Last week, I picked up the much anticipated Ezra Keats’ THE SNOWY DAY stamps from my local post office and spent the LOVELIEST little while searching for the spot in the book where each stamp appears.
Afterwards, I thought what a great activity this would be for kids – one that engages young readers with the story, builds visual matching skills, and is just plain fun.
So… if you want to give it a go with your kiddos, here’s the step-by-step:
- Gather your supplies. Purchase a set of THE SNOWY DAY stamps from your nearest post office and check out a copy of Ezra Keats’ THE SNOWY DAY from your local library (or purchase a copy).
- Explore the stamps. Spend a few minutes with your child, examining the images in the stamp collection (there are eight, that then repeat.) Have your child describe what Peter, the boy in each stamp, is doing. This might also be a good time to explain what a stamp is. What is it used for? What does the “Forever USA” mean? Have they ever used one? (Maybe later on they can help you affix one of the stamps to an envelope with a note or picture enclosed, and send it to someone they love.)
- Go on a SNOWY DAY picture hunt. Now get cozy with the book and stamps close by and READ!!! As you read, see if your children can find the spots where each stamp image appears. (It’s fun! Enjoy!)
- Make your own SNOWY DAY stamps. After reading, extend the experience even further, by letting your children pick their own favorite snowy day moment and make their own pretend stamps (on small paper).
Happy SNOWY DAY all!
This week I’m delighted to be a part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s multi-picture book blog tour with eight extension activities to celebrate this month’s release of Susanna’s ADORABLE new board book WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman and published by Little Simon. My kids would have loved this story at bedtime – simple, sweet… and FUNNY! And I love the board book format – just the right size for little hands! Now, without further ado, treat yourself the book trailer created by Susanna! (She is so multi-talented!). Then help yourself to a rich serving of book themed extension activities perfect for 2 – 4 year olds.
EIGHT Extension Activites for WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES
1. Pretend YOUR stuffie has the sniffles. Little ones love extending a story through play. So, have them grab their favorite stuffy, or stuffies, and pretend they have the sniffles. What antics will they go through to keep their sniffly stuffies from sneezing!
2. Create your own shadow puppets. One of the fun ways the child in the story entertains her elephant is by showing him how to make shadow puppets. After reading the story, you, too, can create shadow puppets. All you need is a flashlight, your arms and hands, and a blank wall. Don’t forget to dim the light so you get good shadows.
3. Cover your sneeze, please! Use this fun, playful story as an opportunity to teach your little one about how sneezes spread germs. Then, together, pretend you are elephants. Using one arm as your trunk, pretend to have a great big sneeze, but instead of spreading that sneeze around, catch it in the crook of your trunk (arm).
4. Make a SNIFFLE list. After giggling over all the ways the little girl cares for her elephant when he has the sniffles, have your child list – using words or pictures – all the things he/she likes to do on quiet, stay-at-home sniffly days.
5. Decorate elephant cookies. I found an elephant cookie cutter at my local kitchen shop, but making your own template out of tagboard would be easy enough. Then mix up your favorite sugar cookie and icing recipes and decorate some elephants. The question is, do your cookie creatures have the sniffles?
6. Make and send a “Get Well” Sniffle Card. Does your child know anyone who has the sniffles or who is sick? Extend the story experience and foster kindness by taking out the markers and creating a get-well card for that special someone.
7. Make elephant crafts. The internet is full of elephant-themed craft ideas. Here’s a great post from the lifestyle and parenting blog Living Off Love and Coffee to get you started: 25 Cute and Easy Elephant Crafts for Kids.
8. Let your child “reread” the story using picture clues. Reading the pictures is a great pre-reading skill because it encourages interacting with the page. With that in mind, let your child “read” the story to you, using the pictures to tell the story.
To learn more about Susanna Leonard Hill, visit her website.
Finally, a little reminder from Susanna: Don’t forget to share this post using #whenyourbooks! Every time you post with #whenyourbooks you get an entry in her end-of-tour raffle for a Special Prize!
HAPPY READING ALL!
