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Archive for book recommendation

Great Picture Books and Activities for Celebrating the 4th of July!

Great books and activities for Celebrating the 4th of July at School4Boys

The 4th of July is just a week away, and I decided to put together a set of books to help us learn a bit more about the holiday, and the history behind it. Big A., is very interested in historical stories if they are told in an interesting way (a bit like his mom), so I wanted to find fun stories that were accessible for my little guys, but also show the meaning and history behind the celebrations.

 

I also did my best to look for stories that offered many different kinds of diversity. I tried to find stories that featured diversity of setting, ways of celebrating, and of race and ethnicity.

 

It took a little investigation, but I think I found some good ones…

4th of July Picture Book: The Story of America's Birthday

The Story of America’s Birthday – written by Patricia A. Pingry illustrated by Meredith Johnson

This is a short and simple book that makes the connection between the Declaration of Independence, The American Revolution, and Independence Day celebrations remarkably accessible to preschoolers.

 

4th of July picture book: Red White and Boom!Red, White, and Boom – written by Lee Wardlaw and illustrated by Huy Voun Lee

This fun and gentle text shows diverse and loving families enjoying themselves in all sorts of traditional 4th of July celebrations in sites all over the country.

 4th of July picture book : Betsy RossBetsy Ross – written by Becky White and illustrated by Megan Lloyd

This bright, colorful, and fun text tells the story of Betsy Ross, and the making of the American flag for young children. A “Betsy Ross” star cutting activity ends the book.

 

4th of July picture books : CelebrationCelebration – written by Jane Resh Thomas and illustrated by Raul Colon

This is the story of one extended family’s 4th of July house party. Full of and familiar family characters, situations, and ways of celebrating that any family can relate to. The illustrations add to family warmth of this book.

 

4th of July Picture Books: The 4th of July StoryThe 4th of July Story – written by Alice Dalgliesh and illustrated by Marie Nonnast

A work of historical fiction, with an emphasis on the history, this book brings the story of our county’s founding to life for kids.

 

4th of July books: Hats off for the Fourth of JulyHats off for the Fourth of July – written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Gustaf Miller –

This book captures the excitement and fun of a 4th of July Parade in a small Northeastern town with rhyming text and humorous illustrations.

 

4th of July picture books: The One and Only Declaration of IndependenceThe Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence – written by Judith St. George and illustrated by Will Hellenbrand

This book is a gem, and it tells the true story of the great challenges and adventures of the historical document that paved the way for the freedoms in this country. As someone who has an interest in American history, there were many things in this book that I did not know, and it reads like an adventure story.

 

4th of July Picture Books : Hello America

Hello America! – written and illustrated by Martha Day Zschock and illustrated by

This colorful and playful board book for young children follows a baby eagle and his mother on a trip through America’s historic places. The cartoon eagles are fabulous and the Littles love it!!!

 

4th of July Picture BooksApple Pie 4th of July – written by Janet S. Wong and illustrated by Margaret Chodos Irvine

This is a very different kind of 4th of July story, and it features a first generation Chinese American child whose immigrant parents run a restaurant. This story beautifully captures the cultural difficulties that often face the children of immigrants, and demonstrates that the combining of different cultures is truly what creates American culture.

 

4th of July Picture Books: America The BeautifulAmerica the Beautiful – poem by Katherine Lee Bates and illustrated by Chriss Gall

America the Beautiful – poem by Katherine Lee Bates and illustrated by Wendell Minor

America the Beautiful – poem by Katherine Lee Bates and illustrated by Robert Sabuda

America the Beautiful – poem by Katherine Lee Bates and illustrated by Neil Waldman

Each of these four books contains the text of the beautiful poem written by Katherine Lee Bates, and which was first published for Independence Day in 1885. This poem, focusing on the beauty of the United States, is illustrated in four very different ways in these four picture books. I find them all beautiful, and all interesting. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I am a sucker for the elaborate paper engineering done in Sabuda’s book. To call it a pop-up seems demeaning, because it is truly amazing. Just one of these books, or the collection of all four together, could encourage a creative family to document their own America The Beautiful in an artistic way.

