A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin

13642600“A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin” by Jen Bryant is a beautiful story about Horace Pippin, a self-taught African American painter, who from an early age drew and held on to his art despite numerous life obstacles. This is a perfect read aloud for elementary grades. I had many, many students, who made amazing drawings on every test, assignment and spelling practice; that never got them into trouble :). This is a perfect read to teach biography genre, reading comprehension skills, American history, character analysis, content specific vocabulary, etc.

An absolute gem.

“A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin” Lesson Plan- click here

Happy Reading!

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

Summer Enrichment; Reads, Coding & Apps

Summer doesn’t have to have a backward slide if kids keep their minds active. Learning new and different stuff will increase their academics upon return to school. The stressful tests are over, there is no more mandatory curriculum. Just summer, kids and parents.

Summer Books:

bird_lake_moon“Bird Lake Moon” – by Henkes




Unknown“Olive’s Ocean” – by Henkes – Newbery Award Winner of 2004




Turtle_in_paradise“Turtle in Paradise” – by Holm

“Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer” – by Megan McDonald



Learning Computer Programming This Summer – for all ages
Logo Playground


Super fun and engaging way to learn programming. Suitable for all ages.




Learning while having fun… Apps

teachme3rdTeachMe:3rd Grade – by 24×7 digital LLC

This app for 3rd graders is ideal during and after the school year. Kids practice spelling, sight words, multiplication, division, fast multiplication and division; earning points and prizes.
What I find the best about this app is the writing part, which kids find a bit frustrating but they all work at it. They start paying attention to their penmanship, which in third grade is still in beginning stages with most students. Summer is a perfect time for the review and this app has all the foundation that they will need in 4th grade. TeachMe: 3rd Grade app does a great job getting kids to mastery of content through a fun and captivating way.
TeachMe: 3rd Grade doesn’t feel like work. You will know that kids really like it, when they repeatedly ask to play it.

Best Picture Books – Primary Classroom

1st grade super readsFirst Grade – First Rate Picture Books

Teaching with picture books in primary grades is one of the most enjoyable ways to teach reading, writing, character building, problem solving, while getting to know your little guys. Here are some of our favorites!





Unknown1. Penny and Her Marble – by Kevin Henkes

Everyone loves Penny. She has a real moral dilemma in this story. Should she do the right thing or not? Along with standard main idea, story sequencing, writing activity, and predicting, students debate the right and wrong of the story conflict.



511qt3k12aL2. What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick

This book is a best seller and a perfect read throughout the year. The story takes kids through a series of scenarios and discusses consequences of our actions. Students in primary grades are keen observers of their surrounding and are ready to analyze cause and effect in fiction and their own life. After reading “What If Everybody Did That?” students are able to gain better understanding of rules that seemed unreasonable or needless before.

81N0hXbytIL3. Ruby’s Wish – by Shirin Yim Bridges

A story of perseverance and goal setting. Amazing character building book.

Ruby's Wish

The_Story_of_Ferdinand4. “The Story of Ferdinand

Everyone wanted Ferdinand to be something he is not. This timeless story teaches kids to be who they are.



51gLVpZZyrL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_5. “The Three Little Pigs Count to 100”

A beloved fairy tale told in a creative way that not only tells the story but teaches math and reading comprehension at the same time.



51JcSxw0L3L6. The Empty Pot – another beloved classic
Lesson – Tell the truth and things will work out. Perfect character building book.



51j3FlqSA9L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_7. The Invisible Boy – by Trudy Ludwig

Every class has an invisible boy. This wonderful book teaches acceptance and inclusion.



purple-plastic-purse8. “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” – Kevin Henkes

Lilly is hilarious. She will have kids laugh and relate all throughout. She loves school until she doesn’t. Henkes masterfully describes a life of a primary age students.

9919. The Giving Tree – by Silverstein

In “The Giving Tree” the tree selflessly gives everything away, until there is nothing to give. Another amazing character book on making better choices.


Unknown-110. Papa, Please Get the Moon For Me” – This interactive book intertwines science and language arts. STEM activity included in the lesson plan below.








