Friday, December 16, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Best Books 2016!

A student asked me this week what my favorite children's book of all time is. OF ALL TIME! Goodness, how can I choose just one? I can hardly choose a small handful for my favorite books of the YEAR!

Here are 14 books published in 2016 that made me squeal with delight, feel warm fuzzies, and/or want to hug them. Yes, it's a very personal and not at all objective list. Links to the "Best of 2016" lists from a variety of sources are located at the end of this post. Enjoy!

Natalie 's 2016-favorites book montage

Leave Me Alone
Du Iz Tak?
When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons
The Sound of Silence
Steamboat School
We Are Growing!
Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs
The Cookie Fiasco
Freedom in Congo Square
They All Saw a Cat
The Thank You Book

Natalie Sapkarov Harvey's favorite books »

Best of 2016 Lists

Sunday, November 13, 2016

#worldkindnessday is today

But kindness is something we spread and share every. single. day. So many children's books teach kindness through stories of friendship. One of my favorite picture books is A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead - the story of a zoo filled with animals who miss their friend on a day when he is not able to come to work and care for them. So, what do they do? Well, I won't spoil the story for you. :)

For more books with the theme of kindness, check out:

And a couple tweets to celebrate today especially:

With love and kindness,

Monday, October 31, 2016

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not!)

Just in time for Halloween, Ruth and Dee's language groups are getting started on a new writing piece mixing fact and fiction. Last week, I read aloud Peter Brown's My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not!) to get students thinking about people in their lives and the animals they may resemble. In this story, the teacher stomps and roars like a monster, and it's only after spending some time at the park with her student does she become less like a monster and more like a human.

After we read the story, we brainstormed our own pairings and were able to name specific traits the humans and animals shared. 

We are using information we already know about animals and have learned from the PebbleGo Animals database to build a case for why our chosen humans are whatever animals we choose. This week, we will begin mapping out our stories!

River students generate comparisons for their own stories.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fans of Elephant & Piggie...

The Thank You Book marked the final installment in the Elephant & Piggie series, the complete series totaling 25 beloved stories! It's certainly a favorite in Lower School - check out our shelf below:

Now that this series over, though -

What to read next?!

From Mo Willems' website
While Elephant & Piggie have retired from having adventures of their own, they are happy to introduce and share a brand new set of friends in each book of the new Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series. These two books are just as funny, lovable, and clever!

Happy reading,

Monday, September 26, 2016

Lunch recess in the library!

Have you heard about lunch recess in the library?

Four days a week, students have the opportunity to stop in the library during lunch recess to participate in Make-it Monday, Storytime Tuesday, Workout Wednesday, Thinking Thursday, and/or read and check out books. It's a busy time of day in the library!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Lounging in the library

During these first two weeks of school, classes have been visiting the library for tours and orientation. The library has also been open during lunch recess since the first full day of school, and returning students were eager to start checking out books. We had nearly 60 students reading and lounging in the library last Thursday - that's just about half of Lower School!

This Monday, all Lower School students will have the chance to check out books, some bringing them home for the first time. For information about checkout procedures and policies, please refer to this document

Happy reading!

Saturday, August 27, 2016


Can't wait to start the 2016-17 school year? Neither can we!
A photo posted by Lower School Library (@cfslslibrary) on

See you next week, friends!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Author spotlight: Wendy Mass

Getting ready to go back to school? I am! One of the first things Forest and Mountain classes will learn about in the library this year is the Forest & Mountain Reader's Choice Award. One of our nominees,The Candymakers, is written by author extraordinaire, Wendy Mass. Check out this lovely interview with her below!

See you soon!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Annual Report & Summer Reading are here!

Happy last day of school, friends! As much as I can't believe this school year is over already, I know I am certainly ready for summer - I bet you are too!

When you're not lounging on the beach, sleeping until noon, or eating breakfast for dinner (oh, is that just me?), take a look at the library's annual report (filled with gorgeous pictures of our readers) and my summer reading recommendations.

