Monday, October 20, 2014

Three Classic Picture Books About Snow


I hate to be the one to say it, but snow is coming. In Pennsylvania we get a lot of snow. I've been trying to scoot everyone out the door every warm and sunny day we've had this Autumn {thankfully, there have been a lot of them} to soak up all of the vitamin D we can before our many, long, home bound days come.

This winter when you are snowed in and wondering how on earth you can keep your preschoolers occupied for yet another long day, I've got you covered. Have a fun homeschool unit based on these three books!

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats {1962} features little Peter exploring his snow-covered environment. His classic little red snowsuit with the pointy hat is a familiar sight to many. My Pastor's wife is in her mid-fifties and remembers loving this book as a child.

White Snow, Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt {1947} begins with a lovely poem, and follows a policeman, farmer, mail man, school children, and rabbits before, during, and after snow falls and then melts into spring.

Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton {1943} is about a tough, bull-dozing tractor named Katy, and how she rescues her town, Geopolis, when they get seriously snowed in.

Educational Opportunities. Discuss the properties of snow {science}. It would be fun to copy Peter from The Snowy Day and allow your child to make a snowball, bring it inside, and leave it in his pocket. You can hang it over something to catch the drips.

Activities.
  • My Joy Filled Life featured The Snowy Day for one of her Story Time posts, collecting a huge list of snacks, crafts, and activities to accompany the book. Lots of great ideas here!
  • Creekside Learning shares her week of F.I.A.R lesson plans for Katy and the Big Snow. Printing and learning about street signs from the DMV, making a map of Geopolis, etc.
  • Make a snow sensory bin. Fill a plastic tub {I just use our baby bath tub} with sugar, flour, or salt and add toy people and cars, or sticks and pinecones, or whatever, and allow your child to free play. I've even done this with real snow, giving my daughter shovels and other water proof toys and letting her go to town. It is super fun, and the possibilities of textures and toys to put in your sensory bin are endless!
  • Make the town of Geopolis out of painter's tape on your carpet. 
  • Wildflower Ramblings also has a number of great activities and crafts to accompany The Snowy Day, suited for a toddler.
  • Delightful Learning shares her week of lesson plans that she did with her young elementary age kids for White Snow, Bright Snow. So many great ideas, like an indoor "snowball" fight with rolled white socks {using laundry baskets for forts}, serving a snowman pizza for dinner, and making frost paint.
Other Resources. You can watch a plain read-along of The Snowy Day here, but there is also a mixed media one (claymation, paper cut outs, photographs) that is a little off-the-wall in a good way, which I and my kids enjoyed.

Be sure to also check out... Other great books to read when it is snowing include Sugar Snow {from the aforementioned My First Little House series}, Snowflake Bentley, The Snowman, The Mitten, and When Winter Comes. I'm sure there are many more, but these are all good ones I've read and can vouch for!



Looking for more great books to read with your preschooler? Check out the rest of this 31 Days series here!

Some of the links above are affiliate links- which means that if you make a purchase through them, I receive a small profit at no extra charge to you. But you should know that I am an avid believer in reading for free through both local and church libraries ;). Thanks for supporting The Purposeful Wife!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Frog and Toad are Friends, by Arnold Lobel {1970}


Frog and Toad are Friends, as well as the rest of the Frog and Toad books, are a true favorite around here. My husband loves them, and personally identifies with Toad. I laughed aloud the first time I read this book to S, it is just so humorous in a true to life sort of way. S is currently on a major kick- she's declared herself to be Frog, and W is Toad. Since Frog and Toad are best friends, it is very nice to see her playing so sweetly with her little brother.

Plot. This is a collection of several short stories featuring the daily lives of Frog {an optimistic, happy-go-lucky sort of guy}, and Toad {the serious and melancholy one}. Frog and Toad welcome spring, send each other mail, make up stories, search for a lost button, and go swimming.

Thematic Elements. Friendship is huge in these books- the importance of sticking with your friends, supporting and encouraging them. Sometimes Frog has to give Toad an extra motivational push, and while Toad may not like it, it is usually good for him in the end.

Educational Opportunities. For "Spring," talk about the months of the year. Show your child a calendar and memorize the names of each month.

