Books for Kindergarten Students

As many of us are winding down the school year, it is encouraged to continue reading stories and picture books to our children throughout the summer season. This is especially important for the preschool and kindergarten aged students, so the Oak Meadow teachers teamed up and shared some of their favorite books for this age level:

Sarah Antel:

Tasha Tudor wrote some sweet animal stories.

What about Robert McClosky’s Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine?

I have memories of my parents reading me The Wind in the Willows no matter how old I was; it was my favorite story growing up.

Leslie Daniels:

One of my favorites for a kindergarten student is Adrienne Keith’s book, Fairies From A to Z. The drawings are colorful and delightful, and the book is formatted in poetry style. This book also includes special “fairy words” for each letter that are found along the borders of the pages. In addition, there is a fairy box (home) to construct at the back of the book. My own children at this age level loved this book – and they also loved making their own fairy boxes.

Also, we can’t forget the wonderful books written by Margaret Wise Brown, Elsa Beskow, and Barbara Berger. They are perfect for kindergarten students!

Meg Minehan:

In addition to some already mentioned, here are a few of my kids’ kindergarten favorites: My Father’s Dragon series, Jenny Linsky series, Pierre The Truffle Pig, and for a newer book – the Tumtum and Nutmeg series, which are contemporary but with that charm and adventure of The Wind in the Willows, etc. They are fabulous to read aloud.

Andy Kilroy:

My kindergarten-aged granddaughter is already reading pretty easily, so I have been spending my time with her on Explode the Code books. I have also been doing poetry with her, as she loves to make up rhymes. We are both rhyming straight up and she is writing songs, which she loves to do. When we do read, we do books in the “easy reader” genre, so they vary. I have not hit upon any that she likes as much as she likes the rhyming books. I have been trying to do some longer stories with her; she likes Mo Willems books that are written in the non-rhyming format, and she loved Angela and Her Alligator, which is a “chapter book”. She also liked the Berenstain Bears series, which includes great morals and values. My granddaughter also loves Gruffalo and Where the Wild Things Are.

Choosing which books to share with your kindergartener is where the home teacher can use intuition and knowledge of the child to branch out and get creative!

Tissue Paper Butterflies

Fly, fly butterfly.

Whither lies your way?

I fly to the sun

On this lovely spring day.

Fly, fly butterfly.

With wings of colored hue.

From the sun please bring us

A message or two.

Author unknown

I have discovered that watching butterflies is a delight at any age. I am in awe as I watch the butterflies emerge from their winter sleep or return home from their long migration. Butterfly watching is fast becoming a popular hobby. Did you know there are more than 650 species of these colorful winged insects in the U.S. alone? Did you know that people who study them are called lepidopterists?
1monarch-butterfly-on-flower-AWIN0908052-08Butterfly conservatories are a great way to observe many different species of butterflies, but most of you don’t even have to leave your backyard before you’ll notice them flitting about. If you are enthusiastic about attracting even more butterflies, you can plant particular varieties of flowers, such as Butterfly Bush, Butterfly Weed, Zinnia, Bergamot, Day Lily, Black-Eyed Susan, and Purple Coneflower, as well as herbs like Tansy, Garlic, and Chives.
1519fg78jCuL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Oak Meadow’s science courses in grades k-4 include various studies of the butterfly. In addition to the suggested lesson activities, you might include a guidebook, such as Robert Michael Pyle’s book, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies. Or perhaps you would enjoy sharing a butterfly story, such as Alan Madison’s Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly or Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Bruce Coville’s The Prince of Butterflies.
If it’s a rainy day, and no butterflies can be observed, you and your children might like to try your hand at making your own tissue paper “flutter-by”. You can make one that looks like your favorite butterfly, or you can create your own colorful design. Once you are finished, you can hang them altogether in a gentle breeze as a butterfly mobile, or you can hang them individually on a stick and fly them about.
Here are some very easy instructions:

  1. Cut at least two sheets of brightly colored tissue paper into 4” by 4” squares.
  2. Stack the squares on top of each other, fold in half and cut into the share of a butterfly’s wings.
  3. Fold a pipe cleaner in half and slide the tissue paper between the pipe cleaners, gathering the tissue paper a little if you like.
  4. Form the feelers and the tail by twisting the pipe cleaners at each end.

