Friday, March 1, 2013

Freddie and the Fairy Post-Reading activities

I've reviewed this book before about 2 years ago. Click here for it. This time round, I'm adding an activity to complete the entire reading/literacy session which I did with a new group of children age 4 - 6 years old.

Read-aloud: Identify the rhyming words with the children, while going back and forth to help them remember what Freddie wished for and what Bessie Belle conjured up for him instead. It is also to get them into the flow of rhyming.

Activity: Create your own post-reading activity. I just did a simple one by asking them again what Freddie wished for; why the fairy kept getting it wrong; what were the 3 rules for Freddie - is it important for us to do that too? and so forth.

Art & literacy: Think of something you'd like to wish for when you see Bessie Belle and what she might conjure up if you didn't say it properly. Draw.

Some interesting ones my kids came up with:
1) School - Tool
2) Baby shark - Mark on his face
3) Toy - toys 
4) Hat - bat

They had fun doing it because they thought it was pretty hilarious when they came up with the 'wrong' wishes :) Hope you'll have fun with this too!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Title/Author:  Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons / Eric Litwin (writer), James Dean (illustrator)
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 40 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-211058-9
Ages: 4 - 7

In a nutshell
Pete the Cat wore his bright yellow new shirt which had four totally colorful, groovy buttons. But it fell off one by one! However, that didn't bother Pete at all. He said, buttons come buttons go, and kept on singing his song, until he was left with one last button - his belly button! :)

What I liked
EVERYTHING! It's such a simple, straight-forward story, yet my kids (4-5 year olds) in school enjoyed it immensely! They not only loved the story but also the bright, beautiful illustrations. I was quite surprised they loved the book. I guess that's how all children's books should be written - clear storyline, straight-forward & simple; basically KISS - (my definition: Keep It Simple & Straight-Forward)

How I read/presented it
1) Get the children interested in the story: I asked them if they've ever lost anything. How did they feel about it? Then weave in Pete the Cat and ask them how do you think he felt when he started losing his groovy buttons? What do you think he did?

2) Pete has this really cool-nonchalant look. Use this to add character to this story. After losing the first button, one of my students asked me, "Why does Pete have that look on his face? He just lost a button!" I just said, "Well, that's coz Pete's a cool cat! Guess what he did after losing this button?" Have the children guessing the outcome. Some even said, he's gonna get a new shirt! Some said, he's gonna cry.

3) I animated the story and gave it 'life.' I kinda animated Pete and imitated his nonchalant look. I asked my students to try it too. They had so much fun doing it.

4) Added some words of my own to give Pete more 'character'.

5) Encouraged involvement and participation. I sorta 'created' my own tune for Pete's song in this story and invited the children to sing along with me. And each time Pete loses his button, I asked the kids guess what Pete will do next/how do you think he'll react? This way, it'll make this simple story, more interesting.

Most importantly, get the children involved in the story. It'd make story time so much more fun!

You could turn this into a great storytelling session too! Just use your imagination and you'll have so much fun telling and dramatizing it; yes, even without the book :) I might try doing this when I get the chance :)

After that we had an art & craft session. We made our very own cats! :) This one's made by yours truly hehe Found the idea here

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Devil in The White City by Erik Larson

Title/Author: The Devil in The White City
Publisher: Vintage Books
Pages: 447
ISBN: 0-375-72560-1

In a nutshell
Firstly, this is non-fiction. I bought thinking it was fiction! Silly me. Anyway, Larson combined tales of two very passionate men, who toiled (one of them, very surreptitiously) to achieve their ambitions, but both have one objective - to create history.

Burnham was the architect behind the legendary 1893 World's Fair, while Holmes was the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death.

In the opening pages, you'll be introduced to them through their words.

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood." - Daniel Burnham, Director of Works World's Columbian Exposition, 1893

"I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing." - Dr. H. H. Holmes, Confession, 1896

Thus began the story that has captured a wide readership...(including Leonardo di Caprio, who already bought the film rights in 2010)...except, probably me. 

What I liked
Let me share what I liked first. I love learning new stuff, so reading this added some info to my knowledge bank. 

Holmes's story was the page turner. He was such a character! Holmes was like a living dark entity in the real world. A dark entity who had the power to charm and harm. His charisma drew many women into his life - young and old. Once he had charm, he'd harm. He was so malevolent he craved seeing pain in his victims's eyes.

To be honest, I had no idea what the World's Fair was all about until now. It not only sounded fascinating, but its history was too. Here's a little about World's Fair: 
The White City was the nickname for the World's Fair, The World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The central array of buildings were painted white - they were so beautiful that there were stories of people bursting into tears. There were about 200 other buildings in the Fair but the central array that was painted white was why it was called the White City.

The original Ferris Wheel was created at and for the Fair. It was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. and became the landmark of the Fair.

Basically that's about it. Lots and lots of information thrown into the pages with really lengthy narration. It got kinda draggy when Larson went into too much detail especially about the work that went into the Fair.

Reading this tale of two men made me realize how passion can make and break a person. How success can be so different in the eyes of the beholder. Holmes 'could look at himself in the mirror and tell himself that he was one of the most powerful and dangerous men in the world. He could feel that he was a god in disguise.' That to him, was success - being wanted, being hunted, being able to outwit the authority was success.

This reminded me of a recent tragedy that took place in Sandy Hook school. People blamed the guns and they requested for increased gun control measures. Truly, it's not the weapons that create evil. It's our minds. A criminal will find all ways to get their guns; if not, they'll find other means to hurt and harm. Stricter gun controls won't help curb crimes. We have knives at home, why don't ban knives too? Anything can be used as a weapon as long as the mind intends to. FYI, Holmes didn't use guns to kill his victims. All he needed were his charm and experience in pharmaceuticals.

I think what we need to feed our future generations with is more love and better education.

What I disliked
The architecture and the details put into the book about the World's Fair was just too much. This pretty much sums it all because that's all you'll find in the book.

Definitely won't be in my must-read non-fiction book.

My verdict? 2/5 (But those who enjoy architecture might like this book)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Books for my Niece

My niece has turned 4 months old and my sister wants to instill reading habits in her. She asked me what books are appropriate for an infant.
Reading aloud to babies are very important, especially during infancy, not only because it can help instil reading habits, but also because at this stage, infants are very receptive to language and visuals. This is the time when neurons make connections, a brain process called "synaptogenesis", very rapidly, till the first year of life. Another process called the myelination continues and the neurons controlling hearing and vision become myelinated.
Repetitions are very important at this stage. I suggested her to get board books that have big, colorful images and have repeated words. Those which have textures for them to touch will be great too. These are some of my recommendations:

How to read aloud to an infant:
1) Place them on your lap (not on the bed while you read aloud to them. They need to be able to see the images and colors, and be able to interact with the book and you)
2) Read using different voices (maintaining an infant-directed tone); make it as interactive and interesting as possible
3) Allow them to turn the pages, touch and feel
4) Encourage them to 'point'. Keep repeating your instructions and guide their little fingers. Repetitions will help register meaning to their brains.
Have fun reading to her sis! :)


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