Urban Prairie Waldorf School
Miss Vander Meulen's Class
Weekly Update - April 21, 2015



10120 East 750, CULVER, IN  46511

MAY 11-13, 2015


  • 2 pairs of pants (no shorts or capris, please; lightweight, leggings or jeans ok)
  • 2 long sleeve shirts
  • 2 short sleeve shirts
  • 4 pairs underwear 
  • 4 pairs socks
  • pajamas
  • bag for dirty laundry
  • sweatshirt or fleece jacket
  • windbreaker
  • sun hat
  • winter hat
  • sturdy shoes
  • rain gear, including rain boots 
  • work gloves


toiletries in small bag: (I will bring some bars of soap and some liquid soap!)

  • tooth brush and tooth paste
  • comb or brush
  • hair bands for girls
  • sunscreen
  • non-DEET insect repellant (available at Whole Foods)


small flashlight

water bottle

Non-breakable dish and utensils (With a bag (mesh is possible) to keep them in)

  • sleeping bag
  • mat to sleep on
  • pillow (preferably small)
  • small stuffed animal ok!


  • The children will be sleeping in tents.
  • If medication is needed. Please notify me as I will keep it with me.
  • Please label everything clearly with your child’s name. Pack in a duffel bag.  Pack in an organized way in plastic bags, e.g., Day 2 clothes, Day 3 clothes, PJs, towel and toiletries, rain gear, etc.
  • Please pack a sack lunch, in a disposable bag for the first day. Include a snack.
  • Please do not send any extra food or treats, ipods or other electronic devices.

Summer Study Opportunity

During the summer, as part of my preparation for 3rd grade, I plan to read “I am Different from You: How Children Express Themselves and the World in the Middle of Childhood” by Peter Selg. It would be nice to read this as a group study. If you are interested in joining me, then email me so we can pick dates in the summer to gather and share thoughts about the children and the 9 year change. It would be a great way to prepare and support each other as we collectively find ways to guide the children through from what I hear can be a rather tumultuous time.

Thoughtful Picture-Book Reads:

1. A Chair for my Mother by Vera B. Williams (1982). When a family home is ruined by fire, all collect their coins bit by bit to purchase a colorful chair and begin again. Also read Amber was Brave, Essie was Smart by the same author.

2. The Blessing Cup by Polacco (2013). A single china cup, from a tea set left behind when Jews were forced to leave Russia, holds a family together over generations in a new land. Also read The Keeping Quilt by the same author.

3. The Elijah Door: A Passover Tale by Linda Strauss (2012). As two families feud over a goose, young people determine to reunite their homes for an upcoming seder—a timeless tale with social messages for any time of the year. Also read The Princess Gown

4. The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman and illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline (2013). A boy who can neither read nor write records his journey from Italy to America with treasures sequestered in matchboxes—macaroni, typeset letters, a piece of coal. Also read Peppe the Lamplighter by Elisa Bartone.

5. Nora’s Chicks by Patricia MacLachlan (2013). A girl from Russia adapting to her new farm on the American prairie says nostalgically to her father, “You can’t plant a hill.” Soon, however, a task of caring for chicks leads her to a fond appreciation for the landscape and some reassuring friendships.

6. This is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson (2013). An African-American girl in South Carolina, during The Great Migration, discovers a piece of rope under a tree and takes it with her. Soon the rope is finding new ways to be useful for jump rope, tying suitcases, and hanging laundry on the line.

Can-Read Books and Their Literary Cousins

These are fine entry-level readers, whose larger type, simple vocabulary, lively tales, and supportive illustrations are a gratifying match for children of this age.

1. Tales of Amanda/Oliver Pig Series by Jean Van Leeuwen

2. Amelia Bedelia Series by Peggy Parish

3. Arthur Series by Lillian Hoban

4. Cork and Fuzz Series by Dori Chaconas

5. Fox Series by James Marshall (solid tongue-in-cheek humor) (also George and Martha)

6. Frog and Toad, Grasshopper, Mouse Tales, and Uncle Elephant Series by Anita Lobel

7. Frances Series by Russell Hoban

8. Houndsley and Catina Series by James Howe

9. Iris and Walter Series by Elissa Guest

10. Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin

11. Little Bear Series by Else Holmelund Minarek

12. Mouse and Mole Series by Wong Herbert Yee

13. Mr. Putter Series by Cynthia Rylant (also Henry and Mudge)

14. Nate the Great Spy Series by Marjorie Sharmat


Early Chapter Books (under 125 pages)

Distinguished by smaller type and fewer illustrations, these stories often appear on shelves separate from Early Reader Carousels under banners such as “Stepping Stones,” “Trophy Chapters,” and “Puffin Chapters”.

