Tips for Timid Trick-or-Treaters

Lana Button Blog

Tips for Timid Trick-or-Treaters

Admit it. You’ve been counting down the days to Halloween ever since you bought that perfect costume for your preschooler. You’re drooling over the picture taking possibilities!

But as an early childhood educator who’s worked with preschool children for more than 20 years, I am here to warn you: I’ve seen many children decide that, come the big day, they want nothing to do with Halloween. And I’ve seen shocked and disappointed parents caught up in a power struggle.

She may have loved the whole idea of Halloween a few days ago, but come October 31st, your little one might decide she’s not ready.

So prepare yourself with a couple of back-up plans so you and your timid trick-or-treater can enjoy the festivities.

  • Don’t be shocked if your trick-or-treater decides his costume is too itchy, too hot, too heavy or just too freaky. Maybe…

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Packaging Inspiration, Literacy and a Little Magic for Rainforest of Reading

It was my first packing party, so I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the warehouse in Bolton early Friday morning. I’d been invited to help pack books and supplies headed for Saint Lucia and Grenada as part of the Rainforest of Reading Festival.  http://rainforestofreading.org                 logo_ror

The Rainforest of Reading is an annual children’s book festival run by OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation http://oneworldschoolhouse.org. This amazing program, which is the largest literacy initiative for this underprivileged and developing region, invites 8,500 students in grades 3 and 4 to read 12 Canadian books and attend a national celebration.

The goal of the program is to transform lives through literacy. OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation believes that literacy is deeply connected to individual success, empowerment, and prosperity, and that reading can activate social change. Their simple but profound mission statement is: “Books can take you places you’ve never been before. Imagine That!”

During the Rainforest of Reading Festival these Eastern Caribbean children are encouraged to envision a world of possibilities beyond their classroom. With their very own Rainforest “passport” students take a literary journey through the Rainforest of Reading, earning stickers for each book read. And on the last day of the festival, the children enjoy a national celebration that includes a parade, literacy based games, activities, songs, Bananagrams, and even opportunities to meet and chat with some of the authors and illustrators.

I’m so sad that I won’t be there, but am incredibly proud and honored that Willow will. Willow Finds a Way is one of the 12 books chosen by the festival organizers to be boxed up and sent so far away in an effort to inspire and educate young children.               books

I cannot thank OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation enough for this opportunity. As I wrote this story, about a little girl’s challenge to find a way to speak out against unfair treatment of her friends, it was my hope that it might both entertain and inspire young children. I love nothing more than to read this story out loud to children, but the true magic of picture books is that Willow’s story can travel to places beyond my reach, and can hopefully provide inspiration to children I will never meet. The OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation is made up of incredibly hard working dedicated volunteers who believe in the power of picture books. I was so inspired by their dedication as we spent the day packing up these very special boxes. And although I can’t be there to meet the children taking part in the festival, I’m so very proud that, thanks to The Rainforest of Reading, Willow Finds a Way gets to be!

 

The 12 lucky books taking part in the 2014 Rainforest of Reading Festival are:

  • Unknown-1Don’t Laugh at Giraffe by Rebecca Bender (Pajama Press)
  • Unknown-2Willow Finds a Way by Lana Button, Illustrated by Tania Howells (
Kids Can Press)
  • Unknown-3Skink on the Brink by Lisa Dalrymple, Illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo (Fitzhenry & Whiteside.)
  • Unknown-4Postcards from Space: The Chris Hadfield Story by Heather Down (Echo Books/Wintertickle Press)  
  • 1554552508Gabby by Joyce Grant, Illustrated by Jan Dolby (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
  • Unknown-5And the Winner is…Amazing Animal Athletes by Etta Kaner, Illustrated by 
David Anderson (Kids Can Press)
  • Unknown-6Pterosaur Trouble by Daniel Loxton, illustrated with Jim
W. W. Smith (Kids Can Press)
  • Unknown-7Mr. Flux by Kyo Maclear, Illustrated by Matte Stephens (Kids Can Press)
  • Unknown-8Anna Carries Water by Olive Senior, Illustrated by Laura James (Tradewind Books.)
  • Unknown-9Kenta and the Big Wave by Ruth Ohi (Annick Press)
  • Unknown-10My Name is Blessing by Eric Walters, Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (Tundra Books)
  • cover_lrg Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot? by Beryl Young, Illustrated by Jason Doll (Peanut Butter Press)

 

