Monthly Archives: September 2016

Thesaurus Follow Up

I have been teaching our 3rd grade students about reference tools, using props of real tools (hammer, screw driver, saw, pliers) to reinforce the concept of tools.  After a week’s break when we celebrated Dot Day, I’m resuming reference tools.


So, to get us back on track I read the book, Boris Ate a Thesaurus by Neil Steven Klayman (illustrated by Barry Chung, Super Senses Production, 2014).  Boris eats a thesaurus and as a result he starts speaking in synonyms!  It was good review of what synonyms are and that the “tool” you use to find them is the thesaurus.  Fun text with bright illustrations.img_9719

Several students made a connection with another book I always manage to read to several classes each year.  The story reminded them of Oliver Jeffers’ The Incredible Book Eating Boy.

Next week we move onto atlases.

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Dot Day 2016 Art Work

I decided to try and take a panoramic shot of all the different creations made by students during our Dot Day celebration.  Fun memories and it lets other grade levels see what the classes did.

A panoramic view of the hall outside the library media center showcasing our Dot Day creations

A panoramic view of the hall outside the library media center showcasing our Dot Day creations

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More Dot Day

Dot Day activities also took place outside the library.  Our Spanish teacher, Senora Lidia Olds incorporated dot activities into some of her classes and she also read the Spanish version of The Dot, el Punto to some of her classes today.  It’s nice to see that the library influences other areas of the curriculum!


Fifth grade students are studying cells, so they added lots of dots to their posters!

Art Class

Our art teacher, Svetlana Reed, incorporated dots into several lessons across the grades. Today kindergarten students created art using dots and lines.


Staff Get in the Spirit

Some staff dressed in dots today!

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We Get Into Dot Day!

This is our second year celebrating Dot Day and the students really enjoy it.  I read The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds to every class in the school, starting last week. After each reading we discuss what the book was about, sometimes we emphasize the International Baccalaureate Learner Profiles and Attitudes that we see in the story.  Sometimes we just talk about how the story makes us feel.  With kindergarten and first grade we might make predictions about what we think will happen next (after the book has ended, “What do you think the little boy will do?”).

Opportunities for Creativity

After each class reads the book in the library, they are given the chance to be creative in some project that involves dots.  Some of the activities I just thought up, some were listed in the The Educator’s Handbook for International Dot Day (by Peter H. Reynolds and FableVision Learning), or others I found on Pinterest.

Here’s a grade by grade breakdown:


Kindergarten students were given a white dot (circle about 4″ in diameter, cut out using our Accucut die cut).  Crayons spread on the table and they could color their dot however they wanted.  I then glued them all onto a large sheet of orange butcher paper.  They are quite impressive when grouped together.  I think it’s also the bright orange background that really brings the dots to life.


First Grade

First grade students read the book then we talked about words they would use to describe the book.  I asked them to choose one word, write it on the colored circle (also 4″ die cut), decorate around it with markers, and then of course, “sign it.” They really like using the markers!


I glued these dots to green butcher paper, one sheet for each class.

Second Grade

I asked the second grades to make a mark (large crayon dot) on an index card.  I took up the colored crayons and then gave each student a black crayon or colored pencil to use to make their dot into something.  Using black helps keep the focus on the original dot.


Third Grade

Third grade students were given a large dot (the largest circle I could trace on 8 1/2 x 11 copy paper).  I folded one in half and then half again.  I asked them how they would describe the parts of the circle now and since they have studied fractions already, they said fourths.  They folded their dots and marked off the fold lines with a crayon.  They then decorated it any way they wanted.  Some did symmetrical designs while others drew different things in each section.  This took their whole library time.  I cut the circles apart later, paper clipping all 4 sections together.   At our second library visit, they choose which 1/4 of their art they wanted to keep and I collected the rest.  I mixed them all up and randomly handed each student 3 sections, ensuring they didn’t get any of their own.  They then figured out how they wanted to put them back together and glued them on construction paper.img_9552img_9648img_9659

Fourth Grade

I have made a commitment to teach more digital storytelling skills to all of our students this year.  Fourth grade students have already made a Chatterpix and I was ready to start PowerPoint.  Only about one third of the students have made a PowerPoint previously, so for most it is a new skill and for the others a skill not highly developed.  After reading the book, I asked them to reflect on the story and to keep in mind the IB Learner Profile and Attitude.  I used our projector and large screen to demonstrate creating a PowerPoint.  We are a 1:1 school, so each student has a tablet (of course I had to make sure that they had it downloaded onto their tablet).  The first library visit I demonstrated creating new slides, choosing the design, typing in information, and inserting a picture.  Next time we’ll work on transitions.

We had previously covered the concept of plagiarism and we said for this project we wouldn’t have to cite our sources as everything we would write would be our own ideas or opinions.  I had  laminated copies of the IB PYP Learner Profiles and Attitudes spread out on the tables, so they could draw inspiration from those in their writing.

If their tablet wasn’t working, they looked on and worked with a neighbor. I was impressed with how much collaboration and encouragement I saw happening (in light of the theme of the book!).


Fifth Grade

After reading the book I had the fifth grade students use chalk to create sidewalk art inspired by dots. Sign it, too!  It’s interesting to see with this group (and to some extent all grades) that some students when confronted with no structure (just do something with a dot, or start with a circle and see where it takes you) say “I don’t know what to draw.”  Yes, that is the point of all of the activities; be free, be a risk-taker, think outside the box, express yourself, you can do it!img_9565img_9566img_9569

Discovery Education’s International Dot Day dLivestream from Iowa

Second grade students participated in Discovery Education’s International Dot Day Livestream today at 1:00.  The students were excited and looking forward to hearing Peter Reynolds read his book.  We would have enjoyed it more if Mr. Reynold’s microphone had worked when he was reading the book.  Apparently no one noticed it until after he finished the book, then he shared the microphone with the host.  The students enjoyed listing to Mr. Reynolds and they got excited when he announced he had a new book coming out today, Water Princess.  I told them I would order it for the library.

They were interested in the process and wondered if we could ask questions, was it really happening live, could they see us, etc.  I told them we would Skype with another school so that there was more interaction. We took a selfie with our new library selfie stick before the livestream began and that might have been one of the highlights!


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3rd Grades Thesaurus & Synonym Rolls

A repeat activity and instruction from last year, but it was so successful it was worth a repeat.  I give the students a word to look up in a traditional thesaurus and ask them to write down three synonyms on their “synonym roll.”  I bookmark  an online thesaurus and ask them to add to their list.

They cut out their rolls after they have written down plenty of synonyms.  I did add one twist this year.  After the students filled in their synonym roll with synonyms, the placed their cut out roll on a baking sheet!  They got a kick out of that.  It was just a place for them to drop their rolls as they moved on to checking out their books.  They all finished at different times and they usually ask over and over, “What do I do with…?” even after clear instructions, but this time they all rmembered to place their roll on the cookie sheet!


Students used an online thesaurus after starting out with the traditional version.  Used either Merriam Webster or Thesaurus.Com.

We collected the rolls as students finished on a baking sheet.

We collected the rolls as students finished on a baking sheet.

Synonym Rolls displayed in the hallway.

Synonym Rolls displayed in the hallway.


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