Thursday, November 29, 2018

Free Paper Cuts of Sheep

Perfect for arts and crafts projects in the Sunday School or classroom. Use them in personal craft too.

Vintage Paper Cuts for Fall

Here are a few old-fashioned paper cuts for Fall. A turkey,
haystack and pumpkins for personal craft projects or the classroom.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Our Nature Table and Center

"Live in the sunshine. Swim in the sea. Drink the wild air." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
        The two things I love most about this area of our room is that it's mostly been built by the students. It houses their treasures (as they deem them) which they constantly show off to one another. And second, behind each of their nature finds is usually a story or memory of some special outing they had with a friend or their family---which they're always eager to share! Many of them even chose to write their personal narratives about their nature related adventures at the beginning of the year.

       Many of our treasures don't stay for long though as the children are constantly bringing in new finds and there's only so much space! Here have been some of the favorites though so far this year...

       One student brought in a birds nest, so I found some quail eggs online to order to go along with it. We've had sea shells from various summer vacations, parts of bee and wasp hives, butterfly wings... and the list truly could go on.

       Probably by far the most favored part of our nature center is our class pet toad, Frodo (because The Lord of the Rings was a tad to long of a name). Frodo also has a book (class community journal) about all of his many adventures authored by the students. 

       We also keep a small--yet most used--part of our class library dedicated to nature related books. Here have been some recent favored books from it:

The center also houses the students' phenology journals and nature study sketchbooks:

"We need the tonic of wildness... At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature. "~Henry David Thoreau

Provocation: Abraham Lincoln and Cabin Building

       In addition to our social studies curriculum, where we learned about George Washington, we took some of our morning work time to also explore more about Abraham Lincoln's life to celebrate President's day. I set up a provocation for the students where they were asked how they would design and build a log cabin. To aid them, I set out the following materials: books on Abraham Lincoln and a Eric Sloan's book American Yesterday--which has tons of illustrations on early American houses, a few drawings of log cabin plans and blueprints, the My Plan paper, Lincoln Logs, and a Presidents Field Guide
       Here were a few of their creations they built based off of the plans they drew...

       The students then brought their plans to our morning to meeting to share with one another and discussed what worked and what didn't work when they were building their cabins, as well as what sorts of items they would house their cabins with and why. 
       Later on, we extended our learning by taking the book Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books to further practice our ability to infer the meaning of unknown words when reading:

Snapshots: Going on a Noun Hunt!

       Here's a couple of quick snapshots from one of our recent language arts lessons where we learned about nouns. Students were introduced to the definition of a noun and its many examples through a read-aloud of the book If You Were a Noun by Michael Dahl. We then drew our own examples of nouns and created an anchor chart for them. Snakes and aliens were popular choices today =)

       Students then picked a book from their book box to use along with Beth Gordon's noun scavenger hunt printable (download here for free). They tried to locate as many different nouns as they could while going through their chosen book.

S.T.E.A.M. Basic Insect Hotels

       One of our recent STEAM projects came out of our entomology unit: insect hotels. After seeing dozens of elaborate insect hotels in my own Pinterest feed, I decided to try and find a way to let me students build a mini one during one of our afternoon science blocks. We had been reading about insects and their habitats, so we collected our research on what we had learned attracted really beneficial insects. Pine cones, dry leaves, branches, bark, and--yes--even straws--these were the (primarily) natural materials we gathered to arrange into snug nooks and crannies in tin cans to create these mini homes for our insect friends. 

 and here's a finished one...

We tied our up with Baker's Twine to be hung, and the students got to take them home to find a garden for them.

Snapshots: Exploring Herbs with Descriptive Writing

Today students had the opportunity to explore three different herbs--mint, sage, and rosemary--after having read selected poems from Anna's Garden Songs for our current study on botany and gardening. Before I gave each student their specimen we conversed on how these different herbs have and can be used. Students then had to use their five senses to then write descriptive words about each herb. Here's how a couple of students described sage:
"It feels soft and fuzzy--kind of like how the leaves on pumpkins feel soft sometimes."
 "It smells a little like mint, but it smells more like the stew my mom makes for dinner."
"It's furry-like and reminds me of fall."

