Books are doors to so much knowledge on numerous topics. They open our eyes to the world even without traveling. We can learn about different countries, nature, animals, science, and human nature. You can reread a book many times and still find something interesting each time. The beauty of children’s books is that all factual information is intertwined with a story. So, while following a story, children can learn a lot in a compelling and gentle way.
Whilst reading a book there are three kinds of connections we can make to help children expand their perception, enrich vocabulary and knowledge, improve memory, and learn how to reflect. These connections are: text-to-text, text-to-you, and text-to-the-world.
- The 1st type helps to pay attention to some words and phrases. Ask, ‘What do they mean?’, ‘What are the synonyms?’, ‘Where else have you seen those phrases/words?’
- The 2nd type is when we make connections to a child’s life. Ask, ‘How would you act if the situation had happened to you?’, ‘How did you feel?’.
- The 3rd one is highly important. You make a connection between a book and the world. Speak to the child about where they might have seen something mentioned in the book. Ask, if it was the same thing and experience.
Exploring Books through Crafts
Another exciting way for children to learn, remember, and understand a book better is by doing crafts related to the key topics of the story. It also helps children in developing their creativity, imagination, and critical thinking skills while reinforcing the message of the book.
How could this look in practice?
I write about the adventures of an 11-year-old girl called Nina and her funny dachshund Eve who travel around the world. To accompany the stories, I have created an adventure program with crafts related to the topic of each adventure story.
Mediterranean Sea Art in an Egg Carton
While reading the first story about Nina and Eve, children create a Mediterranean Sea Bottom Art. They explore an online map of the location, watch a video and create a sea project.
To create the sea art you need:
- an egg-carton
- blue paint and a brush
- sea shells
- sea stones
- fish toys
- colored pencils and markers
- sea treasure
- glitter and glue
You can discuss with the children, what could be found at the bottom of the sea, and which objects are similar to sea objects by shape, color, and texture. Additionally, discuss which animals and fish live there, how deep the sea is, and more.
In the story, Nina rescues Eve and we use this image from the book illustration for the project because this moment is the culmination of the story.
You can also cut out and add colorful fish from this worksheet:
A Cardboard Castle
In the second story, Nina and Eve visit the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. While jogging around the park they see a beautiful palace. They imagine what it feels like to live there as an imperial family and wear magnificent clothes. Nowadays, there is also an opportunity to have a birthday party with imperial costumes and props inside the palace. In the adventure programme children visit an online museum of the palace. They explore its beautiful rooms, halls, and more.
After that, they make a craft – “A Cardboard Castle”. Some topics that can be discussed while crafting are; the differences between a castle and a palace, what the major parts of a castle are, and how would the children feel living in a castle or a palace?
You will need the following materials to make a cardboard castle:
- a cardboard box (it would be great if it’s the color you want, otherwise you can color it or glue it with a kind of paper you like).
- scissors (not too small, not too big) and a paper knife, glue, a marker, a ruler
- 4 toothpicks
- paper towel rolls (if you have them, otherwise we can make them from paper A4)
- 3 kinds of colorful paper for the tops of the towers, the flags, and the windows
Let’s watch a video on how to make it.
A Vanilla Orchid Painting
In the third story, Nina and Eve travel to Reunion Island. It’s a French territory in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The characters visit unique places there such as the Vanilla Garden and the volcano Piton de la Fournaise.
In the story, we learn how vanilla grows:
“The smell of vanilla was in the air. They were listening to the guide. Vanilla orchids were brought to the island a long time ago. At first, this plant seemed useless as it couldn’t be pollinated without a bee that lived only in Mexico. However, after some time the 12-year-old Edmond Albius discovered it was possible to do it by hand, not an easy process. Also, it takes quite a long time (3 years) to bloom.”
After that we discuss with the children: is it easy to grow vanilla? Why is it an expensive spice? What plants do they have at home? How do they care for their plants? Then, I offer the children to draw vanilla with water paints.
I hope these examples have shown you how, through the enjoyment of making crafts, children can better understand and remember what they have learnt about the world in books and stories!
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