Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What We're Reading Wednesday-Old School Books

This week my big girl has been completely obsessed with some books straight out of my childhood. I feel goofy even posting these, because these books are classics and most everyone has heard of them. I'm keeping these posts true to what Caroline is actually requesting to read this week, and this week she's been all about these classics.

Seeing Arthur makes me want a Juicy Juice Box from the old commercials on the PBS show? Anyone remember those? These two Arthur books are her absolute favorites right now, but she enjoys others as well. I wondered if some of these were even in print, and most all of the Arthur books can be purchased for pretty low prices on Amazon. Most of the books we've read have been ones my mother in law saved or books from the public library. Most of the libraries around us are full of these little treasures. I've also seen many of these at Half Price Books. 

Children love books that are reflective of their lives, hence the popularity of shows like Daniel Tiger...they're relatable to young children! The Arthur books are a bit older, but still have that appeal. "Mommy Artur eat dinner wiff his family and I eat dinner wiff my family...Artur got a baby sister and I got a baby sister." Caroline likes connecting with these books, and I'm just happy to be reading more books with plots!

This book. We've read it so.many.times. This is an old classic full of pigs, cats and bunnies, and it really is such a great book for beginning to count! 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

We Love Eric Carle

This post originally appeared on my other blog. I'm slowly working to consolidate the blogs. I have added some updates to the original post! 

Eric Carle books and merchandise have infiltrated our home, and I love it! I've always loved his work. I loved using The Tiny Seed when I taught second grade. I loved doing Eric Carle inspired art projects, and I really thought about doing Pottery Barn Kid's Very Hungry Caterpillar bedding in Caroline's nursery.

I thought I'd share a few favorite Eric Carle items with you!

First of all, I have LOVED The World of Eric Carle and Gymboree line. Here is Caroline sporting her Caterpillar pajamas from winter of 2014. She had mismatched pants in the first pic, but you can see the cute polka dots in the second pic! (Update, Gymboree does not have an Eric Carle line anymore, but I wish they would make more!!!)

Caroline loves this Caterpillar neck pillow.

I found this awesome Eric Carle alphabet canvas at Target. I can't find it on their website right now, but the link above is for the same one at Walmart. I have the "girl" version, but there are other cute versions out there.

So, my genius mom took an early childhood teaching ideal/principle I learned in school and applied it to Caroline's room. In the classroom it is recommended to have many literacy items such as the alphabet or a word wall down on the child's level. I had never thought to hang a canvas like this so low in a bedroom, but it totally works. As you can see below, Caroline at 18 months was already enjoying it! :-) Now, we can actually discuss the letters/animals and use a pointer to tap the peacock, letter o, etc etc. This canvas would be an awesome piece to hang down low in a hallway, playroom, behind a door, etc. (Thanks, mom!!!)

Finally, of course we LOVE to read  many many Eric Carle books! One of our current favorites is From Head to Toe. It is awesome for teaching certain actions + body parts! It is also a great book for working on verb-words with your toddler.

It is also fun to read this book with your toddler/preschooler in front of a mirror so they can watch themselves do the actions!

What are some of your favorite Eric Carle books and Products?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What We're Reading Wednesday- Farm Books!

Like many preschoolers, my daughter loves anything that has to do with farm animals. Over the last couple years we have acquired several farm books that look like this...

This Touch and Feel Farm book is super cheap on Amazon, and it gets the job done. Plus, the high- contrast colors in the pictures are really appealing to babies. 

We've loved this book, and others like it. However, the chick's feathers are getting sticky, and there is definitely spit up on the dog's fur. Also, I'm plain tired of reading it. So, I was thrilled a few weeks ago when Caroline discovered this book on her book shelf...

Published in 1992, this is an old classic now! It is full of colorful farm animal illustrations. Some of the funniest illustrations include an egg cracking on a girl's head and a pig riding a school bus. Caroline thinks those are the funniest things ever, and I'm pretty excited to be reading her a book with a plot!

