Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bloggiesta Finish Line

It’s the finish line for Bloggiesta.  Bloggiesta is a semi-annual weekend for bloggers to devote time to their blog.  Some people use it as a time to play catch-up or work on some blog design ideas, other people network and take-on mini challenges, learning new blogging skills.  Everyone creates their own To-Do list and posts updates throughout the weekend.  So, this is my Bloggiesta finsh line!

Here is what I accomplished: 

New Blog Design.  I found and loaded a brand new design.  The owls are cute but I am missing some things.  I think I will try to stay with the owls until into the new year and then think about doing something more neutral.  I do really like the look though.  J  What do you all think?

Connecting.  I chattered a bit on twitter and visited a couple dozen websites, but just didn’t have the time to devote to this like usual.  I am always impressed with what other people do for their blogs!  I’ll keep participating in weekly memes to make connections.

Work Ahead.  My goal was 10 future posts scheduled and written.  I’ve gotten 6 finished.  I didn’t write my post about STEM, Literacy, and learning games or plan out my 100th post, but I will work on that soon.

To Be Read List.  I did list 5 picture books, 5 middle grade books, and 3 Young Adult books.  I just need to order some books from the library and I will be a reading machine!
A Big Thank You to 
for hosting Bloggiesta.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Let's Get Personal Challenge

I’ve always admired the ‘Friday Confessionals’ over at Once Upon a Story.  At Once Upon a Story, former classroom teacher, mother, and reader Maria spills mom confessionals about her real life including her school supply addiction, not so awesome parenting moments, and giving up on a pet project that just didn’t work out.  This time, she is asking readers and fellow Bloggiesta participants to share a bit of their life, too.  In her “Let’s Get Personal” challenge, she is encouraging blogger authenticity.  Because I always admire her Friday Confessionals (and often think, “Me too!”), I’ve decided to bare my sole and confess.

Saturday Morning Confessions of a 
                     Teacher, Mother, and Reader:

We keep our favorite library books for way too long.  I visit the library at least once a week.  Sometimes we are there 3 times a week!  We go for story times, always check out books, and often stay for playtime with educational puzzles and toys.  Out library generously allows 50 books per person.  In our family we usually range from having 40 to 50 books at a time checked out.  Sometimes though, we find a book we love.  We read and reread the book, pack it on trips to go see grandma, read it in the car, fall asleep reading it, and read it some more.  At the end of the 3 week lending period, sometimes we aren’t ready to return ‘our’ book.  We’ve renewed and kept some of our favorites for months.  (Months!)  If someone else requests the book we do return the book promptly, but you if we see the book returned to the shelf, we’ve been known to check it out again.  I have a mixed sense of guilt and pleasure enjoying the library like this!  Am I the only one?

I hide books from my three year old.  Do you have any read alouds that are tedious, boring, or just pain silly, but your child loves the book anyway?  When I get to that point, I admit that I hide the book or ship it off to grandma’s house.  Several months ago a book came into our life about a lion hunt.  Oh, I knew the sing-songy rhyming lion hunt that is a favorite with preschoolers, but this book was perhaps the worse version of lion hunt ever.  And my 3 year old Lil Guy LOVED it.  I endured reading it for every bedtime, naptime, storytime, reading time for about a week before I hid it at the bottom f the book pile.  Lil Guy found it.  I tried hiding it, leaving it in the car, and trying to say I forgot the words to that particular book, but it was still a favorite.  Finally I packed it in the bag to go to grandma’s house.  Guess what we discovered?  Grandma and Grandpa are even better at reading the lion hunt book than I am.  The book stayed at grandma’s house.  Thank goodness.  This was a win win situation for all involved.

I think book authors and bloggers are the best kind of celebrities.  Let’s start from the beginning here.  I got started in blogging after I wrote an email to an author about an experience with my students and her book.  After getting a very unexpected personal email in reply I was inspired to jump into the world of book blogging.  Since then I’ve had other totally awesome author encounters and connected with book bloggers who are equally awesome.  I brag about the experiences to my friends and family.  I honestly feel a rush of excitement when I get a tweet, comment, or message from an author or blogger.  What I like most about authors and bloggers is how down to earth they can be.  I’ve laughed with authors about my reviews, connected with fellow bloggers, and learned to not take myself too seriously.  So, if you happen to be a fellow blogger, reading advocate, or author just know … you are like a rock star to me!  

So, that's it for my confessional this morning.  I enjoyed getting personal and thank you to Maria from Once Upon a Story for hosting this challenge.

