We’ve had so many snow days this year that it looks like summer is going to be shortened due to make up days. That’s annoying but I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to discuss what to do with the school age kiddies when at the time you’re still in your pajamas hoping to pour yourself another cup of coffee, they’re saying things like, “We are usually in music now. Right now we are reading stories. We eat lunch now.” (Yes, sometimes I AM still in my pajamas and hoping to pour myself another cup of coffee at lunchtime. Who am I kidding? I’m always hoping to pour myself another cup of coffee.)
So how about a little reading workshop activity? I got the idea because 1)I used to be a teacher and I’m brilliant at finding busy work for kids and 2)Hadley gets a newsletter every so often with a list of concepts the teachers are working on at her school. I thought I’d take one of those concepts and try it out on the Hs. Folks, this is a very easy activity. All you need is books, paper, and pencils. But listen, you have to use the words “reading workshop” otherwise the kids at home will not give a hoot. ”Reading” and “workshop” sound important, official, even. So before you finish this post, tell your kids you’re preparing for a “reading workshop” for them and they will sit on the couch, hands folded, and patiently wait for the magic that is about to happen.
In first grade, teachers are working on having kids identify sensory words. That is, words that appeal to the senses: sticky, bumpy, salty, etc. So I picked out Owl Moon by Jane Yolen to read to the kids because the language is gorgeous and also because the setting went well with the predicament we were in. No, we weren’t preparing to go owl watching (do you even know me at all?!?!). I’m referring to all the snow days we’ve had.
Before we read, we talked about sensory words and the girls and I made a list: thirsty, whisper, shout, crunch, sip, etc. Then, I told them that as we read, they are to look out for words they think they can hear, or touch, feel, you get the idea. I wrote what they came up with and put them on our very sad looking bulletin board.
The girls found some great words, thanks to Ms Yolen who can tell a tale, friends. I recommend you find yourself some Yolen to read. You won’t be disappointed. Hadley and Harper liked: shine, whistle, faded, quiet, stained, shadows, and song.
After I read a story, the girls took a stack of books and did a hunt for sensory words themselves. For Hadley, I took five little notebooks and wrote, “touch, smell, taste, see, and hear” on them. Like this:
For Harper, since she can’t read yet, I gave her a stack of sticky notes and told her to look at the pictures in her books and to mark where she thought she could tell someone was feeling something, or smelling something, or listening to something, etc.
Here’s Mudge the dog, and Harper said that he looks like he feels scared in the picture. She knows this story and remembers that he is shivering in this scene because he is, in fact, scared. (Also, if you’re looking for Yolen books, you may as well look for Cynthia Rylant books as well. She’s top notch.)
Here’s Danny on his friend the dinosaur. Harper marked this because she thought the dinosaur and Danny felt happy. Also, she said Danny is touching the dinosaur.
Here are some of the words Hadley came up with:
These are all words having to do with seeing.
And here are a couple having to do with touch.
This was a fun activity. (Well, of course it was. I basically made it up for Pete’s sake!) But don’t be fooled: I want my kids back in school so I can go back to pouring myself a cup of coffee and drinking it while it is still warm. Because cold coffee? That’s just sad.