Early Literacy and Activity Calendars

Looking for some fun activities for your little ones as the end of summer looms? Check out these fun early literacy and activity calendars.

day by day activity calendarDay By Day NY – A calendar of fun activities for every day of the year. Read along and listen to 2 books from One More Story. Come back every day for 2 different books. Also includes songs to song, some fun activity ideas and more. From the New York State Library.



Daily fun with your little one Early Literacy and Activity Calendars – Some daily fun for your little one! 2 downloadable calendars per month with lots of quick, fun activities for when your creative well has run dry. (from DemcoJ







Some recent AI resources for school librarians and other educators

Robot hand touching a human hand.

I won’t attempt to list a zillion specific resources about AI, but simply point to some recent school library related AI sources that might help you find your way into this massive, and massively important, topic.

  • The AI School Librarian is a new Facebook group started by Elissa Malespina. A great place for educators to talk about artificial intelligence, and share ideas and resources. Do join!
  • Elissa also has a Substack newsletter: The AI School Librarian Newsletter. I particularly loved the resources listed in the post Is It AI? Try them out and see if you can recognize AI created content.
  • Vicki Davis, the Cool Cat Teacher, interviewed a student about his AI project on a recent episode of her 10 Minute Teacher podcast: The Human Side of AI: A Student’s ChatGPT Experience. For his senior capstone project, the student ran several of their computer class assignments through ChatGPT to compare how well it completed the projects vs student work. Interesting results and a great take on the student perspective!
  • Phil Bradley, a well respected library-world speaker in the UK, is doing a webinar on AI for school librarians on August 25. In School Librarians and AI participants will gain “a good overview of how AI can be used in school libraries, how it’s evolving and lists of tools that can be used to supplement and assist you in your workplace activities. It’s a perfect short cut to get you on top of AI quickly and effectively. The session will be recorded, and you will have access to it for 3 months.” (£35 fee) And even though most of my readers know I’ve retired, I couldn’t resist signing up for this. I know Phil, he’ll provide a ton of information, insights, and great resources.

About 6 months ago, I pondered adding a new Cool Tools lesson on AI, but quickly became overwhelmed with material to review. And I remembered that I was retired and returned to travel planning instead! Though I think I may return to posting resources here on occasion. Wishing you all well in the new school year ahead.

(Image Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/bionic-hand-and-human-hand-finger-pointing-6153354/)

DPLA’s Banned Book Club App

Digital Public Library of America. The Banned Book Club. Unbanning every book in America to spread knowledge one book at a time.

If you live or work in an area where books have been banned in your local schools and/or public libraries, the Digital Public Library of America can help you access those banned books for free via their Palace ereader app. Details from a recent DPLA email below. Even if you don’t live in one of the targeted locations, you can download the app to see how it works and what titles are being banned.

Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has launched The Banned Book Club to ensure that all readers have access to the books they want to read. The Banned Book Club makes e-book versions of banned books available to readers in locations across the United States where titles have been banned. The e-books will be available to readers for free via the Palace e-reader app.

Utilizing GPS-based geo-targeting, DPLA has established virtual libraries in communities across the United States where books have been banned. When a reader is within a community served by a library that has been forced to ban a book, they can visit TheBannedBookClub.info to see the exact books have been banned in their area. Then, they can download that book for free on any handheld device via the free Palace e-reader app.

To access The Banned Book Club now, download the Palace app and choose “Banned Book Club” as your library, then follow the prompts to sign up for a free virtual library card. For more specific instructions, click here. For more information on The Banned Book Club, readers can visit TheBannedBookClub.info.

It’s time to plant some fall veggies!

Yikes, it’s hot everywhere isn’t it! You might think it’s way too late to plant any veggies, but it’s the perfect time for you and your kids to plant some yummy fall veggies. (And there are some #CoolTools ideas at the end of this post.)

Margaret Roach has a wonderful list of what to plant in July & August on her A Way To Garden site. Margaret grows in the same growing zone as me, so I’ll be scouring her list for some new ideas. She also includes links to lists of what to plant in other growing zones as well. Don’t know your growing zone? Find out at this US growing zone map.

For more inspiration, every garden seed website will be highlighting seeds you can plant now for a bountiful fall crop. Two of my faves are Hudson Valley Seed Company and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Though there are tons more!

I’m planting carrots of all shapes and sizes, a rainbow of colorful beets, baby bok choy, and some beautiful big watermelon radishes that will last for months in the fridge crisper.

All those veggies can grow between midsummer and the last frost date in my area. Don’t know your last frost date? Check out this first & last frost calculator at Dave’s Garden by popping in your zip code.

And keep in mind that things like carrots and beets will keep nicely in the ground well after last frost dates.

Your local garden centers will still have seeds and may have seedlings to give you a jump start. Or check your local library to see if they have a seed library. It’s a great way to get a few seeds to try something new. I’m growing some little pumpkins from seeds that my library was giving out to families earlier in the spring.

A great way to introduce kids to gardening is to get some big pots that you can put on your porch, deck or patio so they can easily water and monitor their seeds and plants. Or give them a corner of your own big veggie bed. Even a small planter hanging on a railing can grow some lovely lettuce, parsley or basil.

So where’s the Cool Tools connection? Some ideas for your kids!

  • Use Google Drawings to sketch a plan of where to plant the seeds. Use the details on the seed packet to figure out how much space they need.
  • Set up a Google Spreadsheet of the seeds and note the dates when you planted, when you expect them to sprout, and when you expect them to be ready. Again, info will be on the packet or on the seed company’s web site.
  • Take pictures of the seed packets and plants as they grow. And of course take a photo of the gorgeous harvest with excited kids!
  • Use a note taking tool like Google Keep, a blog, or Padlet page to post the photos and keep notes.
  • Do some internet searching for kid-friendly recipes that they can make once the harvest is in! The Edible Schoolyard Project has some great ideas for recipes and kitchen skill building.

Most of all, just have some fun helping your kids growing a little bit of their own food. A tiny pot of parsley or a big pot of carrots. It all counts! Share your own ideas in the comments below. And happy growing!

Resources mentioned above:

Un-Banned Books

Both New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library are making banned books available to readers across the country. This is in reaction to the huge upswing in book banning initiatives across the US.

NYPL is opening up a small collection of popular banned books to anyone via the easy to use NYPL SimplyE app. The collection also includes access to some 300,000 out of copyright and open source titles. This is available through the end of May. Details on downloading the app are on the NYPL Books for All page.

Brooklyn has an even better deal for teens & young adults aged 13 – 21. A free e-library card for the next year. This is such a great deal! Included access to their complete audio and e-books collection. Plus access to their magazine, newspaper and research databases. Simply send an email to  BooksUnbanned@bklynlibrary.org or contact them via their teen-run Instagram account at @bklynfuture.

NOTE: New York State residents can obtain a free e-card at NYPL, Brooklyn and Queens Public Libraries.

More info about the any un-banned books Initiatives in this Time-Out article.


Flourish infographic tool joins Canva

Flourish examples
Flourish, a terrific tool to “easily turn your data into stunning charts, maps and interactive stories”, is now integrated into Canva, a popular tool for creating graphics, presentation slides, and so much more.

Haven’t yet tried Flourish? Give it a whirl. Lots of templates for colorful, creative data visualizations and storytelling. Help students think about how data can be presented in multiple ways and how visualizing data can make presentation more compelling, powerful and persuasive. And learn how the same data can tell different stories depending on how it’s presented.

There’s even a fun quiz format. See their Harry Potter quiz embedded below. Free accounts are available, perfect for testing and for educational use.

Learn all about Google Sites with Tony Vincent

Classy SitesWant to learn all the ins and outs of using Google Sites for a classroom website, lesson resource site and more? Tony Vincent, of Learning in Hand, is offering a 5 week Classy Sites online workshop starting February 23.  You can follow along with the class over the 5 weeks or go at your own pace, the content will be there forever.

I took one of Tony’s workshops in 2017. It was a terrific workshop, so well organized and presented. Tony was very responsive to all students during the workshop and student interaction was so helpful too. And, 4 years later, the course content is still there for me to review any time I need a refresher. Register by February 8 and get a discount. (No, I’m not getting a commission on this. I just think Tony’s workshops are a terrific!)

