Sunday, January 30, 2011

Not By The Hair of My Chinny Chin Chin!

Hadley and Harper love The Three Little Pigs.  I don't know why exactly.  Are they getting to the age where things like wolves are scary and exciting in that giddy sort of way?  At any rate, we read the story a lot around these here parts.

Last week, I thought it would be fun to have the girls act out the story using puppets.  They practically know the story by heart anyway, so I thought this would be a fun activity to do.  We made puppets out of paper and plastic spoons, but after reading this post, I think I'm ready to try and venture out into more crafty aspirations. (Especially since the post is about the book If You Give a Moose a Muffin my favorite of the "If You Give A......" books.   Go ahead, check out the link.  I'll wait.)

For today's post, we worked with paper and spoons.

A little coloring....

The finished product:

The one with the blue overalls on is the "sober" pig according to Hadley.  In the story, the third little pig is a sober pig.  Hadley wanted to know what that means, and I explained that the third pig found it important to work hard.  She really latched onto this, and talked about being sober for several days after that.  While I'm glad she picked up a vocabulary word, I'm a little concerned she's talking about being sober at preschool. 

The big bad wolf.  He even scared the sober pig.
He scared me a little bit, too.

The wolf is getting ready to blow down the tower of blocks. 
The girls seemed to enjoy giving their pigs voices, and acting out the story.  They've been playing with the pigs a lot the last several days. 

We even took them to Panera for dinner with us one night.

It was hard to eat my Bacon Turkey Bravo when these guys were staring at me, I'll tell you that much.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another Snow Day

It seems appropriate to read books about cold weather and snow for this time of year, so today the girls and I took a look at The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.  And since there was some snow on the ground, it seemed appropriate to go outside in it.  You know, since Peter did.

Keats doesn't write about how long it took Peter to put on his snow pants, mittens, hat, and boots on.  I'm assuming this is because it's not poetic.  In our home, it takes a good 30 minutes to get Hadley and Harper in their snow gear.  And that doesn't count the conversation I have with Harper about why she needs to wear her snow gear in the first place.  I was sweating bricks by the time we got outside, and was happy for the cold that smacked me in the face.

The girls enjoyed the outside as well, and they played with sticks and made snow angels just like Peter.

Look at Harper's face.  She's like, "This is the lamest snow angel ever."

In the story, Peter brings a snowball into the house and is saddened to find that it melted.  A real low point in the story, if you ask me.  It reminds me of the time I learned I was going to travel to school in a carpool.  I thought I would be picked up in a car with a pool attached to it.  You can imagine my disappointment.  Anyway, Hadley put some snow in a bowl and brought it inside and watched to see how long it took to melt.

Hadley wrote down the time we checked the bowl of snow: 11:00, 11:13, 11:45, 12: 15, and 12:57. (It seems that perhaps I need to help Hadley with her number writing.)  I wrote down what she said when she took a look at the snow. 

Look at me using math again.  This is the second post in a row!  Of course, I didn't come up with this idea myself, (although the observation sheet was my idea).  Ms Raines who wrote More Story Stretchers helped me out a l'il bit. 

Before you know it, we'll be solving for x.

Friday, January 21, 2011

January Book Club

I've been starting my day reading from a book by Madeleine L'Engle called Glimpses of Grace.  They are clips of her writing for each day of the year.  Today's reading was titled, "Refuse Not The Questions."  I thought this part in the reading applied to why I like to read and do Book Club with my girls:

"In our fear of the unprovable we mustn't forget that they can learn from The Tempest as well as social studies; that they can learn from Aesop as well as the new math; that The Ugly Duckling need not be discarded in favor of driver education.  There is a violent kind of truth in the most primitive myths, a truth we need today, because probably the most important thing those first storytellers did for listeners back in the dim past in their tales of gods and giants and fabulous beasts was to affirm that the gods are not irrational, that there is structure and meaning in the universe, that God is responsible to his creation."

When I plan my little Book Clubs, I think about doing some story comprehension, or maybe some word recognition, but what I really hope for is that the kids who come over to read a story, hang out with that "violent kind of truth," and maybe take it home with them. 

This morning, we read The Snow Day by Komako SakaiNot to be confused with The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, although both stories take place in a city.  My favorite picture in Sakai's story is the picture with the main character standing on his balcony in his apartment building watching the snow fall.  It reminded me of the last page in Keats' story, when the main character calls for his friend "across the hall."  I love it when authors take urban settings and show that childhood happens here, too.

The girls started out creating a "winter scene" like the ones in the book.  They drew pictures on blue sheets of cardstock.

I encouraged the kids to draw buildings, houses, trees, etc. for their snowy scene. 

Harper's drawing Diego.
After they drew their pictures, they used shaving cream and paint brushes to make the pictures "snowy."

