Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Beyond the Book: red sled by Lita Judge

There are some great children's books about winter out there and in many places across the country, the perfect weather conditions to go with it! We are very happy to see the return of above-subzero temperatures here and although most of our little snowfall has melted outside, S was eager to have another story stretcher this week about snow. I have a lot of favorite children's literature about winter, and we will likely have more than one winter themed story stretcher this season. Lita Judge's red sled seemed like a perfect selection for this afternoon.

This book is a fabulous read for young children (and older ones as well) as it contains very little text, amazing illustrations and a lot of great sound effects. (I dare you to teach your little ones the word onomatopoeia!) It is about a bear who takes a little boys' sled out for a joy ride, along with some of his forest friends, each and every night. Curious about the tracks and clues he observes in the morning, the little boy decides to stay awake and peek through the window to see what happens to his red sled each night. I love how this story naturally lends itself to further story telling for young readers and early writers alike. It also encourages careful observation of the natural world around us. And indeed, the winter months are a curious and wondrous time. Just yesterday, we observed a beautiful heron gracefully walking across the iced over creek on our way to the library. Today, the ice has nearly melted, the sun is out and there is barely anything left to sled on--perfect indoor conditions for a snowy story stretcher, nonetheless...

I like for our story stretchers to contain activities that both boys can do on their own level as well as a few that are more suited to S's level.
S and Y can both try their hands at this red sled craft. I created a basic template of a sled with a black and white clip art I found online. The boys can try a variety of red crayons, markers, slick stix, glue, tissue paper and even red tape (a favorite art supply of S's). At the end, I have a photo of each boy playing in the snow to glue on!

S and Y can also both enjoy some story drama and dramatic play in our baby safe Red Sled Snow Sensory Bin. I used potato flakes for snow and a collection of toy animals pictured in the book. I also painted a couple of wooden sleds red and tied on some red yarn ropes so the animals can go for the ride of a lifetime! Even with baby-safe sensory materials, I recommend supporting and supervising very little ones with sensory play. There are cute ways to make a wooden sled as well out of craft sticks and wood glue if you don't happen to have a wooden sled on hand and your little ones would probably love to help with it!

S is very young still when it comes to independently reading. He has a grasp of several letter sounds and letter recognition as well as rhyme awareness and I thought he might have fun with a little rhyming/word ending game based off the title of our target book, red sled.

In my DIY "red sled rhyme time game" I created a template with a picture of a red sled and the text ____ed. I affixed the page to a metal cookie sheet (from the dollar store) and created a set of "little books" with a word ending in -ed that rhymes with "sled" on the "front cover" and a corresponding picture inside. Using a set of magnetic letters, we will build a collection of rhyming words including "red," "sled," "bed," "wed," "shed," "led," and "fed." Children gain phonemic awareness at different ages and I definitely do not advocate for pushing preschool aged children further than they are ready for. If, however, a child is interested in activities like this or finds them to be enjoyable, I include it in a multi-sensory approach for introducing literacy and a lifelong love of learning.

S will surely be a fan of this letter Ss craft, being that it is both the first letter of his name and a snowman! It's a simple add-on activity should we have the time with this story stretcher or later in the week. He may also enjoy using the snowman shaped book in the photo at the top to dictate/draw his own winter story. He has been very into telling stories lately and while he is not writing letters or words at this stage, he is beginning to make the connection that stories have a lot to do with the marks he sees in his favorite books. Writers at this stage can greatly benefit from opportunities at their own level to become publishes authors, and what better way to inspire and support them than to provide them with a book!

This is such a great, albeit, simple read for a wintry afternoon. Whether you're knee deep in snow or enjoying a little thaw, happy reading and, as always, happy playing!

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