Tag Archives: outside the box

PLAY: How To, by Julie Morstad

how toSo, do you sometimes go through phases of feeling disconnected from life, like you’re observing things, but not really a part of what you see going on around you? The end of the school year often does this to me, as the summer inches closer. I’m always surprised that I don’t feel pure elation the closer the school holiday gets. Instead it’s mostly just plain exhaustion and glazed-over-ness.

The other day I was walking home in a daze in the rain after a super long day. It was really coming down and I had too many bags and a too-small umbrella and I was getting soggier and grouchier with every step. “Grumble grumble,” I thought as I squelched step by step closer to home. And then I saw her. A kid, probably six years old, wearing a pink raincoat and matching rubber boots. She was leaping around in the rainwater that was rushing down the street like a mini river in the sidewalk gutter.  She couldn’t have been more delighted – or delightful to watch.

That little moment woke me up. I may be bone tired right now, but deep down, I know I’m ready for a summer that’s full of the simple happy things life has to offer: popsicles, cool park grass, the scent of warm pine needles, dog kisses, lake sunsets, books (lots and lots), music in the kitchen, cat naps (with cat), movies, late nights hanging around with friends and family. Who knows, perhaps I’ll fit in a little puddle jumping?

In September, I’m going to be surrounded by many small puddle-jumpers as I start the process of magicking myself into a Kindergarten teacher, and I’m pretty sure that my students’ energy and curiosity and wonder will inspire me everyday. So, to get in the spirit of things, all summer long I’ll be reviewing a whole lotta picture books. These will be the books I plan to use next year during my first year in Kindergarten. In the weeks ahead, I’ll share some of the best books I can think of that explore, define, and celebrate some of the big ideas I hope will be central to daily life in my classroom. Today, I’m starting things off with the theme of PLAY, and “how to,” a simply gorgeous book by Julie Morstad. Continue reading

Day 9, book 9: Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds

There are some picture books that I buy for the library with a particular teacher in mind, something that might not find its way into everyone’s classroom, but that will be just perfect for that one person’s program. And then there are books like Sky Color, the third in Peter H. Reynolds’ “Creatrilogy,” after The Dot and Ish. It’s going to get snapped up before I can even put it out on display. This I know for sure. Teachers have a lotta love for The Dot and Ish. I will be a hero when they find Sky Color in the library.

“How am I going to make the sky without blue paint?” This is Marisol’s problem when she agrees to paint the sky for the library mural, but finds that there isn’t any blue in her box of paint. So, quite literally, she is forced to think outside the box. Where else to look for answers than out the window? This is exactly what Marisol does on the way home, and that night she dreams of a whole different kind of sky, “swirling with colors.” In the end, Marisol finds her way, and she finds sky color.

Reynolds loves exploring the notion of self-expression and the individual’s creative journey beyond perceived limitations and rules. On the last page, he dedicates the book to someone in his life who “took the blue paint away and helped me paint – and think – in sky color.” I like that while Reynolds’ books are certainly about creation and art, the ideas and lessons in them can be extended beyond these areas, informing how kids think and see the world in general.

The illustrations start off quite muted, mostly black and white and shades of grey with only touches of colour, until the sky comes in, and then Reynolds shows off a gorgeous wash of orange and yellow and pink and purple. The last two pages contain the children’s mural, in a wordless double-page spread filled with colour, and all of the young artists standing in front of it, taking it in. I’m sure Sky Color will inspire a similar response in all who read it. If you need a little awe in your day, look no further.

Sky Color is published by Candlewick.