Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Great Picks for Gardening Books

early reader, garden, preschool, http://readysetread2me.blogspot.com

We've been doing a little planting in these parts. Logan got to plant a tree with daddy, right outside his window. He has now become obsessed with our yard, just like daddy. Now I get to hear the question, "You like my yard?" about 38 times a day.... then my man comes home and asks me an additional 8 times, "You like my yard?"
Needless to say, this love of the lawn called for some great gardening picks. So off to the library we went and we scored some great books!
Muncha Muncha MunchaMuncha Muncha Muncha by Candace Fleming was my favorite find.
This is finally the year that Mr. McGreely decides to plant a garden. He dreams of getting his hands dirty and of growing yummy vegetables and gobbling them up. Unfortunately, three bunnies dream of gobbling up those same vegetables. Mr. Greely is angry. He builds a small wire fence. It doesn't keep the bunnies out. Mr. McGreely begins to build more elaborate fences, walls, and trenches. He ends up with a great big enormous thing- a brick wall with search lights barbed wire! Will Mr. McGreely win the battle of the bunnies? Find out in this hilarious tale.
Think this is just a work of fiction? Think again. Our real-life Mr. McGreely, my dad, the super gardener built an 8 foot fence to keep out deer, bunnies, raccoons, grandsons? Wait, grandsons are always welcome in the garden. We won't make fun of his gardening obsession too much since he hand delivers fresh fruits and veggies all summer long!
Logan and Grandma playing next to Grandpa's garden fence in March. 

While we chomp down on Grandpa's spinach, strawberries, green onions, and lettuce, please check out our other gardening picks.

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
My Garden by Kevin Henkes
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
Growing Colors by Bruce McMillan
The Sunflower by Lola Schaefer
Yucky Worms by Vivian French

Also, check out my reviews of Planting a Rainbow and Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Praying for Joplin

Today I was annoyed. They are doing construction to move the street at the bottom of our hill. They are also blasting out a hill that runs perpendicular to our hill. They blast with dynamite at naptime. Everyday. At naptime. Clearly, a man planned the time schedule and never thought of napping babies. I had that thought, and many other equally annoyed thoughts in my head today.
Then a new thought hit me. At least I have a place to put my babies down for naps. At least my home and my community have not been wiped out by a massive tornado. Unfortunately, that is not the case for many residents of Joplin, MO. A tornado ripped through this Southern Missouri town on Sunday killing over 100 people. The town is gone. Not only are homes destroyed, but most (all?) of the grocery stores, fast food restaurants, churches, schools, even the hospital are completely demolished. The town is expected to get more severe weather in the next few days. It breaks my heart to think of families who have little ones, like me, with no place to go. They aren't just being "annoyed" during a naptime. They may have lost every thing they have and have no where to go to take shelter. Even worse, they may have lost someone they love.
I'm sure you have heard of this tragedy by now. Take time to pray for the people of Joplin. I am praying that they won't have to deal with more severe weather. And I am praying for those who lost loved ones. I have a friend (former music minister from my church), who lost his aunt in the tragedy. His testimony of God's faithfulness in the time of tragedy is awesome.He shared it on a local TV station.  I pray that all those in Joplin who lost someone, will turn to a God who loves them to be their great comforter.

Joplin, you are in our hearts!

Parallel Talk in Playtime

Do you maximize language learning during playtime? Simply talking about what your child is doing, seeing, hearing, and feeling during playtime will help enrich your child's vocabulary. The formal term for this activity is "parallel talk". 
You have a phone. You are pushing the buttons.

 You are kicking the ball. 

You don't have to tell the child everything he is doing. Try repeating simple phrases several times. Repetition is key with young learners. 
While parallel talk is wonderful for toddlers, I still use it with my three year old as well. For instance, yesterday, while playing kickball, I would say, "You kicked the ball over the table." "You kicked the ball under my knee." 
Just a "sneaky" way to infuse language learning into playtime.
I love the description of parallel talk that I found on this website, "Feed into his brain the words that he will later need to express his own actions and feelings"

How are you feeding your child's brain today?

I'm linking this up to other playtime experiences this week:
We Play

It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sail into Summer with The Puddle by David McPhail

This morning we attended a super cute story time at The Teacher's Lounge Bookstore in South St. Louis County. (Near the Target at 55 and Lindbergh for you locals). My friend Dana introduced us to this story time about a month ago. It meets every Monday morning from 10:30-11:00. It is for ages 2-6 and reservations are recommended... but you can RSVP online. This is the best story time we've attended so far. They have color sheets, songs, a story or two.  Then they do a craft and sometimes an activity. The lady who leads is very perceptive of how well the kiddos are staying engaged. She really paces the story time to their needs.
The themes are always really cute. Today the theme was "Sail into Summer." We started with a sailboat coloring sheet. Once all the kids had arrived, they read The Puddle by David McPhail. This was great for the theme but it is also a great book for spring.
The PuddleThe Puddle is the story of a little boy who goes out to play with his sailboat on a rainy day.  In the puddle, his sailboat encounters many imaginary animals. Some are helpful, others are not. His mother has told him to stay out of the puddle.He is able to rescue his sailboat, though, when the sun comes out and the puddle dries up.

After reading the story, we made a sailboat out of precut shapes. The kids were then encouraged to draw any animals they wanted in their puddle with their sailboat. Drawing animals was actually too challenging for Logan and he wasn't really interested in that. I think, though, that we will add animal stickers to our picture later, if he takes an interest.
After the story today, we got a special treat. Several weeks ago at story time, the kids made these butterflies.