30 Loose Parts to Use in Story Workshop

        If you're interested in incorporating story workshop into your writing lessons, you'll be needing a stock of open-ended materials, or loose parts, that students can manipulate as well as use to represent different aspects of their stories in as many different ways as possible. Here are 30 ideas of materials to get you started:
  1. Glass marbles, round and flat
  2. Playdoh
  3. Pine cones
  4. Small sticks 
  5. Bark chips
  6. Various fabric squares
  7. Fake flowers (detached from wire stems)
  8. Small plastic animals or play figures
  9. Various types of blocks
  10. Toilet paper rolls
  11. Small stones
  12. Seashells
  13. Buckeyes and acorns
  14. Buttons
  15. Beads
  16. Various types of paints
  17. Small containers
  18. Lincoln Logs
  19. Straws
  20. Sand
  21. Plastic and wooden spools
  22. Corks
  23. Fabric place mats (great for representing landscapes as a story's setting)
  24. Round clothespins
  25. Popsicle sticks
  26. Pom-poms
  27. Pipe cleaners
  28. Foam shape cutouts
  29. Leaves
  30. Wikki Stix

Block Play into Learning

       I'm an architect's daughter, and one of the very first toys we had lying around our house were blocks. Different brands and types littered our home's floors through the years--from Lincoln Logs to Lego's to cardboard boxes. Even now I still firmly believe that giving children blocks to play and create and manipulate serves as one of the best toys. 
       The benefits of block play have been researched in depth on the great many skills they build in children. Here are five of those skills that as an educator I greatly appreciate:
  1. Development of  visual discrimination, the recognition of detail in visuals--particularly with descriptive and comparative language, as a pre-reading skill
  2. Development of small and gross motor skills, along with hand-eye cordination development
  3. Basic mapping skills are often learned through blocks
  4. Offers introductory math and science concepts to children such as problem solving via trial and error, pattern creating, categorizing and classifying, and identifying sets, size, shapes, and weight
  5. Ability to visualize spatially--to mentally manipulate 2D, 3D, and 4D objects--often a skill that is stronger in boys than in girls simply due to their time spent with constructive based toys (blocks)
       Even more, I've always loved how blocks are one of the most open-ended toys. Regardless of the age and interest of the child, they can utilize blocks in countless ways. While I was planning curriculum with first graders in mind this past school year I wanted to find ways to incorporate blocks into some of our various learning activities. My favorite was when the student had to build a zoo using blocks and small plastic animals, followed by drawing their creation as a map, which you can check out here. What ways have you integrated blocks into your students and children's learning?
What are you able to build with your blocks? 
Castles and palaces, temples and docks. 
Rain may keep raining, and others go roam, 
But I can be happy and building at home.
~Block City, Robert Louis Stevenson~ 

*To learn more on the importance and history of block play check out The Yale-New Haven Teacher Institute

Study on Mammals and Camouflage

       We recently wrapped up our integrated study on mammals, camouflage, and map-making (geography) in room 14. From day one of this unit the students have shown genuine enthusiasm and interest in learning about their favorite mammals and discovering new mammals from all over the world. 
        Our unit began with the reading of Mammals by Adele Richardson. From the read-alouds we learned what makes a mammal a mammal (as opposed to reptiles, amphibians, etc.) and mapped out our acquired information with a bubble map. I also took this opportunity to introduce features of non-fiction texts. Throughout the rest of the week we continued to participate in shared readings that introduced new vocabulary words, which we illustrated on post-it notes as we were reading.

       The historical figure that was integrated into the unit was Jane Goodall. We had two read-alouds that the students had to narrate back at the end of their reading on her life working with the chimps: Me... Jane by Patrick McDonnell and The Watcher by Jeanette Winter.

       The students were really excited when at the end of the week they were partnered off and given a big zip-lock bag of plastics animals, which they then had to sort out the mammals from the rest of the differing creatures found within our huge animal kingdom. They then had the choice to play some of the various mammal and camouflage file folder games I had on hand, or they could participate in a challenge sort: sorting their group of mammals into groups of carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores.

       Students were then divided into small groups to collaborate in designing and building a 3-D zoo with exhibits for four mammals of their choosing. The groups had to then look at all the materials provided to them (which consisted mostly of construction paper, markers, and various types of blocks that were pulled from our classroom tinker station), their mammals, and then consider what their exhibits would have to have in order to reflect the mammals given habitats. As the children were building, I interviewed each group--asking them questions to explain and support their decisions.

