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Archive for February, 2011

Read, Indeed

National Read Aloud Day, Wednesday March 2nd

National Read Aloud Day was started on March 2, 1998 by the National Education Association (NEA) as a way to promote early literacy and learning at home and in the classroom.  The NEA felt the special day could be paired nicely with Dr. Seuss’s birthday—a holiday of its own, in many American classrooms.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

— Dr. Seuss

About Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel, born March 2, 1904, wrote many beloved rhyming and rhythmic children’s stories including The Cat in the HatGreen Eggs and Ham, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, among many, many others.  He also wrote under the name Theo LeSieg—Geisel spelled backwards.  Books which have this signature are those which he wrote, but did not illustrate.  These titles include, but are not limited to:  Ten Apples Up on Top, Wacky Wednesday, and The Tooth Book.  It’s no wonder we celebrate his birthday in conjunction with National Read Aloud Day—throughout his lifetime, he wrote nearly 70 books, most which beg to be read aloud!

Miss Rebecca Recommends
In celebrating National Read Aloud Day and Dr. Seuss’s birthday, I have three perfectly entertaining read-aloud books and, and coordinating activities, for you and your children.

The Sneeches
One of my favorite Dr. Seuss creations, this story is one of diversity, reminding adults and children alike to be inclusive, making for a more cooperative society.   I have used this book with groups as young as Pre-K and as old as 8th grade.  It sheds light on similarities and differences, striking a chord that we are ultimately all people (or in the case of this story, Sneeches).  I recommend this book for ages 4 to adult, as it really does have a good message, but is also quite simply a neat rhyming story.

Home Connection
Sneetch Science Experiment
You will need:
Large mixing bowl
Water (in a pitcher)
Pepper (in a shaker)
Dish detergent (Dawn or Joy, for example)
Sugar (in a shaker)

Kids can be great helpers for this experiment.  As you follow the instructions say the meaning behind each instruction.  The meaning is best understood by older children who can grasp the abstract and representations, but it’s still fun for younger siblings to watch the experiment.
1)      Pour water into the bowl, making it half to ¾ full.  Say:  “The water in the bowl represents our world, planet Earth.
2)      Shake pepper onto the surface on the water.  Say:  “The pepper is the people in our world. There’s a lot of people and they’re all hanging out together, having a good time.”
3)      Say:  “So they’re happy, having a good time, but what if someone says or does something mean?  Let’s pretend the dish soap is something mean, something bitter, like not-nice words, or something that could hurt someone’s feeling.”  Ask for examples.  “What could be mean or hurt your feelings?”
4)      Now, squirt the dish detergent onto the surface of the water.  The pepper scatters!
5)      Say:  “The pepper people scattered into smaller groups when something mean was said or done.  That’s what happens to our groups of friends when something bad occurs.  Now let’s make it better.  Let’s say or do something sweet.”
6)      Now, shake sugar over the water surface area.  It will be heavier than the bitter soap, and will slowly, sweetly, bring the pepper people back together.  Say:  “It takes time for something sweet to make something bitter that happened to get better.”
Follow up with your children on how they can work to be thoughtful, sweet friends, working to include others.

Yertle the Turtle
This story teaches empathy and compassion, which at first, Yertle did not have.  Yertle, caring about what only he wanted, order the other turtles to pile up so that he may see his whole kingdom.  He did not take their thoughts and feelings into consideration, and therefore was not a gracious and humble leader in the least.  In connecting this story with real-world themes, this book is a good springboard in talking to your child about being considerate of others.  In the latest edition of Yertle, two other stories have been included: Gertrude McFuzz and The Big Brag, which also make for nice read-alouds and life lessons on envy and good deeds.  I recommend this book to ages 4 and up for its valuable, thought-provoking themes.

Home Connection

Make  Your Own Turtle
You will need:
Paper bowl
3 jumbo sized craft sticks (about 6” in length)
Paint
Paint brushes
Wiggly eyes
Glue

Cover the art area with newspaper.  Place the paper bowl upside down.  This will be the turtle’s shell.  With your child, glue jumbo craft sticks in an “X” on the lip of the bowl (these will be the legs).  Glue the remaining craft stick on the other two so that it sticks out as the turtle’s head and tail.  Now your child is ready to paint!  Allow your child to be creative and pick any color he/she would like the turtle to be.  After the turtle has been painted and allowed time to dry, glue wiggly eyes on turtle’s head.  If you’re daring, assist your child in using a Sharpie marker to draw  on a turtle mouth and claws on each foot.