Oak Meadow 2015 Poetry Extravaganza – Part IV

Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance. ~ Carl Sandburg

Poetry is not just for students! Some of Oak Meadow’s faculty and staff write poetry on a regular basis. Here is a wonderful summertime poem from Oak Meadow staffer Ben Mitchell. Although it is only April, Ben says, “Remember, everyone, summer is coming!” Perhaps this poem will remind you of something to look forward to when the seasons change again.

Do You Ever
Do you ever lie on your back
in the damp grass
of August,
Stare into the universe,
the particles of debris
skipping across the ozone.
Once I saw three stars
in a perfect line
and for one, fine, splintered second, I could feel
the extraordinary intelligence-
every crooked twig,
each patch
of cow-chomped dandelion.
Ben Mitchell
Oak Meadow Director of Admission

Do you have a favorite memory that could become a thought-provoking poem? Sometimes the echo of an experience can be a gift to others or to one’s future self. What gift would you like to preserve in a poem?
We hope you will make a habit of reading and writing poetry throughout the year, sharing it with loved ones and anyone else who will listen!

Oak Meadow 2015 Poetry Extravaganza – Part III

The true poem rests between the words. ~ Vanna Bonta

We hope you have been enjoying the poetry that we have been sharing here In the Meadow in honor of National Poetry Month! Today’s poetry installation features a beauty of a poem as well as a work of visual art, both by Oak Meadow students.

Season of all Souls
by Brooke Doughty
The rain taps my windowpane,
faeries urging me out of foggy mind.
Winter is passed in the past,
Come forth.
dripping water washes away stillness,
a shower for these souls.
Free from earthy boundaries,
spin through the mist.
Rain as a waterfall falling upon me
Clearing winter from my body with a new breath.
The young leaves break from their buds –
children of the season.
Whispering the forest full of their joy and laughter.
Once again spring rain serves
as a clear sky,
where the mind and heart dance with the soul.
Brooke Doughty, 8th grade
Submitted by Oak Meadow teacher Lesley Arnold

In submitting this next piece, Oak Meadow teacher Julia West says, “I was so amazed by this project from Fiona Hall, a very talented artist. The assignment is to read parts of The Temple of Nature, a magnificent volume of poetry by Erasmus Darwin (Charles’ grandfather), and use it to inspire some either a poem, drawing, painting, etc. that addresses their understanding of natural selection.”
unnamed, by Fiona Hall

“unnamed” by Fiona Hall, 10th grade
Submitted by Oak Meadow teacher Julia West

Fiona describes her work: “The clearest depiction of evolution and natural selection in this image to me is the hand of an evolutionary ancestor of modern humans holding an infant, representing our evolutionary change over time. How all the creatures are clustered close together and intertwined represents the interrelation between all species, how we all started out in the same place as basically the same thing. Some of the animals depicted are now extinct showing how some die out whilst others continue develop and grow stronger. The butterfly is also a symbol to me (although its is kind of a stretch). I was thinking about the butterfly effect when I put it there, and how one extra beat of a butterflies wings can affect so much and change the course of history and evolution.”
We chose to include Fiona’s gorgeous piece because it was so beautifully inspired by poetry. As today’s opening quote reminds us, “the true poem rests between the words.” What does that mean? What do you feel between the words in these and other poems you’ve read?
More poetry to come tomorrow, the last day of our Poetry Extravaganza! Maybe you’ve written a poem this week, or maybe you’ve just thought about it. Keep writing and thinking!

Oak Meadow 2015 Poetry Extravaganza – Part II

 There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it. ~ Gustave Flaubert

Anyone can be a poet! But how?
All you need is an inspiring thought and the words to give shape to that thought in the mind of a reader. If you have words and thoughts, you have what you need to create poetry.

