Monday, November 30, 2009

Animals in the Snow

"Do you think birds know when it's going to snow? I do."

So begins another colorful, nature-filled story by Milwaukee's own Lois Ehlert. Peanuts in the purse and raisins for eyes. With edible features and accessories, it's fun to watch how winter animals interact with this family of snowmen!

Join us this month for stories about ANIMALS IN THE SNOW...


Snowballs by Lois Ehlert
In the Snow: Who's Been Here? by Lindsay Barrett George
The First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming
Sailing Off to Sleep by Linda Ashman
Names for Snow by Judi K. Beach
Love Songs of the Little Bear by Margaret Wise Brown
OH! by Kevin Henkes
Snow by Manya Stojic
Every Autumn Comes the Bear by Jim Arnosky
On a Wintry Morning by Dori Chaconas


A chubby little snowman had a carrot for a NOSE.
Along came a bunny and what do you SUPPOSE?
That hungry little bunny
was looking for his LUNCH.
So he grabbed that snowman's carrot nose,


Start way up high on your tip toes and end gracefully on the floor...

Snow is falling, snow is falling,
All around, all around.
Oh so very gently, oh so very gently,
To the ground, to the ground.

And by all means, if you make a snowman this winter, please include some treats for the creatures in your design!

Monday, November 23, 2009

If You Give a Pig a Pancake

With a bubblebath scene, a grand entrance from the top of a staircase for a tap dance, some furniture rearranging for a photo shoot, and the building and decorating of a TREE HOUSE - this one just may be my favorite!

We'll conclude our Laura Numeroff month by celebrating pigs and pancakes.



Two mother pigs lived in a PEN.
Each had four babies and that made TEN!

These four babies were as black as NIGHT.
These four babies were pink and WHITE.

But all eight babies loved to PLAY,
As they rolled and rolled in the mud all DAY.

At night with their mother they curled up in a HEAP,
And squealed and squealed until they went to SLEEP.



Mix a pancake, stir a pancake,
Poor it in a PAN.

Fry a pancake, flip a pancake,
Catch it if you CAN!

A great big thanks to Diana and Lauren for lending me their book this week. I'm off to purchase my own copy!

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake

...he'll ask for some sprinkles to go with it. When you give him the sprinkles, he might spill some on the floor.

After cleaning up his mess, this hard-to-stay-focused feline spends the remainder of the day sporting a pair of tropical swim trunks as he visits the beach, the gym, a merry-go-round, and the science museum; only to return home with an appetite for more cupcakes and sprinkles!

What fun we had last week sharing this book together and substituting the cat's actions into our repeat-after-me moose song from the previous week.

The cat! The cat!
Sprinkling the sprinkles...
Eating his cupcake...
Putting on his swim trunks...
Going to the beach...
Building some sandcastles...
Lifting some weights...
Doing karate kicks...
Where did he go?
Heeeeeeeee went to sleep!

At one point the cat becomes a captain and directs the little girl to row, so we sang...

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a DREAM!

Rock, rock, rock your boat gently side to side.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is such a RIDE!

Walk, walk, walk your feet gently through the sand.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily life is very GRAND!

Did anyone create their own verse?

I had a few other cat-related fingerplays that we never had time to share...


Five little cats all black and WHITE (show five fingers),
Sleeping soundly all through the NIGHT (close fist).


It's time for them to wake up NOW.
Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow! MEOW!
(raise up each finger)

And finally, I love the simplicity of this one called SOFT CAT in which you make a fist with one hand and then pretend to pet it with the other hand.

Soft cat, warm cat,
Little ball of FUR.
Sleepy cat, pretty cat,
Purr, purr, purr.

Monday, November 9, 2009

If You Give a Moose a Muffin

This hungry traveler fixes loose buttons, makes sock puppets, paints scenery, and scares himself so much that he falls flat on the ground!

In Laura Numeroff's sequel to IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE, it's fun to see how a BIG animal visitor wreaks havoc!

We'll rhyme and fingerplay this old Boy Scout song originally titled "Da Moose," which I've reworked back into proper pronunciation as "The Moose." We'll also spare the little ones the final verse in which the moose dies! Done in call-and-response...

The Moose! The Moose!
The Moose! The Moose!
Swimming in the water.
Swimming in the water.
Eating his supper.
Eating his supper.
Where did he go?
Where did he go?
He went to SLEEP!
He Went to SLEEP!

We'll also sing The Muffin Man...

Oh do you know the muffin man,
the muffin man, the muffin man?
Oh do you know the muffin man
who lives on Drury Lane?

Oh, yes I know the muffin man,
the muffin man, the muffin man?
Oh, yes, I know the muffin man,
who lives on Drury Lane.

We all know the muffin man,
the muffin man, the muffin man.
We all know the muffin man
who lives on Drury Lane.

We'll also sing our counting song with everyday objects from the text: jars of jam, buttons, leaves, and socks.

