Friday, October 24, 2014

Gingerbread Baby, by Jan Brett {1999}


For some mysterious reason, my daughter S is obsessed with the classic tale of The Gingerbread Man. We've read dozens of versions, and even own a few, which have all delighted her to no end. Which is why when I saw Gingerbread Baby on the library shelf, I knew that I had to check it out for her. Thus I came to be introduced to the delightful works of Jan Brett.

Plot. Little Matti opens the oven door several minutes too early, and lo and behold, a baby gingerbread man pops out of the oven. You'll never guess at the surprise twist ending!

Author. Jan Brett is the queen of details- her gorgeous, water colored, hand-drawn illustrations are all framed by even further little drawings. The gleam of copper pans, fur of the cat, and grain of the wood floors are all captured in remarkable detail. A feast for the eyes.

Thematic Elements. As in other takes on the tale, the Gingerbread Baby is a bit too self-assured for his own good. He teases and teases the townsfolk, but it isn't so funny when they've almost caught up with him. Fortunately he doesn't end up to worse for the wear, but talk with your child about the importance of wisdom and humility {if he had just run away quickly and quietly, he wouldn't of had such a scare at the end!}.

Educational Opportunities. Perfect opportunity for a baking lesson- discuss ingredients, and the importance of following directions when it comes to amounts and baking time. Then get in a little bit of field practice and make your own gingerbread men!

Activities.


Other Resources. Enjoy this read-aloud version. I loved watching Jan Brett herself talking about the story, and showing how to draw the Gingerbread Baby. So neat!

Be sure to also check out... Just look up Jan Brett on the shelves of your library's children's section. They probably have a stack! I haven't read them all, but we have liked The Umbrella, The Mitten, Town Mouse Country Mouse, Mossy, Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella, and Comet's Nine Lives.


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 23, 2014

Growing Vegetable Soup, by Lois Ehlert {1987}


Since we featured Chicka Chicka Boom Boom earlier this week, it only seems natural to segue right into the book's illustrator, Lois Ehlert, who has written quite a large body of work in children's literature herself. Growing Vegetable Soup is one of my favorites, since it teaches kids where food comes from, from start to finish, and shows all of the work and steps involved.

Plot. A father and child plant a vegetable garden, in order to "grow" vegetable soup. You don't see any characters, just their hands at work, as well as the tools, sprouts, full grown veggies, and the end result pot of soup. The colors are very bright and fun.

Author. Lois Ehlert is a Wisconsin native and octogenarian. Her unique medium of illustrating is collage- all of her books originally are composed of hand cut {or collected} and glued pieces.

Educational Opportunities. Read this book to your child in the spring, and plant your own garden together. Since we are apartment dwellers without a proper yard for gardening, I've dabbled in container gardening from time to time... but not since having kids. This spring I fully intend to start a big ole container garden with S and W! I know they will love it. Then periodically, as we see progress in the plants' growth, we can reread this book and talk about it.

This book also opens the door for a culinary education. Cook with your kiddos! The author shares her vegetable soup recipe on the last page of the book- make it together. Tell them the names of all the vegetables you pass by in the supermarket. Let them watch you chop veggies, and allow them to dump clean cut veggies into your cooking pot. Taste test the variety of the vegetables named in the book together.

Activities.


Be sure to also check out... If you'd like more material on gardening and/or vegetables, Lois Ehlert also wrote Eating the Alphabet and Planting a Rainbow. Since it's Autumn, you should get ahold of her book Leaf Man for a fun seasonal read with the babes. I also loved the book Scraps- a colorful collection of Ms. Ehlert's photographs and art supplies, with an explanation of how she does her work, and her background story. Very interesting for a mom, with colorful pictures to keep kids entertained ;).


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 22, 2014

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce {2012}


Another much newer book than most of the titles I'm featuring in this series, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is destined to become a classic. Exquisite artwork in rich colors combines with a sweet and sad, yet ultimately positive, story. The language matches the rich colors and textures of the illustrations. All in all, it is a masterpiece. A must-read for all writers and bibliophiles.

Plot. Morris Lessmore is very contented with his life- he loves words, writing, and books, and is happily composing his own story. Then one day a hurricane blows in, upsetting his entire life. Fortunately, he bumps into a woman who knows that all he needs is a good story. She hands him her favorite, who then leads him to the nesting place of all the books {think: library}. Morris buries himself in the joys and sorrows of the written world and continues writing his own story. He grows old, but when it's time to move on another reader comes to take his place.

Author. William Joyce wrote this in honor of a library promoting friend, the late Bill Morris. Hurricane Katrina interrupted the progress of his book, and he hints at that in the text with Mr. Morris Lessmore's own hurricane. It took him over a decade to complete this little gem, and all of the time and thought that went into it can be plainly seen. I glean a little more insight and appreciation for all of the details with every read through. Apparently, he is also the creator of Rolie Polie Olie {remember that show? book first}, and helped create conceptual characters for both Toy Story and A Bug's Life. A very interesting guy!

Thematic Elements. To quote Morris, "Everyone's story matters." Characters turn from black and white to vivid color as they open books, artfully displaying the importance of a book in changing and bringing depth to a person's life. Death is hinted at, but it will go over your children's heads. I think that I appreciated all of the themes in this book more than my daughter can {yet}, and I haven't tried to explain them to her. We just really enjoy the story, and I try not to tear up at the content.

Educational Opportunities. If you haven't already, or don't regularly, take your child to the library {have you picked up yet that I'm a fan of those?}. Show her how the books "nest" on the shelves :). Be an active reader yourself, and show him how you believe in the power of story by example.

Activities. This little, simple craft looks sweet and fun!

Other Resources. Before the book was released, William Joyce's story was an Oscar-winning short film and an app. The film is lovely, though we haven't yet tried the app. Have you? How was it? Do share in the comments.

Be sure to also check out... William Joyce is apparently a rather prolific children's author {though he claims this book as the most personal of his career}. I haven't read any of his other books yet, but definitely want to give them a try! You can read all about him and his work here.



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!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault {1989}

Yesterday we dealt with the depressing idea of snow, so I'm attempting to redeem myself today with a slightly warmer, tropical theme. Coconut trees anyone?


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom has got to be the most fun book about letters. The rhythmic beat of the language, the colorful cut-out work by Lois Ehlert, and the letters taking a life form of their own all contribute to its brightness.

Plot. All the lower case letters of the alphabet decide to climb up a coconut tree. Will there be enough room? Toes are stubbed, eyes blackened, and knees skinned when they all come crashing down.

Educational Opportunities. This is probably pretty obvious, but I would definitely use this book to introduce your child to letters ;). If they already have a handle on their alphabet, use it for further letter recognition practice and beginning phonics skills.

Activities.

Other Resources. There are several song versions of the book which little kids will love dancing and singing along to: one and two. You can listen to a kid reading it here.

Be sure to also check out... Chicka Chicka ABC and Chicka Chicka 1,2,3 {with which you could adapt all of the activities mentioned above for numbers instead!}.



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!

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!