Feed Me Books Friday: Getting Creative in the Snow

Friday, January 28, 2011

Just Enough to Enjoy

Snow is a rarity in these parts – we usually see just a dusting or two each winter on our lawn. So, when it arrives we make the most of it. During our recent snow-play we made a snow family in the yard. It included snow-mom, snow-dad, snow-b, snow-t, snow-grandma, and snow-papa. We even added a snow-dog (not ours, grandma’s). By the time we completed all the snow-bodies, there was a lot of grass peeking through in the yard. Thanks to the scarcity of snow, there was still an abundance of natural plant material with which to create faces and features for our family. Eyes were made from leaves, rocks, and seed pods. Noses were apple slices. Smiles were various shaped sticks. We even found a couple larger leaves for the dog’s ears.

Inspiration and Cool Collages
SnowballsWe were inspired by – but didn’t come close to the coolness of – Snowballs, by Lois Ehlert. We’ve had this book out from the library since December and we’ve enjoyed it in a variety of ways. The illustrations are the beautiful part of the book, collage style layering of flat and three-dimensional materials. The simple story is the creation and subsequent melting of a snow family, but the enjoyment and cognitive challenges come from closely examining each snow-person. The accessories are a combination of natural objects, household items, and multicultural tidbits. A photo spread at the end identifies each of them and also allows for seek-and-find style reading. Ehlert also includes a few facts about snow in final pages, as well as some photos of real snowmen. Enjoy the attractive illustrations, challenges little ones to find certain objects or identify where they might come from, or let Ehlert be your muse and make a snowman in your backyard or as a collage. The inspiration is endless!

Appropriate for toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades.

What’s your favorite creative item for decorating snowmen (real or on paper)?

My apologies to those who were looking to link up last night – this house is still pretty germy and routines are disrupted. It can’t linger too much longer, can it?


Feed Me Books Friday: Grown-ups Get Sick, Too?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

And We Keep Plugging Along…

It was during a conversation about why kids nap and grown-ups don’t that B had this revelation about adults and illness. I told him grown-ups nap sometimes when they are sick to help them get better faster, and he responded incredulously. B is a pretty observant kid, so I think the fact that it had never occurred to him that Mommy and Daddy get coughs and runny noses was less due to inattention than our habit of trying to keep up the pace. As parents, many of us feel compelled to make sure our kids don’t suffer for our infirmities, so we have some hot tea with a day-quil chaser and try to go on with our normal day. Last couple days, I’ve been fighting some virus that B has been battling all week. My throat is sore, I’m achy and tired, but he’s feeling worse than me, so I’m putting aside my complaints to try to make him feel better.

If Laughter is the Best Medicine…
Farm Flu
Bring out the silly books! We are entertained by Farm Flu, by Teresa Bateman, anytime, but it’s especially good to coax out the grins when we’re under the weather. In this playful rhyming story, the young narrator is left in charge of the farm while his mother is gone. He finds a cow has come down with the flu, so he takes her inside to care for her. As time passes, other animals all over the farm begin to exhibit symptoms, and each is dutifully cared for by our sympathetic narrator who continues to base his treatment on the refrain, “I knew what Mom would do, If it were me that had the flu.” He also gets a taste of any mom’s frustration when her coddling has been taken advantage of. When he sets some limits for the “sick” animals and cuts out their unlimited TV, games, and popcorn, they quickly decide they aren’t so sick after all! They do, however, show their appreciation for the treatment they received when the boy comes down with the flu himself and they attend to him. I like both messages in this book, first (and funniest) that while being babied might feel nice when we’re sick, there is a limit to the “have-it-your-way” treatement; and second, sometimes the caretaker in the family needs some care too. Makes a nice springboard for discussion of caring for others and not taking advantage of others – both social emotional skills to cultivate.
Appropriate for: toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades.
How do you take care of yourself when you’re under the weather without letting your kids down? After another cup of herbal tea, I’ll be visiting all the links you leave as well as those over at Read.Explore.Learn.


Feed Me Books Friday: All Aboard for Reading!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Little Engineer Lives Here

We have 4 different kinds of train tracks, and B asked me for another set in the store today. He loves creating tracks and their surrounding cities, forests, or farmlands. He loves making long chains of cars and towing them around loop after loop. It is no surprise that train books are always popular at our house. Our most recent find capitalizes on his love of trains and his growing interest in reading to provide a cognitive experience of participating in the storytelling.

Chugging Along in Rhyme and Picture
I'm Taking a Trip on My Train
I’m Taking a Trip on My Train, by Shirley Neitzel, uses both cumulative rhyming text and rebus pictures to make the story accessible to pre-readers. Each page adds another car, accessory, or location to the train story. The repetition of the rebus pictures used to replace key nouns (engine, tanker, people, trestle) not only emphasizes key vocabulary but also allows young readers to become familiar quickly and join in with the reading. This book became a favorite of B’s very quickly, and he not only fills in the words for the rebus pictures, but often finishes the rhyme with the descriptive text as well.

