Monday, December 29, 2008

Great Spelling Site!


The Parents' Choice Foundation, the nation's leading experts on quality children's media and toys, recently selected the website as a Parents’ Choice Recommended Award.

Claire Green, president of Parents’ Choice says: “The Parents’ Choice Awards panel members noted as a fun way to practice for the weekly spelling tests. This practical and results-oriented site is cleanly designed and user-friendly.” equips students to become better spellers by letting them practice spelling with their own personalized lists, rather than just random spelling words. The site allows the user to do a variety of things with their spelling words such as see them in flashcard format, hear them spoken by a real human voice, play games with the words, and even take practice-spelling tests.

John Edelson, founder of, says this of the site's unique, personalized approach: "As a parent, I want the computer to be more than a game machine. Because spelling and vocabulary tests are a weekly reality for today’s elementary school students, they need educational tools that are applicable to their education. So I set out to create a site that fits into today’s educational model and which is truly useful to today’s teachers and students." has:

- Over 38,000 spelling words and eight spelling games!
- A REAL person who says each vocabulary word and sentence
- Thousands of free spelling lists. Or save your own spelling word list!
- Eight spelling and vocabulary games to play with your lists.

After taking the online spelling test, students can print out a report, retake the entire test, or get tested only on spelling words that they got wrong on the first time spelling test.

TeachMe spells and displays the word in ways that stimulate memory for visual and verbal learners.

Printable Games include WordSearch, UnScramble, WhichWord? and MissingLetter.

Printable Handwriting Worksheets for combined spelling and handwriting practice can be created from any saved list (this feature only works if the list is saved). Choices include three sizes of lines, capitals or small letters, script or cursive, and with directional arrows on or off. Very cool, huh?

Teachers: try their new Spelling City Parents’ Letter, available in PDF form for you to print out and send home with your students spelling word lists.

Let me know how you like this site. My next post will be about a vocabulary site!

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Thursday, December 25, 2008


Merry Christmas to all my bloggers. Here's a poem I wrote about Christmas as a child growing up in Long Island, NY.

I remember, I remember,
the Christmas days of old,
when tiny lights and tinsel hung
on greenery untold.

The night before I tossed and turned,
and sleep was not my friend.
Awake, I counted stars and stars,
and seconds to the end.

I tiptoed down the stairs at dawn,
so careful not to wake,
the house of kindly souls that give,
and often dreams did make.

My mother, she arranged the gifts
as if an artist would.
Each one had her mark of love,
like no other could.

Then noise I'd make, to wake the others,
and pretend I didn't dare.
And slowly one by one they'd wake,
with a zombie's stare.

Some coffee and my hopeful eyes
would rouse them to attention.
I offered each a gift I'd made,
with love as my intention.

Bows and paper would start to fly,
with excitement in the air.
The special gift I'd open next,
the one that was so rare.

Oh yes, it's here, the nursing cart,
for which I'd prayed so long.
With cap of white and cross displayed,
I'd heal the sick with song.

All sparkling clean and newly dressed,
it's off to church we'd flee.
To the Christ child's house we'd go,
to worship God with glee.

At evenings end, when day was done,
on my pillow I would rest,
and think about the gifts I'd come to love,
knowing God's gift, was the best.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Zooprise Party Fiesta Zoopresa by Rebekha and Joy Delgado


Learn about this exciting new author/illustrator, Joy Delgado.

Kathy: Joy, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live?

Joy: At the moment I live in Puerto Rico with my husband.

Kathy: What do you mean by ‘at the moment’?

Joy: Well, we live on a 41’ sailboat, so, for the time being we are in Puerto Rico.

Kathy: How exciting! That’s sure a different way to live. How long have you lived on a boat?

Joy: Lets see, we’ve lived aboard for 5 ½ years now.

Kathy: Where did you start out and where all have you sailed to?

Joy: We started in St. Pete, FL, moved aboard and sailed her to Key West, FL. We were there for three years while my husband was on Active Duty with the Coast Guard. He went back to reserve status and in October of 2006 we set sail for Puerto Rico. Along the way we spent 5 months in the Bahamas, time in the Turks and Caicos and the Dominican Republic. Seven months in all.

Joy: Yes. We are talking about going to the Virgins (both US and British) for the early part of 2009. then, who knows.

Kathy: Now, you’re the publisher and illustrator of Zooprise Party / Fiesta Zoorpresa right? How do you plan to manage your business while you’re on the road, or should I say at sea?

Joy: Yes, I’m the illustrator/publisher and my husband is the translator. Well, I’m looking into getting lined up with distributors both in Puerto Rico and the US. We are going to ‘test drive’ the idea in the Virgin Islands. If it doesn’t work, we’ll go back to Puerto Rico and try something else. My plan is to be able to do the bulk of my work on the computer and have printers and distributors lined up to take care of the rest. I am new at this, so there will be some trial and error involved.

Kathy: Interesting. Now I know this book has a special story behind it. Let’s start with what prompted you to create this book?

Joy: I have two grand daughters in Puerto Rico. When it came time to buy presents for the ‘girls’, we decided to buy them bilingual books. We speak both languages and feel it’s very important in this day and age to speak at least two languages. So we started looking around. What we discovered was that bilingual books are hard to find and when you do find them, they are usually about a particular culture.

I asked my daughter Rebekha to help out by writing a few stories. I told her I’d teach myself to draw and her dad could translate them into Spanish. She thought this was great, so she sat down and in something like two days I had three stories from her.

Kathy: Now you have an activity book and a teacher’s guide that go along with this book. What prompted you to add these?

Joy: As we worked on the book, people would ask me what made me draw this okapi thing to look like I did. When I had to explain to several people that an okapi is a real animal from Africa, I realized I needed to do something different. So we started with pictures and some interesting facts at the end of the story. It soon became clear to us that this wasn’t just a book. This was a book that would help teach a second language as well as inform people about animals that aren’t very common. That’s when I decided to developed the Activity Book and the Teacher’s Guide, to take the book beyond reading.

Kathy: Tell us a bit about Rebekha. What kind of work does she do?

Joy: Rebekha is a zookeeper, or as she prefers, and animal keeper at a zoological park/resort in Central Florida.

Kathy: You know, that’s one of those jobs that when children go to the zoo that they are fascinated with. Is it as great as it seems?

Joy: For the most part, from what she tells us, yes, it’s really a dream come true for her. There are certain aspects of the job however that aren’t very pleasant, like cleaning the stalls out. She’s been there long enough that I don’t think she has to do that much anymore.

Kathy: When did she start to write?

Joy: I think it was in about second or third grade. She went to an elementary school that was very pro writing. Each year the students wrote short stories. Then the parents’ group took them, printed them out, gave them back to the student to illustrate it and bound them.

Kathy: What a great school project. So, has she had anything else published?

Joy: Yes she did. Some of her poetry was published as part of a National Poetry contest.

Kathy: What’s next? Another zoo story or something else?

Joy: Several projects are in the works. Rebekha’s second story about a chameleon and a lemur will follow the same format as Zooprise Party / Fiesta Zoorpresa. Then we have a textbook-workbook project about animals in their natural habitats. Some of the local schools have asked for this, and I think it’s something many schools would be interested in. Of course there are about 20 more stories we’ve both written that I hope someday will see publication.

