Friday, October 13, 2017

Early Learning Kits



Early Literacy/ Early Childhood Learning is something we are really trying to focus on this year. Each of these little boxes on the shelf ($1 at Dollar Tree) contains some sort of Early Learning Game- most of which I have purchased from Teachers Pay Teachers. My favorite creator on TPT is Lavinia Pop and you can find her TPT site here.


I hand stitched the felt letters in about a week and they are quickly becoming one of our biggest hits. The little ones love to play with them and the parents love having a more physical way to introduce the alphabet to them.

Our current themes are:
Counting Turtles
Ice Cream Alphabet and Math
Apples and Pumpkins

I have been showcasing a new kit each week and the parents have enjoyed sharing them with their little ones. I have more to make. I would like to be able to rotate the kits each season.

Love from Library Land,

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

STEAM Travels: Ancient Greece: Edible Parthenons

One of my goals with the new Where in Time is Ms. Amber?  program I'm doing, is I want to extend the lesson beyond one class. I wanted to find a way to teach about history and not still have a lecture. So I decided that this year, we would do a cross curriculum approach and I would pair history with STEAM.

Our first STEAM Travels class focused on creating Edible Parthenons. I picked up icing tubs from the dollar tree ( 10 oz for $1 at the Dollar Tree) graham crackers (family pack about $5), mini marshmallows, mini York Peppermint patties and peppermints. I paired the kids up into 3 teams and gave each  team a picture of the Parthenon and then I allowed them to get creative in trying to build it. Two of the teams were pretty successful, one team. . . well, they tried.

The kids had a blast "building" these things, and by building, I mean eating the construction supplies. I still maintain that the sugar highs they left with are were not my fault.

With Love from Library Land,

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


This is where you will find links to some of my favorite resources: books, websites, and even videos that have helped me during my career.

Babies and Toddlers:

Totally Tots

Preschool/ Early Literacy

Countdown to Kindergarten

Reading with Red

Lavinia Pop a great resource for printables

Teachers Pay Teachers a great resource for printables and other educational materials. There are some resources that are free, but most you do pay for. Some are as little as $1.00

School Age and Tweens:



Abby the Librarian

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Where in Time is Ms. Amber? : Ancient Greece

As a woman who grew up in the 80s and 90s I LOVED to watch PBS and some of my favorite shows were Where in the World and Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?. So for the past few years I've been doing a geography club at the library. The first 2.5 years were dedicated to traveling the United States and then we spent 1.5 years traveling the world. Now that the geography club is over (for now) we are traveling through time in a class I call Where in Time is Ms. Amber?. 

Since this class is a new venture for me, I decided to change it up a bit. In the past, the Geography club was primarily lecture with a craft thrown in at the end. I would make study guides for the kids and there would be a big Geography Club versus the Librarians Geography Bee. I had been using that format for 4 years and the kids were getting bored with it. (Several of the kids have been with me since we started 4 years ago.) This new class will have stations around the room for the kids to interact with. After a brief overview of Ancient Greece (which included a clip from Disney's Hercules), I unleashed my 2 students to the stations in the room.

Station 1
God and Goddess Match Game (I found some really cool ancient Greek flash cards at Research Parent) I took the god/goddess descriptions, laminated them and glued them to a large sheet of Art paper. Then I laminated the god/goddess names and let the kids match the god/goddess to their description. The kids had a little difficulty matching a couple of them, but quickly fixed their mistake.

Station 2
Decorate a Grecian Urn
We found an old Oriental Trading paper vase craft in our craft drawers and I thought it would be perfect for Ancient Greece. I think we originally bought them for a Percy Jackson party and had several left over. Sadly, I ca no longer find the craft on Oriental Trading.

Station 3
Build a Lego Parthenon
This was probably the biggest hit in the class. By the time the kids were ready to work on the Parthenon, D's little brother C came in to build with us. I gave each of the kids a Lego building board and let them dig through the boxes of Lego to find the pieces they needed. We ended up with two partially built Parthenons by the time class ended, but they loved it!


I chose to use the Greek Gods and Goddesses card to create a match game that my students really enjoyed.
Layerd Soul should us a really cool Lego Parthenon that I had kids attempt to build.
Statue of Colossus at Rhodes came from Ancient Awe.

Helpful Books:

Ancient Greece by Peter Ackroyd
Ancient Greek Women by Hadyn Middleton
Cultural Atlas for Young People: Ancient Greece by Dr. Anton Powell
Ancient Greece: 40 Hands-On Activities by Avery Hart and Paul Mantell

The new format of the class seemed to be a huge success. The kids who were able to make it had a blast and I'm not upset that it was a really small class. I'm pretty sure that had we not been closed for Hurricane Irma for almost a week the class would have been a bit bigger. (We ended up re-opening on the same day as the 1st Where in Time class.) Next week, we will have our first STEAM Travels class and that will be a nice little tie in to our Ancient Greece studies. We will be building edible Parthenons!

