Friday, June 9, 2017

Short Stretch: "Stone Soup" & Our Rockin' Round-Up

It's a Thursday afternoon as I write this post. We've had a fun and busy week here playing at home through the theme of our first summer Story Stretcher, Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor. With nicer weather than expected, we've enjoyed some extra time outdoors and even at some local parks. Now it's time to start thinking about getting things done for Shabbos tomorrow evening and still make time to entertain the busy boys in this house. This is the perfect time to insert a short stretch story stretcher--and maybe even one that will recruit an extra set of hands in the kitchen as we get ready for Shabbos. Stone Soup by Marcia Brown is the perfect candidate for the job!
This is a classic, award-winning tale of three hungry soldiers returning from the wars, seeking a meal and place to rest. When the townspeople, who are afraid of strangers are a bit less than hospitable, the clever soldiers give them a recipe fit for royalty and a feast they will not soon forget! This book is a great compliment to our rock theme this week and can inspire some great play activities, too.

I introduced our book during breakfast in the morning, bringing it to the table to read with S and Y. While S is almost always up for reading together, this book is a bit lengthy and I felt the table would be an ideal setting to read it together before beginning our busy morning. He has loved learning some new vocabulary this week related to rocks--like pebble and stone. Language development happens so naturally through reading together! S automatically took to his kitchen set after breakfast for some Stone Soup themed dramatic play. He got out his pots and a spoon, grabbed a rock from our shelf and got busy!

The proof is in the pudding here--story stretchers don't always need to involve preparation or direction from adults. Children naturally expand upon literature through play! I was certain he would enjoy our afternoon plans just as much when I invited him to the kitchen with me to help make our Shabbos soup, Stone Soup style!

But with such beautiful weather outside, we took to the play garden first to make some Stone Soup in the water table. Adding some rocks, toy dishes, a ladle and bowls, maybe even some play food if you wish, can turn your outdoor water table into the perfect setting for making Stone Soup. If your weather is less than cooperative, water play is fun in the kitchen as well or even in the bathtub.

One of our favorite Shabbos songs to sing is this one, to the tune of "London Bridges" about making soup!

Shabbat Soup Song
Put the chicken in the pot (hold arms out in a circle, like a pot)
Stir it up, nice and hot (stir your "pot")
Get it ready for Shabbat,
For Shabbat!

Children can insert their own ideas for ingredients and it's particularly fun to include props like a pot and pretend food/pictures of foods to add or to include hand motions.

You can build letter recognition by making alphabet soup
in the tub, water table or a plastic bin!
In the real kitchen,S loves to help wash vegetables for soup.I set out the veggies I needed washed in a large bowl for S along with a few carefully selected stones for our stone soup. Even once the veggies were recruited to the pot, S continued to have fun washing his stones! He can also help with my assistance/supervision to peel and cut veggies for soup and add things to the pot. He is always eager to get his step stool even if to just be alongside me as I cook! Including little ones in the kitchen when you have to be there anyway is a great way to feel a bit less lonely in there and spend time together. It definitely takes a bit longer with more hands in this case, but I'd rather entertain those little hands in the kitchen than have to run out to keep them out of mischief every few minutes! Helping to cook the foods we eat also builds skills in math/measuring, science, reading, following recipes, fine motor skills like pouring, peeling, cutting, scooping and mixing--and sometimes means that the pickier eaters in the family will try what we're serving for dinner. The added bonus on this occasion was that I was able to get done what I had to get done while connecting it to our theme and spending a bit of time with my little campers!

We've had a great week stretching out the story Everybody Needs a Rock. As we move on to our next story stretcher theme, I think S will like to continue playing with some of the materials from this one. Rocks are a great summer theme to explore! Here are some of the other activities we especially enjoyed this week:

Rocks to pebbles, pebbles to sand, I hold a million tiny rocks inside my little hands! We had a lot of fun observing sand through magnifying glasses, burying and discovering little rocks and pebbles and playing! And then we had a lot of fun cleaning up...

Chalk is a rock!

Graphite works just like our pencils!

Building our names with letter rocks

Rock n'Roll Painting with red paint on the letter R

We rocked out to some great music while rolling the rock through the paint inside the shoe box!

S loved using rocks in his water table--with and without water!

For some more great reading on rocks, we really loved these books:

  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
  • A Rock is Lively by Diana Hutts Aston
  • If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet by Leslie McGuirk
  • Stone Soup by: Marcia Brown
  • If You Find a Rock by Barbara Hirsch Lember and Peggy Christian

This little guy is a big lover of rocks!
We'll be back next week with our next Story Stretcher theme. Until then...

Happy Playing!

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