Saturday, November 29, 2014

LEGO Mindstorms on the ALSC Blog

I'm over at the ALSC Blog today talking about my LEGO Mindstorms program adventure. Check it out!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Storytime - Counting


Ten Terrible Dinosaurs by Paul Stickland - This counting story about dinosaurs went over okay with my group. I don't know that I'd use it again.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin - You can't go wrong EVER with Pete the Cat! I did this one as a flannel story and had the kids sing his button song along with me.

Source for Flannel


Five Funny Dinosaurs (w/ flannel)

(Tune: Five Green and Speckled Frogs)

Five funny dinosaurs (hold up five fingers)
Let out a great big ROAR! (Roar)
And ate up some most delicious leaves, YUM YUM (rub tummy)
One jumped into the pool (hold up one finger and "jump" through other arm)
Where it was nice and cool
Now there are four funny dinosaurs (hold up four fingers)

Continue with 4, 3, 2, and 1

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Zoom zoom zoom, we're going to the moon (clap or swish hands)
Zoom zoom zoom, we're going to the moon
If you want to take a trip, climb aboard my rocketship
Zoom zoom zoom, we're going to the moon
Zoom zoom zoom, we're going to the moon
In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... (count down on fingers and slowly crouch lower)
BLAST OFF! (jump up in the air)

(Thanks to Jbrary for this awesome song! This one is so popular with my babies and toddlers, I usually have to do it more than once.)

Storytime - Thanksgiving


All for Pie Pie for All by David Martin - This is a cute story about a grandma cat who makes a pie for Thanksgiving. Everyone in the cat family eats a piece until there's one piece left. Then the Mouse family comes along and eats all but one crumb. Then the Ant family comes along...and you can guess what happens. It's a cute story that's perfect for sharing with either toddlers or preschoolers!

Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes - This is a sweet, short story about all sorts of things to be thankful for in life. I prefaced the story by teaching the kids the sign for "Thank You" and made the book interactive by asking them to sign and say "thank you" with me on each page.


Chicken in the Barnyard

Chicken in the barnyard staying out of trouble (draw a circle on your child's palm)
Along came a turkey and... (walk fingers up child's arm)
Gobble gobble gobble! (tickle all over)

If You're Thankful and You Know It...
(Tune: If You're Happy and You Know It)

If you're thankful and you know it, clap your hands
If you're thankful and you know it, clap your hands
If you're thankful and you know it, then your face will surely show it
If you're thankful and you know it, clap your hands

...Stomp your feet
...Say, "I am!"
...Do all three

Storytime - Owls


Owl Babies by Martin Waddell - I did this story as a flannel, which you can see more on here.

Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood - This is a great book all about colors.


Five Hoot Owls (w/ flannel)

Five hoot owls sitting in a tree
One flew away
How many do you see?
1, 2, 3, 4

Continue with 4, 3, 2, and 1

If You Want to Be an Owl
(Tune: If You're Happy and You Know It)

If you want to be an owl, say "Who who!"
If you want to be an owl, say "Who who!"
Then you get to sleep all day
And at night you get to play
If you want to be an owl, say "Who who!"

...If you want to be an owl, flap your wings
...If you want to be an owl, blink your eyes

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pizza and Pages: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Type of Book: Sci-Fi

Plot Summary:
From Goodreads: "Matteo Alacran was not born; he was harvested with the DNA from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium. Can a boy who was bred to guarantee another’s survival find his own purpose in life? And can he ever be free?"

Average Teen Rating: 6.07
I was actually pretty shocked at how polarizing this book was! About half of my teens loved it and rated it at a 10. The rest complained that it was too slow at the beginning or too depressing and gave it low marks.

Discussion Questions:

I found discussion questions from the Multnomah County Library website and from Miss Giggles.

1. Why do you think the decision was made not to blunt Matt's intelligence? Do you think his life was easier or more difficult because of this?

2. Is a clone still human, or something else?

3. Is someone's personality formed more from their genetics or their upbringing (nature vs. nurture)?

4. Did you realize right away that this was set in the future or did you think it was in the past/present? How far into the future do you think it is?

5. What do you think happened in the story's world between now and then to make the world the way it is?

6. Do you think this could happen to us?

7. Would you clone yourself? What would you use your clone for?

8. If you lives in Matt's world, would you clone yourself to live longer or be more like El Viejo?

9. Do you think Celia's solution of poisoning Matt so that he couldn't be an organ donor to El Patron was a good one? Was there a better way?

10. Will you read the sequel?

Anime Club: Sushi Rolling

This month for our anime club meeting, I wanted to try sushi making. It was quite the learning experience, but for the most part, things went pretty smoothly.

First, I researched sushi rice recipes as this is the basis for a good sushi roll. The recipe I went with is this one. It's super easy to make. I made a small trial batch in a saucepan on the stove, but then I purchased a rice cooker to make a big batch for the meeting. Whichever one you are comfortable with will work. (Note: I had about 20 teens at my meeting so I use 10 cups of dry rice thinking that would be a good amount...WRONG...I made waayyyyy  too much! Next time, I would probably only make around 6 or 7 cups of dry rice.)

I found the sushi rice, nori, and rice vinegar at my local Asian market. To make basic sushi, you need:

  • Sushi rice
  • Nori sheets
  • Carrot slices (I found bags of matchstick carrots at the grocery store that we the perfect shape/size. But you could also buy whole carrots and julienne them yourself.)
  • Cucumber slices (I had a slicer/julienne mandoline that made cutting them up super easy and quick. But again, you could do this by hand with a knife.)
  • Cream cheese
  • Imitation crab meat
  • Soy sauce
  • Wasabi

I also provided the following:

  • Wax paper (In lieu of spending a fortune on sushi rolling mats for 20 teens, wax paper works just as well!)
  • Chopsticks
  • Small cups - for soy sauce dipping (purchased at my local party store in bulk, but I've also seen them at Target.)
  • Plastic spoons - for spreading rice
  • Serrated knives - for making sushi slices
  • Small plastic cups of water - This helps when you are trying to close your nori roll. If you wet your finger, it helps seal the nori closed.


1. I had the teens come up to the counter and load up a paper plate with their ingredients. Then they took their stuff back to the tables. 

2. Lay out your nori sheet on the wax paper.

3. Spread a thin layer of rice onto the nori. Be careful not to lay it on too thickly or you'll end up with a sushi burrito!

4. Add your preferred ingredients on top of the rice (carrots, cream cheese, crab, etc.).

5. Use the wax paper to help you roll your sushi. Make sure you don't end up with the wax paper inside your roll!

6. Wet you finger to seal the nori roll completely. The warm rice should also help with this.

7. Let your sushi cool down for a few seconds before slicing to make it easier.

8. Carefully use a serrated knife to cut the sushi into slices.

9. Dip sushi into soy sauce or wasabi and enjoy!

This activity took a lot of prep ahead of time, but in the end it was worth it. The teens had a blast making (several) rolls of sushi and watching some anime.

Have you ever made sushi with teens? What ingredients did you use?