Peggy Kaye - Games With Books

Games With Books is a real treat on many levels. First, there are the splendid reviews and summaries of more than two dozen great books for kids. Not only are they usually written well, but they also point out some books to parents (and teachers) that may otherwise fall through the cracks. It's important to select the very best, tried and true, books for your kids at the appropriate age. Just thumbing through shelves at the library or bookstore will generally cause parents to miss some gems--real classics. Next, the activities or games are, for the most part, interesting and enjoyable for the kids and not too demanding of the parent (or teacher). Also, they vary from book to book so it's not like she has just created a mold and then repeated it 28 times for each book. Finally, even if you actually try to do few to none of her ideas, just reading her ideas will cause you to come up with some of your own for these books and others.

I recommend this book to all parents and teachers (preschool to 3rd grade) but there are two groups that will benefit the most. The first are those with children who don't like to read or be read to (my kids certainly don't fall into this category!). The second are those with a child who is struggling a bit. Perhaps they are a bit behind their peers in counting, letters, or speech. Many of the activities are tailored especially for these situations. Kindergarten and first grade teachers really should not be without this book. It's a great asset to building a fun and effective lesson plan.

from the publisher:
Everyone knows how important it is to read with children. But what can you do to continue your child's learning experience and enjoyment of a story after you finish reading? In her delightful new book Peggy Kaye shows parents and teachers how to engage young children in amusing yet slyly educational games based on twenty-eight classic children's books, half of them picture books such as Harold and the Purple Crayon and Blueberries for Sal and half chapter books, for instance, Winnie-the-Pooh and Stuart Little. Kaye summarizes each book and then introduces three or four games designed to help children develop crucial reading, writing, math, and conceptual skills. Following Kaye's lead, children will tell stories with Harold and his purple crayon, count blueberries with Sal, compose poems with Pooh, and measure with Stuart Little. The games are easy to learn, and most take just minutes to play. Best of all, these games will help children become lifelong book lovers while they master vital academic skills.

Peggy Kaye is the author and illustrator of the "Games for" series, which includes Games for Reading, Games for Math, Games for Learning, and Games for Writing. For more than twenty-five years, originally as a classroom teacher and currently as a private tutor and educational consultant, she has specialized in making learning fun for young children. She lives in New York City.

The following is an excerpt from the book Games with Books: 28 of the Best Children's Books and How to Use Them to Help Your Child Learn from Preschool to Third Grade by Peggy Kaye.

The Carrot Seed

Written by Ruth Krauss
Illustrated by Crockett Johnson
Good Reading for Preschool and Kindergarten

Should children always listen to their parents? Most adults will say yes, but many thoughtful children will argue otherwise. The Carrot Seed tells the story of a little boy who refuses to mind his parents' sensible advice. In so doing, he sets an elegant example of childhood independence. Should grownups introduce children to such a seditious tale? Yes, absolutely.

The little boy plants a carrot seed, and he is sure his carrot will grow. His mother doubts, his father doubts, his big brother doubts, but the little boy has faith. Despite the naysayers, the boy patiently cares for his plant. "And then, one day, a carrot came up just as the little boy had known it would." How often does a young child manage to prove that he is right and that the grownups are grandly and gloriously wrong? In real life, not often. But it happens every single time you read The Carrot Seed.

Ruth Krauss, the author, creates her carrot fable with just one hundred one words. After a few readings, therefore, your child may memorize some of the pages and start reciting words with you. Such pretend reading is extremely valuable for young children. A child who pretends to read, even if his eyes never land on words, begins to think of himself as a reader. He gets lost in books -- the way all avid readers do. He will love his books. A child who already loves books will work hard, when the time is right, to learn to read in the non-pretend version.

In between readings of The Carrot Seed, you might consider turning your attention to one or another of the following three activities. All three relate directly to the book. All three will set your child to thinking in valuable ways. Take a few minutes to read through the activities and pick one you believe will intrigue your child and that you, too, might find amusing. If more than one game appeals, better yet. So long as you and your child enjoy yourselves, you are doing the right thing.

How Many Carrots?

preschool and kindergarten

three bunches of carrots, masking tape

learning about measurement

What a carrot the boy grows! It is huge. It is as big as the boy himself. How does the height of a normal, everyday carrot compare to the height of a normal, everyday preschooler or kindergartner? Why not find out with your child? Before you begin, make sure you have three bunches of carrots -- leafy tops removed -- in your kitchen.

When you are ready to measure, have your child lie down on a wood or linoleum floor, then run a long strip of masking tape from his feet to the top of his head.

Once the masking tape is in place, your child can stand up. Spend a minute or two studying the tape. If your child has never seen his horizontal length before, he may be surprised at how far the tape stretches across the floor. Next, take the carrots and help your child line them up, tip to stem, until you have a row that matches the tape. If your child is between four and five carrots tall, snap off the top of the fifth carrot so that you get a match. Count and you will know your child's carrot height. It might be four carrots, or it might be four and a little bit more.

If your child enjoyed discovering his carrot height, he might like to find out yours. Go ahead, measure yourself. In fact, measure anyone who happens to be at home.

Why should you measure with carrots instead of in inches or centimeters? First, it is a fine way to expand the fun of The Carrot Seed. Second, it is good to have a child measure with a variety of materials -- carrots, or pencils, or paper clips, or all kinds of things -- before introducing him to the standard measures. Measuring with various household objects helps a child see the value in comparing different lengths. Eventually the child may notice that not all carrots are alike, and a uniform, universally accepted length, such as an inch or a centimeter, might be more useful. But that realization is for later. It is a bad idea to use carrot-measuring to teach about inches and centimeters. Trying to teach too much will ruin the fun of this game. So stick with carrots for the time being.

Why do you need a row of carrots? Why not grab a single one and push it along the masking tape? When you create a row of carrots, it is very simple to count how many stretch from top to bottom. It is harder, much harder, for a young child to appreciate what a single carrot moving along the masking tape represents. True, your child may attentively watch as you maneuver the carrot along its path, but he will not really understand what you are doing or the reason you are doing it. So it is better to give the child lots of experience in measuring rows of objects he can see and touch -- a row of carrots, for instance.