Kathy: Well, thank you Joy for such an interesting interview. I wish you and your family the best of luck.

Joy: Thank you for having me here today. It was fun.

Zooprise Party / Fiesta Zoorpresa

Written by
Rebekha and Joy Delgado

Laughing Zebra – Books for Children
A division of J.O.Y. Publishing
PO Box 503
Salinas, Puerto Rico 00751
Picture book ISBN: 978-0-9755454-1-6
$11.95 US
Activity Book ISBN: 978-0-9755454-2-3
$4.95 US
Teacher’s guide ISBN: 978-0-9755454-3-0
$8.95 US

Available at:

Laughing Zebra – Books for Children
Offers free shipping and autographed copies

E-mail publisher

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008


This informative article was written by Dorit Sasson.

More primary school teachers are using read-alouds to teach reading.
Read-alouds also provide a springboard for oral instruction.

Elementary teachers, especially those teaching young ELLs (English
Language Learners), are hungry for learning how to teach reading.
Teachers can use read alouds to teach letter-sound correspondences,
words, sentences, and eventually, other stories.

Oral Instruction and Read-Alouds

Oral instruction enhances the process of early literacy by providing
direct explicit instruction on reading, thinking and learning
strategies, word and meaning recognition, and early reading skills.
While every teacher's approach to oral work differs, the principles
for strengthening an at-risk performance in the early stages of a
read-aloud remain the same.

Identifying the Type of Read-Alouds

Teachers begin by identifying the type of read-aloud (expository or
narrative) and how much oral work will be done prior to the read-
aloud. As the teacher reads the story, s/he encourages students to
predict. Non-verbal clues such as gestures, and verbal clues such as
pictures, help facilitate the process of reading the story aloud.
Discussing vocabulary is an important linking stage between hearing
words and seeing them in their contexts before students have the
necessary reading skills to acquire vocabulary independently.

Teaching Vocabulary

Using the popular read-aloud Bear Snores On, [Karma Wilson, 2003] the
teacher presents new vocabulary by showing the cover. and asks "Who
is 'snoring'?"

While reading the story, teacher refers to the word snoring using
guiding questions: "Where is the bear snoring?" "Who comes into the
cave when bear is snoring?"

Building Emerging Literacy Skills

The look-read-say method (otherwise known as the whole word approach)
helps ELLs learn early decoding and early reading according to word
patterns which were previously introduced in the read-aloud. It is up
to the teacher to choose 4-6 target vocabulary that can be explicitly
taught from sound and meaning.

Stage 1: the teacher presents the word in a sentence strip.
Stage 2: The teacher says: "The word X sounds like Y."
Stage 3: ELLs hear the pattern.
Stage 4: Students say the word and spell out the word.
Predicting the contents of a read-aloud is an important pre-reading
technique. It should follow the vocabulary presentation stage. ELLs
with limited oral vocabulary can supply a few words. Later, they can
confirm their predictions in terms of plot, characters, and story
sequence. Modeling predictions provide discussions from which student
predictions play a crucial role.

Read-alouds represent an appropriate oral language program suitable
for the language learning development of early literacy and second
language learners. The read-aloud is not completely an oral
experience. Teachers should connect the oral experiences with early
reading components of early literacy

To receive your FREE EBook "Taking Control of the Classroom," please
visit the New Teacher Resource Center at
www.newteacherresou and sign up to be on the mailing
list. When you do, you'll also receive a FREE bimonthly Ezine
containing new, information and other teaching tips.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Zooprise Party/Fiesta Zoopresa by Rebekha and Joy Delgado

Zooprise Christmas Card

If you like Birthday parties or zoo animals, you'll enjoy this new book entitled, Zooprise Party/Fiesta Zoopresa. I am very happy to introduce authors Joy and Rebekha Delgado to my bloggers. They have written this wonderful bilingual (English and Spanish) picture book that every classroom would love to own. This is a charming story about exotic animals at the zoo planning a suprise party for Mori, the Okapi.

To compliment the book, Joy has created an activity book and a teacher's guide. The activity book is full of coloring pages, dot to dots, mazes, crossword puzzles, counting activities and even alphabet order exercises. The teachers guide has both pre and post reading discussion questions, arts and crafts ideas, games, and interesting facts about some exotic zoo animals.

Once you become a fan of this new book you can visit the Zooprise Party blog to find the latest zoo news, recipes, games and activities at : Get to know Zebee, the Laughing Zebra mascot. He is the blog's spokes-zebra. He will:

* keep you in the know about the happenings at the 'V Zoo'
* gather news about zoos from around the world and share the best with you
* present book reviews of some really great children books

This blog is a great resource for teachers and parents. It even has a recipe section.

Here is a Zooprise recipe for Birthday Carrot Cake

* 1 cup mayonaise
* 1 package yellow cake mix
* 4 eggs
* 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
* 2 cups finely grated carrots
Pick from the following to make your carrot cake special. Add one, two or all four!
* 1 cup raisins
* 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
* 2/3 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
* 1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained (leave out the water if you use this)
1. Beat mayonaise, cake mix, eggs, cinnamon and 1/4 cup water in a bowl.
2. Stir in carrots. Add any of the extra ingredients listed above at this time.
3. Pour mixture into greased 13"x9" pan.
4. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees, or until center of cake sprngs back or knife comes out clean from center of cake.
5. Cool and then frost the top.

Follow this link for an interactive Zooprise Party puzzle:

Thanks for visiting with us and learning about this exciting new resource for the classroom. Come back later this week to meet the authors and learn more.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008


IDEAS for using Environmental Print in your Classroom

· In morning routines, read around the room. Ask each child to find something they can read. Turn it into a game e.g. "I'm thinking of a letter that....."

· Find letters, sounds, blends, sight words, strings of letters, chunks of words, words inside words, logos, brand names, font types, colours, numbers, similes, homophones, diagraphs, explanations or answers to questions from posters and other displays in the room.

· As you teach a new strategy, create a symbol or sign that can be used later on in an independent activity e.g. cutting out (picture of scissors), retrieval chart (a picture of a grid), cloze activity (picture of a half finished sentence) etc. Put the taught strategies above the blackboard so students know where to look for them (adding an explanation under each symbol can also remind students what each of these strategies means).

· Make the displays interactive so students can use the information at their desks or in other ways that helps her/him complete the task at hand e.g. sight words or context-specific vocabulary from the unit being taught displayed on cards or collected in containers that can be used at the students' desks. These could also be used in word sorts or other independent activities.

· Weather stations to record the daily weather activities.

· Large Graphs of information - weather, tides, favorite foods, colors, sports played, tasks completed.

· Labeled boxes or work stations allow students to find and put away equipment.

· Create explanations of what the display is about and add these to the display (with the students).

· Contracts of activities can be displayed in work stations.