Happy summer reading,

Monday, May 30, 2016

Mountain class studies NC animals

For the past three months, Mountain class students have been studying animals native to North Carolina. We kicked off this major project with book and web research on a self-selected NC animal. After reading about their animals and taking notes to synthesize their reading, students wrote informational reports including a physical description of the animal, habitat, diet, impact on our world, and more.

Students also designed and created models of their animals using recycled materials such as plastic bottles, cardboard, and cork. For an added challenge, students found ways to make their animals move in preparation for the upcoming group video.

With reports written and animals built, students were then divided into small groups to write and produce animal documentaries inspired by the Amazing Animals series by National Geographic. Each student completed a storyboard first, including a script, transitions between videos, and ideas for background images. Most students filmed their videos using a green screen, then substituted the background for a Creative Commons-licensed image they found using this library link. The final step was to put all of the individual student videos together to create a cohesive group animal documentary. Enjoy the videos below!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Life before/after Harry Potter

Open in a new window.

Click here for a printer-friendly book list.

Happy reading!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Take them home - and don't bring them back!

For the past three weeks, the Book Swap Shop Interest Group organized and promoted a Lower School Book Swap by making signs to post around the school, a video to show during Monday settling in, and announcements in their classrooms. They got a little taste of event planning and, of course, first dibs on the books on the big day!

We opened the Book Swap Shop this past Friday during Interest Groups and invited students who had brought books these past two weeks to come shopping for new (to them) books. 

Because many students brought more books than they took home and others wanted to donate their books to Book Harvest, we ended up with over 100 books at the end of the swap. While the original plan was to donate all of the leftovers to Book Harvest, a student suggested that we first offer them up to the rest of Lower School. So we set up some tables at dismissal and let families browse! We had a great turnout and lots of positive responses. And we still have two boxes of books that we will donate to Book Harvest!

Happy reading, 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

We have a winner!

This week, Forest and Mountain classes voted for their favorite picture book nominated for the 2016 North Carolina Children's Book Award!

Abby and Joanna have been reading the nominees during lunch since Winter Break. Although teachers have their favorites, they are not allowed to vote! This is truly a children's choice award, so only students in North Carolina are eligible to vote. Check out the video below to see our young voters in action!

Now that all four classes have voted, we have a Lower School winner! 

Congratulations to Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Christian Robinson! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Today we celebrate the life and works of Dr. Seuss, who would have been a ripe 112 years old!
File:Ted Geisel NYWTS 2 crop.jpg

As children and teachers are reading and sharing his books nationwide during Read Across America day, I thought I might first share some information about who this creative genius was and then some websites to explore as a family.

"Get to Know Seuss" from Scholastic News, March 2014
Read the article by logging into our school subscription to EBSCO Explora!
(same username and password as World Book Online)

Read the chapter on Dr. Seuss in Biography for Beginners: All Authors (2005) 
by logging into our school subscription to SIRS Discoverer! 
(same username and password as World Book Online)

For some more interactive Seuss fun, check out the Seussville website!

Also, check out the PBS Kids show The Cat in the Hat Knows a LOT About That!

Happy rhyming,

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mystery Skype with Forest class

This week, Forest class prepared for and participated in a Mystery Skype session with another fourth grade class in the United States. Mystery Skype is a global geography game played through Skype between two classes in different parts of the country or world. The object of the game is to guess where the other class is located by asking yes/no questions.

We split the class into Question/Answer teams - the Question team was responsible for coming up with questions to ask the other class so that we could figure out their location. These questions had to be vague enough that we could eliminate many states at once but also be responsive to the answers we had already received. The Answer team made sure to answer correctly the questions posed by the other class about our whereabouts. This team had to be intimately familiar with where North Carolina is in relation to other states and landmarks. We also had teams of students to greet the class, share information about our state, and document the whole experience in photos and videos.

And what a great experience it was! We found out that the other class lives and goes to school in New Jersey, the Garden State. Their state flower is the violet, their state vegetable is the tomato, and their local sports teams are the New York Giants and the New York Jets. 

Thank you to Room 15 for being our first Mystery Skype!

We also shared similar information about our state and told them about our school. Forest class students did a fantastic job of working together, using their map skills, and communicating with our Mystery class. Check out the video below!

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