Books of the Month

An Old Favorite:

The Gist and…

Why I LOVE it: (I LOVE the layout, illustrations, nostalgia, and because it’s a song!) This book is like a greeting card and a novelty book all rolled into one.  It invites you to snuggle up with your sweetie and giggle together.

Skidamarink was one of the first songs my daughter came home singing when she was in kindergarten, and I can see why she remembers it, because every year when I teach it to my Y5’s, they delight in singing it and doing the hand motions.  I use this book as an introduction.

The repeated refrain is rather simple: "Skidamarink a-dink a-dink, Skidamarink a-doo, I love you." And continues…"I love you in the morning and in the afternoon. I love you in the evening and underneath the moon.” Just the word skidamarink is fun for a little one to say.  It’s one of those goofy words like supercalafragalisticexpealidocious, that feels fun tickling your tongue and can’t help but make a child smile.

The adorable illustrations featuring a roly poly polar bear and petite penguin will steal your heart. My students enjoy seeing what’s going to be revealed as I open the double-flap folds and they anxiously await in anticipation as the white, potato-shaped bear plops down on an ice cube... "skidamarink" and the green-hatted penguin skates to the edge of the page; another turn of the flap reveals "a-dink" and the penguin nearly falls off the ice. A second turn of the flap finds the penguin splashing in the icy blue water. The skate marks he’s left behind are heart-shaped.  My students are encouraged to become book lovers through a combination of this well-loved song, adorable characters and creatively displayed page illustrations. They are also excited to learn and sing the song.

Story Telling Tips:

I let my students know when the Skidamarink-a-doo refrain is coming up by holding up a heart-shaped sign with the word on it.  That's their signal to say that part with me.  It gets them "tuned up" to learning the song.  

Magic Trick:

I put a paper heart with a penguin and the word skidamarink on it, into my dove pan. I put the lid on (The magic words are Skidamarink-a-doo!) and when I take the lid off, inside is an adorable soft little stuffed penguin named of course, Skidamarink! After the story I toss him to each child and give everyone a turn to tell me what they liked about the story, song, or which character (polar bear or penguin) was their favorite. We take a minute to graph the results. 


and your little ones.


Here's my bibliography for FEBRUARY:


FREE Easy Readers for February:

The Shape of the Cavity Creeps

My 5 Senses In February

My Groundhog Book


Another Old Favorite: Click on the link at the end to view/print the activity templates for this story. 


Background: I use this book to introduce my post office theme the week before Valentine's Day.  That week we make a Valentine for our families and then we walk to the post office to mail them.  I send an envelope home with a note asking parents to address and stamp the envelope. The town our school resides in is pretty small, so the post office is just 2 blocks away.  On a sunny day in February it makes for a nice day of exercise. We hold hands to cross the street and the children are quite joy-filled and excited about the adventure.  I have several adults volunteer to help walk with us so I have "big people" at the front, middle and end, being a "caboose".  We're not mailing any elephants that day, but we do have a grand time stuffing our valentines in the big blue box on the corner.  The children are quite amazed when their card arrives at their home.  The entire process is very intriguing to a 5-year-old, and one of my favorite events of the year. 

The Gist:  The main character of the story is a little boy who decides to mail an elephant to his cousin Dilly for her birthday.  

Why I LOVE it:  The illustrations are hilarious.  Even the dog gets involved licking the stamps and then getting his tongue stuck. The elephant and dog are quite adorable and the emotions that they exhibit on the pages bring you right into the story and make you laugh and sympathize with their predicaments.   My students giggle at the antics of all 3 characters especially when the elephant is being stuffed into the mailbox.  Mailing something and the post office process, is reviewed in a fun way, so it's a great lead-in for my post office theme. The ending, which I have my students predict, is quite nice and delights the children.  It's one of my favorite post office books.  

Magic Trick: I show my students that there is nothing in my change bag, then I produce an elephant finger puppet that helps me tell the story.  

Story Telling Tip: Whenever I come to a section of the story where the boy is having problem with the elephant I poke the elephant finger puppet above the book and have my students say the title: "You should never mail an elephant." If you don't have access to a finger puppet you can use a small stuffed animal or you can print off the elephant clipart, laminate it, cut it out and mount it on a Popsicle stick with a glue dot and use it as a storytelling puppet-prop. 

February books, art activity for February, art activities to go with February booksArt Extension: "I love you enormously!" valentine note. Run off the master on gray construction paper.  Have children cut it out.  Run off the heart master on red construction paper; fold the papers.  Remind students to keep them folded.  Children cut out their hearts.  (My Y5's are always amazed when they unfold their papers and they have a heart!  It's almost "magical"!) Students glue their elephant to the heart and write "I love you." and then sign their names. 

Writing Extension: "I love you enormously because..." Children color the elephant and then write on the back "...because... and fill in why.  They can tuck this note and their elephant heart in an envelope or simply take both activities home and give to a loved one.  To make things a bit more dramatic and exciting, like the story, I tell my students to leave their notes somewhere special so that their parents can find them and be surprised!  We brainstorm for a few minutes where fun places to leave "paper love" might be like on their pillow, on the car seat, in the glove box, in a kitchen drawer or cupboard.  Some funnier ones that get the giggles going are on a toilet seat, in a pocket etc.  It all adds to the fun of the story.  

 Jolly Postman Book and Activity for FebruaryGo-Together Books: My other favorite book that I read after this one is The Jolly Postman by Janet & Allen Ahlberg.  It's a bit pricey starting at $17.95, but you can buy it used on Amazon for $7. It's just one of those books that's "worth it" because you can do all sorts of things with it and my students LOVE LOVE LOVE this book and so do I.  In a nutshell, the Jolly Postman delivers mail from well-known fairy tale characters.  The verse is in rhyme which makes it a fun read aloud.  "Once upon a bicycle, so they say.  A Jolly Postman came one day.  From over the hills and far away..."

My students can't wait for me to reach into the pocket pages and pick out an envelope and read the apology letter from Goldilocks to the 3 Bears, or others addressed to the Wicked Witch, Giant, and the Big Bad Wolf.  The illustrations are wonderful and give you insight into the characters.  My students come to realize that much can be learned from delving into people's mail.  I use the book as an introduction to letter writing.  My students are very excited, and highly motivated after I read this book, to choose a fairy tale character and write their own letter.  We make their letters into a class book that becomes one of their favorites. 

February's #2 Book of the Month Elephant Activity Templates 

This February, snuggle up with with your sweetheart and a good book!


books for Black History MonthFor Black History Month I want to mention ... 

“And the winner is…” The Caldecott Awards were announced and future Dave The Potter books will be printed boasting a sparkling silver stamp! Illustrator Bryan Collier can be proud.  Author Laban Carrick Hill tells a story of a gifted African American slave during the 19th century in South Carolina, who was a potter that could make 20 gallon pots at a time that wasn’t very common.  His were extra special because he added lines of poetry to the clay. “I wonder where, is all my relation, friendship to all—and, every nation.” Outstanding images, coupled with minimal text, mold maximum effects.

Here are a few other great reads for your students/children (5-9) for a Black History month theme:

Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton -This is about the youngest daughter of Andrew Young who was a civil rights leader.  She shares about the time she moved to Atlanta from New York with her two older sisters to protest the unfair laws.  They effectively changed the laws with the help of leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.

Muhammad Ali: The People’s Champion by Walter Dean Myers -This is the story of Cassius Clay’s rise to boxing fame as the Golden Glove’s champion all the way to Olympic fame.

March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed The World by Christine King Farris -This book is written by Martin’s older sister who watched his famous speech on TV with her parents in Atlanta.

Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Tavares  “Hank” had a dream of playing baseball and he did just that in a time when black athletes weren’t the norm.  His career spanned from 1954 through 1976.  He was a vocal spokesperson for equality between black and white players.

