Books about Plants

Last month it took me nearly the entire month to gather and use the books that I needed.  This month, I got smart.  I’m not sure if your library has this feature, but where I live you can “Place a Hold” on a book that you want that may not be in or may be at another branch.  I’ve been using this for a while to get books that I want to read, but this is the first month I’ve used it for Carter’s books.

There are so many great books and authors on the list for this month and topic (descriptions not mine).  Enjoy!

The Enormous Potato by Aubrey Davis

Davis uses a potato instead of the traditional turnip in this retelling of a familiar folktale. When the eye of a potato grows into the biggest potato in the world, a farmer must call for reinforcements to pull the vegetable out of the ground. Help comes in the form of the farmer’s wife, daughter, dog, and cat, and finally a mouse, who adds just enough extra muscle to get the job done. The potato, when it finally appears, is huge, taking up most of a double-page spread and almost burying the folks who pulled it out. It’s big enough to feed all the people of the town, who completely devour it.

Flower Garden by Eve Bunting

A comforting, richly illustrated story about a birthday surprise. An urban African-American girl and her father buy plants, potting soil, and a window box at the supermarket, ride the bus to their apartment, and put together a colorful gift for the child’s mother. Rhyming verse carries the brief story, while wonderful, warm, full-color illustrations present scenes from novel angles, and depict a loving family with a sense of intimacy, sincerity, and joy.

Jack and the Beanstalk by Steven Kellogg

Kellogg has streamlined Joseph Jacobs’s version of the classic story, keeping much of its vigorous language. In the illustrations he has provided a story within a story. On the front endpapers, the ogre steals the gold, harp, and hen from pirates as a wizard floating by in a hot-air balloon watches; this has the effect of enlightening readers about some of the moral ambiguities of the story. The wizard is shown writing down the actual events that follow and provides Jack with the beans that set them all in motion. Kellogg’s riotous, swirling pen is perfect for the energy of the tale; this is not the neat, contained English countryside of some previous editions. The ogre is toothy, warty, and a rather putrid yellow-green. His wife breaks the mold as well; she is tall and slim, fond of lipstick, and adorned in a necklace of skeletal shrunken heads. Colored inks, watercolors and acrylics throughout are similar in palette to Kellogg’s recent work–lots of orange, yellow, and green–at times bordering on the garish. There are many humorous touches to delight children, who will also be happy to see Pinkerton accompanying the princess’s entourage. Jack himself is irresistible.

Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole

A great way to show how the parts of nature connect and grow together… Cole is an elementary-school science teacher, and his nature drawings in colored pencil on colored paper make for joyful learning, both precise and lovely.

*This free online resource is based on this book.  It contains a lot of great activities and story sequencing cards for you to print.

Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden by Edith Pattou

Mrs. Spitzer is a wise teacher who knows many things. She knows about gardens. She knows about children. She knows how similar they are. And how they will flourish if tended lovingly.

One Bean by Anne Rockwell

What do you get when you take one bean and add a handful of soil and a splash of water? With patience and a bit of sunshine you get a full-grown bean plant that makes beautiful flowers and grows a whole new crop of beans. Packed with facts and featuring activities kids can do themselves, this book is perfect for blossoming botanists and growing gardeners alike.

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

Mother and child plant bulbs in fall, order seeds from catalogs in winter, eagerly anticipate the first shoots of spring, select seedlings in summer, “and watch the rainbow grow,” reveling in the opulence of color. The power of this book lies in the glowing brilliance and bold abstraction of the double-page collages.

Seeds! Seeds! Seeds! by Nancy E Wallace

Buddy Bear gets a package from Grandpa that contains five bags of different activities with seeds. From them, he learns how seeds grow, plants some, glues down and labels some others in a collection, decorates a picture frame with beans, and feeds the birds. His collection grows through the week as he saves seeds from various foods that he eats. The artwork consists of cut-paper collages with shadowing and life-sized photos of real seeds that look as though they can be picked right off the pages.

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

This picture book admirably conveys the miracle of a seed. Flower pods burst and dispatch their seeds on the wind; the air-borne seeds are subject to myriad disasters; and the ones that make it through the perils of the seasons to become mature flowering plants are still susceptible to being picked, trod upon and otherwise damaged. But nature allows for survivors, and so the tiny seed grows into a giant flower, releasing its seeds and continuing the cycle

Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens

Easily recognizable as a trickster tale, this features appealing, contemporary cousins of Brer Rabbit and Brer Bear. Here, Bear and Hare are involved in a gardening partnership, with industrious, clever Hare reaping all the vegetable profits. As usual, Stevens’ animal characters, bold and colorful, are delightful. Hare, decked out in a lively gardening shirt and surrounded by mischievous offspring, is the image of determination. It’s Bear, however, who wins the personality prize: he snoozes away each planting season squashed in his favorite chair, changing positions with each flip of the page. It’s all wonderful fun, and the book opens, fittingly, from top to bottom instead of from side to side, making it perfect for story-time sharing.


Writing in the Sand

April begins our new study of plants, flowers and things that grow!  Carter caught me switching out materials last night, so he woke up ready to go this morning.  I did manage to get him to finish half of his breakfast before we dove into the first activity.

He first chose the sand tray.  I can’t say that I blame him.  Though it was so simple to make, the feeling of drawing in the sand is such a peaceful and relaxing one. I had to play with it for a bit last night.  I used an aluminum baking tray (the size meant for toaster ovens) and some superfine craft sand that I had laying around from my artsy crafty days.

I introduced the sand tray to Carter by showing him that letters can be formed in the sand using our fingers.  I watched him draw letters and make up words: CEET=SEAT.  When his finger turned into a racecar and began to make roads through the sand, I took that as my cue that he was ready to move forward.

Next, I used some leftover card stock from my cutting adventures (which you will see the results of throughout the month in various activities) to make some short words and simple pictures for him to use with the sand tray.  Be sure to stick with short words, unless you have a BIG tray.  And, I am a fan of computer generated ANYTHING, but it’s also important that you model drawing and writing for your child often.  This is one way.

And, I wanted to share something from yesterday evening.  While I was making dinner, Carter pulled out an activity from the past.  As you can see, I had already began to reuse the construction paper for other things, so I’d marked the place setting paper off his interests.  But last night he brought it back out for the purpose of a snack party with some of his fluffy friends.

But then, sometimes walking around with a cool box on your head is more fun than anything!  I couldn’t help but think about the movie Parenthood with Steve Martin.  (They made fun of his child for walking around with a box on his head.)

Enjoy and thanks for your comments!

This activity can also be seen on One Hook Wonder’s Montessori Monday.

Making Weather Words

This is probably my favorite activity from this month.  I got the idea from Counting Coconuts and made it my own.

One of the most amazing Montessori materials (in my humble opinion) is the Moveable Alphabet.  When your child is ready to start working with forming words, beginning sounds, ending sounds and so much more this is an excellent tool to use with your child.  We don’t yet have a Moveable Alphabet, so I thought this idea of using PlayDoh letter stamps was a great way to begin to teach Carter a few of the weather words from this month.

The materials were pretty simple to bring together.  I found the PlayDoh backpack locally, and it includes the letters, numbers and 4 tubs of PlayDoh.  I gave him a few days to play and explore with all the materials before bringing the letters over for this activity.  I printed my own word cards using free clip art from the internet.  This has been a big hit with Carter.  He will literally sit and make word after word, which takes a good bit of time and concentration.  I’m seeing him sound out the word as he ads each letter.

Enjoy and thank you for your comments!