September is the perfect time to think about fall fruits, likes apples and pears, and so it was an ideal time to read Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear by Emily Gravett (although this book would great any time of year).
Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear appears so simple at first glance. It’s composed of only the four title words (and the word “there” at the very end) and only has one illustration per page. But, oh, there’s so much more to it! Gravett uses the words in different combinations and moves the placement of the comma to indicate different meanings. An “apple, pear” for example is an apple and a pear, but an “orange pear,” for example, is an orange colored pear. It’s fun and silly and even my 18 month old laughs at the “orange bear” page. Since many of the pages include a single item and a word (for example the word, “apple” and the picture of the apple) it also helps little ones learn the names of these items. My 18 month old also likes to say the words he knows in the sequence. If I read the repeated phrase, “Orange, Pear, Apple…” he says (yells) “Bear!” (or more like “beah”, but we know what he means)! I also discovered that it’s a great easy/pre-reader for my four-year old. Since the whole book is comprised of 5 words, all that begin with a different letter, he can look at the first letter of the words and “read” them.
We started our book club meeting by gathering to read the book. A Facebook follower recently wrote to me and asked how we keep everyone so engaged during our meetings. I think its important to note that while most of the kids are engaged during the meeting, they aren’t all engaged at the same moment all of the time. There are things that we do that help increase the likelihood of engagement: we try to have a copy of the book for each child, we try to read the book to the child throughout the month so they become familiar with it, we have a (flexible when needed) routine to our meetings, etc. However, I’ve learned the importance of keeping expectations realistic for a group of one-year olds. At this age, we don’t expect that everyone will be sitting quietly listening to a book for a long period of time. We expect that someone might just not be interested at all at that particular moment. We expect that some (or sometimes all!) of the kids might need to get up and move around. We expect someone might get upset. This is all just part of the experience. Book club is great because we can be a village while we read to the kids and support each other during this parenting journey. (I.e.”Oh your child is melting down while everyone else reads quietly? No big deal, been there. That was us last month!”)
Soooo…I went off on the loooong tangent because I want to emphasize that while our pictures look lovely and idyllic, what you can’t see is that while we were reading (and for most of the meeting) several uninvited bee guests swarmed around us, necessitated at least one location changed, and chased at least one member. I kid not.
Luckily, no one was stung and we were able to read our book, twice actually (it’s short). After we finished reading, we guided the kids to paint using apples, oranges, and pears as the “stamps”. Each parent brought half of each fruit, cut in advance for their child. The parents cut little handles in the tops to make the fruit easier to grasp. This activity and the use of “handles” (see photos) is very similar to the apple printing activity that we used for our Apples Here meeting (different group of kids though)! I even used the same taste-safe paint recipe: equal parts flour and water mixed with food coloring. This time I chose light red, green, and orange to mimic colors used for the artwork in the book. This is process oriented art–the final product isn’t important (or usually recognizable). Giving the toddlers the opportunity to touch the paint, pick up the fruit stamps, and make a mess are important sensory experiences. I highly recommend taste-safe paint at this age, because most toddlers are still fairly prone to putting things (including their hands) in their mouths and many of our children tried to eat the fruit stamps.
Since they were interested in eating the stamps, we gave them some fruit to try for snack (that wasn’t covered in the “paint”)! Moms in our group brought dried apples, home-canned pears, and clementine slices. These were all fairly easy for most of the toddlers to eat. Baked apples and pears, like THESE, would be a good option too if you don’t have access to dried or home-canned fruits.
We had lots of sweet fun at this meeting, but next month, we’ll probably meet inside to avoid any remaining buzzing guests (unless the buzzing guest is a cute little one-year old in a bee costume)! Photos of this meeting are in the slideshow below, including a few at the end of some sweet mama-child bonding. One of my favorite aspects of Baby Toddler Book Club is that it encourages us as parents to snuggle with our littles ones and bond over books. Check back for our next meeting featuring Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino and a costume party!