Teacher Book Club: Episode 2

As promised, we are following up last week’s Teacher Book Club: Episode 1 with observations from our two wonderful teachers Lori Howard and Linda Null. We’re very excited that both classrooms were so engaged with Smelly Bill by Daniel Postgate. It’s clear that kids are the same everywhere and that great teachers enjoy learning from each other. Thanks Lori and Linda!

We’ll definitely be doing a Teacher Book Club in the new year — maybe a chapter book this time. We’d love to add another classroom or two, so please let us know if you’re interested.

And now to our teachers…

Lori Howard teaches first grade at Central Elementary School in Okeechobee, FL. She team teaches in a bilingual program, so she has two groups of students – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The kids alternate into a Spanish-only classroom for the other half day. Central Elementary School is a public school with 500 students in grades K-4. The city of Okeechobee has approximately 6,000 residents and an additional 34,000 people live in Okeechobee county.

Lesson Update:

Last week I sent the Smelly Bill books home with the students to go over the vocabulary words from the story with their parents.  I also had the students bring the books back to school each day.  After reading Mrs. Null’s blog I liked the idea of looking for other types of words within the pages of the book. She mentioned looking for 5 nouns. I also thought about making a list of the adjectives, verbs and rhyming words. We used the book to practice reading the rhyming words and talk about our “new” big vocabulary words so now we can begin looking for other types of words as well. Great idea Linda! 

I noticed a difference between Linda’s approach and my approach to the book. When I first read the book I saw all these wonderful, huge, vocabulary concepts that I knew my students didn’t know. I thought of all the things I could do with the story to help my students learn these concepts. I admired Linda for seeing a multitude of different things to pull from the story. 

During one of our activities last week I had the students discuss with their partners things that they would like to tell the author. Blake said, “I think he should make the book a real smelly book like garbage”. Jasmine said, “I would like Smelly Bill to be in a Christmas smelly book with good smells like cookies, and pine trees”. Morgan and Markayla wanted the author to write more stories about Great Aunt Bleach. I think “smells” are a great learning opportunity for first graders. I’m expanding the “smelly” adventure this week as we each write a page in our class book about the smelliest things in the world.

I loved the way Linda was able to use the book and make connections through the content areas. She incorporated her math, English, reading and social studies activities through some of the concepts presented from the story Smelly Bill.  I also find it necessary to integrate the core subjects in my classroom. I’m always looking for that great story that gives me multiple opportunities to teach. A good story often ends up being the concept for the week as it is woven through our required standards. 

I always have circle time with my first graders and I enjoy reading great books that make us all laugh, cry or discover some new thing we didn’t know.  We certainly were able to learn a lot from this very funny book. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to discover “Smelly Bill”. We look forward to more stories from Mr. Postgate.  If he is ever in Florida, send him our way!

Markayla and Morgan loved Great Aunt Bleach!
Bryant, Vanessa, Aleah and Blake loved this page!
Thanks for sending us the books!

Linda Null is a first grade teacher at St. Catherine Labouré Catholic Elementary School in St. Louis, Missouri. The school has 500 students in grades K-8. St. Louis. St. Louis has an estimated population of 356,587 and is the principal municipality of Greater St. Louis, population 2,892,874, the largest urban area in Missouri and 15th-largest in the United States.

The lesson continues…


Since the class enjoyed Great Aunt Bleach’s fun phrase “tally-ho!” so much, we needed to do a little investigating. The hunt began with learning about the book’s author. We had a quick geography lesson after finding out where Daniel Postgate lives. We located London and then Whitstable, Great Britain on a map. We discussed how words like chap and rubbish were not words that we used in our everyday conversations. The words sounded a bit more “proper,” like words a king or queen, or perhaps Mary Poppins would use. After reading Mr. Postgate’s biography I mentioned to the students that different areas, countries, sometimes have different spellings of the same word. For instance, “colour” is the same as our word color, which is a word we often see in the directions on our worksheets.


Another bonus was when the students began to search their books for words with the ending “-ed” which is part of our Phonics/Reading lesson of the week. We counted over twenty words! You can imagine the excitement as their lists grew. It has been so rewarding to find all of these applications to our first grade curriculum in this one book.




  1. The two classrooms seemed to enjoy the book for similar reasons:
  2. Great Aunt Bleach, her cleaning supplies, and her unfamiliar, but very fun expressions.
  3. The vocabulary lessons that were pulled from the book. Lori added them to the classroom word wall and used them for vocabulary enrichment. I used them for learning an English lesson about nouns and for phonics.
  4. I believe both classrooms will be referring back to Smelly Bill’s hiding place, the compost bin, in April for Earth Day ideas.
  5. I like how Lori expanded on the “smells” aspect of the book. I love the garbage smells book idea. It reminds me Harry Potter’s Bertie’s Beans.
  6. It is always interesting to hear what the children would like to tell the author. They often have very fun ideas for future adventures for the main character. Thanks for the great follow up idea, Lori!
  7. All the students were thrilled to receive their OWN copy of Smelly Bill which enabled each student to truly become engaged in this project.

We can’t say thank you enough for including our classrooms in the Albert Whitman and Company Classroom Book Club.


Teacher Book Club: Episode 2