I had originally planned for this week to be about music (had everything planned out!), but about the middle of last week I was reminded about the Virtual Book Club hosted by The Educators Spin On It. I knew I wanted to get back to introducing the kids (and myself) to some wonderful authors (yes, my librarian side is showing!), so I pushed music back a couple of weeks and put together a fun week of activities themed around books by Bill Martin Jr.
If you are unfamiliar with Bill Martin Jr., he has several very popular children’s books that are great for reading aloud. The repetitive nature of books like Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do you See? and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear? and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? make it fun for children to join in as you read. My kids like to “read” these books themselves because they have memorized the pattern and can use the picture clues to fill in the rest. The rhyming aspect of books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 make them flow off your tongue like a song and the kids really enjoyed repeating the rhymes over and over again. Seriously, if you haven’t read anything by Bill Martin, Jr. please head to your nearest library and check him out!
Now, there were a few books that I was not familiar with, which I was able to check out from our local school library (while my kids are in speech I hang out with the librarian). I was not as fond of these books (Barn Dance, White Dynamite and Curly Kidd, and Little Granny Quarterback) for my kids, but can see great potential for using them with older children. There are also many more books that we were not able to get a look at this time around, but I definitely want to.
Okay, so now for the activities we did! I’m very excited about the things I found and came up with on my own, so forgive my enthusiasm as I type. 😉
When Monday arrived I had not had a chance to get any books from the library. However, we already had Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See in our home library and I also have a Scholastic DVD set that included a video reading of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, so we used those until we could get to the library on Tuesday. I actually think watching the DVD helped to enhance the story because it was sung rather than read. They really liked it.
After reading Brown Bear we went on a photo walk. Before we left I had the kids “read” the story to me so I could write down all the colors of the animals in the book (in the color of the word) so they would have a checklist of the colors they needed to look for. They each have a LeapPad2, which has a camera app, so they were able to use those to take their pictures. They had so much fun spotting colors all over our neighborhood and snapping pictures along the way (and got exercise too!).
In the afternoon we used a Rhyming Fun Freebie from Jennifer Drake on Teachers Pay Teachers. I worked with both of them to identify rhyming words in 4 word families. I think Kyla has started to really catch on to listening for the end sound, where Lucas is still trying to match beginning sounds. This is definitely something we will continue to work on. When we finished rhyming they requested to pull out our magnetic letters and put the ABCs in order. I chose the lower case letters because I know they need to work on those more than the upper case which they seem to have down pat. Then they wanted to work separately and “race” to put the letters in order. They really seem to be loving our homeschool activities!
They have speech Tuesdays and Thursdays this year, so we were able to check out several books by Bill Martin Jr. (I mentioned them above). They were so excited to see the actual book for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and discovering there was a 1, 2, 3 version was a thrill for them as well.
I knew that between speech and Kyla’s dance class we weren’t going to have a lot of time for our activities, so I only had one thing planned. I’d printed out a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Letter Book from Jessica Sheffield at Teachers Pay Teachers. They went through the real book to find out what colors to color their letters in the printed book. I liked that the letters were in lower case. I feel like we haven’t done enough with lower case letters, so I’ve been focusing on that lately.
We really didn’t have time for anything else that day!
Wednesday is one of our less busy days, so I made sure to save this more time consuming project for that day. I printed out all (okay, not all, but several) of the pictures the kids had taken on our photo walk from Monday and also put together a book template using Google Doc Presentation (equivalent to PowerPoint) so they could make a personalized What Do You See? book. I had them cut out the pictures for each color (which was written on the page and they had to decide which object of that color to use) and glue them onto their book. This worked on their cutting, gluing, color recognition, and reinforced seeing the written color words. I’m really proud of this activity and I know they enjoyed it as much as I did.
Thursday is now our REALLY busy day. Speech in the morning and Zoo School in the afternoon, then I had a night out with a friend planned. So I really knew we wouldn’t have time for much. Plus, I’m getting ready for a garage sale this weekend, which really made us strapped for time. All we did was an apple dot-to-dot from Making Learning Fun.
We didn’t actually do our “Friday” activities ON Friday. We didn’t do them until Sunday because I spent all day Friday and Saturday trying to sell our
crap excess stuff. Unfortunately, all I have to show for all that effort is $73.50 and a sunburn.
Anyway, we finally got to our Friday activities on Sunday after dinner. Friday is generally “computer day” so I had Lucas set up to work on the computer while Kyla did these cute Brown Bear Counting Practice pages from Teachers Pay Teachers. And then they switched.
They had the opportunity to practice cutting and gluing as well as identifying numbers and counting. Lucas was much faster at this than Kyla. I’m pretty sure it’s because Kyla is a perfectionist and was very precise about cutting out her numbers while Lucas is a bit more relaxed about the final product. Kyla is also not quite as quick to identify the written number, though she can count just fine.
I didn’t look for a specific Bill Martin Jr. themed computer game for the kids to do, so I just put them on PBSKids again. This time I had them do Clifford games (I figured at least it was a character from a book, even if it’s not a book by our featured author! 😉 ). Come to find out, the game they both chose to play was great because it involved following directions. Each “turn” of the game they would be given 2 step instructions and then they used the mouse to click on an object, then click an arrow for left or right. Lucas did great with this game and I was impressed that he was able to determine left or right so easily. It might be because I always tell them that “Lucas and Left start with L, so Lucas is on the Left,” when we’re in the car. Kyla was able to follow the directions, but had a lot of trouble with the mouse. I switched from using the PC mouse we had to an old MAC mouse that only has the one button because Lucas had such a hard time lining up his fingers so that he would push the correct button. Well for some reason Kyla kept getting the mouse turned around so that it was upside down and couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t going where she wanted it to go! This is definitely something she needs to continue working on, regardless of what game is in play.
Even though we sort of had a pause in our homeschool plans for the garage sale and we’ve gotten a lot busier as our schedule is getting more full I think we did some great stuff. I actually had more ideas that we just didn’t have time for. However, I’m particularly proud of the What Do You See? books that we made and plan to hang onto the lesson for when I’m back in a library. I can see it as a great way to integrate technology into an author study!
This post is linking to the Virtual Book Club Bloghop hosted by The Educators’ Spin On It.