1. Balto and the Great Race by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel (112 pp). The legendary tale of a sled dog, not necessarily the fastest, who leads a dog team on a medicine delivery to a remote Alaskan town where children are suffering from diphtheria.

2. The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth (96 pp.). A white cat, thought to bring luck to a gifted painter, turns out to bring him ill, until Buddha intervenes and a happy ending is made possible for all.

3. Crow Boy by Taro Yashima (40 pp.). A shy mountain boy in Japan leaves his home each morning at dawn to go to the village school; on the way, he learns the calls of the crows.

4. Duck for Day by Meg McKinlay (89 pp.). Two children vie for the privilege of taking the class duck home for an overnight, but they must prove to their very picky teacher and duck they deserve this great honor.

5. The Ice Dragon by George R. R. Martin (112 pp.). Physical and spiritual cold infuse a land inhabited by a child, born in winter chill, who must either seek comfort in familiar icy realms or broach uncomfortable warmth to save her kingdom.

6. The King’s Equal by Katherine Paterson (64 pp.). To wear the crown, an arrogant prince must find an equal in his bride and stumbles upon one more perfect than he.

7. Lady Lollipop by Dick King-Smith (125 pp). A quick-witted swineherd and a pig named Lollipop are royally rewarded after they reform a very spoiled princess. Also read the entertaining sequel, Clever Lollipop, in which Princess Penelope learns how to read.

8. Li-Lun, Lad of Courage by Caolyn Treffinger (96. pp). Banished to the mountains with a few grains of rise, Li-Lun must develop the courage and patience to survive while coaxing the grains into a tiny crop before returning to his villge.

9. The Little Leftover Witch by Laughlin (111 pp.). When Felina is left behind by her witch mother, she must adjust to life with a sweet girl, Lucinda, who becomes her “sister” and also make an effort to blend in with the mother and father of the Doon family.

10. Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen (45 pp.). Coming from Russia, a young girl shows her third-grade classmates that there are more ways to be a pilgrim than they think.

11. The Real Thief by William Steig (64 pp.). When Gawain the Goose is unjustly accused of stealing from his king, the real culprit is bitten by a guilty conscience.

12. Tornado by Betsy Byars (64 pp.). When a farmhand gathers children together in a storm shelter during a tornado, he speaks of a dog who was dropped down to the ground by a twister many years ago. Also read The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh.

13. The Skirt by Gary Soto (80 pp.). Bringing her mother’s folklorico skirt to school, Miatta accidentally leaves it on the bus and must find it before the class performance.

14. The White Stallion by Elizabeth Shub (62 pp.). When a girl falls asleep on the back of an old mare on a trip across the country, she wakes up in a herd of wild horses.

15. The Year of the Panda by Miriam Schlein (82 pp.). A Chinese boy rescues a tiny baby panda and learns what the government is doing to save this endangered species.

Early Chapter Books Series (under 125 pages)

Series literature is a comforting genre for children coming into reading, as the familiar characters, prose, and plots free them to focus on new words to add to their reading vocabulary.

1. Akimbo Series by Alexander McCall Smith (80 pp.). A young boy lives on a game preserve in Africa and helps his father through various adventures with snakes, elephants, baboons, lions, and crocodiles.

2. Betsy-Tacy Series by Maude Lovelace (100 pp.). Friendship begins with two girls, then expands to include three; children who really this also enjoy the more contemporary The Cobble Street Cousins by Cynthia Rylant.

3. Catwings by Ursula LeGuin (around 50 pp.). Mrs. Jane Tabby can’t explain why her four precious kittens were born with wings, but when it’s time for them to go out on their own, their flying skills take them away from dangerous city slums.

4. Daisy Dawson by Steve Voake (100 pp.). One day when Daisy is late for school, an encounter with a butterfly leaves her able to communicate with animals, which proves particularly handy when she loses her best friend, Boom, to the pound.

5. Encyclopedia Brown Series by Donald Sobol (96 pp.). Famed series about a boy detective who likes to solve brain-teasing mysteries.

6. Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown (100 pp.). When Stanley Lambchop is sleeping, a bulletin board falls on him, making him a half-inch thick; it is fun sliding under doors and being mailed to friends’ houses, but soon it seems better to be like everyone else.

