Friday, July 15, 2011

Click Beetle Story and Craft

Recently I went to the library to check out some children's books about insects. Adelle was bit by a bug a couple weeks back and since then has been panicky whenever she sees anything creepy crawly. I thought that a good way to get her over her fear would be to do a week of fun bug themed activities. So far Adelle's favorite bug story is The Very Clumsy Click Beetle by Eric Carle. In this story, a young click beetle falls out of a tree and lands on his back. In attempt to get back on his feet, the beetle tries to jump up with a loud, "CLICK!", but each time he lands on his back again. Finally at the end of the story, the click beetle succeeds in landing on his feet. There is even a cool automated clicking sound built into the book that Adelle just loves. To accompany the book, I found an adorable activity suggestion from I drew an outline of the click beetle in black marker on card- stock and cut them out. After reading the story, the children decorated their beetles with markers, glitter, and googly eyes. Then I used a glue gun to adhere a clothespin to the bottom of the beetle. It is important to glue the pin on the back half of the beetle. I would even suggest leaving the end of the clothespin accessible so it is easier to press down. That's it for construction, and now for the fun. By pressing down on the back of the beetle and releasing, it causes the bug to flip into the air. Check it out.

Dueling Click Beetles!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Our Lady in Waiting

One of our hens, Frances, has been a bit broody lately. She sits and sits with the false instinctual hope that her eggs will hatch. You see there are no roosters at the Wright household, only gals. It is surprising to many that even with a flock of only females, you can still get eggs, unfertilized eggs. If one wants chicks, you must have a rooster. While it is a beautiful thing to have fresh eggs daily with their creamy rich amber yolks and the peace of mind of knowing where my food comes from, I can't help but empathize with my dear Frances. It is so much part of the female variety of any breed, creed, race or religion to at some time in their life feel the call to motherhood. In a world so obsessed with differences, I choose to focus on commonalities of the soul. I feel a connectedness with any female, beast or being for the simple reason that we have the capacity to love like mothers. And while some may argue that Frances's commitment to mothering chicks is solely instinctual, I see a sadness in her eyes as she sits and awaits something she knows should be there but will never come. Her dilemma makes me think of all the women throughout time who have prayed for babies that never came and I feel so blessed to have one child and another on the way. Let me be clear that in no way do I feel that in order to feel the connectedness I am speaking of that one must be or even want to be a mother. It is enough to know that as females we have the ability to "love like a mother." There is always someone out there wanting and needing a mother's love. Whether our own children, students, pets, or a stranger on the street is on the receiving end I can't help but feel compelled to spread some motherly love!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!

The Book
There are so many great activities and ideas available on the web associated with the book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. If you are looking for a way to get your child interested in the alphabet and the concept of letters, this is the book you need. The illustrations by Lois Ehlert are simple and appealing with bold colors and fun patterns. And of course the story is adorable. All the little letters (lowercase) climb up the coconut tree, but soon there is not enough room and they all fall down. Then all the capital letters described as mamas and papas uncles and aunts come running over to console their babes. Despite their fall, the little letters (now a bit beat up) try again and climb the coconut tree. In addition to the book, Scholastic Video Collection has an adorable animated retelling of the story with the catchiest little tune set to it.

The Activities

LinkFor the first activity, I went to which is an awesome website for free printables and activities for kids. Activities are organized based on theme and activity type, and for teachers there are circle time ideas, literacy connections, and math. Awesome, awesome website....Check it out! For this activity I used play-doh and letter cookie cutters. Adelle is working on name recognition and so I focused on the letter A only. For older kids multiple letters may be more appropriate.
You will also need to print the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom play-doh mat from or make your own. Her is the link.
It is necessary to laminate the mat in some way. If you do not have a laminating machine, a plastic report cover will work or you can cover the mat with clear packaging tape. I was out of laminating sheets so I glued the tree onto card-stock and used packaging tape. From there the activity is quite simple. Help small children cut out play-doh letters with the cookie cutters and watch as they march them up and down the coconut tree. It is also helpful to repeat the name of the letter or letters that you are focusing on several times. For example, I would cut an A and each time say "Another A for Adelle. Put it on the tree." When you read the story again point out the letter you worked on to connect and reinforce. For that matter, anytime you see the letter in print, point it out to your child. I find the grocery store the most convenient place to do this given the print rich environment (advertisements, labels, etc.) As your child observes you noticing print and distinguishing letters, they will soon develop an essential concept associated with reading which is print carries meaning! Before long your child may begin letter recognition all on their own with shocking comments like, "Look mommy A for Adelle." as she points to the Aldi sign. When this type of connection occurs independent of your guidance, you know you have began to build strong foundations for reading success!
Bold Activity 2: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree

As a primary reading teacher, I have seen some incredible Chicka Chicka Boom Boom trees created for classroom use. Given that my "classroom" is fairly small due to the nature of my work (individual and small group instruction) I decided to make a small scale tree for Adelle's enjoyment this summer and part of my classroom decor this fall.

To make this tree I used two Folgers coffee cans and a holiday pretzel container for the base. I painted the coffee cans with brown spray paint and left the base because I thought the colorful letters looked cool inside. I cut a hole in the back of the base and melted the edges with a lighter so little hands would not get cut when reaching in for a letter. The letters are actually foam bath toys I found in the Target baby section for around $4.00. The image on the front is a scanned copy of the book cover laminated and cut to size. For the top I used colored poster board for the leaves. I taped long pieces or floral wire to the bottom of the leaves for support. To attach the leaves to the tree, I glued floral foam (painted brown) to the top can and stuck the wired leaves in. When the leaves were where I wanted them I reinforced with hot glue at the base of the wire. The coconuts are plastic balls painted brown. And there ya version of the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree. Adelle loves running the letters up and down the tree and sliding them down the leaves. So fun!!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Somebunny to Love

Meet Adelle. At two and a half she is a bright light in our lives that is a daily reminder of how magical the world can be if seen through the eyes of a child. I titled this post "Somebunny to Love" because I felt compelled to write about the very special and painfully adorable bond that Adelle has formed with the stuffed rabbit pictured above. His name is Chocolate Rabbit and he is a confirmed member of the Wright family. He eats at the dinner table, takes stroller rides, plays outside, and is deeply LOVED and cherished by Adelle. There is no greater sound to a reading teacher than the muffled whispers of her own child contently snuggled in a corner "reading" her favorite books to her Chocolate Rabbit. And of course we all try our best to engage in Adelle's fantasies to encourage her to care for and consider the feelings and needs of others. I find myself saying things like, "Oh, would Chocolate Rabbit like a cracker?" and "We'll put chocolate rabbit up here so he can see the fireworks too." I think in a busy world it is easy to look at Adelle's relationship with Chocolate Rabbit as cute and nothing more. Come to find out these types of attachments are actually very important indications of healthy emotional development in a child. I am currently reading Calm and Compassionate Children: A Handbook by Susan Usha Dermond. In chapter four the author states that, "Pets, stuffies, or elves and fairies; think of them not merely as child's play but as important opportunities for developing a child's heart-capacity to love." In simpler terms, as stated by my grandmother, "You know Dana the way she is with that rabbit means that she knows what love is." How true. A two year old can see love for what it really is: compassion and commitment to something other than oneself. Hmmm, how thought provoking and troubling that on so many occasions adults get this "love thing" all wrong when a two year old can only get it right.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sometimes Dreams Take a Holiday

I have been saying for quite some time how much I would like to create my own blog. Yes, I do believe for almost three years now I have had the "itch" to do this. As a teacher, mom, and self admitted "craftaholic" blogging has inspired many projects and ideas that I would have never imagined as things within the realm of my own creative capabilities. The knowledge I have absorbed from others through blogging has enabled me to dream big and follow through with actually making my dreams a reality. From three "crazy clucks" as my daughter calls our chickens to countless creations made to enrich the lives of my family and my students, blogs have given me the confidence to be who I am. Who am I? I'm a dreamer and a "doer." My husband has learned after four years of marriage that if I say "I think we should look into raising backyard chickens", I am not really contemplating the subject, in fact I have already researched winter hardy breeds and found the nearest hatchery. In other words, if I say I am going to do something, as unconventional or quirky or impossible as it may sound, chances are I will do it. It may not be today or even a year from now, but it will happen eventually because my dreams do not die. Sometimes they take a holiday, but they always come back, and when they do I get to work. So here is my contribution to the blogging world. I hope sharing my journey to fulfill my hopes and dreams and live my life as my best self encourages you to do the same.