 The store set up a butterfly house with some caterpillars. Well, the caterpillars turned to butterflies this week.  Today was the day for releasing the butterflies! The kids had a lot of fun watching them fly off into the sunny blue skies.
After we left storytime, a thunderstorm rolled in. Which means, after nap time, there should be some perfect puddles for sailing toy boats.
I'm linking this up:

Shibley Smiles

Classified: Mom

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Elephant Art

I wanted to expose Logan to a variety of texts about elephants this week. We chose both fiction and nonfiction books about elephants. Two of our favorite books were Elephants Can Paint Too (nonfiction) and Elmer (fiction). See my reviews here.
After reading both books (several times). We had a short conversation about "real" versus "pretend". It was suprising to Logan that real elephants could paint. (Ok, it was suprising to me too). We also talked about things real elephants do-- like eat, take baths, etc. Then we talked about Elmer. Elmer could talk, real elephants can't talk, etc.

I decided to combine the two books to create one art project this week. We began by painting cardboard like elephants. I was inspired by this post on straw painting at The Chocolate Muffin Tree. I figured a straw could represent an elephant trunk for Logan. We tried blowing through the straw to move the paint on the paper as well as just painting with the straws. (One tip for blowing the paint, if you poke a few small holes in the straw, your child won't suck the paint in.)

Logan also put the straw in his mouth and dipped it in finger paints. Then he tried using the straw (trunk) as a "brush" .

After we painted like real elephants, I cut the painted cardboard into elephant shapes. We then decorated our elephants with stickers and created an elephant parade like the elephants celebrate in Elmer.
Can you spot Elmer?

There he is- all ready for the Elephant Day Parade!

The boys liked playing with their elephants!
I'm linking this up:

Shibley Smiles

play academy

Monday, May 16, 2011

Books about the Zoo featuring... elephants!

Summer Outings can be a great way to motivate kids to get wild about books. We've been taking "family field trips" this summer that go with our preschool themes. One theme we have focused on is zoo activities for preschool. Of course, we had to take a trip to the zoo.  Last week were surprised by an impromptu elephant "show" at the St. Louis Zoo. We just happened to be near the elephant area when a zoo worker was calling out "tricks" for Raja to perform-- and rewarding Raja with well deserved treats. If you are a St. Louisian, you might remember when Raja was just a little baby elephant, who was born at the St. Louis Zoo. Well, here is Raja-- all grown up!

elephant, zoo activities for preschool

Our trip to the zoo sparked an interest in elephants so we took at trip to our library to rumble up some books about the zoo featuring elephant books.
zoo activities for preschool, books about elephants

Elephants Can Paint Too! (Anne Schwartz Books), books about the zoo, zoo activities for preschoolElephants Can Paint Too by Katya Arnold was our favorite elephant book. This book is based on real work that the author did with real elephants. Apparently, elephants can learn to paint, who knew? Some of them paint dots, some paint stripes, and a few even paint flowers or trees. I loved that the text was very simple, yet there were boxes filled with additional information on each page. It made it the perfect book for a wandering 3 year old, yet older kids could really enjoy this book too.

Elmer (Elmer Books), David McKee, books about the zoo, picture books, animal preschool themeElmer by David McKee is a fiction story of a patchwork elephant, Elmer. Elmer is always the life of the party. Elmer assumes the other animals are laughing at his patchwork and he sets off to become a regular-colored elephant. After he becomes just like everyone else, he finds out life is pretty boring as a regular colored elephant. All the other elephants think he has played a hilarious joke on them by becoming normal colored. I tried this book with Logan a while back and I guess he wasn't ready for it, but now he really enjoys it. I think it sends a great message about accepting yourself as you are, without being "preachy".

I Dream of an Elephant (Abbeville Kids), books about the zooI dream of an Elephant by Ami Rubinger A rhyming riddle on each page allows readers to fill in the color of each elephant in this multicolored elephant book. I loved the idea of this book. I love books (like Baby Danced the Polka--- one of my all time favorites) that use rhyming + fill in the blank. What I didn't like about this book was that the color of the elephant was never in the text. I felt like I needed to lift a flap or something to "find" the hidden word. It works great as a read aloud. I wouldn't recommend it as an early reader book. I think the text structure is just confusing.

Elephant Walk by Jean Craighead George The story of a baby elephant who journeys along with his mother. She protects him and the other elephants by making a variety of sounds and movements to communicate. At the end there is an index of elephant signs. I enjoyed this book. I typically love George's work. Logan and Tyson didn't get into it. It didn't hold their attention at all... .probably too young for it so we'll try again later!

pictures of elephants,Face to Face With ElephantsFace to Face with Elephants by Dereck Joubert This was a nonfiction text that also was over the heads of the boys. However, it has good photography and I learned a lot from it!

Can You Move Like An Elephant, zoo activities for preschool by Judy Hindley Can you Move Like an Elephant? was a fun book. It includes not only elephants but also other animals. We've had fun trying to move like wild animals. Can You Move Like an Elephant?

One Weighs a TonOne weighs a Ton by Salina Yoon is a counting book that also offers information on wild animals. This is another book that doesn't just stick to elephants but includes a variety of wild animals. Do you know why elephants have such large ears? Read this book to find out!

If you take a trip to the zoo (or the jungle), consider taking along one of these picture books for a quick book break while you are out. Also, check out my book adventures page to find other books about the zoo that you might like to take along.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Whacha Doing?: Picture Schedule Promotes Prewriting Skills

Here's what we are doing today:

Our picture schedule- including going to Target, taking a nap, daddy coming home, etc.

As we finish each activity, Logan has been scribbling it off the list. At least 12 times today he will exercise those muscles need for writing!

I found this great idea in the book, The Write Start. Have I mentioned I am addicted to this book? Even racked up some library fines on it this week. Check it out, she has lots of other ideas for using schedules with older writers too.