The Explorer by Katherine Rundell is a survival story of epic proportions! Four children, Fred and Con who are British and Brazilian Lila and her young brother Max are flying alone in a small airplane when the pilot suffers a heart attack and they crash in the Amazon jungle. Using their limited knowledge of plants and hunting and their stubborn strong will to live, they are only barely surviving when they discover a hidden map which seems to lead them up the river to a city. What follows is an even more amazing story of rafts, ruins, explorers and cooperation, as they learn to truly appreciate and respect the remote, dangerous and beautiful terrain. Adventure fiction, grades 4-6.
The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff. Meet sad and disappointed Brian, whose summer has been totally ruined. While his father is off on an incredible job expedition in the South Pole, Brian needs to live with his very boring Aunt, Uncle and cousin Nora in Boring, Illinois! No friends, no soccer, and to make matters worse, Uncle Gary has a new summer school computer program he insists Brian work on every single day. Just when Brian thinks he will go crazy, he explores the area just outside of the town and discovers a wild forest and a crazy, falling down, but amazing old castle. And inside the castle, a boy his age, Cosmo, living almost without rules, with four uncles who explore the world each with pretty weird and wild talents. When Brian finds out the town of Boring wants to condemn and take down the Matchstick Castle, he and Cosmo, the uncles and even Nora, need to figure out a way to save their home. Realistic fiction (though kind of crazy), grades 3-5.
This Would Make a Good Story Someday by Dana Alison Levy is really Sara's journal of her family's incredible train journey across the U.S. It all happens the summer before Sara enters Middle School when Sara's mom, a professional blogger is offered a trip on four Amtrak liners from New York to California, with city stops in between, if she writes up all the events, stories and reactions of her family into a book to be published after the trip. Besides Sara, the trip includes her other mom, her college age "activist and naturalist" sister Laurel, her six year old sister, "Ladybug" and Root, Laurel's boyfriend. Although to the others, the trip sounds amazing, Sara is not so sure. For one, she and her best friends had great plans for their summer at home, and two, she really does not want her feelings publicized across the pages of a book and three, they will be traveling with another family of strangers from Texas, a son Sara's age, his dad and two older aunts. But despite her worries, she is on the trip, soon discovering not just the history, beauty and uniqueness of cities as diverse as Greensboro, New Orleans, Chicago and Santa Fe, but how special is her family and their time together. A funny family adventure full of memorable characters. Grades 4-6. Realistic Fiction.
The Courageous Princess, Beyond the Hundred Kingdoms, Volume 1, by Rod Espinosa is a fantasy adventure graphic novel starring Princess Mablerose. Mablerose is the darling daughter of the King and Queen of New Tinsley, a small Kingdom, who raise their daughter to be happy, unspoiled and spunky. When Mablerose is old enough to go to her first ball, she is kidnapped by an evil dragon and must use her intelligence and bravery to outwit him, escape and find her way home. Along the way, she befriends a porcupine, named Spikey, who helps her through many magical adventures, some of which will feel familiar to fairy tales we know, and some of which will be completely new and unique. And there are two more installments of Princess Mabelrose on the way! Graphic/Fantasy, grades 2-5.
In The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea, meet five students beginning sixth grade with a new "old" teacher. The regular and awesome teacher sixth grade teacher the kids are expecting is replaced by an older retired teacher, Ms. Woods, and the rumor is she tolerates no funny business. And so begins the story of their year, told in five diverse voices: Randi, the gymnast whose mother makes sure she stays ultra focused on her sport, Randi's best friend Gavin, who loves football but struggles with reading, Scott who means well but is always a mess and rarely taken seriously, Trevor, a bully and Natalie the serious lawyer to be and rule follower. As their year progresses, the students learn there might be a lot to appreciate in Ms. Woods after all, and as in Because of Mr. Terupt, the author gives us the back story of each character so the reader begins to understand more deeply their motivations and actions. As the year heads toward the state tests the school believes are uber important, can the students work together to keep their class learning what is truly more important? Realistic fiction, grades 4-6.
