Category Archives: reading

Book Buddy App: Must Have for Teachers and Librarians

I have been so excited to share an AMAZING iPhone/iPod/iPad app with you! It is called Book Buddy, but it may as well be called the Best Book Cataloging App Ever :). And no they didn’t pay me to say it- I truly just love it! In the digital age that we live in- and the easy access most of us to have technology- it just makes sense to have a digital database of all our books. It will make lesson planning easier as well as assisting you in trying to locate that one copy of a book you know you have SOMEWHERE.


Here are some of Book Buddy‘s great features….

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home screen of the Book Buddy app

1. You can easily add books to your library 3 ways: scanning the barcode, searching in an online database, or manually adding the books. You may think- why would I want to manually add books? Well, sometimes a book might not be in the database. OR you may want to add some of your classroom’s created books. Cute, right? It makes those homemade books feel more professional. 🙂

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2. While lots of books have pictures of the titles already stored in the database, there are exceptions. No worries though- YOU can take a picture of the book! This is another feature that you could use when adding those books made by your kiddos.

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3. After a book is added to your library that is in the database, there is a link to an online summary as well as reviews. This is also a great tool in getting additional background on the authors. There are also some links if you need to purchase more copies of the book.

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4. One of my favorite features of this app is the tagging system. You are able to easily add tags to each book that is in your Book Buddy library. You are able to sort and search books by tags. For example, after scanning “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” into my library, I added the following tags: “animals”, “breakfast”, “comical”, “level k”, “pigs”, “problem solving”, and “sequencing”. Now, when I am teaching a unit on pigs, I just look up all my books with the “pig” tag and this book and others will show up. No more searching through all the book tubs for titles! I just love this- especially when you have books that can be placed in various places in your classroom/home. Which bring me to the next reason I love this app….

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a few of the tags I added

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a look at some of the books listed under the tag “Pigs”

5. This is a great app to keep track of those leveled libraries! While it doesn’t look up the guided or lexile reading levels for you, if you know the level already simply add it as a tag. (I used a free app called Literacy Leveler to look up levels on some of my books). So if you are wanting to know all the level N books in your classroom, simply look up the tag. It will let you know all the titles despite the location (super useful if you have books everywhere- in baskets, themed tubs, bookshelves, etc) Which also brings me to the next reason I love this app….

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6.  You can sort your books into categories. Now you may wonder, how could I utilize this feature? Books that are scanned into this app are automatically placed in the “unfiled” section of your library and will remain there until you place them in a category. I have created categories for all the different locations where I may have books. Some of my categories are “Animal Tub”, “Biography Tub”, “Craft Room Bookshelf”, “Leveled Library”, and “Professional” (plus a TON more).  To add a book to a category, I go to my list of unfiled books, click on a book title, click on “move book” and then select the category. While this app does have the option of adding a physical location of each of your books, I found the categories much faster to add and it will be faster to edit the location- because lets face it, we are constantly moving books around. It is also easier to view all the titles in each of my tubs quickly while in the home screen of this app.

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a list of the unfiled books in my library

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7. You can sort your library by title, author, genre, rating, and more! A great way if you know you want a last minute author study of Eric Carle or want to see what historical fiction literature you can share with your students.

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8. If you have every spent hours at an expensive bookstore drooling over books with the intent to go home and find them for cheaper on Amazon (not that I have ever done that or anything) this will help you out! You can scan in books while at the store and add them to your wish list. Then the next time someone offers to get you a book for your library you can let them know specific titles right away. You can also printout a list of your wish list items to hand out to parents at conferences! 🙂 I LOVE it!!!!

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9. Book Buddy has a simple yet effective check out system. Just click on the title of the book, click edit, and then change the “loaned out” status from none to either an existing contact or create a new contact. There is no way to import a class list, but to be honest I didn’t have students checking out books to take home too often. You can view your list of loaned out books from the home screen, and you can also export a list of those books that are borrowed, upload it to dropbox, and print. Imagine how nice that would be to show parents at conferences- they would not only see what books their child needs to bring back but they could see what the book actually looks like- which might prove to be useful in locating it :). Which brings me to the final reason I love this app….