This week my author friend Rebecca J. Gomez (WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? (Atheneum, 2015) and HENSEL AND GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016)) shared with me a wonderful new reading campaign she and her co-author Corey Rosen Schwartz are working on called Read. Discuss. Do!
Read. Discuss. Do! (hashtag #ReadDiscussDo) celebrates reading beyond the book by creating sharable images that give simple ideas for book related discussions and activities. Rebecca got the the idea after creating an image specifically for their co-authored book WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? (pictured above) in the hopes that it would encourage people to think beyond the story when reading with kids. However, when Corey saw the original image, she and Rebecca decided it would be fun to take the idea further and include other authors and their books!
That’s when Rebecca contacted me to see if I’d like to create a short #ReadDiscussDo activity for GOODNIGHT, ARK. I replied, yes, of course. And so Rebecca created an image for my book as well. Thank you, Rebecca. The format is similar to her original except she’s replaced her website address with the hashtag #ReadDiscussDo.
Rebecca hopes this fun reading initiative and social media campaign will really take off, reaching parents, caregivers, teachers, librarians and more.
How can authors, parents, teachers, or librarians get involved? By tweeting and retweeting and sharing on Facebook, Pinterest etc. using the hashtag #ReadDiscussDo. We can also post story time tips using that same hashtag. Rebecca will also be creating more sharable images for other books. If you’d like to learn more, contact Rebecca via the “School Visits” tab of her website.
Finally, I’ll end with a little hashtag hunt. Head on over to Twitter or Facebook, type in #ReadDiscussDo and see what you find. Have fun!
This week, coinciding with National Poetry Month, I am delighted to have picture book author and poet Elizabeth Upton as my guest. I met Elizabeth at KidLitTV’s Live Stream Read Aloud event last month and had the pleasure of listening as she read aloud her delightful debut, MAXI THE LITTLE TAXI, illustrated by Henry Cole and published in 2016 by Scholastic. It’s a fun and bouncy story with spot-on rhythm and rhyme. It’s also full of wonderful poetic elements and I’m delighted that Elizabeth has agreed to pen this post on one of my favorites – onomatopoeia! Take it away, Elizabeth!
It’s an honor to be asked by Laura Sassi to be a guest blogger during Poetry Month. I love poetry. Happily, my poetry has been in three collections by the amazing Lee Bennett Hopkins. My picture book, MAXI THE LITTLE TAXI, features poetic elements including rhythm, rhyme, repetition and word play. I was thrilled when the School Library Journal review that said MAXI THE LITTLE TAXI “is filled with onomatopoeia and amusing details sure to delight young readers.” Onomatopoeia [on-uh-mat-uh-pee-uh], according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, is “the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (as buzz, hiss)”. Children love to imitate, so this aspect of poetry is very easy for them to access.
In my book, it’s Maxi’s first day of work and off he goes!
Max ZIPPED here.
He ZIPPED there.
He ZIPPED everywhere—
From the park, to the river,
And back to the square.
He ZOOMED up.
He ZOOMED down.
He ZOOMED all around town—
Splashing in every big puddle he found!
All over town Maxi gets filthy and he finally arrives at a carwash full of playful sounds. Onomatopoeia is one of the driving forces that keeps the story moving in a fun and engaging way. For example, the spray at the car wash goes “pish-pish”, the scrubbers to “flip-flop”, and the suds go “blip-blop”.
I hope that adults enjoy the lyricism and onomatopoetic playfulness of this story as much as children do. When you’re done reading, you may want to engage in word play with the child in your life.
Car and Truck Onomatopoeia: Anyone who has seen children play with cars and trucks, has witnessed their innate ability to use onomatopoeia (honk, honk, beep, beep). When children naturally use onomatopoeia, adults can say, ”Oh my! That’s a fun sound! That’s sounds like a little poem.” Make sounds with the child.
Bath Time Onomatopoeia: Maxi the Little Taxi is a bath poem. When children play in the tub ask them to think of what sounds they hear. Ask: “What sound does the water make when you fill the tub? What sound do your feet make when you get in the water? What sound does is make when you use the soap? What sound does the drain make when the water goes down?” (Examples: Whoosh, plip plop, drip drop drip, rub a dub dub, gurgle gurgle.) Then say: “Let’s make a lot of bath noises all in a row to make a little poem!”
