When sea otter Pup 681, Luna, was found, she was so young and so tiny, the Shedd Aquarium staff had to teach her how to act like an otter – it was almost like going to school.
During my launch parties and book festivals for Pup 681: A Sea Otter Rescue Story, I invited young readers and listeners to attend “Sea Otter School” with me. So, with crepe paper kelp, beach balls, and shells for hiding, we learned so much about sea otter behaviors, that we earned our Sea Otter School diplomas and had a “wild” good time.
Now, it’s your turn to go to sea otter school. Learn and imitate how sea otters eat, swim, dive, glide, cry, wrap themselves in sea kelp, hide “treasures” in their under-arm pockets, and make a raft. Then, design your own diplomas and hold a graduation ceremony. Send me photos and I’ll post them to my blog.
What kid doesn’t love dinosaurs? And so do most adults. But while kids are often ready with names and facts, there are some dino details that remain a mystery. Adapted from my book Time Out for Monsters!, this creativity project combines paleontology and art – perfect for all ages.
Don’t we all love the amazing, free and fun programming offered by bookstores and public libraries? What a gift. But I know that with these community mainstays closed, families with little ones are missing their storytimes.
Luna Photo Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune and Brenna Hernandez/Shedd Aquarium/EPA.
Luna, the sea otter pup at the center of my story Pup 681 became a true celebrity when the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago teamed up with Good Morning America to hold a contest for her naming. But until she was named, she was referred to as “Pup 681” – the 681st otter to enter the otter rescue program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where she started her journey. I love the name Luna and how that name reflects the place where she was found – Half Moon Bay in California. But I also love that young sea otters are called “pups.”
Baby animal names can often be so surprising. I think you and your young readers will have fun identifying those names below. While you don’t need my book Pup 681: A Sea Otter Rescue Story in front of you to do this activity, it’s always a bonus if you do. And you can buy it right here.
Whenever I read my book All Through My Town to young listeners, I tell them that many of the details were inspired by the Chicago suburb where I grew up – Highland Park, IL.
I call it a town. But it’s actually the City of Highland Park. So what’s the difference?
The simple social studies activity below asks that same question … and may reveal many thoughtful and creative answers.
While this activity was written for classroom instruction, it’s easily adapted for low-tech, at-home learning. Rather than making copies, simply find photos of towns and cities in books or magazines and construct a Venn Diagram of your own. And while you don’t need my book All Through My Town in front of you to do this activity, it’s always a bonus if you do. You can buy it right here.
A little math + a little social studies = what’s not to love about this activity?
When we think of at-home learning, we can’t forget the younger set.
Here’s a simple activity I did with kindergartners who were cracking up over my book TOO PICKLEY! You don’t need to have the book in front of you to do the activity, but it’s obviously more fun if you do. And you can buy it right here.
So, the number one question I get from kids who read TOO PICKLEY! is
At the end of the story, what had been on the little boy’s plate?
My illustrator, Genevieve Leloup, and I deliberately left that a mystery. We wanted to involve the reader in the story and get a discussion going. So we encourage the question:
What do YOU think was on his plate?
Really observant kids might look at the few crumbs remaining and guess a cookie, an orange and some peas.
Kids who have read my dedication page might guess hot dogs.
But then you’ll have those kids who fully immerse in the story and say, “Peanut butter and jelly. Because I love peanut butter and jelly.”
That’s when it’s time to invite kids to tell you what would be on their “So Yummy” plates. How about their “So Yucky” plates?
This would be a great time to talk about tastes, healthy eating and where foods come from, as well.
Finally, using grocery store ads, glue sticks and paper plates, have kids create their own “So Yummy” and “So Yucky” plates and present them to the family. This is a great sorting activity. Extend it to K-1 by involving the whole family and graphing their responses to common foods.
And speaking of sorting and graphing, this easy and fun activity meets Academic Standards for PreK, 1st Grade and Kindergarten in:
Physical Education/Health and Wellness
CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.B.3 Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.1
CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.C.4 Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another
I’m so thrilled that teachers and librarians are re-discovering my book LIGHT UP THE NIGHT. Because while it’s certainly a cumulative verse bedtime book, it’s also an early social studies, science and geography lesson about earth, space and a kid’s sense of place.
And, interestingly, the activity below is a math activity and art activity – so we’ve got some great STEAM action going here.
Back in 2012, I did a lengthy virtual visit with 5th graders at St. Joseph School in Seattle, WA who studied LIGHT UP THE NIGHT (and others of my books) and mastered this quilt project.
Now it’s your turn. Try this activity at home. Send me photos of your quilts and I’ll post them to my blog. And while you don’t need my book LIGHT UP THE NIGHT in front of you to do this activity, it’s always a bonus if you do. You can buy it right here.
When we’re stuck inside, there may be no better time to dream about the great outdoors – walks in the park, riding bikes, a game of tag … and what about that perfect playground?
All through my book Busy Builders, Busy Week! young readers find clues as to what our animal characters are constructing. They start with a plan. And, of course, the ending is a pure delight.
Today is the perfect day to design your own dream playground … and satisfy some STEAM learning standards along the way. Check out my next low-tech, at-home learning project below. And as always, if you’d like to e-mail me pictures of your creations, I’ll post them on my blog. And while you don’t need my book Busy Builders, Busy Week! in front of you to do this activity, it’s always a bonus if you do. You can buy it right here.
Students at Emerson Elementary in Elmhurst, IL – under the direction of awesome librarian Lauren Blanford – were the first to try this fun activity. And it’s a perfect STEAM project to try at home.
While it’s based on my book Truman, illustrated by the amazing Lucy Ruth Cummins, you don’t need the book in front of you to give it a try. But it’s always a bonus if you do. And you can buy it right here.
Maybe begin by making a Play-Do or paper Truman to track through the course. Then what obstacles will you use? Blocks? Tubes? Shoes? Couch cushions? The options are endless. Will Truman make it? Or will you trick him into a wrong turn? Send me photos and I’ll post them on my blog.
In the middle of this global crisis, parents, teachers, caregivers, librarians, publishers, authors and illustrators are all rising to the challenge of at-home learning. I’ve been trying to do my part by supplying links to my FREE Curriculum, Activity and Storytime Guides linked to learning standards for all my books.
But I also know that many of you are overwhelmed with resources. So I thought it might be helpful to post some of my favorite activities individually right here. I’ll try to do so daily. And for added benefit, I’ll try to pick from the low-tech learning options first.
So, to kick it off, we have Onomatopoeia Poems inspired by my book When the Snow is Deeper Than My Boots Are Tall … which today, in Colorado, it most certainly is. You don’t need the book to do this activity, but it certainly more fun if you do. And you can buy it right here.
So, here you go (below)! Feel free to post your kids’ poems in the comments or e-mail them to me and maybe I’ll include them in a guest poet post.