Classroom Snippet: Cool Down Kit

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Happy New Year! 

I hope 2018 has been off to a wonderful start for you and your loved ones (it’s hard to believe we’re mid-month already).

It seems like forever since I last shared thoughts, ideas and classroom resources. Not for lack of desire, more to do with obligations, commitments and responsibilities that somehow or another find a way to redirect me from the screen (life takes precedent after all).

In order to better balance life and leisure (New Year’s resolution number one), I thought I’d try what the rest of the world has been doing so beautifully already – writing in snippets! Capturing big ideas in photographs and captions – less is more after all!

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This year, I am blessed with 27 lively Kindergarten students who keep me busy and on my toes, literally from the moment I step into the classroom. To say there are no challenges would be far from the truth. In the 17 years that I’ve been teaching, there have been ample opportunities for growth and learning from the experiences and circumstances I embarked on in the classroom – as every teacher can agree with, I’m sure.

So I thought the first snippet I’d share is my Cool Down Kit, a behaviour management and self-regulation tool I use in the classroom, which runs parallel with mindfulness ideologies. Continue reading

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Thoughtful Holiday Season

Lora-Mauricio - 0184It’s the most wonderful time of year, indeed.

Many of us now find ourselves singing, whistling, humming along to our favourite holiday tune as we walk around town, excited about the season, the gift-buying, the work parties, often having too many sweets and being covered by the sparkles from all the holiday greeting cards. At home, decorations are up, and plans have been made with family and friends. Kids are ecstatic, the promise of treats, toys, games dancing in their heads.

There is something intoxicating about the holiday season – nothing in the year matches it. No matter your faith, you can find something to celebrate – oftentimes drinking in the joy like a rich, creamy eggnog. But, in the midst of the holiday crowd you can also find pain for many. This time of year can also be a reminder of broken relationships, hard times, less than successful attempts to live the dream of a better life and maybe the empty chairs of loved ones that may have left us too soon.

I recently came across this ad, which struck a cord…

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So how do we create a balance, an equilibrium between the joy in our own lives and the lack thereof in the lives of others? It seems the answer is found in our own communities. Why not find a moment to assist those who cannot respectively share in the holiday cheer. Maybe as we scurry through the grocery aisles picking up all the last trimmings for the our special dinners, grab an extra couple of items for the food banks that, during this time, are often under strain serving our needful communities. After all, what is the holiday season without giving and sharing? It only takes a moment, but it can make a great difference in someone else’s life.

Many years ago a beautiful song came out called, “Do they know it’s Christmas”. It often plays in holiday concerts and festivities around this time of year. There is one particular line that stands out for me, “Well, tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.” It is a reminder that there is a world outside our window, and it’s not always joyous. It made me think of something we often overlook, especially as we get all caught up in holiday preparations, and that is acknowledging and being grateful for what we have, however big or small. After all, there is always something to be thankful for.

So amidst all the celebration, the family, the music, the presents, the cheer, let’s take a moment and count our blessings, find something to celebrate – whatever it is that completes our little corner of the world.

I am most honoured and excited to introduce my latest picture-book, Lucky Me, which centres around this concept of gratitude, shedding light on all the small miracles that we sometimes forget to be thankful for. I’d love to recommend it to you.


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Lucky Me
Lora Rozler (Author),‎ Jan Dolby (Illustrator)
Fitzhenry and Whiteside (December, 15 2017)

Chapters-Indigo | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

 

Lucky Me celebrates the concepts of thankfulness as it explores the world with a series of evocative, one line descriptions of situations wherein a child (or adult), might be inclined to thank one’s lucky star. The extraordinary book shares 36 of these celebrations, each exquisitely illustrated by Jan Dolby.


Whatever is beautiful, whatever is meaningful, whatever brings you happiness, may it be yours this holiday season. May your days sparkle with moments of love, laughter, and goodwill, and may the year ahead be full of contentment and joy.

Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Holiday season and a blessed New Year!

Gratefully yours,

Lora

New Release – Freshly Baked Pie

Playful. Mischievous. Impatient.