Several of the stories showcase emotions- happiness, sadness, embarrassment, frustration. Give your child definitions of these emotions, and ask them what makes them feel happy, sad, lonely, etc. Talk about how they can work through these emotions in a God-honoring way.

S loving this book. Note the new glasses!
Activities.

  • After reading "The Story," encourage your child to make up and tell their own story, offering an example or two of your own. 
  • Collect multiple buttons. of varying size, shapes, and colors. Compare the buttons, and ask your child to describe them and point out differences {to accompany "A Lost Button"}.
  • Print and color pictures of Frog and Toad. 
  • First Grade a la Carte has generously shared her Frog and Toad lesson plans on her blog. While most of the activities are for older children, the printable game boards she has look like something my three year old might enjoy. 
  • I love this cute brown paper bag Toad puppet that First Grade and Fabulous posted. It looks like a simple and fun craft to make and play with! You could even reenact the stories with it.
Other Resources. If you do nothing else, please at least watch the claymation series {made in the 1980's} on YouTube. This one is my favorite, but they are all really fun :).

Be sure to also check out... Days with Frog and Toad, Frog and Toad All Year, and Frog and Toad Together. Also, Giant John by the same author, and Odd Owls and Stout Pigs: A Book of Nonsense, which is a collection published posthumously from his archives, illustrated by his daughter.



Looking for more great books to read with your preschooler? Check out the rest of this 31 Days series here!

Some of the links above are affiliate links- which means that if you make a purchase through them, I receive a small profit at no extra charge to you. But you should know that I am an avid believer in reading for free through both local and church libraries ;). Thanks for supporting The Purposeful Wife!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper {1930}


The Little Engine that Could can be such an enjoyable family reading experience- the various trains just beg for funny voices to fit their characters, and the colorful pictures are total eye candy.

I grew up with the version illustrated by George and Doris Hauman, so I tend to prefer that edition for nostalgia's sake. However we've checked out the newer edition illustrated by Loren Long from the library, and my three year old likes it very much. Either way, you can't go wrong with this classic tale.

The two of us with our respective editions :)
Plot. A train carrying toys and food for the little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain breaks down. Who will bring these goodies to all the children? When all hope is lost, rescue comes from an unexpected {and unlikely} source.

Author. The saga of The Little Engine that Could is extensive- early versions of the story appeared in print as early as 1906, and key phrases of the story {"I think I can"} came in a 1902 article of a Swedish journal (source). Watty Piper is a pen name of Arnold Munk, owner of the publishing firm Platt and Munk, who published the famed version we are all familiar with, in 1930.

Thematic Elements. It doesn't take the biggest, strongest or best to accomplish a difficult task. Rather, one simply needs a willing and helpful heart, with a can-do-it attitude. The text also highlights the ugliness of self-importance, conceit, and selfishness. A Biblical parallel that comes to mind is the parable of the Good Samaritan. Reading this book, then the parable from your Bible, can be the springboard for great discussions with your child about loving and serving others with humility.

Educational Opportunities. While there aren't many mathematical, scientific, or English lessons to be had in this story, it conveys much education in laws of kindness and hard work- life skills we all need to develop. You could also use it as a starting point for learning more about trains {if your children show extra interest}.

Activities. 
Other Resources. There is a fun read-aloud version on YouTube. 

Be sure to also check out... For all of your little train lovers, Thomas the Train is a classic series to dig into!


Looking for more great books to read with your preschooler? Check out the rest of this 31 Days series here!

Some of the links above are affiliate links- which means that if you make a purchase through them, I receive a small profit at no extra charge to you. But you should know that I am an avid believer in reading for free through both local and church libraries ;). Thanks for supporting The Purposeful Wife!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

My First Little House Books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder {1995-2000}


I haven't met many American girls who didn't grow up loving Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie books. Reading about Laura's adventures growing up during the early pioneering days of our country captures the heart and imagination. They are wholesome and inspiring, certified classics.

Imagine my delight when I heard they had made a series aimed at younger readers! Daniele shared about Sugar Snow in this post, and we checked it out {as well as a stack of other My First Little House books} that very week. No more waiting to share these beloved stories with S, I could introduce her to all of the characters and get her feet wet immediately! She took like wildfire to them at two years old, and we still check them out from the library frequently.

