January’s Book of the Month

January’s Book of the Month is a classic tale by Dr. Seuss, The Sneetches.

The Sneetches is about two types of creatures, separated by having or not having stars on their bellies. The Star-Belly Sneetches think they are the best, and look down upon Sneetches without stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches are really sad about this and are kept from associating with their star-bellied counterparts, until Sylvester McMonkey McBean comes along with his Star-on and Star-off machines.  Sylvester begins to give stars to the Plain-Belly Sneetches, and soon they are happy, for they look like their elite counterparts. The original Star-Belly Sneetches are angry at no longer being different and special, so they get Sylvester to remove all their stars. This continues back and forth until no one can remember which Sneetches were originally what, and an epiphany strikes them all at once…read to find out what the lesson is.


Read the text:

  1. Here is a printable version of the Sneetches.
  2. Here is an animated version of the story.
  3. Here is the story being read aloud.


Pre-K & K:

All Grades:

Below you will find discussion questions for the text that you could use at home. They are taken from Center for Civic Reflection and Teaching Children Philosophy.

  1. What are the differences between the Star-Belly Sneetches and the Plain-Belly Sneetches?
  2. How do these differences influence how the Star-Belly and Plain-Belly Sneetches treat each other?
  3. What does Sylvester McMonkey McBean offer the Plain-Belly Sneetches? What could this offering mean for them?
  4. Why do the Star-Belly Sneetches enjoy having the power of “being the only ones”? What does that power give them that full equality does not?
  5. Where does the Star-Belly Sneetches’ power come from? Is this power natural or created?
  6. Why do you think the Star-Belly Sneetches ultimately give up their power? Do you buy the ending of this piece? Why?
  7. How do you know you’re the same as someone else? How do you know that you’re different?
  8. Who is this story more about – the Star-Belly Sneetches or the Plain-Belly Sneetches and why?
  9. Which is more important – proving that we’re “all the same” at our core or gaining respect for our individual differences? Why?
  10. Have you ever been a Star-Belly Sneetch or a Plain-Belly Sneetch? In what context(s)? How did you relate to the other group?


  1. What makes the Sneetches different from one another?
  2. How do the Sneetches treat those who are different from them?
  3. Do you think it is all right to treat those who look different than you differently? What about those who act differently?


  1. What makes a Sneetch a Sneetch – what makes it different from other animals or things?
  2. How do you know one thing is different from another thing? Is it based on things you can see, things you cannot see, or both?
  3. Based on the qualities we chose for deciding what makes something different, are the Star-Bellied Sneetches and the Plain-Bellied Sneetches the same or different?
  4. Are there things that make people different from one another? Do any of these things make certain people better than others? (Think about physical differences and personality/characteristic differences.)
  5. Are there any situations in which it is okay to treat two things differently because they are different?

After the Plain-Bellied Sneetches go through the machine the first time and come out with stars, the Star-Bellied Sneetches say, “We’re still he best Sneetches and they are the worst.” 

  1. What makes the Star-Bellied Sneetches think that there is still something different about the Plain-Bellied Sneetches since they now have stars on their bellies?
  2. If there was something that made the Sneetches different, other than their appearance, would it be okay for them to treat each other differently? Are there any qualities that would make that okay?
  3. Is there a rule we can apply to determine when it is okay to treat others differently and when it is not? How does this rule apply to the Sneetches? Based on the rule you develop, is it okay for the Star-Bellied Sneetches to treat the Plain-Bellied Sneetches differently?

4th Grade Science, It’s Electric!

4th graders are beginning their study of Circuits and Electricity! You can explore these cool topics at home by checking out the resources and playing the games on this link.

Changing of the Guard – Inauguration Resources

No matter our political beliefs, a Presidential Inauguration is an important part of American government. The National Book and Literacy Alliance has a wonderful Inauguration Kit, to help you teach our children about our government, our traditions, and our history. The goal of this kit is to, “engage kids in informed discussions about the presidency and American government, teach them to think critically, and energize them to learn more about the political process in America—using the presidency and inauguration as the focus.

This Kit includes:

They have created an interactive digital copy and a printable pdf resources. 

Love All, Accept All

When I was in 2nd grade, I picked up a book that would shape me as a reader and as a person. “I Have a Dream,” by Margaret Davidson not only ignited my passion for nonfiction, but taught me about my very first and greatest historical hero – I still have my tattered copy to this day.51mVGftIXML._SX347_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Every January, I listen to Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech to stay in touch with our country’s past – with our history. I listen to marvel at his ability to communicate arguably one of the most delicate and complicated messages of our time with love and strength.

As we prepare for our coveted 3 day weekend, I think it is critical to note WHY we are having an extra day off.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'” Instead of looking at Monday as a “day off,” let’s look at it as a,”day on.” Let’s use Dr. Martin Luther King’s Holiday to serve our neighbors and communities. Remember,” Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”

Here are some resources to check out:


There as so many options but here are a smattering. Click the images to be taken to the books. 

51kj6kPHswL._SX454_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg     51K6P8fx3dL._SX375_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg   51rjn+IuJGL._SY487_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg  51aLH3+PKEL._SY419_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgimgres-3.jpeg

Listen to the great LeVar Burton read, A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr., below 


Children’s Museum of Manhattan: Events Saturday, Sunday, and Monday – SIGN UP IS NECESSARY!

  • Historic Heroines: Coretta Scott King
    Create a children’s book in honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King. Learn about The Coretta Scott King Book Award, given out to outstanding African-American writers and illustrators of children’s literature.
    Monday January 19th, 2015| 10:30am & 12:00pm |5 & Older | Sign-up*
  • Martin’s Mosaic
    Honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by creating a mosaic of his portrait.
    Monday January 19th, 2015| 10:45am – 11:30pm & 12:15pm – 1:45pm| 4 & Younger | Drop-in
  • Community Tile Design with Mugi pottery studio
    Celebrate MLK day with a day of service! Help CMOM and local Upper West Side neighbor, Mugi Pottery studio, design fun and educational ceramic tiles to decorate CMOM’s outreach partner locations.
    Monday January 19th, 2015| 2-4:45pm | 5 & Older| Sign up*
    *Due to limited space, this programs requires you to sign-up for entry. Sign-up  in the lobby one hour before the event.*

BAM – Brooklyn Art Museum

NJPAC – Jersey Really isn’t that far


The Speech: Here is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “I Have a Dream Speech,” in its entirety, obviously be mindful of the language but 10:44 is a good place to start listening…it is arguably the most famous section of his speech.


Heart Weaving Collage of Six Hearts.jpg images.jpeg  bda654003576995fe60c896ad77c140b.png





  • Write a kind note to someone.
  • Bring some baked goods to a nursing home.
  • Donate clothing to a shelter.
  • Call your grandparents.


Prevent Winter Break Brain Freeze!

Hi PS11…even though Winter Break is upon us – there are tons of great EASY WAYS to keep our children’s brains engaged and learning while they are away from school!

1. Read, read, and read some more. Read anything! You could try:

  • Novels
  • Comic Books
  • Instructional manuals from your holiday presents
  • Holiday recipes
  • Magazines
  • Billboards on the road
  • In flight magazines

ANYTHING! Just read!

2. Do some Science Experiments. Below you will find a list of winter themed experiments.

3. Cook together to sneak in some math, science and more! In fact cooking doesn’t only help cognitive development, it helps social/emotional and physical development as well! You could talk about:

  • Number concepts
  • One-to-one correspondence
  • Simple addition
  • Patterning (layered salads, kabobs)
  • Measurement
  • Data collection, organization, and representation
    (voting on who wants a particular recipe or
  • Simple fractions (half, whole, quarter)
  • Consistency/Viscosity
  • The list goes on!
  • Here are some links to kid friendly recipes:

4. Play games that cause them to ask and answer questions.

  • 20 Questions:
    • Traditional: One person secretly thinks of either an animal, mineral, or vegetable. The other players then take turns asking yes-or-no questions, such as “Can it fly?” or “Does it grow in the ground?” After the players have asked 20 questions, each player gets a chance to make a guess.
    • Reverse 20 questions: 1 player chooses an place, item, animal, Minecraft character, Princess, Pokemon, etc. and gives clues to the other players and they try to guess what thing the player selected. “This animal lives in the sea. It has rows of sharp teeth. It has an amazing sense of smell.” (Shark)
  • The Animal Name Game: Ages 6 and up: One person names an animal. Then each person in order has to name another animal (no repeating!) that starts with the last letter of the previous animal named. There are no winners or losers in this game. With older children, try the game with TV shows, or geographical categories such as cities or countries.

December’s Book of the Month

One of the most powerful tools in the promotion of peace is education. Education can promote the values of tolerance, mutual understanding, and respect for others. It can unlock the peace that lies in our hearts.
– Richard H. Solomon, President of the United States Institute of Peace

A Little Peace is a visually stunning book with an important message. The spare, refreshing text winds its way around and through full-color photographs. Each vividly captures the universal emotions and peaceful pursuits of everyday people around the world: a young girl in Kenya smiling into a mirror; a group of waving schoolchildren in Bali; two old men relaxing in a marketplace in Afghanistan.”

About the Author
Barbara Kerley is a former Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal and now lives in northern California with her husband and daughter. She wrote this book with a conviction that we each can make a difference: “I believe that peace doesn’t just rest in the hands of politicians and world leaders. We all have the power to make the world more peaceful.”

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

1. Check out resources from Barbara Kerley’s Website:

  • Discuss ways in which people can spread a little peace.  Activities might include saying hello to a new student at school or child in the neighborhood, volunteering in a community group, or reading a book about a culture different than your own.  Then, ask children to make Peace Posters of different ways to spread a little peace.
  •  Discuss how learning about other cultures can promote tolerance and peace.  Then enjoy this National Geographic’s education website. It has lots of resources and lesson for students and adults.

2. Read an Interview with Barbara Kerley. 

3. Create Peace Poems and Picasso Doves (activity for 3-5)

4.Check out United States Institute of Peace

5.Check out Peace Corps Website

6.Recite this Peace Pledge

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 10.35.08 AM.png

7. Make a Peace Craft for example, this Gratitude Wreath ROCKS!


Multiplication Snowball Fight!!!

Hey upper grade students, here is a fun winter themed game to practice your 0-12 multiplication facts. It’s important that you know simple multiplication facts because knowing them makes it easier to solve more complex multiplication problems – so make sure you practice!

Families, for your reference I have included the January benchmarks for grades 3-5.

By the end of January….

3rd grade should be able to fluently multiply by 0, 1, 2, and 10

4th grade should be able to fluently multiply by 0-9 and 12

5th grade should be able to fluently multiply by 0-9, 12, any multiple of 10, and decimals by 10, 100, 1,000


November’s Book of the Month

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!

November’s book was, Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson. In the story, “Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.”

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

  • Send Kindness into the World this Holiday Season! Here are some ideas:
  • Random Acts Brainstorm: Brainstorm some ways you can show kindness to others. Challenge your family to practice these acts of kindness during the month of December and share your experiences.
  • Kindness Rock: Repeat the activity Chloe’s teacher did in the book. Fill a large bowl with water and show your child a stone/rock. Ask your child to think of something kind they have done and instruct them to then drop the stone into the water and watch their kindness form a ripple. Discuss what it means to have a ripple effect of kindness.
  • Discuss the acronym T.H.I.N.K.:  Discuss how your child can apply this acronym in day to day life to help them “think” before they speak and act.
    • T = Is it True?
    • H = Is it Helpful?
    • I = Is it Inspiring?
    • N = Is it Necessary?
    • K = Is it Kind?
  • Character Traits: This printable has you generate character traits for Maya and Chloe and support them with evidence
  • Point of View: This is a Point of View activity where you can sort POV cards by character.
  • Discussion Questions:
      1. Make a list all of the attempts that Maya makes to reach out to the other girls to be friends with them. How do Chloe and her friends respond to each attempt?
      2. When Andrew makes fun of Chloe after Maya whispers something to her, Chloe hastily tells Andrew, “She’s not my friend.” How do you think Maya felt when she heard Chloe say this? What could Chloe have said to Andrew instead?
      3. Kendra comes up with a hateful nickname for Maya—“Never New.” Is it Maya’s fault that she is not able to afford brand new clothes? Is that any reason for the girls not to befriend her?
      4. When Ms. Albert gives Chloe the rock to drop into the bowl, Chloe cannot think of one nice thing she has done. Make a mental list of the ways that you have showed kindness at school or at home this week. Share one or more of the ways you have shown kindness.
      5. What is something that you can do tomorrow to be kinder than you were today?
      6. Albert says that “each little thing that we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.” Explain what she means. How can one kind act turn into a million kind acts?
      7. Chloe never got another chance to be kind to Maya. If Maya came back to school, what could Chloe do differently? What should she say to Maya?

Giving Tuesday, It’s Never too Late


Here’s a brief article about Giving Tuesday for kids by DOGOnews .

After shopping for deals in stores on “Black Friday, or online on “Cyber Monday,” Americans and people worldwide, are preparing for “Giving Tuesday.” Now in its fifth year, the global event that is celebrated annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is the brainchild of 92nd Street Y, a cultural center in New York City and the United Nations Foundation.

As the name indicates, #GivingTuesday is meant to jump-start the charitable season and therefore observed by raising funds for local nonprofits and schools, organizing food and clothing drives, and conducting random acts of kindness. In 2015, 700,000 people from 71 countries came together to donate $116.7 USD million in cash. An additional $1.08 million USD was spent on gifts.

While the easiest way to participate is by donating to your favorite charity, #GivingTuesday can be celebrated in many other ways. You can give back by volunteering at your local shelter or food bank, or even by donating blood. If all else fails, a purchase from the growing number of organizations that give a portion of their sales to charity will do the trick.

But perhaps the best way to celebrate the day is by helping those nearest and dearest to you. Assist a family member with a simple chore like folding laundry, cooking dinner, or even reading to a younger sibling. No matter what you do, be sure to share your good deed on social media and inspire others to celebrate #GivingTuesday as well!

PS11, let’s continue to talk about how we can be kind to each other every day. Here are some ways we can continue being K&G all year round!100-Acts-of-Kindness-for-Kids-Free-printable-in-post.jpg

October’s Book of the Month

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!

October’s book was, “Plant a Kiss,” Below you will find a trailer for the book.

Ways to talk about this book at home:

  • This website has great activities for grades K-2 like a Kindness Garden and a Rhyming Word Game
  • Create your own Plant a Kiss Seed Packet with this printable.
  • The Author of Plant a Kiss, Amy Krouse Rosenthal is pretty cool, check out her website. You can learn about her other adult and children’s books, watch her videos, and even write her a letter!