Appropriate for toddlers, preschoolers.

I’m on the hunt for other good rebus stories. Neitzel has several (we also enjoyed The Bag I’m Taking to Grandma’s). Anybody have other good rebus suggestions?

Enjoyed the new friends I met last week at Read.Explore.Learn. with JDaniel4’s mom, so you’ll find me there again. Leave a link with your book suggestion(s) and then check out the others listed both here and there!


Wrapping Up the Holidays

Friday, January 7, 2011

Two Special Traditions

I love so many things about the holidays that they always go by too quickly for me. This year, I didn’t even get my cards sent till after New Year’s and I’m still trying to plan a day for the last of my holiday baking. (At this point I think I should just put away the Christmas cookie cutters and get out the Valentine hearts!) Putting away the decorations is always a little sad and the living room always looks a little lonely for the first days after the tree is gone. We’ve adopted two traditions to make the end of the holiday season a little more bearable.

Define “Over”

For some, the tree is out on the curb the day after Christmas as they breathe sighs of relief that the radio station has returned to its regular play-list. Many continue to indulge in holiday celebrations through New Year’s, often starting the new year by cleaning up holiday messes or resolving to lose those holiday pounds. Some of us aren’t ready to bid the joy of the holidays farewell on the first, so we decided to choose a more historical date to mark the end of our season: January 6, or Epiphany. Traditionally celebrated to commemorate the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem, Epiphany is significant in the symbolism of holiday gift-giving.

A Gift from the Heart
The King's Christmas List
I received a copy of The King’s Christmas List, by Eldon Johnson, to review courtesy of Booksneeze. Emma is a little girl who finds herself magically transported with her dog on a magical adventure to a birthday party for the King. They take along a Christmas cake as a present, but before they reach the party, they meet fellow travelers in need. Emma shares not only her cake, but her warm cape and her treasured teddy bear. Arriving at the party empty handed, Emma and her dog are surprised that the guests exchange gifts with one another. The King explains that while many people show their love at Christmas by giving one another gifts, some have forgotten that he, too, wishes for a gift from the heart. When Emma begins to apologize for arriving without a gift, the King reveals that the families she met along the way are in fact his angels, and that her kindness has demonstrated the true spirit of gift-giving to his people. The King proclaims that any gift to the needy is a gift to Him, and the final page of the book has suggestions for charitable gifts as well as a link to explore gift and prayer connections at TheKingsAdventure.com. The symbolism and allegory is quite transparent to the adult reader, but is potentially useful to make the cognitive concepts of charity and gift-giving more understandable for little ones. The generosity and self-sacrifice demonstrated by Emma are traits we could all learn from, but Emma makes it seem easy. The text is a little self-aware (pointing out Emma’s surprise that her dog can suddenly talk with her) but generally smooth and appropriate for preschoolers or younger elementary children. Expressions in the illustrations are cartoonish, but the details and colors are rich. I decided to revisit the book in honor of Epiphany as we talked about the gifts bestowed upon Jesus. We decided to pass on some of our good fortune and make a gift to the needy by sorting through some outgrown clothes and unused toys for a donation.

Saving a Little Christmas
The Tree That Came to Stay
Our second tradition was inspired by a book discovered at our library, The Tree that Came to Stay, by Anna Quindlen. Immediately appealing to my fondness for Christmas tree decorating, I was even more engaged by the heartwarming way the family in the story manages to hold on to the warm Christmas feelings even as they deposit the drying tree on the snowy curbside. The story begins with the family’s selection of the tree, describes careful decorating, and briefly captures the glow of Christmas morning. The emphasis of the story comes after Christmas, as the decorations are removed and each member of the family feels a twinge of sadness seeing the tree stripped down and prepared for disposal. The resourceful mother devises a way to bolster spirits and create a Christmas keepsake: she collects dried needles from the tree in a basket. Decorated with Christmas ribbons, the basket is kept all year as a fragrant reminder of their happy Christmas memories. B and I decided a basket of Christmas sounded like a brilliant idea, so we’ve already collected our needles and now just have to find a place to keep them safely out of T’s way.

I allowed myself a holiday break, but I hope I still have some faithful readers with some book suggestions to link-up and share! I’ll also be linking up at Read.Explore.Learn with JDaniel4’s mom to spread the word that Feed Me Books Friday is back and meet some new friends!

If you have ideas to make Christmas clean-up a little more fun, I’d love to hear about them!

I review for BookSneeze

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received The King’s Christmas List free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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