Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Riddles for Early Readers to Amaze Their Friends!

There comes a certain age when kids are obsessed with riddles.  They love to tell them, they love to make them up, and they love to laugh at the punch line! I think the thrill is in finally delivering the punchline that everyone has been beating them to for years! Here are some great riddle books for the beginning reader.  An additional benefit: they can read them on their own!

Spooky Riddles by Marc Brown "What does the Mother ghost say to her child when they get in the car? Fasten your sheet belts!"

Dino Riddles by Lisa Eisenberg and Kay Hall, Illustrated by Nicole Rubel "What do you call a dinosaur in a cowboy hat and spurs? A Tyrannosaurus Rex!"
Buggy Riddles by Lisa Eisenberg and Katy Hall, Illustrated by Simms Taback "Why are frogs so happy? They eat whatever bugs them!"

Fishy Riddles by Lisa Eisenberg and Katy Hall, Illustrated by Simms Taback "Why are fish so smart? They are always in schools!"

What do You Hear When Cows Sing?: And Other Silly Riddles by Marco and Giulio Maestro "What do you call a train that sneezes? A-Choo-Choo Train!"

Knock, Knock Who's There: My First Book of Knock Knock Jokes by Tad Hills "Knock, Knock. Who's There. Anita. Anita Who? Anita bath!"

Look for more riddle books under the call number 793 in the non-fiction section or in the Early Readers section of your local library.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mini Theme Week: Native Americans

With a four day weekend on my hands I felt like it was the perfect time for a mini-theme week!  Since we just moved to Maryland and as November is Native American Heritage Month, I decided we should study the different Native American tribes that originally lived in this area.  We read some amazing Native American folktales, did some Native American crafts and visited the fabulous Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

There are many wonderful retellings of Native American folktales. Here are few of the books that we read.

The Woman Who Fell from the Sky: The Iroquois Story of Creation, Retold by John Bierhorst, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker. Author and illustrator Paul Goble has written numerous stories about the Plains Indians including: The Return of the Buffaloes, Crow Chief, The Gift of the Sacred Dog and The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses.
One of my favorite Cinderella tales is taken from Algonquin folklore: "The Rough-Face Girl" by Rafe Martin, illustrated by David Shannon.

Tomie DePaula is well-known for his retelling of folktales, two of my favorites that focus on Native American stories are "The Legend of the Bluebonnet" and "The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush."

We also used many non-fiction books covering the life of the Native Americans in the Maryland area, specifically the Powhatan, as well as books on Native American crafts.

The woodland Native Americans lived in longhouses, so that was our first project. There are many wonderful examples of longhouse projects online. We went with a very simple idea of using a shoebox and ripped paper. The kids had a great time completing the project and it was not too overwhelming.

The Bullroarer was my favorite project.  The Bullroarer was used in Native American celebrations as a type of musical instrument.  The wood used for the instrument was usually taken from a tree that had been struck by lightning.  We used paint stirrers, which we painted brown and then decorated with animals and designs.  The best part of this project was the surprising low, loud moaning sound the Bullroarer makes when swung around!  My son said he could just picture twenty Native Americans spinning them all at the exact same time during a festival.

Our sunset paintings were inspired by the book "The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush" about a young boy who is trying to find all the colors in the sunset to make the perfect painting.  When he finds all the colors he completes his painting and the paintbrushes he leaves behind become beautiful flowers.

On the last day of our four day weekend we visited the Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. The kids loved the children's area which was very hands on and interactive. The kids got a passport which they stamped after completing an activity or exploring an aspect of Native American culture.  We also saw an exhibit on the importance of the horse in Native American culture and learned about how Native Americans continue to celebrate their culture today.
Completing a magnetic puzzle

Weaving a basket

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Four Fantastic Books About Elections

It's voting day!  What better way to celebrate than teaching your kids about elections?  Here are four great books that will educate and entertain!

Grace for President by Kelly S. DiPucchio, illustrated by LeUyen Pham -- Grace's school decides to hold an election for class president with one person from each class selected to run.  Each student represents a different state and receives the number of electoral college votes for that state.  The two candidates campaign and give speeches, but in the end will the best candidate win? A fun book with an obvious "best" candidate and a good easy way for kids to learn about how the electoral college works.

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin illustrated by Betsy Lewin -- Duck is tired of doing work on the farm and decides to run for president, little does he know this is much more work that he imagined.  In this hilarious book, by the well-known authors of Click, Clack, Moo!, Duck takes on corruption and humans and manages to win the election without saying a word!

So You Want to be President by Judith St. George Illustrated by David Small -- This wonderful book covers a lot of information in a fun and engrossing way.  The comical sketches of each president bring to light personality traits, physical features, home life, and pervious jobs.  Kids will enjoy the light-hearted focus of this book and the wonderful illustrations.

Vote! by Eileen Christelow -- Using a mayoral race as a backdrop Christelows fun cartoon like sketches educate about debates, rallies, and voter registration.  Presented in a appealing format this is a great book to introduce the complicated world of politics to kids.