· Daily displays of interesting facts, tongue twisters, brain-teasers can make the classroom fun and interactive.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008



Most people can understand how physical activity can impact not only their child’s physical development but also his social/emotional development. But intellectual development? What could movement possibly have to do with learning? After all, schools – where most of the child’s learning is supposed to take place – are our prime promoters of inactivity. (“Sit still.” “Stop squirming.” “Don’t run.” “Stay in your seat.”) If movement were critical to learning, wouldn’t the schools be employing it?

Certainly, you’d think so. Those of us who’ve understood the connection between moving and learning for a very long time have been waiting just as long for the educational “revolution.” And yet, not only is movement in the classroom a rarity, but also physical education and recess are being eliminated as though they were completely irrelevant to children’s growth and development. Perhaps the revolution will only finally arrive when you, as a parent, become aware of movement’s role in cognitive development and learning and begin to insist the schools do what’s right for children and not merely what the policy makers think they should be doing.

As Einstein so succinctly pointed out, “Learning is experience. Everything else is just information.” Piaget, the noted child development specialist studied by future teachers, labeled this learning sensorimotor and determined it was the child’s earliest form of learning. Since then, brain research has proven them both right.

But the most recent brain research has done much more than that. It’s now understood that, because a child’s earliest learning is based on motor development, so too is much of the knowledge that follows. The cerebellum, the part of the brain previously associated with motor control only, is now known to be, as Eric Jensen, author of numerous books on brain-based learning, puts it, a “virtual switchboard of cognitive activity.” Study after study has demonstrated a connection between the cerebellum and such cognitive functions as memory, spatial orientation, attention, language, and decision making, among others.

Thanks to advances in brain research, we now know that most of the brain is activated during physical activity – much more so than when doing seatwork. In fact, according to Jensen, sitting for more than 10 minutes at a stretch “reduces our awareness of physical and emotional sensations and increases fatigue.” He tells us this results in reduced concentration and, most likely, discipline problems.

Movement, on the other hand, increases blood vessels that allow for the delivery of oxygen, water, and glucose (“brain food”) to the brain. And this can’t help but optimize the brain’s performance!

All of this, of course, contradicts the longstanding and much-loved belief that children learn best when they’re sitting still and listening and working quietly at their desks. It also helps us understand why

· one Canadian study showed academic scores went up when a third of the school day was devoted to physical education.

· a Canadian study demonstrated children participating in five hours of vigorous physical activity a week had stronger academic performance in math, English, natural sciences, and French than did children with only two hours of physical activity per week.

· a study of third-grade children participating in dance activities improved their reading skills by 13 percent over six months, while their peers, who were sedentary, showed a decrease of two percent.

· in France, children who spent eight hours a week in physical education demonstrated better academic performance, greater independence, and more maturity than students with only 40 minutes of PE a week.

· children who participate in daily physical education have been shown to perform better academically and to have a better attitude toward school.

· a study conducted by neurophysiologist Carla Hannaford determined that children who spent an extra hour a day exercising did better on exams than students who didn’t exercise.

· recent research demonstrates a direct link between fitness and intelligence, particularly in children under 16 and in the elderly.

It is a huge mistake to think the mind and body are separate entities. The truth is that the domains of child development – physical, social, emotional, and cognitive – simply do not mature separately from one another. There’s an overlap and interrelatedness among them. And children do not differentiate among thinking, feeling, and moving. Thus, when a child learns something related to one domain, it impacts the others.

Research shows that movement is the young child’s preferred mode of learning – because they best understand concepts when they’re physically experienced. For example, children need to get high and low, small and large, wide and narrow shapes to truly understand these quantitative concepts. They need to act out simple computation problems (demonstrating the nursery rhyme “Three Little Monkeys” to discover three minus one equals two) to comprehend subtraction. They have to take on the straight and curving lines of the letters of the alphabet to fully grasp the way in which the letters should be printed.

Writing in Early Childhood Exchange, developmental and environmental psychologist Anita Rui Olds says:

Until children have experiences orienting their bodies in space by going up, on, under, beside, inside, and in front of things, it is possible they will have difficulty dealing with letter identification and the orientation of symbols on a page. The only difference between a small “b” and a small “d,” for example, both of which are composed of a line and a circle, depends upon orientation, i.e., which side of the circle is the line on?

Eric Jensen labels this kind of hands-on learning implicit – like learning to ride a bike. At the opposite end of the spectrum is explicit learning – like being told the capital of Peru. He asks, if you hadn’t ridden a bike in five years, would you still be able to do it? And if you hadn’t heard the capital of Peru for five years, would you still remember what it was? Extrinsic learning may be quicker than learning through exploration and discovery, but the latter has greater meaning for children and stays with them longer. There are plenty of reasons for this, but one of them just may be that intrinsic learning creates more neural networks in the brain. And it’s more fun!

Carla Hannaford, in Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head, states, “We have spent years and resources struggling to teach people to learn, and yet the standardized achievement test scores go down and illiteracy rises. Could it be that one of the key elements we’ve been missing is simply movement?”

* * *

Rae Pica is the author of A Running Start (New York: Marlowe & Company, 2006). Rae has been a children’s physical activity specialist for 26 years and is the author of 15 other books, including the textbook Experiences in Movement (3rd edition) and the award-winning Great Games for Young Children. Rae is known throughout North America for her active and informative keynote and workshop presentations and has served as a consultant for many groups, including the Sesame Street Research Department, the Centers for Disease Control, Gymboree, and Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues. E-mail her at

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Great Rebus Story by Kathy Stemke


Rebus stories are great for emergent readers. The picture clues bring their frustration level down. This makes it more fun for them to read. Click on the left picture to enlarge and print. This is the story with the words and pictures together. Click on the right picture if you want the rebus without words. have fun!

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Saturday, December 6, 2008


****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************I'm very excited to announce that Action Alley Education is close to publishing, "Moving Through All Seven Days." This book inspires movement as children learn about the days of the week. The lyrical rhymes also teach them how to spell each day! The activities at the end of the book are designed to reinforce the concepts as well as give impetus to movement exploration.

The illustrations above are from the new book. Tony Glisson is the talented illustrator who cleverly depicts the fun we have moving through the days of the week.


Rae Pica has been a children’s physical activity specialist for 27 years. A former adjunct instructor with the University of New Hampshire, she is the author of 17 books, including the text Experiences in Movement, the award-winning Great Games for Young Children and Jump into Literacy, and A Running Start: How Play, Physical Activity, and Free Time Create a Successful Child, written for the parents of children birth to eight. Rae is known for her lively and informative workshop and keynote presentations and has shared her expertise with such groups as the Sesame Street Research Department, the Head Start Bureau, Centers for Disease Control, the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues, Gymboree, and state health departments throughout the country. Rae also served on the task force of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) that created national guidelines for early childhood physical activity. The following article gives 10 reasons why parents and teachers should incorporate movement into the learning process.

Check out her website at


Early childhood professionals know the many benefits of physical activity and play. They understand that young children are experiential learners, that they need to move, and they move to learn.
Today there is a clamor for more accountability and testing, although children have not changed. They still need to experience concepts using their whole bodies to understand the concepts completely, including literacy and language arts concepts.
Following are 10 reasons why you should use movement and active learning to promote emergent literacy.