In the story, the mother didn't want her child to go outside while it was still snowing, so they played card games together instead.  To coordinate with this part in the story, I planned a kind of snowflake matching game that the girls could play next. I taped ten snowflakes on the wall with a different number of dots on each flake.  Then the girls took a snowflake with a number 1-10 from a bag I was holding  The object of the game was to match the number with the correct number of dots on the snowflake. 

That's about as advanced math as you'll get out of me.

The last part of the story, the child and mother go outside in the snow just before bedtime.  Sadly, it wasn't snowing this morning, otherwise I thought that would've been the thing to do.  Instead, we dressed up snowmen in hats and scarves as if they were the ones going outside.

I like the title of L'Engle's reading today. "Refuse Not The Questions" seems appropriate thinking for spending one's day with little kids.  And while the level of conversation was as profound as one would expect when talking with 2-4 year olds, I think everyone enjoyed the story.  On whatever level we were on.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jessica by Kevin Henkes

When I can (read: when I get myself organized to plan them), I like to do little activities with Hadley and Harper to go along with the books we read together.  The gap between their two years seems to be closing, and they can do a lot of the same things which makes it fun.

Recently, we read Jessica by Kevin Henkes.  This is a charming story about a little girl named Ruthie who has an imaginary friend named Jessica.  (I think this book pairs well with Dotty by Erica Perl.)  When I told the girls we were going to read the story, Hadley's first question was: "Who's that guy?"  She was pointing to the picture of the author on a page of the book. 

"That's Kevin Henkes."  I told her.

"I don't think I know Kevin."  she said.

I made a mental note to learn more about the authors of the stories we read, and also, to teach Hadley the importance of calling adults "Mr/Mrs/Ms."

Anyway, the girls loved the story, and afterwords we did some activities from a workbook called More Story Stretchers by Shirley C. Raines and Robert J. Canady.  The first one we did was take turns working on a picture, because in the book Ruthie and her imaginary friend Jessica create a picture together.   The idea behind this is for children to "take turns and to respond to each other's" drawing.

Harper went first:
And then Hadley:

Look how happy Harper was to let Hadley take a turn!

And in this picture, I'd like to write that Hadley is saying, "Good job, Harper!"  But what's really happening here is I'm taking a picture while telling Hadley, with much authority, that "Harper can draw whatever she wants to on that guy.  Leave her alone and let her take her turn!"
But we got the picture done.

The girls even let me have a try. 

Hadley says, "Mama, how 'bout you do the shoes?"

"OK!" I say and grab a marker.

"Mama, do you want to do stripes on the shoes?" Hadley suggests.

"Uhhhh, sure."

"How 'bout pink?" she adds.

"I thought I got to do the shoes!" I start to whine.

"Yea, you can.  I'll hand you the pink marker when you're ready." 

Hadley gets the concept of sharing and letting people do their thing.  She really gets it.

Next, we took out our letter blocks and tried to spell our names like Jessica and Ruthie do in the book.  Harper was more interested in making a tower and knocking it down, but Hadley really liked this activity.

She got this far with her name, but got frustrated because she couldn't find a "D" or an "E" with the same kind of pattern.  So she decided to start over.
Ahhhhhh, much better.
Apparently, it was just fine for me to have a different pattern for my name.  Sheesh.  The things we sacrifice for our children.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Lion and the Mouse

Hadley asked me the other day what "investigate" means.  I told her it means to look into something, or to check something out.  I told her when you investigate something, you are figuring something out, kind of like a detective.  I don't know if this explanation was satisfying to her or not.  When we are talking to Hadley about anything she generally has a blank stare on her face and I don't know whether she's really listening.  Then three days later, she'll bring up what we were talking about almost word per word.  In the case of her query into what "investigate" means, she looked at me while I told her and then went back to playing.

I brought home Jerry Pinkney's The Lion and the Mouse from the library a few days ago, and I thought that before we took a look at it, I'd remind Hadley that she asked me what "investigate" means.  I told her that she could figure out the story in this book by just looking at the pictures, since there are few words.  The pictures in the book are startling.  I feel like I'm caught in the net with the lion, or scurrying around trying to break its strings with the mouse.  I thought that since the pictures do such a good job of telling the story, Hadley would think it was fun to "read" the story by herself.

This wasn't the case, however.  Hadley wanted me to tell her what was going on.  So over the past few days, we've been sitting down together and looking at The Lion and the Mouse.  Harper likes the story, too. She calls it, "the sad lion story."

Yesterday, the girls had to put their rainboots on before we read the story.  I'm not sure if that's because Hadley was imagining she was in the jungle with the lion and the mouse, or if rainboots were simply what you needed to wear at that moment.  Nevertheless, the rainboots were put on.

We read to the girls before they go to bed.  Last night, I told Hadley to pick out three stories, and then I went to another room to put something away.  When I came back, she was sitting on the couch reading The Lion and the Mouse by herself.

She was saying things like, "Oh no!  The lion's stuck in the net!  What's going to happen?"  And, "Here comes the mouse!  Squeak! Squeak! Squeak!"  A lot of what she said was exactly what I had said as I was telling the story, but after awhile, as she seemed to become more comfortable with the story, her own voice came creeping out.

