Monday, February 23, 2009

Weather- Clouds and Rain

Book Ideas: Cloudy with a Chance of meatballs by Judi Barrett
“Life is delicious in the town of Chewandswallow where it rains soup and juice, snows mashed potatoes, and blows storms of hamburgers--until the weather takes a turn for the worse.”

Raindrop, Plop! By Wendy Lewison
One little raindrop, dark, dark sky. Two little raindrops, clouds go by...
“A spirited rhyming text that's ideal for reading aloud and cheerful illustrations capture the unexpected pleasures that a little wet weather can bring to a young child's day.”

The Police Cloud by Christoph Niemann
“In this funny and tender picture book for the youngest child, a fluffy cloud gets a job (with the help of his friend the police helicopter) as a police officer. But no matter how hard he tries, the qualities that make him a cloud seem to get in the way of his duties. He blocks the sun at the park instead of helping people and obscures traffic at an intersection instead of directing it. Upset, the cloud starts to cry. And it's his streaming tears—which inadvertently put out a fire in a burning building—that lead him to his true calling in life: as a firefighter!”

It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw
“‘Sometimes it looked like a Sheep. But it wasn't a Sheep.’ So what was it? In this imaginative book, a cloud appears to be a bird, a tree, an ice-cream cone, and other objects familiar to children. The white images set against a deep blue background are striking. This wonderful book can be used as a guessing game or gentle read-aloud.”

Little Cloud by Eric Carle
“The clouds drift across the bright blue sky-all except one. Little Cloud trails behind. He is busy changing shapes to become a fluffy sheep, a zooming airplane, and even a clown with a funny hat.”

Activity Ideas:
Idea #1: Cool Cloud Book
Read "Little Cloud" or "It Looked like Spilt Milk" and then sponge paint your own silly cloud shapes and make your own cool clouds book. You will need some cookie cutters, pencil, scissors, old cereal box, piece of sponge, blue paint, white paper, 1 piece of construction paper, stapler, and markers.
First you will need to trace 5 different cookie-cutter shapes onto an old cereal box or plastic yogurt lids (whatever you have on hand). Cut them out.

Next, Cut 3 pieces of white paper in half. Squirt some blue paint on a paper plate. Place one of your shape cut-outs on your paper. Dip your wet sponge in the paint. Holding the shape in place, press your sponge around the edges of the shape. Lift off the cardboard shape and you should see the outline of your shape. Continue making a different shape outline for each page until you have done them all. Set aside to dry.

Once dry, staple together the pages with a piece of construction paper on the top and bottom for a cover. Add the title, "Cool Clouds," to the cover and the predictable text to each page: "Clouds that look like a _______." (Fill in the blank with whatever shape you have on that page). On the final page, write "Cool clouds are everywhere".

Idea #2: Cotton Ball Clouds

Read one of the stories and then make your own rain cloud. You will need, 1 piece of white cardstock or construction paper, cotton balls, glue, 1 Gallon Size Ziplock Bag, silver glitter glue, tape, hole puncher, and string.

First, draw a large cloud shape on your white paper and cut it out.

Next cut 1 inch strips out of your gallon-sized Ziplock bag.

Tape the Strips to the back of your cloud paper, at different lengths (In the photo, we had already glued our cotton balls, but it would be better to tape them to the back first).

Squirt a glob of glue on the cloud shape and let your child spread it around, using a q-tip.

Completely cover your white cloud with cotton balls.

Dot the clear strips with silver glitter glue to make raindrops. (If you don't have any glitter glue, you could cut out raindrops from tinfoil and glue them onto the strips). Set aside and let dry.

Punch a hole in the top and attach a string for hanging.

Idea #3: Water Color Umbrella

Read one of the stories and then make your own colorful umbrella. You will need one paper towel, watercolor paint set, scissors, tape and a piece of construction paper.

Cut your paper towel into an umbrella shape.

Let your child drip water colors and paint designs all over the paper towel. Set aside to dry.

Cut out a handle out of construction paper and tape it to your paper towel umbrella.

Idea #4: Paper Towel Tube Rainstick
Read one of the stories and then make your own paper towel tube rainstick. For step by step directions click here. (This is a much safer version than most home-made rainsticks using sharp toothpicks or nails). When done, decorate your stick.

