Saturday, August 28, 2010

Baby Fritzy and the Varmint

Last year my granddaughter was given 2 guinea pigs.  Recently one died and so we were going to bring another one to her when we made the trip to Miles City.  Since I was getting my classroom ready for the start of the new year I gave my husband the task of finding a guinea pig.
He checked at one of the pet shops they wanted $35.00 and had the gender we were looking for.  Then he noticed that our local animal shelter had two guinea pigs. They had been brought in by different families.  We adopted one for $10.00 and proceeded to bring him home.
I took him out when we got home.  Sammi immediately went into staring mode.  Max and Lady were "Ho Hum" now what? Baby Fritzy immediately started licking her chops.  She came towards me and the guinea pig immediately started fearful chatting.  I responded with a firm "No".
Baby just looked at me with puzzlement and confusion.  She was sure she had misunderstood. Surely we meant for her to have the varmint for dinner.  Deciding she had misunderstood me she came back and tried to take a bite, she connected with my hand.  The fearful chirping was fast as the guinea pig seemed to be saying"Grandma what big teeth you have", as she looked into the open mouth of Baby.  I pushed Baby away with my foot and said "No".  
Baby Fritzy looked at me with incredulity.  She couldn't believe I was serious about denying her this tantalizing morsel.  Dan told Baby that she couldn't eat the "little fellow".  She could sniff it and give it a lick but couldn't eat it.  She gave him a disgusted look and came up to me sniffed the critter and gave him a gentle lick.  Then sat down on her haunches and licked her chops in anticipation.
I put the guinea pig into a crate.  Sammi and Baby Fritzy stared at the guinea pig for hours.  The next morning I loaded the crate in our vehicle and came back into the house.  Baby was sniffing furiously - searching for the missing varmint.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Why Continue Teaching Kids How to Write A Friendly Letter?

In today's society we have text messages, email, cell phones, and a postal system that is losing money?  So why continue teaching students how to write a friendly letter?  Isn't it outdated?

I think that learning how to write letters is a skill that helps students process information.  We teach students how to write poetry and how to read it for deeper meaning. Yet probably most of us don't write poems in our daily adult life.  Yet we can appreciate the work done by others.  I think students should be exposed to many forms of writing.  It helps them develop many different skills that are important to their academic and social development.

As a librarian I am constantly trying to find ways to encourage students to take responsibility.  One of the problems I encounter is students forgetting to return their library books.    I know that the classroom teachers spend time teaching kids the parts of a letter.  I was sadly disappointed when I saw that many of my students were not able to apply that knowledge.  Last year I started having students write a letter to their parents/guardians when they had an overdue book.

After tweaking the project, my students gained letter writing practice and my books came back on a more regular basis.  This year I want to introduce letter writing through literature.  There are a number of picture books that make for a great lead in.

  • Dear Mrs LaRue: Letters from Obedience School by Mark Teague
  • Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James
  • Mailing May by Michael O. Tunnell
  • With Love, Little Red Hen by Alma Flor Ada 
  • The Jolly Postman by Allan Ahlberg
  • A Lucky Dog: Owney, US Rail Mail Mascot by Dirk Wales

For my older students showing them the importance of letters as a window to historical events seems like a great connection.  The National Postal Museum has some great information and curriculum units. The Pony Express is featured in Moving the Mail West.  The United States Postal Service curriculum resource center, is another great site for exploring history through stamps. Take a look at their education kits.

What do you think, should we continue to teach letter writing in schools?