Rainy Day Onomatopoeia: A rainy day is the perfect time to play with onomatopoeia! Ask: “What does the rain say when hits the roof? What does it sound like on the window, etc. Let’s say those fun little sounds all in row and make a little poem.” ( Example: Drip drop..plippity plip,plicka plicka plick!)
Read more picture Books with Onomatopoeia. Type “Picture Books with Onomatopoeia” in your search bar and you will find many resources.
Thank you for reading my guest blog! I hope you enjoy reading Maxi the Little Taxi with the children in your lives and that you have fun nurturing their natural poetic sensibilities!
Elizabeth Upton is the author of Maxi the Little Taxi which was published by Scholastic Press in spring of 2016. Her poetry appears in the following collections by Lee Bennett Hopkins.
Seasons, Margaret K. MacElderry Books (“Spring Sun” and “Summer Sun”)
Incredible Inventions, Greenwillow Books (“Ferris Wheel”)
Hamsters, Shells and Spelling Bees, Harper Collins [I Can Read! ] (“Show and Tell”)
For more information, please visit Elizabeth at Elizabethuptonauthor.com.
This week I’m sharing yet another ADORABLE new picture book out just in time for Valentine’s Day. Written by Jackie Azua Kramer and charmingly illustrated by Maral Sassouni in their double debut, THE GREEN UMBRELLA (NorthSouth Books, Inc, 2017) is story of a friendly pink elephant, his green umbrella, and the imaginative friends he meets along the way. Treat yourself to the delightful book trailer. Then help yourself to a rich serving of extension activities celebrating rain, friendship, sharing, and the power of imagination!
THE GREEN UMBRELLA: 10 Extension Activities
Make umbrella valentines. With its theme of friendship and kindness, The Green Umbrella makes a perfect Valentine’s read. Afterwards, celebrate friendship and kindness with your child by making these cute umbrella-inspired valentines using colorful paper, index cards, and those mini candy-canes that you might still have left over from Christmas!
Be an inventor. After enjoying the story, extend the fun by having your child imagine how THEY might creatively re-purpose the umbrella if they were in the story. Then using paper or clay, or whatever materials tickle your fancy, bring your idea to life! (For extra fun, have have a few cocktail umbrellas on hand to be incorporated into the creation.
Put on a play. Creatively re-enacting the story is a great way to embrace and reinforce the wonderful concepts of empathy, friendship, and imagination. So, after reading the story, have fun retelling it using stuffed animals, puppets, or yourselves! Don’t forget to use an umbrella as a prop!
Have an umbrella tea party. With your child’s help, fix a pot of tea (or lemonade) and arrange (or even bake) a plate of cookies. Then grab a picnic quilt, an umbrella and, if possible, a few friends! Select a cheery spot outdoors (or indoors if it’s raining), then read and have tea under an umbrella, just the way Elephant and his friends do in the story.
Take a rainy day stroll. Take advantage of the next rainy day to read the story and then take your very own stroll in the rain. Catch rain drops on your tongue, splash through puddles, and take turns holding the umbrella for each other! Then come inside for a book-themed rainy day snack of tea and cookies.
Shower the world with kindness (umbrella style!). Using little strips of paper brainstorm and write down 14 sweet acts of kindness. (Ex. Hold the door open for someone; Make a card for someone; etc.) Fold and tape the strips to the bases of little paper cocktail umbrellas. Place umbrellas in a bowl. Each day, select an umbrella to find your surprise mission. Then shower strangers and loved ones alike with your sweet acts of kindness.
Play umbrella hide and seek. While one person has their eyes covered, another hides the umbrella making sure everyone else sees where it is hidden. Then using clapping (to sound like soft rain or a raging storm) help the person whose eyes were covered to find the umbrella. No voices allowed. Only the pitter-patter of rain – soft if they are far from the umbrella and loud if they are close. (Warning: This game will be a big hit!)
