We’ve done a couple story times that involved snow (both The Mitten by Jan Brett and Owl Moon by Jane Yolen), so let’s move on to that other resident of winter–nighttime. Because we all know night lasts for about 3 years every day during January. And if you’ve never read this great book by Cheli Durán Ryan–and illustrated in pen and ink by the great Arnold Lobel–then you’re in for a real treat.
The best lesson you and your littles can glean from this book is one of tolerance. You may be wondering where I’m going with this, but it’s a really good book for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (or as Littlest calls it, Milk Day–get it? MLK-Milk?). Hildilid hates night, so she hates all things associated with night-“bats and owls and moles and voles and moths and stars and shadows and sleep.” She tries a ton of ways to get rid of night, but night will not go away. It really gives you a good place from which to jump start a tolerance conversation. Hildilid is going to have to learn to live with night, just like we should all learn to live with one another’s differences. So that’s lesson number one. I mean, you’re welcome. There’s a lot more fun stuff to do with this book, so stay with me.
Ms. Ryan uses a lot of alliteration in her story. We have talked about figurative language before, in both the Owl Moon and the Hello, Harvest Moon Story Times. Alliteration is another writing trick your littles should learn. Here’s a free download covering alliteration with some practice for your littles.
Whaaat? We’ve never done geography in Story Time before! But you know my love of all things British, and Hexham is a real town, so (Oh. Yeah.) we’re totally doing geography this week.
Hexham is a town in England near Hadrian’s Wall. Your littles will have a blast learning about this real place where Hildilid lives. Go to http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/hexham to start your research. You can learn about market towns in England, gaols, reivers, and all kinds of interesting things. Look at that website together, and find a few of your own. Grab out your atlases and geography books and see what else you can find. Your littles will love being able to picture the real town Hildilid is trying to rescue from night. (And, please, can’t someone fly me over there so I can see all this amazing stuff for myself?!!)
Lots of science to do here. So many awesome things you can relate to this book. If your littles are curious as to why night comes around, here’s a free download all about why and how it happens with a crossword puzzle at the end.
These are easy to make and will give you a chance to discuss the stars that Hildilid hates so much.
- A shoebox
- Black or dark-colored construction paper (I, apparently, am fresh out of black)
- A needle or a nail
- Exacto knife or scissors
- Piece of cardboard for help poking holes in paper
- Lit Mama’s constellation templates
- Feline foreman (optional)
What you do:
- Trace your paper onto the bottom of the shoebox. Use your exacto knife or a sharp pair of scissors to cut out an area half an inch smaller than your paper.
- Trace your flashlight onto the center of the shoe box lid. Cut the circle out so that the flashlight will fit snugly in the hole.
- Print out constellation templates. Depending on how many sheets of dark paper you have, center one or two near the center of a sheet of paper.
- With the templates on the paper, place the paper over your spare sheet of cardboard. Using your nail or needle, poke holes where the dots are on the templates.
- Get your cat out of the box you obviously just made for him.
- Tape the paper over the frame you made from your box.
- Snug your flashlight into its hole.
- Reattach the lid, making sure it fits snugly so light can’t escape out the back. Laugh at your cat’s indignation.
- Go into a dark room, aim the paper side at the wall, and turn on the light.
Ta Da! Constellations! If your constellations don’t look right, make the holes a little bigger.
Starry, Starry Night
What you need:
- Dark blue or black construction paper
- Chalk pastels
- Maybe a pencil
- Your little’s imagination.
What You Do:
- Start out by drawing the ground. Because the focal point of the picture is the sky, keep the ground low to the bottom of your paper. You might want to use a pencil to do this, then color it in with the chalk. You can go by the picture of the original painting (pictured above) or you can create your own version–maybe your backyard or hometown or a nearby city. Color your ground in with dark blues and blacks. If you want to add lit buildings, do them in blues and blacks and add yellow windows. In order to make your picture all swirly and soft like Van Gogh did, outline your drawing in chalk pastel, then rub it with your finger to spread the color around softly.
- Next you want to color up the sky with blues. Make sweeping, swirling gestures with your chalk in several shades.
- Color your moon. This is going to be the biggest object in your night sky, so put it in a corner. Make a big light yellow circle, rubbing the color soft with your finger. Then use a darker yellow chalk to put a crescent shape in the center. Rub the crescent lightly to mute it a little, but don’t smear it into the larger circle.
- Now it’s time for the stars. Use white, orange, and many different shades of yellow to put swirls and circles in your night sky. Rub them with your fingers to give them a soft look.
- That’s it. Done. Fun and simple, just like we like it.
Homemade Moon Pies
We’ve made these before, but they’re so stinkin’ appropriate!
What you need:
For the cookies:
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
For the filling:
- 1/2 butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup marshmallow cream
What you do:
For the cookies:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. (You know you can never bake a whole recipe on one, go ahead and grease 2.)
- In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter or margarine and white sugar.
- Add egg, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder.
- Add flour mixture slowly to sugar mixture while stirring. Mix just until all ingredients are combined.
- Drop the dough onto cookie sheets by rounded tablespoonfuls. Leave at least 3 inches in between each one; dough will spread as it bakes. And it will suck when they turn into stuck-together squares because you didn’t leave enough room between them.
- Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until firm when pressed with finger. Allow to cool at least one hour before filling. No, really. Let them cool or they won’t work. I know you’re anxious. Follow the process.
For the filling:
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
- Beat with an immersion blender or electric mixer until smooth.
Assemble the cookies:
- Spread just as much filling as you freaking want over the flat side of one cookie
- Place another cookie on top of the filling.
- Eat that stuff, because wow! It is heaven.
Moons and stars and tolerance and blessed night… Yeah, this is one heck of a book. Go get your copy. What are you waiting for?