One of my favorite parts about teaching is when a lesson connects to a real-life event. Teaching is most effective when it is done with purpose. Reading a story to a child is great and should be done as often as possible. But, when an even deeper connection can be made between the story and the child’s life… that’s teaching.
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This past weekend, we had the opportunity to go to the zoo with some family. This is the fourth time we have taken Becca to the zoo this year, but this was by far my favorite experience yet! Before, she really didn’t show any interest in the animals. She was mostly just interested in the people around her. This time, though, she was watching the animals, pointing to them, and waving at them (oh, so cute)!
Last week, I focused solely on reading Brown Bear Brown Bear, What do you see? We read it every day, and sometimes I even recited it from memory when I needed to distract her for a minute. She loves Brown Bear! By the end of the week, she was even saying, “Bow Bow” when I pulled out the book. See how repetition can stick with little minds like this?! On our way to the zoo, we kept asking Becca if she was excited to see the brown bear. “Bow Bow” was her response each time…melts my heart!
So, this week, I decided to stick with the animal theme and read Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Rod Campbell. We already had this book at home, and it is one of Becca’s favorites. She is really into flap books right now and has figured out how to open the flaps without completely ripping them out.
Our activity of the week was to build our own zoo. I didn’t get too creative with this, because I knew it would only hold her attention for a few minutes. So, all I did was drape a blanket over the rocking chair and ottoman in her room and place her stuffed animals under the “tent.” And, there you have our zoo!
Becca didn’t want to crawl under the tent, and I didn’t make her. That would have just resulted in unnecessary tears during, what is supposed to be, a fun activity. It took some warming up to, but she eventually worked up the courage to crawl over and grab her favorite bear before retreating from the zoo.
We read Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book a couple times, and she lifted the flaps as I read. I let her spend some time exploring each page before moving on to the next. I pointed out how she had an elephant in her zoo, just like the one in the book. And, we even talked about the brown bear in her zoo!
This fun activity is a great way to support pretend play and help boost your child’s imagination. How fun is it to be able to make a connection between an experience in real life and one inside your own room?! For Becca, this activity was definitely a sensory one, too. She loved feeling the soft bears and the velvety elephant. It is good practice for teaching her how to “pet” animals nicely, since she can sometimes be rough with her real life kitty! I can’t wait for our next visit to the zoo. I know she will continue to develop, and her love for the animals will only grow!