       The final component of our unit integrated information writing. Each student picked a mammal of their choice to research and write on. During this latter half of the unit, students learned that researchers read informational texts to gain knowledge on their topic, the difference between writing information and narratives, and the structure of paragraph writing. Student's were given a plan to help support them in their writing.
       After the students had written on their mammal, they then edited, and published a final paragraph as a zoo plaque (with accompanying picture they drew) onto our whole class zoo map.

Author Study Unit on James Herriot

       Using the beloved children's books penned by award-winning author, James Herriot, students will widen their knowledge in the following: animal life science, England's geography, watercolor as an art medium, music styles from the 1940's, measurment practice, and more. The unit seeks to integrate social science, math, language arts, science, art, and music together--over the course of eight school days.

Unit at a Glance

Grade Level: Second

Dictionary: Amphibian, Author, Life Cycle, Mammal, Reptiles, Setting, Veterinarian 

  • Practice respectful listening skills
  • Describe the author and his professions
  • Connect their own experiences to the reading materials
  • Retell and narrate a story orally
  • Create a storybook including proper story structure: beginning, middle, and end
  • Describe the setting (including its geography) of the stories
  • Explain how a country's geography related to how its people live
  • Measure objects in inches and rounding off to the nearest inch
  • Distinguish the difference between mammals, reptiles, and amphibians and their differing life cycles
Below is a brief outline of the learning activities of the unit.
  • Day 1: Students are introduced to the author James Herriot through a short video clip and the teacher's SMARTBoard presentation. Student's listen to a read-aloud of Moses the Kitten, followed by constructing a 7 Flip-Flap Booklet of key terms and vocabulary words they'll come across throughout the unit.
  • Day 2: Students listen to a read aloud of Bonny's Big Day and take a virtual field trip of where author James Herriot lived and worked.
  • Day 3: Students design postcards writing and illustrating about James Herriot's home.
  • Day 4: Student's listen to a read aloud of Blossom Comes Home and participate in the SMARTBoard activity: Animal Classification
  • Day 5: Working with partner's students will practice measuring
  • Day 6: Students listen to a read aloud of Only One Woof and begin their storybook projects
  • Day 7: Students listen to a read aloud of Market Square Dog and continue to work on their storybook
  • Day 8: Students share their storybooks with the class and assess themselves. 
*Additional and supplemental resources can be found here as well

Standards: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.8, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.2,  CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.2.4a, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.2.4e, CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.A.1, CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.A.4  
Author Profile of James Herriot. 

The First Grade Journal Pages

Welcome to My Teaching and Reflecting: 
One Year In 1rst Grade.
You can also read my current posts at

       "For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a teacher. Some childhoods are spent playing house or with Tonka trucks; mine was spent subjecting my little sister to playing school (naturally I made her the student). My passion and love for teaching children has grown ever since then.
       It is my firm belief that the role of a teacher is one of a cultivator. Looking back on my own education, the teachers that made the most impact in my life were not the ones who tried to fit me into some kind of mold, but rather spotted my strengths and passions that were already present in me and sought out to grow them in me. I desire to continue that approach in my own teaching and learning. Likewise, the role of the student is to glean, personalize, & take ownership in the learning environment they find themselves." Natalie Grimm

1rst Grade Journal Pages: Tour My First Grade Classroom

Book Reviews:
Extras: Pre-K and Kindergarten: 
Recommended Reading:

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Lessons: The Lorax

Unless someone like you care a whole lot, nothing is ever
 going to get better. It's not. ~The Lorax
        Hands down The Lorax was my favorite Dr. Suess book as a child. I always loved it's message of taking care and stewarding the environment wisely--a message I still appreciate as an adult.

Grade(s): Kindergarten, First, Second
Big Picture(s): Preservation, Sustainability, Earth-Friendly
Dictionary: Caretaker/Steward, Environment, Green, Habitat, Nature, Wildlife, Tree, Pollution, Park
In Class: This lesson began with a shared reading of the Dr. Seuss classic, The Lorax, followed up with How to Help the Earth by Tish Rabe. As a whole group, the students fill out a graphic organizer on the SMARTBoard addressing either of the two: What practical (big or little) things they could do to take care of their environment (if the group of students already had a basic understanding of sustainability), or list the different causes and effects that were present in the story as a way to scaffold into further discussions and learning on sustainability. Throughout this time various vocabulary words would be introduced and discussed as well.
    During the next portion of the lesson, students were released to individually write reflectively on what they thought about the reading, class discussion, and how the two connect to them each. As students finished they're writing, they gathered an assortment of art materials provided to them to make their own visual depiction of a Truffula forest around their writing which was mounted on construction paper. 

