Living Legends, Fanciful Fairy Tales, Mysterious Myths

Read stories to your children and sooner or later you will see those tales woven into the children’s play. Legends, myths and folktales provide some of the most fertile ground for playing pretend. Additionally, the international treasury of stories from these genres forms an intriguing portal to a lifetime interest in cultural geography.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


 
 


This is the first book we have read where I actually had the blog in mind as I read it. If you have not read Willy Wonka in class you are in luck. If you have, you may just want to read it again after this post. Yes, it's just that good. 

     Let me start by saying that I did not do every single thing on this list and I don't expect you to do so either. We all come with different talents and different interest so with that in mind, choose what would suite your family the best.  

    While reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory I thought of activities for several of the chapters that you can choose from. As you read the book, you will see how they fit with the story. I'm telling you this list is amazing! No modesty here ;-). I wish there were a website made of just these lists. Here is the incredible list so that you can also dream of such a website:

Ch. 1: Volunteer at a food bank or shelter, donate food (sometimes they have collection boxes at the doors of grocery stores), make up food bags for the less fortunate and (with parents permission) give them out to homeless on the corners or buy a few $5 gift cards for fast food to keep in the car to hand out. This is a great opportunity to give a pass along card, by the way. Or, Option B: really sacrifice and make/eat cabbage soup for lunch! ;-)

Ch. 2 & 3: Design your own Chocolate Factory! Use food, play dough, legos---get creative! Make it 3D!

Ch. 4: I looked in 3 stores to try to find a chocolate bar that you actually unwrap with paper but couldn't find one. I wanted J to open a golden ticket but that just didn't happen. So instead....Option B: design and make your own chocolate bar yourself! What would you put in it? My mouth waters just thinking of it!

Ch. 6 & 8: Act out the kids as the tickets are discovered. I loved acting like Veruca---I mean J loved acting like Veruca. I'm a respectable... ok, ok, it was me. I pretended to be Veruca- happy now? And it was fun, too!

Ch. 10: Go for a walk and look for money on the ground. It's a long shot but you never know. Plus, exercise is good for the soul. 

Ch. 11: Make your own golden ticket. There may even be a template already out there. Use a JoAnns or Hobby Lobby coupon and buy gold scrapbook paper. I would think 1 sheet could make 6 tickets and each sheet is about $.60 regularly. Print off the tickets your kids design. If they are too young to use a computer, use a Sharpie and watch them closely. 

Ch. 14: Have kids practice their 'mental imaging' by first picturing then drawing Willy Wonka based on the description in the book. Hint: He doesn't look exactly the same as he does in the movie so the kids need to pay close attention. Side note: The Oompas look VERY different in the book than in the movie. It might be fun to look up images of the movie to compare. 

Ch. 15: Drink some chocolate milk or hot cocoa together while reading this chapter. This sounds like a journal prompt to me: What would you do if you had a chocolate waterfall in your home?

Ch. 16: Dress up like the Oompa Loompas. The one in the movie would be more fun in my opinion. 

Ch. 17: Make some fudge. Option B: Make up a song or two- like the Oompas do! This would be a great keepsake if written down.

Ch. 18: Design your own boat. Make it out of anything. For some reason a bar of soap comes to my mind. How about butter or mashed potatoes? Think about it, "What did you do in school today?" "I made a boat out of mash potatoes." COOLEST. TEACHER. EVER.

Ch. 19: DIY Gobstoppers. In the book they are described as green marbles- more like the ones sold in stores now. The ones in the movie were way cooler to make (that's my library # taped to the top of my computer): 

 
 

This might be a fun time to explore the candy isle {only} searching for Willy Wonka Candy. There isn't much in comparison. 

Ch. 20: We made pretend flavors of gum with playdough such as yellow with blue stripes or pink with red dots. Have you ever made snozzberry flavored gum? By the way, I bought a pack of 6 or 8 colors of playdough at the Dollar Tree. It was much cheaper then trying real flavors (and our teeth thanked us).

Ch. 21: Eat some blueberries while reading.

Ch. 22: DIY lick-able wallpaper, fuzzy juice (Aka rootbeer floats), or marshmallow pillows. Here is a recipe link.

 
hand on reading 12.jpg
 

Ch. 24: Eat some nuts while reading. Confused? In the book Veruca is a bad nut- not a bad egg. Personally, I think she was the worst kid and she got off the easiest. 

