Saturday, April 27, 2013

{Project 101} Weekly Library Challenge: There Was A Tree

I really love the book I am featuring for Project 101 this week, the weekly library challenge where I share one book that the boys are loving from the library and one book that I am reading. (By the end of the year, we will have shared 101 books in honor of the 101st birthday of my local library). My book connects with theirs, strangely, through the common thread of a tree. Plus, their book is a perfect book to share at the end of a week that marked Earth Day and Arbor Day. 

Rachel Isadora received a Caldecott Honor for Ben's Trumpet and is known by many as the author of Peekaboo Bedtime, the Lill at Ballet series and many more. She also has a series of books featuring classic stories and songs that she has beautifully written and illustrated, which are all set in Africa. The books in these series are among my favorites. I first discovered the series through her wonderful rendering of The Ugly Duckling. Like that book, There Was A Tree offers the same type of beautiful and engaging illustrations and the book quickly became a hit with my 3.5 year old, and my 20 month old fell in love with it too as Wild Thing and I sang the song and created our own actions to go with it. I appreciate that at the end of the book she actually includes the music (written out on a staff sheet), since my piano music and playing has sparked an interest in Wild Thing of musical notation. Every time we read it, we must first read it and then sing the song. I usually just share the book and rarely share related activities, but this book created a valuable early literacy activity that I wanted to include.

The reprise of the story/song includes the lines: and the green grass grew all around, all around, and the green grass grew all around.

Repetition of beginning sounds in stories and songs offer wonderful early literacy learning possibilities. I first discovered this in December when we read The Trouble with Trolls, which has many words that begin with TR in it. We created some TR flashcards featuring words like troll, trouble (of course) and also truck, train and tree -- which are much more common in our vocabulary. Immediately when Wild Thing saw this book he pointed to the big block letters of the word TREE and said: T-R- makes TRUH like tree and truck. Of course, I used this as an opportunity to reinforce his learning regarding those blended letters. (The funny thing is back when I made his TR cards, it was not clear if he was understanding the concept, and then a couple of weeks ago he started spelling with his magnet letters on the fridge and we spelled the word truck together. Then, he said he wanted to spell train and only took away the last letters in the word and left the TR. I was shocked. It was a lesson to me in the value of introducing concepts and ideas and reinforcing them from time to time in fun ways because the concept may catch on later even if it does not sink in at the time).

Okay, back to There Was A Tree. When Wild Thing immediately recognized the TR and shared proudly about it and we began to read the book, I realized I had the same blended letters learning opportunity available with GR and green grass growing all around and the word ground, which also pops up in the book a lot. Like I had with TR, I wrote GR on a piece of paper and then wrote the words green, grass, grow and ground on other pages. Now that he is a bit older, he wanted to trace the words. We also got out our simple grass and flowers sensory bin, a re-purposing of our Easter Sensory Bin (this is now reuse #5 of the bin materials).

You can see how proud he is when he is completing his tracing and that we glued the grass from the bin onto the word grass. Plus, here are some bonus pictures of our Grass/Flower Sensory Bin from a previous play session before so much of the grass and flowers disappeared. (All of the flowers came from our own yard, except the small white and yellow ones which are chamomile that came in my produce box. The blue paper shreds represent the water that the flowers need to grow).  

 As for me, this week I decided to read a play: Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett. My brother and one of his good friends performed this play in high school and I have neither read nor seen the play since. I am sure I selected it for the nostalgia of a long ago memory of my brother on stage. I hardly know what to say about Waiting For Godot and apparently I am not alone. I loved finding this New York Times review from 1956 in which the reviewer states: It is a mystery wrapped in an engima. The tree in the play is quite significant, though quite different from the tree in the boys' book. This tree is stark and the marker for Didi and Gogo of where they must come every evening to wait for Godot. Rather than dive into what Beckett might be saying about humanity, faith and all the rest, I am focusing on a simple parenting reminder that I drew from the book. Occasionally as a parent, I can fall into a waiting mode and can feel, perhaps a bit like Didi and Gogo as if I am repeating more or less the same day over and over as I wait for the next big thing: waiting to have no little ones in diapers, waiting for Wild Thing to start Preschool, waiting for our next visit with Grandma, etc. Watching Didi and Gogo wait and wait reminded me to embrace each day and savor the current moment--enjoying whatever stage the boys are currently experiencing rather than waiting for the next milestone. 

My reading experience with Wild Thing made me realize that the milestones are happening all of the time with every book we read and every song we sing. What milestone will you celebrate today and what are you reading? Please share! I love comments or would love to chat about books, milestone and anything else over on Facebook. (On FB, you will also see a photo of our snack inspired by the book).

You might also like:

Trouble with Trolls Learning Activity
Outdoor Play + Poetry
Do Good with Baked Goods


  1. What a fun challenge. We love the library at our house. So many treasures to be found. I love your blog header and I am glad to have stumbled onto your blog.

  2. oh your sensory bin looks devine

  3. I love your challenge. The books look wonderful.