Joy!

Joy
I bought these cookies at an after-Christmas-sale for $1 nearly 7 years ago. They have a shelf life in common with Peeps!

I keep them tucked in a drawer with my poetry trinkets. I take a peek every now and then when I need a reminder.

Much more than stale crumbs,

this is the wonder of chemistry

chuckling,

"Joy is intrepid!"

 

 

-Kim

The Countdown Begins

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Paper chains are a glorious way to anticipate celebration. Construction paper, wrapping paper, or even hand painted paper can be chained together to signify the countdown has begun.

Paper chains can also slow us down, remind us to remember.

With 2019 fast approaching, why not make a paper chain to stop each day and celebrate the memories of 2018? Write what you remember on the link torn from the chain, fold it, and tuck it into a jar as a keepsake  

Paper chains?

The possibilities are endless  

-Kim

Ars Poetica for April

Poem Sometimes a poem is as small as a list.

 

Sometimes it encompasses all the words we read.

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Sometimes a poem is a treasure held in a jar.

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But always,    

     a  l  w  a  y  s

a poem

is translucent,  

waiting to unfurl

its magic.

 

-Kim

Earlybird for the Month of Poetry

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April is just around the corner. It's time to think poetry.

When is a flounder like a dish?

Who reads the Newt News?

How many lumps on the Bactrian's back?

How many words rhyme with weevil?

What does the hawk remind the reader to be thankful for?

In our Earlybird Douglas Florian Discovery unit, students will explore beautifully illustrated collections of 21 poems. Each poem is pure silly fun blending science and whimsy to teach the reader about life in the sea, scaly slimy creatures, mammals, spiders, insects, and our fine-feathered friends.

Winner of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and recipient of an ALA Notable Children’s Book Award, Douglas Florian is the author and illustrator of many children’s books. He believes there is only one rule when it comes to poetry: There are no rules. Douglas Florian gives credit to his father as his first art teacher, who taught him to love nature. He begins his poems with research of the real thing and then uses that information to create an imaginary poem. Douglas Florian lives in New York City with his wife and five children.

Your 1st and 2nd grade students will not only write and illustrate poems inspired by the Florian poems, they will explore the traits of characters, acquire new words, and practice making sentences. More importantly, they will enjoy exploring the art of poetry.

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Sneak Peak: Welcome Hatchlings!

We are so pleased to announce the arrival of our Hatchling Discovery Guides! This integrated, multi-sensory approach encourages Kindergarten through 2nd Grade learners to discover the complex connections between reading and writing the fun way.

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   Sand  

 Our Hatchling unit is designed to be paced over the course of two years as a comprehensive language arts program that introduces all the skills necessary to read fluently and write fluidly. Over the course of 52 weeks (2 school years), your little ones will discover the joys of reading and writing, delighting in the process.

Each year the phonics of reading and writing is introduced in a logical progression from initial sounds to more complex patterns in three concise student journals. Our teacher guide is designed to help you mentor and inspire your students through their individual important work. There are no lessons to prepare, but rather time to come alongside.

Each week students will:

  • Learn and practice phonics using miniature objects and colorful didactic flashcards 
  • Utilize a moveable alphabet and the sand tray to reinforce learning
  • Read, write, and acquire sight vocabulary
  • Read exceptional literature
  • Create meaningful journal entries
  • Engage in line-work activities that strengthen developing fine motor skills

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For second year students in 1st or 2nd grade, we've added an element that teaches the four types of sentences and offers an opportunity to practice the art of sentence crafting using the miniature objects. Mazes, too, are a fun addition at this level, further developing fine motor skills and logic.

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And, in line with all our offerings, we've tied writing to great stories. What better to spark the child's imagination than an endearing tale? 

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All this, plus "just right" readers along the way, enables your students to practice phonics as it is being introduced.    

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We believe the best kind of learning is happy learning . Hatchlings will open the door to the wonder and potential of language, inspiring curiosity and independence along the way. Both Volume 1 and Volume 2 will be available for pre-order at blackbirdandcompany.com April 1st. Hatchlings will begin shipping early June to those who place early orders. Stay tuned for more details.

Growth Mindset: Just Keep Swimming

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The next time your student gets tackled in the I CAN'T zone, share a story of your own.

Yesterday I was shopping at Trader Joes, contemplating an almond milk purchase when a good friend approached me and said quite simply: "Why don’t you make your own?”

This suggestion set off a cascading thought process in me that went way beyond the situation at hand. All in a millisecond I thought about the many times I had thought about making my own, the videos I had watched, and the numerous blog posts I had read. Still I had never “pulled the trigger” so to speak. Now, I’m smart enough to know we all have “stuck” areas in our lives. There are things we aspire to in life, but we often get overwhelmed OR SOMETHING and are stopped in our tracks. Who knows all the things that hold us back. I suspect the problem has myriad roots.

Anyway, back to Trader Jones, what happened this time is that my friend continued: “Just soak 1 cup nuts (any nuts) overnight in water and in the morning drain the nuts, add 3 cups of water in the blender, and blend to liquify."

There was something in that moment. I think it might be that the process was presented so simply to me that I thought: "Okay it’s time to do this. I have almonds. I have water. I CAN do this…!"

