Missouri Building Blocks 2014: Count the Monkeys

Book cover for Count the MonkeysCount the Monkeys” by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell

What will you count in this “Count the Monkeys” book? You may find grizzly bears, lumberjacks, beekeeping grandmas, wolves (who don’t mix with the grandmas – shocker) and more. Each time you count, you also get called on to do a fun action, such as move your arm in a zigzag line to confuse those crocodiles. But where are the monkeys? Read this fun book and find out!

After you share the story, take the book further with these fun activities:

  • Feed the monkey! Use construction paper or a large paper plate to make a monkey face. Cut out a large mouth for the monkey, too. Place the monkey face over a small trash can or laundry basket, and laugh along as your kids throw in fake fruit, use it as a beanbag toss game and more.
  • Count with monkeys! Using felt, cut out monkeys and bananas. Assign each monkey a number and place them on a felt board. The children can then give each monkey the number of bananas matching the number on the monkey.
  • Dance like a monkey! Do the “Jungle-Pokey.”
    You put your monkey tail in,
    You put your monkey tail out,
    You put your monkey tail in
    And you swing it all about.
    You do the jungle-pokey and you turn yourself around.
    That’s what it’s all about.
    Repeat with other jungle animals/animal parts.

Remember to help your child vote for his or her favorite Missouri Building Block Picture Book after you’ve read at least five titles.

Thanksgiving Prep for Kids

Thanksgiving is almost here, and you probably have a to-do list a mile long. Thaw turkey, clean house for guests, find the perfect new recipe to try, re-clean house after son/daughter just tracked in dirt, etc. Help kids make their own preparations for Thanksgiving, whether that means making their own turkey or creating their own Thanksgiving setting. See some fun activities below, and be thankful for creative kids. Don’t forget that the library will be closed on Thursday the 27th, but we’ll be open the very next day!A Lego Thanksgiving

  • Create a Thanksgiving setting! Use LEGO minifigs, dolls, action figures or whatever toys are around to create a Thanksgiving setting. Then have your child determine what each character would be thankful for.
  • Decorate a Thanksgiving mural! Talk to your child about what he or she is thankful for, including family, friends, specific foods, a favorite toy or activity. Cut out pictures from magazines or online and help them paste pictures onto poster board. Label the top “I Am Thankful For…” and hang up the mural so your child can proudly display his or her thankfulness.
  • Build a Mayflower! Teaching your child the history of Thanksgiving? Check out this fun model ship you can build.

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2014 Missouri Building Blocks: Little Nelly’s Big Book

Little Nelly's Big BookLittle Nelly’s Big Book,” written by Pippa Goodhart, illustrated by Andy Rowland

What animal is gray, has big ears and a small tail? A mouse? An elephant? What about a rabbit? Or maybe a koala? “Little Nelly’s Big Book” follows a story of an animal with these exact characteristics, but there’s something quite different between her and her animal family. After reading this case of mistaken identity, try some of these follow-up activities: Continue reading

Giving Thanks for the Little Things

Book cover for Ask my kiddos what their favorite holidays are, and they choose Halloween and Christmas, “because of the candy!” My favorite special day, however, is Thanksgiving, and not just because I am a related to a number of skilled pie-bakers. I enjoy dedicating a whole day to spending time with loved ones, sharing a meal with parents, cousins and close friends. I appreciate the way the day makes me pause and appreciate all I have to be thankful for – healthy children, meaningful work, a roof overhead. A book recently added to the library’s collection made me realize how easy it is to encourage gratitude on any day. Amy Schwartz’s “100 Things That Make Me Happy” uses cheerful rhymes to catalog simple pleasures – a great antidote to the feelings of dissatisfaction, greed and false need that all of the holiday shopping advertisements can generate this time of year.

“Mud puddles/soap bubbles,” “Grandma’s lap/gingersnap” and “polka dots/forget-me-nots” represent a small sample of the clever pairings in this book. A bonus is that if you have an emerging reader, the rhyming words and the colorful pictures provide context clues that make puzzling out the longer words much easier. Continue reading

2014 Missouri Building Blocks: Open Very Carefully

Book cover for open very carefullyOpen Very Carefully: A Book with Bite” by Nick Bromley, illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne

Look Out! There is a crocodile eating the letters in this book! We have to make him stop. Oh, dear, now he’s trying to escape from the book!

You and your child, as listener and reader, are part of the story. Not only are books like this fun but they improve a child’s early literacy skills. A child who is actively engaged with a story will probably have a good understanding of the story (comprehension skills), is likely to be able to tell you the story later (narrative skills) and will want to read more books (print motivation). These are important skills to have before a child is ready to learn to read.

You will find a fun printable activity to reinforce the concepts in “Open Very Carefully” at Peace, Love and Learning.

Other books with an interactive narrator include:

Once you read at least five Building Block nominees, then vote for your favorite!