I sat next to Hadley as she read the story, and I thought that she and I are a lot like the lion and the mouse. We don't always know how to communicate with one another, and we have different roles in the world we share.  A lot of times, these roles clash and we have to figure out what to do about that.  But I also think that, when one of us gets tangled up, we have a way of setting each other free.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Book Wrap Up 2010

This is a post about the books the girls and I checked out of the library in 2010.  I think we read a lot during the year, but the ones that we own, we tend to read over and over again.  So I don't keep a list of those titles, but I do keep a list on the girls' bedroom wall of all the books that they've checked out of the library.

Checking books out of the library with Hadley and Harper is what I would imagine what looking for a wedding dress during a Filene's Basement sale is like.  I just kind of grab things.  This is because I need to keep an eye on what the girls are doing.  It's hard for me to page through carefully before I decide whether we'll bring a book home.  Our library has a big fish tank, and large magnetic letters to play with, and a cozy spot with great climbing chairs around a coffee table that the girls hang out at.  They read books at the library, sure, but it's also a chance to roam.

So I'm not always sure of what I'm going to get when we come home and dump out our bag of books.  Which is for me, part of the fun.  It reminds me of what I used to do when I came home from the library when I was a kid.  Something about a big stack of books has always made me happy.

This year, we met some great characters in the books we checked out.  We liked Shakeeta from The New Girl and Me by Jacqui Robbins (Hadley soon wanted an iquana after reading this story). Both Hadley and Harper loved Bernice the pygmy hippo from Ninety-Three in My Family by Erica Perl.  Hadley had lots of questions about how one might take care of a pygmy hippo if one were to have one as a pet.  And we got to know Sophie in Snip, Snip Snow by Nancy Poydar pretty well, too.  We checked this book out a couple of days before the big snow storm this year and ended up renewing the book due to not being able to get to the library on time to return it.

My favorite library book of the year was In A Blue Room by Jim Averback.  I could read this one over and over again.  I love how the mother in the story uses something from the five senses to lull her child to sleep - flowers, a soft blanket, a cup of tea.  I also love the poetry of the story.  My only regret is that Harper was too young to hear this one.  As I re-read it yesterday, the child in the book loving all things blue has real significance for me now as this is true of Harper today.  So I will have to make sure we either own this book or I check it out of the library again so Harper can see that there is another person who loves the color blue as much as she does.

One of Hadley's favorites books from the library this year was Go Bugs Go! by Jessica Spanyol.  Bugs with names like Jo-Jo, Clemence, and Giorgia move around in cars, trains, and planes, and get themselves in all kinds of trouble.  There are about 300 hundred little pictures on every page, with funny dialogue between Jo-Jo and company.  It reads a lot like what Hadley and Harper sound like when they are playing so I can see why she liked it.

We read a lot of great books this year, and I look forward to what we'll check out in 2011.  I was able to grab a copy of Jerry Pinkney's The Lion and the Mouse yesterday when I was at the library, so I am excited to see what the girls think of this one. 

I'll end with a little video of Hadley reading Pete the Cat ("Notes from Naptime" readers, I apologize for the repeat).  This wasn't a book from the library, but it was a favorite of 2010.  The girls got it as a gift this year from their Aunt Kellee and Uncle Geoff.  Just like the books I check out from the library, the books we get as gifts are always surprises, too.  Sometimes it's because I don't know the stories, but other times it's because I don't know how much the girls will enjoy the story.  In Pete's case, he was a true winner this year.

Books Read From the Library in 2010:
Oh No! Gotta Go #2! by Susan Middleton Elya
Truck by Donald Crews
The Seashore Book by Charlotte Zolotow
Say It! by Charlotte Zolotow
Probably Pistachio by Stuart J. Murphy
Crictor Tomi Ungerer
Baseball Hour by Carol Nevius
White Snow Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt
Ninety - Three in My Family by Erica Perl
My Very Big Little World by Peter H. Reynolds
One Beanby Ann Rockwell
Watermelon Day by Kathi Appelt
Mama's Coming Home by Kate Banks
Trainstop by Barbara Lenmen
In A Blue Room Jim Averbeck
Go Bugs Go! by Jessica Spanyol
Previously by Allan Ahlberg
Snip, Snip, Snow! by Nancy Poydar
Wake up, Wilson Street by Abigail Thomas
Oh, Look! by Patricia Polacco
The New Girl and Me by Jacqui Robbins
Swimming Sal by Carol Molski
New Shoes for Silvia by Johanna Hurwitz
The Secret of the First One Up by iris Armo
Franklin's Neighborhood by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark
The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson
Elephants Never Forget by Anushka Ravishanka
Geraldine's Big Snow by Holly Keller
Fancy Nancy's Fancy Words from A-Z by Jane O'Connor
Summer's End by Maribeth Boelts
The Toolbox by Anne and Harlow Rockwell