Showcasing Creativity


I’d like to end the 2014 school year on a super high note by showcasing three students who have been doing some incredibly creative activities at home. It’s one thing to learn how to use a tool. It’s another to take that skill and push the boundaries to make something new and different. These students show creativity, innovation and dedication to their craft.
Meet Kayla

Kayla began coding two weeks ago with the Hour of Code week. She worked through the ice-skating with Anna and Elsa activities on  first.

kayla example

Next she figured out how to create these drawings. Talk about incredible! What impresses me about these pieces is the colorful patterning. They are works of art!


Meet Kaito
Many of our students participated in the PTSA sponsored art contest this year. The theme was “The world would be a better place if….. ” Kaito decided the world would be a better place if we had a clean earth. Using his Legos, iPad and the Lego stop-motion movie making app, he wrote, set up and filmed this movie. He inspired other students at our school to try creating a stop motion movie too.  Here’s a Clean Earth:

Meet Logan
The last student I would like to feature is the Rubics Cube King. Logan can solve a Rubics cube in record time. Hand him one and before you can say, “How did you do that?” – he is finished and the puzzle is solved. I just found out that he helps other people solve these puzzles by making videos. Thanks Logan for making this understandable!

If you know someone at school that I need to feature because they are doing something on their own time that uses technology or literacy (books), please let me know in a comment! Absolutely NO LAST NAMES!
Happy Holidays! See you in 2015!

Poinsettia Zentangles

Have you ever tried to make a Zentangle?


Yesterday at Makespace Monday, we created Pointsettia Zentangles. What is a Zentangle?

The Zentangle method, created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, is an easy-to-learn, relaxing and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns.

Traditionally, zentangles are made on squares of paper, but because of the upcoming holidays, I thought it would be fun to Zentangle a pointsettia. I downloaded this free clip art pointsettia template and made copies for the Makerspace Monday.


Every student got a paper and a black pen. With the younger students, I used pencils with no erasers so they couldn’t change what they made. From our art teacher, I learned the phrase, “There are no mistakes in art.”


We had a full house at the K-2 lunch recess (30 minute) with forty students jammed in every part of the library. We had a large showing with the 3-5 intermediate students too. I showed the students a couple basic designs and let them create.


The K-2 students finished in time to also color theirs. I think the flowers would be fabulous in watercolor, but in the library, I am limited to crayons.




If you are looking for more information about Zentangle, I recommend the Zentangle website ( and the Zentangle Blog (


Some good books include Joy of Zentangle by McNeill, Bartholomew and Browning, Zentangle Basics by McNeill, Zentangle for Kidz by Bartholomew and Totally Tangled by Bartholomew.


Have fun Zentangling!

Celebrate Coding!



This week is computer science education week and for the very first time, the Bulldog Readers are going to participate in the Hour of Code.


What is Hour of Code? It’s an opportunity for you to try coding for yourself to realize that anyone can learn how to code!

3hour of code

A lot of people think that coding is something that other people do. They think it’s too hard, but really it’s not. It’s all about problem-solving and logic – really important skills that you can use anywhere. So join in at home!  Go to Hour of Code and try the tutorials. You can also go to the Bulldog Reader Online Catalog and view the coding games there. Earn a certificate and joins the tens of millions of students around the globe who are part of the largest learning event in history!  Here is President Obama kicking off the 2014 event!

Please also remember that we are a finalist in the Best Library Blog category in the Edublog Awards. Voting closes December 15th. Click on this link and give us a thumbs up!


Edublog Award Finalist

We have some exciting news!
The Bulldog Reader Blog is a finalist in the Best Library Blog category!

Voting is now open and we would love your vote!

How to Vote

You vote as follows:

1.  Go to the Awards Category you want to vote on using the links above.

2.  Click on the  Thumbs Up icon on the blog, website or person you want to vote for.

That’s it! If you aren’t already logged in to, you can do so using a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+ account. (Unfortunately you have to be 13+ to have an account, so students please encourage your family and relatives to vote.)

3. Vote by 11:59pm EST on Monday, December 15th. (Check
in your timezone here

I have linked each picture to the Edublog Voting Category. Click on the picture and it will open a new window for voting. We also hope you will vote for some of our blogging buddies too! The links are below.

Best Library Blog


Best Class Blog



Best Student Blog



Thank you for all your support!

Building the Epic Castle

It’s been an engineering creation zone in the library lately.

3D Magna Tiles

3D Magna Tiles

The MagnaTiles are the most popular item in our Makespace area. Sometimes huge castles are built using every tile available.


Today a group of students documented the process for building one of their MagnaTile castles, using the Lego MovieMaker app on the iPad.  I received the iPad last spring after one of my Donor’s Choose projects was funded. 