 

I’ve also found some really creative and fun holiday projects and activities that we are trying this week…

 

Here is a fun flag hand print art activity from b-inspired Mama! We are going to try this by cutting out paper hands and painting on them, rather than doing the painting directly on the kids’ hands because Big A. doesn’t want the paint on his hands, and hand painting is a little difficult for me to manage with all three right now.

4th of July crafts - handprint flag painting

http://b-inspiredmama.com/2012/05/kids-craft-patriotic-hand-print/

 

Here is a collection of great flag inspired crafts from Kids Activities Blog …

4th of July - American flag crafts for kids

http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/53337/30-american-flag-crafts

 

A super cute idea for making red, white and blue t-shirts at home from Cutesy Crafts…

4th of July - cute t-shirt craft

http://cutesycrafts.com/2014/06/diy-eraser-stamped-4th-july-shirt.html

 

Here is another large collection of fun looking craft ideas from All Kids Network. We are going to try the star guy!

4th of July - crafts

http://www.allkidsnetwork.com/crafts/4th-of-july/

 

I hope you find a book, or an activity that helps your family enjoy your 4th of July this year.

Happy Reading!

 

Tracy :-)

 

 

 

 

 

A Halloween Treat – The Spooky Box by Mark Gonyea

spooky-box

Tomorrow is Halloween, so I thought it would be a nice time to share a fun book that has become a favorite at School4Boys this week.

The Spooky Box

Written and illustrated by Mark Gonyea

Henry Holt and Co., 2013

 

What is inside the spooky box? It could be spiders, rats, or evil puppets, but the author/Illustrator won’t tell. YOU, dear reader, will have to just imagine that for yourself.

 

This book is fun, interactive, and just a little bit spooky. Utilizing just three colors and very simple shapes, the illustrations are bold and graphically stunning. Partnering with those fantastic pictures the text uses a nervous narrator, and the building of tension to tell the story of a box with unknown contents. The book invites reader participation by using sly humor, questions, and the reader’s natural curiosity to make for a rollicking good time of trying to figure out just what is inside the spooky box, and then the ever smaller spooky nesting boxes that are eventually found to be inside. The Spooky Box lends itself naturally to the making of predictions and inferences, creative thinking, and fun reading extensions.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥.5

 

The Spooky Box has provided a springboard for lots of fun for us at School4Boys.

 

A. really liked this book, and requested that we read it several times. He was drawn to the cover, amused by the premise, and liked thinking of possibilities for the contents of the box. After finishing this book’s open ending, I asked A. what he thought was in the last spooky box. He said, “ more and more boxes forever and to infinity.”

 

After our initial reading we decided to make some spooky boxes of our own.   A. had shown interest in Modge Podge while making some Halloween decorations last week. This surprised me because it is goopy and got on his hands, but he wanted to try it again. We decided to decoupage our spooky box. I purchased some nesting papier mache boxes specifically for this activity because it made it easier. You could obviously collect cardboard boxes in different sizes too.

 

Making Spooky Boxes

Having done this type of activity before, and wanting to improve on my last attempt (don’t ask), I began by covering the large box with black construction paper and Elmer’s glue. This didn’t take long at all. Then I set out black bleeding tissue paper, Modge Podge, and foam brushes. A. was happy to work on this for a while, but soon his hands were getting goopy and discolored, and he was done. I finished the messy tissue paper part, and then when it was dry, he was happy to put the final coat on the project. By using construction paper under the tissue, I only had to cover the box with one layer of tissue and Modge Podge over the top to get good coverage and opaque color.

 

For the second box we used paint (far less goopy, so A was happy to participate.) I sealed the papier mache box with Modge Podge and let it dry before adding the paint, and I found that this helped cut down on the number of coats of paint that were needed.  Cardboard and papier mache can really suck up the paint!

 

For the smallest boxes, I loved that A. wanted to make them “happy, not spooky,” so he chose to make them yellow.

 

After the boxes were dry, we devised some fun uses for them.

 

For our second reading of the book, I placed some Halloween themed party favors in each of the boxes. As we read the story, and the boxes inside the boxes got smaller I let A. open the boxes one by one and pull a trinket out of each box when appropriate in the story. This was a hit! I didn’t do this on our first reading because I wanted A. to draw his own conclusions about what was in the box on the first go-round.  A. also had fun stacking the boxes in different configurations.  Then he did something that I thought was great (but I am his mom, so I might be biased).  We had put an orange plastic table cloth on the table for our Halloween party pn Sunday.  It was both festive and functional as a table protector during our crafts, so I left it on after the party.  Adam noticed that the boxes on the orange background looked like the cover of the book, so he took some leftover scraps of black tissue and squished them together to make bats, and then recreated the cover illustration.   I love when spontaneous things like that happen!  I am always amazed at what kids come up with on their own if they have the opportunities of time, space, and materials.

