Rooster’s Off to See the World- Activities

Rooster's off to see the world activitiesRooster’s Off to See the World by Eric Carle is a second-grade reading level book.  It is a wonderful read aloud to younger kids, especially when read with other Eric Carle favorites.  It tells the story of a rooster who wants to travel and asks several animals to come along with him.

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

  • Practice math- Do verbal or written story problems following along with the story.  1 rooster + 2 cats+ 2 frogs+ 4 turtles+ 5 fish = how many animals in all?  When the animals leave, write the subtraction problems.  (first grade- Solve word problems that call for addition of three whole numbers whose sum is less than or equal to 20)
  • Read with voice- This book makes a great read aloud.  Try out different voices for each of the animals.  Pay attention to words the author uses such as purred, snapped, or complained.  (second grade-Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.)
  • Alternatives to said– This activity goes along with reading with voice.  Make a list of all the words used instead of “said.”  Talk about why the author used these different words.  See if your child can use some of the new words in her writing.
  • Act it out- Use puppets or yourself to act out the story.  Maybe you could be the rooster and your child play the part of the other animals.
  • Write the sequel– The story ends with rooster dreaming about a trip around the world.  Where would he go?  What would he do?  Have your child make up the rest of the story and you can write it down.
  • Text to self connection- Ask your child to explain when he has felt like the characters in the story- excited for a trip, lonely, or homesick.  (first grade- Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly)
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Cardboard Box Puppet Theater

We had a large box leftover from a recent online order.  Boxes, are kid gold, right?  You can do anything with a cardboard box!  We decided on a puppet theater.  I cut a rectangle in the top half.  Then I took it to the garage and the girls painted it….pink, of course.  Okay, no judgements.  I know this is a far cry from the adorable homemade puppet theaters on Pinterest.  But my kids are happy with it…so I’m happy with it.  After all, this is a KID project.

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After the pink dried, I reinforced the seam with some butterfly duct tape (come on- everyone has that around the house, right?) and also covered the edges of the rectangle.  Then more painting…purple this time!

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The girls love it because they made it themselves.  I love it because it is cheap, easy, and I won’t feel bad about using it for a few weeks (or however long they are interested in it) and throwing it out.

And the learning?  Oh, it’s there, too!  Try acting out a book with puppets after you read it.  It is a great way to go over the story for better comprehension.  Making up your own puppet show is good exercise in creativity, storytelling skills (that will later be used in writing), and speaking skills.

As a bonus, the girls discovered their theater doubles as a playhouse with the cut-out becoming a door!

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Sheep in a Jeep Activities

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Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw is an easy read (beginning of first grade reading level).  It is also a great read aloud for younger kids with lots of rhyming and funny pictures.

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

Here are some ideas try when you read it:

  • Practice sight words– Pick out one word that is repeated throughout the book (sheep, jeep, in) and see if your kiddo can point it out on the page.  Then practice putting the word together with letter blocks or writing it.
  • Rhyming–  There are lots of rhymes in this book!  After you read, go back and a list of all the rhyming words.  See if you can add more rhyming words to add to the list.  (kindergarten- Recognize and produce rhyming words)
  • Making words–  Use magnetic letters of blocks to spell out a rhyming word in the story such as sheep.  Then take away the “sh” and see if your child can make the word jeep.  Ask them to replace the “j” and make the word beep.  Making words is a wonderful activity for beginning readers to work on letter sounds and spelling.  (kindergarten- Distinguish between similarly spelled words by identifying the sounds of the letters that differ)
  • Long vowel /e/– Talk about /ee/ and /ea/ make the same long e sound.  Go on a “word hunt” for /ee/ and /ea/ words in the story and make a chart listing them. (kindergarten- Associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings for the five major vowels)
  • Retell the story–  After reading the book, ask your kiddo to retell the story.  This is always a good comprehension strategy to teach even with books with few words.  (first grade- Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson)
  • Ask questions–  This is another comprehension strategy that works with any book.  Ask your child questions about the story.  If they can’t remember, ask them to look back in the book to find the answer.  Who helped the sheep get their jeep out of the mud?  Why did the jeep break?  What do the sheep do when the jeep breaks?  (second grade- Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text)
  • Extend the story–  What do you think happened next?  Who will buy the jeep?  What will the sheep drive now?  Make up a new story together…maybe even write it down and have your child draw the illustrations!
  • Act it out–  Kids learn best by doing, so acting out the story is another comprehension strategy.  If you have a small toy sheep, jeep, and pigs, use those.  If not, your kiddo can pretend to drive a jeep (box) and act while you read the book.