Further Resources:

Lessons by Natalie Grimm © 2014 

Lessons: Pumpkin Soup

"Deep in the woods in an old white cabin, three friends make
 their pumpkin soup..." ~Helen Cooper
       This sweet tradebook, Pumpkin Soup, tells the tale of how three friends, Duck, Cat, and Squirrel, learn to work together to make their favorite fall dinner. In the elementary grades, the book lends itself well to teaching process writing and verbs. Likewise, preschoolers can be introduced to the same topics of teamwork and friendship that are explored through the text through various play activities. Young children and adults will both love the illustrations and this simple story to celebrate the coming of autumn together.

Ages and Grades: Preschool--First Grade
The Big Picture: Autumn, Teamwork, Friendship 
Dictionary: Process, Sequence, Step(s), Pumpkin, Scoff, Trudge, Mutter, Wail
In The Classroom... 
  • Read aloud Helen Cooper's storybook Pumpkin Soup
  • Brainstorm a list using a graphic organizer of all the different foods we eat with pumpkins
  • Have students sort out the sequence of steps to making pumpkin soup based on what they heard in the read aloud
  • Process Writing Activity (1st Grade): Have students pick one of the pumpkin foods brainstormed, write the sequence (series of steps) of how that food is made, then add illustrations
  • Have students identify the verbs the author used throughout the book (e.g. scoff, mutter, trudge) through various vocabulary strategies and activities
  • For preschoolers discuss each character's job and how they needed to work as a team to make their pumpkin soup using this free job card printable from Learning Parade
In The Home...
Further Resources...

*CCSS: ELA-Literacy.W.1.5

Lessons by Natalie Grimm © 2014

Monday, July 30, 2018

PD Reads on Nature Based and Eco-Learning

        "Normally I share on the children's books that line the shelves in my classroom, however, I wanted to share a few of the books that have lined my own shelf these past couple of months. This past winter and spring I wanted the focus of my professional development (pd) reading to be on eco-learning (naturalist learning or nature based learning). Here's a little snapshot of each book that I'd recommend to other educators who have the same passion and interest" N. Grimm

The Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. Children spend less time outdoors in nature more than ever before: Richard Louv explores the causes that have lead to this nature deficit culture children live in currently through a great deal of research that he shares in this award winning book--a must-have for any educator's bookshelf who wants to cultivate and implement eco-learning in their classroom and school.

The Nature Connection by Clare Walker Leslie. If a teacher were ever in need of a resource packed with nature based lessons and activities, then this ought to be the book to pick up. From garden planning, to building a nature table, to exploring dirt, The Nature Connection is sure to lay out a wide variety of ideas for the whole year--every season--to choose from to take into your classroom.

Botany on Your Plate: Investigating the Plants We Eat by Katharine D. Barrett. This book is a great curriculum resource for bringing gardening into your classroom. We did a lesson out of it this spring that the kids loved on taste-testing various garden vegetables and collecting data on them.

The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson. Carson weaves together a beautiful narrative, parried with lovely photographs, of her days exploring outdoors with her young nephew and on the importance of helping children keep their "inborn sense of wonder" through nature.

Cabinet of Curiosities: Collecting and Understanding the Wonders of the Natural World by Gordon Grice. This book shares on the art of collecting the nature treasures that peek our curiosity or serve as a memento of a memory made--the art of bringing natural history into your life. I still have nature finds from my own childhood in a small wooden cabinet on display that remind me of days spent walking sandy shores or hiking through the Colorado mountains. The book has a small section on building one's own cabinet of curiosities and caring for your specimens, with the majority of the book focused on classifying specimens with the Linneaus system. This would be a great reference book to have in a class library for older elementary students to practice classifying specimens and building their own collection.
And a couple of articles from across the web that resonated with me while I've been learning more on integrating eco-learning into the classroom...

7 Books on Tide Pools for Children

Seven new titles have rotated into our class library for our last summer inquiry on tide pools. Check them out!
Ocean Soup by Stephan R. Swinburne. Student learn about different tide pool creatures through rap and rhyme.

Is This a House for Hermit Crab? by Megan Mcdonald. Readers follow a little hermit crab along the sandy shores as he searches for a new home.