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10. You can back up your library. In this digital age of technology crashes- having a backup of data is a MUST. Especially if you have spent hours adding this data! You can also export and print your entire library- or just parts of the library. Like if I wanted a printout of all my Level M books so I could laminate it and place it next to my level M book tub, I would just go to settings, utilities, export, and then update the “My Books” section to the tag “Level M”. Click on export and there you go! If you have access to an airprinter you can print your wishlist, borrowed items, or an entire list of all books in your library. I think exporting them to Dropbox works better because you can export specific lists. And one thing I love about the lists is that there is a cute little thumbnail of the picture with information such as who it’s currently loaned out to, what category it’s in, and the different tags.

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There are so many other features too- you can recommend books in your library via twitter, facebook, or email. You can also keep track of books that you have borrowed from someone else. There is the ability to import files (haven’t tried this yet), mark books that are your favorites, add books to a series, and give books a rating (up to 5 stars). There is a free version, which I played around with until I felt comfortable paying for the upgrade- in my opinion the pro version is well worth the money!

Before I started scanning in 1500 books, I did my research. This app does everything I need and more- hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I do!

Happy Teaching

10 Ways to Share Charlottes Web With Your Preschooler

My daughter LOVES animals and we are all about books at our house! So I wanted to find some great read alouds for her that would suit her interests.  A couple of years ago we tried reading Dr Dolittle to my Boo… we got about 6 chapters in but we just couldn’t finish. About a month ago I felt like we were ready to try the chapter book thing again. I found an old copy of Charlottes Web and I knew it would be a perfect fit for my daughter. Before we started reading I did a little bit of prep work. I scoured the internet looking for ways to share this book with a preschooler. I found lots of websites with vocabulary worksheets, upper elementary reading comprehension activities,… lots of things that I knew wouldn’t specifically work for my daughter. I thought that since Charlottes Web was on so many of those must-read lists for preschool age children that I would find more activities to go along with it! But nothing that seemed to meet my needs.
So I came up with my own plan.
It’s nothing fancy, but it worked. My daughter was captivated from start to finish. Maybe some of these ideas will inspire you as you read this classic with your young child.

1- Find a stuffed pig (or spider). We found this beauty at a local book store for $2.99. Having a little Wilbur to snuggle with while reading gave my daughter something tactile to hold while soaking in this classic piece of literature.

feeding Wilbur became a nightly job

2- Act it out! This is a great story with so many different scenes to reenact with your child… don’t wait until the end of the book to do it either- you can start acting a section or chapter at a time. After reading the first chapter, I told my daughter that daddy was outside on his way to kill a baby pig. At first she looked at me like I was from another planet, but then she caught on and was outside screaming at daddy to save the pig. Daddy then gave her a shoebox with the stuffed pig inside…. quoting lines from the story. It was a wonderful retelling activity. We had a great time acting out other scenes- like Lurvy chasing Wilbur to put him back into his pigpen.

3. During the first chapter you are introduced to the vocaublary word “runt”. After explaining it to my daughter, we went to the store and bought a box of Runts candy and talked about why they are called that (because they are super small fruit). During some of the chapters I would pull out the box of Runts and everytime I would read the word “Wilbur” (or another word) she would get to eat one candy. She had to hear me say the word though… it kept her listening!

4. Make stick puppets. I did a quick google search for barnyard animals and easily able to find pictures of the characters. During some of the chapters I would pull out the stick puppets. They came in handy during the barnyard scenes when there was a lot of character conversation.

5. Take advantage of Youtube! We were able to see little videos of baby pigs, spiders spinning webs and making egg sacs, baby spiders hatching… kind of gross but it strengthened our mental images of the story.

6. Crafts! There are so many different preschool craft ideas that would go perfectly with this book. (think pigs, spiders,…any farm craft!) My daughter prefers acting over making, so we didn’t make any crafts… we are sticking with her interests!

