Friday, July 29, 2016

Beyond the Book: Extension Activities for "Growing Vegetable Soup" and "Planting a Rainbow"

Sharing a love of literacy was something I wanted to pass down to my son from before the time he was born. While I was not much one for reading to my pregnant belly, I did try to sign up for PJ Library while I was in labor. Then I realized I needed to know the gender, birth-date and name of my child--none of which I knew at that point, even though my contractions were getting closer together. Instead, I added that to my list of things to do in the first week postpartum. I imagined daily story times would be one of my daily anchors, that we would snuggle up and read together every day and read favorite children's books in every room the of the house. In reality, this didn't happen. We do have daily anchors--little things we've done from day one and do every day, no matter what, that ground us and make us the family we strive to be even on the most hectic and exhausting of days. We've taken my son to the library from the time he was very little, and one of our favorite activities this summer now that he is two is attending local story times at our county libraries. My son does love books and he has some definite favorites. We do have books and read in many rooms of the house, but we don't always do it in the way I imagined. Sometimes he wants to sit for twenty minutes and read the same book again and again, cover to cover. Other times he wants to play while the book is read in the background. We listen to audio books, I read him chapter books before nap/bed, and we keep books accessible and at his reach throughout the house. Our story times are a lot more mobile and hands on than I had originally imagined and I love that.

Because our story times involve so much movement and I recognize the value and importance of expanding on my son's interests and experiences on a multi-sensory level, I've sought a lot of extension activities for the books that we read together. Beyond the Book posts here will include a variety of those activities for various children's books. Many activities I come up with on my own and others I find in a variety of resources available online and in your local library. One of my favorite resources on reading to young toddlers is the book Story S-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-r-s for Infants, Toddlers and Twos: Experiences, Activities, and Games for Popular Children's Books by S. Raines, K. Miller, L. Curry-Rood, and K. Dobbs. There is a series of books under this title aimed at different age groups. Pinterest is also a valuable resource for creative extension activities. Overall, I go with my son's interest and attention level. If he is in the mood to read and reread a book again and again, I try to oblige. If he is not in the mood to sit and listen, we kick it up a notch and try a project or game or activity--perhaps we come back to the book later. As he gets bigger, he likes to be able to hold and handle the books we read. When I can, I try to check out two copies of a book at our library, perhaps a paperback/hardback for myself and a board book for his smaller hands. 

During our gardening theme this summer, we read several books by Lois Elhert. Her illustrations are bright and captivating and her story lines are very toddler friendly. Two of our particular favorites were Growing Vegetable Soup and Planting a Rainbow. These were particularly good picks as we progressed with our own home vegetable garden (a fabulous place to play and learn). We also took the themes from these books on the road as we visited our local Botanical Gardens and went on a "rainbow scavenger hunt." I provided copies of both books on my son's bookshelf as well as a variety of materials related to planting gardens both indoor and out. Among his favorites were a collection of seed packets inside snack sized ziplock bags through which he could observe both the size and shape of different vegetable, herb and flower seeds as well as the photograph of "finished product." This was also a handy way to store the seeds we didn't use for our home garden. 

This gardening sensory bin was another favorite activity

We often use toys and props to act out stories or parts of stories

Here we are preparing some pretend vegetable soup

and here we are again preparing some real vegetable soup

washing veggies is a favorite activity and also keeps this little one very occupied in the kitchen

I encourage my son to handle a lot of different foods in the kitchen in the hopes that exposure prior to plate will lead to trying it once it's on the plate (or bowl in this case)

Quality Control Department: Occupational Hazard--and I'd love to say he was this eager to try the soup once it was on the table, but he was mostly interested in feeding it to his parents and practicing with the spoon

I prepared this ladder style book ahead of time and my son enjoyed planting a rainbow of fruit shaped stickers to their matching colored page with my support after we read Planting a Rainbow

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