Monday, March 10, 2014

We're Buggy for NEA's Read Across America Day!

Did you make special plans for NEA's Read Across America Day?  My grandson and I celebrated this year's event with a spectacular insect unit!  If you missed my previous blog post, be sure to take a peek:

Remember the caterpillar tote bag?  It was loaded with enough goodies to keep us busy for an entire week:                    

Let's take a look at the first group of items:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This all-time favorite not only follows the very hungry caterpillar as it grows from egg to cocoon to beautiful butterfly, but also teaches the days of the week, counting, good nutrition and more. Striking pictures and cleverly die-cut pages offer interactive fun.

Eric Carle has the most comforting voice:

And here's the adorable craft that we made:

It's a "Very Hungry Caterpillar" Specimen Jar!

I can't take credit for this fabulous idea, though.  I ran across photos of a "creepy crawly birthday party" on the internet and thought this craft would be perfect for our insect unit.  However, I opted to use a plastic jar for safety reasons.  We used two shades of green pom-poms for the caterpillar's body, a red one for his head, and a brown pipe cleaner for his antennas.  The leaf is made out of green construction paper that we hole-punched.  I painted the caterpillar's face to save time.  Too cute!

Next up...

Pictured on the left:

Katy Duck by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Illustrations by Henry Cole

Meet Katy -- a feisty ballerina-in-the-making who loves to twirl like a leaf, stretch like a flower, and float like a swan. She's all dance, all the time -- until she faces the fear of dancing in front of everyone in her new ballet class at Mr. Tutu's School of Dance! Suddenly the once-bold Katy is overcome with a bad case of stage fright! What's a duck to do?

Kids will relate to this fun, charming story about the shyness that can grip all of us at times...and our inner star that refuses to be denied!

And pictured on the right:

Katy Duck Is a Caterpillar by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Illustrated by Henry Cole

It's time for Katy Duck’s spring dance recital and as usual Katy is looking forward to taking the stage by storm. But she’s not cast not as a daffodil or the bright sun or even a fluffy cloud. Katy is cast as a caterpillar. A wiggling, crawling caterpillar. As usual Katy has to learn to manage disappointment and as only Katy can do turn a small part into the starring role as she realizes that caterpillars always emerge as beautiful butterflies. This lovely springtime story is a lovely tale of making everything your own and making every part count, no matter how small. It will be truly appreciated by preschoolers and ballerinas cast as caterpillars everywhere.

(Click here to order the plush doll.)

Katy Duck is a favorite around our house, so I had to add her caterpillar story to our unit.  She's such a lovable character.  I went to the author's website and found lots of fun activities to go along with each book.  Here's the first item that we selected:

And here's the second:

It's a story sequencing activity!
(Click here for printables.)

I decided to laminate the sequencing cards, so they could be used over and over again. There's a strong possibility that I may go back to teaching preschool next year.  I really miss being in the classroom. =) 

This next picture book is fresh off the press:

Superworm by Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

A wacky new adventure from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, starring a truly unforgettable hero!

Toad in trouble? Beetle in a jam? Never fear -- Superworm is here! And he's wiggling to the rescue!

But when Superworm is captured by a wicked Wizard Lizard, will his friends find a way to help their favorite superhero escape?

From the creators of Stick Man and Room on the Broom, a super new adventure with a wriggly, squiggly hero you'll never forget.

We are huge fans of the Donaldson and Scheffler team.  I ordered their board book Room on the Broom back in October.  Here's the link to that post:

And here's our follow-up activity for Superworm:

Flowerpot Dirt Cakes!
(Click here for the recipe.)

Don't let this beautiful snapshot fool you, though. This was the messiest project I have ever attempted. The floor and counters in my kitchen looked like a gardening shed by the time we finished. I highly recommend crushing the majority of Oreo cookies in advance. I'd also use a food processor versus my ancient blender. Cut the recipe in half unless you are preparing it for a large group.  I added a few drops of green food color to the cream cheese mixture as well.

Note: You can find the small ceramic pots at your local craft store. I lined ours with plastic cups because I don't trust porous materials even after they've been washed. We added bows and plastic flowers to the handle of each green spoon.  Delicious!