I think I remember my third grade teacher using this story for a sequencing lesson, because it is told non-sequentially, and by the end you've gathered the whole picture. It is also full of causes and effects, but for now I'm just enjoying reading the story with Caroline. (Even if it is our 85th time this week. :-))

A few of our other farm-book favorites all come in board book form and are very inexpensive...

The animal sounds are super fun, and it has great rhythm and rhyme.

By the author of Goodnight Moon, this book carries a sweet tone, and I swear it could lull me to sleep. It's just a perfect little nighttime read for a farm-loving kid.

This old Dr. Seuss favorite is a quick and fun read!

What are your favorite farm books? 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How I Saved this Smock from Major Stainage

So, if yesterday's literature post was a "curriculum" post, then today is definitely a "cardigan"-type post. ;-) Just thought I'd share this little method, because I'm honestly shocked that it worked. This dress was in BAD shape.

Before I had time to pull out a bib, Little Miss Molly Kate grabbed a super juicy strawberry off my plate. At that point, I didn't even bother messing with a bib. I just let her eat, and decided I'd figure it out later! (Also, by the end of the meal it looked way worse than this picture even shows, so I undressed her and carried her out of the restaurant in only bloomers.)

(This little House of Hatten smock is irreplaceable...and I know its a little frou-frou and goofy looking, but sometimes I just want to dress my baby like she's a baby...smocked sleeves, ruffled bloomers and all.) 

Right when we got home I put straight blue dawn dish soap directly on the stained areas. I soaked the  soapy dress in cold water for two hours. After the soak, the stain had definitely started fading.

Next, I sprayed on a heavy dose of this Oxi Clean Laundry spray. I let it sit for another hour.

After washing, it came out perfectly clean!

I also have this Pleione shirt. This summer, it got doused with baby spit up. I washed it without any kind of stain treatment, and it came out looking like it had grease stains. I thought the shirt was ruined, for sure because the stain was set-in.  I used the blue dawn/water soak on it and rewashed it, and it all came out! 

Happy Washing!!!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Must Have Monday- The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan has become a must-have for my classroom and my home. I was very apprehensive about reading it, because any book involving caged, trapped or abused animals just rips my heart. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to watch Water for Elephants.The plot of this book involves these issues, but it is done in a very mild and appropriate manner. I laughed and cried in equal amounts while reading.

The One and Only Ivan is narrated by Ivan, a mall gorilla with a knack for art. His world changes when Ruby the elephant moves in. Ivan finds something greater to strive for, and a beautiful picture of friendship unfolds.

(Currently only $6 in paperback on Amazon!!! This would be a great book to grab a small set of for a book club, etc.)

Age Range: I've had many fifth grade students read this book, and they all enjoyed the read. This book is pegged for grades 3-6 but, I think students as young as 6 could enjoy this book as a read-aloud with parents! I can't wait to read it to Caroline in a few more years.

Educational Features:

Great Quotes: One thing that stuck out to me in this book was all the great quotes! Some are hilarious, some are poignant. So many quotes from this book could be used to stir up discussion and response in your class. Here are a few of my favorites:

"Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot. Everyone knows the peels are the best part." (What a great simile!)

"It's never too late to be what you might have been."

"Her eyes hold the pale moon in them, the way a still pond holds stars." (great imagery!)

There are so many more, but I'm going to stop at three!

Learning Across Genres: Author, Katherine Applegate was inspired to write the novel by a real-life mall gorilla. Now, you can read the true story in this book. Students would love reading this as a nonfiction follow up. 

Glossary: The One and Only Ivan begins with a glossary of gorilla terms that Ivan uses throughout the book! What a fun little feature!

As is the case with any novel, this story could be used to teach theme, figurative language, characterization, imagery, etc if you want to use it in your classroom. OR you could just read it to your child and let them enjoy the beautiful story! 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

"A Great Man is Never Really Gone"- Looking at Lincoln

Today I wanted to do a little review of a neat little biography of Abraham Lincoln called Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman. President Lincoln died on April 15, 1865 (assassinated April 14th) So, if for some reason you didn't cover Lincoln during February, this would be a grew time to honor him and enjoy a great biography!