Play musical umbrella. First put on your favorite children’s kindness/friendship themed album. (We like anything Raffi at our house.) Then, using the umbrella instead of the more traditional “hot potato”, sit in a circle and gently pass the umbrella to the music. When the music stops, everyone says one kind thing to the person holding the umbrella. Ex. You are funny. I like your striped socks. You make me feel welcome etc.)
Watch the book trailer. Then make your own!
Your turn! I know I said 10, but I have a better idea! I bet you might have some, so in the comments section below, leave an idea and let’s see how many we end up with!
Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Reading!
To learn more about Jackie, visit her website.
To learn more about Maral, visit her website.
VISUAL LITERACY: An Extension Activity for GOODNIGHT, MANGER
The ability to interpret visual clues, i.e to read the pictures, is an important skill for pre-readers and emergent readers because it encourages a deeper level of thought and reflection, laying the foundation for strong reading later. It’s an opportunity to think about story elements like plot, mood, and character. With this in mind, here are some visual-based strategies that will enrich your child’s reading of GOODNIGHT, MANGER.
PONDER THE PLOT: As the story unfolds, each spread depicts what happens as Mama, Papa, and the animals try to soothe an overtired Baby Jesus. After reading the text on each spread, pause to ponder the pictures, making observations and predictions about the plot. Say things like: “See how Mama is hugging Baby so gently. Do you think he will sleep?” or “Look at the manger. Is it like your bed? How is it different?” and later, as Papa rocks Baby after the angels disperse, ask: “Do you think Baby will sleep now? Why or why not?” In other words, use the pictures to dig deeper into what’s going on plot-wise.
MARVEL OVER MOOD: Jane Chapman skillfully uses color and movement to capture the changing mood of the story. As you read the story, pause to consider the mood the colors convey. For example, the first few spreads have a yellow-orange glow which fills the pages with a sense of coziness and comfort. The characters in the opening spreads are still. Their movements are gentle. But the mood shifts as soon as Baby starts to cry. The mood becomes joyous as conveyed by the vibrant movement of angels. And the color shifts to a joyous, pure starry-skied blue. As the spreads progress, the mood while joyous, also becomes frenetic. There is so much movement and action, that it seems that Baby Jesus will never be able to sleep. Foxes dance, sheep leap, and poor Mama looks at wit’s end. And then, at the end, the calm, cozy orange glow returns, balanced by an awesome blue star-lit sky.
CONSIDER THE CHARACTERS’ FEELINGS: The facial expressions of Jane’s characters are eye-opening. As you read with your child, take time to consider the feelings expressed by each characters facial expressions and even body language. Note the love in Mama and Papa’s faces as they try to soothe their tired Baby. Note the doting eagerness in Hen’s body language as she offers her feathers for Baby’s bed and the uninhibited joy of the angels as they play their instruments and sing and dance in honor of the Baby’s birth. Note the exhausted exasperation on Mama’s face as the shepherds and kings arrive. Finally, notice the wonder and love on the faces of human and beast as they gather round for their closing lullaby.
EXTENSION: Apply these visual-based reading strategies to each new picture book you read. Have fun!
Teachers and Parents: This is the second in a series I will be posting especially for you. Over the course of the next few weeks, and in celebration of the release of the board book edition of GOODNIGHT, MANGER, I will be posting several book-linked activities for you to enjoy with your children.
Going on a PATTERN Hunt (Plus a Craft):
A GOODNIGHT, MANGER Extension Activity for Pre-Readers
Seeing and recognizing patterns are important skills for pre-readers. They lay the ground work for understanding words and stories. With that in mind, here are some fun pattern-related activities you and your child might enjoy after reading “Goodnight, Manger”.
Picture Patterns: Each page of “Goodnight, Manger” is full of colors and patterns. Colors alternate to form stripes. Shapes are repeated (ex: stars, squares, dots, rectangles, milk splashes, palm fronds). As you explore Jane’s wonderful illustrations, see how many visual patterns you and your child can find. Afterwards, grab crayons and paper and make your own patterned star ornaments. (See sample below). Or go on a pattern hunt around your house looking for fun visual patterns in curtains, plants, tiles etc.
