Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Spider on the Floor by Raffi
Illustrated by True Kelley (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002, First Board Book)
What's that scribbling across your neck? Does it have eight legs? Little furry feet? Sticky webbing? Aaahhhhhhhhh . . .
Fall is soon to be upon us.
With that seasonal change, it seems that spiders are dashing to get inside before the first freeze. Baby spiders have grown up into big, hairy scurrying arachnids. Spider on the Floor is the perfect bridge between screaming in terror as a spider scuttles across your bare toes and mollifying your children so that they can accept the importance of spiders in the food chain systems of the Earth!
Children love Raffi and his Songs to Read. Or as I phrase it, Books You Can Sing.
Meet the spider. On the floor.
This voraciously web-spinning spider takes on bigger and bigger things - until he catches all of you. And he jumps off. To start all over again.
Fingers work great for the spider - which travels up one's body. Or, buy those plastic spider rings to use while singing and acting out the song. They work perfect.
Listen to "Spider on the Floor" on Youtube or purchase a CD that contains this delightful and fun children's song. Either way, it will be a definite hit!
And while you're at it, here are some fun activities to do about spiders.
1. Get or make a bug catcher cage. Go on a spider hunt to catch one. As per lesson learned at personal experience, release one spider before adding another spider, or they may fight and eat each other! You can try to catch prey for them and watch them suck out the juices.
2. As soon as the dew starts collecting in the cool mornings, go on a web walk. Take a camera. Watch for beautiful droplet-decorated webs. Shoot away.
3. Read some books. The libraries are full of great spider books. Check out an identification book so that you can name that beautiful guy hanging out in the garden.
4. Make a spider. Use a Styrofoam ball for the body (you can paint it whatever color you want). Add chenille stems for legs (8, remember?). Glue on googly eyes (again, 8 is the perfect number) and short pieces of chenille stems for the pedipalps (those little finger things by the spider's mouth that help hold the prey) and chelicerae (sharp beak looking parts near the mouth) . Hang from the ceiling with string or hide in a spot to scare someone!
5. Start a nature journal. Sketch your live spider on the first page. Add details like where you found it, how large it is, and so on. Color it with colored pencils. Add to your journal each time you find an interesting specimen.
6. Need I say web? Make your own spider web (get permission first) by stringing masking tape back and forth on the walls down a hallway. Try and navigate the web crossing without getting stuck!
Have fun with those eight-legged arachnids of the scary category. "There's a spider on the floor, on the floor. . .
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh (Scholastic Inc., 1991)
I was recently talked into repeatedly reading this book.
While attempting to sort through boxes of books, with the help of two preschool-aged grands, I found this favorite.
So I read it.
They were glued to the illustrations and story line. Both grands were rapt with attention. Upon completion of reading Mouse Count, I was given my favorite response to a great book.
"Read it again, Nana!"
So we did. Again. And again.
You can't beat a good book. You just have to enjoy it.
Try one of these activities to add additional enjoyment to reading Mouse Count:
1. Wash out that empty peanut butter plastic jar and lid. Collect 10 small mice, 1 plastic snake, and 1 big rock. TOY mice, I might add. Act out the story! Count forwards and backwards.
~ I just realized, after watching my kittens, that cat toy mice would be the perfect size for this activity.
2. Use neutral colors (tan, brown, black, gray) and let your child sponge paint large sheets of thick paper. Dry. Trace ovals on the back and help cut out mouse shapes. Chop paper scraps for tails and feet and glue them on. Use a permanent marker for eyes, mouth, and whiskers. Tape together painted paper scraps to make a snake.
~ Retell the story.
~ Add magnets to the back and tell the story on a magnetic surface. (SUPERVISE magnets. Choking hazard for younger children).
3. Have fun acting this out on a large scale. Use a huge box as the jar. Add a big stuffed snake. Draw whiskers and nose on your child's face with an eyeliner pencil. Tie a piece of rope to a belt loop on the back of her pants for a tail. Take turns being the mouse and the snake.
4. Mouse snack: Place half of a pear cut side down on a plate. Add raisin eyes, mouth, and ears to the small end. Cut a strip of cheese for a tail and place on the big end. Cut a snake from a piece of bread. Glue on raisin eyes with a dab of peanut butter. Eat the story!
5. Rubber stamp-a-holic? Get out a mouse, snake, jar, and rock stamp. Show your child how to stamp on paper. Let him recreate the story with stamps. Add markers or crayons and help color the picture.
6. Play dough and plastic play dough tools make Mouse Count play time fun. Show how to roll a ball with the dough. Shape into an oval. Roll tiny balls for eyes and a long rope for a tail. Use a plastic knife to add whiskers and mouth. Roll a larger rope for the snake. Add a plastic jar for the story retell.
Count, count, count all the ways you have fun!
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
The Three Billy-Goats Gruff
A Norwegian Folktale with Woodcuts by Susan Blair (Scholastic Book Services, 1963)
"Read it again, Nana, again," exclaimed 2.75 year-old Khloe.
Classics will always bring that response from children. Especially if readers adhere to the strict requirement of utilizing different voices, sound effects, and actions. Guaranteed.
Some fun activities to do after reading (and rereading) The Three Billy-Goats Gruff:
~ Use blocks to build a bridge. Build on pieces of green, brown, and blue felt for setting the scene. Dig out the plastic farm goats and some ugly alien toy for re-enacting the story.
~ Use paper plates to make goat and troll masks. Cut out eye and mouth holes. Glue (and staple) on ears, horns, whiskers, beards, and so on. Use elastic or ribbons to tie in place. Add pieces of rope or leather to back of pants for tails. The bridge? A table for the troll to hide under.
~ Make play dough. Add sticks, rocks, plastic farm goats, and a troll figure. Build the set and act out the story.
~ Check out and watch a video version of The Three Billy-Goats Gruff from the library. While you are there, check out different versions of the same story. Read and compare them all. Vote for the favorite. Talk about illustrations and differences in books with the same story.
~ Fold a large sheet of construction paper (or take apart a brown paper grocery sack) into six sections. Let children draw each part of the story with markers.
*The troll hiding under the bridge.
*Little Billy-Goat Gruff tripping over the bridge.
*Middle Billy-Goat Gruff tripping over the bridge.
*Big Billy-Goat Gruff tripping over the bridge.
*Big Billy-Goat Gruff butting the troll off the bridge into the river.
*Three Billy-Goats getting fat on the hillside.
Really, kids love to act out this story! Beware, as you may soon be drafted to become any one of the characters.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Over in the Meadow, based on the original version by Olive A. Wadsworth, illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats (Scholastic, Inc., 1971)
Over in the meadow, in the sand, in the sun . . .
I cannot NOT sing this book. If I read the title, it instantly transforms into a song - complete with melody, animal sounds, and fumblings with who does what and when. I love this book!
The illustrations are adorable and opportunities for learning about life in the meadow many. Just think about it. Sing and learn. Young children learn so much when they can sing, act out, and explore nature and life in general when everything is accompanied by music.
Use this captivating book as a spring board for exploring and discovering nature.
Some fun things you can do:
~ Read and sing the book. Admire the illustrations and discuss the animals featured in the book.
~ Gather a magnifying glass or two and head out for a nature walk. How many bugs can you find?
~ Use a notebook (cheap this time of year at back-to-school sales) and make an observation journal. Date a page and draw a simple picture of each living thing that catches the interest of your child. Help draw and color with colored pencils. Add to the nature journal during subsequent walks.
~ Find a bug hotel at a thrift store or yard sale. Catch - observe - and release.
~ Hunt by phone. Or camera. Or Ipad. Make a slideshow of the photos. Do some scientific research to identify those critters you've electronically captured.
~ Go to the library. Check out books that will help identify and explain the findings from your investigations.
~ Put out the watercolor paints. Draw simple animals with a permanent marker. Fill in the lines. Or just paint and have fun. Rubber stamp animals and insects could easily be stamped on top of dry watercolor paintings.
Go nuts. Enjoy nature with a song in your mouth.