Thursday, June 28, 2012

Book Club Activity: My Father's Dragon

I've been caught up in a whirlwind of activity the past 2 weeks and the preschool book club and my blogging was completely pushed to the back of everything! Today should have been the day I posted discussion questions for My Father's Dragon, but I'm going to change the date to next Monday, July 9th. That will get us through the Fourth of July holiday and hopefully back on track!

If you have not gotten a chance to start My Father's Dragon, I hope you'll do so now! This is a very short book that is an easy read. It's much simpler than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You can read the whole book online via UPenn's digital library, purchase for $8 or less on Amazon, or check it out from your library (like we did!). I love that there are pictures on every page, especially as we go back and review after skipping several days of reading.

The activity I have planned for this week is to color a picture of a dragon using the description in the book. I found several different free printable dragon pictures at All About Coloring, Moms Who Think, and Print Activities. Pick you favorite, or pick more than one. I'm sure we'll be doing several dragon pictures!

I hope you enjoy My Father's Dragon. Be sure to check back on Monday, July 9th for the discussion questions to ask your preschooler. I can't wait to hear what they think!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father's Day Ideas

Do you have some special things planned for Dad this Father's Day? Here is a roundup of some of my favorite ideas!

There have been tons of free photo card opportunities over the last few weeks (like the one I posted from Shutterfly); I hope you were able to take advantage of these too!

I made a chalkboard using homemade chalkboard paint using this simple recipe from The Idea Room. It was really easy to make and also turned into a great prop for our special Father's Day pictures!

We also have been enjoying this super cute picture book from the library: What Dads Can't Do by Douglas Wood. 
It is told from the child's perspective, seeing all the things that dad seemingly "can't" do - a great book about the love and sacrifices dads make! (We also love What Moms Can't Do.)

Photo Collage - Positively Splendid

This photo collage using chalkboards was part of my inspiration for our chalkboard photoshoot. I love the personal quotes from each child!

Father's Day Questionare - The Crafting Chicks and Two Journeys One Life

I think these questionares about Dad are adorable. Here are two great examples (and both come with free printables!) but there are loads of others out there too. If I was super on top of things I would make my own, but realistically, I know that is not happening this year!

101 Guy Gift Ideas - The Mom Creative
I love this list of "guy" gift ideas...perfect for all the hard to shop for men in our lives! There are some great last minute idea, some ideas that will take a while to DIY, and plenty to save for birthdays and Christmas too!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Discussion questions for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

I'm so excited for our first Preschool Book Club discussion! This is still a bit of a work in progress, so if you have any suggestions for improving the book club, please let me know.

Ask your child as many questions as work for your family. Feel free to skip any and only answer ones that engage them. If you did any activities related to the book, post those in the comments as well. And if you blogged about your book reading experience, feel free to post the link so we can check it out! You can reply to comments that others leave, but please keep things polite. :-) I'm not anticipating too much problems with this!

Big Picture Questions:

What was your child's reaction to the story? Did they stay focused and interested the whole time? 

Which character did your child like the best or identify with most?

Was this a scary story? If you watched the movie, did your child think that the movie was scarier or the book?

Review and Discussion Questions:

 1) Who goes to Narnia first? Do the other children believe her about a land in the wardrobe? What is normally at the back of a closet? Depending on the age of your kids, go into a closet and think about what it might have felt like to be the children. (this was a hit with my daughter!)

2) What season is it in Narnia? What is different about Narnia's winter than our winter? How would you feel if Christmas suddenly stopped happening?

3) Who is the "bad guy"? Talk about some of the witch's characteristics.

4) Who is Aslan? Talk about lions as "king" and how Aslan can be good but not safe at the same time.

5) What does Edmund do that is wrong? If your child has siblings, talk about how they feel when their sibling wrongs them.

6) Where do the children meet Aslan? 

7) How is Edmund reunited with the others? Did you think that Edmund would be rescued? 

8) What does Aslan do to rescue Edmond for good? If you want to discuss Christian parallels with this story, this is a great place. We talked about Aslan as the Rescuer, using terminology familiar because of the Jesus Storybook Bible.

9) What happens to the statues in the witch's house? How did Lucy feel when she saw Mr. Tumnus as a statue, and then as a real faun again?

10) Who wins the battle? Who kills the witch? 

11) Will the children return to Narnia? Will it be through the wardrobe?

What did you think about this first month? Did you like the activities and questions? I appreciate the feedback I have received and am looking forward to hearing what you think now that we have finished the first book.