Comparison Thinking Game

As my youngest just transitioned from a crib to a big girl bed and now we are working on potty training, there is a lot of “big girl” talk going on in our house.  She likes to play the game, “What can a big girl do that a baby can’t do?”  We read and watched videos talking about how big girls can walk, talk, eat pizza, climb on the playground and babies can’t do any of those things.  It helps her see that she is changing and growing…and it is a good thing!  It’s also the same conversation we had with Big Sis when Little Sis was born.  Comparing themselves to babies makes kids feel proud about their abilities and shows them that they have a special place in the family (even if that cute baby is getting a lot of attention!)

While I was talking about “baby vs. big girl” with Little Sis, my older daughter thought it would be fun to come up with ways they were both alike, too.  Then the girls wanted to compare kids to adults.  What can grown-ups do that kids can’t do?  They gave answers like “Grown-ups can drive.  They can cook.”  You can also flip the question around so one thing isn’t always seen as “better” than the other.  What can kids do?  Kids can fit into smaller places and go on certain rides at the amusement park that adults aren’t allowed on.

Then we branched out to animals.  What can an owl do that you can’t do?  What about an elephant?  It was really funny to hear their answers and thinking.  The older the kids, the more detailed things you can ask them about.  If they are dinosaur experts, ask them to compare a stegosaurus and a pteranodon.  Or ask, “What can a microwave do that a stove can’t do?”

Comparing things and ideas is a skill kids will use many times in reading comprehension and critical thinking.  Think about how many tests say “compare and contrast.”  Why not start practicing that skill early as silly game?  It’s a perfect thinking game you can play in the car, sitting in a cart at the store, or waiting at a restaurant.  Try it out!

As with any educational game, the focus should be on fun.  Ask a questions, give them some hints or offer some ideas, then let them ask you a question.  If they are getting stressed out or bored of it, move on to something else.

Food Smart

I have an embarrassing confession.  I am not a healthy eater and I don’t even know what most vegetables look like.  As a twentysomething I was eating a salad (a big achievement for me!) and someone commented about my spinach.  WHAT?!  I was eating spinach?!  I honestly thought spinach was yucky, slimy, green stuff in a can.  It never occurred to me that it was a leaf.  Ridiculous.

I am determined for my own girls to grow up healthier and smarter.  Okay.  I’m not going to get all crazy and never go to McDonald’s again.  Trust me.  I still want to eat cheeseburgers.  I just want them to know about other foods, too.

Besides being good for your body, trying all kinds of food also gives you general background knowledge that aids in reading comprehension.  You will understand a lot more about a book about pineapples, for example, if you have a background knowledge of what a pineapple looks like, tastes like, and how it grows.

So what can we do as parents?

1.  Let kids see food in their natural form as much as possible.  Yes, you can buy corn in a can.  But show them what an ear of corn looks like in the grocery store.  Or better yet, look at a corn field.  It seems like common sense…but if you don’t show kids, then they don’t know (ie my spinach story).

2.  Try it!  Make trying new foods part of your routine.  We have a “Try One Bite” rule at our house.  After that bite, everyone is free to say “no thank you” and eat other things on his/her plate.

3.  Grow it!  Kids are much more likely to try something if they have invested their time in growing it.  Start small with a just a seed and a pot or do a whole garden in the backyard.  And check out these garden resources from the USDA:  http://teamnutrition.usda.gov/garden.html

4.  Pick it!  Look for farms where you can pick your own strawberries, blackberries, peaches, apples, etc.  This is a great experience to see how food is grown, harvested, and (if you are ambitious) used in cooking.

4.  Make it a fun game.  Slice up a few different fruits and kids close their eyes and guess which fruits they are tasting.  Or try a few foods and put them into categories of fruits/vegetables or yummy/yucky.

5.  Make it a family goal.  Maybe pick out one new fruit or vegetable each time you go to the grocery store?  After reading Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert we set the goal of eating everything in the book.  As you can imagine, I’ve never even seen most of them.