Just Enough

Snow, what does that simple four letter word bring to your mind? Does it make you giddy with excitement as you  plan your ventures out into the fluffy white matter? Or does it fill you with dread as you plan your day knowing that driving will be hazardous? Do you savor the sense of coziness as your family settles in for the duration? Snow, it has an effect on everyone.

I woke up one morning a couple of weeks ago and discovered it had snowed in the night. It was the perfect snow. It was beautiful, but it didn’t last long as the temperatures rose. It was gone shortly after lunch. It was just enough of a taste to remind you of the beauty of snow without all the tiresomeness of lingering dirty snow. It inspired this poem.

Just Enough

In the dark,

the flakes

drifted and settled

as they nestled

into every nook and cranny.

snow 1Morning sun slowly revealed

the painted landscape

created in the night.

Look quickly!

Drip! Drip! Drip!

The frozen crystals

slip away.

It was a short visit,

                                                                                           just enough

                                                                                          to let us remain friends.table

Nonfiction Titles

Lately nonfiction reading has become a hot topic. Researchers are telling us that we are not spending enough time with nonfiction books. I must admit (picture head hanging low) I did not regularly read nonfiction to my students. My read aloud books were always fiction. However, if I were to be back in a classroom today, that would not be the case. I have discovered nonfiction authors that I absolutely adore. I cannot get enough of their books.

Today, Cathy Mere at Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community is hosting a 10 for 10 nonfiction. The challenge is to create a stack of ten nonfiction books you could not live without. So here are my current favorite nonfiction texts in no particular order:

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Are You a ______ (insert one of the following words: Bee, Ant, Butterfly, Dragonfly, Grasshopper, Ladybug, Snail. Spider)? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries. This series of books brings the life the the previously mentioned creature to life in relation to the reader. This is a format I could see students using to create a book on a creature they research.

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The voice in  Atlantic by G. Brian Karas is the Atlantic Ocean. This book is a favorite to demonstrate the power of word choice, plus the added bonus of being in told in the first person. I am a sucker for books in the first person (as you will see).

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The Busy Tree by Jennifer Ward is another first person text, but this one has the added element of rhyme too. The tree explains each part and who lives within.


Recently I discovered at the library Roxie Munro’s book Hatch! “Can you guess whose eggs these are?” is the opening sentence for each egg. Clues are given about the bird, then you turn to the page to find the bird drawn in its habitat with the egg hatched. Additional information is given at the bottom of the page of other animals you can find in the habitat (they are in the picture too).  This is a large book  as it is 11 x 11 inches, so the eggs are not drawn to scale.

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I love Diana Aston and Sylvia Long’s books! I want to own them all, but for now I must be satisfied with A Butterfly Is Patient. The vocabulary opportunities abound in this (and all their books).  “A butterfly is magical,” don’t you want to read to find out why? The end pages will entertain for hours as you match up the caterpillars with the butterfly.

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Literary nonfiction has grabbed my attention and it won’t be letting go for a long time. Gentle Giant Octopus by Karen Wallace is a must have. This text will allow students to infer and visualize. “An octopus sinks like a huge rubber flower.” Additional facts in another font allow students to discover more about an octopus.

Now we are getting down to my two favorite nonfiction authors. I will only share two of their books, but they have many more so check them out and see what else they have written.

White Owl, Barn Owl by Nicola Davies is another literary nonfiction title. You learn about barn owls through the story of a grandpa and his granddaughter who build a nest box for the barn owl. Then in Surprising Sharks you don’t have a story, but Nicola Davies talks directly to you as you learn facts about specific sharks. This book has great text features.

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Finally, my number one author for nonfiction, Steve Jenkins. It is so hard to only name two books, I love them all! I See a Kookaburra! focuses on six different habitats all over the world. He has included eight animals in each habitat, plus an ant. Of course the end always gives you more information about the habitat and the animal. Never Smile at a Monkey* *And 17 other important thing to remember is collection of cautions, should you meet some of these animals. The warnings are all alliterative. Once again, the trademark of Jenkins (besides the incredible paper art) are the additional facts you find because he has whetted your appetite to know more.

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So there you have my favorite nonfiction titles, today. I am so excited that authors have created such engaging books for our students to read. I can’t wait to read about everyone’s favorite nonfiction!

Step Back in Time

Do these words mean anything to you: Black Cow, Slo Poke, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Mary Jane, and Teaberry? They are candies and gum from my childhood. Are they in your memory too?

My husband and I went to a restaurant, new to us, in St. Louis this weekend and stepped back into time.  This is where the  Ingalls family would shop for all the needs of the family. The walls were lined with kitchen gear, books, wine, candles, and all sorts of knick-knacks to tempt you.

You order at one counter and you get a numbered card. Take that card to another counter where the hostess jots your number down and how many are in your party. Then you wait and mill about until she fetches you to sit at a community table.

While I was waiting my eyes wandered and landed on the candy counter. Candies I had loved as a child jumped out at me. There was the black wax mustache and enormous red wax lips. I slipped back in my mind, remembering the warming of the wax in your mouth, then the chew, chew, chew. My jaws started to ache as I recalled that ball of wax chewed until the last bit of flavor was gone. The Slo Poke and Black Cows used to be suckers that lasted all day as you worked on softening up the caramel. The Squirrel Nut Zippers were unknown to me, but the Mary Janes were another jaw exercise.  Finally, Teaberry gum was one of my favorite flavors. It wasn’t as readily available as the Wrigley gum flavors, so I always savored those sticks of gum. As I noted the candy of the past, I saw they also had candy from the present. Razzles and gummy  burgers were lined up next to candy cigarettes, Lemonheads, and Boston Baked Beans.

Should I need a candy blast from the past, I know just the place to visit.

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Savoring Sunshine

I have mentioned in a post once that I am sure I was a cat in a previous life. I luxuriate in a patch of warm sunshine, especially when temperatures have been chilly. My inner cat came out this past Saturday when I stepped out onto the patio. The sun was shining brightly warming the protected edge of the patio from a cool breeze. I mentioned that it would be lovely to sit here and read, but alas the cushions to the chair were safely stored from the elements in the garage. “I can bring them out if you want them,” my husband volunteered. Oh yes, I would love that!

The temperature was forty-five degrees but it felt like seventy as I sat in a knit turtleneck shirt working on some material for next week. Soon I became so hot I turned the chair around so the sun was only on my back. I continued to read and jot notes, but suddenly I became distracted. The page is in the brightfeet sunlight but there are whispers of a shadow passing over the printed page. My eyes are following the flowing movement as it blows across the page. It is as if it is the shadow of the wind. I stop reading, I am mesmerized by the ghostly drifting. However, real shadows come blowing in and cover the sun. Although it is a quick moving cloud, I am reminded that it is February and the air does have a bite to it when the sun hides.

Sadly my time in the sun is over, but I have hopes that there will be more days soon.