Shelly Lyons
AppleThis is Shelly ’Klingensmith’ Glennon. Shelly teaches fourth grade at Tularcitos Elementary School in Carmel Valley, California. Leslie volunteered in Shelly's first grade classroom for 14 years.

All of this exposure to the first-grade classroom has had a lasting effect on Leslie’s books, not just providing a setting but also making the books very curriculum friendly. Albert’s Field Trip was a direct result of a class field trip. Ms. Klingensmith (Shelly) can be seen (in her Pleasant Valley/rabbit persona) working with the first-graders in Albert’s Birthday. Shelly created these materials and used them in her classroom with great success.

Painless Thank You Notes

By Shelly Lyon

Now that we are past that delirious season of gift giving, January is the perfect month for writing thank you notes. That activity has always created a season of groans in the past, but I've found a special format can make the notes less of a chore and more of a treasured bit of creativity. Here I'll share my little bit of a twist on the ever-present thank you note of January.
I have the children write the name of the gift giver going down, vertically along the left margin of the paper. Then I ask them to write a sentence about the gift, the giver, or their sentiments for each letter of the giver's name. The sentences have to make sense, and be complete. The note has to flow from beginning to end. The fun and challenging part is to think of a sentence that begins with a word that begins with the letter in the giver's name.
Here's an example:

A Thank You Note to Grandma

Grandma never forgets me at Christmas time.
Red yarn makes cute sweaters!
A red sweater knitted with love is the best kind to have.
Now I'll never be cold this winter.
Do you know I love you, Grandma?
Much of the time we are apart, but,
Always know I love you and love my new red sweater!

These kinds of notes are written happily. The challenge of the vertical name is enjoyed by all. The love and thanks are shared with the generous people we love in our lives. The first letters can be embellished as in old world script. We all win with these creative vertical musings!