Monday, February 16, 2009

Mid-Winter Break in CNY

This week finds kids at home and schools closed across much of Central New York as a way of saving energy by cutting heating costs inside the schools, as this typically is the chilliest part of the winter season... I've got 5 books up for review today in the hopes that they might inspire you with some activities to keep the kids busy if they are indeed off school this week! Ice skating, cross country skiing, sledding, host a snowman building contest and having a snowball fight will certainly keep the kids busy... one for each day of the week!

Isadora, Rachel.
Sophie Skates.
G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Ages: 5-8
Genre: Fiction - Realistic
Guided Reading Level: L

Sophie is a little girl who dreams of being a professional ice-skater when she grows up. However, this is a dream that requires a huge amount of work. In this story, readers will hear of Sophie's efforts at practicing so she will become closer to reaching her dreams. However, along with the ficitional story, a whole host of informational text is provided regarding the sport of ice-skating: how to buy skates that fit correctly, different skating techniques, types of figure eights, preparing for jumps, the practice of ballet to improve skating, and the different programs in which ice skaters compete.

Why not read this book and then get the kids out there on the ice rink to practice or even just have some fun!

Calhoun, Mary.
Cross-Country Cat.

Harper Collins Publishers.

Ages: 5-8
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: M

Henry, a Siamese cat goes on vacation with his family to a camp deep in the mountains for a weekend of skiing. "The Kid" tries to teach Henry how to cross-country ski, but Henry couldn't be less interested. However, as the weekend draws to a close, Henry is left behind after discovering he forgot his mouse under "the Kid's" bed in the cabin. With no other choice, Henry must don the cross-country skis that "the Kid" built for him earlier that weekend. Luckily, Henry quickly figures out how to be successful with the skis and sets out on the adventure of a lifetime while trying to make it home. Luckily, he does! This was a very cute story and the illustrations leave the reader feeling as if they're in the midst of the mountains exploring with Henry!

If Henry can catch on to the notion of cross-country skiing, why not try out this activity with the kids?

Thomas, Patricia.
Red Sled.

Boyds Mills Press.

Ages: 4-8
Genre: Fiction - Realistic, Poetry
Guided Reading Level: N/A

Based on an ancient form of writing known as chiasmus , Thomas, in Red Sled, creates a mirror image using thoughts, words, and word sounds that flow towards a center point and then reverse to reflect in that same order while nearing the end. Along with this form of writing and the use of rhyming pairs, Thomas tells the story of a young boy and his father as they create happy memories of a winter day - going sledding on the red sled. This is a wonderfully written story that is appropriate for even the youngest readers. The text is very simple but creates a very vivid image of the feelings experienced by father and son.

Any child will enjoy getting out there making their own sledding memories with Dad, Mom, Grandma, Grandpa, a brother or sister or even the babysitter!

Mahoney, Daniel.
A Really Good Snowman.
Clarion Books.

Ages: 5-8
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: N/A

Why not have a snowman building contest one of these days? Kids are sure to love the activity and it can get everyone in the family (or neighborhood) involved! Jack wants his sister Nancy to just leave him alone, but like any little sister, Nancy just wants to be his side-kick, tag along and help Jack build the snowman with his friends. However, this snowman contest only allows parties of 3 or less, and Nancy would be #4. Reluctantly, she goes off and builds her own snowman, determined to win the contest. Even though she doesn't win, Jack sees her hard efforts and is proud of his little sister for her accomplishments and realizes what a wonderful snowman maker she really is! This is a really cute book that will keep children entertained!

This could a whole neighborhood activity - almost like a summer block party, just in the winter-time instead! End the day with hot chocolate!

Fallon, Jimmy.
Snowball Fight.
Dutton Children's Books.

Ages: 4-8
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: N/A

For those of you who aren't familiar with Jimmy Fallon, he's most known for his role on Saturday Night Live as actor and comedian. This book, his first, certainly allows his comedian side to show! Children are sure to love the idea behind the story - a good old snowball fight! But, these children don't enter the fight unprepared! They come dressed for battle, complete with collanders and pans for helmets so as not to be harmed! The rhyming text is just another added bonus to the story, allowing for an almost song-like text! It is a truly wonderful story and will certainly inspire children to get outside and burn some energy during winter break... if there's snow, that is!

Why not don the funny kitchen equipment and have a snowball fight of your own?!