Ch. 25: Design a glass elevator. I'll admit, I don't know how I would do this so please if you do send me pictures! Go ride in a glass elevator if you know where one is located. Look up google or pinterest images of glass elevators. They are beautiful! 

Ch. 26: Make dark glasses. Let's cheat with this one and use the same idea from the Wizard of Oz. 

Ch. 29: Draw before and after pictures of the kids who visited the factory and compare. In the book you get to see them come out of the factory.

     I truly hope that this post (and perhaps my past post) have opened your eyes to how simple and fun hands on learning can be. If you try these things at home while reading Willy Wonka I really would love to hear from you in the comments below. If you have more ideas to add to this list- I'd love to hear them, too. Remember that you can look up images of the movie or watch clips on youtube throughout. There are also some great quotes and useless facts about the movie you can find. We watched the movie first and I often spotted exact lines from the book used in the movie.   Have fun!

 

Hands on Reading

     Yes, you read that correctly. This post is about hands on reading. It is possible! I love to read and a great way to help inspire your children to enjoy reading is by making it totally awesome. 

     The Wizard of Oz

 
"Because if you do not wear glasses the brightness and glory of the Emerald City would blind you." He opened a box filled with green tinted glasses of all sizes and shapes. He fitted them all with a pair; even Toto. -Wizard of Oz

"Because if you do not wear glasses the brightness and glory of the Emerald City would blind you." He opened a box filled with green tinted glasses of all sizes and shapes. He fitted them all with a pair; even Toto. -Wizard of Oz

 

   As we were reading Wizard of Oz I was doing my usual 'print out a picture of the characters for J to color as we read' routine when I came across this. It was a light bulb moment for me. I can make reading hands on? Wow.....

         I came across this and thought it would be great. Visual plus hands on!  What a fantastic way to retell stories! Now we use the 'Yellow Brick Road Method' after all our stories. 

There are tons of different ways to do this if 'Yellow Brick Road' is not for you or if, like us, you thrive on variety.  Here are some other ideas:

Hands on reading ideas galore!

Instead write questions like: Who was your favorite character and why? Are you like him/her? How? What is the setting? Would you like to be in this story for real? Describe the villain. What do you think will happen next? How does _________ make you feel? 

Instead write questions like: Who was your favorite character and why? Are you like him/her? How? What is the setting? Would you like to be in this story for real? Describe the villain. What do you think will happen next? How does _________ make you feel? 

You may also like this.

You may also like this.

I saw this recent post that focused on emotions. Click to view. 

I saw this recent post that focused on emotions. Click to view. 

What I would do with a retelling rope is have a pre-knotted rope like you see above. Have children draw pictures to represent the knots. For example, draw or color a printed picture of a forest and then tape it to that area of the knot. You could use ribbon and Velcro if that's what you have on hand. 

What I would do with a retelling rope is have a pre-knotted rope like you see above. Have children draw pictures to represent the knots. For example, draw or color a printed picture of a forest and then tape it to that area of the knot. You could use ribbon and Velcro if that's what you have on hand. 

James and the Giant Peach

     For this book I chose to focus on each character. As you can see we wrote about each one as they were introduced in the book. Then I printed out pictures via google search. Then I drew some and J drew some and she colored them in. It was easy. 

     I have a friend who lets her kids pick out one 'topic' to listen for and highlight as they have family scripture study. One son chose food. Every time food is mentioned as they read he highlights it in green. Another chose animals. Any time an animal is talked about, it's highlighted in orange. Older children may choose harder concepts like service or miracles. 

 
You may be surprised to find how often books talk about food. This is a great way to incorporate hands on learning in reading! Plus after you have made it, let the kids eat while you read. I find that's one of the best times to read to kids. 

You may be surprised to find how often books talk about food. This is a great way to incorporate hands on learning in reading! Plus after you have made it, let the kids eat while you read. I find that's one of the best times to read to kids. 

Host a Reading Fair

I am actually throwing one of these shin digs for my home school group at the end of the summer to encourage summer reading.

Check your local library to reserve free rooms for your event.