Go Away Big Green Monster!
Not a Dr. Suess, but I had to include one of my all-time favorite read alouds!
I love how this book has die-cut pages, allowing the reader to make the monster as the story builds up, and then make the monster go away as the story ends.  It’s very colorful and very descriptive in nature, teaching kids colors as well as words, such as scraggly, and wiggly.  It also teaches facial figures to the youngest child audience.  Written by Ed Emberely, this book helps children conquer a common fear—that of monsters.  Recommended for reading to/with ages 3 to 8, although can be adapted for a toddler group.

Home Connections
Homemade Monster Feet and Claws
You will need:
Monster Feet:
Empty tissue boxes (2 per child)
Construction or wrapping paper
Scissor (adult help necessary)
Glue or tape
Duct tape
Markers/crayons/paint

Monster Claws:
Old marker tops, which have lost their marker
(Wear these on finger tips)

Have your child place his/her feet in the tissue box openings.  Eyeball measure the opening and determine how much duct tape is needed to cover the excess part of the opening, in order to make the Monster Feet fit over your child’s feet.  Cover with paper, taping or gluing in place.  Allow your child to decorate the feet and once dry, stomp around, roaring and showing your claws!

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Old Fort Jackson Family Fun!

Annual Family Campover:  Friday, March 11 6:00pm – Saturday, March 12, 8:30am

Can you think of a more perfect way to learn about Historic Savannah than by spending the night in a really old, really beautiful, packed with history and ‘legends’ fort –  sleeping  in the same spot where soldiers guarded the Savannah River almost 300 years ago during the Revolutionary War, then again,  more than 100 years ago during the Civil War?! While the Family Campover at Old Fort Jackson is something we do annually, this year promises to be even more special as it marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the “War Between the States.”

Children will march throughout the Fort, learning about life during the time of the Civil War, reenacting the daily tasks of a soldier, and discovering the skills it took to protect our city.  History will come alive as it is taught in a culturally and developmentally appropriate manner.  We will relax from our squad “duties” as we sing and make s’mores around the campfire.   Rise and shine with us early in the morning to the sounds of Reveilee (i.e. bugle call) and enjoy one last meal fireside as we reflect on the weekend’s incredible activities.

If this sounds like your type of memorable experience, reserve your family a spot today, as space is limited!  Call 912-651-6823 x3 for more details and to make your family’s reservation. I hope to see you there!

Home Connections

Write like a Civil War soldier by making your own quill pen and ink. A little bit of science, a little bit of craft, and a whole lot of fun!

Letter-writing was the main form of communication during the Civil War.  When a soldier did not have the money to purchase paper, envelopes, pens, and inks in order to write a letter home, he had to make the most of his resources.  Oftentimes, soldiers would make ink out of what they had available such as berries in the battlefield.   Here’s an easy recipe to make your own ink at home:

Supplies & Ingredients:

  • ½ cup berries (not yet squished)
  • ½ teaspoon vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Spoons
  • Bowl
  • Paper towels or cheese cloth
  • Small jar (baby food jar works well)
  • Duck feather (I buy these in small packages from DiscountSchoolSupply.com)

Directions:

Wrap berries in paper towels or cheese cloth and place in bowl.  Squish using spoon.  Once the juice has come out of the berries, throw paper towel (or cheese cloth) ball away. Add to berry juice vinegar and salt.  Stir.  Carefully pour into small jar.

Writing:

Snip (adults only) the end of the duck quill so that it’s angled.  Dip into berry ink and allow child to draw/write on paper.  Construction paper and thick water color paper work best.  I also recommend covering your table with newsprint first.  Have fun writing historically!

Miss Rebecca Recommends

Civil War on Sunday (Magic Tree House #21) by Mary Pope Osborne

In this Magic Tree House installment, author Mary Pope Osborne offers children a look into understanding  the Civil War in a child-appropriate manner.  Siblings, Annie and Jack travel in time to the 19th century, and find themselves on a Civil War battlefield.  There they meet Clara Barton, nurse, teacher, and founder of the American Red Cross.  From her, they learn many lessons in care and compassion for one another, and for all mankind.

