Monday, September 17, 2012
Virtual Book Club: Lois Ehlert
We’ve had a couple neighborhood cats frequenting out backyard lately. The boys find it pretty entertaining to see one meandering between the swings or tip-toeing poolside, but I think they have an ulterior motive – not unlike the bold and spirited cat character starring in Lois Ehlert’s Feathers for Lunch. As you might imagine from the title, said cat has his eye on a lunch of the bird variety. I think the cats we’ve seen lately have similar intentions – we have a pet-less backyard, an abundance of chubby little lizards, and a few bird nests under our eaves. I have to say, I’m rooting for the birds and lizards to come out on top in our yard, just like the birds in Ehlert’s book.
For our book-club activity, we decided to investigate bird escape tactics.
The fabulous team of The Educators’ Spin on It, ToddlerApproved, and Mommy and Me Book Club are hosting a year-long virtual book club for kids, and this month’s featured author is Lois Ehlert. A different author is featured every month, and it’s not too late to get on board! Amy Krouse Rosenthal is slated for October. Visit one of the host blogs to get the full schedule!
We first discovered Feathers for Lunch in our local library, and as a result of Ehlert’s characteristic bright illustrations and the mischievous cat humor, it became a regular visitor to our home. The combination of Ehlert’s appearance in the virtual book club and our recent cat visitors prompted us to enjoy the book again. Narrated in simple verse, the illustrations are really the star. Twelve North-American bird species are brightly illustrated in Ehlert’s well-known collage style, and their calls are printed alongside them. An added bonus are the illustrations of various plants and wildflowers, with accompanying labels. The book follows the cats exploits in the garden, beginning with an explanation that his regular food has become “tame and mild” and he’s looking for something “spicy.” Fortunately for the birds, the cat wears a bell, and the birds “know what their wings are for.”
After reading about the birds’ escapes from the hunting cat, I asked the boys how the birds around our house might be avoiding the cat visitors we had noticed. While the fly-away strategy suggested by the book was quick to be mentioned, other ideas were lacking. I suggested B think about what he does when he’s playing monster with T. He pointed out that they run from each other and hide. I explained that the birds fly rather than run, but the hiding is an important part of staying safe when they’re not flying. We decided to be photo-detectives to look for bird hiding places around our home. Some of the locations we spotted included:
A nest tucked in a roof tile
An owl camouflaged in the tree branches (yes, an owl lives in our yard – so cool!)
Cypress trees with branches strong enough for bird perches, but not cat climbing
As for the lizards, their speed makes them very tough to pursue, but we did notice that they are good at finding tiny hiding spots, including:
the holes in the block wall
behind the shed
and even the attic vent (we’ve found more than one stowaway lizard upstairs, especially in winter).
I’d like to say we did some bird identification using Ehlert’s book as a field guide, but I’m afraid the zoom lens is the closest we’re going to get to our backyard wildlife for now, but the boys are working on the quiet waiting skills necessary for the birds to come around. How do you teach your kids to observe wildlife in a calm and quiet way?
Appropriate for: todders, preschool, primary grades
P.s. Loving the Ehlert feature? Check out my other posts on Ehlert books:
Fish Eyes (a book exchange activity)
Planting A Rainbow (included as a gift in a starting school post)
If you have a Lois Ehlert book and activity to share, you can add your link to the blog hop - if you have questions, be sure to visit a host before linking up!