Meet Emily, the unforgettable star
of the new picture book
Freshly Baked Pie

Released May 13, 2017 by Words Publishing


Freshly Baked Pie is a whimsical tale about five year-old Emily who struggles to do the right thing when she is told to stay away from a cooling pie. Cleverly written by Lora Rozler and beautifully illustrated by Daniela Vasquez, Freshly Baked Pie invites readers along Emily’s imaginary battle with a mischievous pie. Never has examining rules and consequences been so much fun!


AVAILABLE MAY 13, 2017 AT VARIOUS ONLINE AND IN-STORE RETAILERS 


FREE Parent and Teacher Resource Kit NOW AVAILABLE

Feel free to use the templates and activities in the Resource Kit for your personal use at home or in the classroom.

Click on the image below to download.

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Freshly Baked Pie Resource Kit

Thank you for stopping by! Stay tuned for Book Signing and Reading Events in the Greater Toronto Area!

– Lora


 

The Rooster!

roosterHappy New Year! I hope 2017 has been off to a wonderful start for everyone. I’m excited to share something that has been rattling around my mind over the holiday season.

With only a day before the work week begins again, (for us teachers anyway), it struck me to reflect on the piece below about a moment in my life where a teacher made in an impact on me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed mulling it over and finally putting it together.


They come to me like snapshots, images of a time long ago.

In one of them I am standing in a beautiful courtyard. The trees are tall and luscious, the grass is green and moist. Next to me is a small tub. I look down at it, eyes desolate, water slowly dripping onto my bare feet. Only moments before, the water which now trickled from my hair, belonged in the same pool. I had been playing alongside my friends, splashing, giggling, pouring water over our heads. The sun was shining. The air was warm. Life was good.

Well, at least until the Rooster appeared.

Rooster was the more-than-generous name I gave the meanest kindergarten teacher ever. Unfortunately, she also happened to be my kindergarten teacher.

“Don’t you dare go back in,” she clucked. “You know the rules. If you step out, you’re done,” bulging eyes looked down at me.

“Mr. Ducky fell out,” I began, but there was no use. The Rooster wouldn’t have it.

Just like that, the fun and games on Water Day were over. I stood there, staring at the others, envying that their stupid ducky stayed put. They looked so happy, so together.  I supposed that’s how I looked not too long ago. It’s funny how in a matter of an instant I no longer belonged.

Lesson number one: It sucks being left out!

Rooster is mean!

I want my mommy!

Another snapshot lays itself atop the last, and I am five again, same place, similar time, same old Rooster.

This time I am sitting on a long wooden bench, head bowed, hands clasped rigidly on my lap. I am wearing my favourite blue dress, the one with the big colourful flowers. It seemed a shame to stare down at such beauty when everything else around me felt so ugly. The time-out bench was no place for me. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Someone pointed their finger at me. Now I had to ‘think about it’ when I had no clue what I’d done.

Lesson number two: Life is not fair!

Kids can be cruel!

Rooster is definitely the worst teacher ever!

I still want my mommy!

So there I was, slowly climbing out of the cozy cradle that had sheltered me for the first five years of my life. This was life though, sometimes not so nice, definitely not as nice as Mommy.


Sometimes the person you become is an amalgamation of the many experiences throughout your time on earth. I found that this moment helped mold the teacher that I would one day become, or at least the teacher that I did not want to be.

Here’s a thought exercise, think of a moment of impact that helped create the You of today. If you like, tell us about it in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Lora

Kisses For My Mother

kiss_candy_box_400Mother’s Day is fast approaching and we have surely begun preparing for it in the classroom. This year we are showing Mom (or the special mother-figure in our life) how much we love her with lots of kisses in a love-filled picture frame. We sure hope this becomes a craft Mom will treasure.

 

 


Kisses For My Mother is a poem I wrote for the special occasion. I wanted students to make it somewhat their own so I left the last line blank. This is where they get to add adjectives and/or verbs that best describe their mom (if they’re up for the challenge, they can try to make it rhyme).

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Now for the craft…

Before you begin:blowingKiss 1. Take a profile picture of each student blowing a kiss into the air, head slightly tilted upwards. 2. Ask students to enlist help from family members (other than their mom) and bring in a picture of their mom for the frame.


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1.Loosely tape a heart shaped cut-out onto a white sheet of paper (thick enough for paint).