 

Spooky Box collage 2

 

After reading it was time to play an inferring game. A. has already shown strength in making inferences, so I want to build on that during read-aloud activities. For the game, I found objects of different sizes that would go in the boxes. I created clue sets for each object (a series of four clues moving from broad information to more specific information) and taped them to the appropriate boxes. Then I read the clues one at a time. After each clue I allowed A. to make two predictions about what was in the box. He really enjoyed this activity. So much so, that he wanted to play the game too. So, he then selected secret objects and put them in the boxes. He gave me the clues orally, and really came up with some really good clues. He asked to play the game again tomorrow!

 

Here are two examples of my clue sets:

I am round.

I grow in the ground

I am orange.

I have a face and a smile.

I am a jack o’ lantern.

 

I am a toy.

I am made of wood.

I have wheels.

I run on tracks.

I am a train.

 

You get the idea.

 

The Spooky Box was a really fun read-aloud book, and it gave us the opportunity to work on comprehension, do crafts (great fine motor work), and have a good time without feeling forced. Not a bad deal!

 

My friend Jodie at the terrific early literacy blog Growing Book By Book, created a super fun book-themed game to develop inferring skills too.  You can find it by clicking here. 

 

I hope you check out The Spooky Box and have some fun with it.

 

Happy Reading!

Tracy  :-)

 

 

 

TEN TIMID GHOSTS – by Jennifer Barrett O’Connell

Picture book of the day - Ten Timid Ghosts

 

Halloween is one of my very favorite holidays (although I’m a holiday loving girl to begin with). So, I don’t know if I have forced my Halloween glee on Big A., or if I have just rubbed off on him, but it feels like Halloween central around our house. There are many decorations to be made, a party to plan, and of course, many super Halloween books to read. I just shared one of our very favorites (even Mr. Wizard loves it) as a Picture Book of the Day recommendation, so I thought I would add in a few of the activities that we have come up with to go along with this gem of a book.

A. and I are working hard to develop letter recognition and formation right now. On Monday A. actually asked me how to spell a few words so he could write them down. I was so excited about this because he has NEVER done this before. I thought this would be the perfect time to introduce a book writing activity that gave him the opportunity to write just one word on each page. He gets overwhelmed easily, so we will be doing this book over several days, and we are sharing the writing responsibility. A few of the words he is writing himself, and a few he is dictating to me. I made up this book as a School4boys rendition of Ten Timid Ghosts. I have left the pages black and white intentionally so that A could either color them in or use watercolor paint to add the color himself.  I am adding a few pictures of an example book.  I apologize that the pictures are awful, and that I did the first page myself.  The book is still a work in progress, so I didn’t have any of the finished pages that A. did to show you yet.  I promise to add better pictures with A. and his work as soon as they are ready!

Ten Timid Ghosts - homemade book cover Ten Timid Ghosts - homemade book first sample page

 

I am adding the template pages (including the cover) that I made for the book as a PDF.  If any of you might find it useful, feel free to use it. All I ask is that if you share it, please share the link to this post rather than the pdf file itself.

 Ten Timid Ghosts follow-up book

 

This book also lends itself well to many math activities. You could easily make addition or subtraction sentences with the ghosts. We are doing an activity with cardinal numbers (1), ordinal numbers (first or 1st), and number words (one, first).  To do the activity, print out the ten ghosts and the numeral and word cards.  Lay out the ghosts horizontally in either ascending or descending order.  Then have the child match the number and word cards under each ghost.  These could then easily be glued to paper.

Ten timid ghosts - math activity pic 2

 

Here is a PDF version of the activity if you would like it. Again, if you share it please share the link to the post. ;-)

Ten Timid Ghosts – number activity 

 

I hope Ten Timid Ghosts, or a related activity, find their way into your Halloween repertoire.  Happy Reading!

Tracy  :-)