Friday, October 3, 2014

Tips on How to Make Books Come Alive and September Homeschool Activities

I would consider the month of September another relaxed month for our homeschooling family. We mainly used the books that we bought recently from the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) for our homeschool lessons. (You may read about our experience of the 35th MIBF here in my previous post.) We also had activities related to or inspired by the stories in these books. This is my way of helping the kids appreciate the stories and lessons that we read from their books.
Let me share some tips on how we made our books come alive last month.
1. Make/Use toys as props when you read and/or reread your books. Encourage children to also retell the story from these books using your props.
One of the books that we spent most time with last September was the Jepoy the Jeepney series. It was such a hit to my boys that we purchased the complete set last month during the MIBF. I love the concept of these books because with each book in the series, there is a cardboard toy that the child and/or parent can cut and assemble. The child can then use this in retelling the story in the book or simply play with it. My boys loved the toys and they asked me to complete the set of main characters in the series so they can play with them. My boys would play pretend using these cardboard toys for hours. They would either retell the stories in the books or they would make up their own stories about the characters in Barangay Pag-asa.

For the other books that you have, I suggest that you use your kid's existing toys. Use their favorite toys as clues for the books that you'll read to them. Then, use their toys as props when you read these books. After reading, give them a chance to play with their toys that you used as props. I use this technique a lot when reading books to my kids. Recently, I used this to retell/reread the story of The Wizard of Oz to my kids.
2. Have art/craft activities related to your books.
I love doing art and craft activities with my kids. I search the internet for ideas and match them with my kids' needs and interests.
Since we recently purchased a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar during the recent MIBF, we'll been doing a lot of art and craft activities related to this story. You may read some of our activities inspired by this book in my previous post here.

Below is one of our latest art activities related to the book The Giving Tree.

Here are some of the book-inspired art and craft activities (as well as writing and drawing activities) that we have done in the past.
Painting Flowers after reading about them
3. Watch a play or musical based on the books you've read.
We were blessed to find out that there's a musical for The Wizard of Oz last month. My kids love music! I was confident that they would enjoy watching this so we bought tickets for a weekend show. It was their first time to watch a musical. I was glad to discover that they can already sit through it and that they had a good time watching it. After the musical, the boys made the musical/story one of their pretend plays. Sometimes, I would hear them sing some of the songs in the musical or exchange dialogues as if they are characters in the story.
4. Meet the author/illustrator of the books you've read.
We were blessed to have met the authors and illustrator of the new books we bought. The recent MIBF gave us that opportunity. But there are also meet and greet opportunities with authors and illustrators year-round, which are organized by bookstores or publishers so watch out for those dates.
You may read my previous post wherein I discussed how my eldest son's encounter with the children's book authors that we met recently had a positive impact on him.
5. Include the lessons from the books you've read in your conversations with kids and relate them to your routines or current events that you can discuss with them.
This book helped us reinforce
the value/lesson of sharing.
We also used this book to deepen and apply
our Math lessons on fractions.
The lessons that kids learn from their books need not remain in their books or in their minds alone. We can let children experience them or we can make these lessons come alive to them by relating these lessons to our day-to-day experiences or the current events in our lives.
Since September has been a rainy month, my kids and I read books about the rain and the weather. We brought out our books about the rain and the weather during the rainy days. We also read books about the environment and safety.

Here is my previous post and review on a book about the rain (The Rain is Here) and the activities we did related to it.
6. Go on a field trip.
Kids love field trips. They like to explore new places and discover new things. Kids would love the new experiences of witnessing something new.
Schedule field trips that are related to the books, lessons and concepts that you have introduced or are currently teaching your child. The experience would help the child appreciate and remember the lessons more. 
Some of the recent field trips that we had were our trip to Museo Pambata and the mobile planetarium at the MIBF. We had these field trips after we had our Linggo ng Wika lessons where we read Filipino books and our lessons on the solar system. Read about our Linggo ng Wika activities here. Read about our Space Book and the activities we did related to it here.
7. Teach them songs that are related to the books or characters in their books.
Music is an effective tool in entertaining and educating children. They love music and movement. Integrating music and movement activities in your lessons that are based on books will help you make your lessons/books come alive. Some of the songs we've used in our homeschool are the following: photosynthesis song, butterfly song, planets song. We also use nursery rhymes that feature characters (mostly animals) in our story books. When it was raining frequently last month and we were reading books about the rain, we sang Rain, Rain Go Away often. We also sang The Incy Wincy Spider.
These are just some of my tips to you to help you make your children's books come alive.
Let me now share some of our activities last month.
My kids' breakfast during Mama Mary's birthday.
Some of the activities we had were celebrations of Feast Days like the Feast of Nativity of the Virgin Mary and the Feast of the Archangels. Aside from going to Mass to celebrate these days, we had art activities and we learned/reviewed songs related to Mary (Hail Mary) and the angels (Christmas songs with mention of angels). He also learned (on his own) how to play Immaculate Mother in the piano. He kept experimenting until one day, he already learned playing the beginning of the song correctly. We (his parents and his mentor in the church) were all delighted to listen to him play the song. You may read my post on how we celebrated Mama Mary's Birthday here and the Feast of the Archangels here.


Aside from our eldest son's daily piano practice at home and frequent practices using the piano in the church, it was also last month that our eldest son joined a Tiples or boys' choir in our parish. The minimum age requirement to join this choir is actually 7 years old. But the servants in the parish are familiar with our sons especially our eldest. They know very well that he's the boy who usually sings aloud and well during daily Masses so event though he's still 5 years old, they invited him to join. Their weekly practice started last month. This is in truth a big blessing because he gets free voice lessons weekly now as part of the choir. It's also very convenient because the practices are done near our house. This also provides him with opportunities to meet and interact other boys.

Last month also, since Yanthy (my eldest) learned how to play the Our Father and Hail Mary in the piano, he and his younger brother had been singing these songs during their prayer time at night. They sing these songs after reciting their usual night prayers.
On weekends, my kids and I do our best to join their Dad in jogging at the nearby park. I was happy to find and buy a book about a father and a son exercising and bonding through jogging also when we went to the MIBF. This book is another welcomed addition to the books in our library. This book will help us teach our kids about caring for their body/health by exercising. We can also relate it to our science lessons on the body.

Our family picture during my husband's 5k race and
our latest book on Father-Son bonding through jogging/running as exercise.
Part of our science lessons for my eldest son last month are the different systems of the body. He has been asking a lot of questions about the brain, heart and lungs so we read books about these topics. It amused me to watch my son experiment on his breathing after reading about the nervous system and the lungs. He ran around the room and observed how fast his heartbeat was. Then, he rested on a chair and observe the changes in his breathing. After we studied the circulatory system, he observe the nerves and arteries he could see in his body.
Although I would consider the month of September a relaxed month for us, I was happy to discover that we have covered a lot of material by simply reading a lot of books and by following our sons' interests and answering their questions.
When we encourage kids to satisfy their curiosity and discover answers to their questions, education happens all the time and naturally.
How did your September go? How do you make books come alive for your kids? Feel free to share your tips. I would love to learn from you, too!

1 comment:

  1. i just read about your was so amazing. by the way about the book "may lakad kami ni tatay" can i copy it here...need badly for my daughter's assignment. i cant find it anywhere.. please send me a copy of it thru my email
    Your reply is so meaningful to me...thanks