September Book of the Month: How to Heal a Broken Wing

Every year Mr. Bender carefully selects a text for each month of the school year.  These texts are always connected by a particular theme which changes from year to year.  This year’s is a really powerful theme, but we aren’t going to tell you what it is just yet.

At the end of each month, we will share the Book of the Month with you in the hopes you will discuss it further with your children. And while you’re at it, see if you can figure out Mr. Bender’s theme!


September’s Text of the Month was, How to Heal a Broken Wing, by Bob Graham.  The story takes place in a busy city where no one sees a bird lying on the pavement with a broken wing. “No one but a small boy called Will.  He and his mom carry it home and, with time, rest, and a little bit of hope, the wing mends and the bird is free once more to soar over the city. The language is deceptively simple; however, this story is enhanced through illustrations that are laden with symbolism, adding a strong visual literacy component.” Listen to the story below!

Here are some resources for you to use at home:

Resources for Pre-k – 2nd grade:

Discussion Questions:

  • What kind of person is Will? You can look at his actions in the book to come up with an idea and support your thinking.
  • Everyone in the city, except Will, walked right by the pigeon with a broken wing. Why didn’t they stop and help?
  • How do you think Will feels when he releases the bird? Why do you think that?
  • What do you think the author, Bob Graham, was trying to teach you?
  • Could Will have saved the bird alone? Why not? What help does Will get that in turn allows him to help the bird?
  • Have you ever help an animal or person in need?
  • Does Will remind you of anyone you know?
  • What are some small things we could do to be kinder to the people and animals around us?
  • Really young students could retell you the story. Make sure they include the beginning, middle, and the end.

Art: Make a Soda Bottle Bird Feeder

Nature: Learn more about pigeons here!

Resources for Grades 3-5 (these resources come from Walker Books Classroom Ideas):

  1. Empathy: Look at the main characters in this story: The pigeon, Will, The mother, and The father. Talk about how you would tell the story from the different perspective of each of these characters.
  2. Author’s Craft: Bob Graham uses images and text to tell his story. Does the story change if: You only read or listen to the text? You only view the pictures? How do the text and the pictures help to tell the story together?
  3. Theme: Different ideas and themes are contrasted in this book. Explore the following idea: Apathy vs Empathy. Find the definition of these words. Which characters are apathetic? Which characters are empathetic? How has Bob Graham shown the apathetic characters? What do you feel empathy for in your own life?
  4. Art: How is color used in this book to convey: – Mood – Setting – Character – Time • Look at different types of colors. How is colour used to convey meaning? Find a color ad in a magazine or newspaper. Discuss how colour is used. Re-create the ad using a different color scheme.
  5. Symbolism: 
  • This book is a sequence of events. Bob Graham uses several symbols to convey time. What are these? How do we know how much time has passed? What other symbols of time could have been used?
  • Look for symbols throughout the book that may convey messages of war. Falling Bird: What do you think the bird represents? Why? Why has Bob Graham chosen a pigeon to convey this message? Compare the first drawing of the bird with the last. The feather: What do you think this represents?
  • View the page that depicts the bird being placed in a box lined with newspaper. What does the newspaper show? View the page with the image of the television. What does the screen show? What do these images tell you about the outside world?

     6. Social Justice: Pigeons are often seen as nuisances or pests. How are pigeons viewed by society? Explore the idea of ‘social outcasts’.

imgres-1.jpgBob Graham on writing How to Heal a Broken Wing: “I have long wanted to write a story about a pigeon, a story that connects with the times we live in where we seem to be losing touch with the natural world.

I wanted to write a story of hope, putting empathy in the hands of a child – because children are our future and our hope for a more caring world to come. When all of the world’s horror and inhumanity appear daily on the televisions in our living rooms, I wanted to show a human counterbalance to these things enacted in ordinary, everyday and seemingly insignificant events.

In doing this, I tried to tell the story using a minimum of words and to let the pictures do the talking.

A very strange thing happened as I was drawing the final picture of the small boy jumping in the air to catch floating feathers. The telephone rang, and as I answered it I watched what appeared to be a fine ash floating down outside my window. As I finished my conversation it dawned on me that it was not ash but very small downy feathers, floating down from a clear blue sky. I picked up six or so and stuck them in my notebook to remind myself I had not imagined it, before finishing the book soon after.

