Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dr. Seuss Door

It's almost that time of year again...wait for it...Read Across America! I do love Dr. Seuss, but I often find it hard to incorporate his books into middle school lessons. Yes, yes, they are cute and fun, and many have a deeper meaning, but one can only read The Lorax or The Sneetches so many times. In fact, last year I pulled out the first book I mentioned and my students groaned...audibly. "Can't we just watch the movie instead?" Yep, exactly what I wanted to hear. So, immediately after said incident occurred, I vowed to not use another tired Dr. Seuss book as part of a yearly project EVER AGAIN.

After finally making it home that day, I pulled out my personal favorite, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! and read through it again like a five-year-old. It was fun for a minute, but then it was time to get serious. How could I use my trusty favorite as inspiration for a door decorating contest so I could get a FULL DAY OFF WORK??? That's right folks, one full day, paid leave. It was glorious, so glorious that I set my sights on a little Cat in the Hat bow-tie ensemble for my students to wear, because I was going to take all their pictures...reading a book...with their eyes shut! How awesome was my idea?!? Well, not awesome enough, because my original idea of a plain background and random pictures looked hideous.

So, I pulled out the ol' ELMO and traced that silly cat and his friend, AND then I colored them. My fingers cramped, but I couldn't give up. Next, I bought some blue copy paper (who decided that Dr. Seuss colors would officially be turquoise, red, black, and white, btw?) and hand drew a picture frame for each student's picture. Y'all. I can't even believe I did that. Really? I must have found some free time, because I think that took almost a week. Also, my fingers were stained black from the Sharpie I used to trace the edges of the frames so they would pop (curse you Pinterest!). I added some white stripes to my red door (and also traced the edges of those), then I put everything together with some cutesy Dr. Seuss font I found and.............................

There she is! What a beauty! I just knew I would win the whole thing, but sadly, as you can see by that little yellow ribbon, I came in 3rd place. Which is okay, really. I'm over it (a year later). Also, I ended up with free break for a week, which really just meant lots of mini water bottles and ice cream, but all's well that ends well, I suppose.

What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book? Does your school have a door decorating contest?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

YA Lit: Bella at Midnight

Hello All!
We've been out of school for almost an entire week and I am about to go CRAZY.  I love love love my children, but after 3 days of staying at home, I am ready for them to be with someone else for a while. Since I don't have as much free time as say, single people or the child-less/dog-less, I haven't been able to spend my time doing things I like. (I swear if I have to put together that silly whale puzzle again I will scream.) Once I finally get my kiddos to bed and my dog settled in, I am too tired to keep my eyes open any longer than an hour...because I MUST fit in an episode of Scandal before bed.

I digress. What this post is really about is a little gem I found on my local thrift store shelf titled Bella at Midnight. I'll be honest, I am a huge fan of YA literature. Adult books are often too full of sex and language, and I choose to steer away from that as best I can. I also try to preview books before I put them on my classroom shelf. After reading the back and noting the condition of the book (mint, by the way--hooray thrift store!), I decided to whip out my dolla dolla bill and say goodbye to $0.39.

Much to my surprise, Bella did not disappoint. While it started off rather slowly, I was hooked after a few chapters. The book is divided into three sections. The first two sections follow completely different story-lines, but author Diane Stanley weaves everything together beautifully in the end. Once I finished the book, the first thing that came to mind was the story of Cinderella, but there are enough differences that you don't feel as though you've wasted your time. I was pleased that certain elements of the classic tale remained, but I was also glad that the author added her own twists. No character in this book is married to the original character and several new characters are introduced. Stanley did an excellent job of providing enough background so that, even when you really don't like someone in the book, you do understand the reason for their poor attitude.

Another element of the book that surprised me was the reference to the Christian faith. The story is set in medieval times, so the religious nature of the characters makes sense. It's not so overwhelming that a non-believer would dislike the book, but it is there, and it is out in the open. God, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are all mentioned within the pages.

As soon as I finished the book, I knew which students would enjoy reading it. Bella at Midnight isn't a must-read for everyone; however, your lovers of fairy tales and Prince Charmings will certainly enjoy this rendition of Cinderella.

Purchase at Amazon