Image thanks to Shirley Tanzella

Some poems rhyme. Others are made up of artistic arrangements of words. Some follow conventional grammar rules and others play by their own rules. Some follow traditional poetry forms such as sonnets, haikus, or couplets; others are free-form. You are the poet, so you get to decide.
Sometimes poetry is inspired by a question, like this poem by Oak Meadow fourth-grader Sarah Cook:

What if?
What if the world went black?
What if there was no light?
What if everyone was mean and cruel?
What if you couldn’t see right from wrong?
What if all this was true?
What if?
Sarah Cook, 4th grade
Submitted by Oak Meadow teacher Andrea Kilroy

A wonderful poem can arise in response to an assignment. This next poem was written as part of Oak Meadow Ancient Civilizations Lesson 13:

 A Poem Paris Might Have Written to Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite
Brains, power, and beauty confronted me one day
(Aphrodite, Hera and Athena)
And my instructions they did say
I would rather have been eaten by a hyena!
I was to pick the best out of the three
I started with Hera and asked what I’d get
She said I’d get power and I’d be king of all countries
I considered her offer and started to sweat
I knew what she’d do to me if it was not her I picked
I quickly moved on to Athena who offered me what I really wanted
She would help me win any conflict
With visions of me not picking her I was haunted
I could not pick any of them without the others seeking me out
Sighing, I finally turned to Aphrodite
She didn’t me offer power and I was filled with doubt
She seemed, to me, to be a little too flighty
Then I heard her actual promise and knew what to do
I took the prize (a golden apple)
And through the air it flew
The three goddesses started to grapple
But the apple fell right in Aphrodite’s hand
Everyone stared at it, including me
The smile on Aphrodite’s face was grand
The other ladies’ expressions made me want to flee
However, I was not worried
For I got the most beautiful woman in the world
Aphrodite went over to me quite hurried
She chanted a spell, and poof! Away we swirled!
Aphrodite promised to help me win
Helen of Sparta, the most beautiful girl
Who wasn’t too fat and wasn’t too thin
Immediately I thought, well, let’s give it a whirl
After all, what could go wrong?
Allison Masthay, 6th grade
Submitted by Oak Meadow teacher Jessica Zehngut

Look all around for inspiration. You may find it in the most unlikely places!

Write from your heart and let the words flow.
Then share your poem with us in the comments below.

Anyone can be a poet. Just try it!

Oak Meadow 2015 Poetry Extravaganza – Part I

Poetry is art made of words. Oak Meadow students of all ages have the opportunity to explore poetry in their lessons. To celebrate National Poetry Month, Oak Meadow teachers selected some of their students’ best work to share. You will find it posted here “In the Meadow” over the next few days.
We hope this will inspire you — homeschoolers and parents and everyone reading this — to think about writing some poetry of your own. You can post your own contribution as a comment to add to our poetry celebration. Or just take a moment to read your poetry out loud to anyone who will listen — your parents, children, siblings, neighbors, friends, and pets (real or stuffed)!
Nature can be an endless source of inspiration for poetry. Oak Meadow second grader Tal Weitz wrote this beautiful rhyming poem about nature:
I listen to the sounds
of nature as I feel
that it had grinned.
I feel the soft
moonlight as I rest
within the wind.
Tal Weitz, 2nd grade
Submitted by Oak Meadow teacher Sarah Antel
Next is a poem by Oak Meadow student Penelope Sherck inspired by an Oak Meadow lesson. You can see a video of Penelope presenting her poem here. It is such a treat to see a poet’s own interpretation of their work!
The Earth Does Glow
Flowers bloom in meadows so sweet;The Earth Does Glow
Owls do caw in nights so sleek;
And mushrooms grow from here to there,
but only you and I know where.
The Earth does glow on nights like these;
The stars do shine as bright as day;
You and I now should see;
The Earth does everything
For you and me.
Penelope Sherck, 3rd grade
Submitted by Oak Meadow teacher Michelle Menegaz
We hope these poems will inspire you to write your own poetry and share it with us in writing, picture, or video. Tell us about your poem and what motivated you to write it. We hope you will give the world a chance to enjoy your poetry just as Tal and Penny have!

Riddle Me a Riddle!

What lives in winter,

Dies in summer,

And grows with its roots upwards?