2. Using outward strokes, have students paint lines all around the heart (you may want to incorporate various colour themes – primary, secondary, warm, cool, or let student choose whatever colour scheme they like – perhaps mom’s favourite colour).

3. After the paint has dried, fill small jars with water and food colour. Using dropplers, invite students to dab the liquid onto the frame and extend the drops into line designs (curvy, jagged, parallel, striped, etc.).

4. Have students cut out various size and colour heart shapes and glue them around their frame (maintaining the heart shape in the centre).

5. Students cut and paste the poem, Kisses For My Mother, as well as their picture and a photo of their mom in the centre of the frame.

6. You may want to invite students to continue adding hearts to their frame, overlapping and creating a sense of space.

Here is a sample of the final product:

Final

To download a free copy of my poem for your personal use in the classroom, click on the kiss image below. To download a copy of the poem as a shared reading handout, click on the image of the poem at the top of the post.
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Creative Commons License
Kisses For My Mother by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Happy Mother’s Day! I would love to hear your feedback and see how your crafts turned out.

Lora

Boredom Buster

Boredom Buster is a term my daughter recently coined for an activity I introduced her to while she was waiting for her brother to finish his lunch (I should mention that sledding was next on our agenda and so she was impatiently nudging our slow eater along). I drew a letter in her sketch pad and challenged her to turn it into a picture. Before long, her sketch pad was filled with dressed up letters. My son, who had been eagerly watching, asked to join in. With the promise of eating faster and multi-tasking efficiently, he set to the boredom buster as well (which by now was serving a different purpose entirely). Five minutes later, the lunch plate was empty but neither of them were in any rush to go sledding anymore (gotta love those moments).
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Boredom Buster or Time Filler activities are great for the classroom Image result for kids working together in schoolas well. They certainly come in handy when there are a few minutes to spare between lessons or transitions in the day. In my classroom I use these kind of activities as add-ons when students complete their work (or during indoor recesses). As a variation to dressed-up letters, you can also use numbers, punctuation marks, symbols and different kinds of lines. For the older students, a writing piece (i.e., poem, caption, etc.) can also accompany the illustrations.
What Boredom Busters do you use with your kids and students? Feel free to share.
Lora

 

Shark Tank with Recycled Products

boxThe other day, I came home with a small box of groceries. As I emptied out the box, an idea struck. Knowing kids love to make crafts (especially out of boxes) I challenged my children to think of something useful they could make out of the box. I gave them one condition – they had to agree on what they would use the box for. Excited by the venture, they set on their way, thinking and planning. I overheard them talking about what they each wanted the box to be used for (yes, you guessed it – they were not on the same page). I continued eavesdropping, pretending to be busy in the kitchen, hoping they’d soon come to a consensus. Five minutes later the arguing began and so I stepped in. My goal was for them to present their idea together, but perhaps a little friendly competition wouldn’t hurt.

For those of you who are familiar with the show Shark Tank, you know where this is going.

I asked the eager participants (then aged 4 and 8) to draw a picture of their master plan for the box and then come up with a convincing statement outlining the usefulness of their product. I suggested that next time we had a family gathering (which was the following day, so it would be quite immediate), we could have everyone act as judges and listen to their plan of action. We reviewed what they’d need to cover in the sales pitch: usefulness, durability, and of course, any cost I would incur as part of the construction (tape, paint, etc.).

With the prospect of a large audience and an exciting game plan, the sketching and designing began. Continue reading

Math Card Games for the Classroom

Nothing fills the classroom with more excitement and cheer – and gives you instant celebrity status (the coolest teacher ever) faster than the declaration of Game Time!

While students see this is as a well deserved break from all their hard work, what they don’t suspect is that it’s actually a way to consolidate their learning, albeit outside the typically structured setting (but they don’t need to know that). Playing cards reinforces important math skills (number sense; number recognition, counting, adding, subtracting), social skills (taking turns, sharing, sportsmanship) and builds on children’s strategic thinking and planning. As a teacher, of course, observing my students play is the perfect opportunity to also assess their strengths and weaknesses in these areas and plan future lessons based on their needs.

So go ahead – roll up your sleeves, gather eager players, hand out the cards and let the games begin!

