Monday, October 29, 2018

Torn Paper Wreath: A Read, Discuss, Do! Activity

MOUSE'S CHRISTMAS GIFT is a new picture book by Mindy Baker and illustrated by Dow Phumiruk. In the story, when Parson falls ill and is forced to cancel the Christmas Eve service, Mouse takes things into his own paws, setting up the nativity and lighting a candle in the church window. This small act inspires people around town to contribute to the joy of the Christmas season, even in a time when there seems to be "no money for Christmas." MOUSE'S CHRISTMAS GIFT is a sweet, charming story full of Christmas spirit that you will want to share with your loved ones year after year.


DISCUSS: In the story, the villagers were concerned that there was “no money for Christmas.” But gradually, people added to the Christmas celebration using things they had on hand or were able to make themselves using available materials. In what ways can you help spread the joy of Christmas using your own skills and items you find around the house? Make a list of all the possibilities! 

DO: Make a torn paper Christmas wreath.

You will need:

  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Red and green paper
  • Paper plate
  • Red yarn or ribbon (optional)

Cut out the middle of the paper plate. Tear green paper into random pieces (I used construction paper, but any kind of paper will do). Tear the red paper into small, roundish shapes to look a bit like berries. Glue the green paper pieces onto the plate until it's completely covered. Next, glue the red pieces around the wreath. Once that's done, tie a length of ribbon or yarn into a bow and glue it at the top. If you don't have ribbon or yarn, draw a bow on red paper, cut it out, and glue it to the top of the wreath. Let it dry, then hang it somewhere for all to see!

Other wreath ideas: 
  • Make smaller versions of the wreath to decorate homemade Christmas cards to give to friends, family, and neighbors. 
  • Use fabric scraps instead of paper.

To learn more about MOUSE'S CHRISTMAS GIFT, or to purchase a copy, visit:

Or your local independent book store!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Review: SAVING WINSLOW by Sharon Creech

Saving Winslow
by Sharon Creech
Joanna Cotler Books

When Louie has the opportunity to nurse a struggling new born miniature donkey back to health, he doesn't let his not-so-successful track record discourage him. He names the donkey Winslow, and despite the pessimistic outlook of family and friends around him, Louie dedicates himself to making sure Winslow grows to be strong and healthy.

But this story is about much more than a boy nursing a donkey back to health. It's a story of a growing friendship between Louie and his new friend Nora. It's a story about family bonds that stay strong over long distances. It's a story about defying the odds, and being neighborly, and learning to let go.

Saving Winslow has a cast of characters that are believable and relatable. Though the story's resolution is a bit predictable, the book has a quick and easy pace, and the plot feels natural, not overly dramatic. The author approaches the topic of death in a delicate, yet realistic way that is ideal for the middle grade audience.

I recommend Saving Winslow for anyone who enjoys stories about relationships between children and animals, for those who has a soft spot for animals in general, and for people who enjoy simple, feel-good stories that make them smile (and maybe cry a little). If you enjoyed books like The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, or any of Sharon Creech's earlier books, then you will enjoy Saving Winslow.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Read, Discuss, Do! Activities that You Can Do Anywhere

Read, Discuss, Do! is an initiative that encourages parents to take simple steps to extend the benefits of story time beyond the last page. These steps are:

1. Read a book
2. Discuss the book
3. Do an activity related to or inspired by the book

If you search "story time ideas" online, you will find a lot of projects ranging from the simple to the complicated. There are many fun, creative ideas out there! However, it can be a bit overwhelming, and possibly even discouraging for those short on time and craft supplies. So the primary purpose of Read, Discuss, Do! is to present simple, book-specific ideas that can be done without a lot of fuss or fanfare, with items that are commonly found around the house.

Sometimes, though, even that isn't convenient. You could be in the car, on a plane, or sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office. Or you might just want to stay curled up on the couch! But that's no reason to cut story time short. After reading the book and discussing the story in general, try going further with one or more of these activity ideas:

1. Make up alternate endings.

2. Ask your child to relay the story to you in their own words.

3. Act out the story in part or in whole.

4. Use context clues to define new and unfamiliar vocabulary.

5. Investigate the illustrations for additional layers to the story.

6. Look through the text for examples of literary devices, such as alliteration, rhyme, and simile.

7. Tell personal stories that relate to the text of the book.

8. Examine your immediate surroundings and compare/contrast them with the book's setting.

9. Have little ones explore the text to find familiar letters or words.

10. Go back through the illustrations and count repeating elements.

11. Play a game of charades based on the book's characters and events.

Are you interested in book-specific ideas or more inspiration on other ways to extend story time beyond the last page? Check out these Read, Discuss, Do! craft ideas here on my blog, and search #ReadDiscussDo on Facebook and Twitter!