This small chapter book is appropriate for readers aged 7-11, however emerging readers will also enjoy hearing the story read aloud.

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Music of the Heart

Music of the Heart

Recently, we had a very busy family weekend at the Roundhouse – Georgia State Railroad Museum.  On Saturday  February 5th, we hosted Amy Drew from Amy’s School of Music for Music of the Heart.  The children made their own instruments, learned about traditional instruments, and paraded around the Roundhouse making beautiful music.  If you missed it, try this great bonding experience with your kids by making homemade instruments. It’s easy and also a great lesson in recycling. Here are a few to try:

MARACAS

1 toilet paper roll

A handful of beans for inside the roll

Tissue or other paper to secure on the ends with a rubber band or string

DRUMS

1 empty cylinder canister with A plastic lid

TAMBOURINES

2 paper plates,

Beans to be placed between the plates

A stapler to secure the plates together

Super Museum Sunday

Thank you to everyone who came out to Coastal Heritage Society’s various sites during Super Museum Sunday, February 6th.  The Georgia State Railroad Museum hosted train rides, hand car rides, and many opportunities for children to express their creativity.  We painted with water colors, colored a steam engine labeled with its primary parts, played with play dough, and had several fun and interactive storytimes.

Home Connections: Play Dough Recipe

Whether it is store-bought or made by you, play dough is an excellent learning tool. For customization or an additional math and science lesson, here is a recipe I’ve used for years, to make my own concoctions.  You can add food coloring to make it extra special or even scented oils and glitter!  The possibilities are really endless…

1 cup flour

½ cup salt

1 cup water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Food coloring, glitter etc. (optional)

Mix all dry ingredients in a medium pan.  Add water and oil (and coloring, if desired).  Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until dough has reached thick consistency.  Remove from heat, put on wax paper on counter and once cool, kneed it.

Play and Learn with Play Dough

Here is some important information about playing with play dough – which is really an easy and fun way to start (and improve upon) the basics of learning for all children.

Social Skills/Emotional Awareness

  • An increase in self confidence through the ability to for her own sculpture (whatever it is)
  • Increase in the ability to cooperate with others, problem-solving, and sharing
  • Ability to express feelings creatively and through language (learning “May I please use the roller?”)

Early Literacy

  • A beginning awareness of print, pictures, and storytelling (their sculptures tell a story, and they may tell it to you)
  • Growing understanding of letters (making play dough letters) and how they represent words

Science

  • Even the little ones get this:  beginning understanding of 5 senses:  touch, smell, sight, sound, taste (some will put it in their mouth.  “How does it taste?”  Salty!)
  • Beginning to investigate simple observations (how long it can be stretched without breaking, for example)
  • Learning about the change in materials (especially if you allow your child to help you mix the play dough recipe)

Art

  • Learning ability to use different media creatively
  • Growing awareness of creative dramatic play with self and others

Math

  • Beginning understanding of shapes, size, differences, and similarities
  • Introduction to understanding directional words (prepositions):  inside, outside, under, over, etc.
  • Beginning to understand quantity and counting correspondence (1 = 1 play dough ball, 2 play dough balls, and so on—pointing to objects as you count)

Miss Rebecca Recommends

It’s February, so in celebration of  your little Valentines, I want to share with you my childhood family favorite book:  I’ll Love you Forever by Robert Munsch.  You may have heard of this book.  I encourage you, next time you read it aloud with your child, to sing the verses:

I’ll love you forever

I’ll like you always

As long as I’m living

My baby you’ll be

Make your own tune when singing/reading to your child.  I love to sing books—makes them more fun and engaging for the children and for us!

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February = Friendship

Miss Rebecca Recommends
This week, I recommend two picture books, which will get your little one moving!  It’s important to keep our bodies and minds healthy by movement and play.

Stretch and Wiggle encourage your child to do just that—to stretch and wiggle!  You’ll enjoy adorable pictures of a dog that shimmies and shakes as a way to keep in shape.

Stretch by Doreen Cronin

Wiggle by Doreen Cronin
Recommended for ages 3-8.  You may recognize some of Cronin’s other titles:  Click, Clack, Moo:  Cows That Type and Diary of a Worm, for example.