Text Patterns: The text, too, is patterned visually. Pre-readers might enjoy examining the lay out of words. With your child, notice how the text is clumped into verses. Count how many lines are in each verse (four) and note that this is a repeating pattern throughout the story.
Sound Patterns: When you read the story aloud you’ll note that the sounds of the words form their own patterns as well. With your child, listen for sound patterns. Each verse contains rhyming words at the end of the 2nd and 4th lines (ex: fed/bed, itches/twitches). There are also words that repeat one right after the other (ex: No! No! No! and tap, tap, tap). After exploring different sound patterns, you and your child might enjoy making a game of creating your own sound patterns using rhyme and repetition.
EXTRA FUN: Celebrate the joy of Christmas and reinforce the fun of patterns with this simple craft.
1. Cut a simple star shape from stiff paper.
2. Review different pattern options with your child – ex. stars, stripes, dots, swirls, etc.
3. Using pencil, have your child lightly outline the patterns on the ornament, using Jane Chapman’s delightful illustrations as inspiration. Then, using markers or crayons, color it in!
4. Tape a yarn or ribbon loop to the back. Then, hang your pretty patterned star on a door nob or on the Christmas tree.
Teachers and Parents: This is the first in a series I will be posting especially for you. Over the course of the next few weeks, and in celebration of the release of the board book edition of GOODNIGHT, MANGER, I will be posting several book-linked activities for you to enjoy with your children.
LULLABY TO JESUS:
An Extension Activity for GOODNIGHT, MANGER
When I read GOODNIGHT, MANGER at Christian preschools and churches, I wrap up our story time together by inviting the children to join me in singing a lullaby to Baby Jesus. Step-by-step, here is what I do. Feel free to adjust as you see fit.
REFLECT: First, I take a moment to marvel. I tell the children that this Baby we’ve just read about was like no other baby before or after because he was fully God and fully human. That means he felt everything we do. And like all babies, he must have cried. We briefly chat about when and why babies cry and how we comfort them.
PRETEND: Second, I have the children pretend to cradle Baby Jesus in their arms. I ask them how they should hold him – gently, lovingly, safely. Then we all pretend to coo over the Baby Jesus we are holding with phrases like “Oh, isn’t he precious!”, “Don’t cry, sweet Jesus!”, “We love you.”
REVIEW: Next, I ask them how the characters in the story finally got Baby Jesus to sleep. (It was by joining voices and gently singing a lullaby.) I ask if they’d like to help Baby Jesus fall asleep too. They are always eager to do this.
SING: I introduce the lullaby by singing the first verse of the famous carol “Away in a Manger”. Feel free to use any carol of your choice. “Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” are also easy to teach/ learn. Before they sing, we review what kinds of voices we should use to sing a baby to sleep – loud or soft? (Soft, of course.) Then we practice singing the opening words of the carol both ways so they can feel and hear the difference.
REJOICE: Then, with joyful hearts we cradle Baby Jesus in our arms and sing our lullaby. Our gentle voices are so sweet that Jesus, of course, falls asleep and so, very carefully, we place him in the imaginary mangers that are right in front of us.
GIVE THANKS: Before closing, I challenge the little ones to remember the sweet gift of Baby Jesus who came to earth – God in the form a human baby – to be the savior of our world. I note that this is why celebrate Christmas. Then together we pray, thanking God for loving us so much that he sent his precious Son, Jesus, to earth in the form of a tiny, humble baby.
Join me in welcoming fellow rhymer and picture book author, Rebecca J. Gomez, whose brand new picture book, HENSEL AND GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS (Putnam May 2017), co-authored with Corey Rosen Schwartz and illustrated by Dan Santat, just released! HENSEL AND GRETEL has received lovely reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews for its top-notch rhyme and expressive illustrations. To give you a sense of the book, please take a look at the delightful book trailer. Then, enjoy my chat with Becky below!
Bio: Rebecca J. Gomez is a picture book author whose only ninja training involved a few Karate lessons when she was in third grade and a few self-defense moves she learned from her son, a real live ninja. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and three kids. Connect with Becky on Twitter and Facebook. You can also visit her website.