The G"olden" Book Days: Browsing the Library Shelves
When I was a kid (or as my kids would say ... in the "olden days") we went to the library regularly to browse and select books to bring home. I remember the space as a safe and warm place. There was a small puppet theater in a carpeted space that was surrounded by shelves and shelves of picture books and as I aged, I expanded my explorations to the surrounding shelves where I discovered Pippi Longstocking, The Black Cauldron, and the Fairy Books of Many Colours. I discovered all my favourites simply by browsing the shelves. I flipped through the pages, often did judge a book by its cover and threw it in the book bag to go home and devour!!
Browsing Kids Books Today: Amazon's "Look inside!", Book Blog Reviews and Picture Book Trailers
Browsing books looks a bit different today. Now - don't get me wrong - we still go to the library and enjoy being in that kind of space. We love the randomness of grabbing a book off the shelves and taking it home but this is by no means the only way my children and I browse books together. In my previous life - I was a librarian so I am a bit of a book browsing maniac. I love peeking around inside the sample pages of picture books on amazon. I adore children's book blogs, book lists, book reviews, book previews, and my guiltiest pleasure... book trailers. In fact, I'm always super disappointed when a new picture book doesn't have a book trailer and it's taken me a while to figure out why I feel this way but then I discovered... uh oh... I'm that annoying person who always says:
"If you Liked the Movie..."
Yep. I'm that annoying person. "Oh! If you liked the movie - you gotta read the book!" And it is this exact tendency in me that makes me love book trailers. It is the certainty of knowing that if I like the "preview" I will ADORE the book and if I'm entirely frank - this is usually true.
So! Do you sit your kids down to watch book trailers with you? Does it make your kids more or less likely to want to read the book? I guess the question is, picture book trailers, nay? or yay!
My child is a dreamer: One of those wonderful people who's imagination consistently transports them to another place and time. Her stories are rich and detailed and she is often seen gazing out windows and doodling on paper. As a "go, go, go" kind of person, I will admit that her distracted behaviour often drives me a little nuts. However, one day a few years back, I read a beautiful article that made me realize that even though her lack of focus and attention can be troublesome when we are trying to get ready to go somewhere or accomplish a particular task, her dreaming is a kind of gift. She is a "noticer" - someone who sees the little details and appreciates them. A stop and smell the flowers kinda kid. And who the heck am I to take that away from her? Nonetheless, there are times when she needs to be able to gather her thoughts and simply focus. Music is a wonderful way to develop focus in your little musician! Here are three musical games we play together at home to develop concentration in a fun way!
1. Dance and Freeze
Throw on music that really gets you moving. Jukebox oldies work brilliantly for this game in our house. Encourage your little musicians to dance as expressively as they can! Meanwhile, keep your finger poised over the "mute" button and discretely turn off the music periodically throughout the song. When the music stops - everyone has to freeze! Laugh. Repeat.
2. Find the Phone
Choose a song on your phone (if you don't have a cell phone - a music box works just as well). Have your little one close their eyes while you hide the phone in the next room. Now your little musician must focus her ears to find the phone! (Such a great activity for auditory learners).
3. When you Hear the Instrument, Play Along!
Choose a noise maker and some music to play that includes multiple kinds of instruments. Instruct your little one to play along when she hears a particular kind of instrument (e.g. drums). Now stop when the instrument is finished playing. This one is great to do with jazz music where different instruments get lots of solo time. An alternative to this game is to play along when you hear a particular word. Songs with lots of repetition are awesome for this (e.g. "All you Need is Love" by The Beatles. Play your instrument every time you hear the word "love" ).
The ability to focus and pay attention is so important for little ones to develop and, let's face it, it can be tough to get your child to listen at the best of times. Games like these are excellent ways to make the idea of listening fun. Artsy Startsy's ROAM curriculum is chock full of these kinds of games. We'd love for you to join us on our musical adventures! Take a peek at our sample week.
My daughter Althea has been doing easel starters for years now. It no longer comes as a surprise to her to walk into a room and discover a set of art supplies sitting out on a table inviting her to create! If your little one is new to easel starters - it may take a couple of introductions before he gets the idea but - once he does - you will be amazed at your child's creativity! The concept is straightforward: set out materials in a way that encourages your child's open ended artistic expression. This is the third in our series on easel starters and today's rainbow easel starter is super easy to arrange.
Set out a piece of paper on which you have pre-drawn a series of eight arching lines to create a rainbow shape. Select seven colours from the same medium (pencil crayons, crayons, oil pastels, markers, watercolour paints) and place them immediately next to the paper.
Many little artists will elect to colour in the lines immediately. Whether they use multiple colours or one, whether they decide to draw around the rainbow shape, or whether they put the colours in the "wrong" order does not matter at all. In fact, the less you say about the masterpiece to be created the better! Remember, there is no right way to create art.
Finally, Ask This Question!
Once your little artist has filled in some or all of the rainbow ask, "What do you think might be at the end of the rainbow?" You will likely not have much trouble prompting your little one to begin drawing what is in his mind!
My daughter often talks and sings as she works and it is always fun to hear what she is imagining as she creates. It's like a stream of consciousness exercise that flows in multiple directions and back again. There is nothing more satisfying for me than listening in on these little monologues. Every time I get a glimpse into her thoughts and feelings. It is truly wonderful!
Et voila! Yet another masterpiece for your fridge! Stay tuned for more Artsy Startsy easel starters in the series but in the meantime, do you have ideas for open-ended art activities that have worked with your little one or that you are excited to try?