Reading Camp Finale!

     Last I reported, my oldest squirt and I along with our buddies completed week 2 of Reading Camp.  The hub escorted our daughter to week 3, and we played hooky for week 4.  Thus, the final week, class number 5, met today.  Although sitting next to our child was preferred, I was banished by my daughter to the seat behind her for which I was happy to oblige considering I felt she was asserting her independence (a change from the usual Momma’s girl).  Class began with the optional sharing of homework (under Miss Rebecca’s direction) before the class (aaaah, the days when it was exciting to stand in front like the teacher) followed by thunderous applause after each student’s presentation.

     Enthusiastic cheers, “I have this book at home!  I’ve read this book!” rang out once Miss Rebecca passed out the day’s reading, Dr. Suess’ Cat in the Hat.  Again, the young students were given autonomy over their learning by handling the book themselves and being in charge of the turning of its pages.  My daughter graciously gave me the thumbs up after I requested (yet again) the seat next to her in order to follow along.  Yes!
    After the oral reading, Miss Rebecca reviewed the story by selecting a page from Cat in the Hat, reading orally to the students again, yet this time omitting some key words much like the cloze technique.  The four and five-year-olds then shouted the missing vocabulary word at Miss Rebecca’s pause.   Thus, they “knew” the story nearly verbatim without literally being able to read using their memories and the pictures as guidance.  The pride at knowing the correct word emanated from their faces, a joy to see.
    The final activity of the day consisted of a spelling game where the teacher handed each student two letters.  She then wrote a word on the board.  If a student had one of the letters in the word, he/she was to move to the front of the class and place himself/herself in the correct letter order in relation to the other students at the front of the room.  Thus, not only were students asked to identify the words on the board, but also recognize which letters comprised that word and in what order those letters needed to be placed in order to mimic the word on the board.  Thrilled at the recognition of his/her letter in a word on the board, a student would hurry to the front of the room in order to participate in the spelling.
     Thus, Reading Camp came to a close.  Although a storybook as a token of “graduation” would have seemed appropriate (considering the tuition amount), we walked away without even a certificate symbolizing all of our intended hard work.  What matters, though, was the memorable experience facilitated by a young, motivated teacher determined to make a difference in the lives of her students.

Molly’s Magic Pencil: The Blue Genie

     Peter Davies’ second book, The Blue Genie,  in the Molly’s Magic Pencil series is an ideal picture book to use for dramatization.  With only four prominent characters in the story, our family of four had no problem in dealing with lack of participation.  Having short jumpers the squirts consider “genie” outfits, I figured the two girls would be taking turns playing the Blue Genie.  Instead, they both chose to play the protagonist’s part, Molly.
      So, we dug in closets for red (okay, hot pink) outfits to mimic Molly’s red jumper.  Then, backpacks were filled with paper and the crucial Magic Pencil.  By default, the hub played Blue Genie since he was wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans, and I was inevitably Mrs. Jones, the tearful geriatric lady (I’m being typecast already, yet still a month away from 40) whose cat, Tiddles (played by our stuffed black cat), is stranded high on a tree limb.

Tiddles stranded in the tree.

     Since each squirt wanted the spotlight to herself, we rehearsed the scene several times (more than I had planned) in our backyard (luckily, the neighbors already know we’re nutty) each time alternating the actress who portrayed Molly.                           

Take 1:  Molly #1 searching in her backpack for the Magic Pencil.

                                                                               

Take 1:  Molly #1 drawing a teapot.
Take 21:  Molly #2 searching in her backpack for the Magic Pencil.
Take 21:  Molly #2 drawing a teapot.
The Blue Genie saves Tiddles.

      When every blank space on the paper had been filled with a drawing of a teapot,  we brought the dramatization to a close by singing the first verse of, “I’m a Little Teapot.”  Bedtime was accomplished only with a sincere promise, “Yes, we will act out The Blue Genie again tomorrow.”