Looking forward to more Laura Numeroff fun!

The Joy of Being Five

Once again First Stage Children's Theater brings literature to life!

Yes, Junie B. Jones is naughty and self-centered and lacking a verbal filter. She displays the kind of behaviors most of us are working hard to minimize in our own children. So why then is her character so important, important enough to be adapted into a play?

Dorothy Butler says in Babies Need Books: Sharing the Joy of Books with Children from Birth to Six,

"Parents and children who share books come to share the same frame of reference. Incidents in everyday life constantly remind one or the other - or both, simultaneously of a situation, a character, an action, from a jointly enjoyed book, with all the generation of warmth and well-being that is attendant upon such sharing."

For the over-four child (whom these books and this play are recommended), Junie provides a frame of reference with plenty of situations and "incidents from everyday life" that will lead to meaningful conversations with your school-aged child...the stress of having to produce something interesting for show-and-tell, how telling lies can backfire, why it is not okay to make people give you things in exchange for friendship, what feelings come with a having a new baby in the family, how the truth will set you free, etc.

In the director's notes, John Maclay explains, "With our production we have attempted to create a world - in true Junie fashion - that is at once fantastical and grounded in reality."

Everyday settings with a big dose of fabulous is exactly what you'll get - the scenery, the lighting, the costumes, the songs! And of course the school bus that MOVES! We felt as if we'd been transported right into the pages of the book. And how mesmerizing that the actors' movements and gestures made them look just like the Denise Brunkus illustrations.

And then there's those cool moments when Junie snaps her fingers...the lighting changes, other characters freeze, as she directly addresses that audience with her inner thoughts. My five year old was beyond fascinated with this concept and, as a result, now has a heightened awareness of her own internal dialogue! After seeing the play, one day after school she shared with me: "I was going to say something to someone but knew it wouldn't be nice, so I snapped my fingers and kept it in my head."

Between all the fun and high drama, there's also some really special moments between Junie and Grampa. Another "frame of reference" that illustrates how wonderful it is to have a grown-up in your corner to help you with your problems. They sing a song together that I admit made me cry.

As the director concludes in his notes, "Junie B. is not perfect. And neither are any of us. But with the care of our families and an honest attempt to do better, we can all hope to make better choices in life - while still retaining some of the joy of being five. May we all remember the Junie B. that we once were."

Thanks FIRST STAGE for another oustanding live theater experience with my child!

JUNIE B. JONES and a LITTLE MONKEY BUSINESS runs through November 14 at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

Cooperative Children's Book Center

Tomorrow, for one day only, two librarians are coming from the Cooperative Children's Book Center in Madison to present "Great New Books for Children and Young Adults" in the FIREFLY room at the Wauwatosa Public Library.

Today while hunting down more Laura Numeroff books for the book box, Ann, the wonderful librarian from the children's department reminded me of their visit and assured me that ALL ARE WELCOME AND NO REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. There is a presentation at 1:30pm and again at 5:15.

The CCBC is a vital gathering place for books, ideas, and expertise of children's and young adult literature. The CCBC is a noncirculating examination study and research library for Wisconsin school and public librarians, teachers, early childhood care providers, university students, and others interested in children's and young adult literature. The CCBC is part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education.
- from the CCBC website

Let's check out what's new in children's literature with the visiting librarians!

Photo courtesy of Belle Vining, age 3. Thanks, Belle!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hungry Little Traveler

"If a hungry little traveler shows up at your house, you might want to give him a cookie. If you give him a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk. He'll want to look in a mirror to make sure he doesn't have a milk mustache, and then he'll ask for a pair of scissors to give himself a trim...The consequences of giving a cookie to this energetic mouse run the young host ragged, but young readers will come away smiling at the antics that tumble like dominoes through the pages of this delightful picture book." - from the jacket cover of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.

The moose and the muffin, the cat and the cupcake, the pig and the pancake... Whatever the combination of demanding animal and willing human host, Laura Numeroff certainly has the formula for fun! Her words just roll right off the tongue as Felicia Bond's illustrations bring the characters to life. It doesn't take long for little ones to memorize and anticipate the sequence of her stories.

So when I discovered that First Stage Children's Theater will be performing If You Give a Mouse a Cookie from November 7 through the 22, I knew it was time for a LAURA NUMEROFF MONTH!

We'll READ:

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
If You Give a Moose a Muffin
If You Give a Cat a Cupcake
If You Give a Pig a Pancake

We'll SING:

Since the characters tend to make messes, we'll sing some songs about cleaning up...

"This is the way we sweep the floor, sweep the floor, sweep the floor. This is the way we sweep the floor, all through the house..."

"Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere..."


This one ends with some tickling!
Round and round the garden goes the little MOUSE.
One step...two steps...into his little HOUSE.

Quiet Mouse
Once there lived a quiet mouse.
In a quiet little house.
When all was quiet as can be...
Out popped HE!