Earth Day Lesson Plans

Earth Day and Spring perfectly overlap, and students greatly enjoy science resource texts. Stories are the best possible way to teach science to students of all ages. Despite the assumptions, a huge amount of science learning is integrated with language arts, at least by the great ones. Earth Day offers an ideal opportunity to teach and discuss how human actions effect the environment. Even though all the present hype with STEM tagets hands-on, there is no learning without actual reading for both background knowledge and additional research. Here are some awesome Earth Day books and lesson plans to go along:

thelorax1. “The Lorax by Dr. Suess is a must read for primary grades. Kids love Dr. Suess books, activities, movies, anything. Perfect Earth Day read and lesson.





thegivingtree2. The Giving Tree – Grades K-2 

“The Giving Tree” is a well loved book, for reasons that escape those with reason. It is not a story of giving and how wonderful it is to give. It’s a story about a boy who takes everything until there is nothing left. The message of non-renewable resources and importance of sustainability doesn’t escape. Super read on how not to be.



heroes3. Heroes of the Environment – Upper Grades – Free Lesson Plan on TpT (Earth Day Lesson Plan Giveaway)  This is a great guided reading non-fiction common core text for students in older grades – upper elementary and middle school.
Happy Teaching! 




4. World Without Fish – lesson plan – Earth Day Non-Fiction Text



5. Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam and Science of Ocean Motion– Non-Fiction Science Resource Text Lesson Plan


The Three Little Pigs Count to 100 -Lesson Plan

coverGrace Maccarone gave a perfect makeover to the traditional Three Little Pigs fairy tale. In “The Three Little Pigs Count to 100” children can study not only elements of fictional text, fairy tales, words, and story sequence, but also counting to 100, skip counting, number comparison, logical reasoning, quantity, odd and even numbers, and geometry. To top it all, Maccarone masterfully incorporates characters from other fairy tales into her work. This is a super engaging read that can be easily aligned with kindergarten and first grade benchmarks.

5 Stars!

Happy Reading!

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

“The Three Little Pigs Count to 100” Lesson Plan 

Best Bedtime Picture Books

previewAs a mom and a first grade teacher, I know all the challenges that come with bedtime. The reality is, most kids don’t like to go to sleep. Life is too interesting! Still, lack of sleep makes it for tough days. “Bedtime for Buzzy” by T.J. Hackworth does an amazing job of not saying “go to bed” but having characters explain that the importance of good night sleep. The Moon Man, Captain Pete, Giant Dinosaur, and the Courageous Explorer are perfect characters. The author sends Buzzy off to bed with a task of finding the City of Gold in his dreams. The clever storyline is complemented with awesomely intricate illustrations. This is a definite reread!

21827911-_sx540_Another bedtime favorite is the “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown. As in “Bedtime for Buzzy”, kids are able to wind down by saying goodnight to all the things in the room. Again, the detailed illustrations and tracking of the tiny mouse are the most interesting activities for kids ages 4-7.

We can’t have a best bedtime book list without “Harold and the Purple Crayon”. Harold like Buzzy has trouble settling for bed, goes on all kinds of adventures, then he finds the Moon, draws a window around it, and finds his bed.

tumblr_m6skdfskfx1rzdm6ao1_400There is nothing better than story time. Often bedtime routines seem never ending. Still the importance of reading and good night sleep pay off tremendously in the long run.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

What We Are Reading…

27075122-_uy200_It’s February, the stress of testing is here. Daily class reading provides a refreshing break from it all. We have been working through a number of novels. Here are the reviews…

“Hour of the Bees” by Lindsay Eagar – This amazing coming of age book with themes of family, identity, loss, passage of time, and sibling relations is a sure hit. Beautifully written and funny. “Hour of the Bees” should have been the Newbery Award Winner of 2017.

2. “The Breadwinner” by Deborah Ellis – This books along with “Return to Sender” by Julia Alvarez has been a popular read in these past few weeks. Students are curious about what is taking place in the world. What is the difference between an immigrant and a refugee? How do people become refugees and why do they leave their countries? “The Breadwinner” is an ideal book for upper elementary students who are learning about world history and current world affairs.

“The Breadwinner” Novel Guide – Lesson Plan

“Return to Sender” Novel Guide – Lesson Plan

Have Fun Reading!

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.