Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Free Book Resources

With the celebration of Read Across America this week, I thought it would be good to share some online resources for accessing books for FREE!  I love these sites and use them often.  They have been especially handy when I need a little time filler or we have an unexpected indoor recess.  

We Give BooksWe Give BooksWe Give Books is a new digital initiative that enables anyone with access to the Internet to put books in the hands of children who don't have them, simply by reading online.
We Give Books combines the joy of reading with the power of helping others, providing a platform for caregivers and educators to inspire children to become lifelong readers and lifelong givers.
We Give Books also helps some of the world's best, most inspiring, literacy organizations by spreading the word about their great work and by providing books to the young people these organizations support.
Storyline Online - A production of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, this site offers books read by actors and actresses.  They can also be found on schooltube here.  It seems that more are available on the schooltube link than the main link, so check it out. 
storytime.JPGBarnes and Noble Storytime - Currently has 16 books available, most read by the authors.  A new book is added each month. 
Kids AOL - Stories read aloud, including some Arthur stories. 
A Story Before Bed - A collection of books read by their authors. 
ICDL book logoInternational Children's Digital Library - Includes books from around the world in the native language and some translated to English.  This is a great site to introduce students to other reading/writing cultures. 
Online Video Sites - Try searching the book you want to share with your students on video sites such as YouTube, TeacherTube or SchoolTube.  I've been suprised to find some books that are out of print or books that I wanted to use, but didn't have on these sites being read aloud.  
Authors Web Sites - Go the the website of the book author.  Many authors have recordings of a few of their books on their own sites. 
Some other lists I came across: 
                  192 Sites for Free Children's Books Online
                  56 Places for Free Audio Books Online
As with any technology you share with your students, be sure to preview anything you want to share before showing it to students, especially any of the online video sites.  Sometimes videos look like what you want only to have the sound be completely inappropriate.  (I learned from experience folks, don't make the same mistake!)
Additionally, you can always record your own books.  You can use them as a new way to share books with your students or set them up as a center for students to access.  Try having parents, custodians, secretaries, lunch staff and administration record the books too.  Technology is so great now, take advantage of it.

Share with us how you use digital books in your classroom or other sites you use to share books with your students in the comments below or on our Facebook Page.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Read Across America Celebrations


Today, I'm sharing with you how the school my children attend celebrate Read Across America Day.  It's also where I taught before becoming an instructional coach.  They celebrate all week long and it's quite a fun event.  Here's a bit about each of the three big events:

1.  Class reading goals.  Each class creates a collaborative reading goal.  Each student is given a tracking sheet to record the minutes they read throughout the week.  The goals are set to hopefully be a bit more reading than required, like a goal for each student to read 25 or 30 minutes instead of 20 minutes a night.  The recording sheets are turned in the Monday after the celebration week.  Then, those classes who met their goals are rewarded by the principal with a small treat, usually a Popsicle.

2.  Family Reading Night.  On Wednesday, families are invited to read in the halls throughout the school.  Popcorn is provided in small bags and people are encouraged to bring their pillows and blankets.  Staff members read aloud picture books in our small auditorium throughout the night for families to enjoy.  The PTA also runs the Scholastic Book Fair throughout this week and has it open special this night for families to add to their home libraries.  At only an hour long, this family night encourages families to read together, brings the community to the school and is an opportunity for fundraising.

3.  Read Across America Day.  Toward the end of the celebration week, the entire school participates in "Reading Across America" one morning.  Every employee chooses a state.  This includes the principal, secretaries, technicians and custodians.  Each chooses a state and prepares a lesson and activity to teach about the state.  Students are divided into heterogeneous groups consisting of students in grades K-6 all together.  The groups are small due to the number of adults helping out.  The groups rotate to 4 different states during the morning.  Teachers try to share either a fiction or non-fiction text with the students about the state or something that relates to the state and do an art project or game with the students.  It's a very fun morning that the students look forward to and enjoy.

If you can't celebrate as a school, try doing some of this on a smaller scale in your classroom.  It would be fun to have centers around the room about different states.  Include your own state too.  Parents who have lived in other states might be willing to come share what they know and their experiences with your class.  You can get all the official information about Read Across America Day at the NEA's site here. 

If you'd like to hold your own reading goal, you can get a tracking sheet that is ready to go on google drive here.

We'd all love to hear what your plans are for celebrating Read Across America Day.  Comment below or on our Facebook page to share your ideas.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Free Math Games Online

Bob at the Garfield Learning Portal sent me a message to inform me of his great game that uses a Rekenrek.  It's a great game focused on Kindergarten through Second grade students.  Bob said there will be an app soon.  Check out this fun game at  The first two activities use the rekenrek and the second two are great extensions to equations.  The Garfield Portal includes games on other subject areas too, check out the menu at the top of the page.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Geisel Award Books and TpT Sale

The Geisel Award is given annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. (from

The Medal winner and Honor books for The Geisel Award have been announced and they look like fun ones that your K-3 students will fall in love with. 

At the end of this post, enter for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card so that you can get one of these books, or another book of your choice.  

Don't want to wait?  Click on the picture or title to see the books in Amazon.

Medal Winner: 

Up, Tall and High

Honor Books:
Let's Go for a Drive! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover

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