The book we'll read for June is My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. This book was published in 1948 and was a Newbery Honor winner. It is short, about 70 pages, and has illustrations on nearly every page. I've never read it before, but it looks like a whimsical book that is much shorter and easier than Narnia. 

I picked up our copy at our library, so please don't feel like you need to purchase a copy. The edition I linked to above is the one I have that is full of pictures. You can also take a look at the complete book online at the UPenn digital library. I think it would be challenging to read the book on a computer to a preschooler, but its a great way for parents to get a preview! 

We will have our virtual book club meeting on June 28, which is 3 weeks away. I also want to start voting on books, so I'll have a way for us to do that for July's book.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Free Father's Day Card from Shutterfly

With Father's Day right around the corner, here's a great way to make a personalized card for Dad for free! Shutterfly has put together a super cute Father's Day video with information at the end for how to get your free card. Check out the video and visit Shuttefly's Facebook page for more information!

I'm a big fan of Shutterfly's photo cards...they are simple and quick to make, are easy to personalize unique for the recipient, and are always great quality. I'm in the process of getting some cute pictures of my kids together to add to their Father's Day card!

Disclosure: I was contacted by Shutterfly and given information about this promotion, along with a Shutterfly promo code compensation. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Avocado Smoothie

Not too long ago I would have recoiled at the suggestion of avocado in a smoothie! But thanks in part to the success of adding oatmeal, I have gotten braver with our smoothie combinations. Here is a current favorite recipe.

The ingredients: milk, banana, oatmeal, avocado, honey, and cocoa powder.

Add the ingredients to the blender (I prefer this order): 2 cups of milk, then 1/2 cup of oatmeal. One whole banana, plus half of a frozen banana. One avocado, one tablespoon of honey, and one tablespoon of cocoa powder. I like to let it sit for a few minutes so that the oats have a chance to soften a bit; I think this helps them to get chopped to a perfect consistency in the smoothie!

Blend until smooth, then enjoy! This makes enough for 2 adult sized portions and 2 child sized portions. We love how creamy the avocado makes this smoothie. And with the cocoa powder and honey, you would never know there was something as healthy as avocado in it unless, well, you knew!

Do you have any other smoothie recipes that use avocado?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Book club activity

Our dinner with the Beavers was so much fun! I had some great little helpers in the kitchen while I worked on the marmalade roll.

I used the ideas from the Pioneer Woman's marmalade roll recipe, but since it makes so many, I opted for this more manageable size roll recipe from the Frugal Girl.

And since I usually prefer not to mix fruit with my dessert, I only made half a batch of marmalade rolls and made the rest cinnamon rolls.

The kitchen was a bit of a disaster afterwards!
I didn't manage to get any pictures of our actual fish dinner. It was delicious! Our kids loved having tea with dessert after dinner.
She was totally thrilled to be drinking tea like the children! And she loved updating Daddy on what had happened recently in the book.
There's just a week left until our first virtual meeting; I hope you're enjoying the book and wrapping up. We finished a little earlier and Emma enjoyed getting to watch the movie of The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. Some parts were a little scary, so we skipped over them, and we broke it up into 3 different viewings. I checked a copy out from our library, which is a great free option! The older BBC version is closer to word-for-word with the book, but is quite a bit longer and not as exciting.

After you finish reading the whole book, take some time to review the complete story. My daughter loves doing this, and the pictures are especially helpful in remembering the sequence of events.

A great way to hear what the child has retained is to have them tell the story to you. Try not to help them too much; let them tell it in their own words. If they remember something incorrectly, try saying "that's not exactly what happened, think about it again," or something like that...instead of just giving them the answer. Encourage them to use the pictures to tell what happened in the story!

Here are some questions we'll be talking about next week:

1) Who goes to Narnia first?

2) What season is it in Narnia?

3) Who is the "bad guy"?

4) Who is Aslan?

5) What does Edmund do that is wrong?

6) Where do the children meet Aslan?

7) How is Edmund reunited with the others?

8) What does Aslan do to rescue Edmond for good?

9) What happens to the statues in the witch's house?

10) Who wins the battle? Who kills the witch?

11) Will the children return to Narnia? Will it be through the wardrobe?

I will elaborate on a few of these questions, going beyond what simply happened to some deeper thinking questions. I hope you will join us! I am looking forward to hearing how your children reacted to different points in the story, what details in particular they remembered, and what creative ways you have gotten them excited about the story!

Also, next week we will be picking the book to read in June and I would love to hear your suggestions! Shoot me an email - thriftylivingde(at)gmail(dot)com or leave a comment on any of the book club posts.
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