Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chocolate/Valentine's Day

Book Ideas:
Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory by Margret Rey
"George's curiosity causes a problem at the chocolate factory, but his quick thinking and speedy action on the assembly line help save the candies."

Lilly’s Chocolate Heart by Kevin Henkes
"Decked in fuzzy green slippers and pink housecoat, a crown-wearing Lilly has one Valentine's Day chocolate heart and wants to keep it safe. Unfortunately, several locales aren't quite right: under the bed is dusty, inside the dresser is messy, and behind the radiator is warm. Where will she put it? Not to worry, for with a look of satisfied resolution, Lilly decides the best place is right in her tummy."

Chocolatina , I love you by Kraft
"Tina eats so much chocolate that she wakes up one morning and finds that she has turned to chocolate. "
(This is a cute book, but I should warn you that one of the pages in the story might scare a more sensitive child--Her mean teacher tries to take a bite of her when she has turned to chocolate. You could either skip that page or make something else up. My daughter didn't have a problem with it, but I just wanted to give you a warning.)

Oh, Ducky! By David Slonim
"When a rubber duck gets stuck in the chocolate-making machine, Mr. Peters dons his diving suit to investigate the pipes and swims through chocolate sharks, ships and sea chests to save the day."

The chocolate Cat by Sue Stainton
"In a drab village nestled between the mountains and the sea, an old chocolate maker lives alone with his cat, making uninspired chocolates to display in his dusty shop. One day he does something different and makes chocolate mice with crunchy pink-sugar tails--but he won't eat them. Cat soon discovers there's something truly special about these little mice, and everyone who tastes them is inspired to create something new and different, something the little village has never seen."

Chocolate by Jacqueline Dineen
Informational book that defines what chocolate is, where it comes from, how it is made, and more.
(There is too much information in this book for preschoolers, but it has some great pictures of the cocoa tree, cocoa pod, and cocoa beans, as well as the process of how the beans are made into chocolate. Any juvenile non-fiction book about chocolate should have some photos of the plant and process).

Activity Ideas:
As you read the books and do the activities make sure to talk about how chocolate relates to Valentine's Day. Discuss how chocolates, flowers, cards etc... are often given as gifts to people we love. Make sure to ask them why they think chocolate would be a good gift. Discuss what makes something a good gift.

Idea #1: Chocolate Chip Counting

Read one of the books and then have your child practice their math skills in this chocolate chip counting activity.
You will need a brown grocery bag, a small cup for tracing, a pen, some scissors, a piece of construction paper and a black marker.

First you need to trace a bunch of circles on the brown grocery bag and cut them out. Glue them on a piece of construction paper, leaving a little room to the right of each cookie.

Then, using a black marker, draw on the desired amount of chocolate chips (the younger the child, the lower the amounts should be). Then draw a line to the right of each cookie, as seen in the photo, so that your child can record the number.

The great thing about this activity is that it can be adapted to whatever you think your child needs practice on. My five year old doesn't always remember how to write her double digit numbers, so I made sure to draw on chocolate chips in the "teens" so that she could practice counting above ten and writing down those numbers. For my 2 year old, I only used numbers 1 to 6 and let her practice one-to-one correspondence, as she counted each chocolate chip and we wrote them together.

If your child needs practice identifying numbers then you could do the activity this way, as seen in the photo. Have your child identify the numbers next to the blank cookie and then draw on, or glue on (You can use hole punch circles to glue on as the chocolate chips)the right number of chocolate chips.

Idea #2: Chocolate Pudding Finger Paint

Read one of the books and then let your child finger paint with chocolate pudding.

Make the pudding just like the instructions detail on the box. Cover the table with newspaper and make sure to cover up your kids clothes (or even better, just strip them down to nothing:) ).

Then, you can either let your child create some artwork by painting on a piece of construction paper(as seen in the photo above), or .......
.....put a glob of pudding on a piece of wax paper and let them "draw" pictures in the pudding with their finger. You can have them practice writing their alphabet, by saying "can you draw me a 'B' or a 'G' " etc... This will give you a good idea of what letters your child knows and which letters you may need to work on.

This is what it will look like dry. The wax paper works a little better for the younger ones because they will end up just swirling the pudding around on their whole paper until it is soaking wet. This is a tactile experience for the kids so they may not really want to make a picture, but just enjoying feeling it squish between their fingers.
Idea #3: M&M Graphing

Read one of the book titles and then explore recording and graphing information, using chocolate M&Ms.

Make a graph paper, like the above photo before you start.

Then give your child a small bowl of M&M's.

Have them sort the colors into piles (sorting is a very good skill for preschoolers to practice). You may have to remind them to wait to eat them until the end of the activity.
Then have them count each of the piles and fill in the circles on their graph paper for each of the colors (one circle representing one m&m).
When they are done ask them which color had the most and the least and have them circle that group.

Idea #4: Chocolate Candy Patterns

Read one of the books and then practice making patterns using chocolate candies.

Idea #5: Chocolate Candy Collage

Read one of the book titles and then let your child make pictures using the chocolate candies. (We used the M&M's, but you could used a variety of chocolate candies).

You could glue the candies down if you wanted to, but I think that is sort of a waste of good chocolate:), so we just set them on a piece of paper and then started from scratch each time they made something new.

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