I borrowed this next picture book from my daughter.  My grandson made me read it twice, and then acted out the story for hours.  I'd say that makes it a winner:

Ladybug Girl and Bingo by Jacky Davis
Illustrations by David Soman

Lulu and her dog Bingo the basset hound are best friends. Whenever they play outside, Bingo always stays close by Lulu’s side. When they go camping for the first time, Lulu does her best to be responsible and hold tight to Bingo’s leash. But what happens when Bingo wants to explore the forest on his own and runs off? This is a job for Ladybug Girl! She will find Bingo in time for toasting marshmallows at the campfire.

For fans of Fancy Nancy and Toot and Puddle, the Ladybug Girl series honors a love of the outdoors, family, and creativity!

And here's what we did as a follow-up:

Ladybug Appetizers!
(Click here for the recipe.)

This was a simple cooking project, which is what we needed after those darn dirt cakes.  We used a paint brush to add the black dots.  We'll be making these yummy snacks again!

(This would be ideal for a preschool group.)

My grandson laughed and laughed at this next title.  I think it's especially amusing for little boys:

The Fly Flew In
An I Like to Read® Book Level C
Written and Illustrated by David Catrow

A fly enters a concert hall and causes a commotion among audience and performers alike in this laugh-out-loud-funny and easy-to-read picture book.

In the wake of a fly's flight, a wig flips, eyeglasses fall, and a lollipop is launched. Musicians BANG and BOOM as they try to get that fly! All fail, and the chaos culminates when an overzealous singer, fly-swatter in hand, leaps off the stage. The audience applauds enthusiastically for the greatest display of showmanship they have ever seen.

David Catrow pays homage to the slapstick films of the last century with masterfully rendered artwork and an understated text that has a music of its own. He has illustrated many best-selling and highly regarded picture books. This is his first book for Holiday House.

We did this as a follow-up activity:

Here are the lyrics for that song:

(Click here for the free printable.)

And here's an old favorite of ours:

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback

An old favorite as you've never seen it before!

Everyone knows the song about the old lady who swallowed a fly, a spider, a bird, and even worse, but who's ever seen what's going on inside the old lady's stomach? With this inventive die-cut artwork, Simms Taback gives us a rollicking, eye-popping version of the well-loved poem.

I made this puppet several years ago and Ben loves playing with it:

I can't seem to locate the original template online, but there are plenty of other ideas floating around.  You might consider ordering the doll set.  It's a bit expensive, though:

I picked up this next picture book at the SCBWI Florida Regional Conference in Miami. I was thrilled to meet the author and get it signed for my grandson:

It's A Firefly Night by Dianne Ochiltree
Illustrated by Betsy Snyder

A favorite childhood activity - catching fireflies - glow from the pages of this story-with-a-counting-concept offering. With rhyming lines that read like a song, It's a Firefly Night chronicles the capture and release of fireflies, one by one, sparking the reader to count up to and down from ten. The book is capped off with a page of interesting firefly facts (they flash in rhythmic patterns to send messages!), adding a touch of accessible nonfiction to this charming, not-just-for-bedtime book. It's a terrific gift, a great winding-down-at-bedtime selection, a lovely story for a parent and child to share. With glittering sparklers lighting up each page, any night can be a firefly night!

(Click here to see a list of Dianne's books.)

And here are a few ideas for follow-up activities:

(Click here and scroll down for the author's Story Hour Kit.)

We also made a firefly craft using the original templates from the author's website.  It looks similar to the image on the book's cover.  You'll need two shades of yellow paper, glitter paint for added sparkle, and fine gold glitter to sprinkle between a self-seal laminating pouch:

(These are great for hanging in a window!)

Next up... 

I'm always thrilled to add more fables to my collection, and these two did not disappoint:

The Little Red Ant and the Great Big Crumb by Shirley Climo
Illustrations by Francisco Mora

This distinctly Mexican version of an old fable found in Spain, Portugal, and France is retold and updated by a well-known storyteller. The little red ant has found a wonderful crumb, but she's not strong enough to carry it all the way home. Going from one creature to the next, asking for help, the little red ant is surprised to discover who is the strongest of all. Spanish words add to the text's Mexican flavor, and bold, playful illustrations, hinting at what's coming next, make this story a real "page-turner."