A few notes:

  • For the purpose of the games listed below, an ace represents the number one.
  • Unless otherwise specified, each game is played in a group of 3-4 students, but can be modified to include more or less players.
  • If you want your students to keep score, have some paper and pencils handy.
  • Remind students to shuffle the cards well before each game.

CARD GAMES FOR THE CLASSROOM

Give Me Ten

Place all the cards facing down in the centre of the table. Each player picks up 4 cards and holds them up, not revealing their cards to the other players. Four additional cards are drawn and placed in the middle as the ‘bank’ reserve. The first player tries to match one of their cards with one from the bank to add up to 10. For example, if a player holds a 6 and the bank has a 4, they collect the card and place it aside as a ten-point. They can also add up to 10 by picking up various other combinations (i.e., 6, 2, 2 or 5, 1, 4) and by using as many of their cards as possible in one turn. The aim is to make as many sets of 10 as possible. If/when the bank is ‘empty’ the current player must put down any random card from their hand and the next player continues. With each round, players continue to pick up 4 cards and aim sets of 10. A king can only pick up a king, a queen only a queen, a jack can pick up all the number cards. When no cards remain, the player with the most sets of 10 wins the game. As an alternative, instead of adding to 10, choose another number (i.e., 11, 12).

One Hundred

Each player picks up 4 cards from the deck and place them face up. Players rearrange their cards and try to create number pairs that add up to 100, or else as close as possible. For example, the cards 9, 1, 4, 5, can be arranged to create two larger numbers: 51 and 49. When added together 51 and 49 equal 100. When everyone’s ready, they should share their final numbers. Whoever is closest to 100 receives a point. Play for 10 rounds. The player with the most points at the end of the final round wins.

Memory Game

Spread the cards face down on a table in a random pattern or in a grid. Players take turns turning over two cards while all the players can see them. If they are not a matching pair, they turn them back over. The next player turns over two cards. If they are a matching pair, that player removes them from the table and keeps them, and then has another turn. When all cards have been removed from the table, each player counts up the number of cards they have collected. The player with the most matching cards wins the game. This is a great game to enhance memory and concentration skills.

Bluff

Divide all the cards equally among the players. Players may organize their cards without showing them to the others. The first player places a card face down in the centre of the table saying ace. The next player must place down a card higher up in value (i.e., number 2). The following player discards threes, and so on. Players announce their cards as they lay them. After kings have been played, aces start again. Players can discard up to four cards at a time.  Players don’t have to play the cards they announce – they can be bluffing. After each turn, any player can challenge the last player (if they believe they are lying) by saying You’re bluffing! When this happens, the challenger can look at the discarded cards. If they match what the person who played them said, the challenger picks up all cards in the discard pile and adds them to his personal pile. If the cards are not what the person said they were, the player who discarded them must pick up the entire discard pile. The player to lay down his entire hand of cards first will win the game.

Higher Up

Divide all the cards equally among the players. Cards facing down, each player turns over a card from their ‘bank’ and puts it down in the centre. When all of the players had a chance to put down a card, the player with the highest ranking card takes them all and places them aside. With each round, players continue to place down cards from their ‘bank’, until no cards remain. The player with the most cards at the end wins the game. As an alternative, the player that can make the most sets of ten wins the game (i.e., 5, 2 and 3 is one set of 10; 9 and 1 is another, a king and a king is a ten, etc.)

Crazy Eights

Each  player is dealt five cards. The rest of the deck goes facedown in a pile, with the top card turned up beside it. This is the discard pile. The player to the left of the dealer discards a card from his hand that matches either the number or suit of the top card in the discard pile. For example, if the card is a five of hearts, he could play any heart or any five. If he does not have a matching card, he continues picking up cards from the deck until he gets one that is playable. Eights are wild and can be put down on any suit. For example, an eight could be played to match a heart. The next player must match their card to the number or suit that the eight was meant to cover. Play continues with players matching the card at the top of the discard pile. The first player to use up all his cards wins. If the deck runs out before the game is over, the discard pile can be used.


To download a free copy of Card Games for the Classroom for your personal use in the classroom, click on the image below.

