Capturing the joy of childhood reading means embracing the simple joys often well described in picture books. A quintessential autumn joy is watching the leaves fall from the trees and then marveling over the intricacies of each leaf on the ground.
This month, we embraced the simple joy of the season by reading the book, Leaves, by David Ezra Stein. Leaves tells the story of a young bear learning about the seasons. After a happy summer, he is surprised (and worried) when the leaves begin to fall. He finds these leaves are quite helpful, however, in preparing his “hole” to sleep for the winter. When he wakes in the spring the buds and new leaves welcome him. There is a sweet simplicity to this story with charming illustrations.
We embraced the joy of falling leaves by gathering at a park with lots of old trees. The toddlers began our gathering by setting out in search of leaves on the ground. After collecting several, my son asked me if we were now going to make a hole like the bear in the book and climb in to take a nap. I love that he anticipates such literal interpretations of the book during our meetings! No, we didn’t “make a hole”, but actually, had there been more leaves on the ground, our plan WAS to make a pile and jump in! I suggest leaf play for your book club if you meet at a time and place where enough leaves allow for such an activity. Instead, we next gathered on our blankets to read the book.
After finishing reading, we headed to a picnic table where we had piled our collected leaves. Each child picked a few leaves and placed them underneath a piece of printer/copy paper. We then used the sides of crayons with the paper removed to rub the image of the leaves onto the paper. After finishing the crayon rubbings, we mounted (aka taped) the artwork onto a piece of “fall colored” (orange, yellow, red, brown) construction paper. Here was our inspiration: http://ourcraftsnthings.com/2009/10/leaf-rubbing/.
Our snack this month did not deviate from our leaf theme. Kale chips are an easy, healthy, delicious snack that is literally an edible leaf! There are many ways to make kale chips. Within our group, we used different methods and recipes. I am going to share a method that is relatively new to me. For years, I made kale chips in the oven and only recently stumbled upon a recipe for microwave kale chips. One night, while trying to get dinner on the table quickly and entertain (aka keep out of trouble) a young toddler, I tried the new method and was pleasantly surprised (and converted). Here is a link to one blogger (of many) who has shared an easy microwave kale chip recipe: http://castirontherapy.blogspot.com/2012/06/kale-chips.html
Just as the seasons are changing, so is our Baby Toddler Book Club! Our little group that started as 8 (mostly) stay-at-home moms and 8 little babies has now grown! We still have the same core members, but our “babies” are now all 2-year old vibrant and ACTIVE toddlers. Two of our mom/kid pairs have welcomed newborns within the last few months. Four of our moms are pregnant and expecting newborns by the end of this year/middle part of next year, and two of our moms are also working full-time. We are a BUSY group. With this changing dynamic, the importance of simplicity becomes an even more important mission. I have found that simple activities and snacks are just as meaningful to our children as elaborate and perhaps even more importantly, allow our group to keep going through all of the chaos that these early childhood years bring.
Join us next month for our Very Busy Spider (by Eric Carle) Halloween party and be sure to check back throughout the month for posts about our Book Club Pals donation and participation in the Virtual Book Club for Kids!