Classy Sites: An Online Workshop with Tony Vincent Are you interested in making a wonderful website? If so, join me for an online learning experience! I am gathering a community of educators to explore creating websites with Google Sites. We’ll examine the possibilities and power of having a personalized website for your class, lesson, school, activity, or presentation.

Changes to Weebly for Education

Weebly for education logo
Do you use Weebly for your classroom webpage? Or for  student webpages & portfolios? There are changes coming in August 2022.


  • Teacher/educator accounts will be moved to free, standard weebly accounts.
  • Hosted student accounts will go away. Weebly suggests moving to Edublogs for student accounts.

Weebly email:

On August 1, 2022, all teacher accounts will automatically transfer to a free standard Weebly account. Your site will remain published and no action is required. With a standard Weebly account, you can continue to build and publish websites with the same easy-to-use editor you already know.

If your students have websites, their sites and accounts will be disabled. Due to COPPA privacy constraints, we do not store student personal information and will not be able to continue to host student websites.

If you are a teacher or education administrator who is using the Weebly for Education platform to build and publish content, you can continue using your free Weebly standard account when Weebly for Education discontinues. Aside from hosting students, this standard account includes most of the features you are already familiar with including the same easy-to-use editor.

We understand that you may have more specific education requirements, like hosting your students’ websites. To better serve those requirements, we recommend Edublogs. Edublogs offers a free online class platform where students can build their own websites and teachers can post content, leave feedback, and manage multiple classrooms. Weebly teachers get 50% off Edublogs Pro plan for the first two annual payments (equivalent to one year free). Learn more and sign up here.

Cool Tools will start soon!

We’re getting ready to launch this year’s Cool Tools workshop in December 2018.  The lessons are still being updated and reorganized. And the Google Classroom is starting to take shape!

For details on how the workshop runs, please read our Frequently Asked Questions page.  And if you have questions, please leave a comment on that page.

Public Lessons, Private Google Classroom

This year, we’ll be using Google Classroom again for turning in assignments and sharing ideas.

  • Public Lessons: As always, the lessons, or “Things” as we call them, for the workshop will be housed here on this public website. That makes the lesson pages available to anyone who is interested. Our lesson pages get lots of traffic from people not in the workshop!
  • Private Classroom: Participants taking the workshop for continuing education credit will participate in discussions and submit assignments through Google Classroom. Google Classroom has undergone some big changes over this past summer. I’m still learning my way around and will be learning right along with you all.

Picking Your Topics

Cool Tools 101 (Things 1-10) is designed for people who haven’t participated in this (or a similar) program before. You’ll pick 5 or 10 topics to complete. The place to start is with Thing 1: Blogging where you’ll get your blog setup. You’ll use the blog to write up your reflections through the workshop.

You could pick all your topics just from the first 10 Things if you like, but feel free to pick topics from the other tracks if they interest you more. There are also the extra “DIY” and “Final Reflections” topics that everyone is encouraged to do.

More Cool Tools:  These lessons used to be split up into Tracks 2, 3 and 4. But those labels have lost any meaning as we are continually reorganizing, adding, updating and deleting topics.  If you’ve participated before, scan all the lesson titles and pick out the topics that appeal to you. Don’t forget the extra “DIY” and “Final Reflection” topics as well. Everyone is encouraged to do these.

Repeating a Topic:  Since most of the lessons have lots of options and there are always new things to explore, feel free to repeat topics that you’ve done before. Just be sure to dig in deeper and truly explore some new aspects or try new tools.

AND REMEMBER that your assignment posts should include:

  • Reflection on the readings and/or information you explored.
  • Any projects you created, embedded in your post if possible or provide a link.
  • Thoughts on how the topics relate to your work as an educator. It’s great to include fun, personal ideas too if you like, but don’t forget the educational connections too.

Cool Tools for Schools 2018/19

Quick Update!

We will be running Cool Tools for School one more time during the 2018/19 school year. There will be fewer lessons than in past years.

2017/18 LESSON ARCHIVE: All of the lessons from last year (2017/18) will remain available in this archived list of lessons.

Interested in participating? If you’re in New York State, contact your regional/BOCES School Library System administrator. Contact me pollyalida at gmail.  This PDF has lots more information.