MR. LEMONCELLO'S GREAT LIBRARY RACE by Chris Grabenstein brings us new adventures in the Mr. Lemoncello's library series. We meet Kyle and his friends back at the library as they are challenged by Mr. Lemoncello to try out his new and fabulous Fact-Finding Frenzy Game. This time the race is to find out fascinating facts about famous Americans, taking the kids in teams of two, all around the country. But while they are chasing facts, Mr. Lemoncello's rival is trying to discredit him and take over his library! Can his young friends find the facts and save the library too? Full of great books, facts, plot twists, mystery and lots of action too! Realistic fiction, Grade 3-5
In Waylon: One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker, the reader gets to know Waylon, a classmate of Clementine from the Clementine series. They are beginning 4th grade and some of the boys have decided to split the boys into two teams to compete at recess. Waylon who loves science and is friendly to everyone is not happy about this arrangement but feels stuck with it when the popular boy puts him on his team of jocks and brains. To make matters worse, Baxter's sister has gone "goth" and just when it seems like nothing else could go wrong, Baxter, a new boy with a very very bad reputation joins Waylon's class. Some students have heard he has even been to jail! But Waylon is the one who gives Baxter a chance and could join Baxter on quite an adventure! Grades 2-4, Realistic Fiction.
Designed by Lucy (Kindness Club, Book 2) by Courtney Sheinmel is the second book in the Kindness Club series. Theo, Chloe and Lucy are the club they formed to do acts of kindness and also to study how one act of kindness can spread to others. In this episode, the three volunteer at a Community House after school program for young kids, and also try to help a classmate whose mother has just died of cancer. They learn a lot about kindness and helping others and even about other school friends and cliques. Lucy is also dealing with changes in her father, who has started to work more than ever and is secretive about what is happening at the bowling lanes the family owns. Each member of the Kindness Club has a different background and family story. Realistic fiction, grades 3-5.
Crossing Niagara : the death-defying tightrope adventures of the Great Blondin by Matt Tavares. Join the amazing tightrope walker the Great Blondin as he challenges himself to tightrope walk over Niagara Falls from the American side to the Canada side. Jean François Gravelet began his career at just five years old and soon became the most famous tightrope walker in the world. When he first saw Niagara Falls with his circus troupe, Blondin just knew he wanted to walk over them. After the first great walk was successful in 1859, he did it again and again adding more tricks and challenges to the crossing each time. Beautiful illustrations help the reader understand the magnificent feat and falls as well as the excitement of the people who witnessed it. Historical Fiction/Biography, grades 2-5.
5th grade has studied our Earth in Space in science, while in LMC, students read articles on the history of U.S. space exploration and its potential future. They considered both the advantages and benefits of future exploration and the challenges or disadvantages. Next we assigned groups of students to debate one side of the proposition - Space Exploration is Worth the Cost, or further Space Exploration is too Costly and Dangerous! The debates were held after several weeks of debate prep which included choosing three strong arguments with evidence, crafting an opening and closing statement and potential rebuttals. Students spoke with facts plus passion! Take a look:
2nd and 3rd graders have been practicing engineering design after first completing research or reading a story. In second grade the stories were classic fairy tales while their design focused on solving one problem in the fairy tale with an engineering solution. After choosing and drawing a solution to the fairy tale problem, students working in pairs to build zip lines for Jack and the Beanstalk, rafts for the Three Billy Goats Gruff, slides for Rapnunzel and wolf traps or very strong houses for The Three Pigs.
In 3rd grade, in connection to their science study, students researched severe weather such as tornadoes, hurricanes, electrical storms, drought and blizzard to learn what happens, where, and the effects on people, animals, property or the environment. Each group chose one of these problems to solve with an engineering design. Student's created underground homes, suitcase armour, heated roofs to melt and reuse snow, and roof protectors. Each group presented their "design solution" to their class of "future engineers" and took suggestions and comments.
On November 7, Henry Cole joined Patton students to talk about A Nest for Celeste, his many other books, his writing process and illustrate for us too! Mr. Cole was the most energetic, friendly, fun and enjoyable author we have ever hosted! Thank you Mr. Cole!
