Some of you may remember that at the beginning of the summer, I had aspirations to write at least a weekly post for a Summer Writer's Camp series to get young kids writing...but life got busy and it never really got off the ground.
So you can imagine how excited I was when a copy of Playful Learning: Develop Your Child's Sense of Joy and Wonder by Mariah Bruehl showed up in my mailbox. The whole first chapter is titled "Nurturing Young Authors" and features 7 different projects with somewhere around 14 different children's books to go along with them for inspiration. It also has chapters about reading, math, science art, social studies, and citizenship, each with lots of projects and books for inspiration. As far as I'm concerned, the only thing better than a fun kids' craft/learning idea is one that also goes along with an excellent children's book. I didn't even make it through the second chapter before my hold list at the library filled up (seriously...we need to be able to put more than 25 books on hold at a time!), so you can bet we'll be doing more of the activities from this book in the coming weeks. There are seriously so many great ideas in here. For more information about the Playful Learning, Mariah Bruehl, and an upcoming E-course she's having, you can see her website here.
When I saw the simple way Mariah show to make Twig Books, I knew it would be the first project we'd try. (The book also has several other fun ways to make books that we also plan on trying.) One thing I've learned about Firecracker, is she loves to fill in blank books. If you staple a few sheets of paper together, and leave them around, pretty soon she'll come over proud of a story...often only 3 or 4 sentences long and fairly repetitive, but her own story none the less. The twig books looked like a fun variation...and now that we made one together, I'm sure Firecracker could make more all on her own.
They're super simple to make. I started with several sheets of super wide-ruled children's paper. (This was some my mom gave us, but I've seen similar tablets at the dollar store. It's even better for kids' books if you have there's a place for pictures...and there's even a printable of that kind of paper in the book.) Then I cut the paper in half, so we could make to books.
I cut some scrapbook paper the same size to use for a front and back cover. While you're doing all the cutting you can send your child out to hunt for a few sticks.
You just punch two holes in the top.
Then pull the rubber band through the other hole and loop the twig...
...and you're done.
(If you used some super girly paper for the cover and added some ribbons, it would make the perfect journal to go with a reading of Fancy Nancy: Explorer Extraordinaire! --a long time favorite of ours.)
Before writing in the our twig book, we read A Book by Mordicai Gerstein, recommended by Mariah as inspiration for story writing in an earlier section. It was a truly charming book...a little bit different from any other children's book I've read. There's a little girl in it who knows she lives in a book, but doesn't know what her story is. After exploring several different genres, she realizes none of them fit her, and her story is that she's going to write her own story and become an author. It was perfect for Firecracker since she's told me several times she wants to be an author when she grows up (as well a a pilot, tractor driver, and a lot of other things.)
It's also a great lead in for a child to write a little story of their own. In this case Firecracker decided she wanted to write about her class going to a Water Park.
She had a lot of fun writing her story.
And wanted me to take lots of pictures of the process.
I'm not sure if it was the fun new book that inspired it, but this story is by far Firecracker's best in terms of sentence structure variety.
"My class is going to the water park. We see a big water slide!!!! (She loves !! can you tell?) It was sooo fast!!!! I feel proud and wet." And she plans to add more to her story tomorrow.
We made a second book for Little Brother. He has recently learned to write his own name and LOVES practicing letters. I was hoping he could do the activity with us...but alas he had no nap, and needed an early bedtime...so look for an update with his book tomorrow.
Whenever I get an offer to review a book or product, I'm always torn between the flattery from my little blog being noticed...and nervousness that I might be agreeing to "sell" something that I haven't had a chance to check out yet. Once I had a chance to see Mariah's book, I had no reservations. I truly love this book and highly recommend it. I'm sure you'll hear much more about in the coming months as we read more of the books it recommends and try more of the activities. I was provided a copy of this book to review for free, but received no other compensation for this post and the opinions expressed here are my own.
I'm also excited to announce that Mariah is offering one lucky reader, your very own copy of of Playful Learning: Develop Your Child's Sense of Joy and Wonder by Mariah Bruehl. All you need to do to enter is become a follower of my blog through blogger, Facebook, or however you follow blogs AND leave one comment telling me you're a follower and maybe tell me about a fun book you've read with your kids if you want to be extra friendly. Entries will close Sept. 9th at midnight and I'll choose a winner via a random number generator and announce the winner Saturday. (Please be sure that your email address is connected to your blogger profile, or leave your email address with your comment.)
I'll be linking to: