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32 Third Graders & One Class Bunny

Don't know if you are the same sort of last minute shopper that I am - but assuming you are or maybe you need a gift for a grown-up January birthday - consider "32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny by Phillip Done.  For a teacher or a friend it's a great book written in short chapters about the life of a third grade teacher.  By Phillip Done, winner of the Schwab Distinguished Teachers Award, it gives quick, funny snapshots of a third grade classroom.  Clearly Mr. Done - I love his name!  I'm so done I'm MR. Done! - but I digress -  loves his students and truly enjoys teaching - what I love is that he's not all smoozy about it.  He doesn't wax poetic or try to convince us he is perfectly in charge of the world in his classroom.  Instead he points up his own humanity while appreciating the lovable foibles of piloting a classroom full of eight-year-olds.  His stories remind me very much of parenting - love or hate it - it has it's highlights.  One of my favorite lines was when Mr. Done compared his classroom to Mrs. Wilson's - the Martha Stewart of teachers - everything is perfect in her classroom while Mr. Done's is well - normal.  He runs through a litany of the perfection in her classroom - then a list of his own classroom's challenges - ending with "And my Venus flytrap is a vegetarian." The line made me laugh out loud - and also helped me feel a little better about those other "perfect" mothers and my own crazy cat-haired decorated home. 



Neopets Puzzle Adventure

My seven-year-old son is enthralled with Neopets Puzzle Challenge.  I've played it only once myself, but I can see the attraction.  It's like the board game Othello (which I played endless games of against my college roommate when we should have been studying), but, being computer-based you avoid all those mishaps of not turning over all your pieces, etc, and it has these cute clever characters that my son finds endlessly endearing.  His nine-year-old sister plays it less often - mostly because we have only one Nintendo DS and she cannot pry it from his hands.  But she is also less enamored of the game Othello, too.  Overall, it is a cool game because the strategic elements make my son think and he really sticks with the game and works to overcome increasingly more difficult opponents.  I'm going to have to give it another try - after he's in bed!!