You can donate to The Rainforest of Reading at canadahelps.org

One World Schoolhouse Foundation
 can be contacted at: (519) 316-0059


Their email: sonyawhite@oneworldschoolhouse.org

Their website: http://oneworldschoolhouse.org

Their address: 40 Woodland Court Caledon, ON L7K 0C2

Picture Books that Can Start a Conversation about Depression

Like the rest of the world, I am so saddened by the death of Robin Williams. He brought us so much joy and laughter. It’s heartbreaking to think of the suffering he endured through his battle with depression.
What more can be done to help people overcome this silent torture? For those of us who suffer, please try, a little harder, to talk about it. Your loved ones want so badly to help you. We just can’t see the inner torture that you are sometimes so good at hiding.
And for the rest of us, we need to listen- harder. We need to empathize. We need to rid the world of the negative stigma attached to mental health issues.
Let’s raise a generation who doesn’t judge and ridicule those who suffer, but strives to lend support and understanding. Here is a collection of picture books that can open the doors of communication with young ones dealing with depressed feelings, or living with someone who is feeling depressed.

Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear (Kids Can Press, 2012 )     Unknown copy
is an incredible story about Vanessa and her sister, Virginia, who is in a ‘wolfish mood’. The story, loosely based on the relationship between author Virginia Woolf and her sister, painter Vanessa Bell, not only illustrates the strong hold that depression can take on an individual, it also describes the desperation others feel in an effort to ‘cheer their loved one up.’ Vanessa says, “the whole house sank. Up became down. Bright became dim.” The words and the illustrations provide literal and metaphorical glimpses into the effects that real depression can have on an individual and on those who love her.
Kirkus said in its review that the story “works beautifully as a bad-day/bad-mood or animal-transformation tale, while readers who know actual depression will find it handled with tenderly forceful aplomb.”

Frog is Sad by Max Velthuijs (Random house UK, 2014)       076457499X.01._AA100_PU_PU-5_

Frog wakes up one morning feeling sad, but he’s not sure why. His friends try a variety of things to cheer him up, and eventually his sadness is gone. This story acknowledges that when a person is depressed there often isn’t a ‘reason’ for them being sad. They just are.

When Sophie Gets Angry by Molly Bang (Scholastic, 1999)              Unknown-1
In this story Sophie isn’t sad, she’s really, really angry. The words and the illustrations do a terrific job in getting these powerful emotions across to young children. What I love about this story is that it doesn’t apologize for raw emotions. And eventually Sophie is able to get ahold of those emotions. She’s given time and space to work through the emotions. And her family is there with love and support when she is able to return to them.

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard (Scholastic, 2007)                 Unknown-3
Bird wakes up grumpy. Too grumpy to eat, play—or even fly. “Looks like I’m walking today,” says Bird grumpily.”
His friends join him in his walk. And somewhere along the way Bird realizes that his friends have stuck with him and his grumpy mood is gone. I love that the friends in the story don’t try to ‘fix the problem’ with a variety of suggestions or reasons for Bird not to be grumpy. They just walk with him, supporting him until the mood lifts.

It’s not our job to make children sad. It’s not our job to overwhelm them with scary information on a disease they can’t fix. But it is our job to teach our children that our emotions can be very powerful. And we deal with those emotions by both seeking and giving understanding and support. And I believe a great picture book can help start that conversation.

What’s in Your Lunch?

What’s in YOUR Lunch?

We’ve had two exciting inquiries pop up this week, both relating to what the children are eating. A child, who was enjoying snack with a group of children, brought to our attention that there was a seed in his orange. “That’s very interesting! Does anyone else have a seed in their food?” That’s all it took! A book was soon being constructed, and the children were eager to add a page to “I Have Seeds in my Lunch”. Our Health and Nutrition strand definitely came into play as it was determined that any food that contained seeds was a healthy choice.

After a quick trip to our library, we soon had lots of reference materials regarding fruit and seeds and our science table was transformed with donations of seeds found and labeled.

And things really got interesting when it was discovered that some seeds were on the inside of the fruit, while others were on the outside! Extracting those strawberry seeds took a great amount of patience and concentration! (pic)Image

Our light table made a perfect spot for displaying baggies of seeds. The children organized the seeds from biggest to smallest. We will soon discover what happens when those seeds are planted in soil! I can’t wait to share with them the beautiful picture book If You Hold a Seed by Elly MacKay Image

I also shared Karma Wilson’s beautiful Mortimer’s First Garden with the children, and we discussed the miracle of growth from one little seed.Image

And it just so happens that another child brought in chopsticks to eat his sushi. The children were amazed by this utensil, which got us talking about how we eat our food. The story, Maggie’s Chopsticks by Alan Woo came to mind, Image

so I quickly ran back to our library. It wasn’t available (heading to the public library this week!) so I was introduced to a new story, Chopsticks by Amy Krouse Rosenthal Image

We began charting information about whether we prefer to use a fork, a spoon, or chopsticks with different types of foods. 

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The next day, upon further reflection, the children realized that there were lots of foods they ate using just their hands, so we added a column to our chart. Image

During lunch, the conversation was extended as we observed how our friends were eating. We decided to take a survey,

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And it was determined that most of the children ate their lunch with their hands. This brought on the conversation about the importance of washing our hands before lunch!

All this talk about food inspired a change in our dramatic center. There’s now a bustling restaurant set up, complete with signs and a menu. The cash register is being put to great use and the children are doing a terrific job regulating who prepares the food, who delivers the food and who will be the customers.

Through a lot of exciting exploration we covered every strand of learning with these two inquiries. As Elly MacKay so beautifully illustrates, “It truly is magical what can come from one little seed!”

Emergent Curriculum and the Olympics

There’s still a lot of confusion around emergent curriculum. What exactly is it? I’ll start with what it’s not. Emergent curriculum is not chaos or letting children do whatever they want. It is not the elimination of plans. Emergent curriculum starts with a spark- an interest from the child. And it requires adults who know the curriculum expectations of each learning area inside and out (mathematics, language, science and technology, arts and personal social development). These adults, who also know where each child is on their learning journey, encourage the spark. They provide children with materials to inquire, to investigate and to discover.  And they infuse the curriculum expectations into that discovery. Finally, they document when children demonstrate this learning.

But the first step to encouraging that spark is helping children identify what they already know. And so, with the excitement of the Olympics, our class has started with what we know, and I’m going to do whatever I can to encourage this Olympic spark!

We started with the rings. On the day of the opening ceremonies many children came to class with an Olympic spark.

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I pulled up some cool pictures of Olympians posing on the rings, which the children found very interesting.

http://www.businessinsider.com/athletes-sochi-photos-olympic-rings-2014-2

I asked them to help me figure out how many rings and which colours we’d need to make our own Olympic symbols. We did a search around the room to find an object just the right size and shape for our prints, reviewing what we already knew about shapes, counting and colour. The results were some pretty terrific pieces of art, accompanied by some great writing.

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(*I was told that the ‘exclamation heart’ depicts the child’s love and excitement for the Olympics)

The sports

I asked a child, “What sports do they play in the winter games?” He started a list of sports, and shared it with the class. This is what we know now. As we watch the games I am confident the children’s knowledge of these games will expand and they will add to this list. Creating a list is a language component in the FDK program.

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I plan to introduce the story Snowy Sports, Ready Set Play by Per-Henrik Gurth to the children.

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http://www.kidscanpress.com/canada/Snowy-Sports-P5898.aspx

 

The opening ceremonies

Technology really came in handy as we set up a smart board and watched the CBC Sports live stream of the opening ceremonies. The children were free to choose a different activity but most were engrossed by the event. They were fascinated to learn that the games were so far away that it was nighttime when it started. They were fascinated with our discussion of a ‘live feed’ and that the events were happening as they watched. And they were fascinated with the flags! Some children were thrilled and proud to point out countries they were born in or had visited. And we all cheered as the Canadian athletes paraded in. It definitely started a ‘spark’ about countries around the world.

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We’ve started mapping

After the opening ceremonies, I put up a large map of the world and invited children to come help me find countries. “What do we know about countries?” I asked.

“We live in Canada!” So we added a bright sticky label over Canada.

We also labeled Spain and Italy, as two children excitedly told me that was where they were born.

“I’ve been to Florida!”

“And Florida is a state in the United States of America, let’s label that country,” I said.

“Where is are the Olympics taking place?”

“Sochi Russia!” We added a bright sticky over the spot over Sochi, and another sticky over Burlington, Ontario so we could see the distance.

This is what the children know now. As we continue observing and inquiring about these flags and these countries taking part in the games, I’m sure we will add to this knowledge (and cover many math, science and language expectations while we’re at it!)

