Tag Archives: art

Faculty Field Trip to Randyland


A Visit to Randyland from M E Shenefiel on Vimeo.

There are hidden treasures everywhere!  I learned about Randyland through a tweet from @MrSchuReads (and posted about it here.)  When I told Deb about it, she immediately suggested that we go.  Today we visited Randyland in the Mexican War Streets section of the North Side of Pittsburgh. It’s mesmerizing!

colors and dots and swirls

and lines and colors and flowers

and signs and colors and chairs

and doors

and colors and music and words and colors

and dance and plants



There are just so many details, and there is such inspiration, and it just makes you feel so happy!  It’s like looking through a kaleidoscope with both eyes open.

After spending some time marveling, and giggling (and taking loads of pictures) we headed down about two blocks to the Mattress Factory Museum.  The museum is between installations so there weren’t a lot of pieces to see.  As it turned “not a lot” was just the right amount.  I had never been to the Mattress Factory before and have never experienced anything like it.  Suffice it to say that you’ll have to go an visit in person.  (Who knew there could be spoilers with artwork?)

The big take away though was the idea of faculty field trips.  Standing in the midst of all of that creativity and commitment you become excited about the possibilities.  My mind was racing with ideas for lessons, and displays, and collaboration.

I need more.  Pittsburgh is brimming with these hidden and not-so-hidden treasures.  Get ready EHUE.  We have a plan…

Summer Reading: 8 Class Pets +1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos


8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos by Vivian Vande Velde.  Illustrated by Steve Björkman. Humor/ Fantasy.

When a squirrel, being chased by a dog, becomes trapped in the elementary school, there are chaotic consequences as all of the class pets team up to help him escape.

Themes/Content: Animals, class pets, teamwork, perspective (character), voice (character), alliteration, poetry, art,

Recommended for: Grades 4 and up; read aloud, teaching perspective, teaching voice, any teacher who has a classroom pet, animal lovers, beginning chapter-book readers, fictional tie-in when studying animal behavior

My Two Cents:  I decided I needed to review something for the younger crowd and this book will surely please our fourth graders.  Vande Velde crafts a hilarious story and commotion ensues as each critter adds to the tale .  Not only does she expertly capture the point of view, but each pet’s voice is based on that animals behavior in nature.  Björkman’s black and white illustrations are scattered throughout.

This book would make a great beginning of the year read aloud.  It would be even more effective if you are able to read the characters in different voices.  Your students will laugh out loud at the crazy antics of the animals and there is just a little twist at the end that will give them one more smile.

Similar/Paired Books from EHUE Library:

  • Birney, Betty G. Friendship according to Humphrey. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005. Print.
  • Caudill, Rebecca. A pocketful of Cricket. New York: Henry Holt, 2004. Print.
  • George, Jean C. How to talk to your dog. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. Print.
  • Hatkoff, Isabella, Craig Hatkoff, and P Kahumbu. Owen & Mzee : the true story of a remarkable friendship. New York: Scholastic Press, 2006. Print.
  • Hollander, John. Animal poems. New York: Sterling, 2004. Print.
  • Jenkins, Steve, and Robin Page. How to clean a hippopotamus : a look at unusual animal partnerships. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010. Print.
  • Judge, Lita. Bird talk : what birds are saying and why. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2012. Print.

Favorite Quote: (Spoken by the school of neon tetras) “We’re in a school.  We’re in a school in a school. We are tickled by that idea.” (Vande Velde, Vivian. 8 class pets + 1 squirrel ÷ 1 dog = chaos. New York: Holiday House, 2012. 23. Print.)

The Final Word(s): A clever and fun read aloud! 🙂