Happy playing,

Lora

Back to School 2015

back-to-school-clipart-4What an absolutely beautiful summer we’ve had here in Toronto! Plenty of sunshine and heat – a much needed break from the otherwise crispy weather we are quite accustomed to. Though there is still ample of time to bask in the season’s warmth (so I’d like to believe), many of us teachers are beginning to prepare for the new school year ahead.

As we all know, the first week of school can sometimes be quite nerve-wrecking, filled with newness and a degree of uncertainty (for teachers and students alike). cheerEstablishing firm rules and consistent routines is on every teacher’s immediate agenda. To the same degree however, September is a time of pure excitement and renewed optimism as we get to know our new students and gear up for lots of learning and fun together. Admittedly, this year is especially exciting for me, as I move to teach grade 2. Though I will dearly miss my Kindergarten students, they will be just across the hall from my new room (yay to visiting them often).

togetherRegardless of grade, I like to begin every school year by setting a communal tone in the classroom. After all, if we are to successfully work together for the next ten months, we need to respect and value each other, similarities and uniqueness all the same. With the goal of establishing a sense of togetherness, celebrating individuality and getting to know each other, while easing into a new school year together, I have prepared a few Back-to-School activities. You are more than welcome to download the resources for your personal use in the classroom by clicking the Back-to-School image on the bottom of the post.

Someone Like Me – On the first day of school, ask students fill SomeoneLikeMepicout the sentences on the Someone Like Me template. Then invite them to walk around the room and find classmates that share the same responses. Encourage children to write their friend’s name on the space provided, but be open to allowing them to have their friend write it out for them (this will help lessen the anxiety for those kids who are not yet able to). This serves as a great ice breaker and gets the kids interacting.

My Friendship Promise Student Template – As a class, begin a discussion about the roles and responsibilities of students and teachers in creating a My Friendship Promisefun and safe classroom environment.  As part of that discussion, brainstorm qualities of a good friend and invite students to reflect on why this would be especially important as we begin a new school year together (and of course, all the time). You may want to write some of these ideas down on chart paper for students to reference as they fill out a personal Friendship Promise. Following their writing responses, invite students to have fun creating a mini-me template, adding hair, arms, and legs. Join the templates together and post them around the room so they can easily be referred to during the year. I also like to have a few spare copies around, for students who join the class later in the year.

The Same But Different – As a class, brainstorm ways in SameDiffwhich we are all the same (i.e., we all have feelings, we all have needs, all in same grade/class, etc.). Then discuss what makes us all different and unique as well (i.e., we have different thoughts/opinions, different names, likes/dislikes, etc.). As a culmination of this discussion, invite students to depict these similarities and differences, via writing and/or pictures.

Get to Know Me – Have students fill out the template GettoknowMepicGet to Know Me. Each day, invite 3-4 students to share something about themselves with the class. After each presentation, encourage students to ask questions as a way of getting to know one another better.

Alternatively, you may want to divide students into pairs and ask them to take turns sharing some things about themselves with their partner. Instruct students to learn at least one or two things about their new friend to later share with the class (i.e., This is Josh. He has a hamster for a pet and he loves cherry pies).

Classmate Word Search – Fill out the blank grid with all your WordSearchpicstudents’ names and have them work in pairs (or independently) to find all their classmates names. If there is enough space, you may want to include your name, as well as other teachers that will work with your students this year. This is a a nice activity to use toward the end of the first week of school, since the class list will be more up to date by then and won’t leave anybody out.

Team-Building ChallengeteamDivide the class into groups of 3 to 5 students. Provide each group with a bin of random objects and have them work together to build a free standing structure. Tell students that you will be observing them and taking notes as they work together, but be somewhat vague about how you will pick the winner (shhh, it will be a surprise). Most students will likely assume that the highest structure will win the challenge, but the ultimate goal of this activity will be to see which group can work together best as a team, supporting and including one another. As a reflection, discuss things you saw and heard as you walked around the room and begin a chart on effective teamwork strategies (more ideas can be added to this chart throughout the year).


To download a free copy of the above templates, for your personal use in the classroom, click on the image below.

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Books have always been my favourite way to springboard discussions and facilitate activities. There are many wonderful Back-to-School favourites among my collection of September reads. Since it would be difficult to list them all, here are some of my recent findings, among them my new title, Words. I hope you enjoy them. Feel free to let me know of gems in your own collection.


