past experience, one of the most popular items at the Scholastic Book Fair has been the posters. What kid doesn't like posters? They allow the child to show off their personality and take part in decorating their own room. Add some art to your child's room with book themed posters and artwork. You can even introduce your child to a classic novel and take time to make their own book art using kits like this.

4. Book Marks: Need a simple, practical stocking stuffer? How about some fun artsy book marks? Or book marks with quotes and artwork from a favorite book or movie? You can make it an even better gift by pairing the bookmark with a few new books they've been dying to read. These Harry Potter book marks are beautiful and would pair well with a new boxed set of Harry Potter books! And what boy would not love this Dead Mark book mark?

5. Book Shelf or Book Ends: Is your child a book collector like I am? At some point that kiddo will need a place to store all of their wonderful book friends! If your child does not have a book shelf in their room, this may be something you want to consider. I have these book shelves similar to these for my personal collection, and they work well. No room for a book shelf? Perhaps there is a little bit of room on the top of their dresser to store some books. Fun book ends like these can help keep those books standing.

6. Library Book Tote: Maybe your child goes through books so fast a trip to the public library every week is a necessity. That's a great thing! Help your child to carry their library books with a fun library book tote! And while you are visiting the Monticello Public Library, be sure to have your child mark down their visit on our library visit contest poster!

7. Book Light or Lamp: Is your child one of those readers that will hide under the covers with a good book long after you've told them to go to bed? I remember going up to bed when my mom told me to and sneaking back downstairs a short time later to continue reading the intriguing books that I couldn't put down! Help your child to read after dark with a nice book light or bedside lamp. Sometimes it's OK to be an enabler. ;)

8. Reading Blanket and Pillow: My mother was always an avid reader and collected books, so growing up we had a little library in our home. We had lots of children's books, adult books, and even a couple sets of encyclopedias. In this formal living room turned library we had one arm chair and a love seat. Maybe you have a room like this in your home, or just a special place where your child likes to curl up to read. Why not make this space even more cozy with a special reading blanket or pillow?

9. Reading Journal and Themed Pen Sets: Help your child to keep track of their reading with a reading journal. Your child can write reviews of the books they have read, write down questions they have as they read, and keep track of their favorite parts. Our 3-5 grade students can share the reviews they have written in our online library catalog for other students to read. Keep the writing fun and exciting by using a fun journal and even a themed pen set!

10. Books or an eReader Filled with eBooks: Nothing encourages reading more than books that your child enjoys. Some children are happier with a print book and some are more motivated by an electronic library of books on an eReader. It may seem counter intuitive to buy your child a Lego Ninjago book over a classic like Frog and Toad, but the most important thing to consider when purchasing a book for your child is whether they will read it or not. We need to encourage our children to read whatever they enjoy and as they read more and more, we can steer them towards classics and higher quality literature. Some of the most popular book series currently are the Piggie and Gerald books (Grade K-1), I Survived books (Grades 1-3), and Harry Potter (Grade 3-5). Students are also crazy about Pigeon books, Lego books, and World Record books. If you have little ones at home you should check out the board books offered by Usborne as they are wonderful for learning and very high quality binding.

Bonus: Monticello Public Library Card! If your child does not have a library card yet, now is the time! A library card opens up a world of possibilities for your child. Not only can your child check out library books with a library card, but they can check out eBooks for their eReaders. The library offers audiobooks (on CD or digital), videos, and magazines. A library card gives your child access to online databases for help with homework and research. The public library also offers various programs for all ages throughout the year. Give your child the ultimate gift! (And the real bonus is that it's free!)

Some ideas borrowed from:

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Monday Morning Makers

This year at Pinewood, we have jumped on the Makerspace bandwagon. We have decided that allowing our students a time and space to explore, build, imagine, and create is very important. Rather than explain what a Makerspace is, I have included this video which I think does a fine job of explaining.

So now that you know what a Makerspace is in general, let me tell you the story of Pinewood's Makerspace. For a couple of years, the concept of Makerspaces has been catching on in schools. Last year, I went to a couple different conferences for Media Specialists and Technology teachers. At these conferences I learned more about the Makerspace movement, and met a wonderful Media Specialist from Rush Creek Elementary in the Osseo district. This wonderful Media Specialist invited me out to see her school's Monday Morning Maker events. These events are what Pinewood modeled their Makerspace events after. One Monday morning a month, students were able to sign up to come to the Media Center before school to explore various stations that involved making. She had a station for using the 3D printer, knitting, coding robots, LittleBits circuits, markerbots, Osobots, origami, and more. The students came in got to work and using their own imagination and determination along with some help from their friends made things. It was wonderful seeing the students shine.

Pinewood recently had their first Monday Morning Makers event. It was a great success and the students and teachers truly enjoyed it. On September 19th, 25 students and a couple teachers and parents gathered in the Media Center to explore. We had many of the same stations as listed above, but we also had Legos and puzzles. The hit for the favorite item was tied between our Sphero robots and our Lego Story Starter kit with origami and knitting following closely behind. Boys and girls worked kindly together to explore, build, imagine, and create.

We would like to thank our Pinewood PTO for supplying us with our Spheros, Lego Story Starter Kits, and Lego WeDo Kits. We would like to thank our Donors Choose donors for our origami, knitting, SnapCircuits, and Makey Makey supplies. 

You can learn more about our Monday Morning Maker events and sign your child up here:

If you would like to support our Monday Morning Maker events, you can donate at

Or, we would love to take any gently used puzzles or craft items off your hands. To donate these particular items, please contact me at

Low Budget Maud Hart Attempt Number 2

Last year was the first year I was actually able to run the Maud Hart Lovelace Award program at a school. I began by teaching my 3rd-5th grade students about the program in September. I reminded them throughout the year that they needed to read three of the books in order to vote in March. The students understood the program and were excited to start reading the books. The only problem was that we only had 2 copies of each book to share among 500 or so students. The budget just didn't allow for buying more copies. I reminded the students that they could visit the public library or get the books from the local book store, but many did not do this for various reasons. In the end, I was only able to get 7 students to vote. Not to be discouraged, I am trying again this year.

Of course when things don't go exactly as you'd like, you need to make adjustments. I tried to find a way to equitably distribute the Maud Hart Lovelace books last year by using a spreadsheet and randomizing requests. This year I've decided we need to keep things simple, so the books will be on display when they are available and when they are checked out, students will be able to put the books on hold just like any other book in the library. Hopefully this will be a less complicated and quicker system. However, there will still be a high demand and low supply of these books, so I have talked to the local public library and asked that they display the books as well. An email was also sent home to parents explaining the program and encouraging them to help their children check out the books from the public library.

To remind the students of the program, we are trying a few different things. We will be sharing a bit about each book on the announcements to encourage students to check them out from the library. As I said earlier, we have sent out an email to parents to encourage them to get involved. We have talked to the local public library about having a display of the books and helping students to find them. Finally, we will have several posters in the Media Center about the Maud Hart Lovelace program, as well as a book display of the nominees. Hopefully all of these steps will encourage more students to participate in the Maud Hart Lovelace program.

To learn more about the Maud Hart Lovelace Award and this year's nominees, visit: