Little People, Big Dreams

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My petites and I have been swooning over the series Little People, Big Dreams from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.  These books are absolute perfection, down to the gorgeous illustrations and the stories that they tell.

Discover the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists.  All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

These darlings entered the children’s book scene last year and have been making quite the impression on parents and petites alike.

Currently there are seven titles available in this series in the US.

What we love the most about this series is that the biographies are wonderfully written in a beautiful story, that captures just what makes these women so incredible, so special, they perfectly depict the life and accomplishments of these inspiring women.  Sometimes biographies for children can feel disjointed or not complete, but Little People, Big Dreams has accomplished is to create stories that flow and are a pleasure to read aloud.

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Another component that I think is so important is that these books are honest, they don’t gloss over the struggles of these women, they share them.  They do this in a way that brings about conversation with your petites, a way that allows you as a parent to have meaningful conversations with your child.  For example, when we were reading Maya Angelou, it discusses how Maya was treated unfairly because of the color of her skin.  My petites thought that this was outrageous and we continued to discuss this for days after reading the story.  Talking about how even now some people are cruel and what we can do to help and show love to all people and stand up when we see something that is unkind or cruel.

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What is so unique and special about this series is that they are done by different authors and illustrators, each book is vibrantly illustrated.  We love the seriously artistic flair to them including gorgeous endpapers, simplistic covers that showcase the outstanding people, even the spines of the book look amazing on a shelf.  These are gorgeous books through and through from the messages of hope and inspiration that they share to the gorgeous art covering the pages.   We can’t wait to see what biographies are coming out next and get them on our shelves.

Bloggers Note: I was given copies of Amelia Earhart and Maya Angelou in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.  Thank you to Quarto for permission to use the images within this post.

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Petite’s Lessons: Rainforest

My youngest is three and a half years old.  She absolutely loves learning new things, books, animals and anything that her big sister does.  So when school started again this year it was a rough start for the petite as her older sister rode off on the super cool school bus and got to learn new things all day at school.  So we decided to start doing lessons while big sis is at school.

Since she is three we’ve spent time focusing on numbers and letters, but recently we’ve been spending time focusing on what she loves – Animals.  We get a fair amount of rain here in the Pacific Northwest, so we decided to take a break from puddle jumping and learn about rainforest animals and their habitat.

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Here is a little sampling of what we’ve been working on.  Now, before I get too far into this post, I need to give credit where credit is due, the worksheets and images come from a fabulous website 1+1+1=1 which literally has all you need to keep your petites engaged, inspired and learning new things.  Seriously, check out Carisa’s website, she is a homeschooling mom who makes my lesson planning a whole lot easier.

Books:

A Butterfly is Patient by Dianna Hutts Aston and art by Sylvia Long (Chronicle Books, 2011) is one of our favorite books, we love to look at the vibrant colors, check out which butterflies we have seen before and of course read the story.

The Magic School Bus Presents The Rainforest by Tom Jackson and illustrations by Carolyn Bracken (Scholastic, 2014) is yet another perfect book as part of the Magic School bus series, we absolutely love the non-fiction books and think that they are perfect to keep petites engaged and learning all about the rainforest.

Activities:

These two activities are from the awesome Carisa at 1+1+1=1.  I love the amazing visuals she has created and how simple she has made it to get some really quality activities in the hands of parents.  Seriously, go and check out her site, it is amazing!

Rainforest Clip & Learn 1-10 which was a huge hit, the petite has asked to do this activity over and over and loves using the clothes pins.

Rainforest Animals Montessori Nomenclature Cards

We used the images from the nomenclature cards to create our own rainforest canopy.  We created our rainforest after reading The Magic School Bus Presents The Rainforest and discussed where we thought these animals might live in the rainforest based on the reading of the books.

 

 

 

 

Books About Moving Away

Moving can be really stressful and upsetting for petites.  Recently I was asked about what books I would recommend for a petite who was struggling with the loss of their friend who moved far away.  Here are some recommendations of books that we think are not only fabulous stories, but stories that could really help a petite who is missing their friend.  These are the stories that are perfect for petites who are moving or staying behind.

Before I LeaveBefore I Leave by Jessixa Bagley (Roaring Brook Press, 2016) is a beautiful story about two friends Aaron and Zelda, who are going to be separated by a move. This story touches on all the feels and emotions that happen when a little one is going through the transition of moving. This book is filled with sweet illustrations that help petites to think about how they might feel. This book has less than 100 words and I believe that this is what makes this book so incredibly special.  I love that Jessixa talks about the worry of moving and not being able to see your friends as much as you like, but also helps to resolve that worry by showing Zelda reading letters from her dear friend and holding close the memories that they had together.

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A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle (Simon Spotlight, 2014) is a great story about a hermit crab who outgrows his shell, he finds new sea creatures to help him with this transition.   Eventually he will outgrow this shell and need to make new friends again.  What we love about this book, like all Carle books are the illustrations, they are gorgeous and vibrant.   One other aspect of this book is that it has opportunities to learn about new sea creatures as well as do some counting along the way.

 

 

Yard SaleYard Sale by Eve Bunting and Lauren Castillo (Candlewick, 2015) is a gorgeously illustrated book about big changes for one petite.  Her family is moving from their home into an apartment and she needs to get rid of a lot of her things in order to fit everything into their new home.  I think that this book speaks to so many families who have had to downsize and move to new home, but why I am so excited about this book is the message that home is who you choose to live with not where you live.

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-8-33-05-pmJuna’s Jar
 by Jane Bahk and Felicia Hoshino (Lee & Low Books, 2015), is the perfect addition to your petites shelf. It is about a young girl named Juna, her family has a large jar of kimchi in their fridge and when the kimchi is all gone she sometimes get to keep the jar.  Juna is also a girl who loves adventures especially ones with her best friend Hector.  Sadly, one day Juna goes to get Hector and learns that he has moved from his grandmother’s house to a new house far away. Juna is devastated that she didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.  Her older brother, Minho, tries to cheer her up by buying her a fish to put into her special jar.  As Juna goes on these magical adventures inspired by whatever is in her special jar, she searches in her dreams for her dear friend Hector.  One night she is able to check in on Hector and realizes that he is happy and that he too has a special jar.  The story ends just as you hoped it would with Juna wishing of what to put into her jar when she unexpectedly meets a new friend and we can only assume the adventures continue.  We love how relatable this book is, many children live in apartments and many live with extended family of some sort, this book honors that.
screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-8-40-35-pmA Year With Marmalade by Alison Reynolds and Health McKenzie (Little Simon, 2013) is a story of two friends, Ella and Maddy.  They do everything together, but one day Maddy tells Ella that she is moving away and asks her to care for her cat Marmalade. What is so wonderful about this book is that it discusses how Ella tries to carry on and do things that were fun before and now they just aren’t as fun.  This is something that all petites who have had a friend move away will understand, that it just doesn’t feel the same, nor should it.  That missing a friend is okay.   It is a really sweet story, in the end Maddy returns and the friends are together again.
Half a World AwayHalf a World Away by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood. (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007)  Is a wonderful book for petites who have friends or family who live very far away.  Amy and Louie are the best of friends. They build towers as high as the sky, they look for magical creatures in clouds, and they always greet one another with their special call.  But then Amy’s family moves across the ocean and they have to find ways to be friends from such a far distance.  This book doesn’t have a “happy ending” of friends being united, but more so a realistic ending of what sometimes happens when friends move away.  This book discusses what might be the same in a long distance friendship and what can sometimes be a struggle.
A Kiss GoodbyeA Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn and Barbara L. Gibson (Tanglewood, 2007) which may look familiar because it is part of one of the most loved series for petites The Kissing Hand.  In this story you will read about Chester raccoon who is moving away from his friends because the trees in his forest are being cut down, so his family packs up in search of a new home.  This book is relatable because many children do not look forward to moving, to new friends or new adventures and that is the same for Chester.  What is fantastic is that there is always a bright side and the new tree Chester moves to isn’t so bad and he even makes a new friend.
screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-2-02-01-pmHerman’s Letter by Tom Percival (Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2014)  What do you do when your best friend in the whole wide world has to move far away?  Well, you write lots and lots of letters.   Sometimes it can be hard to write letters when your friend who moved away seems to be having a lot more fun than you are.  This is a fantastic story of Herman the bear and Henry the raccoon and how they navigate their long distance friendship.  This book has really fun lift the flaps and makes it all the more enjoyable to read with your petites.
If I’ve missed any books that you think would be a perfect addition to this list, please tell me about them in the comments below.

Miss Rumphius Makes the World More Beautiful

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Miss Rumphius by two time Caldecott winning author and illustrator Barbara Cooney (Viking Books for Young Readers, 1982).  Cooney won the National Book Award the year it was publsihed.  She was also the U.S. nominee in 1994 for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition for creators of children’s books.  This book was first published in 1982 and continues to strike a chord readers of all ages.   This book is one that I remember checking out of the library as a child and just dreaming of what I would do to make the world more beautiful.

Fast forward thirty years and I find myself reading it with the same enthusiasm I had all those years ago, but this time to my petites.  This story is about Alice Rumphius, who dreamed of traveling the world, living her life in a house by the sea, and most importantly follow her grandfathers advice to make the world more beautiful.  This story, is absolutely timeless – what she does to make the world a more beautiful place.  The illustrations of this book are so stunning and so perfect, you will be transported alongside Alice on her mission to make the world more beautiful.  Miss. Rumphius over the course of many years drops lupine seeds all around her community filling it with beauty for years to come.
During the reading of this story we stop at many parts and discuss what is happening.  We discuss where we might like to travel, or what jobs we think would make us happy, where we might like to live; etc.  When the story ends, I asked my petites what think they would do to make the world more beautiful…and I waited my seven year old took only a few moments, she said that she would like to swim all over the oceans of the world and collect all of the garbage that people have left behind.  My three year old very thoughtfully told us that she would like to help the birds, by taking care of them and feeding them if they cannot find food on their own.
I was thrilled to have this amazing interaction with my petites, this book provides you with such a remarkable way to connect with your children, to understand what they are thinking, what they value and how they feel like they might be able to contribute to making the world a better or more beautiful place.
This book got me thinking of how much fun it would be to share this story with students, to read them this beautiful story and have them think of the three things that they would like to accomplish like Miss. Rumphius and then what they would like to do to make the world more beautiful.  There are so many possibilities of how you could you this book in your classroom.
Writing:
  • one or two sentences and a picture
  • free write about what they would do to make the world more beautiful
  • five paragraphs about who they would make the world more beautiful, why they would want to do it and how they could encourage others to make the world more beautiful
  • brainstorming with table group ways that they could make their community more beautiful and then share aloud
  • make a list of the things “Ways in Which My Life Would Be Different” and “Ways in Which My Life Would Be The Same” if I lived on a tropical island
  • Brainstorm several examples of beauty in the world. Sorting ideas into different lists, such as:
    • natural things
    • made by humans
    • things to do: actions

Art:

  • make drawings or collages to represent what they would do to make the world more beautiful
  • recreate their favorite part of the book
  • paint lupines using bubble wrap dipped in paint
  • finger painting lupines

Science:

  • tropical island study: learn the plants and animals that live there. (like the island Miss. Rumphius visited)
  • buy a packet of lupine seeds and plant them and do predictions about how the seeds will grow and then plant them around the community or the school
  • Watch The Magic School Bus “Goes to Seed” episode to learn more about seeds

When I worked in the elementary world, I had the most fun making  bulletin boards, with one of my very best teacher friends, and this one would be amazing to create a hillside with lupines filled with what the kids would do to make the world a better place/more beautiful.

What I love most about this book is that it is still so relevant, maybe now more than ever.  Barbara Cooney filled a void that was present at the time in children’s books, a void that I believe many authors and illustrators are still trying to navigate.  Here are her thoughts on receiving the Caldecott in 1959:

 “I believe that children in this country need a more robust literary diet than they are getting…. It does not hurt them to read about good and evil, love and hate, life and death. Nor do I think they should read only about things that they understand…. a man’s reach should exceed his grasp. So should a child’s. For myself, I will never talk down to—or draw down to—children.” 

We couldn’t agree more.  This is a timeless tale that petites of all ages will enjoy.