For more information or if YOU are 
interested in joining Bloggiesta, Check out: 

Friday, September 28, 2012

It's Bloggiesta Time (2)

It’s Bloggiesta weekend!  Bloggiesta is a semi-annual weekend for bloggers to devote time to their blog.  Some people use it as a time to play catch-up or work on some blog design ideas, other people network and take-on mini challenges, learning new blogging skills.  Everyone creates their own To-Do list and posts updates throughout the weekend.  So, this is my Bloggiesta starting line!  I am off to read-up on the mini-challenges and make my do-to-list for the weekend.  This post will be updated throughout the weekend as I have a chance to work on the goals.  I will also have an after-Bloggiesta post to sum up my thoughts.  For those of you not blog-related, bear with me and look for new and exciting changes soon.

My To-Do-List:

1.  Schedule my 100th post with my very first giveaway!  I’ve been blogging for almost a year and am very proud to reach 100 posts.  I can’t think of a better reason to have my first giveaway!  I am in the dark here, so I would love any suggestions/ideas!

2.  Update past reviews into GoodReads.  Link reviews/books to .

3. Add a rating system for book reviews.  Add a sidebar widget to explain rating system.  I tried to do this last Bloggiesta too and have discovered that while I like stars on other people's blogs, it's just not for me.

4. Schedule posts / reviews – my goal:  Write a bank of TEN posts!  (Very ambitious for me.) 4/10 complete!  I have a few others started - making good progress!

5. Write post about games and activities that promote Literacy, STEM, and learning.

6. Make a list of at least 5 books each of YA, MG, and PB that I want to read.  Request from library or load onto e-reader!  Make a commitment to read one YA or MG a week. Made a list including 5 of each.  I'm almost done with my MG read for the week too!

7. Participate in Mini-Challenges and Flashback Challenges. (see below) 1/4 complete!

Mini-Challenges/Flashback Challenges:

Get Personal from Once Upon a Story encourages us to and write posts about ourselves. (@NoVaLibraryMom) DONE!

Tips for Setting Up Guidelines and Policies from Girl Who Reads shares loads of on our blogs. (@Girl_Who_Reads)

Flashback: Five Ways to Spiff Up Your Book Reviews from The Bluestocking Society helps us make the best out of our reviews: adding stars, links, and photos. (@thebluestocking)

Flashback: How to Build Readers for Your Blog Through Commenting from Book Journey encourages quality commenting. (@bookjourney)

For more information or if YOU are 
interested in joining Bloggiesta, Check out: 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dinosaur Museums!

Last weekend we went to our local Natural History Museum and Planetarium to show Lil Guy his first real dinosaur skeleton.  We’ve been a bit obsessed with both dinosaurs and Space lately so this field trip was especially awesome for Lil Guy.  In fact we enjoyed it so much that we decided to become museum members!  I strongly recommend joining local museums or science centers.  There are many literacy and STEM programs and activities provided by these organizations.  The authentic experience of seeing, touching, and experimenting can’t be beat, especially for the youngest learners who flourish with concrete learning.  On that note, I have 2 very different and fun books about dinosaur museums to share with you today: 

Harry And The Dinosaurs At The Museum by Ian Whybrow

Harry is a little tyke who loves dinosaurs.  He is tagging along with his family on a trip to a museum.   He learns about ancestors, ancient Romans, Egyptians, and even Cave Dwellers.  Also along for the ride is Harry’s bucket full of dinosaurs.  When Harry gets lost at the museum, he takes the dinosaurs to see their ancestors, the giant dino skeletons.  Harry’s dinosaurs are delighted to see their relatives.   Harry’s family is relieved when they find him being attended to by a museum official. This book is pure silliness and fun.  It’s far from the non-fiction dinosaur books that give only facts, and is a nice mix of realistic fiction and preschool imagination.  Recommended for dinosaur loving preschoolers and early elementary students.

How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland

This Non-Fiction gem starts off with a curious young boy who only wants to know how a Diplodocus Dinosaur skeleton came to be at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington Museum.  The story starts in with the live Diplodocus taking readers through the fossilization process.  The rest of the story goes through a ‘House that Jack Built’ type story that repeats the steps that the Smithsonian went through to secure and restore the Diplodocus skeleton.  The text is both fun and informational, using real vocabulary and specific details about the provenance (That’s a bit of fancy museum vocabulary explained in the back of the book.) of this Diplodocus.  Repeated phrasing, story building, and vocabulary are actually very readable even as a read aloud for young readers.  Here's a bit of the repeated text:

The Diplodocus,
which was made complete by the CURATOR,
uncrated by the PREPARATORS,
brought to Washington D.C. by the MOVERS,
chiseled from the stone by the EXCAVATORS,
authenticated by the PALEONTOLOGIST,
and searched for by the DINOSAUR HUNTER.

Highly recommended for non-fiction readers, dinosaur and museum lovers, and all readers ages 3 to 12.