1. Children learn best through active involvement. Prepositions, for example, are very much a part of physical experiences. As children move over, under, around, through, beside, and near objects (under the monkey bars, through the tunnel, over the balance beam), these words take on greater meaning and significance.

2. Spatial orientation is necessary for letter identification and the orientation of symbols on a page. The only difference between a small "d" and a small "b," for example, is the direction in which the curvy line faces at the bottom of the straight line. When children form the straight and curving lines of letters by using their bodies and body parts, rather than simply attempting to copy them from a chart on the wall, this experience enhances their sense of directionality and spatial orientation. When children move within a room or within a space from left-to-right or top-to-bottom, they become comfortable with these important directions.

3. Actively experiencing the rhythm of words and sentences helps children find the rhythm necessary for reading and writing. Whether children are clapping or tapping out the beat of a fingerplay or moving to the cadence of a poem, they hear and feel the rhythm of words.

4. When children demonstrate the meaning of words physically, their understanding of the words is immediate and long-lasting. For instance, when children depict such action words as stomp, pounce, stalk, or slither—or such descriptive words as smooth, strong, gentle, or enormous —the words have much more relevance than they would as part of a vocabulary or spelling list.

5. Adverbs and adjectives become much more than abstract concepts. When children perform a "slow walk" or "skip lightly," they learn the meaning in both their bodies and their minds.

6. Playing together provides opportunities for children to speak and listen to one another! When children invent games and rules for games, they are using and expanding their vocabularies and learning important lessons in communication. Talking about experiences, depicting them through actions, and then discussing the actions contribute to language development by requiring children to make essential connections among their cognitive, social/emotional, and physical domains. We know that when young children learn something in one domain, it has a positive impact on the others.

7. Stringing actions together to form sequences is similar to linking words to form sentences (and eventually paragraphs). In other words, whether children are making up their own dances or stories, they must choose components that flow naturally. Both require breathing room (a pause in the action, or a comma) and, finally, an ending (a full stop, or a period).

8. When children act out the words of a poem, the plot of a story, or the lyrics of a song, they must ponder the meanings of the words. And because those words are important to them--and such activities are fun--the poems, stories, and songs take on greater relevance. The children are also using multiple senses, which means more is learned and retained.

9. Movement activities provide opportunities to cross the body's midline. Doing so requires the left and right hemispheres of the brain to communicate across the corpus callosum. This integration of the brain's hemispheres is essential to the ability to read and write.

10. Confucius said it best: "What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I know." When young children experience emergent literacy concepts with their bodies, they are moving in leaps and bounds toward becoming capable listeners, speakers, readers, and writers!

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Thanks for coming back to answer a few questions for my bloggers. Your books are so descriptive and exciting.

Kathy: Lillian,is it true that your first book was a non-fiction book? Tell us a little bit about background and how you became a children's book author.

Lillian:In 1992, I wrote a non-fiction book about handling teenage behavior, "Teenagers! A Bewildered Parent's Guide." The book was quite successful. My editor told me I told great stories and I should consider writing for a young adult or tween audience. I wrote another book, "Sacred Honor," that targeted the young adult market. That book too, a historical science fiction, was also quite successful. After that second book, I recognized that my strengths in writing focused on teenagers and tweens. Since then, I've concentrated my writing on targeting tweens and teenagers.

Kathy: What do you enjoy most about writing for children?

Lillian: Their sense of wonder, their ambivelance to the world and each other, and their wisdom. The clue is to listen to what they're saying, and not interpret their thoughts. I remember my own childhood still, and this makes it easier for me to relate to children as I write their stories.

Kathy: What is the most difficult part of writing for children?

Lillian: Keeping them focused on the written page. Children today are of the "instant gratification" stage and wants to be "entertained" all the time. An author must blend in humor, challenge, and a believable storyline to hold children's attention. Otherwise, the book goes unread.

Kathy: Tell us about the marketing process for authors. What do you do to market and sell your books?


*Word of mouth helps.

*Have a book-party in your home inviting friends, relatives, and the media.

*Tie your book to a current event, a happening politically, economically, and kid-wise. For example, The President Elect is the first African American in U.S. history to take office. The Anna Mae Mysteries: The Golden Treasure: Anna Mae and Malcolm Botts, the first African American sneaker-toed sleuths to solve the mystery of Jefferson Davis lost gold. Take advantage of what's happening around you.

*Read your book in a serial fashion, and post it on your website.

*Get on Internet and regular radio.

*Send out your books for reviews.

*Target your local library and schools. An author can't be shy when marketing and promoting their book. Authors are up against the competition. They must make themselves heard and seen.

Kathy: Do you have a website? If so, please give the URL. If not, where can listeners go online to learn more about your book(s) and to order?

Lillian: Two websites are available for listeners:

The Anna Mae Mysteries: The Golden Treasure is already posted on

Additional bookstores should be carrying it within the next two weeks, or they can buy directly from Star Publish LLC at

Kathy: What are you working on now?

Lillian: I'm working on the second book of the series: The Anna May Mysters: King Solomon's Ark, The Black Hat Society, and After. All books for the young adult.

Kathy: What is your best tip for an aspiring children's author?

Lillian: Know your subject matter. Remember what it was like when you were a child, pre-teen or teenager. Human nature doesn't change, just the environment and the social culture.

Thanks again for coming and sharing your knowledge and expertise in the children's book market. We're looking forward to the next book in this exciting Anna Mae Mysteries series.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008



This week I'm hosting an extremely talented and interesting author. Lillian Cauldwell is an author of many articles, short stories and poems. She has a published novel, Sacred Honor, a science fiction/historical novel, and will soon release The Anna Mae Mysteries, the first in a series of books for young people. She also has POETRY: Urban Voices under consideration with a publisher.

Lillian was formerly an instructor at Long Story Short School of Writing teaching several courses: Interviewing, Pre-Marketing Plan for Books, Internet Talk Radio, and Podcasting as well as a consultant for authors who require help marketing and promoting their book(s) and selves. She mentors teenagers interested in writing their first novels.

After working for two years as an Internet talk radio host at two different radio stations, Lillian started her own station, Passionate Internet Voices Talk Radio, Inc. The Company is two and a half years old and is ranked as a mid-list Internet talk radio station.

Lillian is a board member for ICWP and a member of CBWI, The Writer's Union, and Women in Media.

She enjoys her status of grandmother to identical twin granddaughters, her son, a graphic artist nominated for The Eisner Award two years ago for his original comic book, The Dare Detectives. Lillian lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan where she loves to bake, lift weights, walk, and do worldwide community work. She is an avid advocate of the US Military and her support has been acknowledged by President George W. Bush.


"The Anna Mae Mysteries: The Golden Treasure" is about three 'tween sneaker-toed sleuths who find Jefferson Davis' lost gold with help from a disembodied Black fist and divining rods. I got the idea when I started asking teachers and librarians for 'tweens and teenagers what this age group needed to read about. History was the first answer I received. The second most popular answer was a book that makes kids think. After thinking about those answers, I knew I needed to write a book that was entertaining, provacative, mysterious, and full of common sense thinking that all kids need to learn and use throughout their life.


