High Interest Books for Students

The third grade teachers received two "bookshelves" from the Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project curated by Lucy Calkins and Colleagues. They include a Mystery Shelf (Grade 3) and a High-Interest Fiction Shelf (Gr. 3-Below Benchmark)

Students develop a passion for reading when they have access to books that are at their level and are of interest. These bookshelves provide titles that are appropriate for third grade students and will help ensure that all students have access to quality literature. The third grade teachers believe that having access to these books will help foster a love of learning and will result in student growth as readers.

3D45 Dremel 3D printer

3D printing has become standard practice in colleges and technical schools looking to provide students access to fast prototyping and parts manufacturing on-site in the fast-paced world of digital fabrication.

In Lake Bluff, students benefit from access to a 3D printer first through the simple acquisition of knowledge to new technologies. They become aware that creating something from nothing is an important aspect of utilizing today’s technologies to solve real-world problems. Once they have an introduction to the capabilities of a 3D printer, they are able to move to a more important (and exciting) step in their education: innovation. Through hands-on activities and problem based learning techniques, students are able to turn to 3D printing to rapidly test out prototypes and make necessary adjustments prior to finalizing their parts. 3D printing can be implemented across multiple subject areas.

8th Grade Book Club Books

After reading To Kill a Mockingbird as a shared class novel experience, students often feel passionate about the issues and themes that resonate in the novel.  As an extended learning experience, the LB Middle School developed a book club unit to enable students to continue examining these themes, and more, in young adult novels that take place in their current world.  In selecting books we considered choice, level, and connections to the whole-class novel.  Many of the titles selected are newly published novels that are highly recommended in the literary community.  

Current topics include issues about race and ethnicity, immigration, physical and mental disabilities, family, loss, bullying, body image, gender, and so much more.  Students are able to explore these issues through a thematic focus in a collaborative book club experience.  Not only do these books provide a literary experience for students, but it will also helps to build the social/emotional intelligence as well.

Mind Yeti School Program

Take a Seat, Relax, and Listen

MindYeti is a program that teaches mindfulness to students Grade 1-5. There are long periods of Math, Science, Reading, and Writing. At times, the student's bodies and minds are distracted with the noise of their environment. Mind Yeti is a classroom based program that will help students learn mindfulness.

Mind Yeti was developed by mindfulness and social-emotional learning experts to be an easy way to take a purposeful pause.

  • For kids in Kindergarten through Grade 5 (and their adults)

  • 15 short, free-forever audio sessions

  • A growing library of premium content

  • Available on web and iOS

X-Carve - 3D carving and CNC

The X-Carve by Chicago-based company, Inventables, enables the LB Middle School to blend the digital art program with studio art. X-Carve allows our students to transform their digital creations into physical works of art.  The X-Carve will benefit all art students in 6th-8th grade every trimester they are in art (approximately 150 students per trimester).

Students love working with new technology and it is a large part of our curriculum in both STEAM and art class.  Allowing students to blend both studio art and digital art together in one space provides an amazing experience for many of our budding artists.


eReaders for LBMS Library

A new fleet of Kindle eReaders allow students to access ebooks and audiobooks using their Lake Bluff Library card as well as library media from our own middle school library. The opportunity enables some of our more challenged readers an opportunity to read with privacy necessary to feel confident in developing their own pace of reading. All ebooks look the same, whether they’re heavy-duty tomes or lightweight novels. This is particularly important for struggling readers, who don’t want to be seen reading “baby books.” Struggling readers will also receive support by being able to instantly find the definitions of words in the text. An eReader will also be useful for students with any vision impairments, as they will be able to enlarge text and change the text color. In addition, our English Language Learners will also benefit, as eReaders can conform to various languages.

3rd grade Social Emotional Curriculum

Every part of the school day for a child is important whether it is Music, Lunch, Math, or Science. The foundation to help a student achieve their maximum potential is that they know how to work well with others, manage strong emotions, learn how to make friends and be a friend, and how to solve social problems. Learning takes place throughout the day—in the classroom, on the playground, and at home. Children learn by watching and listening to how teachers, family members, and friends interact with one another. 

The curriculum called the Second Step program helps students think about, develop, and practice positive social skills. Research tells us that children who learn and use these skills are more likely to get along with others and be more successful in school.
The Second Step program reviews: 
 identifying respectful behaviors
 making and sustaining conversations with peers
 being assertive
 being a positive friend to others
 problem solving
 impulse control
 stress management
Second Step lessons introduce and teach all the above skills. All students are given the chance to practice the skills they’re learning through role-playing, an important part of Second Step lessons. 

First Grade Author Study

Research shows that students are more engaged in reading when given choice and when they are presented with text they want to read. Both James Marshall and Mo Willems are popular authors among young learners. This grant supports readers as they study series books and will benefit the overall classroom library. 

Having multiple copies of the text will enable small groups of students to study the texts together. Additionally, we will be able to support those readers with teacher-led small group work. When not being used in groups, the books can be selected for students independent reading.

Books for Diverse Readers

In our continuing efforts to support a wide variety of readers, we are requesting funds to pay for 15  biography titles and 17  titles about American history topics.  The reason behind this request is the need to include biographies about current leaders and role models that reflect and honor the lives of all our young students. Also, there is a need for books that striving readers can learn from on all topics relating to the American Revolution.  As one of our readers recently said in a reflection, “I wasn't good at researching because I couldn't read the books”.  

