Poem in your Pocket 2014

Poem in your Pocket Day is on 25 April. The elementary school will share poems on that day in their classrooms and with their friends.

In preparation, Poem in your Pocket posters have gone up in the elementary school.

Poem in Your Pocket posters are all around the elementary school.

Ms. Wang and Mrs. Fitzgerald put up the posters around 9 am and by 9:45, grade 1 students were reading and sharing them! We hope to inspire a love of poetry and language this month among all of our students.

Grade 1 students love sharing poems

How do the Poem in Your Pocket posters work?

  • Take ONE poem at a time to read and share
  • Put the poem back in the same pocket or another one
  • You can take a poem home but only one at a time please
  • You can write a poem to out in a pocket but it must be your best effort. Follow the writing process and write it in beautiful clear handwriting

How does Poem in Your Pocket Day work?

  • It’s on Friday, 25 April
  • Keep a poem in your pocket and share it throughout the day.

Do you have a favorite poem that you’d like included in the pockets? Type it up in the comments.

Grade 1 Looks for Mini Beast books

Grade 1 is starting a unit on “how we share the planet.” The focus of their unit is mini-beasts.

Ruchita explains that mini beasts are small animals. Momo says that mini beasts are animals and insects. Christian lists spiders and bees as examples of mini beasts.

In our library session today, the grade 1 students located books for their classroom. First they tuned in to mini beasts by listing some different types. Then they found books on the different mini beasts by browsing on the animal shelves. Since books are organized by subject, all of te books on beetles for example are together.

They sorted out the books they found using the five-finger rule. That is the rule that says to raise a finger when you find a word you don’t know. If you find only 1-2 words you don’t know on the page, the book is probably just right for you.

The g1 students used book paddles to help the. Return the unwanted books back to the shelves.


Grade 1 Learns about Forces with the Library OPAC

The library OPAC is a treasury of resources for our students. It is basically an online list of all our library materials, but it also holds a collection of useful links on the Visual Tab page.

Main search page of the library OPAC

Grade 1 is using the library OPAC’s Visual Tab to access information on forces for their unit on “how the world works.” Two of the websites featured are particularly useful to them: BrainPop and Bite-Sized Science from the BBC.

A link to the library OPAC can be found at the top left hand corner of this blog, but the URL is easy to remember:


To connect from home, you have to add :81 to the end of that address.

http://library.istianjin.net:81  (Update: As of March 2014, we have a single URL for the library OPAC.)

Landing page to library OPAC

Click on the blue link to the IST library and then you’ll be on the main search page of the library OPAC.

The Visual Tab is the third from the left. IST librarians have created pages on the Visual tab to many different topics and subjects. Elementary school students from grade 1 can click on the PYP UOI button to find links for each of their units on inquiry.

PYP UOI button on library OPAC's Visual Tab


PYP UOI page on OPAC's Visual Tab


Grade_1 button on OPAC's Visual Tab

BrainPop is a database of educational movies. It is an excellent and popular database with our students. The log in credentials for IST students and faculty can be found by logging in to the library OPAC or in student homework logs and Home-School Communication books.

Bite-size BBC Science is a website maintained by the UK’s BBC. The forces section on Bite-Size Science is just right for our first graders. More science topics are also available on the site.

The Visual Tab page for the grade 1 unit on forces also includes a list of IST library books suitable for the grade level. Some of them are checked out by the grade 1 teachers, but there still are lots of books available for students and parents to check out.

Have a favorite site that you’d like to see on the library OPAC? Email us the link. We’ll evaluate the site with its educational value in mind and will include it where appropriate.

See You in January!

Grade 1 girls pose in their Red and Green Day finery

What a buzz of excitement this last week with the holidays just around the corner. We wish you a very happy and restful break, and as always, that you spend it reading! Remember, books make great gifts.

Library books checked out for holiday reading are due on the first day back from school, not on your first scheduled library checkout day. Please return our books promptly so that others can enjoy them too.

We’re always happy to hear what you’re reading, so be sure to keep track. You might want to join a social network for readers like Goodreads or Shelfari. You can find me on Goodreads with the name fitziane.

Again, happy holidays and see you in January.

Book Talk: Trickster Tales

Trickster tales are a special type of folk tales in which weaker characters get the best of stronger characters. These are some of my particularly favorite stories. They’re perfect for a first library session with grade 1 who are starting to inquire into the ways we tell stories.

I read aloud the first two of the titles in this list with grade 1 and the others were checked out by grade 1 students.

From left to right and top to bottom.