A Swim through the Sea by Kristan Joy Pratt. An alphabet book about creatures from A-to-Z of both tide pools and the ocean deeps. There's specific facts per each animal given as well for older students to expand their knowledge further. 

In One Tidepool by Anthony D. Fredricks. Follow a young curly-haired girl to the beach as she explores the creatures that make their home in tide pools through a clever rhyming narrative.

Barnacle is Bored by Jonathan Fenske. Underneath the pier lives a barnacle who's grown bored with the predictable rise and fall of the tide life he lives. One day a bright, colorful fish swims by and barnacle learns a lesson that 'excitement' isn't sometimes all we imagine it to be.

Shell by Alex Arthur. From DK Eyewitness, all the information a young scientist could need about shells with corresponding photographs.

Flotsam by David Wiesner. A wordless book that tell the story of a young boy who is treasuring hunting along the beach--and treasure he does indeed find--through vivid illustrations.

7 Gardening Books for Kids

Check out these 7 beautiful stories on gardens and all the wonders they can hold for you and your young readers!

Grandpa Green by Jane Smith. A young boy shares the story of his grandfathers life through the topiary trees he's made in the garden.

The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen. Most gardens grow with soil, sunlight, and water, but Theo and her grandpa's garden grows with paint and their imagination. A lovely story of how a grandpa shows his granddaughter how they too can have a garden even when they live in an apartment lacking in dirt.

In the Garden with Dr. Carver by Susan Grigsby. A small community of rural children learn first-hand from Dr. George Washington Carver how to grow their own food having struggled with planting and farming due to depleated soil from cotton farming.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner. Young readers discover the many treasures to be found in the garden beds and beneath the dirt from which their roots grow.

Jack's Garden by Henry Cole. Told in familiar verse to This is the House that Jack Built, Children read about the steps to building a garden all the way through seeing blooms pop up from the ground in vibrant color.

Linnea's Windowsill Garden by Cristina Bjork. Explore Linnea's world of gardening through various activities, stories, and how-to's projects. From organizing a pea Olympic game to scrumptious recipes, this book is bound to be a favored narrative resource book for young green thumbs.

Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens. A lazy, sleepy bear gets tricked by a clever hare in this retelling of an American slave story. Who will come away with the most food from the harvest? 

10 Must Have Insect Books for Your Classroom

        Our classroom library was recently invaded with many insect-tastic reads for our upcoming unit on insects! Here are 10 of my favorite insect and bug books to introduce to youngsters:

Bugs in My Hair by David Shannon. A hilarious tale of finding--horror of horrors--live in your hair! How did they get there? What are they doing hidden in your roots? And when will they ever leave?!

The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. A grouchy, bossy ladybug stumbles upon many other creatures to learn how to be a kinder and more polite insect.

Are You a Dragonfly? by Judy Allen. From the well written Backyard Books comes yet another story of an amazing, unique insect: the dragonfly.

The Big Bug Book by Margery Facklam. Discover the 13 largest insects in the world with this reference book. Each insect is drawn to actual size in the illustrations to help readers get a picture of just how big these creepy crawlers can grow.

Caterpillar, Butterfly by Vivian French. With charming illustrations, a young girl and her grandfather observe a the metamorphose process of a caterpillar into a butterfly.

Ant Cities by Arthur Dorros. This book showcases all the life that takes place deep in an ant hill--how to identify different types of ants and all the different things they do as a colony.

Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi. The vibrant, bold insect illustrations will capture any child's--and adult's--attention to pick it up. A great introduction to children about all the many things bugs can do.

Where Butterflies Grow by Joanne Ryder. Another excellent  book that explains the life cycle of a butterfly in simple story prose.

The Magic School Bus Inside a Bee Hive by Joanna Cole. Elementary students are sucked into a bee hive with Ms. Frizzle and her class to learn all about the many benefits of bees. 
The Ultimate Bugopedia: The Most Complete Bug Reference Ever by Darlyne Murawski. An awesome reference book for children to identify all the different varieties of insects in folk's backyards across the globe.

6 Books to Celebrate Valentines Day

6 Books to warm your child's heart is the days leading up to Valentine's Day!

Mamma, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Jones. Set in the arctic, a little girl tests the boundaries to see just how much her mother really loves her... and it's a love without end or limits.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. Can you measure how much you love someone? It can be hard to do... even harder to put into words as this father and son rabbit discover.