These books will be housed in our Upper Level Book Room at LBES for all teachers and students to have access to at any time. The Book Rooms house authentic, high-quality books to help teachers not only teach our curriculum, but also help students develop a love of reading. We know that “book love” grows when our students are engaged in books that capture their imagination, challenge their thinking, and are at a level that is a “good fit”.   Books on current leaders and role models for all students will help support our Lucy Calkins Reading and Writing curriculum.  Since our implementation of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project curriculum, we have invested time and energy in cataloging our current books within our bookrooms.  Through the use of a stipend we have added books that help support other areas of need from Kindergarten through Fifth Grade.  The addition of the biographies and books about American History will impact the lives of twelve teachers and over three hundred children. 

Breakout EDU Boxes

Breakout EDU is a set of locks, boxes, and other items used to conduct immersive and collaborative academic challenges. It allows for facilitation of games where players use teamwork and critical thinking to solve a series of challenging puzzles in order to open the locked boxes. Activities are available for all ages and all content areas.


Breakout EDU games provide opportunities for active and engaging learning by transferring the ownership of learning from the instructor to the student, putting the focus on how learners approach problem solving and apply their knowledge. In addition to the content knowledge needed to succeed in a specific Breakout activity, all Breakout EDU games require critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication (the 4 C's). A Breakout EDU game provides all learners with many opportunities to “fail forward”.

Every unsuccessful attempt to open a lock forces the player to try again, thus cultivating grit and perseverance. As the K-5 Math Enrichment Specialist, Jaclyn Tivador will facilitate these boxes being shared across grade levels and subject areas by supporting teachers in implementing classroom use so that all students in the school are able to benefit from this grant.


Books for Social Emotional Learning

Kindergarten is becoming more and more academic!  However, one of the most important focuses in kindergarten is teaching social skills. Read alouds are a great way to engage students in learning. Through the use of these books, teachers will be able to teach kindergartners the following skills:

- How to be a learner in the classroom

- How to make friends

- Making choices

- How to communicate and recognize feelings

- Play independently and with a group

- Play, take turns, and share

- Positive communication and interactions with peers

- Problem Solving

- Managing Emotions

- Asking for help

- Following Instructions

- How to treat others


Osmo Classroom Kit plus Coding Awbie

Osmo is a game system that changes the way students interact with an iPad, by providing them with opportunities for hands-on play. Osmo works with an iPad to merge the power of physical play with the digital advantages of real-time feedback. Students collaborate at tables or on the floor while they manipulate tangible game pieces, such as number tiles, letter tiles, and coding blocks.

This request will benefit all students. Since Kindergarten students are 1-1 with iPads, Osmo will provide another way to utilize the iPads across curricular areas and encourage learning in the age of technology in a unique and diverse way. Since the Osmo apps can be used across subject areas and include various challenge levels for students of differing abilities, we can share the Osmo kit with any other teachers that want to try out Osmo in their classrooms.

Spanish Language Graphic Novel

In an effort to better influence literacy and language proficiency in Spanish, we awarded a grant requesting a hard-cover copy of "La Casa de la Dentista".  The graphic novel is written by Señor Wooly (aka James Wooldridge), a Spanish educator local to the Chicago metropolitan area. Señor Wooly has focused on making his materials engaging and appropriately silly for elementary and middle school learners. Often Spanish materials are very simple, or very dry.  Señor Wooly's fun YouTube videos are a hit with the students because they are fun whilst clearly teaching the learning target.

Reading an authentic and complex resource such as this novel will increase their ability to read and understand Spanish in new ways. It will also enhance their speaking skills as it will expose them to a variety of language uses that they can apply to their everyday learning. If purchased, I imagine I will use the story as a read-aloud, photocopy pages for students to work with, or even create an entire Spanish unit centered around this story. The story will take us further away from rote practice and closer to literacy in the students' Spanish language.


Meditation / Yoga Mats

Each Wai Lana Yoga Mat measures 68 x 24 and features a sticky, non-slip surface with a 1/8 in thickness to provide superb traction. These mats cushion the spine, knees, ankles and elbows, and render support and stability in poses. These are latex-free, light-weight, easy to wash and free from phthalates, phenols, dioxins and furans.  These mats will be used in Health class for meditation sessions one/week in all grade levels. 

As part of the Health curriculum at LBMS, Allison Fink has introduced meditation to all grade levels once per week.  Meditation serves all students regardless of their learning capabilities and produced greater relaxation, better focus, improved memory, reduced anxiety and stress, reduced fatigue, boosts immunity, and students become more self-awareness. 

"I had a student who struggles with ADHD and last year, he said to me that there was no way he could meditate because he wouldn't be able to sit still.  I asked him to please lie down and if can't meditate with us, just be quiet and focus on his breathing.  When we were about 7-minutes in, I looked at him and low and behold he was meditating.  I am a big believer in the power of meditation for all students. " - Allison Fink

The following article addresses meditation in the classroom as well as for students who struggle with behavioral issues. 

Movement seats

These movement seat additions help students who struggle with remaining seated to work.  Each Hokki stools allow students to move in multiple directions while remaining seated. The Wobble disks also allow students to use more of their core muscles to support students as they remain seated. Both of these items are a safe way for students to expel some extra energy and will help create a positive and calm classroom environment.