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Newsletter – A Penny for your Thoughts February 9, 2024

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Hello Book Bums families!

This week in the newsletter we're sharing ideas for learning from the world around us, from pennies to street signs. You'll learn about bossy r's, word roots, and how to make a paper football for the big game. Read on and enjoy!

Word of the Week

antsy (ant-see) adjective/describing word - impatient or restless

Many ticket holders became antsy as they waited for the doors to the theater to open.

Literary Calendar

  • February 11 is the birthday of author Jane Yolen.
  • Yolen has published over 400 books including her popular picture book series How Do Dinosaurs...?

"Children's books change lives. Stories pour into the hearts of children and help make them what they become."
-Jane Yolen

From our Bookshelves


Penny Love by Lisa Soares Hale is a beautiful book about a grandma and her granddaughter who are walking in a park and, together, spot a penny shining in the sun. The grandma encourages her granddaughter to go and pick it up and to remember, every time she finds a penny, that Grandma loves her. When they return home, the two find a jar and label it Penny Love. Through the years, the jar becomes filled with lots of warm, brown pennies. The story continues until that little girl becomes a grandma, too.  Her granddaughter finds a penny and I bet you know what they do. I loved when the grandma looked toward heaven and whispered, “I love you, too, Grandma!”

Tips for Raising Readers and Writers

The more our children know about the world around them, the better equipped they are to understand what they’re reading. If you’d like to do an investigation of pennies, check out this PDF I’m including in the newsletter. You’ll find lots of fun-focused activities you can do with young children through second grade including counting, reading poems, singing songs, forming numerals, seeing how many drops of water can fit on a penny (while a partner records the number with tally marks), and more!

Practical Grammar


At Book Bums, we teach our students that sometimes r’s can be bossy, and they don’t let vowels make any sound at all. In the word grammar there’s a bossy r that’s not allowing the a to make a sound. We know that a-r usually says /ar/ like a pirate, but sometimes even a-r can simply say /r/.

The best way to learn which vowel is being “bossed” by the r is to notice when it’s happening in the words you observe. Deliberately heighten your awareness of the letter that’s not making a sound and consider a memory device that might help you to retrieve the proper spelling in the future. For example, we share with our students that there is a u in the word turn and we show them this road sign.

For those of us who “just know” which vowel is within a given word—even when no sound is produced, you should know that those words have been orthographically mapped in our memories. We know words are sufficiently “mapped” when incorrectly spelled words don’t look right, we erase something to make a change, and are satisfied that, yes, now it’s right.

Here’s an activity we do with our students to heighten their awareness of vowels being “bossed” by r’s. You can print it and share it with some kids you love, too.

Wordology Workshop

  • The Greek root graph means to draw or write.
  • It is fairly common and appears in words like graphic, autograph, biography, and grapheme.
  • Another Greek root, ortho, means straight.
  • You can find it in words like orthodontist (someone who straightens teeth) and orthodox (conforming to the established rules)
  • These two roots together give us the word orthographic. Taken literally it means written straight.
  • Dr. Christy explains more about orthographic mapping in Practical Grammar.

Tips for Families


To make the Super Bowl a bit more fun for kids, teach them to make those paper footballs you used to make in elementary school. Give them some distance or target challenges they can accomplish when they start to get a little antsy.

Just for Fun


The most important parts of the Super Bowl
are the commercials, the food, and the Taylor Swift sightings.

I don’t really care who makes the most baskets.

Super Bowl LVIII

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