7. In one of the chapters the author tells us Wilbur’s schedule for the day. After reading about his schedule, my daughter and I sat down and wrote our schedule. From the pic you can probably tell where I got input from her. 🙂

8. Make snacks! There are plenty of farm-related treats out there that you can snack on while reading. Due to time constraints we opted out of doing this…but it would be a fun, yummy activity!

9. Go to the play or watch the movie. We were fortunate enough to go see a live performance of Charlottes Web by a local childrens theatre company. It was SPECTACULAR. On the way home we talked about our favorite parts of the play, and any differences we noticed between the play and the book.

10. Play it. Pull out your old Little People barn and let your child recreate the magic of Wilbur and Charlotte. This was an activity my daughter requested again and again. And you don’t have to stick to the script- have fun with the characters and try and predict how they would act in different scenarios.

I absolutely love this children’s classic. Take the time to read it to your little ones!
Happy Teaching!

Letter E Candy

Boo and I recently had a Silent E day! I introduced her to this crazy letter and we started our learning adventure with a hunt for CVC and CVCV words. This was also the perfect time to introduce the sight word “like”.  

I found these ADORABLE printables from Tales of a Teacherista.  We printed them on card stock but instead of using the cutout letter e to turn those short vowels into long vowels- I decided we should make our own e.

I scrambled around our kitchen looking for something to use when I saw our Peach Rings (we have way too much candy on hand at our house). They worked PERFECTLY.

To make the lowercase letter e, you simply break the circle apart and bring the top loose end inside to make the loop. Super easy!

Boo had a riot making her own sugar “e”s, and the best part was that after she read a list of words with her candy e she got to eat it! An educational tool and a treat! This also helped her with writing the lowercase letter e.

Happy Teaching!

Quiet Kits: Digraphs Sort

Awhile ago I posted about our Sunday Sorts (sorting folder activity- perfect for quiet kits or just plain educational fun!). These sorts are simple, and only require the cards and a folder. We like these parent/teacher communication folders because of the clear inside and outside pockets!

I created this sort on the computer awhile ago- haven’t printed it yet due to low ink – and for that reason I have been putting off this post. So I apologize that there are no darling pictures of my girl playing with these cards…. maybe when I get around to buying ink (it’s so dang expensive!) I will have to update this post!

To download the free sort, click here: Digraph Sorting Folder Cards and Instructions

These cards took a long time and I am hoping that many of you out there in the blogosphere are able to use them!!

Happy Teaching!

Vowel Party!

To get my daughter familiar with the vowels, we had a little vowel party! First we played this fun game with the Education Cube letter inserts. 5 sides of the dice were the vowels a,e,i,o and u. The sixth side was a chicken. We rolled the dice. If the dice landed on a vowel,we would say both the long and short sounds. If it landed on the chicken, we did the chicken dance. The chicken dance provided enough silliness to keep my daughter engaged in the activity for a long time.

We also added vowel stickers to our exploration journal, played with the vowel foam letters in the bathtub, and made vowel puppets.

Some things we didn’t do, but would be fun, would be to make letter pretzels with the vowels, and go on a letter hunt for the vowels. There are also some cute videos and online games at star fall.com!

My favorite part of our little party was when my daughter told me some of the letters were crying because they wanted to be vowels. My Boo has such a tender heart for her ABC’s!

Making Words: Our Latest Mommy Made Book

I haven’t made one of these for awhile. It was SO nice to spend just a few minutes hours making a book for my daughter to practice her three letter words! The process took longer than I had thought- I wanted there to be just the right number of pages for the beginning, middle, and ending letters. Which meant pulling apart the blank flip book (I bought awhile ago from Bare Books) and arranging pages. Then I applied stickers which I promptly ripped off because they were not perfect. And then I started coloring the vowel pages yellow, which I did NOT like, which meant more pulling apart and rearranging of the book….
All for the final result, which I love.
Sure, the little pages are not all the same length, but I am pretty impressed with the outcome. We have had fun reading words with this little flip book, especially the silly words like mab and jum.
It took more time than I thought, but I love making books and instilling the love of reading to my little girl. 🙂

Happy Teaching!
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