Monday, September 16, 2013

"If You Give A..." Unit--Day 1: "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie"

"If You Give A..." Unit

Welcome! In case you didn't know, I'm a former Elementary teacher, turned Stay-At-Home Mom/Homeschool Teacher. I have an almost 4 year old son, Ezra, and a 1 year old daughter, Eliana (aka, Ellie), and I'm just getting started with more structured learning activities for Ezra. Right now Eliana is a distraction/sidekick/little learner tagging along!

When I was in college, we had to present an entire unit's worth of lesson plans over one subject/theme. I chose the If You Give A... series, written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. If you aren't familiar with these books, I suggest you borrow them from the library or buy them--they are sure to be a hit with your kids! When I started to get serious about my son's schooling, I thought I'd go with something I knew well, and I already had ideas and supplies for some of the activities with this unit, so I started there! We will be adding more activities as we continue through the book series. I hope you can stop by for each installment! Additional days are linked at the bottom of this post! :)

Day 1: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie 

First, we read the story. I have the individual paperback and the Mouse, Cookies, and More: A Treasury has the story in it as well. We read from the treasury edition and I made sure Ezra knew where the paperback was in his book corner so he could 'read' it himself later.
Ezra enjoyed the mouse's antics! Even Ellie stayed still for the story and paid attention.

Immediately after the story, the treasury has 3 cookie recipes. I hadn't actually planned on making cookies because I didn't have the ingredients for our favorite, chocolate chip, but one of the recipes was for peanut butter cookies, and only needed 3 ingredients (one egg, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of peanut butter). My personal teaching motto is, "Monitor and adjust!" I thought, "Hey, why not? That's one of the great things about homeschooling--being flexible!"

FYI, these illustrations are also in "The Best Mouse Cookie," another great Laura Numeroff book!

Baking cookies together is full of learning and relationship skill building. It also helps me build my patience! I'm working really hard on staying sweet when cooking or baking with Ezra, because he makes a word, challenging, to do so! Ah, little boys! :) Ellie and I donned our aprons, and I thought, "I really need to make Ezra a boyish apron." Maybe that will happen in the near future! I am also in love with Ellie's apron and I may have to make more (I didn't make this one).
I have a few pics of the kids while the cookies were baking. They were being amazingly sweet with each other--I just love those moments!!
{Reality check: There were also moments of Ellie screaming because she wanted me to pick her up instead of roll cookie dough with her brother.}

Hmm...maybe you were doing something worthwhile...

Quite possibly my new favorite picture.

Once we had the first batch of cookies in the oven, we headed to the living room for some music time! The Mouse, Cookies, and More treasury includes a CD with celebrity readings of the stories and songs to go along with each story. We did the "Mouse Cookie" dance, which includes lots of silly actions to repeat, and lots of "wiggle your nose and dance on your toes" time! :) My picture of Ezra doing this isn't great because he was doing a lot of wiggling! Oh, and Ellie got to dance too, so she loved that!

The cookies came out of the oven and I let Ezra help me put fork marks on the tops--for some reason, they just aren't real peanut butter cookies without those little marks!

They were no chocolate chip, but they were really good!

The treasury collection also has a few activity suggestions after the stories, and one suggestion was to draw a picture of your family like Mouse does in the story, so we worked on that. This was a big deal, because Ezra rarely enjoys drawing or coloring. It's just not his thing...yet. He does love using paint (of course--it's the messiest!), so I let him choose paint for his picture. Another test of my patience!

Posing with his masterpiece!
(Yes, he removed his clothes. He'd rather paint in his underwear than wear
the upcycled t-shirt I turned into a painting shirt for him, lol!)
While browsing Pinterest, I ran across this awesome blog with lots of ideas for projects and learning activities to go along with children's books, Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas. :)
One of her ideas was to make these "Tape Resist M's". This one was a bit challenging because Ezra isn't one to color an entire page of anything, as mentioned before, and for the 'M' to show up, he had to cover the rest of the page with watercolors. I ended up helping him and he painted a lot more. I guess all that blank space overwhelmed him at first.

Just getting started...

Hints: Don't let them put too much watercolor in one spot, particularly near the tape, or it will soak into the 'M' area. Ezra's did this a bit, so I plan on outlining the letter before I peel off the tape to be sure you see the letter when you look at it! Also, the water from the water colors did soak into the paper underneath the tape, but the dye didn't (except in the areas where we had too much paint close to the tape).
Oh, and I made these watercolors with water and food coloring. It took quite a few drops of food coloring to get deep enough colors to paint with. I've had them in these little storage tubs forever though, and they still work great! :)

drying time...
the finished product (I didn't make ours into a mouse like the other blog)

Ezra was dying to do one more 'Mouse page' after lunch, so I let him do the Color By Numbers page from Making Learning Fun. I printed more of them for when we read If You Take A Mouse To School. I will be doing plenty of cutting and laminating between now and then!
Hard at work...and still undressed. ;)

Since we haven't really learned color words as sight words yet, I thought this would help him.
Cool learning moment of the day: Ezra and I were admiring his 'M' project and I was telling him that 'M' said, "mmm, mmm," and asked what words started with 'M,' fully expecting him to say 'mouse.' Instead he said, "Mommy!" :) Then I told him it also said, 'mmm, mouse; Do you know any other 'M' words?" He cocked his head to the side as if he was thinking really hard, and looked at me very seriously, and said, "Do you?!" (hehehe...) I looked around and saw the floor mat by the door and said, "Oh, mmm, mat." He said, "That's just like on my game on your phone....with the turtle. He says, 'mmm, mat,' too!" I had no clue what he meant, but he went to find my phone and brought it back and showed me a game he hasn't played in a looooong time that helps you sound out words by blending the letter sounds. Sure enough, the turtle was blending the word, 'map.' So there was a slight error in translation there, but I still thought he was really bright to have put all that together! :)

We pretty much summed everything up before lunch (aside from the coloring sheet). I thought of doing more, but by then we needed a break, Ellie needed a nap, and I still had household chores to do. I think our 'school' will probably be a few hours a day for now, anyway, since preschool is mostly about playing to learn and learning to love learning!

Playing a learning game and showing Mouse how it's done :)

Right now I'm working on putting a few more If You Give A Mouse A Cookie activities together for tomorrow. I have a meeting in the morning (more on that later, hopefully), so our school time will be shorter and interrupted a bit.

UPDATE: We re-read the story, danced to the songs again, and Ezra had fun doing one more If You Give A Mouse A Cookie activity, jumping on 'chocolate chip' paths! I cut out large circles from brown felt and let him make paths on the floor to follow. He made some for me, I made some for him, it was a fun time, and a good way to get him moving while we were stuck inside on a rainy day.

His path

The path I made for him

Please let me know if you have any other ideas or suggestions, or any questions about this unit in the comments! I'd love to hear from you!

Check out the rest of this unit...

Day 2, If You Give A Pig A Pancake

Day 3, If You Give A Moose A Muffin (part 1)

Thanks for stopping by,
Deidre :)

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