Archive for August, 2009

Sassy the Ghost Dog

An exciting experience with literature can occur in the most unexpected places. While vacationing at the beach this week, 5-year-old Sarah implored her parents to go down to the beach at night with a flashlight to tell ghost stories. Sitting there in the dark, the ocean waves crashing and the wind whipping, Sarah shone her little flashlight up under her chin and wove an intriguing tale about a ghost dog named Sassy. At the end, in a hushed voice she said that people had been looking for Sassy ever since. Suddenly she was on her feet searching for clues. By now it was getting really dark and more and more deserted. In an attempt to get Sarah back to the hotel room without an argument her parents suggested she draw a picture of Sassy so people would know what she looked like and maybe even some “lost dog” posters to hand out at the beach the next day. Sarah scooted quickly back to the room and drew a picture of Sassy, carefully labeling it. Then she proceeded to make about a dozen “lost ghost dog” posters. Realizing it might also be helpful if people knew Sassy’s story, Sarah wrote and illustrated the spooky tale. It didn’t end there. The next night uncovered the story of Sassy’s 15 ghost puppies, also requiring the completion of an illustrated book.

Sassy the Ghost Dog

Sassy the Ghost Dog


Sarah writing in the sand the next morning.

Sarah writing in the sand the next morning.

Grounded: Connecting Your Child to the Earth

All young children are fascinated with the outdoors. They exclaim in wonder when they see their first cricket, grasshopper or dragonfly. At every opportunity little boys and girls will stomp in a puddle of water and laugh in delight at the splashing result. Finding tiny wildflowers in an ordinary lawn or field can hold their attention for a long time. Even the occasional frog, turtle or rabbit that ventures across a lawn will catch and hold their attention.

Why is this connection to the earth important for young and also older children? Not only does it create interest in the natural sciences but it also gives children the opportunity to appreciate the wonders of nature.

Give your child a zip-lock bag and go on a nature walk. Let them collect sticks, stones, acorns, seedpods, leaves and anything else they find interesting. Take the found treasures home and let the child glue them on a heavy piece of paper. The resulting collage will make a great science project. To extend the activity write the name of each object on the finished work.

Make a nature walk a weekly or daily adventure for you and your child. Not only are you connecting your child to the earth but you also create lasting memories.

Digging in the dirt.

Digging in the dirt.

Read for the Love of Literature

Parents always find it amazing when their young child demands the same bedtime story over and over. Adults can enhance the enjoyment of the story by discussing the illustrations and soliciting a response. Asking a child questions encourages them to become active participants in the reading process.

Soon the child will repeat select key words and eventually read the story to the parent. Once he/she internalizes all aspects of the story, they are ready to move on to a new piece of literature.

By rereading the same story over and over the adult can integrate the basic theme across the curriculum to include dramatic play, reading, writing, science, math, cooking, and art.

Using the same story as a thread to connect the concepts that are learned makes it cohesive and meaningful to the child.

For example, in a story about an ocean the child will work on projects that are related to the theme. Such projects involve a sustained involvement that can last for several days or weeks. This is the basic concept for “Story Play” and the explanation for why and how it works.

Love of literature starts early in life!

Love of literature starts early in life!