7. The Gorilla Who Wanted to Grow Up by Jill Tomlinson (112 pp.). Part of a series that also includes The Otter Who Wanted to Know and The Cat Who Wanted to Go Home, this work records the antics of a young gorilla, living in the mountains of Africa, who wishes to be just like his more responsible father.

8. The Lighthouse Series by Cynthia Rylant (64. pp.). Animals washed ashore on a remote island—a whale, a turtle, an eagle, a dog—learn to live together in their new setting. Beautiful themes of helping, accommodation, and friendship.

9. The Littles by John Peterson (80 pp.). Tiny people in a big-people world rise to the occasion in every challenging episode.

10. LuLu and the Cat in the Bag (84 pp.) by Hilary McKay. When a mysterious bag is left on Lulu’s doorstep, the last thing her grandmother expects it to be is a cat—a huge neon-orange cat. Part of a series featuring an African-American child: Lulu and the Duck in the Park, Lulu and the Dog from the Sea.

11. Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne (80 pp.). Jack and Annie travel through time to experience quick takes on defining moments in history. Enthusiasm for this series, with its familiar main characters and predictable themes, has taught many emerging readers to gain confidence with independent reading.

12. Mrs. Noodlekugel Series by Daniel Pinkwater (80 pp.). Nick and Maxine have a new baby sitter, the eccentric Mrs. Noodlekugel who lives in the funny little house behind their apartment building with her butler cat and four far-sighted mice.

13. The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case by McCall Smith. Young Precious, at her school in Botswana, shows her gifts for solving cases when she busts through stereotypes to discover who has been stealing the children’s food. Also read The Mystery of Meerkat Hill and Precious and the Puggies.

14. Sophie’s Snail by Dick King-Smith (96 pp.). The friendship between a young girl and the first pet she adopts, a snail, turns into a determination to purchase a farm (also read Sophie’s Lucky and other books in this series).

15. The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron. In the American tongue-in-cheek tradition, Julian transforms his memories into creative moments filled with humor and sometimes regrets over having taken his tales too far. Also read Gloria’s Way.

16. Tashi By Anna Fienberg. Jack and his imaginary friend, Tashi, a gnome-like visitor from far away, intertwine as listener and storyteller, with Tashi facing giants, ghosts, and demons and always finding safety in the end.

17. Violet Mackeral’s Natural Habitat by Anna Branford; the smallest in her family, 7- year-old Violet loves nature, in this instance a tiny ladybug, and learning about where garden insects thrive best. Also read Mackeral’s Brilliant Plot.

The Classics: Stories of Family Life

1. All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (1951). Recounts the adventures of five young sisters—Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie—living on Manhattan’s Lower East Side at the beginning of the 20th century.

2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908). The beloved novel about an 11-year- old girl finding her place among new friends (and a few spiteful people—young and old) on Prince Edward Island.

3. The Borrowers by Mary Norton (1953). Unfolds the adventures of a tiny family—Pod, Homily, and Arrietty—who survive by living under the floorboards and borrowing cast- offs from humans. Look for the 50th-anniversary edition featuring sepia-toned illustrations by original illustrator, Diana Stanley.

4. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (1924). The Alden children begin their independent lives by making a home in an abandoned boxcar—a beautiful story about optimism, loyalty, and resourcefulness.

5. Henry Reed Series by Keith Robinson (1989). Fast companions, Henry and his side-kick, Midge, get themselves in and out of trouble in this series illustrated by Robert McCloskey. Also read the Soup series by Robert Newton Peck (1964).

6. The Cottage at Bantry Bay by Hilary Von Stockum (1938). Story—part of a series—of the O’Sullivan family in County Cork, Ireland.

7. The Secret Garden (1911), A Little Princess (1905), and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886) by Frances Hodgson Burnett. From the many beautiful editions of these fine works, look for ones illustrated by Tasha Tudor, Lucy Corvino, or Inga Moore.

8. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers (1934). The famous story of a British governess, practically perfect in every way, who creates havoc and transformation on Cherry Tree Lane (part of a series and filled with humor).

9. Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Baily (1946). the adventures of a country doll made of an apple-wood twig with a hickory nut for a head.

10. The Moffats by Eleanor Estes (1941). The adventures and misadventures of the four Moffat children and their widowed mother, struggling to make ends meet in their yellow house on New Dollar Street at the turn of the last century.

11. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald (1947). Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, who lives in an upside-down house and smells like cookies, has brilliant solutions to childhood ailments that even the most intrepid and creative neighborhood parents can’t seem to fix.

12. Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer (1936). Winner of the Newbery award, this work, set in the 1890s in New York City, tells of Lucinda’s year with the Misses Peters, who let her skate everywhere and aren’t particularly interested in a focus on ladylike behavior.

13. The Secret Language by Harper/Collins famed children’s book editor, Ursula Nordstrom (1960). Off to boarding school at a young age, a girl finds her way into lasting friendships through a secret language.

14. Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright (1938). A few hours after 9-year-old Garnet Linden finds a silver thimble in a dried-up Wisconsin river bed, the rains come, ending the long drought on her farm. With thimble luck, many other good things follow. Also read Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski (1946) and Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (1935).

15. Willow Wind Farm: Betsy’s Story by Anne Pellowski (1981). On the farm, all ten children help out with chores, but there is still much fun—for instance, the day the pigs get tipsy on fermented blackberry preserves! Also read others in the series

16. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (1930). The story of the Walker family on Wild Ca.t Island, seeking adventure on their catboat, Swallow. Part of a Series. Also read Enid Blyton’s Island of Adventure series (1944).

17. The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene Du Bois (1947). Famous tale of a retired mathematics teacher, who wishes to embark on a year-long journey in a hot-air balloon.

Read-Aloud Classics: Animals Finding Their Way

1. Bambi: A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten (1923). The well-known, but not often read-aloud, story of a fawn growing—against all odds—to adulthood in a wood filled with beauty and danger to become The Prince of the Forest.

2. Charlotte’s Web (1952) by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams. People sometimes think Charlotte’s Web is too sad, too unresolved to read to children; consider when it was written and applaud the author’s fierce effort to keep the ending as it was.

3. The Fox and the Hound by Daniel P. Mannix (1967). A wild red fox and his farm companion, a half bloodhound tracker, navigate the expectations of the owners and inevitable nature in this work narrated from the vivid perspectives of two animals.

4. Freddy Books by Walter Brooks (1929-) feature titles in which a detective pig assists others in need, often other animals. In Freddy the Pied Piper, for example, Freddy helps a traveling circus rid its show of rats, while in Freddy’s Cousin Weedly, animals on Mr. Bean’s farm prevent a house sitter from making off with a family heirloom.

5. Lassie by Eric Knight (1938). The inspiring tale of a boy and his beloved collie, who braves a thousand miles to escape from Scotland to reunite with his owner. Look for the unabridged version or the shortened tale retold by Rosemary Wells.

6. The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford (1960). A Labrador retriever, Siamese cat, and terrier make their way from the Canadian wilderness to their beloved family out West.

7. Kneeknock Rise by Natalie Babbit (1984). The Megrimum is a wailing mystery the Instep villagers fear; nevertheless, a boy bravely challenges superstition to explain the natural origins by climbing the peak with his elderly dog.

8. Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson (1944). New folks are coming to live in the Big House and animal inhabitants wonder if they will plant a fertile garden and be good providers.

9. Rascal by Sterling North (1963). Based on the author’s own life, a young boy befriends a raccoon, enjoying a perfect friendship for a year swimming, fishing, and exploring the neighboring land…..until the animal’s true nature creates problems in the boy’s home.

10. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry (1947). A pony from an island off the coast of Virginia lived with the author as she researched the valuable horses of this tale, believed to be descendants of animals on an old Spanish ship that was lost at sea.

Read-Aloud Classics: Fantasy

1. The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop (1986). When a boy receives a medieval castle with a knight from his housekeeper, he is pulled into the turbulent times of this toy-come-to-life to fight an evil wizard (also read The Battle for the Castle).

2. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming (1964). A flying car takes the Pott family on a colorful range of adventures as they try to catch an elusive gang of thieves.

3. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (1948). A young boy is determined to save a baby dragon, who is being used by a group of lazy wild animals to ferry them across a river on Wild Island—part of a trilogy.

4. Finn Family Moomintroll Series by Tove Jansson (1958). Published originally in Finland, this series recounts the adventures of beasts in the Moomin Valley.

5. Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (1902) (look for versions illustrated by H.R. Miller or Paul Zelinsky). When four children, digging to Australia, discover a grumpy Psammead, or sand fairy, in the gravel pit of the house where they are staying, they look to a future of wish-making. Also read The Railway Children and The Phoenix and the Carpet.

6. The Glassblower’s Children by Swedish writer Maria Gripe (1964). A glassblower and his wife live happily until the prophecy that their children, a girl and a boy, will disappear comes true; many adventures lead to a satisfying ending.

7. Half Magic by Edward Eager, with illustrations by Quentin Blake (1951). Magic can be tricky if you are only granted half your wish—what might that look like, let’s say, if you wanted to be invisible (also read other books in this series)?

8. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye. At her christening, a princess is given the gift of “ordinariness” by a fairy, which leads her to the job of 14th assistant kitchen maid. Still, a prince seems to be in her future.

9. The Light Princess by George MacDonald and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Tongue-in- cheek tale of a young princess who “having lost her gravity,” explores through a playful dream-world the predicaments of levity. Also read The Princess and the Goblin (1872).

10. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (1945). Part of series recording the adventures of a young girl and her very ordinary neighbors.

11. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (1952). Pulled into a painting of a ship, two of the Pevensie children and their troublesome cousin, travel with Prince Caspian to the the edge of the world, encountering many adventures on the way.

12. The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron (1988). A mysterious man invites a boy to build a space ship and travel to Basidium to help the Mushroom people (part of a series including Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet).

Stories of Family Life

1. In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Betty Bao Lord (1947). Shirley Temple Wong sails from China to America with a heart full of dreams to be realized in her new home of Brooklyn, New York.

2. Ivy Takes Care by Rosemary Wells. Broken-hearted when her best friend leaves for the summer, Ivy turns her attention to taking care of farm animals and developing a new sense of purpose.

3. Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World by Mildred Pitts Walter (1986). Justin would prefer sports over doing chores, but when he stays with his cowboy grandfather, he learns men, too, must cook and clean. Thoughtful references to this country’s African- American pioneers and cowboys give this younger novel a rich historical backdrop.

4. Just Juice by Karen Hesse. When Juice enters third grade and letters and numbers still don’t make sense, she leaves school to help her father work in his shop—a good read- aloud for discussions about overcoming hurdles.

5. My Name is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada. A third grader, born in Puerto Rico, wants to fit into her new school and finds a way in her essay assignment, “My Greatest Wish.”

6. Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins. When young Naima, a gifted Bangladeshi apana painter, borrows her taxi-cab father’s only means of transportation, she damages the rickshaw and must think of a way to assist her father in making the expensive repairs.

7. The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill. In 1948, a school teacher arrives in a remote part of Alaska to give the children an educational experience they haven’t encountered in years…at the same time accepting their odd-smelling fish sandwiches and insisting that the deaf-boy, Bakko, attend school with everyone else.

Contemporary Read-Alouds: Animals Finding Their Way

1. Abel’s Island by William Steig. A gallant mouse, attempting to rescue his wife’s scarf from the winds of a passing storm, becomes stranded for a year on an island, where he must survive by his wits, rely on the wisdom of others, and overcome his loneliness.

2. Gwinna by Helen Berger. Having grown wings and felt the longing for the freedom of the skies, Gwinna goes to the Mother of the Owls, who sends her on a mysterious quest.

3. Gooseberry Park by Newbery-Award winner Cynthia Rylant. After a storm puts a squirrel and her family in danger, animal friends come to her rescue.

4. Higglety, Pigglety, Pop! by Maurice Sendak. Jenny, a Sealyham terrier, leaves the comfort of her home to see if there is more to life and ends up as the lead performer in the World Mother Goose Theater.

5. Maggie & Oliver and a Bone of One’s Own by Valerie Hobbs (2012). A young maid tossed out into the street and a stray dog discover new beginnings through a golden locket.

6. Pigs Might Fly by Dick King-Smith. Hearty celebration of barnyard life in this book about a “deformed” pig, Daggie Dogfoot, whose particular talent—swimming—leads to heroism one rainy day. (Also look at many other books by this author.)

7. Nurk: The Strange, Surprising Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew by Ursula Vernon. Nurk, a sort-of courageous rodent, packs up a few pairs of clean socks and sails off on an accidental voyage, guided by the wisdom found in the journal of his famously brave and fierce grandmother, Lady Surka the Warrior Shrew.

8. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. Despereaux Tilling—a mouse in love with music, stories and a Princess named Pea—must battle a fierce rat to assist a simpleservant girl, Miggery Sow, in her wish to gain royal status.

9. Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn. Comfortable, married mice, Tumtum and Nutmeg, secretly try to help a brother and sister living in a tumbledown cottage with their kind, but absent-minded father.

10. Wild Times and the Bed and Biscuit by Joan Carris. Part of a series, this books celebrates the exploits of animals occupying a boarding house that has gone wild. Characters include Sir Walter (a very proper Scottie puppy), a cranky muskrat, a wounded Canada goose, and two starving but sassy fox kits.