Last week we read I Am An Artist by Pat Lowery Collins, which is one of the Before Five in a Row selections. The girls and I enjoyed this book, as it is is about one of our favorite experiential topics–nature. In this gentle picture book, each page begins with the title phrase, “I am an artist when,” and goes on to express the many ways one can be an artist by merely observing colors, textures, and characteristics of objects in nature. Robin Brickman‘s illustrations are beautiful drawings that complement the gentle tone of the story very well.
I really meant for us to do a lapbook for I Am An Artist, but life has gotten extremely busy as it often does in the early summer, with outdoor activities, family commitments, and a bad case (for me) of “I don’t wannas,” so we merely enjoyed the book (several times), did a few of the recommended activities from BFIAR, and as always, added our own little twist by finding some go-along titles. Here are the winners:
Tana Hoban’s Look Book is the perfect go-along, with its die-cut pages as overlays of things found in nature. Can you identify a moth’s wing by only looking at a close-up section? What about an ostrich’s neck? The photography in this book really encourages close examination of highly textured, different objects, so it fits the I Am an Artist theme very well.
Really, though, you just can’t go wrong with Tana Hoban. Is It Rough? Is It Smooth? Is It Shiny? focuses even more on texture. It is not a “touch and feel” book, so the children must rely on sight alone to determine texture. This could lead to interesting discussions about what different textures look like. Others of Hoban’s books would make good go-alongs to I Am an Artist, as well.
It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw is a neat book to encourage children to see things a little differently. (I’m sure that there’s some education-ese that I’m not using here that I could if I only knew it.) The premise behind the book is that things are not always what they appear; in fact, all of the Rorschach-looking images are actually clouds. This isn’t revealed until the end of the book, so you have opportunities to guess the true identity of the objects. It’s a simple, fun, duo-tone book. (Hat-tip to Heather @ Blog, She Wrote for mentioning this book on her I Am an Artist post.)
Counting on the Woods by George Ella Lyon makes a great go-along for I Am an Artist because it encourages a close examination of nature photographs, all taken by Ann W. Olson in eastern Kentucky. This is a counting book written in (bonus!) rhyming couplets. Each photograph is identified with the common name of the plant or animal pictured. The girls and I had some interesting discussions about mourning doves, animal tracks, star chickweed, and Sycamore trees, among other things, while reading this book.
I saved my favorite for last! The Butterfly Alphabet by Kjell B. Sandved, creator of the butterfly alphabet poster, is a beautiful book based on the poster. Each two page spread features (bonus! bonus!) a rhyming couplet based on a letter of the alphabet and, on the facing page, a photograph of a butterfly’s or moth’s wing on which the letter appears. Each insect is also identified by its common name within the book and its scientific name in an appendix. The supplementary material in the back of the book is thorough and interesting. I love this:
Do you know what a butterfly is? It is a caterpillar in a wedding gown!
The connection between this lovely book and I Am an Artist is obvious–there is art everywhere in nature, and one only has to observe it to be an artist himself. I can’t recommend The Butterfly Alphabet enough!
Of course, reading about nature and looking at nature photographs and illustrations can’t compare to the real thing, so we betook ourselves to our backyard, spread a quilt under the shade tree, and enjoyed learning time one breezy, pleasant day last week. The girls were delighted to discover the star inside an apple (as suggested by BFIAR):
We reclined on the quilt and looked up through the leaves of the maple tree while we read I Am an Artist. We also worked on a lesson from The Ordinary Parents’ Guide to Teaching Reading and played a home-made phonics match game until the wind threatened to scatter our cards.