Peter Davies

Reading Camp Rocks- Week 2

     My oldest squirt and her buddy attended Week 2 of Reading Camp offered through Saint Louis University.  We barely were able to finish the homework in time for class due to the fact my squirt was attending camp during the evenings and sleeping late throughout the mornings, and, to be honest, she felt it was “boring,” a new term she had learned and embraced wholeheartedly from some of the older girls at camp.  Anywho- workbook pages were completed, CDs were listened to, and a dramatization of a picture book completed.  Mistakenly, I had her watch with me a video intended for parents, to be fair, which was “boring.”  I loaded her into the van with her final words, “I am never going to Reading Camp again,” escaping the sliding door.  While buckling my seat belt, I assured her that one week was already down with only four more to go.  Really only three more to attend if she considered “today” as a completed Reading Camp day.  Besides, Miss Rebecca (the young, energetic teacher) would miss her . . . .
     Arriving at the high school and following last week’s route through the building, we discovered that our class was to meet in another room due to ACT testing being offered concurrently.  Thus, with both squirts leading the way by following the arrows, we made our way to the new classroom.  We decided potty breaks were needed, so all four of us hustled down towards the bathrooms so as not to miss the beginning of class.  Again, my inner immaturity (since being in a high school setting) eventually found its way out when I wet a paper towel and threw it into my friend’s stall (hey- at least I didn’t throw it up on the ceiling).  Stifling giggles, I listened closely for her reaction, but heard nothing.  When she opened her door and exited her bathroom cubby,  a mere, “Did you do that?”  She had figured her son had performed the act in question.  I suppose being out of high school for twenty plus years along with motherhood does and should mellow or mature most of us (or at least make us better examples for the youth of today . . . as my daughter watched my actions with wide-eyed amazement).
     Class started promptly on time, and questions were asked of the 4 and 5 year-old students.  Excited hands were raised, and before we knew it, it was story time with Eric Carle’s A House for Hermit Crab.

Each student was given a copy to “read along” with the teacher.  After the reading, Miss Rebecca discussed the story with the students and then wrote a short story of her own on the board and drew a house to her liking- red with green stripes.  Students then were asked to narrate his/her original story to his/her parent with the parent writing the story verbatim- taking no grammatical liberties.

  Rhyming and phonetic work ensued before class ended with a reading of Audrey Wood’s big book,  King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, an entertaining read with beautiful illustrations where each page takes on a color scheme of its own.

Class was dismissed for the week, and we plan to have our student squirts take part in a homework session together to promote the “fun” of reading and working together.  Of course, today is Tuesday, class is Saturday, and we have yet to crack the books.  Aaaaaaah . . . the humanity!!!!!

Molly’s Magic Pencil Book Club Ideas

     It comes as no surprise that the vivid images composed of rich colors by illustrator, cartoonist, designer, and author Peter Davies engage the emergent reader.  In fact, my three-year-old snatched the book from my hands and proceeded to tell the story in her own words using only the bold pictures as guidance.  With a sprinkle of Harry and the Purple Crayon mixed with a dash of Aladdin’s magic carpet, Davies’ words add a memorable tale with a positive message to Molly’s Magic Pencil.
     The English teacher within could not help but notice the run-on sentence on page one as well as some missing commas throughout.  Distracting for a thirty-something, but ignored by the target audience, three-year somethings.  In addition due to editing, a picture of Grandpa looks as if he is missing part of his left arm, but I assured my toddler that Grandpa was completely intact.
     For book club regardless of weather, definitely incorporate a flying carpet into the storytelling area.  This may be a sheet, rug, or blanket.  Allow the kiddos to take a ride with their minds as they listen to Molly’s Magic Pencil.  Snack may be the creation of a flying carpet using graham crackers, peanut butter or icing, and various colored sprinkles in order to create the carpet of his/her choice.   To conclude “baby” book club, give each book club member a “magic pencil” and paper allowing the creative juices to flow and to review Molly’s Magic Pencil.

Peter Davies

Duck! Rabbit! Book Club Ideas

     Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Duck! Rabbit! engages the young reader through simple illustrations and text while teaching them to compare and contrast.  Giggling youngsters will inevitably engage in friendly debate regarding the identity of the main character.
     To further experience this children’s read, access Duck! Rabbit through the Tumblebooks Library where the sound effects are provided much to the emergent reader’s delight.
     For snack, a nice carrot cupcake would please not only the rabbit supporter, but also fulfill the bread-loving needs of a duck.  You may have the kiddos ice the cupcakes with white icing using Popsicle sticks and place the one eyeball on the cupcake using either a raisin, m&m, or chocolate chip.  For the ears/bill, place white-chocolate-covered potato chips into the icing.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal