Virtual Book Club for Kids Special Series: Paul Galdone

Baby Toddler Book Club has decided to post a special series on our blog as we participate in the Virtual Book Club for Kids throughout the year! Essentially, Virtual Book Club for Kids (hosted by Toddler Approved, Educator’s Spin on It, and Rainy Day Mum) selects an author each month. Kid bloggers from around the blogging world then link up activities related to books by the featured author. This concept was so perfectly aligned with what we do already, we couldn’t pass up the chance to share what we have already done or, in some cases, try something new with our book club! Our participation in Virtual Book Club for Kids will NOT replace our regularly planned book club meetings (you can see what we’re planning on our Book Lists page), but will simply be in addition. 

Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Paul Galdone before this month and was a little hesitant about selecting a book by Galdone for our book club when I first read a review of his version of Jack and the Bean Stalk and learned that Jack’s encounter with the Giant ended rather brutally (and descriptively). However, then my son and I picked up Galdone’s Little Red Hen and my opinion was changed! My son grew fond of this book quickly and asks to read it repeatedly. He particularly loves that every time the Little Red Hen asks for help from her housemates (a cat, dog, and mouse), that each reply with: “Not I…”. He quickly learned where to appropriately insert these phrases into the book and “reads” those portions of the story. There’s also a nice underlying message to this story about entitlement.

After we read Little Red Hen as a group, we asked the kids if they would like to help with some chores and then eat some cake as Little Red Hen does in the story. They all agreed they would, so we set off on our mini-reenactment of the book.

ReadingLittleRedHen copy

First, we did some sweeping like Little Red Hen. We put out a pile of dried corn and asked the kids to take turns sweeping it into the square made with masking tape. This concept seems to be very common in Montessori-style environments and is fairly prevalent in the blogging world, but here is one source of our inspiration for this activity: http://ittybittylove.blogspot.com/2008/10/nuts-and-bolts.html.

LittleRedHenSweeping copy

Next, we washed and dried some dishes, as Little Red Hen did in the book. I’m not sure if the photos capture how seriously the kids took this activity! I love how important toddlers seem to feel/act when you give them a real(-ish) job!

LittleRedHenWashingDishes copy

Next, Little Red Hen mends some clothes. I happened to discover that our set of animal lacing cards include a hen, a dog, and a cat. Since, we had an unusually small group for our meeting, this meant that each child could “mend the clothes” for one animal in the book.

LittleRedHenMendingClothes copy

Now it was time to plant the wheat. We didn’t have any wheat to plant, but we did have some beans that the kids planted in a clear plastic cup with damp cotton balls. Source of inspiration? http://theimaginationtree.com/2012/04/growing-beans-on-cotton-balls.html.

LittleRedHenPlanting copy

Then it was time to harvest the wheat. I was inspired by this bloggers sensory play: http://www.sunhatsandwellieboots.com/2011/09/harvest-sensory-play-crops-play-dough.html. I just spread some brown play dough out as “dirt” and stuck in a few small stalks of wheat that I happened to have from some fall decorations.

LittleRedHenPickingWheat copy

Then, Little Red Hen knows that the wheat has to be milled into flour before she can use it to bake. One of the moms in our group brought a mortar, pestle, and some wheat berries/hand ground flour for the kids to pretend to mash themselves. Again, this was serious business!

LittleRedHenGrindingWheat copy

Finally, it was time for cake! Since we had three “very eager helpers,” (as quoted on the last page of the Little Red Hen book), they all got to eat the cake! We could have baked the cake with the kids, but we were actually anticipating a larger group, so we made the cake in advance. In the spirit of of trying to keep the snacks for our book club relatively healthy, I opted to try a recipe from an old cook book that my health-foodie mom gave me!

Source: Snackers (1977). Wallace, M.J. & Walace, J.F. page 32
Your Choice Cake
1 cup applesauce or mashed banana or cooked pumpkin (we used applesauce)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup chopped nuts (we used walnuts)
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup soy flour (we just used additional whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each cloves, ginger, salt

Combine applesauce, banana or pumpkin with honey and oil. Add remaining ingredients. Blend well and spoon into greased and floured 8-inch square baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove from pan to cool. Frost. (We didn’t frost).

The cake tasted pretty good. The spices are strong, so it does have good flavor (assuming you like those flavors), but it didn’t really rise (not all that surprising), so it’s more like a very moist bar rather than a cake. That said, the kids devoured it and I think all asked for seconds and sometimes thirds. The adults all had some too and agreed that for a no-sugar, no-egg, no-dairy cake, it wasn’t bad!

LittleRedHenEatingCake copy

The kids seem to have a good time acting like Little Red Hen and certainly were engaged in all of the activities.

Join us for our “regular” book club meeting in a couple of weeks. We will be reading, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Suess in honor of his birthday at the beginning of March!

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