Sit-In:  How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Pinkney -Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful words inspired four students to protest in a way that some say changed the United States.  These “Greensboro Four” began a sit-in on February 1, 1960 in North Carolina at a segregated lunch counter, which helped contribute to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  This is their compelling and courageous story.

  FREE Booklets!

     free printables, free lesson plans In the booklet: My Book Of Color Words your students will practice TRACING, WRITING, COLORING, then CUTTING out jumbled letters and GLUING them to a box shape to form the correctly spelled color word. Wow! Talk about nailing a bunch of standards and reinforcing a variety of skills all in one great little booklet that your children/students will have fun making and then sharing with their families. Click on the link above to print a copy.

      If you liked this format check out my other Color BookletNumber Booklet, and Shape Booklet.

     Or try your hand at making a KEEPSAKE booklet.  Is "thumb-body" special in your life? Why not tell them! Do you need a quick artsy project for your students to do once a month? I've got the perfect thing for you.  Click on the link to make an adorable thumbprint booklet and have your students learning the months of the year at the same time!  Monthly Keepsake Booklet

Something NEW!

free printables, free lesson plansI just finished designing something new for your emergent readers. I know my Y5's really enjoy making little booklets; perfect for their small hands.

They enjoy looking at the pictures and figuring out words so that they can actually read the booklets when they get home.

Again, I'm using repetitive words so that they get used to seeing them, and simple phrases so that they can remember them. 

I wanted to tie the booklets in with science as well, so that I'm nailing another report card standard.

I also wanted to incorporate cutting and gluing so they can practice these fine motor skills, as well as reinforce number recognition, matching and sequencing things. These booklets are also great for reading, concepts of print and for them to practice their writing skills by tracing and then writing words/sentences.

Each month I'll have at least one free "Easy Reader" for you. I hope you enjoy this new feature and that it helps your emergent readers as well. I'd really enjoy hearing from you and getting your feedback.

The booklets will stay free for the entire month, then they will be for sale for only .59cents, or why not become a gold subscriber and be able to download everything all year long at no additional charge!  Click on the link to check it out.

Click on the links below to print the booklets. 

Enjoy and happy reading!

free printables, free lesson plans

This Month's FREEBIES:

The ENTIRE site is now FREE!

I hope you enjoy downloading anything you want!

If you get time, I'd enjoy hearing from you, especially if you're still looking for something that you didn't find on the site.

I design new things every day based on reader's requests.  :-)



The Shape of the Cavity Creeps

My 5 Senses In February

My Groundhog Book



A Brand New Favorite!



This book is a take off of the song There Were Ten In The Bed And The Little One Said Roll Over...only here there are 10 on a sled, actually a toboggan and they are arctic animals having a blast flying down a snow covered hill.

Why I Love It:

  • Liza Woodruff's illustrations are brrr-illiant! Very colorful and the fact that the animals riding on the sled are artic or wintry animals add to the story; they too, are extremely adorable. My personal favorite is the moose.
  • It's hilarious!  Your students will be giggling as the "wolf wipes out" and the caribou yells: "Great thunder duck under!" as they go careening under a huge pine tree! The illustrations add to the fun and frolic and you almost feel like you're on the sled, or at least wish you'd get a turn to ride with these cute characters.
  • It's a rhyming book, and since that's one of my report card standards and so important in teaching reading it makes it all the more special. My Y5's love rhyming books.  To exercise their brains and increase their skills, I pause in my reading and let them guess the rhyming word.  They really do extremely well with this and enjoy this "guessing game" activity.  I think it makes reading the book more fun too.
  • The book also has great alliterative words when the animals go flying off the sled. i.e. the sheep shot out, the fox flipped out etc. I like to do tongue twisting activities with my students and often use alliterative phrases involving animals.
  • It's a nice addition to my collection of January books that help me take my students "somewhere" so that I can teach a mini-geography lesson when we go on our "magic carpet ride" to the setting in the book.  Here the last run " in the moonlit land of the midnight sun." So we get a chance to discuss what that means as well.