And so I did. I added a pinch of salt and a dash of vanilla too. And the result was delicious—you don’t even have to strain it if you don’t want too! There were no additives so MY almond milk tasted so good!

I think sometimes the moment becomes right to make a move into the stuck zone. It’s so easy to over complicate things in our minds, to Pinterest an idea to death! In the case of almond milk, you know, make it all pretty with mason jars and ribbon and chalkboard labels,etc,etc, etc. when the true beauty is in the MAKING (and consuming) of the scrumptious drink itself. 

It felt SO good to FINALLY just do it! And the icing on the cake? This is going to save me a ton of money!

So back to education… What if I had failed? Would I have learned something? YES! and I would have had strengthened my tenacity to try in the process. I would have learned some right and wrong strategies. I would have been learning. 

Thing is, a growth mindset is NOT always easy. Students are NOT always successful when they try, but they ALWAYS learn something that is useful. Something that will help them in the future when they are faced with something new to learn. So the next time your student shrinks into the "I CAN'T" zone, share a story of your own, hum Dory's song, and just keep swimming! 

PS By the way, my friend said the roasted unsalted hazelnuts from Oregon at Trader Joes makes an incredibly good milk. No fixed mindset here… I'm making some!!

 

-Sara

Happy Birthday Ben?

Ben

NOT really…!

Ben's family birth certificate says that he was born on January 6, 1706, but when the Colonies switched to a different calendar to keep pace with the seasons, his new birthday became January 17!  

Founding Father.

One of five men who crafted the Declaration of Independence.

Once, the Postmaster General.

Founded the idea of the public hospital and library.

Organized the first volunteer fire department which led to his concept of fire insurance.

The architect of Poor Richard's Almanac.

Inventor of the glass armonica, bifocals, swim fins, Franklin Stove, and, of course the lightning rod. 

Honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, University of St. Andrews, University of Oxford, and University of Edinburgh.

Spent 27 years of his life living abroad, crossing the Atlantic 8 times!

Earned his place on the $100 dollar bill.

All this more than 311 years ago!

Celebrate this life well spent one of two ways:

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Ever wonder where inventors get their ideas? As it turns out, the great inventor Benjamin Franklin got his best ideas from a mouse named Amos (not really, but make for an adventurous historical fiction)! Consider this from historian David McCullah who read the book as a child:David McCullogh says "I can never be in Old Christ Church without wondering if perhaps some of Amos's line are still there, back behind the paneling." Pick up a bundle today. Who knows, you might cultivate a historian!

Rdg_franklin_bnd_LRGEarly to bed and early to rise… you know the rest (I hope).

Benjamin Franklin was the youngest of seventeen children. He was the inventor whose thirst for knowledge led him to constantly seek to improve the lives of his fellow men. Follow his life as a leader in the American Revolution and ambassador to both Britain and France and learn why the French hailed him as the man who "tore the lightening from the sky and the scepter from tyrants." Explore this an so much more in the D'Aulaire recounting of the life of Ben Franklin. And over the course of 5 weeks you student will not only be guided through the crafting of an original essay, but will discover just how valuable a life can be.

 

-Kim

Courage is a Gift

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What better way to learn about courage than from a character in a book!

Our Earlybird Winter Literature and Writing and Discovery Guide features Brave Irene by William Steig. Irene demonstrates love and courage by helping her sick mother in the dead of winter deliver an important package.

We love stories that highlight girl heroines! Fo more on this theme, a fun read aloud might be Elizabeth Blackwell: Girl Doctor (Childhood of famous Americans).

Keep the conversation going. What does it mean to be brave?

 

-Sara

Making Carolus Linnaeus Proud

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"If you do not know the names of things, the knowledge of them is lost too."  
                                                                            -Carolus Linnaeus
 
This fall we introduced our brand new 8-week unit, Taxonomy of Living Things: The Five Kingdoms, our brand new Research Discovery Guide. Learning about the way scientists organize living things teaches us about, not only nomenclature, but also about anatomy.  Making models alongside research is a super way to commit this information deeper into understanding.  
 
This project began with a challenge to create imaginary insects. The goal was to solidify understanding of the first three hierarchies of taxonomy: Kingdom, Phylum, Class.
 
To begin, you might explore the following questions:
 
Q. What is an animal?
 
A. Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms that can can move spontaneously and independently.
 
Q. What is an invertebrate?
 
A.  Invertebrates are animals without a vertebral column.
 
Q. What is an arthropod?
 
A. An arthropod is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and jointed appendages. 
 
Q.  What is an insect?
 
A. Insects are a class of invertebrates within the arthropod phylum that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body, three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes and one pair of antennae.
 
Now, using Fimo clay, wire, pipe cleaners, tiny pompoms, T-pins, and whatever other materials you can imagine, create an imaginary insect following the guidelines of biological taxonomy. Be sure to show the stages of metamorphosis. When your model is complete, pin it and create a label identifying the insect through all the taxons (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species). The first three are given, use your imagination create names for order, family genus and species.
 
Research is an extraordinarily important skill across all subject areas. Coupling research with hands-on projects will build knowledge through creativity, and this is the kind of knowledge that lasts. 
 
-Kim