After making our Alphabet Photo Magnets my so has been asking to get a chance to use my camera again. Today we went all around town and took photos of places that we go to or past often. The power of this activity is to relate the photos in the book to the photo safari and previous experiences at each location. The book itself is simple but each page is much more than it’s text. The photos will prompt storytelling by even the youngest child. My daughter talked her way through 3 consecutive readings . Making the book was also a great learning experience for my son and while there are much more polished options like photo books from places like snapfish and keepsy doing it all by hand is valuable too.
- Gather your materials. You will need some page protectors , a report cover or small binder , a camera, a clip board, paper and marker. You will also need a printer and a template for the book. You can download it here , it’s very simple but effective.
- Get ready with a list of where you need to go.
- Get buckled in and don’t forget your camera.
- As we went around town my son took the photos and checked them off the list.
- At the fire station we expected to just take a photo but they invited us in and it was by far the highlight for both my kids.
- Taking the photos was fun but walking around town with each other was pretty awesome too.
- At home print out the book pages and the photos. Grab some scissors and glue too.
- Cut the photos out. Cutting is a really important skill for kids to master especially around my son’s age ( just about to go to kindergarten) so I really wanted him to do as mush of the cutting as possible.
- After they are cut add the glue.
- Slide into the page protectors and into the report cover.
- Read. I am kicking myself for not getting a photo of my daughter reading but she was wiped by the day and took a monster nap. By the time she woke I was knee deep in dinner prep. but I could hear her telling her dad ” Again! ” as they read it over and over.
In the Town All Year ‘Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner is amazing.It’s premise are the comings and goings of a town in all four seasons. There is limited text, which serves only to steer readers to look for specific people in the highly detailed illustrations. Each season has multiple pages and the people remain constant throughout the seasons. So you see inside an apartment building , the town square, the park, railroad station etc… in every season. You see the changes in town, the progression and of course the distinct weather in each section. The pictures also progress within the seasons, so a fire truck with a flashing light can be seen on every page in one season with the last page showing it getting to the fire . I can’t possibly explain the amazing detail and sheer number of things to find, make up stories about and spark your child’s imagination in this book. My son adores it. After renewing it multiple times from our library I bought it as his 2010 Valentine’s gift. It goes everywhere with us, perfect for long drives , waits in the Ob’s waiting room and plain old playtime he picks it up every day and finds something new.
What I really love is that because there is no text but still multiple story lines it’s helped my son to understand that literacy isn’t just about words, it about explaining what’s going on, and reading the pictures too. The absence of text has allowed me to really show him that . Now he has started grabbing books with text and telling me he’d read me the pictures, which boosts both his confidence and his enjoyment of independent reading.
Edited for 2011: My son is still crazy over this book. When I am desperate for him to chill out so I can get my daughter down for a nap nothing keeps him occupied ( and quiet) like this book. It’s magic!Edited for 2012 : My daughter has now started to enjoy this book too. She loved finding the baby in each page.
As I’ve mentioned, we’ve been studying the various continents and have found a wealth of great books from the Asian continent. Here are a few of our favorites–and my Charlie is one picky guy!
A rhythmic and delightful story about the preparation of the traditional Korean dish Bee-Bim Bop. It follows a mother and child as they shop, prepare, cook, and eat this meal. I pleasure to read and quick for those of you who have kids with short attention spans. My favorite part is that there’s a recipe for cooking Bee-Bim Bop in the back of the book. We even tried it out!
A classic story that I remember enjoying as a child. It tells the story of why Chinese parents give their children short names. This book is wordier than a lot of the ones I try with my son, but it has become one of his absolute favorites. When given a choice, he ALWAYS chooses to read this one.
Described as “a Thai lullaby” this is a simple and melodic story about a mother trying to make it quiet enough for her baby to sleep. Simple enough for younger children, older children will enjoy checking out baby’s shenanigans and mother tries to quiet her farm.
A fable about a young Chinese boy, a contest to become the next emperor, and the importance of honesty. Lovely pictures are definitely part of the appeal of this book.
I may have enjoyed this one more than my son! It’s short, easy-to-read story about a mother frog and her sons who never do what they’re told. I think the silliness of the young frogs will delight many children.
Katy is a mom of three who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracles at Bird on the Street.