Classes found Celeste all over the school looking for a good home. Finally she is safe, happy and protected in a display cabinet in the LMC where all students visit!
As our families finished A Nest for Celeste at home, in school students worked on many "Celeste" related activities and lessons. We hope everyone enjoyed the journey with Celeste and all the connected learning fun that went with the book. Here are some examples:
Kindergarten learned about real mouse nests, completed a Nearpod all about author Henry Cole and practiced drawing a mouse. First grader's made "A Nest for Celeste" collages using Pic Kids on the iPads by choosing important animal characters and examples of the setting of the story.
First and second graders studied the habitat and diet of real mice in Pebble Go and compared it to Celeste.
Then second grader's made themselves small in a big world, to imagine what it looks and feels like to be Celeste, using Pic Kids and Seesaw to explain how they would feel. Here are some examples:
Several 1st and 2nd grade classes also built homes for Celeste or Lafayette after brainstorming what kind of home would be safe and appropriate for those characters and how to stop the cat from getting in!
Kindergarten, first and second graders used the Beebot to "code" Celeste past the cat, to Joseph's pocket and fly over the river with Lafayette!
Some third and fourth graders studied the real story of the passenger pigeon to find out how they became extinct, what that experience taught scientists and how we could help threatened animals in Illinois. Students then chose one of these endangered or threatened animals and created a motivational poster explainin its natural habitat, why it is endangered and what we can do to help. Other fourth graders chose to examine examples of inter-species animal friendships like Celeste and Lafayette to find out if this kind of friendship is possible and why scientists think it happens. Fourth grader's also learned about Audubon's life and work in a Nearpod. Third grader's used authentic looking stuffed birds made by the Audubon society to create a nature journal, studying and recording the colors, size, shape and call of the robin, black capped chickadee, woodpecker and blue jay.
In connection with our One Book, One School reading of A Nest for Celeste, we held a special family night with live birds, wildlife education, drawing, weaving and learning about John Audubon. The Patton PTA sponsored the Northern Illinois Raptor Rehab Education Center who brought live falcons, owls and a red-tailed hawk for students to view and learn. We heard a screech owl, met "Mishoni" an endangered barn owl, two types of beautiful falcons, and a hawk. We learned ways that humans can help make sure these amazing birds thrive by conserving energy, cutting up plastic rings that hurt them, keeping water clean and getting outside to enjoy our wildlife! After the presentation, families could look at the artifacts the Center brought including bones, feathers and wing span comparisons. Families were also invited to draw Celeste using Mrs. Maloney's awesome step by step video, weave a placemat or learn about John Audubon with a nearpod. Enjoy the photos from a fantastic Family night:
We kicked off a new One Book, One School event this afternoon with an assembly that introduced the students to the new book we will all be reading for the next 5 weeks - A Nest for Celeste, A story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home by Henry Cole. It is the story of a young and lonely mouse looking for a home and friends, set near New Orleans in the 1800s when the naturalist John Audubon came to draw the birds of the area. We took a look back at why we loved reading with our families and reading the same book as their teachers and staff last year. Students watched the trailer for the book and learned about some of the activities we will be doing at school to celebrate and enhance our reading. Youngest and only students took home their family's book and will show their parents how to find the reading schedule and chapters read by staff on the A Nest for Celeste page of the LMC site. At that page families can also learn more about the story and the author, Henry Cole who will visit Patton November 7! Finally our own little Celeste made a squeaking and waving appearance!
The first few weeks of school were busy and productive in the LMC. We "booktalked" new books and they were checked out.
In first grade we read Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and then brainstormed ways the pigeon should act if he were at Patton School. Each student took a photo in one area of the school (gym, art room, lunchroom, music, playground, hallway, LMC). Next we learned how to draw the pigeon with Mo Willems and drew him on the photo. Finally they added a Don't Let the Pigeon... rule or guideline for that room.
In second grade, we delved into the first research of the school year. Each student became a community helper and took notes on what they do in their job, the tools they use and what training they need. From their notes, each student wrote a script which they recorded in Explain Everything after putting their own face on a community worker image. Enjoy Mrs. Johnson's workers here and Mrs. Jedd's and Mrs. McLoone's on the 2nd Grade Student Project page.