Home Connections
If you frequent coffee shops, I have a cool way to re-purpose your coffee sleeves…Celebrate February as the month of friendship and make your own heart-shaped stamps with your kids!  Save your cardboard cup sleeve (it protects your hand from the heat of the cup) and pinch it into the shape a heart.  Place a paperclip at the pinched portion of the sleeve and use it for stamping paint or ink onto paper.  Instant heart-shaped stampers can make quick and easy Valentines!

Join us for Storytime
Upcoming storytimes at Georgia State Railroad Museum (the Roundhouse):

Wednesday, March 16 @ 10am

Storytime brings picture books to life with songs, rhymes, art, and dance!  Each storytime includes a take-home craft, an hour of fun, and free-play in our Kidz Zone Baggage Car.  Mostly appropriate for ages 2 – 5 years-old, however younger and older siblings may also join in on the fun!  The cost is $4 per child, plus regular adult admission.  Reservations encouraged, but not necessary.

Call us today at 912.651.6823 x3 to make your reservation!

Toddler Art Workshop

Is your child two-years-old or under and enjoys being creative?  What toddler doesn’t?  Enjoy this eight-week long adventure for your young artist!  $100 for eight sessions.

Friday mornings @ 10am

February 25 – April 15

Call 912.651.6823 x3 for extra information or to book your classes.

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Savannah Night @ the Museum

On Saturday January 22, local children experienced many aspects of Savannah’s rich history – live! Families came from all over the Low Country, into South Carolina and from inland Georgia to Savannah History Museum for Coastal Heritage Society’s second annual Savannah Night at the Museum event… The evening was a huge success, as many children and parents were able to get up close and personal with historic figures – as some of our exhibits came to life!!

Colonial Savannah: Tobacco Tradesman from Virginia

The experience began with a private showing of  the new family classic, Night at the Museum, in the Savannah History Museum theater.  Following the movie, adventure-seeking families were given a lively tour of the Museum by our historic interpretation team.  A ‘history hunt’ for the kids happened during the tour with the exciting promise of a rare on-site sleepover. We ended this amazing experience with  a warm breakfast the next morning catered by the WhistleStop Café, a bag of goodies and unique memories and fun stories for the car ride home. . .

SAVE THE DATE

If you missed this fun event, don’t worry—Savannah Night at the Museum II will be held on July 23, 2011.  More and different exhibits will come to life, further teaching children about Savannah’s history and culture.  More info to come later!

Miss Rebecca Recommends
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

To further the Savannah Night at the Museum experience, I recommend this 1968 Newberry Medal recipient chapter book about two youngsters who have their own adventure in sleeping over in a museum—only the museum curator and security guards are unaware of their planned high jinx.  Eleven-year-old Claudia, and her brother, Jamie, age 9 decide to journey to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in order to “live the good life” and experience more culture than their typical hum-drum home life.  In order to really “live” in the museum, they must learn how to blend in with school field trips, hide their belongings from museum security, and save money by spending only a few cents at a time in the building’s vending area.  One afternoon, the siblings come across a beautiful new exhibit—a statue of an angel.  Claudia makes it her mission to learn all she can about this piece of art, which turns into a journey in its own right.

Formally recommended for ages 8 and up.  While I typically recommend books for younger and emerging readers, I couldn’t pass up this recommendation.  It’s a great children’s mystery book, which fits so perfectly with our own Savannah Night at the Museum theme.

Home Connections: Make Your Own Fossil

Materials:

o   1 cup flour

o   1 cup used coffee grounds

(coffee shops sometimes bag these up for garden use, or dry your own)

o   1/2 cup salt

o   1/4 cup sand

o   3/4 cup water

o   Objects which can make impressions, such as shells or small plastic toys

o   Bowl

o   Spoons

o   Baking sheet

o   Aluminum foil


Instructions:
1. Heat oven to 200 degrees. In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Slowly add water, stirring until the mixture forms dough.
2. Roll a piece of the dough into a ball, about the size of a baseball.

Here’s where you can choose what to do:
Lightly press your dough ball against an object to make an impression
and/or
Use your finger to bore a hole to the center, push in a small prize, then seal the hole with more dough. Repeat this process with the rest of the dough.
3. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place the stones on a baking sheet and cook them for 30 minutes, then allow them to cool completely before giving them to the kids to enjoy their fossil mold or break open to see their prize (easy to do by hand).

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