 Let me know if you do it!

 
Follow this link to help you get started. 

Follow this link to help you get started. 

 

As always, I leave you with a quote:

 
 

Stay tuned for next week when I will be sharing our latest and greatest reading adventure!

Happy Reading!

The Read-a-thon

Whether your readers are ravenous or reluctant, an occasional read-a-thon is a great tool.  Read-a-thons can bridge the gap between summer vacation and the beginning of autumn’s new schedule; they can buy an overwhelmed mom some time during a particularly busy stretch of time; they can constructively get a family through illness; they can be used effectively in a unit study or as a way to “break” in between unit studies while Mom regroups.  A read-a-thon can motivate all types of readers with varying levels of dedication to step up and read more, even if only for the duration of the contest.

There are many ways to run a read-a-thon and to adapt one for your family’s needs.  I’ll describe one of ours from a couple of years ago, when my youngest was still little and just beginning reading so as to cover more of an age range.

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I announced the read-a-thon first thing the Tuesday after Labor Day.  We had kicked off our new school year the week before, which had the theme “Everyone Has a Story,” with a field trip to the fabulous Treehouse Museum in Ogden, Utah, and with learning about types and genres of books.  The children had from Tuesday morning until the midnight between the following Sunday/ Monday to log their reading.  Then, other than regular chores and a daily math assignment, nothing was expected of them from me during that week, leaving them free to read (and me free to finish preparing for our upcoming studies and schedule).

I had some children who didn’t want to put in much effort because they assumed they’d lose no matter what to their always-reading-and-maniacal-about-books brother.  I told them that they’d be surprised how it all worked out in the end and that no effort would be a waste.  On Monday morning I awarded the prizes.  I had a big bowl of favorite candy treats.  For every different genre a child read, he got to choose a treat.  For every book he read in its entirety, he chose a treat.  For every full 5 hours of reading time logged, he got a dollar bill.  If a child logged scripture reading, I doubled the value of the time.  For reading over 200 pages, the child got a treat.  And the child who read the most overall, taking all the numbers of pages, books, and time into account, got a $5 gift card to a book store.

It is important to reward EVERYTHING in a read-a-thon, and here is why.  When your children range in age and reading ability, it’s not quite fair otherwise.

My youngest child was reading beginning readers.  There was no way she could have matched page for page, or time, because she read little books to me and then she was “done.”  She needed to be rewarded for the number of books she read, but if that were the only way to be rewarded, it would have been a rip for a kid tackling just one 500-page book.

My oldest child was very involved in many outside activities and didn’t have the same amount of time to devote to reading.  ANY reading he could get in needed to be noticed.  If it weren’t for the genre category, he’d have earned nothing.

My smack middle child is a crazy fast reader, devouring 500-page books in a single day.  He would have easily won all categories if I hadn’t done something to level the playing field.

My other two children fit into their own niches.  The variety of ways to earn rewards kept everyone trying hard and motivated.  Once they saw how it worked, they began to strategize for the next read-a-thon.

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As I mentioned earlier, you can make several read-a-thon adaptations.  If you’re worried about academics, a read-a- thon can play into your current studies.  You could have an “Ancient History Read-a-thon” and/or narrow it to a subject, breaking the genre category into things such as reference, non-fiction, picture book, historical, fiction, magazine (e.g. National Geographic, Kids Discover), etc.  If you can’t/won’t spare a whole week, you can make your read-a-thon last just one or two days, and let everyone wear pajamas and make comfy reading places anywhere in the house they’d like, with popcorn or other favorite snacks readily available. You can even enjoy the great outdoors while participating in a read-a-thon by reading outside in hammocks, on hillsides, under umbrellas, and on trampolines.  However they work best for you, your children will love having a few read-a-thons in their year.

Fun Reading Ideas:

1. Read to them. JJ and I just finished reading Hatchet by Paulsen. Perfect for 10 year old boys--it's about a 13 year old boy who crashes in an airplane and must survive alone in the Canadian Wilderness. Try to make reading time a special time-not just torture! (For one book JJ and I played tag with the book. We read together and I always stopped at an exciting part then left the book. Often I would find him reading it. Then I would try and catch up by taking the book from his room...)