Love from Library Land,

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Secret Coders Series by Gene Luen Yang

"Hopper hates her new school. The kids are mean, the principal is scary, and there's something creepy about the building itself. For instance: why are the walls of Stately Academy covered in the number 9?

Hopper and her friend Eni are determined to get to the bottom of it. but the mystery of Stately Academy has been programmed into its very stones, and it'll take two persistent programmers to figure it out!

Hopper and Eni are about to become secret coders." (back cover of the book)

I want to start this with letting you know, I am not a big fan of graphic novels. I've never really understood the point. I always preferred to imagine the illustrations instead of looking at them in a book. That being said, I loved Secret Coders. Hopper is new to school and all she really wants to do is join the girl's basketball team and not anger her foreign language teacher. She discovers something odd with her school and with Eni she sets out to uncover the odd things about her school.

One thing I absolutely loved about the book is Gene Luen Yang asks the reader to try to figure out the puzzles alongside Hopper and Eni. The way the author explains coding is easy to follow and he makes it fun. Secret Coders has a really fun interactive website that even includes coding tutorials. I can't wait to see how far this series goes and an eagerly waiting for the 3rd book to show up at my library. 

Supercharging Your Storytimes! Workshop by Saroj Ghoting

I had the opportunity to go to a workshop called Supercharging Your Storytimes! that was led by Saroj Ghoting. This workshop was a follow up to the Every Child Ready To Read workshop I was able to attend in December.  We were asked to bring a book that we like to read in storytime with us to use in the workshop and I choose The Loudest Roar by Thomas Taylor. The majority of the workshop had to deal with a project out of Washington state called VIEWS2. VIEWS 2 seems to be a more indepth version of Every Child Ready to Read and the combination of BOTH programs will help me become more intentional in my story time preperations.

For the majority of the meeting, I was gathering ideas and really enjoying what I was learning. The people at my table were fun to work with and we were able to bounce ideas off each other. The only snag my group had was when we were asked to come up with additional ideas to help with comprehension, ideas that were not on the sheet given to us. However, the list of activities and ideas to help comprehension was so exhaustive, that we could not come up with any thing!

Ms. Ghoting's workshop is a wonderful workshop and she supplies a ton of handouts to follow. Her personality is bubbily and inviting. If you have the opportunity to attend one of her workshops, I would highly recommend it. If you can't meet her in person, at least check out her Early Literacy website here. She supplies you with research, ideas and resources to help you with story time. Her website is woderful!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Asking for It by Louise O'Neill

"Emma O'Donovan is eighteen, beautiful, and fearless. It's the beginning of summer in a quiet Irish town and tonight she and her friends have dressed to impress. Everyone is at the big party, but all eyes are on Emma.
The next morning, Emma's parents discover her in a heap on the doorstep of their home, unconscious. She is disheveled, bleeding and disoriented, looking as if she had been dumped there in a hurry. She remembers nothing from the party.
That day several devastating photos from the party are posted online and go viral, eventually launching a criminal investigation and sending the community in to tumult. The media descends, neighbors choose sides, and people from all over the world want to talk about her story.
Emma's life has been changed forever by an unthinkable and all-too-common act of sexual violence, and all she wants is to disappear." (jacket cover)


Louise O'Neill has written a brilliant novel about the aftermath of intoxication and rape in a way that was desperately needed. Emma's story sadly is not unique. In the aftermath of her rape, she remembers having sex with someone at a party, but nothing much until her parents find her passed out on the porch. Emma's downward spiral officially starts when she gets to school and her friends turn their back on her. It's during a conversation with her friends that Emma realizes 4 different boys had sex with her, and she only knew of 1 of them. When photos and video of what happened at the party surface on Facebook, Emma is approached by Ms. McCarthy, she has to confront what has been done to her and the steps she will need to follow to find her way again. Not only does Emma have to confront her attack, she has to watch her story unfold in international news. 

Too often rape victims are treated as pariah and blamed for what has been done to them. The victims often have to defend themselves in not only a court room but in the court of social opinion. Often victims are accussed of ruining their attackers lives if they tell what happened. Much like in the case of Rapist Brock Turner. The attacker had glowing character witnesses a sparkly clean photo shown in the press, everything to insure that he was innocent until proven guilty; while his victim (even though nameless in the media) had accusations thrown around about her character. Emma's life was left in shambles after her attack, her reputation in ruins, but her rapists, the community rallied around them. Far too often this occurs in today's society. Far too often we, as a society, protect the rapist instead of the rape victim. It needs to stop.

Louise O'Neill chose a realistic ending to her novel that while it left me empty inside because it's not all wrapped up like I would like, it's true to the narrative of Emma's story and the narrative of so many victims/survivors. O'Neill's book is a great way to continue if not START a conversation on sexual assault and rape and maybe a way to instead of teaching our daughters (and sons) not to be raped, maybe start teaching others not to be rapist.