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Today’s blog was written by one of our very own children’s storytellers: Miss Alex. You’ll find Miss Alex sharing stories with children of all ages as well as creating wonderful children’s programs at a couple of our branches.
This week, I am thankful to be a children’s librarian. I got to get hoarse reading Holler Loudly by Cynthia Leitich-Smith to a group of 49 kids and get peaceful reading Julie Flett’s Wild Berries to a smaller group. I chose these activities to promote literacy around Thanksgiving because, as Debbie Reese suggests (2014), “for very young kids, I’d stay away from historical contexts and focus on Native people of the present.” There are links below to a few interesting reads if you want to explore this topic further. Since I am thankful for this opportunity to share my own post and for your attention as well, I will keep the rest short and sweet.
During my November school visits, I was also blown away by how enthusiastically the kids practiced how to write thank you cards, and I was happy to crack a “Thank You” card joke similar to this quote. Laughing with the kids was a fantastic mood-booster in this time of sniffles and shorter days.
As we did in my storytimes, I also found it was great to focus on shared small joys like crunching on leaves as we walk outside or play pretend. I am sharing my story time handout on fall and winter as well, in case you feel like singing and reading, too. You are always invited to our library and our programs and always welcome to share your feedback and ideas.
Constant creativity and encouragement are so important when working with kids. Thank you to my colleagues and students and to the parents, teachers, and others who may be reading for your infectious openness, curiosity, and support. I am going to follow this blog’s title and “laugh, play, read” all fall and winter, listen to my kids, look for gifts and resources from others, and share my own. Thank you.
Writing is a very important skill for children to master. Writing involves creativity, comprehension, fine motor skills, sometimes the ability to follow directions, reading, and so much more. Writing is one of the five early literacy practices helping prepare children for school.
Here is a simple activity you can do with your child to incorporate writing into your day.
For my example, we read the story Orange Bear Apple Pear by Emily Gravett. It is a simple story with four words: orange, bear, apple, pear. The author uses the words in fun ways through her illustrations.
After we read the story, I asked my group of children to think of four words. They could use any four words. When they had a little trouble thinking of words, I asked them to name their favorite color, fruit, and animal.
We moved to the table. I gave them each a large piece of paper, and I told them to use their four words to write a story and draw a picture to go with it.
The most important part of this activity was letting the children be creative and work on their own. The hardest part of this activity was letting the children be creative and work on their own. Yes, you read that correctly. As adults, we have a tendency to want to make our children’s work perfect or help them the entire way. For this project, it’s important to let them figure it out on their own. Let them sound out the words and “kid spell.” Let them draw an animal the way they “see” it.
We did this with a mixture of age groups from 3 to 8 years old.
This mixes a little bit of process art (letting them create on their own) with a little bit of product art (there’s a specific end result with a few instructions). You will be surprised what your child comes up with!
Try this the next time your child wants to color or paint.
Find a table or chair low to the ground. Something that is only two or three feet off the ground. Cut a paper grocery bag open or use a large piece of paper. Tape the paper to the under side of the table.
Show your child a book about the artist Michelangelo. Show him a picture of the ceiling at the Sistine Chapel. Explain how it took Michelangelo four years to paint it and he did the ceiling work while he was on his back. Ask your child how it might feel like to do something like that.
Now you will need to find some classical music. I like using soundtracks to movies. Something like Fantasia or Harry Potter. Have your child slide under the table on his back. Let him color or paint to the sound of the music on the paper. The music will help create a peaceful atmosphere and keep your child coloring longer.
Take a few minutes to color with your child. Talk about what you are drawing. You may need to use a pillow for your child’s head or back.