Story Telling Tips: 

  • Although more than just Alaska can be considered the land of the midnight sun, it's one of the places I choose to show my students because it's part of the United States.  As mentioned above I incorporate a geography lesson with with the reading of the story.
  • After the story, I choose 10 of my students to sit in a line behind each other as if they were on a sled.  The rest of us chant: "There were 10 on the sled and the caribou said 'We're gliding, start sliding.' So they all slid over and 1 fell off.   The child on the end of the sled rolls off and then we continue the song... "There were 9 on the sled and the caribou said..." Another child rolls off and we continue 'til only the caribou is left and then we choose another 10 "animals" to sit on the sled until everyone has had a turn.
  • I made color copies of each of the animals as they rolled off the sled, laminated them and put a scratchy dot of Velcro on the back of each piece.  I pass the animals out to my students, and as we read the story and the animals fly off the sled, I have them place them on the sled on my flannel board.  After we're done reading the story, I take the animals off the sled and see if my students can sequence which animal fell off first etc. 

ted on a sled art activity, January art projects for preschool kindergarten and first grade, winter book recommendations for kidsArt Activity: Ted On A Sled

  • Run off copies of the bear on brown-colored construction paper and have your students cut out their bear.
  • To make it more of a keepsake, I Xerox my students' class photo and cut them into an oval shape.  They glue the picture to the center of their teddy's face and then glue their teddy bear onto their sled so that he is sitting on the end of it. (There's a tab for this.)
  • Cut 2-inch wide strips out of all different colors of construction paper to make toboggans from extra large sheets of construction paper.
  • After students have glued their teddy to the end of the sled help them write their name with Elmer's glue and then sprinkle on the glitter of their choice.  You could also use glitter glue. 
  • Set aside to dry and then have children roll the opposite end of their toboggan on a pencil gently uncurling it so that their teddy bear really looks like he's sitting on a curved sled.
  • I staple white batting that I've cut to look like sloping snow hills on a long bulletin board, and then staple the teds on a sled in all different positions sliding down the hills.
  • Click here for the Bear Pattern
                                                                                   Click here for my January Bibliography

Good books for kids for winter, great winter books for preschool, kindergarten and first gradegreat books for January for kids, good books for winter for preschool, kindergarten and first grade

An Old Favorite:

bearTitle: Bear Snores On

Author: Karma Wilson

Illustrator: Jane Chapman

Price: $9.95

Gist:  "In a cave in the woods, in his deep, dark lair, through the long, cold winter sleeps a great brown bear."

  • A sleeping bear "snores" or sleeps "on" as the title implies all the while animals in the forest, who do not hibernate, take shelter in his cave. They gather around a cozy campfire to eat and keep warm,  having a wonderful time 'til they wake him up in a rather unusual way.

Why I LOVE It:

  • This book is one of a collection of "bear books" from this author.  I have collected them all!   I like books that have addditional stories in a series because my students often say "Read it again! Read it again!" because they enjoy the book so much.  These adorable bear books are a favorite of theirs and having a collection gives me a variety of books to read. (Bear Stays Up for Christmas, Bear Wants More, Bear's New Friend, Bear Feels Sick, and Bear Feels Scared are her other bear books. ) You can see them all on her amazon author page.
  • The main character is a brown bear and that fits in perfectly with my "hibernating bear theme" that continues through January and is celebrated with a Winnie the Pooh pajama party day as we are now studying the letter P as well. 
  • The text is rhyming.  The lyrical verse is fun to read and my Y5's enjoy listening to it.  Rhyming is one of my report card standards so I especially enjoy the teachable moments reading a rhyming book presents.  I will read a sentence and then pause for my students to fill in the appropriate rhyming word.  Even if they don't get the exact one the author has in mind (which they almost always do) they are still thinking of other rhyming words! Karma Wilson says that she "loves to write in rhyme because she thinks that well written rhyme naturally teaches children to expand their vocabulary and love books and reading."  I agree.
  • Jane Chapman is one of my favorite illustrators and her animals are absolutely adorable.  They dance and prance on the page and seem to come to life.  My students also find them quite fascinating.  The pictures are great for showing the various emotions of the animal characters.  They are happy and carefree, then they wake the bear and are frightened, they are also sympathetic and caring, and finally extremely tired and pooped out after all of their frolicking.  Jane portrays all of these beautifully. 