Age Range: Most likely 1st-3rd grade...But, this would be a great book to use with English Language Learners grades 4-6. The book covers major concepts of his life with great picture supports. 

Fun Features: This book is great for younger readers because it is full of fun and light-hearted facts about Lincoln such as he hid notes in his hat, he always had an apple on his desk, and he loved vanilla cake. The book also features really stunning illustrations. It is my absolute favorite part of the book. These illustrations could lead to great discussions about why the author chose specific colors, etc.

I loved the art so much that I ripped it up to hand an illustration on the wall. The side-by-side frames on the top right feature a beautiful illustration of the cherry blossoms in D.C.. I know it is hard to tell here, but the pinks and magentas are very vivid and beautiful. 

Educational Features: This book would make for a super strong social studies and ELAR lesson. You could discuss features of a biography and author's purpose.

Other: This book does attribute the Civil War to the issue of slavery. We know that it is not that simple, but for our youngest learners, this is a place to start. Think about your objective with this book- your objective probably isn't for students to understand the causes of the Civil War, but rather to understand Lincoln's contributions to the country. This book can do the latter. 

Also, the author describes having a sort of emotional experience from staring at Lincoln's face, and feeling like she could stare at it "forever." That is not a concept I connect with, however I was very very captivated with the Lincoln Memorial when I had a chance to see it in person. I know the power of it, and the end of the book features the memorial. It would be great to show your students or kids photographs of the memorial. 

Strong Vocabulary Words: stern, inaugurated, democracy, abolished, wretched

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What We're Reading Wednesday-Mickey Edition

We are all-things-Mickey over here lately. (Unless we flip our switch and become All-Things-Paw Patrol...but unfortunately we don't have any Paw Patrol books.) So, as for reading life, we are currently very into Micky Mouse. While these might not win any awards for being stellar works of literature, they hold the attention of my two year old. Here are the four Mickey books we've been wearing out...

We only own one other book that plays animal sounds, but this is our only book that actually reads the whole story. I probably won't invest a ton of money in other books like it, but it is pretty cool that Caroline has figured out how to press the picture that corresponds with each page so that it will read her the story. I also hear her playing with it in her bed in the morning while I continue drinking coffee. I like that. 

This board book gives reasons why each character loves Mickey. I love Mickey, too. However, I don't like how this book yes "yup." It actually spells it "yup." But, Caroline likes it. 

I bought this book at SAMs right before Halloween, and we are STILL reading it regularly. It was a little cheaper at SAMS, but $8.99 on Amazon Prime is still a great deal on this book! I would highly recommend this one, because there are so many fun things to work on in this book. There are pages of shapes, numbers and colors. You can work on position words, and there are many action words you could work on describing in the pictures. The numerous flaps make it a great car book.

This is a really great first "look and find" book. Like the Halloween book, there are tons of things going on in the pictures, so there are many things to discuss and describe. This book has been very well loved! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Earlier in the school year, I wanted to try to operate this blog as strictly a "teaching blog" while operating another one that was more focused on literacy for young children/what I was reading with my girls! I could never get my groove going with two blogs....and I know two little girls that might've had a little something to do with it. ;-)

Cardigans and Curriculum has always been a little internet outlet for me to write about life, teaching etc. I don't know why I felt the need to make it strictly about classroom teaching. So, I've decided to  put it all back together, and blog it all here. I will slowly move some of the book lists I'd made on Cowtown Caroline over here. My goal has always been to encourage people to share great literature with children in their lives, whether that be students in your class, your own children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, etc. I'm SO excited to keep doing that here! Thank you SO much for following along!

Here is something that might have made blogging challenging these past couple months...

We built a new back porch, and added some new doors and windows! A giant tent in the dining area made for some fun!

Nap time was a little dicey during the construction....

But these cuties did great!