My husband and I traveled internationally a lot before kids and we want to share our love and curiosity for other countries with our kids. Like many with young kids we aren’t up to taking them to all these places just yet. Instead we read lots of books , look at lots of pictures ( our own and others) and play games like this one that GASP uses flash cards . These are in the dollar spot at Target right now, even I couldn’t pass them up for a buck.
- Gather your materials. You will need a globe or map, and some fun geography flash cards.
- Start by having your child pick a card. Ask them by looking at the picture where they think it might be. Wild guesses or close calculations are wqually good, this is all about exploring from your own playroom, not getting facts “right”.
- Flip it over and find out where it is.
- Next find it on the map.
- Keep going as long as it’s fun.
- Beware for wee sisters who swipe the landmarks.
We love maps and we need wall art for the playroom in our new house. So we made some. I would love to say this project is easy but that would be a big fat lie. The painting is easy but the cutting is not. As you may notice below our contact paper on our Canadian one wasn’t pressed down perfectly and now Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are islands . Ooops. It was still a chance to talk about geography , look at maps and cover the poor beaten up kitchen table with paint .
- Gather your materials. You will need some pre prepared canvases ( we got ours at Walmart), some paint, dishes for the paint, sponges or bath poofs for painting, sharp fine scissors, painters tape, vinyl letters , contact paper, print outs of maps and patience if you are the one cutting.
- Start by talking about borders and why countries have them. For really young kids use your yard as an example of borders, for older ones try adding in how each country has it’s own government who governs only within those borders. If you have ever crossed a border with your kids talk about that. Choose which country to turn into art ,and print out an outline .
- Cut your contact paper So it’s slightly larger than your map. Tape your map to the paper on the backing side. I the taped it to my table with painters tape so it was stable when I cut it. I left one side not taped and rotated as I cut.
- When it’s all taped I peeled and stuck it to to canvas. Press hard.
- Add the vinyl letters. I asked my son “How do you spell USA?” and I got the sassiest teen eye roll as he pointed out the letters on the sheet. Not sure if I am proud or appalled.
- Add paint to a dish or dishes if you are using multiple colors.
- Start painting. I have discovered that when painting a resist painting like these with stickers, contact paper and vinyl you want to use sponges, bath poofs or other painting tools that are soft and unable to get under the stencil and lift it like a brush could. I use washable paint for this because I have kids doing it, but to make the finished product last longer you could use less kid friendly paints too.
- We made Canada too – although the cutting was harder and I took some unintentional creative license with the borders , especially in the Maritimes. I turned it into a lesson as we compared our finished product with a real map. It ended up being a fun compare activity.
- Let dry, peel and reveal!
- These will be fantastic in the new playroom!
Books About Travel
Rooster’s Off to See the World by Eric Carle was reviewed by my son tonight as ” That’s a really nice book mama.” When I asked him what he liked he said ” The rooster was lonely, I only like trips with you and daddy too.” See Rooster has a grand plan to see the world, only he didn’t really plan it at all. Along the way friends join him but when night falls and they are cold and have no place to stay they all head home, and so does Rooster. I love that my son explained why Rooster went home and that he felt the same way not wanting to venture out to see the world alone… yet. Great book for kids learning to add and subtrack as well, as each page adds animals, then after the night falls each subtracts.
Dodsworth in New York by Tim Egan was a random book grab at the library and now we can’t wait to read the other books in the series because we loved it so much. The book is an easy reader chapter book but unlike so many of the leveled readers that I am reading with my son right now this one had depth, great characters and a hilarious sense of humor too. The story is about a guy named Dodsworth who decides to go on an adventure stopping first in New York. Things don’t exactly go as planned when the annoying duck from his favorite diner back home stows away in Dodsworth’s luggage. Dodsworth sees the sights in New York nonetheless. You will laugh a long with your child ( maybe even a little more). I can’t wait to read the next installment – Dodsworth in Paris!
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman cost me a total of 15 cents at a thrift store. It is worth so much more than that. This book is a gem! Perfect for older preschoolers who are getting a sense of the world beyond their own home and city, this book takes you on a ride around the world! You follow the little girl to Italy, France , Sri Lanka, England, Jamaica and back to Vermont! As soon as I read this my mind was racing with classroom activities ! I will be posting some soon. I LOVE this book, I just wish I had read it when I was still teaching it would have been so much fun to teach geography with!