Friday, February 7, 2014

Happy Birthday Anne Rockwell - February 8

Happy Birthday Anne Rockwell - February 8

The attention span of my little ones is short, but when they are focused it is more like they are hyper-focused. Their little minds soak up the words I read to them, their eyes see tiny details in the illustrations of a picture book, they observe something new or special in their world, create a drawing or a paint a masterpiece.  Then, they need to tell me all about EVERYTHING! I love when they have so much to say that their words don't come out right.

The early years of child development are so important and I have found that they can be really FUN as a parent!  Anne Rockwell is an author-illustrator that understands how important every experience is for a young child and has created picture books that can inspire lots of fun in your home, school, or library.

Anne Rockwell has published over 100 books for children.  She began working on picture books after her first daughter was born and published her first book, Paul and Arthur Search for the Egg, in 1964. Many of her books have been published through collaborations with her family. Anne's husband Harlow and her daughter Lizzy have illustrated many her books.  "When I wrote for Harlow it was for the child who is spellbound by the magic of everyday things.  When I write for myself, I write about one child seeing - the lone child, the one I felt like growing up. But for Lizzy, I write about relationships." (Pass it Down by Leonard Marcus). Harlow and Anne collaborations include The Toolbox and At the Beach.  After Harlow's death in 1988, Lizzy Rockwell illustrated Apples and Pumpkins, a story Anne had written with the intention of having Harlow illustrate it.  This was the first of many picture books Anne and Lizzy have published together for the benefit of young children. "I think picture books are very, very important to introducing a small child to his/her world. I don't understand their unique power, but its there, despite other media. Maybe it's because books require imagination from their readers, their lookers, their listeners." (Nova Library Mom).

Last year, I explored the idea of celebrating Anne Rockwell's birthday with my family. The variety of books I found at the library by Anne Rockwell begged to be extended/collected into one of our author Reading Experiences.  However, I got wrapped up in the frenzy of preparing for Dr. Seuss's birthday and I knew I would not have the time to put together what I envisioned for this celebration.  This year, I decided that I wasn't going to let another year go by without putting together a birthday celebration for this amazing author.

I started planning early -- at the beginning of January.  This gave me the time to create a FREE printable packet that includes twelve activities that can be completed after reading many of Anne Rockwell's books. The Anne Rockwell Reading Experiencallows readers to extend the books beyond the text and pictures. Below I highlight seven of the twelve activities included in the packet. I hope the photographs get you excited about trying these activities with the preschool and kindergarten-age children in your life. All of the activities are simple, quick and just-right for young children. You will see that we had a lot of fun this week!
Click here to download the Anne Rockwell Reading Experience. It is also available on my Teachers Pay Teachers page.
Included in the Anne Rockwell Reading Experience packet is a printable book template for children to make about their Mom or Dad (or both!) after reading Father's Day and Mother's Day (both illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell). 
Each page has a box for an illustration and lines for completing a sentence.  For example, "My dad's favorite food is ______ and My mom taught me to ________"
We read the book Career Day (illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell). The last page has the sentence, "I wonder what I'll be when I grow up."  The full-page illustration has children dressed up in clothes they would wear for their career choice. 
We printed a picture of our face, glued it on a BIG piece of paper and then drew on the clothes. My son wants to be a construction worker when he grows up.
Another activity in the Anne Rockwell Reading Experience is making collages to show what makes our Earth beautiful after reading Our Earth. My children cut out pictures from magazines and glued them on a circle-shaped piece of paper.
The earth on the left was my older son's project. He colored land and oceans in between his pictures with crayons.
My boys have tons of collections.  Read 100 School Days and count how many items you have in one of your collections. My son counted his Star Wars Fighter Pod guys.
We read Two Blue Jays and prepared snack trays for our Blue Jays.
My son placed the trays of treats out on the deck with high hopes that the birds would come right away.  It took a few days for them to find the trays.  (I think the subzero temperatures had something to do with it.)
However, once the Blue Jays found the trays they came back again and again. This greedy Blue Jay stuffed three peanuts in one beakful!
Included in the Anne Rockwell Reading Experience is a printable observation calendar. We posted our observation calendars on the window for easy recording.
The book by Anne Rockwell that I have read the most over the years has been Big Wheels.  Create a piece of art using the BIG WHEELS of toy cars and trucks.
Good Morning, Digger (illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg) ends with a large mural of a digger being painted on the wall of the brand-new community center.  Get out the big paper, once again and paint your own mural!
Even more ideas are included in the Anne Rockwell Reading Experience including a recipe for fire truck cookies!  Enjoy and please share this resource with others!

I'll leave you with one more quote by Anne Rockwell from the book Pass it Down by Leonard Marcus, "Our books are about the world that small children need to have."

Check out Anne Rockwell's latest books, Hey, Charleston! (Released November 2013):

UPDATE 4-27-14

Amazingly, less than three months after our birthday celebration, blue jays built a nest right under our deck.  Mother blue jay has been keeping those eggs warm and toasty every day.  We were able to look through the space between the deck boards to see that there are 4 eggs! Robins have made nests here before, but never blue jays! How exciting!
Snapped a picture of Mama Blue Jay on the first of May! (four eggs still in nest.) -- About week later, on further inspection there were 5 eggs in the nest!!
(May 21, 2014) -- No more room for momma. Eggs hatched over a week ago! Do you see one of the babies peeking?

1. Anne Rockwell's website
2. Interviews - Got Story Countdown, Nova Library Mom, Cynsations
3. Autobiography - Children's Literature Network

Birthday Source: University of Minnesota Library of Special Collections, PermaBound, Anita Silvey's Children's Book-A-Day Almanac, Pass It Down: Five Picture Book Families Make Their Mark

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