I’m guest posting for the fabulous Jessica while she is off loving on her new sweet little baby and getting back into the swing of things. Let me introduce myself. I’m Jenna from Shallow Roots living. I’m a 30-something stay-at-home mom to a 34-week preemie little boy, a military spouse, and a retired (for now anyway) teacher. My bookshelves are overflowing, as is my vanity, dresser and craft closet. My kitchen is over used and my running shoes are neglected more than I would like—one day they’ll balance each other out. As traveler at heart, I enjoy the benefits of our military lifestyle which doesn’t keep us in one place very long. I find that surrounding myself with amazing friends, beautiful scenery, and a delicious bottle of wine I can make anyplace feel like home. This shallow root living isn’t for everyone but it suits me just fine.
It was a typical night in our home. Andy was freshly bathed, and wearing clean PJ’s when I asked him to pick out a book to read before bed. He picks a book (or three) from his bookshelf then snuggles into my lap. Sure enough, without fail, he picked THAT book. Again. You know the one. The one you tossed on top of the fridge or into the back of the closet because you have read it so many times you have it memorized. I dread seeing THAT book.
|“The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear” by Don and Audrey Wood|
I bought him this book because I loved using it in my classroom. The story was simple and different but now the sight of it makes my stomach turn. After a week in the closet and numerous fits from Andy because of its absence, I decided to steer into the skid. I needed to find a way that I could enjoy the book the way I used to; the way that Andy enjoys it every time we read it.
Another way to shake things up for me was to incorporate something we already do. Since he was born I have been using sign language with him. While he doesn’t have any problems with his hearing, I liked that once he picked up on signing it would give him a way to communicate before he could verbally express himself. The thought, oddly enough, had never occurred to me before that I could reinforce (or start fresh) the use of ASL through the books he reads over and over again. I don’t go crazy with it, but I pick out several words that repeat in the book that could be useful for him to know. We started simple with “bear,” “strawberry,” “mouse,” and “hello.”
The more into a story they get the more they love it. I like to have kids be very hands on—if you have older children they can even help color or cut the pieces. Then, later, they can see their work come to life. I left the board out and found Andy playing with the pieces. These are all fabulous educational ways to make a played out book exciting for everyone.
- “We’re going on a Bear hunt” by Helen Oxenbury—you could recreate the bear hunt or make up moves for each section of the book.
- “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” by Eric Carle—you could have the child find something in the room that is the same color as the animal in the page. Hint: the little ones that don’t know color will follow the older ones. Just let the older ones know that it is ok that they are touching the same thing.
This interaction means kids of all ages can play, learn and work together. It also can make a simple book geared towards younger kids more exciting for older kids. For other books you can make a scavenger hunt based on the book. This worked well for us with “Little Blue Truck” by Alice Schertle. I would ask Andy to find a brown horse or a yellow truck among a box of toys I put together and bring it to me. Andy is still really young for this we we work together on it. Simple tasks like this helped keep him engaged in the story especially when he has energy to burn! Just know that in adding toys into the mix they will sometimes he play with the toys while I read. That is a-okay with me because he is still hearing the story.
- Color a coloring page from the book
- Color a strawberry
- Add seeds to a strawberry picture with finger paint
- Help make a strawberry smoothie
- Practice cutting skills by cutting strawberries in two along a line. This is from the book where he cuts the strawberry in half
- Match up the strawberry halves he preciously cut
- Take turns hiding a strawberry that the “bear” can find. Just don’t use a real strawberry 😉
- Go strawberry picking
- Give the child a blank page and ask them to draw the bear. (Hint: you never see the bear)