Thunder rumbled in the distance. Heat lightening crackled. I wanted to jump up
into the air, but my feet refused to move. Raul Garcia, my best friend from sixth grade, dragged me forward into the schoolyard. My eight-year-old brother Malcolm trudged beside me. None of us wanted school to start yet. I noticed that Raul's normal smile drooped a bit too.

"It won't be so bad this year," Raul said. "I won't let Pit Bull hurt you. You'll see.
I'm stronger and bigger."

"Yeah, right," I said.

I peered down at my new pink sneakers with red shoelaces. Dust and dirt clung to the white rubber edges. I loitered in the yard, wishing school was over and we were on our way home. A thin, whistling wind blew across my cheeks, cooling them from the last oppressive heat of summer.

"Anna Mae, look out!"


Two websites are available for listeners:
The Anna Mae Mysteries: The Golden Treasure is already posted on
Additional bookstores should be carrying it within the next two weeks, or they can buy directly from Star Publish LLC at

Come back later this week to find out more about this author and her exciting new book entitled, "The Anna Mae Mysteries: The Golden Treasure."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Learn about the Tiger Beetle!

*************************Make a Tiger Beetle!

1. Paint one section of a paper egg carton.
2. Poke three holes on each side of the body.
3. Place three pipe cleaners through the holes to make legs.
4. Glue beans, buttons, or small rocks on for eyes.
5. Glue yarn or a small twig for a mouth.

Imagine yourself relaxing in the glistening hot sun on a beach in South Africa, when suddenly you feel the painful pinch of an insect bite. Looking down you see a ferocious, 2 inch metallic bronze beetle with bulging eyes, a hairy face, long skinny legs, and a huge protruding hook-like jaw. You have just been introduced to the tiger beetle. But don’t step on it, because it is on the endangered species list in many places.

The tiger beetle got its name due to the brutal way it catches and consumes its prey. He is a fluid feeder, who uses pre-oral digestion. When he clutches and crushes an insect in its powerful mandibles, digestive juices are secreted onto the prey. While squeezing, he sucks in the partially digested meal. He has excellent eyesight and is a fast and agile flyer. He sometimes catches his victim in mid air. He has been recorded running at 2 feet per second. The caterpillar-like larva, just as fierce, lays in wait near the entrance of its burrow and snatches helpless insects dragging them to the bottom for consumption.

The male approaches the female in a series of sprints, then jumps on her back and clasps her thorax with his mighty mandibles. He’s the jealous type and may guard his female for up to 12 hours after copulation to stop other males from mating with her. Females lay their eggs in small holes in the dirt. During metamorphosis the egg changes into a worm-like larva, which constructs a vertical tube several feet deep. The larva consumes any insect that crosses its path for up to 2 years. After moving through the pupa stage, the adult beetle emerges in summer.

The 2,000 species of tiger beetles (Cinindelidae) come in almost any color ranging from the bright red daytime active bugs to the jet-black nocturnal creatures. Many of them sport an iridescent or metallic body with armor-like wings. The “plain Jane” species looks eerily like a common beetle with a grayish brown body and white spots on its wings.

A tiger beetle’s lifestyle is regulated by temperature, humidity, light intensity, and wind. They remain inactive on cool cloudy days. They prefer hot sunny days on the sandy shores of a tropical ocean, or wooded rivers and streams. In fact, they live just about everywhere in the world except on some remote islands, Antarctica and Tasmania.

The Tiger Beetle has many enemies. Beetles are a main staple in the diet of many species of birds. Larger insects like dragonflies often munch on the crunchy beetle. Amphibians and reptiles have also been known to feed on these beetles. Surprisingly, even mammals like badger, fox, moles, mice, opossum, raccoon, skunk, and squirrel consider tiger beetles a tasty delicacy. Of course, humans too have developed insecticides to kill insects like the tiger beetle. So, how can a poor bug survive? When in pursuit, the beetle runs in a zigzag pattern, and gives off an unpleasant smell. Adult tiger beetles also exude a foul smelling, brownish liquid when captured, which has corrosive properties. They have been seen crawling into crevices to escape from danger.

Tiger beetles, which live on beaches, are under great pressure from development and recreation. Remember that the beach you are on may be some creature's living room--tread softly and treat it with respect.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Moving Through All Seven Days" by Kathy Ann Stemke

I'm very excited to announce that Action Alley Education is close to publishing, "Moving Through All Seven Days." This book inspires movement as children learn about the days of the week. The lyrical rhymes also teach them how to spell each day! The activities at the end of the book are designed to reinforce the concepts as well as give impetus to movement exploration.

The illustration above is from the new book. Tony Glisson is the talented illustrator who cleverly depicts the fun we have on Tuesday.

The following rhyme which takes you through one day is designed to encourage movement while children learn the concept of A.M., P.M., and time. It's entitled, "Move Through One Day."

6 A.M. I roll out of bed.

7 A.M. I am always fed.

8 A.M. I wash my own face.

9 A.M. I run in a race.

10 A.M. I go out to play.

11 A.M. I gallop away.

12 A.M. I make my own lunch.

1 P.M. I eat a whole bunch.

2 P.M. I clean with my Mom.

3 P.M. I run with friend, Tom.

4 P.M. I hit a home run.

5 P.M. I laugh and have fun.

6 P.M. I sit and I cook.

7 P.M. I read a good book.

8 P.M. I am fast asleep.

9 P.M. I dream really deep.

Set boundaries in your classroom, use the bubble principle, and let the children have fun acting out this perfect day. To prevent contact between children, tell each child that they are in a bubble. If anyone gets too close the bubble will burst.

You can also use this rhyme as a book or a class project. Have the children draw illustrations and a clock for each time. Put it on the bulletin board or bind it into a book.

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Monday, November 24, 2008


“We’re Riding on a Caravan” by Laurie Krebs is an exciting and informative adventure on the Silk Road. Children will be mesmerized by the colorful illustrations, which are truly works of art. They will experience the sights, sounds and smells of the exotic cities found along this historic trade route. Teachers will enjoy the map and rich endnotes of the history of silk and the cities along the route. This is a book that children will want to read over and over again!

Kathy Stemke

This book is available through Barefoot Books. This company specializes in interactive, playful and beautiful books which combine the best of the past with the best of the present to educate children as the caretakers of tomorrow. Just click on the link on the right for a 10% discount.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

An Interview: the Characters in "Bubba and Giganto!"

I've been priviledged to host author Lea Schizas this week for the Virtual Book Tour. The last time we talked she promised to bring her characters in for an interview.

I'd like to introduce you to Bubba, a great kid who has had to adjust to several schools, try to keep out of trouble and make new friends.

1. Bubba, do you like your name and if not what would you change it to?

Bubba: My name has been an embarrassment all my life. Now seriously, what were my parents thinking? Every time my dad uproots us to a new place, I hate going to school cuz I know the stares, giggles, and ridicule are just around the corner. A normal name, like Bruce, Brendan, Bobby…anything would have been better. The only person who thought it was kinda neat was Giganto.

And this is your friend, Giganto, who liked your interesting name. Welcome To my blog Giganto.