Story Telling Tips:

  • As stated above, pause while reading so that your students can fill in the rhyming word. As a rhyming lesson, after you have read the story, write the rhyming words on the board and have the children think of more words that rhyme.
  • I scan the pages of the book that have the animal characters on them, laminate and cut them out and then put a piece of scraatchy Velcro or magnet strip on the back.  I pass these out to my students and when we come to that character in the story they put it on my flannel or white board.  After I get done reading I mix up the animals and we see if we can put them in the proper order in which they first appeared in the story.
  • I also use these animals in a word identification activity.  I place them in a vertical line and then say the animals name.  I ask the children what letter they think the animal's name begins with and then I write it on the board.  When we get all of their names on the board then we alphabetize their names writing them in numerical order going reviewing ordinal numbers.  If you have older students, pass the animals out to the students and see if they can place the animal next to their correct name. You could add these animal names to your word wall.
  • Many of these animals are easily found as stuffed animals at garage sales.  Simply slit open the bottom portion of the animal.  Take the stuffing out of the arms and body, leaving the head stuffed and you'll have an "instant" puppet to use while telling the story, or give to your students to help you tell the story with. 
  • Using my clipart animals, print off a set of animals, laminate and cut them out.  Attach to Popsicle sticks with a hot glue gun or use glue dots.  Pass them out to your students so that each child has an animal.  When you come to the page where that animal is featured, have those students raise and wave their Popsicle stick, and if they can think of an animal noise, pretend to be that animal.
    Clipart Animals
  • Allow children to wear a paper plate animal bear mask.  Have them roll up in blankets and pretend to be hibernating bears. Teacher will designate when she wants them to sneeze and wake up growling and cranky pretending to be the bear in the story.  To "sooth" my crabby bears I pass out teddy grahams.  If you get the multi-colored box it has 3 shades of brown bears which are great for a sorting or patterning math activity.  Dunking these bears in a bit of honey is also a delicious snack. I'm always surprised that quite a few of my little ones have never tasted honey.

Art Activity: Bear paper plate mask.

Skill Sheets: I've designed some math extensions and included a graphing sheet as well as an animal addition exercise + several language arts skill sheets to help with reading, writing and alphabetizing! Enjoy. Click on the link to view/print. Skill sheets

Magic Trick: I use my change bag and show my students that it is empty.  I give one of them a small brown bear and they drop him in the bag.  Everyone says: "Go hibernate." So that word continues to become part of their vocabulary, I have them repeat it 3 times.  We take a peek to make sure he is sleeping and all pretend to snore like the bear in the story.  Then we say: "Wake up! It's springtime." I punch out the bag to show them that the bear has indeed awoke and left the cave! Where do you think he went?  He's hungry of course; so he went to go look for food.

Visit Karma Wilson's website and check out her other great books.  I always check to see if the authors I feature have websites and then I'll provide a link to them.  I was pleased to find out that Karma also has some cute ideas for teachers/parents to do with her books.  Click on the link to check them out.  They include some for Bear Snores On! Ideas 

Our illustrator, Jane Chapman, one of my all-time favorites, does not have her own website, but can be contacted via this site.

January is the perfect month to curl up with a good book!  I hope you enjoy some snuggle time with your favorite cub(s).

Be sure to scroll down & check out our FREE easy reader for this month!

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