Happy Valentines Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff. Mouse is busy at work making valentines to share with each of his friends to tell them exactly why he loves them.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. The classic tale of a little stuffed rabbit who dreams of nothing else but to be real. He learns though that becoming real is a process that requires a great deal of love, and sometimes love brings heartache... but equally, joy!

The Valentines Bears by Eve Bunting. This bear couple cut their hibernation season short to celebrate Valentine's day with each other, a jar of honey saved from summer, and other surprises for each other. (Update: see how we used this book in our classroom to practice making inferences here.)

How Raggedy Ann Got Her Candy Heart by Johnny Gruelle. After a disastrous flight high up on a kite, Raggedy Ann gets a thorough cleaning up, and a special gift of a candy heart.

Rotating Library for Winter Book Themes

Here's a look at some of the recent titles that have rotated into our class library for these chilly winter days...
Sugar Snow by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The delightful tale of Laura and Mary eating sugar snow cakes in the big woods after pa's long day making maple syrup.

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. The true story of William Bentley who photographed snowflakes, thus contributing to the scientific community's knowledge on these beautiful winter crystals. The book has charming woodcut illustrations that correspond with the story by illustrator Mary Azarian. 

The Little Polar Bear by Hans de Beer. A simply sweet story of a polar bear cub who finds himself on an iceberg, floating away from his father after hunting one day--and the adventures that follow.

Trouble with Trolls by Jan Brett. A small girl journey's up a snowy mountain, but trolls keep thwarting her as they attempt to kidnap her beloved dog.

Do Like Kyla by Angela Johnson. Join Kyla as she follows her older sister around on a snowy day filled with many sister memory making moments.

Brave Irene by William Steig. Sent on a mission from her dressmaking mother, little, but brave, Irene weathers a snowstorm to deliver a package to the duchess.

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner. This certainly has been one loved book by my students and as soon as I put it out, it's checked out and gone into the hands of a student. Not only is it a fun tale of snowmen playing at night while the world sleeps, but part of the fun is spotting the pickle-nosed snowman on each page if you can! 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Favored Children's Books of 2015

Looking back over year 205, this small stack of children's books were not just my own favorites of that year, but also my students'.
  • What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada - I read this story at the beginning of the school year to my students in conjunction with a couple of different activities on what creativity is and how it would look for each individual student in the upcoming school year. The story follows a little boy who has an idea (which is depicted as an egg), which grows and grows... until it explodes into being. The book starts out in black and white and slowly grows more colorful to show the children visually the growth that's taking place in the idea "egg."
  • The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton - All Princess Pinecone wants for her birthday is a mighty steed to show off her warrior side. But what does she actually get? A very pudgy, stout, crazy-eyed pony... that farts. A hilarious tale to read and laugh at over and over again. Maybe I can relate to this story more than I should be able to and I love Beaton's work too much, but this was by far my personal favorite book of the entire year.
  • Home by Carson Ellis - A beautiful picture book that celebrates all the different types of houses found around the world... and in myths and tales known by children alike. My students loved pouring over the pages of this inspiring book during the beginning of the year when they had to design their own house. 
  • The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi - Kikko runs after her father, who forgot grandma's pie, one snowy day, and along the way she comes to a strange house in the woods. When she peeks into one of the windows she sees several woodland animals sipping on tea. They warmly welcome her in to join them in their tea party. The illustrations are absolutely charming with the primarily black and white pages with the happy pops of color in between.  
  • Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk - GAH!!! There's only one drop of maple syrup left in the refrigerator! And what ensues next, is the most epic breakfast food race yet between Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. This book will get your children giggling right from the start. 
  • Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M. Walker - I picked up this book to read to my students for our upcoming unit on A.A. Milne who wrote the well known children's stories Winnie-the Pooh. It shares the true inspiring tales of the bear that eventually becomes personified in Milne's tales of Christopher Robin, Pooh, and Piglet too! A charming non-fiction story told in wonderful narrative tone. 
  • Atlas of Adventure by Rachel Williams - Unlike your average atlas that shows the locations of countries and rivers and geographical landmarks alike, this atlas highlights the adventures to be had in all of these wonderful far off places (or maybe even your own backyard). From snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef to exploring the pyramids in Egypt, this is sure to be a book children and adults alike will want to steal away with to a hidden corner or nook and escape to wonderful places.