Monday, October 8, 2012

Charlotte's Web: Book Basket and More

Charlotte, Templeton, Wilbur and Some Books
About a week ago, in culmination of our Charlotte's Web explorations, I put together a Charlotte's Web Book Basket for the kids.  Not a day has passed since when they have not asked one of us to read the books or chosen to play with the items in the basket.

Nina draws Wilbur and his food after she and Luke set up a feeding trough with the cover of a cardboard jewelery box and some marbles.
And on more than one occasion, they have teamed up to build a barn for Wilbur.

Templeton is peaking out of his hole.

Considering that we began informally exploring Charlotte's Web over a month ago, I think the fact that Luke, Nina and Jack remain interested in dramatizing the story serves as testimony to what a timeless, classic tale it is and to how putting together a simple basket of inspiration can help children of all ages access the story even more.

Charlotte's Web Through Audio, Text and Video 

In late August, we took a long road trip to see family.  One of the audiobooks we listened to while traveling was Charlotte's Web .  Then, as the school year began, we read the unabridged, anniversary edition of the book as a read aloud with the kids, followed by two Charlotte's Web picture books, Some Pig!: A Charlotte's Web Picture Book and Wilbur's Adventure: A Charlotte's Web Picture Book and one early reader, Charlotte's Web: Wilbur Finds A Friend (I Can Read Book 2), which we happened to find in the waiting room at Nina's speech therapy.

We also enjoyed a family movie time watching the classic film and look forward to seeing the more recent version as soon as it comes in at the library.

Family Movie Time (Please excuse the multitude of clashing patterns.  The children collected various pillows and blankets to set up our stadium seating theater in the boys' room)

However, all the reading, listening and watching were not enough for our kiddoes.


Our Kiddoes Like to Play

Thus, one sunny day (prior to making the book basket), the kids and I collected a stuffed pig, a stuffed girl (for Fern), a plastic spider, a recycled fruit bag (for a web) and a stuffed chipmunk (because we could not find out stuffed mouse) from around the house.  The children enjoyed dramatizing scenes from Charlotte's Web with these all afternoon.

I love the way the kids created the green web for Charlotte here.
Unfortunately, that included the scene where Wilbur tried to make a web...

What a time we had trying to get Wilbur out of the tree!
Best of all, Jack, our boy who is just beginning to converse, cannot seem to get enough of "Shar-it weh".  Yep, he's right in there with Luke and Nina with the dramatic play!

"My shpida"

Plus, Charlotte has motivated us to do a bit more reading and spelling, too.  Or, more precisely, has been a catalyst for Nina focusing on decoding words and sentences.  Hoorah!

After matching some Charlotte's Web inspired CVC and VCC words, Nina asked me to write a sentence for her to puzzle out and illustrate.  This from a girl who has been fighting lesson time since September.  Thank you, E.B. White!
Faith, Montessori and SPD Connections
  • Although not directly related to faith, the pro-life message of Charlotte's Web, as well as the obvious themes of love and friendship, touched us.
  • Although not classically Montessori, I consider our Charlotte's Web forays to be Montessori-inspired.  Why?  Because they have developed through a process of following our children and because with some basic planned environment elements, the children have been able to self-select/request aspects of study.
  • From an SPD perspective, our explorations have been helpful.  
  • They began with an audiobook in the car.  We have found that audio books calm and focus Luke when on long drives, helping him to keep his mind off the vestibular input that used to affect him greatly when riding in a car.  
  • The variety of textures  involved with dramatic play offer natural tactile input to our once tactile-defensive, although sometimes seeking, and now much more "normalized" boy and his siblings.
  • The dramatic play encourages a lot of movement.  "Heavy work" happens naturally when building constructions, stretching to help Charlotte high in her web, bending to help Templeton crawl, etc.
  • Having a variety of books of interest on hand allows Luke to take calming "read the pictures" breaks when he begins to feel overstimulated.  (Granted, sometimes we have to encourage him to self-regulate, or directly help him to calm down.)
  • Watching movies at home allows us to control what would otherwise be an overstimulating experience for Luke.  Between the huge screen, loud volume, crowded conditions, etc. of  a real theaters, sensory input can become too much for Luke and a "good" experience can turn bad quickly.  Likewise, even movies at home can be overstimulating for him, so we tend to bracket them with heavy work.

Revisiting and Expanding
Because we have a variety of concurrent explorations and studies going on right now, I did not expand our Charlotte's Web experience much beyond a literary and dramatic play one.  However, I can imagine numerous Montessori activities, lapbooking ideas, unit study components, etc. grounded in the story.  Since Jack is still so young, I am confident that we will revisit Charlotte's Web again in a few years.   (We actually read the story a couple of years ago, too, but did not spend so much time on it.)  At that time, I expect Luke and Nina will be able to do some reading on their own, and, we may develop our studies further.  Thus, I would greatly appreciate any Montessori, Sensory, Unit study, Lapbook or other cool exploration links you might have for Charlotte's Web. 

 Want to be inspired with others' Montessori ideas an work?  Click on over to Montessori Monday and enjoy.

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Lisa @ Our Country Road said...

Cute! I love the book basket idea!!

Martianne said...

Thank you. Obviously, we do, too. My children love to act out the things that they read about, often mixing up and extending stories and intertwining experiences from real life.


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