Monday, April 29, 2013

Summer camp at OWS: 5 weeks of learning, exploring, friends and fun!

Why not sign up for a week (or five...!) of summer camp at OWS? We offer a flexible schedule, so you can take just a morning camp, just an afternoon camp, or a full day where you choose a combination of activities that work for you! Morning and afternoon childcare is also available.

Take a look at the online catalog to see what's on offer for students entering kindergarten through 7th grade. Non-OWS families are very welcome, so please pass this information on to your friends and family!

I will be teaching three weeks of camps for students entering kindergarten and am very excited about planning a range of interesting and engaging activities. Science and art are two of my personal favorite subject and there is nothing like the enthusiasm that kids this age bring to everything they do.

Week 1: July 8-12 - Bug Out with Bug Art
Did you know that about 80% of the world’s animal species are insects? Explore the magic and mystery of these amazing creatures through art! Create colorful caterpillar collages, handmade insect treasures, and more!

Week 2: July 15-19 - Moon Mission
Learn what it takes to become an astronaut! Hear stories about the moon from cultures around the world! Find out about the history of space exploration! There will be lots of art projects, experiments and drama games as your child takes a trip to the moon!

Week 3: July 22-26 - Creation Station
Do you love getting creative with your hands? Are you filled with pride when you create an original work of art? Here is the chance for you to develop your skills as an artist using different materials each day!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Matt Haig's 30 Things to Tell a Book Snob

Not that any of you are book snobs, naturally! But unfortunately they are out there and this wonderful blog post sums up concisely and eloquently exactly how I feel, particularly this pithy sentence: "If books ever die, snobbery would be standing over the corpse."

Children are especially vulnerable to the judgments of book snobs, since their tastes are evolving, they do not critique books in the same way as adults, and they have not begun to read what they think they "should" as opposed to what they really wish to.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book apps!

Do any of you use book apps? I've been hearing more and more about them lately, for example in this interview with author, artist and book app designer, Roxie Munro. She talks about what kinds of books work particularly well as apps, what to look for (and avoid!) in book apps, and also what the research says about how apps can best promote literacy for the youngest users.

Want to see how a book app is made? Roxie shares this link to the studio that took one of her maze books from print to iPad! They show step-by-step how much work goes into developing a high quality book app.

Planet App, a School Library Journal article, is a couple of years old, but has some good recommendations and suggestions for how to evaluate picture book apps.

And for you older readers, check out this Teen Book App that will put great book suggestions at your fingertips!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Letters about Literature

Today I'd like to share a letter by one of my 5th graders who received an Honorable Mention - the third highest honor at the state level! - in the Library of Congress' Letters about Literature contest. This involves young people writing to the author of a book that touched them or changed their world view in some way.

(In addition, I was pleased to discover that ten students from our school were semi-finalists. You can read winners from past years on their site.)

Here is Sarah's beautiful letter to author and MFA writing professor, Sally Hobart Alexander. With her family's permission, I am sharing it here because it moved me so. It also exemplifies how books can connect us in profoundly personal ways.

Dear Sally Hobart Alexander,  

    Before I read your book, Do You Remember the Color Blue?, I worried that when I went blind I would not be able to dream. I worried that I would not remember what anybody or anything looks like. I worried that I would be incapable of doing most things for myself. I might go completely blind one day. The thought has always scared me.
       My left eye is totally blind, since around the time I was born.  Like you, I had a retinal detachment. The problem is I can’t dream out of this eye. It feels like nothingness, like it is just another part of my cheek.  I don’t even see blackness, nor the constant smoky white fog that you experience. There’s nothing.  My right eye has glaucoma. I assumed that if it also went blind, it would feel the exact same way as my left eye. I feared that I would be enveloped in infinite nothingness. Forever.

       Successful retina and glaucoma surgeries on my right eye didn’t ease my worries. It brought them all to the front of my mind.  After my recent surgery, right after Thanksgiving, my doctor reminded me what to look out for - random things wriggling around in my vision, similar to what you saw when you were swimming in California.

       Relief flooded through me when I read about your experiences going blind. You helped me realize that if I lose sight in my right eye, my life will not be an isolated world of darkness. I will still have great friends and a successful career.  I will still dream in full color. My life will be just as fun and exciting. The one thing you said that made my heart sing, is that as long as I practice visualizing, I can keep memories of the ones I love, of indescribable moments, of childhood - laughing and playing.

       You also warned me that people might treat me differently. I feel prepared for this reaction. I will make sure to stay independent like you are. You could only see very little when you took your 15 week residential course for newly blind adults. However, I’ve had braille and cane lessons for as long as I can remember. After reading your book, I am confident that I can use these resources effectively when I need them. Perhaps I’ll get a guide dog like Ursula, so I don’t have to rely on my cane the entire time.

       Ursula sounds like a very special friend, so helpful and loving. I think she would suit my personality very well, since we both like to work hard and play hard. Two summers ago, my friend Annie and I went to puppy camp. I was delighted to meet and take care of black and golden Labrador puppies who were training to be guide dogs for the blind. I fondly remember the retired guide dog, a golden retriever, who was actually losing her vision. I felt sad that she couldn’t work anymore, but glad she was loved so much.  The care goes both ways.  I think the moral for guide dogs is the more you take care of your owner, the more someone will take care of you.

         As I read your book, my worries lifted, like mist on a cool summer’s day. I have faced my fears about blindness, and whisked them away with your help. Thank you with all my heart for teaching me that if I do go blind, I will still be able to have a formidably happy and successful life.

       Sarah Rose Smale

Monday, April 1, 2013

Jack & Annie come to Seattle!

Guess who's coming to town? It's the Passport to Adventure: Magic Tree House Live Reading Tour  featuring "a live, theatrical performance with songs based on the bestselling Magic Tree House series. Events will include cool giveaways, and an official Jack and Annie book stamping."

This all takes place this coming Saturday, April 6th, at 2pm at the University District branch of  UBS.