Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Giraffe that Walked to Paris

Summer is a relaxed time at our home. We try to hang out at the pool a LOT, spend time in our backyard, and visit fun places around town. We also try to make time for reading. According to the National Summer Learning Association , children lose an average of 2 months of knowledge during the summer vacation. If you multiply that by 6 years of Elementary School, that equates to at least 12 months of learning loss. Before we get too fixated on the numbers, however, it should be noted that the majority of the studies supporting this idea were conducted on low income families or on families who had less access to reading materials. In fact, the research shows that children in middle income families actually make slight GAINS over the summer. What the difference? I think one difference could be access and exposure to books and "life experiences". One study showed that by simply providing books to students who normally wouldn't have access to books, students retained as much knowledge as if they had gone to summer school. In order to go a little deeper with our summer reading this year, I'm trying out the Five in a Row Curriculum. The local library actually has all of the volumes of Five in a Row. I'll be sharing our favorite picks from Five in a Row here at Ready-Set-Read this summer.  I'll also be sharing a picture book of the day every day on my facebook page. These are book recommendations I have made as well as recommendations from other book bloggers. Today I am sharing, The Giraffe the Walked to Paris. 

The Giraffe that Walked to Paris Review

The Giraffe the Walked to Paris by Nancy Milton is the true story of a giraffe that was given as a gift from the Pasha of Egypt to the King of France. In 1826, the ruler of Egypt decided to give a gift to the King of France to appease him after a disagreement. There were no giraffes in France at the time, so the decision was made to send a giraffe to France. The book details the travels of La Giraffe and the reactions of the French people and the King. It is a well written, well illustrated story that kids will love to read over and over again!

Book Activities for The Giraffe that Walked to Paris

Introducing the Book to Kids

The Five in a Row book has wonderful suggestions for orienting your child to the book. For my boys (ages 4 and 6), we took a picture walk. We looked at the images of Egypt and talked about the landscape, weather, dress of the people. We also talked about the names of the characters in this book as their names sound different to my boys. Then we flipped to the pages that featured France. We talked again about the landscape, the dress of the people, and the potential time period. I also gave the boys a brief introduction to the plot.

Measuring a Giraffe

My goal for my little learners was to understand how tall a giraffe might be, compare heights, and use non standard measurements.
We went outside to our driveway and measured 11 feet, the height of La Giraffe. Then we measured our own heights and compared. We used rocks to measure and compare as well. Then Logan wondered, "If I stand on Tyson's head would I be the height of La Giraffe?" So, we drew it out on the driveway to find out.

book activities, the giraffe that walked to paris, five in a row

When we came inside the boys were still interested in measuring. They used blocks to measure each other and compare heights.

Draw an Animal

book activities, the giraffe that walked to paris, five in a row

In the story, the king of France is getting very impatient to receive his gift of a giraffe. He has never seen a real giraffe and can't hardly wait. One of his researchers is tasked with drawing a picture of a giraffe for the King. Of course, the researcher has never seen a real giraffe either. However, his picture is fairly close. I found this fun activity to try drawing a pangolin, an animal with which my boys would not have familiarity. I had to wikipedia pangolin and go off of their description.

Animal Movement

In the story, King Charles is surprised by how the giraffe walks. He compares the way La Giraffe walks to how his horses walk.  We used the animal movement cards from my free zoo unit to explore how a variety of animals move.

free printable, book activities, the giraffe that walked to paris

La Giraffe ends up in the French Zoo so many of the activities from my free zoo unit would be useful with this book. Some activities that your child might enjoy are:
Zoo Animal Cookies

Concept Sort: Zoo Versus Farm

Animal Roll and Count

Printable Early Reader Book "At the Zoo"

Sailboat Science and Wind Power

In The Giraffe that Walked to Paris, the Pasha of Egypt and his men must transport La Giraffe from Egypt to Southern France. This requires her to travel across the Mediterranean sea. They use a boat with sails powered by wind to travel. The boys were interested in exploring boats and wind power. We made these fun sailboats used our wind power to blow them across our water table. We also experimented with floating. We used foil to create a boat and tried to see how many people could float in one boat. It was pretty amazing to the boys that the boat that carried La Giraffe held people, a giraffe, cows, and an antelope!

This was a great longer picture book and Five in a Row was super helpful in suggestions for book activities. I'm enjoying exploring longer picture books with the boys at this age and reading closely on each of our rereadings. I'd recommend this for an educational and engaging summer read.

You can also find me busily pinning on Pinterest, tweeting on twitter, and chatting about the best Children’s literature on facebook and Google+.


Monday, June 16, 2014

The Very Lonely Firefly Book Activities

Welcome back to the June Virtual Book Club for Kids. This month we are celebrating the author Eric Carle. We've been exploring many Eric Carle books and recently completed a Reading and Writing About Insects Unit featuring Carle's books. This month, I decided to focus on building vocabulary. Vocabulary is one of the five components of reading instruction. It's super important! In fact, many studies have shown that a preschooler's oral vocabulary is the best predictor of future reading success. It's also important for my soon to be first grader to build his vocabulary. I feel that vocabulary instruction needs to happen in a constructivist approach. This means, I like for my boys to experience vocabulary in authentic texts and make generalizations about the words. Together, we talk about the words, apply the words, and firm up their working definitions of the words. It just makes sense that oral language skills should be built through conversations about words. However, vocabulary instruction does not have to be boring! We found a great way to practice the  vocabulary from our Eric Carle books by playing a night time vocabulary word sort game.

The Very Lonely Firefly

This month we chose to focus on Eric Carle's book, The Very Lonely Firefly. One summer night, a very lonely fireflies goes to search for firefly friends. He sees many lights in the night sky such as  owl's eyes and headlights, but it takes him several tries to find his firefly friends.

Vocabulary Word Sort

book activities, the very lonely firefly, eric carle, early literacy

Who hasn't spent a summer night collecting fireflies into jars? We decided to play off that old tradition by collecting vocabulary words into jars.
I began by creating a word board. I used a black piece of paper decorated as a night sky with word cards placed on it. We've been reading several of Eric Carle's books about insects. My first grader also finished up an insects unit at the end of the school year. It seemed like a good choice to sort words by insects and land animals. I provided two jars to sort the insects and land animals. These are the words I wrote on the cards that I attached to the black paper.

Land animals:



praying mantis
stink bug
walking stick

To play the game: chose a word, read it (or I read it to them) and deposit the word into the correct jar.

This is a great game to play outdoors in the evening, perhaps while you wait for the fireflies to come out. Once they do, dump the vocabulary words and use the jars to collect fireflies.
Also, it's super fun to add glow sticks to the jars with vocabulary words... not for any educational reason, but just because glow sticks are fun. This is summer learning, it should be fun, right?

What you talking about?

After we played, we talked about the definition of insect. What makes us classify something as an insect. My super smart soon to be first grader already knew all about insects' three body parts and six legs. We were able to go through and firm up our knowledge about our sorts. In fact, Logan wondered if a centipede was, in fact, an insect. We checked it out and learned it is NOT an insect. Great conversations have a way of extending the learning!

This game was inspired by an apple picking sort game that I found in the book Vocabulary Games for the Classroom by Robert Marzano and Lindsay Carleton. The version in the book involves a relay race with the sort. Since it was dark when we were playing, I decided to leave out the racing. There are several ways to switch up this game and make it fun and meaningful for children.

Do you have a great idea to share for your favorite Eric Carle book? Link up your ideas here.