And here's the second one:

Ant and Grasshopper by Luli Gray
Illustrations by Giuliano Ferri

When Ant spies a carefree Grasshopper playing a fiddle outside on the lawn, Ant immediately harrumphs at the insect's foolishness and continues to go about his very serious business of gathering and counting his food for the winter. But Ant finds Grasshopper's music and whimsy more catchy than he'd like, and soon he's distracted by his own rhyming and doodling! When the harsh winter hits and Ant finds Grasshopper cold and hungry in the snow, he can't help but bring him inside. Only after opening his home to Grasshopper does Ant realize that music, dancing, and laughter have their place in his life, too. Luli Gray's funny twist on this fable will have readers giggling and singing. With Giuliano Ferri's lush and whimsical illustrations, this book is both heartwarming and lovely to behold.

(The illustrations are amazing!)

We sang this popular tune as a follow-up activity:

The Ants Go Marching

The ants go marching one by one . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching one by one . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching one by one
The little one stops to suck his thumb
And they all go marching
Down, to the ground
Boom, Boom, Boom

The ants go marching two by two . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching two by two . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching two by two
The little one stops to tie his shoe
And they all go marching
Down, to the ground
Boom, Boom, Boom

The ants go marching three by three . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching three by three . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching three by three
The little one stops cause he skinned his knee
And they all go marching
Down, to the ground
Boom, Boom, Boom

The ants go marching four by four . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching four by four . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching four by four
The little one stops to shut the door
And they all go marching
Down to the ground
Boom Boom Boom

And let's not forget about Little Miss Muffet:

(I love hanging these types of posters on the walls of my grandson's playroom.)

We're planning to do a super fun unit that's all about Little Miss Muffet next week.  Click on this link for details:

I ordered this resource book to go along with it:

Check out the cover:

(Hope it gets here soon!)

And here's another popular title that's on my wish list:

The Itsy Bitsy Spider
Illustrated by Iza Trapani
As told by Iza Trapani

Over 1 Million Copies Sold!

The spirited and irresistible itsy bitsy spider has captured the hearts of generations of children by climbing up that water spout. Now she's back—on a new magical journey!
This all-new itsy bitsy spider has exciting encounters with a fan, a mouse, a rocking chair, a cat and a big maple tree. Finally, the itsy bitsy spider finds a lovely spot to rest and spin a new silky web. Children will enjoy time and again the delightful adventures of the energetic itsy bitsy spider.

(Click here for a fun craft activity.)

And if you are looking for more ideas...

Here are a few bug-related books and crafts that we've done in the past:

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature
Written by Joyce Sidman
Illustrations by Beth Krommes

A Caldecott medalist and a Newbery Honor-winning poet celebrate the beauty and value of spirals.What makes the tiny snail shell so beautiful? Why does that shape occur in nature over and over again—in rushing rivers, in a flower bud, even inside your ear?

With simplicity and grace, Krommes and Sidman not only reveal the many spirals in nature—from fiddleheads to elephant tusks, from crashing waves to spiraling galaxies—but also celebrate the beauty and usefulness of this fascinating shape.

(Click here to read my original post about this picture book.)

You might fancy this one too:

Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly by Jane O'Connor
Illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser

Nancy thinks butterflies are simply exquisite. And that is why she can't wait for her friend Bree's Butterfly Birthday. It's going to be the fanciest birthday party ever! But when Nancy finds out she can't go because her grandparents' fiftieth anniversary party is the same day, she is furious. (Mad is way too plain for how she feels.) Will Nancy be able to overcome her disappointment?

In this magical new story from bestselling duo Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser, everybody's favorite fancy girl gets a surprise lesson in fancy from her grandparents. Looks like fancy runs in the family after all!

We made these butterflies for a colorful craft activity:

(Click here for links.)

And here's a picture book from last year's Dr. Seuss Birthday Unit:

On Beyond Bugs by Tish Rabe
Illustrations by Aristides Ruiz

Find out all you ever wanted to know about insects when the Cat and company get an up-close view of life as a bug. Kids will learn how insects -- from the spittlebug to the honeybee to the moth -- see, smell, communicate, and pollinate, as well as sometimes pester and amaze and generally make life better for us humans. Catch the bug buzz with the Cat in the Hat and all his friends!

And check out our Busy Bees! File Folder Game:


I also made this sorting activity using the same mason jar template:

As you can see, we had a grand celebration.  And now I'm off to collect each and every plastic bug.  I wouldn't want one of them to surprise me later.  Chow!

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