Idea #5: Early Writing: I wish it would rain _______.

Read one of the stories and then have your child "write" (draw) about what they wish it would rain. Make sure to label the picture.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Book Ideas:
Kumak’s Fish by Michael Bania
On a beautiful Arctic morning when Kumak and his family go ice fishing, Kumak hooks what seems like an enormous fish, and the entire village gets involved.

Diamond in the Snow by Jonathan Emmett
One wintry afternoon, Mole finds something smooth and sparkly sticking out of the snow. It must be a diamond! As Mole rushes to show his new treasure to his friends, it keeps changing shape in his hands. Could the diamond be magic?

The Ice Child by Nick Ward
a classic tale of friendship and fitting in to society. Villagers discover a lonely ice child and take him into their village. When people learn about his special "talent," they turn against him one by one, and he retaliates and starts turning everything and everyone to ice. Eventually a young girl befriends him, and he gains an invaluable companion.

Pearl’s New Skates by Holly Keller
Pearl has new skates. They are real skates (not double runners), and she can't wait to try them. Pearl inches out onto the frozen pond. But instead of twirling, she topples. Instead of spinning, she falls -- splaaat! Will Pearl ever skate in real life the way she skates in her dreams?

Omar on Ice by Kovalski
Omar loves drawing pictures and wishes he could be as good at it as his classmate Elsie. But his teacher, Ms. Fudge, can never figure out what Omar's pictures are- no matter how hard she tries. When the whole class goes ice-skating, however, Omar's true talent emerges. He shows Elsie how he can glide and whirl and spin.

Activity Ideas:

Idea #1: Ice Art

Read one of the books and then paint with colored ice.

First you will need to freeze some colored water in home-made Popsicle containers (ice cube trays with a craft stick stuck in the center works fine too). I just added drops of food coloring to the water (it works best if you add a lot of drops so the color is nice and dark).

Let the Popsicles melt a little before using them or run them under water. Give your child a piece of white cardstock or construction paper and let them paint the paper with the melting, colored ice.

Set aside to dry.

Idea #2: Wax Paper Ice Skating

Read one of the stories about ice skating and then "ice skate" in the house. All you need to do is tear off two pieces of wax paper (one for each foot) and then slide around the house like your ice skating. Put on some music while you slide across the room. (Works on carpet or hardwood flooring).

Idea #3: Ice Fishing

Read "Kumak's fish" or one of the other books about ice and then pretend to go ice fishing.
You'll need a large plastic container (Yogurt, cottage cheese etc..). Cut out a whole in the top of the lid and then cover both the container and lid with tinfoil, to look like ice.

You will also need some sort of magnetic fishing pole. I have one from a magnetic puzzle. If you don't have one, make your own homemade one (a string and magnet will do). You will also need to print-off and color several fish onto cardstock (you'll need to make the fish smaller).

Write a different summer or winter activity on the back of each fish and attach a paper clip to each one. Here are a few ideas:
Summer: Going for a picnic, swimming at the lake, riding bikes, playing at the park, mowing the lawn
Winter: Skiing, building a snowman, playing hockey, sledding, shoveling the snow, Ice skating

Place the fish inside the container and let your child go "Ice fishing" for fish.

As you pull out the fish, read the back and have them sort the fish under either summer or winter activities.
For Toddlers, you may want to just reinforce their colors by asking them what color the fish is as they catch each one.

Idea #4: Ice Science Experiment
Read "The Diamond in the Snow" or one of the other stories about ice and talk about what they think makes ice melt. Show your child a tray of ice and ask them to think of different ways to melt each cube. Make a list of the methods they suggest and ask your child to predict which method will make the ice cube melt the fastest and/or slowest. Here are a few ideas: Place one ice cube in cold water and one in hot water.

Sprinkle one with coarse salt.

Sprinkle one with sugar.

Sprinkle one with sand.

