I love this time of year at school. Every year during the short Thanksgiving week I have the 3rd and 4th graders help me change The Library Tree from fall to winter. It’s a small thing, but I love those rituals.
I’m also really getting into the change in direction with my back bulletin board and display. That area was completely ignored during the reign of my “Spotlight On” boards, but I’m definitely getting more foot traffic now with September and October’s boards. And I’m kind of in love with my December board, too.
I live for doing bulletin boards, no matter how simple. Some of my coworkers roll their eyes at me when I tell them this, but I need to put my fancy art degree to good use somewhere.
I also love this time because it kind of just works out that the space between Thanksgiving and winter break is when I do some of my favorite activities with my classes. Last year everything was moved earlier to squeeze it in before my maternity leave began in March, and I didn’t get that same thrill. So this week I’m kind of remembering how much I really do love December (and late November) in the library.
Here’s an example: I’m set to start Hugo Cabret on Monday with all the 3rd grade classes, it will be the 5th year that I’ve taught this book. But I’ll be at a workshop next Thursday, so I decided at the last minute to start it today with my Thursday 3rd graders. I wasn’t in the best mood this morning; it’s been a long week. But the second I launched into my annual Introduction to the Awesome of Brian Selznick, I immediately felt content and almost teary-eyed as I looked at another class of gobsmacked third graders fill up with wonder as they get ready to take that ride with me. That book never lets me down, and my day was pretty awesome after that.
This week the kindergarten classes all started our Laura Numeroff circle stories unit. Yes, it is technically “circular stories”, but you try getting 60+ kindergartners to say that over and over again, week after week. I do, by the way, have first and second graders who still bounce into the library to tell me about “circle stories” they’ve read that are just like the ones from kindergarten. That is rad, so I’m not changing it. Anyway, we’ve read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Take a Mouse to School this week. We start slow, but since we need a week to be authors and another week to be illustrators, I have to decide if I want this unit to continue into January. We usually start this unit the week after Halloween, but…that obviously didn’t happen this year. So I have to decide, ending it before winter break is so tidy and wonderful.
I also moved the first grade Wordless Stories unit to December this year. We’ll start fresh in January with Clementine, but I kind of couldn’t wait any longer to read The Adventures of Polo with them. Again, it just felt like the right time of year to do it.
The second graders are reading The Velveteen Rabbit this week and next! One of my favorite stories all year, and that will segue into the first chapters of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane before break.
And then, finally, my 4th grade classes are still working their way through Wonder and absolutely loving it. The storm definitely threw off my timing, so I will have to start looking at chapters to trim from the reading. But we’ve now all finished the “Choose Kind” chapter and had our big talk about that theme. Again, such a great time of year to be doing it.
I love this time of year at school.