Third graders also began the year with research, theirs connected to their social studies unit on the Midwest states. First in LMC we discussed and demonstrated the steps of research and how to take good short and effective notes. Next students read and listened to PebbleGo Next to take notes on the land, industry, history, and special places to visit in one midwest state. In the classroom they will choose artifacts that represent these aspects of their state and create a State in a Bag!
Fourth and Fifth graders have been learning good searching strategies, practicing smart keyword searches and how to navigate the web more efficiently just like they have learned to find and use information from a book.
With the first week of school came the first LMC classes of the year and each grade level participated in some kind of orientation activity. We wanted students to refresh their understanding of where different books were located, how to find them, some new books and new locations and some of the rules that we need to share the space and the books safely and fairly.
Hilo and the Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick, is a graphic novel series featuring D.J. a pretty normal boy living on Earth and Hilo, a fun and excitable boy who knows nothing about Earth, and does not remember where he came from. But he is incredibly smart and loves to learn. D.J. and his friend Gina think he might be from another planet or dimension. Now he is attached to D.J. as they try to figure out why he is on Earth and who might be chasing him. Is it a robot or a monster? And is Hilo a boy or something else? Read this fun graphic novel, and the following episodes too! Grade 2-4, Science Fiction/Graphic Novel.
A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen takes the reader to a time and place in history they may not be familiar with. In 1961 in Germany, the Communist government erected a wall to split East Berlin from West Berlin. In East Berlin, citizens have no freedom to speak their mind, are allowed only the news and books the government approves of, are no longer free to come and go and are under constant scrutiny to make sure they are Communist. Eight year old Greta, her mother and older brother are immediately and permanently separated by the wall from her father and another brother who were in West Berlin looking for work when the wall went up. Four years later, as things in East Berlin become harder with little food or work and strict government soldiers everywhere, Greta sees her father and brother at the top of the wall. They seem to be telling Greta to look for a secret way out of East Berlin. Soon a mysterious letter arrives with a map. Can Greta and her brother avoid the spies around them and find the way to their father and unite the family under the dangerous and watchful eyes of Communist soldiers? A great adventure during a difficult time in history. Grade 5 and up, Historical Fiction.
Heartwood Hotel, The Greatest Gift by Kallie George. In the first book of this Heartwood Hotel series, Mona a mouse who has lost her family, finds the Heartwood, a wonderful hotel for animals in a tree in the forest. Heartwood has all the luxuries of a "5 Acorn" rated hotel including special chambers for hibernating animals, and all kinds of food that the forest animals love. Mona is hired as a maid and finds a good friend in her squirrel roommate Tilly, as well as meeting all the kind and clever animals that run the hotel. In this sequel, a cold winter has arrived and while it is usually a quiet time, this winter is different. First a demanding royal rabbit arrives, then a blizzard and finally food is mysteriously missing from the storage room. Can Mona help solve the mystery and get the Heartwood through the winter safely? For anyone who loves small wild animals! Grades 2-4 Fantasy.
Love you Like a Sister by Robin Palmer. Likeable and friendly Avery has lived with just her mother since her parents divorce when she was young. Suddenly her father who has hardly been in her life, moves back to town announcing he is remarrying and his new wife has three daughters he wants Avery to get to know. While Avery is apprehensive, her father seems to want to make up for lost time. However the new sisters to be don't seem too interested in bringing another sister into the family. When their mom wants all the girls to be bridesmaids at the wedding, Avery is thrown into many hours and outings with the girls. But while Avery loves to find old quirky second hand items and make them over, her new sisters just seem to want everything new and expensive. Can the four girls find common ground? A realistic, emotional and funny too! Grade 3-5 Realistic Fiction.
My Reading List!
I am the Library Media Center director at Patton School in Arlington Heights where I help students from kindergarten through 5th grade find terrific independent reading for enjoyment and information, and teach students the skills to use information and technology safely and productively and to connect, communicate and share with others. I have four grown children, a large black dog, (flat coat retriever) and a small striped cat. I am an obessive Chicago Cubs fan and I love to run.