Back to School, Splat!Back to School, Splat!
by Rob Scotton

How can there be homework when it’s only the first day of school? Splat must pick only one of all of his fun summer adventures to share with his classmates at show-and-tell. But in the end, Splat may find that the best part of his summer wasn’t an adventure at all.


It's My SchoolIt’s My School
by Sally Grindley

His sister’s first day of school is Tom’s last day of true independence. On her first day of kindergarten, Alice isn’t really that nervous at all. It’s her brother, Tom, who is upset — in fact, he’s downright mad It’s his school, and why should he have to share it with his annoying little sister?
For any family dealing with first day nerves, this bright and reassuring picture book will help ease the transition into school — both for new students and their older siblings.


Nobody's Mother Is in Second GradeNobody’s Mother Is in Second Grade
by Robin Pulver, G. Brian Karas (Illustrator)

Cassandra’s stories about second grade are so exciting that her mother wished she could be a student again. This wonderful classroom has singing, playacting, math–even a rabbit named Lopsy. But nobody’s mother is in second grade! Cassandra’s mom–who has even saved her old lunch box–to do?It is Cassandra who thinks up the perfect disguise for her mother, and she sets off for school one morning with a beautiful…plant. What do plants and mothers have in common? More than you’d think, as this wacky and endearing tale shows!


First Grade Jitters
by Robert M. Quackenbush, Yan Nascimbene (Illustrator)

Here is the story of a young boy who is about to enter first grade and doesn’t know quite what to expect. Will his friends be there? Will he have to know how to read and spell? What if he can’t understand anything his teacher says? Looks like a case of first grade jitters!


If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't!If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t!
by Elise Parsley

Note to self: If your teacher tells you to bring something from nature for show-and-tell, she does not want you to bring an alligator! But nothing will stop Magnolia, who’s determined to have the best show-and-tell of all–until her reptilian rapscallion starts getting her into some major trouble. Now it’s up to Magnolia to find a way to send this troublemaker home–but what could possibly scare an alligator away?


A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade
by James Preller, Greg Ruth (Illustrator)

Arr! It’s the first day of first grade, and it’s all hands on deck for a young pirate and his crew. How much trouble can they get into? What will they do at recess? And, most important, what treasure awaits them at school?


Oliver & PatchOliver & Patch
by Claire Freedman, Kate Hindley (Illustrator)

When Oliver finds a little lost dog he makes his first friend in the big new city. A stunning new book from Claire Freedman and Kate Hindley. Oliver is finding the big city a lonely and scary place but when he finds a little lost dog he makes his first friend in the city. The trouble is, he knows that somewhere out there someone is missing the little dog just as much as he is loving having him, So, with a heavy heart, Oliver sets about doing the right thing. A beautifully told story with a lovely, uplifting ending.


Sam and Gram and the First Day of School:
by Dianne L. Blomberg

Gram helps Sam get ready for his first day at school. The story takes the child hour-by-hour through a typical first day at school, so that the child will know just what to expect on his or her own big day. There are two special sections – Things To Do and Things To Talk About.


My Best Friend Is As Sharp As a Pencil
by Hanoch Piven

Here’s the perfect back-to-school gift for budding artists. Like the creator’s previous picture book, My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks, this picture book encourages children to be creative and make their own object portraits. It’s a fun activity for home or for the classroom. Learn how to create a funny librarian, a colorful art teacher, or your best friend by seeing how one girl does it in this simple, playful picture book that’s comprised of portraits made of objects. Once the girl has talked about—and drawn—the key figures in her school, she ends with the pièce de résistance—a class portrait!


Words
by Lora Rozler

In this emotional and highly visual picture book, a lonely letter sets off on a journey to find meaning. As it encounters various letter combinations, it is confronted by two distinct paths and must make an important choice. Readers of all ages will be captivated by this simple, yet high concept, rich story that explores universal themes of discovery, relationships and the need to belong, with an underlying message about bullying. Both timeless and original, Words is an evocative tale about how letters become words and words create meaning – meaning which could ultimately build or destroy.


Have a wonderful week back everyone!

Lora