It is time for our monthly literacy guest spotlight Q & A. Last month, we chatted with Tracy Reynolds. This month we get to meet a great friend of mine- Laura Mueller! Everybody needs a friend like Laura in your life. She’s witty, compassionate and personable. Laura and I met while teaching across the hall from each other in the mid 90’s and have been friends ever since. One of the best qualities Laura has is that she is passionate about developing strong and loving relationships with her kids while weaving a whole lot of learning in there too. So, let’s chat with Laura.
Laura, tell us a little about yourself.
So, I’m a mommy to 6-year-old Sky and 4-year-old Juliette. I spent 10 years teaching second and third grades and spent a year as a reading specialist. Now, I stay home and teach my girls every chance I can get.
You have a very cool art studio space in your house for your girls. How have you incorporated art with literacy?
I don’t want to say that my girls are picky eaters, but when they try a new food at dinner it’s pretty much all I can think about. I’m jumping for joy – on the inside.
One night we decided to start keeping track of all of the new foods we were trying. We made little colorful cards for the table and every time someone tried a new food, we wrote it on the card and hung it on the wall. We even put repeat foods up that we had tried already but hadn’t necessarily taken to, because sometimes it takes 10 times, or so, before we like the taste of a new food. The girls got a bit gutsier and were thrilled to show Hiya (their grandma) when she came over.
My biggest artsy move with literacy thus far came 2 years ago after our reading of Look! I Can Tie My Shoes when my daughter Sky was 4. In it, the illustrated girl learns to tie her shoes using a shoelace that is half red and half blue, making it so much easier to determine which lace to loop, which to swirl and to find the little hole to tuck it in. Immediately we set off to find these laces, but to no avail. After coming up empty, we decided to create our own using white cotton laces, colored dyes and wax to keep the 2 sides from blending. Sky learned quite quickly with them, so I began a bi-colored shoe lace company and she has since taught her younger sister Juliette, as well. Our laces can be found at ShoelaceMomma on Etsy.
Tell us about some of the favorite books in your household this year.
We have many favorite books in our house. My 6 and 4 year old daughters are intrigued by the way the Little House in the Big Woods girls lived. We laugh at the silliness of An Elephant and Piggie stories and the Frog and Toad series. All of Mo Williams books are great beginning reader books.
After repeat readings of Hailstones and Halibut Bones, Mary O’Neill’s classic book of poetry in which she uses figurative language so eloquently to describe each color, Sky and I took a crack at writing our own version.
We decided to start with blue and then brainstormed everything we could think of that was blue. Next, we found an image of those blue items on Yahoo Images to see if it inspired us. Sky would come up with a line to describe it and then we’d brainstorm words that rhymed with its ending word.
Here’s an example:
Sky came up with this beginning line: some scissors can be blue, I think
Then we brainstormed all of the words that we could think of that rhymed with think
Here’s Sky’s work so far:
What is blue?
Some scissors can be blue, I think.
Sometimes blue is made into ink.
A square is blue with 50 stars
and sometimes there can be blue cars.
A lollipop’s swirls are blue and white.
Sometimes you can see blue in night.
The sky can be many shades of blue.
An eastern blue bird can be, too.
This activity was oozing with literacy. We talked about rhythm, rhyme and personification. She also applied how reading others’ writing can inspire us to write our own pieces. Can’t wait to do a new color with her.
Your oldest daughter just started first grade. What are some ways that the her school promotes literacy or helps parents learn about literacy?
In kindergarten, Sky’s school promoted literacy by sending home Madagascar the monkey every 19 school days. We took him on many adventures and then journaled about him afterword.
What are YOU reading right now?
Book on the nightstand – If I Have to Tell You One More Time
In it, the author, Amy McCready talks about the downfalls of praise (creating children who get their self-esteem from others), using the adult voice with our children instead of the I’m-going-to-tell-you-what-to-do parent voice and avoiding telling children all the time to ‘be careful’, because it puts an element of ‘mom doesn’t have much faith in me’ in their minds. Always looking for ways to improve mommy skills.
Laura, thank you so much for sharing a little slice of your reading life with your children!
Stay tuned next month when we will visit with Sarah Yates who is an educator and soon to be parent! If you would like to be featured in the Literacy Guest Spotlight Q & A, please contact me.