I’ve ordered a copy of P is for Passport: A World Alphabet by Devin Scillian and hope it arrives before the closing ceremonies!! https://sleepingbearpress.com/shop/show/11292

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 The medal count- I’m anticipating that at least some children will arrive Monday morning excited about the medals. And we’re holding on to the smart board and the CBC Sports live stream and I plan to show highlights of the races, the medal ceremonies and the medal count. My plan is to ask the children what they know about the medal count, invite them to investigate with me what has occurred over the weekend and co-construct with me a chart listing countries and the medal count. I will be armed with gold, silver and bronze stickers and am so excited to get this started! This chart will cover many areas of the math and language curriculum.

 I’ve also covered our visual arts board with white paper as some children showed an interest in making a winter games collage. I will re-introduce this interest on Monday morning, and make sure the markers are set to go!

 It’s Sunday morning, and although I do not have a scheduled lesson plan written out with specific tasks for children to do, I’ve got my spark, I’ve got my learning goals in mind and I’ve got a plan.

 

Common Core- Meet Inquiry Based Story Time!

 

In a recent Open Book Blog entitled Compare and Contrast with the Common Core in Kindergarten, http://networkedblogs.com/TcvVz Jill Eisenberg compares the 8 page level A reader MEAT PIES by Celenia Chevere and Patricia M. Hubert (about a boy who makes Empanadas with his grandmother) with the 8 page level C reader TIME FOR TACOS by Carla Golembe  (about a boy who makes tacos with his dad.) Eisenberg describes how to dissect these two stories in order to meet the common core curriculum of comparing and contrasting.  Can I make another suggestion?

Story time is an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast text. There are tons of terrific picture books just begging to be used in a ‘compare and contrast’ manner!

Have you shared HOW COLD WAS IT? by Jan Barclay, yet?Image http://books.google.ca/books/about/How_Cold_Was_It.html?id=jy2XbiWp5cEC&redir_esc=y

 Imagine the fun of comparing the scenes with such extreme weather contrast, when you then share her story, HOW HOT WAS IT?  Imagehttp://www.amazon.ca/How-Hot-Was-Jane-Barclay/dp/1894222709

I guarantee you’ll not only cover your common core literacy comparison and contrast, these two picture books will spark conversation, exploration and inquiry into temperature that will cover many math and science strands as well.

I love to compare and contrast different versions of folk and fairy tales. I’ve started with the classic Little Golden Book, LITTLE RED HEN by Diane Mudrow,Image http://www.amazon.com/The-Little-Red-Golden-Book/dp/0307960307

and then introduced another version of the storyImage

http://www.amazon.ca/The-Little-Red-Paul-Galdone/dp/0899193498

The children love identifying the similarities and differences of each version.  And they become very excited when yet another version is discovered.Image

http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com/books/Little-Red-Hen-Byron-Barton/?isbn13=9780060216757&tctid=100

I’ve invited children to look through their fairy tale collections at home and bring in a version if they have one. We’ve charted the differences in the versions told (ie, sometimes the little red hen has chicks, sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes her friends are a dog, cat and rat, sometimes they are a duck, pig and dog etc.) And with all this talk about bread- we just had to bake bread one day!  So not only are you covering your common core comparison and contrasting of the key ideas and details of each story, the structure, and the relationship between illustration and print in each story, you are adding the language, math and science exploration of reading the recipe and baking the bread.

And can you imagine the excitement when we found a version where the Little Red Hen and her friends live in a high-rise apartment in the middle of the city, and she’s making pizza!Image

 http://www.amazon.ca/The-Little-Red-Makes-Pizza/dp/0142301892

We were going to town, comparing the ingredients of these two items. (and the pizzas we ended up making were delicious!)

Introduce some felt pieces to your felt board, some puppets to your theatre, and suddenly children are telling (and eventually writing) their own creative version of the Little Red Hen.

 

If your children like the latest Jon Klassen story, THIS IS NOT MY HATImage

http://www.amazon.com/This-Is-Not-My-Hat/dp/0763655996

about a tiny fish who has swiped someone’s hat, they will have a blast comparing and contrasting that story with Klassen’s  original, I WANT MY HAT BACKImage

http://www.amazon.ca/I-Want-My-Hat-Back/dp/0763655988 which has the same visual dead-pan humor but is told through the eyes of the ‘victim’, as apposed to the ‘perpetrator’.

Part of our job, as educators, is to be greats story tellers. We need to guide children through stimulating conversation regarding the stories they hear. (Think of yourself as the leader of your very young book club.) When we invite children to make connections and identify comparisons in a picture book, we provide an opportunity for each child to make a deeper connection with the book. This does so much more than cover curriculum; this plants the seed for a lifelong love of reading.