Your child may enjoy wrapping the ice cubes in different materials and predicting which cubes will melt the fastest. You can use aluminum foil, plastic wrap and cloth. Remember to write their predictions down, do the experiment, and then refer back to what the children had thought would happen.
Idea #5: Sugar Cube Igloo
Read one of the stories and then talk about how some people live in houses made of Ice and Snow. Then make a sugar cube igloo. For directions go click here. (I haven't tried this activity-- but if I were going to do it, I would probably let my child just build their own "ice house" out of the sugar cubes, however they want, rather than following the specific directions.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentine's Day/Love

Book Ideas: I love you because you’re you by Liza Baker
"Describes, in rhyming text and illustrations, a mother's love for her child no matter how he feels or what he does. Reassuring quatrains ("I love you when you're sad/ and need a kiss and hug./ I love you when you're playful/ and rolling on the rug") convey her unconditional love."

If you’ll be my valentine by Cynthia Rylant
"A young boy makes valentines for those who are special to him: his dog, his cat, his grandmother and other family members, his teddy bear, and even the bird who sings outside his window."

Mama, Do you Love Me? By Barbara M. Joosse
"Mama, do you love me? Yes I do Dear One. How much? In this universal story, a child tests the limits of independence and comfortingly learns that a parent's love is unconditional and everlasting."

My Love for You by Susan L. Roth
"In this wildly popular board book edition of Susan Roth's successful counting book, two mice walk together-and find that their love is bigger than 1 bear, taller than 2 giraffes, and larger than 3 blue whales. As they journey from 1 to 10, they discover that their love is greater than anything they can imagine."

I Love You More by Laura Duksta
"This cleverly conceived flip story, which ends in the middle and starts from either side, will show you what love looks like from both a child and a parent's perspective. With a simple, touching story, rhyme and rhythm, and vibrant child-like illustrations, this book will be treasured by anyone who has ever said "I love you" and heard the best response in the world: 'I LOVE YOU MORE'."

Guess How Much I Love You by Same Mc Bratney
"During a bedtime game, every time Little Nutbrown Hare demonstrates how much he loves his father, Big Nutbrown Hare gently shows him that the love is returned even more."

Activity Ideas:
Idea #1: Paper Plate Valentine Holder
Read one of the stories and discuss the idea of Valentine's Day being a special day to show friends and family how much we love them. Then, make a paper plate valentine holder for each member of the family so you can leave "love notes" or special treats inside for each other, leading up to or on valentine's day.

You will need 1 full sized paper plate and one paper plate cut in half.

Turn the half plate over so back of the plate is facing the top. Set on top of the full-sized plate. Holding the two plate together, punch holes around the edges where the plates meet.

Wrap some tape around the end of a long piece of string. This will make it easier for your child to push and pull it through the holes.

Put the string through the first hole and tie a double knot to secure it. Then, helping your child hold the plates together, let them practice their fine motor skills by lacing the string in and out of the holes.

Knot the string on the other end and trim.

Then decorate the plate with stickers, ribbon, rubber stamps, glitter pens, doilies (whatever you have on hand). Punch a hole at the top and tie on a string for hanging.

Idea #2: "The People I love..." Book

Read one of the stories and discuss the idea of Valentine's Day being a special day to show friends and family how much we love them. Make this homemade predictable, beginning reader book. All you need is some colored paper, stapler, marker, and some old, extra photos of family members and close friends.

Staple colored paper together to make a book. Title the front: "The People I love...".

Let your child glue the photos at the top of each blank page, in any order they want. Then go back and label the photos with the words: "I love _______". See photos below for more page examples.

Let your child practice "reading" their books over and over, showing all the people they love.

Idea #3: Make homemade Valentine Cards
Read one of the stories and discuss the idea of Valentine's Day being a special day to show friends and family how much we love them. Make homemade valentine cards for friends and family. Use whatever you have on hand: Stickers, doilies, felt, paper, rubber stamps, paint, glitter etc....Be creative and have fun!
Here is a list of ideas in making cards with cute sayings (You can print off the specific clipart and then let your child color it and glue it on colored paper):
Monkey- I go bananas over you!
Car- I never "tire" of your friendship!
Bear- You are beary cool!
Toad- You are "toad"ally awesome!
Lion- You are Grrrreat! No Lion!
Fish- I'm "hooked" on you!
Clown- No clown'in around, you're cool!
Cat- You're Purrrrfect!
Airplane- I'd fly high for you!
Rabbit- Some bunny loves you!