This Lego app simplifies the process for making stop motion movies.  At recess all I had to do was open the app, hand over the iPad to the students and get out of the way.

 epic castle

They quickly set up the photography station and worked together to build this castle. In about 20 minutes they had their castle built and movie created.

Here is the building of the “Epic Castle.”

Now I’m wondering what other kinds of stop motion movies will be made in the coming weeks!

It’s Edublog Award Time!

edublog_awards_610x863_v2-1igu5xv (2)

It’s that time again! Nominations for the Edublog Awards are open for the 11th year!

The purpose of the Edublog Awards, also known as the Eddies, is promote and celebrate the educational values of social media. One of the benefits of educational blogging is to give students an authentic audience for their ideas, writing and projects. Blogging gives them the opportunity to become educated global learners, connected and ready for the 21st century world. I urge you to participate in celebrating those educators and students you respect in the social media world. Share your nominations with the world!

The process is really simplified this year. Simply fill in this nomination form and you are done. If you also have a blog, you can publish your results, but it’s not required this year. Get the word out!

*Nominations will close at 11.59 PM EST USA on November 24th

It’s never easy to make a choice because there are so many fabulous blogs and teachers to choose from. My nominations all stem from how their posts, tweets, or influence made a difference in how or what I taught this year.

Best Individual Blog –

Best Group Blog-

Best Class Blog-

Best Ed Tech-

Best Teacher Blog –

Best Library Blog –

Most Influential Blog Post –

Best Individual Tweeter –!/coolcatteacher

Best Hashtag -#comments4kids

Best Free Web Tool –

Best Use of Media –

Best Open PD –

Best Mobile App – Goodreads

Lifetime Achievement – Vicki Davis

Now it’s your turn! Give a voice to your favorites and make a nomination today! *Nominations will close at 11.59 PM EST USA on November 24th

Makerspace Mondays

It’s new! It’s fun! It’s creative!


What are Makerspace Mondays? Every Monday during the lunch recess students can come to the library and participate in a Makerspace event. Makerspace Mondays are all about dreaming, creating and inventing. The activities focus on  Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art and Math.  Think Legos, K’Nex, Cardboard creations, origami, LED light crafts, 3D MagnaTiles.

In September my Makerspace Monday Magic Donor’s Choose project was fully funded. Within days, the materials began arriving and the fun began. Each Monday, I include the topic for the makerspace event on the morning announcements. Then I post an update on the Makerspace Monday bulletin board with a photo of what we are doing.

makerspace weeklyy poster

The topic rotates from week to week. It is introduced on Monday, and then the students can experiment with the materials all week when the library is open at recess. Sometimes, as in the case of the Duct Tape Roses, the activity is not offered to all grades at all times because it’s not appropriate for the age range of all of my students. I either modify the project or choose a completely different one. The younger students are completely enamored by the Legos and K’Nex right now, so I chose not to offer duct tape crafts to them this week.


Where do I get my ideas? Mostly through posts from my PLN on Facebook, Twitter and on Pinterest. I can lose hours sifting through ideas for lessons, centers and makerspace ideas on Pinterest. Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher on Twitter, recently published an article Essential Information on Maker Movement on her blog explaining what the Makerspace Movement is all about. I’ve been reading about the idea online for the last year or so, but thought if I didn’t have a 3D printer,  a laser cutter or other expensive equipment, then it wouldn’t really be a “makerspace”. I don’t have a regular classroom, so I couldn’t figure out how Genius Hour could fit with my circumstances. Then I attended the Puget Sound ESD Teacher Librarian Summit, where one of the sessions was on Make Room for a Maker Space. In a video presentation, Sylvia Martinez, coauthor of Invent to Learn, explained that that libraries are perfect places for makerspaces. Students can come to a safe learning environment and have the freedom to create and experiment. Between her explanation and the hands-on projects we did with Conn McQuinn and others, I was convinced. The rest is history.

ad6c3853-c6e2-40f0-808e-8d9facc3c061Is it working? Absolutely! Sometimes I have to limit the number of students who come on Mondays now or it would be too crazy and crowded. I worried about this at first, but then I watched the authentic collaboration that happened every Tuesday. Once a few children learn, they all teach each other during the rest of the week. I’m also getting lots of feedback from students like, “What’s next week Mrs. Hembree” or “That was really fun!” or “I can’t wait to try this at home!” They are continuously asking me to take a photo of their creation and post it on our closed library Haiku Learning page or on this blog.

One STREAM area I have neglected so far has been Technology, not because I didn’t want to incorporate technology, but rather because I’ve had to figure out some logistics in making the technology available to students during recess. The entire month of December is going to be devoted to technology, and especially coding. I’ll be the first person to admit that I know absolutely nothing about coding.  The other thing I’ve ever done is minute adjustments with HTML code on this blog. Other that that, coding is a language that is a complete mystery to me. Luckily, the Hour of Code organization has lots of resources to help out.  Between their resources, what the kids already know and some parent help, I know we’ll be fine.