Basically, simple portions have been taken from Laura's original books, and artists Renee Graef, Jody Wheeler,  and Doris Ettinger (depending on which book you pick up) have drawn up gorgeous accompanying illustrations, modeled upon the original artwork by Garth Williams. You get a cohesive story about simple life on the prairie (or farm, or house in the big woods) that will captivate your child and fill you with nostalgia ;).

We've personally read Summertime in the Big Woods, A Little House Birthday, Sugar Snow, Winter on the Farm, A Little Prairie House, Prairie Day, County Fair, Going to Town, and The Deer in the Woods, and they have all been a joy to read together.  Any of the titles in the series would be worth checking out! I hope to own them all eventually, and was thrilled when my sister sent S three of the books for her birthday.

Activities. 

  • Print and color this Little House on the Prairie postage stamp
  • Enjoy these free printable coloring pages from Cheryl Harness.
  • Make snow candy this winter with maple syrup or molasses. 


Looking for more great books to read with your preschooler? Check out the rest of this 31 Days series here!

Some of the links above are affiliate links- which means that if you make a purchase through them, I receive a small profit at no extra charge to you. But you should know that I am an avid believer in reading for free through both local and church libraries ;). Thanks for supporting The Purposeful Wife!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Catching the Moon, by Myla Goldberg {2007}


So far in this series we've covered a lot of classics- old books that you are familiar with, and if you haven't read them you've at least heard of them. Today I'm going out on a limb and sharing a newer {but high quality!} book that you probably haven't heard of, that would be great to read with your babes.

We found Catching the Moon on the shelves of our local library when S was going through her moon obsession phase. Any book about the moon was a hit, but this particular book delighted me equally with its clever pictures {illustrated by Chris Sheban}, even clever-er story line, and all of the tea drinking. Because seriously people, tea drinking is the stuff of life, and any friendship formed over a cup of tea is worth reading about ;). 

Plot. People think the old fisher woman is off her rocker when she starts fishing at night with a mouse for bait. What they don't know is that she isn't out to catch a fish- she has her eye on a much bigger target. Meanwhile, a luminescent stranger begins showing up at her door once a month for tea and chatter. You'll be intrigued and amused by all of the interesting twists and turns!

This is my favorite picture in the book... I just love it <3. Swoon!
Thematic Elements. While most of the other fishermen just think the old woman is crazy, the Moon is actually concerned and seeks to help her. Kindness, empathy, and being helpful and caring are all elements you could highlight in discussions with your preschooler.

Educational Opportunities. Teach your child the phases of the moon {science}. This book especially highlights the one night a month that the moon isn't seen in the sky, so it is a great starting point for talking about the New Moon. Talk about the "man on the moon" and point it out to your child. Explain how the moon controls the tides. All of these concepts play key roles in the text!

The language in this is simply gorgeous, with expressions such as "starlight freckles," and "sea-addled;" and "tittered," "shrieked," and "guffawed" to describe a fit of laughter. It will definitely grow your child's vocabulary and feed their imaginations to stuffing point! Sublime.

Activities.
  • Taste test the different kinds of teas mentioned in the book {green, black, and yellow} to expand your child's palate.
  • Eat moon pies together as you drink your tea {you can make your own with this recipe}. 
  • Make this super fun puffy paint moon at No Time for Flashcards using shaving cream and glue!
  • Learn the phases of the moon with Oreos. Delish!
  • Make your own fishing pole with a stick and string, and tie a toy mouse on the other end to reenact the book. 
  • And if you are really talented, or feeling inspired, you could try to take a picture like this of your child "catching" the moon.
Be sure to also check out... While we are on the topic of the moon, I shared several other moon-themed titles on my Goodnight Moon post that are worth the read! Click on over there for the list. And one book that I failed to mention in that post, but is equally delightful, is The Moon Might be Milk


Looking for more great books to read with your preschooler? Check out the rest of this 31 Days series here!

Some of the links above are affiliate links- which means that if you make a purchase through them, I receive a small profit at no extra charge to you. But you should know that I am an avid believer in reading for free through both local and church libraries ;). Thanks for supporting The Purposeful Wife!