Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"The Napping House" by Audrey Wood illustrated by Don Wood

This is one of my favorite "throwback" books and is perfect for a rainy day. Audrey and Don Wood create a superb house where everyone and everything is napping. This book builds until all the residents are slumbering on the same bed, except for one tiny flea. In a similar style of "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly", this book builds and builds and then unfolds to a wakeful moment.

The perfect rainy day book and me.


This book can reach young toddlers all the way up to second grade or third grade. (It is AR Level 3.0.) It is perfect for any setting--large or small groups or one-on-one. It is just that good. Here are some ideas for you to steal...

1. The Perfect Napping Conditions:
Most kids don't look forward to a nap--a few do, but most grumble and have the idea that all the fun stuff happens during nap time. So... As a thought to help assuage the nap time dilemmas in the world, one activity you can glean from this book is "The Perfect Nap".

Ask kids what they think would make the perfect conditions for napping. Should the room be warm and the bed be cold? Should they have just eaten a big meal, or just nibbled on dessert? Should they have lots of pillows to cuddle or should they just have a blanket? Should the room be silent or do you want the sound of a fan or music playing? Talk about these choices and make a word bank on the board with words like: pillow, blanket, quiet, and the like.

Soon you will discover the perfect napping place is quite different for each individual. For instance, my wife loves to nap in our master bed room with the fan going and an eye mask. I, however, prefer dozing off in front of old TV shows from 1989. To each his own... which is what makes this assignment fun.

After kids talk about it and you have created a word bank, give them a sentence frame to get them started on writing their ideas formally. Consider using:

If I could set up the perfect nap, I would ____________.

Have students use simple transition words like "First", "Next", and "Last" to address what the napping place needs. The writing will be unique to each child, and if a kid doesn't ever want to take a nap, allow her to write about how to avoid the perfect nap. I find going with the child's thinking is what matters most here!

2. Labeling Pictures:

This book, much like "Goodnight Moon", has a lot of opportunity for the old point and ask, "What is that?" I suggest extending that activity to serve literacy's sake. Print out small cards with words like "rug", "bed", "shoes", "jug", "mirror", and then have the children place the words on top of the item in the book. This reaches into the whole language world, and I like it. Placing the word on top of the picture helps the child make a connection with the word and the picture.

I took this at night because there were no naps by the preschool
patron of our house.
3. Watch the Window:

My favorite part of this book is the changing window next to the bed. I love how the rain creates a perfect napping environment, and when the flea gets down to business, the sun starts to break through.

One creative idea is to have a child take a photo of what is outside the classroom window every day for a month. For many of us there are trees with changing foliage or grasses with varying shades of green or brown (depending on your restrictions on watering, California). With digital photographer everywhere, this is a really fun project that, if printed, can make an AMAZING flip book.

For a shorter version of this, spend one day and take a photo every hour the child is up--use your iPhone's alarm clock to remind you to snap the shot. At the end of the day load the photos onto a screen big enough for all interested parties to see, and then discuss the changes in shadows, clouds, parked cars, and the like.

Older kids can write about it, and younger kids can draw a significant change. If there are no changes, that is noteworthy in itself! Strong observation, discussion, and analytical skills are huge factors in what separate great writers, scientists, and spouses from the dumpy ones. (Thankfully, my wife is the best at all three of those skills.)

4. Discussions/Writing Prompts:

Use these prompts to talk about the book with your kids, or you can have them write their responses. Remember, picture books don't need to stop in second grade!

1. What woke the flea? (This question is always a lot of fun to debate.)
2. Who is responsible to fix the bed? (Again, a fun debate with many possibly answers.)
3. What might happen after the last page of the book when everyone is outside?
4. Flip back through the book. What colors evoke the feeling of sleep? What colors evoke the feeling of being awake? Why do you think this is?
5.  How might this story change if the setting was different? In a zoo? In the forest? On a boat?

I hope you enjoy this personal favorite "The Napping House"... And I hope you and your kids are inspired to take a good nap today!

Happy learning!

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