Here are some examples of the Makerspace Mondays we have held so far this year.

Feather bookmarks1

Paper feather bookmarks

cup challenge

Plastic cup Tower Challenge

cardboard structures

cardboard square structures

3D Magna Tiles

3D Magna Tiles


Everyone loves the Legos!


Duct tape roses

What makerspace activities have you added to your library or classroom? Leave a comment and let me know!

Thank you for your service


Today is Veteran’s Day.

This national holiday is a day honoring all veteran of the armed services. A veteran is a person who has served in the armed forces: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Navy or Marines either in peace time or during war or conflicts.

This year we honored some guest veterans at an all school assembly. The students gave them handmade cards, and we sang songs and thanked each person numerous times for serving their country.

14 crop assembly

Veterans recognized at school assembly. Photo by Julie Hembree

As they gathered at the front of the school, my mind wandered off. Looking at these men standing in front of the school children, I wondered who they were and what were their stories.

I thought in honor of Veteran’s Day, I would share one of their stories. Like most veterans, his story isn’t written down in a book or featured in a magazine. Yet, he has great stories to tell if you sit down with him to listen and learn. My father-in-law, Mr. Buell Hembree was one of the men standing in front of our gym. He’s been to every Veteran’s Day assembly since I’ve been at our school and is proud to represent the veterans, and especially the submariners of World War II. He served on the USS Pogy in the south Pacific during the Second World War.  The USS Pogy was a submarine. When you think of a submarine, you might think of one of the modern ones that are bigger than two football fields.


However, in those days, submarines were small and cramped. There wasn’t much room and it was easy to feel claustrophobic in such tight quarters sailing underneath the surface of the ocean. He’s told us that two men could stretch out their arms and touch either side of the submarine. It was THAT small.  His bed was a pull out bunk. The crazy part was that it was above two torpedoes. No fancy sleeping quarters in those days!

buell and mike

Buell Hembree explains what it was like to be on the USS Pogy.Photo by Julie Hembree

Despite the danger of serving on a submarine, Mr. Hembree loved his work on the USS Pogy and the years he spent in the USS Navy. He came home safely and spent the remainder of his working years designing interiors of planes for Boeing.

Buell and Joe Hembree get ready to fly to Washington, DC for the WWII honor flight.

Buell and Joe Hembree get ready to fly to Washington, DC for the WWII honor flight. Photo by Julie Hembree

In October, he was flown with 28 other World War II veterans ages 92 to 96 on a free Honor Flight to Washington, DC, our nation’s capital where they could visit and reflect on the memorials build in their honor. His son and my husband, Joe, was his guardian and helped him and the other gentlemen on the trip to ensure they would have the best experience possible. For Veteran’s Day, here are a few of his photos from his honor flight.

October Honor Flight gathered at Seatac, photo by Joe Hembree

October Honor Flight gathered at SeaTac. Photo by Joe Hembree

Veterans honored at the World War ii memorial in Washington,DC. Ohoto by Joe Hembree

Veterans honored at the World War II memorial in Washington,DC. Photo by Joe Hembree

Buell Hembree at the President Roosevelt Memorial. Photo by Joe Hembree

Buell Hembree at the President Roosevelt Memorial. Photo by Joe Hembree


Veterans are greeted at SeaTac on their return home. Photo by Margaret Howell


Each veteran was given a handmade Quilt of Valor to keep.Photo by Julie Hembree


One of the Quilt of Valor volunteers signs Buell Hembree’s quilt.Photo by Julie Hembree

  Today, tomorrow or anytime in the future, I hope when you see a veteran, you will stop and thank them for their service to our country. These women and men have made huge sacrifices for us and deserve our thanks. “Thank you for your service” means so much to so many. If you know someone in your own family, talk to him or her and find out their stories. They will be glad you care.


November is Picture Book Month



November is Picture Book Month and once again the Bulldog Reader Blog is a Picture Book Ambassador. Picture books are the most important books written. Why? Because they help children start their love for reading. Think back to when you were young and reading with a parent, family member or maybe an older brother or sister. What were you reading together? I bet it was a picture book. One of my earliest reading memories is sitting with my grandmother as she read Go, Dog, Go to me. I loved the photo of the dog party up in the tree and wanted to be in the tree with my own crazy hat.


To support the importance of the picture book, we are celebrating them in the Bulldog Library and throughout the month of November. Each grade will be learning something new about picture books and the school will be filled with photos of students holding their favorite books. You can celebrate at home of course too. Visit the Picture Book Month website where you can read posts written by the 2014 Picture Book Champions.


What is your favorite picture book? Check back soon to see some staff and student favorites. In the meantime, please leave us a comment about your favorite picture book and why you like it.