2. Let them see you reading. Example just can't be over stated! Make the time to read. (this is frustrating for me - I want to keep doing things!) When the kids see their father read it is 10 times more powerful. (This was an actual study!)

3. Talk about things you've read at the dinner table. We give book commercials - advertising works for TV, why not for reading - tell about a favorite book or article you read.

4. Kids go through phases! Each of our kids has gone through a comic book phase, where all they wanted to read was Garfield and Calvin and Hobbs books. I am enduring this phase but keep reading them books I want them to hear.

5. Get the whole family involved - have aunts, uncles and grandparents tell what they've been reading or ask them to encourage your kids to read. Is there someone in the ward or neighborhood your kids respect and admire - ask about what he or she likes to read.

6. Go to the library or bookstores. Our kids get Christmas money from grandparents - and we always use it for books.

7. Do activities that remind you of the book. After reading Hatchet, we watched Swiss Family Robinson. We also tried making a fire without matches. We talked about getting our son a pocketknife for Christmas, etc.

8. Use thought-provoking questions to make kids think more about what you are reading. Avoid the worksheet approach. This can pretty much kill any enthusiasm over reading (coming from an elementary teacher, I should know!)

9. Books on CD. We listen all the time. One of our favorites: Peter and the Star Catchers. - its very well read and a great story!

10. Tumble Books - kind of for the younger set, but we all stop and listen when they start reading a book. Most libraries have a subscription.

11. Brain Pop (ok, it's not a reading site, but it is a favorite of ours.

12. Buy them a bedside lamp. You’d be amazed at the reading that happens at night. They can turn off their own light.

13. Buy informative magazines for kids. There is a lot of them out there. Go to the library and check them out.

Don't expect your kids to jump right into reading. They sometimes don't do things just to spite you or irritate you. Just keep reading - they will follow suit!

The most important thing about reading for us is to learn to love it. Books can take you anywhere and teach you things, but only if you open them up! Encourage that love of reading and you've accomplished more than you know.

Need a great place to find good books? Read "The Read Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease (I think that this should be required reading for every parent. It lists great books to read aloud in the back.) Ask the librarian, or friends. Also, Book Adventure has a great way to look up books. Have your child look up the kind of books they like.

Require or Not... ?

Ishel was putting the book, Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott back on the bookshelf.I asked, “How did you like it? Was it good?”

“Oh yes, very good.”

“What did you like about it.”

She told me a few things. I probed more, because I had not read the book… "who were the characters?" "Was there one that mirrored you—you found yourself in that person?" She went on telling me about certain characters and what she liked and identified with.

“Remember the papers you are working on about what makes a good mother for your personal progress? What did you learn about being a good mother from Jo?”

Thoughtfully she responded, As she was speaking, I stood up and found a yellow pad of paper and started talking notes—just jotting down main ideas that she was telling me.

Her face scrunched up. “Oh no, Mom, it’s Saturday! I don’t want to get sucked into a project!”

I immediately stopped, and said, “You’re lucky! I am already doing a project! We can talk about this another day!”

Require or Not?

I want my kids to do more than just read good books. I want them to think about them. I want them to take notes in the margins, ask questions, apply them to their life. I guess in short, I want them to walk around in their shoes for a while—see things differently, experience a new perspective and glean everything they can from that book.

Ok, ok, I don’t want them to analyze a book to death. That would destroy the fun and love of reading quickly! One of my favorite books I read as a child was A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy. I read it so often that the library let me pay for and keep the book because I had checked it out so many times. I never analyzed it. I never had to write in the margins or think about character development. I just loved it and took strength from its characters and the insurmountable courage that Peter showed. I just knew that I could count on the friend that I had made in that book, by reading it over and over again.

It was not until years later, in college, for a Children’s Literature class that I wrote about it, analyzed it. It brought tears to my eyes to write about what this short children’s book had meant to me as an awkward 14 year old in a new state and making changes to grow up. My typed paper was stained with tears in a few spots and only the professor read how that book had sustained me through hard growing up years.

I guess that I will not require that my children mark up their books, unless they choose to. Who knows what they are getting out of the book. I will still ask questions and probe deeper thought, but making kids analyze their books I’ll put on the shelf for another day. Something more significant may show up later in their life—I just hope that they share it with me!