2. Giganto, do you like Bubba and if so why?

Giganto: Bubba’s nice. Took time to practice soccer with me, unlike some other kids who took extra time to make sure I knew I was overweight. But, what can you say? There’s a balance of good and bad I guess. Just wish the bad were less.

3. Bubba, other than soccer what is your favorite pastime?

Bubba: Wow, soccer’s like my life but I guess, and this is thanks to Giganto, I love to read more. Never was much into books and studying until the big dude opened my eyes and helped me realize that without an effort on my part, I’d end up hashing burgers the rest of my life.

4. Giganto, what’s your least favorite pastime?

Giganto: Eating. I know that sounds odd because of my weight, but eating at my house was always a ‘big’ thing, you’d think we were Italians the way my mom added plate after plate of various dishes to each meal. Love mom but to be totally honest, she really didn’t help my situation any.

I'd also like to introduce Jason, a talented and popular boy at school. Welcome Jason.

5. Jason, why are you such a bully?

Jason: I never really thought of myself as a bully. I mean, hey, we’re teens, making fun is just part of growing up, no? Giganto was cool with it until Bubba came to school. Besides, I never hit or pushed David. Names, yeah, but never hit him. So if that’s bullying…what do you want me to say?

Well, thank you for your honesty. I know you all learned from each other. I hope you'll come back again and chat with me boys.

Lea, I know you're proud of these boys. Thanks for bringing them along. I have one final question for you.

6. Lea, what’s your most memorable time as a writer?

Lea: Creating characters that readers can relate to. Everyone has a dilemma, an emotion, a place they want to escape to so as a writer if I can give them this small escapade out of their own daily life’s routine then I know I’ve done my job.

I certainly loved meeting these boys and learning from their experiences. Thank you for coming. I know that kids of all ages will love this book. Many of them have found themselves on one side or other of this bullying issue. If you know someone struggling with this issue, this book will help them sort through their emotions and may even lead them to improve their actions or reactions.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008



This is a great way to introduce the paragraph and topic sentence. Write a paragraph that doesn't have a topic sentence and have the child guess the topic.

Example: You write with them. Sometimes they have erasers on the end. You can get them in different colors. When they guess pencils, ask them if it would have been easier to start the paragraph with , "I love pencils?"


Understanding the main idea of a paragragh can be tough for beginning readers. Here's an exercise you can do to help them see the forest through the trees.

Write each topic sentence on a separate index card.

Topic: Dogs are loyal animals.
Topic: I love the summer.
Topic: Chocolate isn't good for you.

Write each detail on a separate index card.

Detail: They are always waiting for their owners to come home.
Detail: They want to sit with you.
Detail: There are a lot of fun things to do, like swimming and eating hamburgers.
Detail: We go on vacation.
Detail: Everytime I eat it, I get a stomach ache.
Detail: It's not good for my teeth.

Mix them all up, turn them face up, and match up a topic with two details.

You can have your child make a book with illustrations using one topic and two details.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Author Lea Schizas Part II

Hi Kathy, and thank you for hosting me this week. One of my inspirations to write Bubba and Giganto: Odds Against Us was my children. While in elementary school, they had encountered various forms of bullying:

Name calling
Friends shunning them in fear of bullies
Personal property stolen or vandalized

We’re talking elementary students here, kindergarten to grade six. It’s appalling what you hear. Where does this stem from? Video games? Improper upbringing? Not knowing how to deal with frustration so they pick on other children?

This got me thinking how I can demonstrate and offer one solution to deal with bullying, so I incorporated soccer into the book. Girls and boys play the sport in Canada and it offers a teaching of team unity/sportsmanship. I now had my means for intervention to get frustration out but in a monitored setting.

Next obstacle: who would my characters be?

I didn’t want the usual good/bad guy personaes. Each had to have a purpose so without giving anything away, I’ll break down the who and whys for each:

Bubba: the first person POV throughout the book. Although Bubba is a tough guy and doesn’t stand for bullying, I gave him the name ‘Bubba’ to show that even kids who have self-esteem, can stand up for themselves, have their own things to deal with. In his case the embarrassment of being named Bubba.

David, aka Giganto: Giganto is a kind, loving, and giving student. Because of his weight and the fact he wants to join the school’s soccer team, he is ridiculed and called names. Because of his soft-spoken manner, many believe he’s mentally challenged in some ways. In fact, Giganto is in the Mensa elite, but never shows off, and sticks to his own corner. Inside, he carries this need to befriend someone so when Bubba gives him the time of day he latches on. The danger in his need to ‘fit in’ means he holds back, hides a fact about him to Bubba that places his life in danger finally.

Johnny: Johnny is the typical kid who likes the leader of a group and stays friends even though he’s partial to the other friends. He joins their three-on-three soccer scrimmage for his own personal needs to show-off, yet along the way he realizes there’s more to Giganto and clearly understands why Bubba likes being around him.

The bullies: typical bullies who like to pick on others for their own self-gratification. However, I gave the leader of this ‘bad tag team’ a reason to explain his actions. I can’t reveal what they are but suffice to say they play a big role all the way through. Bullies don't just bully without having a reason behind it. May stem from family situations (abuse, older siblings picking on them) and they take it out on other kids.

Besides bullying, there had to be another connecting factor associated with teens and their indifference to a life-threatening situation. The health issue I chose is one my son experienced. Once again I can’t reveal it or else it will spoil the mystery in the book. But it’s an important enough health issue to connect and show children the risks they take if they don’t take care of themselves.

Kathy, if you don’t mind, I’d love to bring my characters later this week to answer some of your interview questions. They’ve been bugging me for some spotlight time and I’ve…well…couldn’t say no to these guys.

Bubba & Giganto:Odds Against Us
Lea Schizas

4RV Publishing LLC
PO Box 6482
Edmond, OK 73083-6482
ISBN: 978-0-9797513-6-3

Available at:
4RV Publishing
Barnes & Noble
The Reading Warehouse

E-Mail Author :

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Author Lea Schizas is the founder of The MuseItUp Club, an online critique community, the Muse Online Writers Conference, and co-founder of Apollo’s Lyre. Each of these venues has consistently been in Writer’s Digest 100 Top Writing Sites since 2005.

Bubba & Giganto:Odds Against Us
Lea Schizas

Synopsis of Book

Bubba hates it when his dad gets a contract for a new project. That means uprooting the family from one city and moving to another. Attending a new school is a major pet peeve of his. His smart alecky nature attracts the bullies in every school he’s attended.

On the first day of school, Bubba bumps into this rather large student. Fearing a confrontation, he wears his tough guy attitude and waits for the punches to begin. Remarkably, the new student apologizes, and Bubba and David (aka Giganto as Bubba eventually nicknames him) become best friends.

Bubba and Giganto try out for the high school soccer team, and that’s when trouble begins. Bubba knew eventually he’d meet the bullies of the school, and he was right.

In the first initial weeks, Bubba learns about a death that occurred the previous year; faces the bullies on several occasions; helps Giganto practice soccer before tryouts; and challenges the bullies to a scrimmage.

Little does Bubba know Giganto holds a secret - one that will place Giganto in a deadly situation.

Reviewed by Beverly Stowe McClure

Lea Schizas has written another page turner. Once I started reading about Bubba and David, AKA Giganto, I couldn’t stop. Before I knew it I’d read the whole story. I’m so glad I did.

Bubba (yes, Bubba, not Bobby or Brendan) Jacobson, tough guy, smart mouth, sensitive heart, and David (Giganto) Montana, nice guy, picked on by bullies, big and clumsy, are the least likely of friends. But when they meet on the first day of ninth grade a remarkable friendship is formed.

This is Bubba’s first year at Pierson High, and he’s delighted to discover they have a soccer team. Questions arise, however, when Bubba and David try out for the team. Why does Mr. Ambrose, the gym teacher, tell Bubba not to push David (Giganto) into something he doesn’t want to do? What is the secret about the boy who died during a soccer scrimmage the previous year? Is David (Giganto) connected to the tragedy? And why is Jason, all-star athlete with an attitude, so determined David doesn’t make the team?

Ms. Schizas is a master at surprise endings. Just when you think you know all the answers, she changes the questions with an unexpected twist or two. I never saw this one coming.

Themes of bullies, soccer, friendship, and forgiveness are woven through this short story, making it one boys can relate to and will enjoy reading. I recommend it for reluctant readers, children who perhaps are facing their own bullies, and also for sports lovers and everyone who enjoys a fast-paced book with continuous action.

Bubba & Giganto:Odds Against Us
Lea Schizas

4RV Publishing LLC
PO Box 6482
Edmond, OK 73083-6482
ISBN: 978-0-9797513-6-3

Available at:
4RV Publishing
Barnes & Noble
The Reading Warehouse

E-Mail Author :

Friday, November 14, 2008


VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR (Held on the first and third weeks of each month)

KAREN CIOFFI is the founder and moderator of this exciting book tour! She was fortunate to be able to participate in The Muse Online Conference in mid October. One of the workshops she took was Denise Cassino’s Book Marketing. Denise suggested that the attendees do virtual book tours for each other. Karen decided to create an organized group of authors that would advertise each others books, and do interviews to learn about the authors biographies, motivations, and writing secrets. She would like to see the group steadily grow and become a never-ending marketing tool. I have the distinct honor this first week of the tour of presenting Karen's first children's picture book on my blog.



Day’s End Lullaby is a tender and charming illustrated children’s book. From a reminder that the sun has set and all beloved toys are awaiting tomorrow’s play, Day’s End Lullaby soothes and quiets even those children who struggle against sleep. The authors’ artistry found in their understanding of the sense of security needed by children at bedtime.

“Your day’s been long and full of fun. But, now you’re much too tired to run,” sings the parent to the child in the lullaby. Day’s End Lullaby has lyrical and rhyming phrases along with a rhythmic flow.

Author Cioffi composed the poem and music over 30 years ago to help her first born fall asleep and then again for her second child. She saw positive results in singing it and now she sings it to her two-year-old grandson. She reassures him, “The sun has set, it’s out of view. The moon’s now shining bright for you.”

Authors Cioffi and Feltman wrote and illustrated Day’s End Lullaby as a loving book to comfort little ones and provide a sense of security at bedtime. The simple and colorful illustrations are intended to hold the child’s attention while the parent’s soothing voice helps the child gently drift off into a peaceful slumber.

This book is an appealing addition to any collection of bedtime stories for preschoolers. Colorful and attractive illustrations pair beautifully with the rhyming text. Day's End Lullaby provides the reassuring tone young children will love as part of their bedtime routine.


Karen Cioffi and Robyn Felman are advocates of education, reading and the environment. Two of their favorite sayings are:
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained”
“You must be the change you want to see in the world”

Karen Cioffi is an author and freelance writer. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Children’s Writing Coaching Club, Writer’s Digest and Writer’s Market. She is also a member of several other writing groups. Author Cioffi lives with her husband, Donald, in New York City.

Robyn Feltman holds a master’s degree in Children’s Literature and is an elementary public school teacher. She is an initiator of environmental and humanitarian projects in her school; one of the projects is the Ambassador Program. Author Feltman lives in New York City and is also currently working toward her Administration/Supervision degree.


1. What do you enjoy most about writing for children?

Children are such a joy and source of inspiration. My co-author, who happens to be my daughter, and I are both advocates of education and reading. Reading opens new worlds to children. It can enlighten them, it can open their imagination and it can teach them. Being a part of that is just a wonderful feeling.

2. How did you come up with the idea for the book?

I wrote the lullaby to the story over 30 years ago. My firstborn didn’t like sleeping. I sang it to her as I paced the hallway carrying her in my arms to get her to sleep and again when she’d wake in the middle of the night. I did the same thing with my second daughter and it became a family lullaby. Now my family sings it to my grandson and we will also sing it to my grandson due mid November. How it became a book is, after my first grandson came my daughter and co-author, Robyn, thought it would make a great bedtime story and here we are.


This book is an appealing addition to any collection of bedtime stories for preschoolers. Colorful and attractive illustrations pair beautifully with the rhyming text. Day's End Lullaby provides the reassuring tone young children will love as part of their bedtime routine.

Kathleen Cavanagh
Librarian, Old South School
Ozone Park, New York


Publisher: BookSurge
ISBN 13: 9781419691577
ISBN 1-4196-9157-0
Copyright © 2008 Karen Cioffi and Robyn Feltman

Soft cover
28 pages

Day’s End Lullaby is available for sale at Amazon:
BookSurge, Alibris and Abebooks. It is also available through additional wholesale and retail channels worldwide such as Books in Print, Global Books in Print and Baker and Taylor.

For more information please visit the authors at:


Monday, November 10, 2008


CIRCLE SONG (tune: “If Your Happy and You Know It”

A circle is a shape that goes round. (clap, clap)
A circle is a shape that goes round. (clap, clap)
A circle is a shape
That goes round and round and round.
A circle is a shape that goes round. (clap, clap)

Tiptoe slowly on the circle and go round (clap, clap)
Tiptoe slowly on the circle and go round. (clap,clap)
Tiptoe slowly on the circle,
And go round and round and round.
Tiptoe slowly on the circle and go round. (clap,clap)


Sonny square is my name.
My four sides are the same.

Slide around me, I don’t care.
Slide around me, I’m Sonny square.

Each angle is the same.
Equal angles are my game.


I’m Timmy triangle.
Come on gang, look at me.
Count my sides, one, two, three.

Hop on one foot, on all three.
Hop the triangle with me.

Add my angles, it’s a breeze.
One hundred eighty degrees.


Ricky rectangle is my name.
My four sides are never the same.

Two are short, and two are long.
Jump my sides, come right along.

One and two and three and four.
Jump around and jump some more.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008


Just click on this image to enlarge it. Print it out and use it to practice your sh,th,ch,br,and gr blends.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Just click on the picture to enlarge it. Print and make copies for your classroom.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Book Reviews for Preschool and Middle School


“Zooprise Party/Fiesta Zoopresa” is a charming biligual (English/Spanish) story that will introduce children to some unusual animals at the zoo. They will learn that friends come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds. Author Rebekha Delgado and illustrator Joy Delgado go a step further to help you teach your children when they offer a wonderful activity book and a priceless teacher’s guide. The guide has reading discussions, art ,games, and information about the many unusual animals found in the story. No preschool or elementary classroom should be without this heartwarming book! To purchase click on the Laughing Zebra Books link in the right side bar.


The author, Lea Schizas, really captured the heart of high school boys in her book, “Bubba and Giganto:Agaist All Odds.” Through her "hip" dialog I could understand their fears and hopes to fit in. Because bullying is such a big problem in schools, it's important that through this book kids can start to understand some of the root causes. More importantly, it gives them alternative ways to fight back, not with their fists but with athletic challenges and with their words. Kids in school often have to make choices whether to bully, support the actions of a bully, or stand up against a bully. This book will give more kids the courage they need to stand up against bullying or better yet to reach out to the bully to help him understand his motives.

I loved the suspense the author created as we slowly learned the facts about the asthma death. The story is rich with interesting scenes in school and on the soccer field. It was heartwarming to experience these believable characters as they learned valuable lessons through their experiences and were truly transformed. This chapter book is highly recommended for grades 6 – 8. To order click on the Lea Schizas link in the right side bar.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Click on the picture above to enlarge. You can print, laminate and cut out this activity for your use.

1. Make two piles of words. (One for objects and one for animals)

Objects like: horn, ball, hat, pen, tree
Animals like: cat, dog, snake, bug, bird

2. Have the children pick one word from each pile, and put them together to make a silly compound word. For instance, hornsnake, ballcat, treedog, penbug, hatbird

3. Draw a picture of your silly compound word.

1. Separate two compound words, and switch them around to make a new compound word.

handbag and foothill make two new silly words- handhill and footbag
catfish and butterfly make two new silly words- catfly and fishbutter
crabgrass and crossroad make two new silly words- crabroad and crossgrass
wheelchair and beeline make two new silly words- wheelline and beechair
cottonwood and pancake make two new silly words- cottoncake and woodpan
sunflower and armpit make two new silly words- sunpit and flowerarm

2. Draw pictures of your new silly words and have fun!
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Thursday, October 30, 2008


I'm very excited to be part of a virtual book tour which is slated to launch this November. Each week I'll be featuring a different author. You can add comments or questions that I can ask the author. I will interview these authors and get insights into their lives and their writing. Some of them might be authors that you have read or are using in your classroom already, while others are exciting new authors entering the book world. I am one of the latter. I have just signed a contract for my first children's book entitled, "Trouble on Earth Day." This book about a squirrel named Shelby and her family is a great way to introduce your children to conservation and recycling. After finding things around the house to recycle, Shelby hears someone crying outside her home. Without giving too much away, I can tell you that she helps another animal through a crisis using her recycled materials. Then all is well in the forest again! This book will come with several activity pages for children, parents and teachers to enjoy. I will be interviewed on other authors sites as well.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Prefix and Suffix Activities!

To make a prefix wheel just click on the pictures to enlarge and print. You can change the words or the prefix as desired. Other re words: reapply, recheck, recopy, redry, refry, reglue, regrow, relearn, reload, reread, remix, rename, repaint, repay, retape, retest.

When introducing a new prefix or suffix, draw an elephant on the board and write prefixes on the raised trunk and suffixes on the tail. In the center, on the elephant’s body attach a series of base words. Explore which prefixes or suffixes make a new word. Make some practice cards for the kids to use at a center. Make some with prefixes, some root words, and some suffixes. Let the children mix and match to come up with a list of new words. The kids can make an elephant; write their new word on an elephant, and the meaning on the back. If their word doesn't have a prefix or suffix, they can cut off the trunk or the tail. They love that part!

Have the students find and circle prefixes or suffixes in simple stories they read in reading class. Also explain a lot about the root words and some different prefixes and suffixes you can use with them.

Here are some great websites with more good Ideas!

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Friday, October 24, 2008


Consonant Blend Action Rhyme and activities!

Consonant blends are fun to do.
Read them all with me, won’t you?

Float and flutter in the sun.
Twist and twirl and have some fun.

Dribble and drive down the street.
Crawl and crouch on your own feet.

Swing and swim on the big lake.
Prance on in and bake a cake.

Try to fly up in the sky.
Fry some eggs and ask me why.

Consonant blends can really rock.
Practice them around the clock!


1. Have fun reciting this rhyme.
2. Create actions for this rhyme and perform it together as a class.
3. Let the children do a movement exploration activity with this rhyme.
4. Have the children circle all the consonant blends that they can find in the rhyme.
5. Create a book by drawing pictures for each line of this rhyme.

Consonant Blend Musical Chairs

Set chairs up in alternating directions, and put a consonant blend card on each one. Either use lively music or recite the above poem as the children march around the chairs. When the music stops everyone sits in a chair and comes up with a word that starts with the consonant blend on their card. If they can’t, they are out of the game. The last one left is the winner.
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Earth Day Activities II

Recycle toilet paper rolls to make napkin rings

1. Cut each roll in half.
2. Paint the ring.
3. Wrap 13 feet of thin ribbon around the ring and glue the ends.
4. Tie a large bow on the front.
5. Place a napkin in your new napkin holder.

Recycle cardboard and gift wrap to make a bookmark

1. Cut a cardboard rectangle 2 ½” by 7”.
2. Wrap it up like a gift.
3. Cut a 1” by 4” piece of construction paper.
4. Put each child’s name on the paper.
5. Glue it to the center of the bookmark.

Recycle short pieces of crayon

1. Put shavings of old crayons in a cookie mold.
2. Add several colors together.
3. Heat and let them melt together.
4. When cool, draw and see the interesting effects that you can make.

Pebble jar vase

1. Clean a large pickle jar. (4 ½” diameter)
2. Glue a 2” to 2 ½” jelly jar inside the pickle jar.
3. Place small rocks or pebbles between the two jars.
4. Tie raffia around the rim of the pickle jar.
5. Fill with dried flowers.

Make a pinecone birdfeeder

1. Tie some string around a large open pinecone
2. Spread peanut butter all over the cone.
3. Roll the cone in oatmeal, nuts, or birdseed.
4. Hang it from a tree and watch the birds feed.

Make a litterbug

1. Paint one section of a paper egg carton.
2. Poke three holes on each side of the body.
3. Place three pipe cleaners through the holes to make legs.
4. Glue beans, buttons, or small rocks on for eyes.
5. Glue yarn or a small twig for a mouth.

Recycle ice cream containers to make blocks

1. Wash them out.
2. Glue the lids on.
3. Paint them.
4. Have fun building things.

Recycle old nylons to make sachels

1. Cut a 4” section.
2. Tie one end with a ribbon.
3. Stuff with poppori.
4. Tie off the other end.
5. Hang them in closets.

Recycle old CD’s to make ornaments

1. Spray glitter on the CD.
2. Tie a ribbon through the hole to hang.
3. Take a picture of each child.
4. Cut the edges with pinking shears.
5. Glue the child’s picture in the center of the CD.

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