Summer Fun for Your Ears: Podcasts

Podcasts are especially great during the summer months because you can listen to them anywhere you are; at home, on vacation, or in transit. Here are some kid-friendly podcasts that will keep you thinking and learning all summer long!

Click the images below to take a listen! Descriptions below.

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Wow in the World: Wow in the World is a podcast and a new way for families to connect, look up and discover the wonders in the world around them. Every episode, hosts Mindy and Guy guide curious kids and their grown-ups away from their screens and on a journey. Through a combination of careful scientific research and fun, we’ll go inside our brains, out into space, and deep into the coolest new stories in science and technology.

But Why: But Why is a show led by you, kids! You ask the questions and we find the answers. It’s a big interesting world out there.On But Why, we tackle topics large and small, about nature, words, even the end of the world.Have a question? Send it to us!

Brains On: A podcast featuring science for kids and curious adults.

Stories Podcast: The Stories Podcast was created to provide family-friendly content to families on the go, Always free, the podcast is a great way to entertain kids on the go and limit screen time while encouraging imaginations. This podcast is even great for Pre-k Kids! This is one of our favorites! 

Stories Alive: The Stories Alive podcast is a partnership between JPR and Stories Alive. The podcast is a fun, unique audio theatre experience for all ages. Each episode features three to four amazing, original stories written by elementary students. Stories Alive brings them to life with professional actors, sound designers and musicians.


An Underground Library on Wheels

If you take the E or F train, be on the lookout for the awe inspiring Subway Library Trains!

As of this week, 10 subway cars have been transformed into larger than life libraries – a tribute to one of NYC most beloved institutions, the New York Public Library.  Subway benches are now wooden, the car walls are adorned with bookshelves and masonry work, the ceilings mimic windows and frescos.  However, the Subway Library isn’t just a pretty train, the NYC Public Library and the MTA have partnered to bring commuters six weeks of free downloadable books using the Transit Wireless Wifi network.

How do you get the books, you ask? Well, when you go underground sign in to the Transit Wireless WiFi network.  Once you are on you will see a prompt for  From there you can browse all the available books, here is the list of the available children’s books.  They have a smattering of fiction and nonfiction on a variety of reading levels.

What a perfect way to inspire summer reading in the city! Enjoy!

Here is a silent video that shows you the newly decorated trains!

Can You Solve the Winning Question?

Probability and Statistics is one of the more modern branches of Mathematics (several hundred years old as opposed to tens of thousands of years old).  Having a firm grasp of this new-ish branch of Mathematics, helped a 13 year old win a national math competition last week.

Luke Robitaille won by answering the question below in less than a second. See if you can solve it.  Please comment below with your mathematical thinking.

We will reveal how you can solve the problem on Monday!

Here is a clue, when you are trying to find the probability it helps to consider the possibilities. Enjoy!

In a barn, 100 chicks sit peacefully in a circle. Suddenly, each chick randomly pecks the chick immediately to its left or right. What is the expected number of unpecked chicks?

Wow in the World: NPR’s Brand New Science Podcast for Kids

Eyes Up. Screens down. Jaws dropped.

NPR is thrilled to announce the launch of Wow in the World, a new podcast for kids ages 5-12 that illuminates the wonders of science, technology, discovery and inventions.

This is the first time in NPR’s 47-year history that it will release a children’s program.

Starting May 15, NPR’s Guy Raz and SiriusXM’s Mindy Thomas will take kids and their grown-ups on a journey into the most incredible science and kid-friendly news stories of the week.

Wow in the World is a place where we can tap into the crazy cool things that are happening all around us, every day!” says Thomas. “We want to help spark conversations between kids and other kids and also with their grown-ups that will ultimately lead to their own big discoveries.”

Each episode begins with a series of questions that lead to an explanation about a new amazing scientific discovery or finding. For example, “How long would it take to get to the closest star outside our solar system?” or “How did we Homo sapiens come to dominate the planet?” or “How do astronauts poop in space?” Through comedy and conversation, along with voices from real kids, Mindy and Guy make the news fun and interesting.

“As parents and caregivers, many of us grapple with screen-time,” says Raz. “This show is not just an alternative to screens but a show about celebrating the spirit of inquiry and encouraging kids to ask even more questions.”

Episodes will highlight some of the most exciting new research about space, dinosaurs, animals, technology and human origins.” (see full article here)

Subscribe to the Podcast here.

Follow Wow in the World on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Listen to a sample below. 

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April’s Book of the Month: Unspoken

Every year Mr. Bender carefully selects a book for each month of the school year.  These books are always connected by a particular theme which changes from year to year.  This year’s is a really powerful theme, but we aren’t going to tell you what it is just yet.

At the end of each month, we will share the Book of the Month with you in the hopes you will discuss it further with your children. And while you’re at it, see if you can figure out Mr. Bender’s theme!


April’s Book of the Month, Unspoken,  is told through only pictures. In this beautifully illustrated book, “A young girl’s courage is tested in this haunting, wordless story. When a farm girl discovers a runaway slave hiding in the barn, she is at once startled and frightened. But the stranger’s fearful eyes weigh upon her conscience, and she must make a difficult choice. Will she have the courage to help him? Unspoken gifts of humanity unite the girl and the runaway as they each face a journey: one following the North Star, the other following her heart. Henry Cole’s unusual and original rendering of the Underground Railroad speaks directly to our deepest sense of compassion.” Watch a slideshow of the book below.

Here are some resources for you to use at home:

  1. Before you read, pose this question from the back of the book, “What would you do if you had the chance to help a person find freedom?”
  2. Henry Cole reads Unspoken.
  3. Interview with Henry Cole.
  4. The Underground Railroad: Student Activity



Area Model for Multiplication

Hot off the presses, two new videos on the Area Model for Multiplication.  This model is really useful because it uses the Area Model, which students learn in 3rd grade, to find partial products. Finding partial products is often easier because the students are multiplying with friendlier numbers.

In these videos Ms. Goldstick will teach you how to:

  1. Estimate the product before you begin so you’ll know if your answer is reasonable
  2. Decompose factors into friendly numbers
  3. Find partial products
  4. Combine the partial products to find the total product

Want some practice? Try these problems out after you watch the videos!

2-digit by 2-digit

1-digit by 4-digit

March’s Book of the Month: Strictly No Elephants

Every year Mr. Bender carefully selects a book for each month of the school year.  These books are always connected by a particular theme which changes from year to year.  This year’s is a really powerful theme, but we aren’t going to tell you what it is just yet.

At the end of each month, we will share the Book of the Month with you in the hopes you will discuss it further with your children. And while you’re at it, see if you can figure out Mr. Bender’s theme!


March’s book was, Strictly No Elephants, by Lisa Mantchev. In the story, a little boy has a very different kind of pet. When the boy and his elephant are turned away from a Pet Club, he and his new friends set out to create a place where creatures of all shapes, sizes, and kinds are welcome.

Here are some ways you could discuss this book at home:

  • Create your own Pet Club and invite friends to come with these invitations from Simon & Schuster.

Discussion Questions

  • Throughout the story, the author mentions kind things that friends do for one another such as:
    • “Lift each other over the cracks”
    • “Brave the scary things for you.”
    • “Give you directions.”

What do you think the author means by each of these? Has anyone every done these things for you?

  • In what ways does the boy help the elephant? In what ways does the elephant help the boy?
  • What is true friendship? What are examples of true friendship in the book?
  • Why were the boy and his tiny elephant excluded from the Pet Club? Do you think they should have been invited into the club? Why or why not?
  • When excluded from the Pet Club, how does the boy react? What actions does he take to change how he is feeling?
    • Have you ever been excluded from a group? What actions did you take?
  • When the boy and his new friends start their own Pet Club, how is it different from the Pet Club he was excluded from?
  • The sign on the new Pet Club reads, “All Are Welcome.” How do you think this message makes the other children feel?
    • Do you think it is important to accept others that may be different from us? Why or why not?
    • How can accepting others, that are different from you benefit you?
  • What lesson is the author, Lisa Mantchev, trying to teach you?

Science Reading Picks from Mrs. Griffith

Here is a great compilation of science books from A Mighty Girl featuring girls who love science, engineering and math!

Pick one up at your local library and get inspired!

I think “Swimming with Sharks: the Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark” looks especially cool!

Stay Inquisitive,

Mrs. Griffith

The State Test: An Important Message for Students

Every year Mr. Bender speaks to the 3rd graders – the students taking state tests for the first time.  He draws a big circle and tells them that their entire lives are inside it…then he draws a tiny dot…he tells them that the tiny dot is the test.  He shares that tests are plentiful and necessary in life and can even be fun (he happens to love them) so it is very important to try your best.  However, he wants all our students to remember that in the grand scheme of life…a couple state tests are a drop in the bucket.