Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Beyond the Book: "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Numeroff

Who doesn't love cookies? And who doesn't love Laura Numeroff's classic original book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?! We are big fans of both in my house and such was the inspiration for this week's story stretcher. For our even younger early reader, I recently bought a copy of this companion board book by the same author, The Best Mouse Cookie. It makes a wonderful supplement to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and features the same mouse we all know and love as he bakes a batch of his very favorite cookies! Younger readers who are not quite yet ready for the longer classic may very well love this shorter story, while older early readers may enjoy the opportunity to see the familiar character and compare the two stories side by side!

There are a plethora of great activities and printables available over the internet for this book. It truly is a well appreciated childhood classic. It naturally encourages dramatic play, involving kids in the kitchen for some theme related snacks, and can inspire some fabulous crafts, games and learning activities. I love this free printable If You Give a Mouse a Cookie pack from We used and adapted some of the items for our story stretcher and saved/stashed the rest!

I love to introduce our target story with some themed dramatic play (photo above). I set out one of our favorite kitchen set toys, a cookie baking set made by Melissa & Doug, along with some homemade chefs hats for my chefs-in-training and an apron we bought for S to color and use earlier this summer from our local craft supply store. S also loves lacing activities (great for building those fine motor skills!) and got a real kick out of the lacing cookie I printed, laminated and prepared from the printable pack. You can get chefs hats quite often from restaurant supply stores, but making your own is quite simple.
You will need:

  • card stock or poster board for the band (I actually use sentence strips taped/stapled together to size)
  • tissue paper (white is most common, but as you can see, I like a splash of color!)
  • duct tape (optional) 
  • stapler (an adult's assistance is necessary)/tape
Using your poster board or sentence strips, measure a band to fit your junior chef's head and staple or tape to secure. Using one sheet of tissue paper, gather and staple around the perimeter of your band. I added duct tape over the band to reinforce the bottom and cover up the unsightly staples. Alternatively you could forego the stapler and tape your tissue paper to the inside. Your little ones will love this accessory, but be ware--if you give your budding baker a chef's hat, he will probably want to join you in the kitchen for some baking...

And that is exactly what we did! Grab your favorite recipe or baking mix for this next part because nothing goes with this book like a nice chocolate chip cookie and maybe even a glass of milk to go with it...

And if you're not quite up for baking cookies to eat, check out this cinnamon playdough recipe and our invitation to create name "cookies" using letter cookie cutters and baking accessories! Your kitchen will smell like you spent all day baking without any of the potential for gaining a dress size...
Speaking of snacks, I like to sneak some fun and learning into our story stretcher snacks as well. You know those healthy cereals you're proud to feed your kids? This isn't one of them. In fact, I think I had Cookie Crisp cereal for the first time ever when I was in college. Those tiny little vitamin fortified cookies may not be the best making for a complete breakfast, but they are perfect for an edible game! Using a printable from the previously mentioned printable pack, I slipped a picture of an empty plate with our favorite story mouse standing next to it inside a dry erase sleeve. You can laminate the page if you prefer, or leave it as is for a one-time use. You could also forego the printable altogether and just use an actual plate! Grab a dish of Cookie Crisp cereal and a die for rolling. S and I took turns rolling the die, counting the dots and counting out the corresponding number of cookies to put on the plate. We may or may not have lost count of how many ended up in our mouths...

 I love to sneak in letter review when we're doing story stretchers. S is also beginning preschool and will be learning about the letter Cc and shape of a circle this month. Cookie Monster said it best: C is for cookie! And we found a lot of circles in this story as well. This do-a-dot sheet is also available in the printable pack I linked above. You can use a bingo dabber like we did or have your early writer color in the C and use Cookie Crisp or circle stickers instead to fill in the circles!
 Reading comprehension is a huge part of early literacy development. Being able to understand and talk about what has happened in a story is a huge factor in both reading readiness as well as enjoyment of reading. Sequencing parts of a story is one way to work on reading comprehension and this story is perfectly designed for sequencing! Using another page in the printable pack and some number cards, I set up a story sequencing activity to do with S. We took a picture walk of the book together as we went over what happened first, second, third, and so on... Building sequencing skills not only helps your child to develop as a reader, but also helps in general communication and conversational skills. You know that age old question of "what did you do today?" that is so often met with a response of "I don't know" or "nothing"? Practicing sequencing activities can help build conversational skills to answer that question! It's a great thing to model for our young ones and a great thing to work on with them. Additionally, learning to recognize sequences through pictures and, later, written words, can help them to follow a schedule and recognize a routine. Who knew so much could be gained from a simple game about a mouse and a cookie...

And speaking of cookies...this tower of cookies looks good enough to eat! Size sequencing (from biggest to smallest or vice versa) is an equally important mathematical skill. I used another page from the printable pack, laminated, cut and added velcro dots (scratchy size) for use with our felt wall. Activities like this are great for traveling or using in a busy box or quiet time bag. They fit perfectly inside a pencil pouch or sheet protector inside a binder. You might even want to take it along for a story stretcher on the go! But if you give your early reader a game about cookies, he might get hungry and want to eat a cookie himself. And when he eats a cookie, he will remember reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie with you--and when he remembers that, chances are, he'll want to read it again!
Lucky for you, this a book worth reading and rereading. And if you happen to get tired of it, Laura Numeroff has written many, many more! Given the season, we have especially enjoyed reading "If You Take a Mouse to School." And S is especially enjoying the homemade cookies in his lunchbox this week! We'll be back soon with another story stretcher...until then, happy playing!

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