For all of you vocabulary buffs:
Have you ever thought much about the meaning of the word, riddle?
Off the top of our heads, the definition that usually comes to mind for this word is a puzzle or a brainteaser. It’s actually quite a fascinating word, for it has many meanings and can be used as a noun, a verb or a transitive verb.
If you and your children love learning new words, The Free Dictionary by Farlex is a fun site to practice your skills.  You will find sections on: Word of the Day, Article of the Day, Quotation of the Day, English Language Forum, In the News, This Day in History, Today’s Birthday, Today’s Holiday, and even your Horoscope. There are also games that introduce new exciting words: Hangman, Spelling Bee, Match Up, and Words Within Words.
Riddles can even come in the form of songs, such as the traditional American song, “The Riddle Song”.
It is a riddling fact that you can be riddled with riddles. So here goes!

What word can be written forward, backward, or upside down,

and can still be read from left to right? 

There are so many marvelous books that introduce the world of riddles, jokes and tongue twisters. For the younger crowd on these wintry days when we are riddled with snow, try this one out that comes from Monika Beisner’s Book of Riddles:

I saw a man in white,

He looked quite a sight.

He was not old,

But he stood in the cold.

And when he felt the sun

He started to run.

Who could he be?

Do answer me.



I Am the World's Greatest Traveler!

What is a riddle? It’s a little poem or phrase that poses a question, and often has a double meaning. It requires ingenuity and creative thinking for the solution. Riddles can often rhyme, but it’s not a requirement. As a Tuesday Tickler for language arts, here is a riddle for you and your children!
Riddles for Kids!I am the world’s greatest traveler. I have been transported by camel, dog sled, pony express, bicycle, train, steamship, automobile/car, airplane, airship, and rocket. I have portraits of presidents, kings, queens, princes, princesses, shahs, sultans, tribal chiefs, adventurers, explorers, patriots, martyrs, inventors, pioneers, artists, musicians, architects, poets, aviators, dramatists, novelists, painters, athletes, cardinals, saints and sinners.
riddles-300x225I have pictures of foreign beaches, rivers, lakes, sounds, waterfalls, geysers, mountains, monuments, castles, temples and ruins of temples, missions, bridges, harbors, docks, locks, locomotives/trains, balloons, rockets, zeppelins, windjammers, native canoes, modern seaplanes, and the world.

I am the World’s Greatest Traveler. WHAT AM I?

Riddles for children

The United Nations Climate Change Summit

Many grade levels of Oak Meadow students have science lesson assignments that speak to global warming. Listen now to the powerful words that were spoken in poetry form by poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner at the United Nations Climate Change Summit on September 23, 2014 in New York City, NY. Her poem is amazing and beautifully spoken. Listen here:

“United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is hosting the Climate Summit to engage leaders and advance climate action and ambition. The Summit will serve as a public platform for leaders at the highest level – all UN Member States, as well as finance, business, civil society and local leaders from public and private sectors – to catalyze ambitious action on the ground to reduce emissions and strengthen climate resilience and mobilize political will for an ambitious global agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature.” From the UN Climate Change Summit website.

Shel Silverstein

Listen to the mustn’ts, child.

Listen to the don’ts.

Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.

Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…

Anything can happen, child.

Anything can be.

– Shel Silverstein

shel-silverstein-1Today is Sheldon Allan “Shel” Silverstein’s birthday! He was born September 25, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois. He was most notably known as the author of children’s poems and books, including the more popular Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and The Giving Tree.


Silverstein-where-the-sidewalk-endsDid you know that Shel Silverstein was not only an American poet, but also a cartoonist, screenwriter, and singer-songwriter? He didn’t start writing children’s books and poetry until he was 33 years old. He first studied music and established himself as a musician and composer. He even composed the song, “A Boy Named Sue”, which was popularized by Johnny Cash.
In the k-4 Oak Meadow courses, poetry plays an important role in the language arts. Shel Silverstein is by far one of the most revered poets, and his works are often memorized, recited and copied into the students’ poetry books. Even though Shel Silverstein passed away in 1999, his literary works and artistic endeavors live on. So, in honor of this comic genius, I would like to extend my appreciation for his fun, uplifting poetry. Happy Birthday, Uncle Shelby!


by Shel Silverstein

So what if nobody came?

I’ll have ALL the ice cream and tea,

And I’ll laugh with myself,

And I’ll dance with myself,

And I’ll sing, “Happy Birthday to me!”