Pete the Cat, Read-Aloud Rock Star

Mystery reader for your child’s class?  There are now two Pete the Cat books to make the most of those 10 minutes.

And how perfect that the colorful, cool cat goes to school in Rocking in My School Shoes, the second book by Eric Litwin and artist James Dean.  I read this one and its predecessor, I Love My White Shoes, to my son’s kindergarten class Friday.

If you don’t know Pete, he’s like the hip, older brother to Llama Llama Misses Mama.  Or the street version of Wemberley Worried.  Which makes him great fun to read aloud to both preschoolers and K-2 kids.

There are even activity sheets downloadable for free here, to hand out later.  Just be sure to listen to the audio files of the creators performing the books, in order to get the tunes of Pete’s songs.Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes

Because, of course, you have to sing them.

If you sing like I do (ironically, my husband would say I sound like a cat screeching), no worries.  The kids won’t care because halfway through each book they’ll be singing along with you.

Finally, I resisted the urge to buy each child a cat figurine (25 cents at Learning Express) and paint it blue, or hand out Trader Joe’s Cat Cookies after I read the books.  But if you tend to overdo everything like I do, and the teacher doesn’t mind giveaways during Mystery Reader, go for it!

For more Mystery Reader ideas, click here.

Teacher’s Favorite Things

Our county’s public schools celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week next week.

If you’re in a position to do something special for your child’s teacher, it’s nice to know their likes and dislikes first.  As Room Parent, I try to get this out of the way at the beginning of the year – I ask my children’s teachers if they wouldn’t mind filling out a questionnaire like the one below.  If they agree, I’ll send out copies of their completed questionnaires to those parents who have expressed interest in that kind of info.  Somehow it feels more helpful and less tacky if it’s done as part of the start-up routine rather than right before a birthday or holiday.

This year, since Teacher Appreciation Week is such a big event at our school, we’ve circled back and asked the teacher if she has any new needs for her classroom.


Teacher’s Favorite Things

What is your favorite:

  • Color?
  • Treat or Snack food?
  • Drink?
  • Flower?

Where do you like to shop?

Where do you like to dine out?

What are your hobbies/interests outside of school?

Do you collect anything in particular?

Is there a special charity or cause that you like to support?

What things would make your classroom a better place for you?

What is your favorite teacher supply store?

Is there anything you prefer not to receive, or that you simply have too much of?  Or are you allergic to anything (in regards to homemade goods, scents, or plants)?

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

Need a Mystery Reader Idea?

Pete the Cat is my all-time favorite book to read aloud to my kids’ classes – pre-school through at least 2nd grade.  I’ve never read it just once, and during the subsequent readings, everyone sings!  Check out the video on You Tube and the artist’s website.  So fun.

Another fun book to read to this age group is Little Pea by Amy Krause Rosenthal.  After reading it to my son’s 4-year-old class, I gave each child a plastic spoon and had them pass around a frozen pea.  Most of them greeted the tiny pea, “Hello, Little Pea.”  One of them asked me where his eyes and mouth were.  I was stumped and the teacher laughed and said, “Welcome to our world!”

Many teachers prefer that parents refrain from bringing in treats or gifts during Mystery Reader time, which I understand.  If I have an idea I always ask first.  I passed around a bag of mini marshmallows to a kindergarten class after I read The Marshmallow Incident by Judy Barrett (a longer book, but the kids were attentive).

When my daughter was in preschool, she and her brother loved the Franklin books, written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark.   In the I-can’t-believe-I’m-putting-this-on-the-internet category, here’s a picture of me in my homemade Franklin costume before going to her school.  I’m pretty introverted, so this was a big leap for me (usually I get ideas like this and talk my husband into it), but my daughter loved it.  Since Franklin loves fly cookies, I also read one of The Fly Guy books by Ted Arnold and gave each child a bug finger puppet from Party City.

I wouldn’t advise going the homemade costume route for kids older than 4, though.

As the scheduled reader for my daughter’s kindergarten class, I noticed  that we owned several storybooks about alligators.  So I took in Zack’s Alligator, But I Am an Alligator (Charlie and Lola) and a girl and her gator.  Before I started to read a girl and her gator- a charming book about a girl who wakes up one morning with a French alligator on her head – I put on a baseball cap to which I’d stapled a giant, green, paper alligator.  One girl, bless her, laughed with delight.  The other 20 kids looked at me like I was a ridiculous grown-up, which of course, I was.  For my own sake, this time, I was glad I’d brought bribes – I gave each child one of those grows-in-water alligators that you can usually find at The Dollar Tree or in the dollar section of Michaels.  I was cooler then.  But not much.

Have fun!