  1. Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile, by  Won-Ldy Paye & Margaret H. Lippert. In this tale from the Dan people in Liberia, Mrs. Chicken convinces a hungry crocodile that they are sisters. Our first graders loved the clever Mrs. Chicken and the bold illustrations by Julie Paschki.
  2. Monkey, by Gerald McDermott. Monkey gets the best of Crocodile when he crosses the river to eat mangoes. The illustrations by Gerald McDermott are a collage of boldly colored papers which perfectly capture Monkey’s cheeky courage and Crocodile’s surly frustration in this trickster tale from India.
  3. Coyote, by Gerald McDermott. Another trickster tale retold by Gerald McDermott, this one from the Southwest of the United States. Coyote wants to learn to fly and the crows trick him into thinking he can with disastrous consequences.
  4. Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book, by Yuyi Morales. Señor Calavera (Death) comes knocking on Grandma Beetle’s door on the day of her birthday. She’s too busy to go with him so she makes him wait so long, he gets tired and leaves her to enjoy another year with her grandchildren. Mexico.
  5. Conejito: A Folktale from Panama, retold by Margaret Read MacDonald and illustrated by Geraldo Valerio. Conejito is my hands-down favorite folktale to read aloud. This version by Margaret Read MacDonald is an absolute delight. Follow Conejito as he goes up and down the mountain evading the lion, the fox and the tiger.
  6. Little Rooster’s Diamond Button, retold by Margaret Read MacDonald and illustrated by Will Terry. A favorite with IST students, Little Rooster gives as good as he gets when the King’s servants capture him. Another great retelling by Margaret Read MacDonald, this one appears in versions from many countries, but here Will Terry’s illustrations sets this version in Turkish occupied Hungary.

For a longer list of trickster tales in our library catalog, click here or use the keyword “trickster” in the main OPAC search page.

New and Improved Early Reader Section

Please come to the library to see our new and improved Early Reader collection. These are books that are “just right” to build confidence in our younger readers. They feature large fonts, simple language structures and lots of illustrations to help understand the text.

We had not had much circulation of these early readers. Our circulation statistics showed that they were mostly checked out by parents and teachers. As we want to promote independent selection of “just right” books among our younger readers, we needed to make these books more visible to them.

Sarah Ducharme is the librarian at the American International School of Budapest. Ms. Ducharme posted photos of her school’s early reader section and how she had had bookcases specially made to showcase their early readers. We didn’t have that option available to us, but when I found colorful tubs last weekend I knew we could use them to make our early reader section more attractive and easier to use.

The colorful tubs hold books by series or characters, for example, Fly Guy or Amelia Bedelia. Some also are by interest like “movies” or “scary books.” The books that don’t fit into any one category are in tubs by letter of the alphabet. Those labels say “A authors,” “B authors,” etc.

The response from our kindergarten and first graders has been enthusiastic. They each checked out two early readers this week and as you can see from the photos, some of the more popular series are already “sold out.” Circulation for this week doubled compared to the same week last year, and that is without the grade 2 students who will be coming this afternoon. We’ll keep monitoring the circulation to see how effective the new organization is, but we’re pretty sure it will be a big success. Already, several of our new tubs are empty as students have checked out all the titles in the series.

If you are a parent at IST, remember that you too can check out books. You will need to come to the library with your parent ID and create an account, and then you will be able to check out up to 10 books for 2 weeks. To see what our collection has to offer, please visit our library OPAC.


A special thank you to our volunteer, Astrid Breutzman, who taped all the labels on to the tubs.

Happy Birthday, Ju Bin!

Ju Bin celebrated her birthday at the library this week, by donating the book Secret Agent Splat! by Rob Scotton. This book follows Splat the Cat as he tries to unravel the mystery of his missing toy ducks. We had the first book in the series so we’re doubly delighted to receive this Birthday Book Club donation. Rob Scotton illustrations are funny and filled with clever details. Splat the Cat is sure to become a favorite at our library. In addition to picture books, Splat the Cat also features in early chapter books for beginning readers and we will be receiving several of those titles in February.

Ju Bin's Birthday Book 1 Dec 2012

Ju Bin is the first to check out this book, and a name plate commemorates the occasion. If you would like to participate in the IST Library Birthday Book Club, please let us know. It costs 150RMB per child and you can help us continue to improve our wonderful collection.

Thanks, Ju Bin! We wish you a very happy year in grade 1 and we hope you spend it reading!

Monkey Business

Grade one is working on one of my favorite units—The Stories Unit
Their central idea is …
We all use stories to share our ideas, feelings and what is important to each of us.

I had the opportunity to be a guest storyteller and share one of my favorite stories that has been around since 1940, Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. For awhile we had a room full of little monkeys shaking their fingers and hissing, ‘Tsz, tsz, tsz.” After the story, students were grouped in threes and retold the story to each other using one of Dr. McDonald’s storytelling techniques.

It was a delightful morning for all of us!