Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Our day at the beach (rainy day style)

It was cold and rainy here today, and although this winter has been quite mild, I can't seem to stop dreaming about summer days at the beach.  I was tired and in a bit of a funk this morning, and needed to snap myself out of it -- and fast.  I decided that if my kids and I couldn't go to the beach, we'd make our own day at the beach right here at home.  Throughout the day, we did a wide variety of summery-feeling activities that made the day feel quite warm and sunny in spite of the rain, and of course, read some of our favorite beachy books, as well.  Read on to find out more about our featured stories and activities!
Beach tent picnic:  I've tried setting up our tent in our living room before, but it proved to be a total disaster.  Our tent apparently needs to be staked into the ground to be able to stand up on its own, and stakes don't exactly go into rugs very well.  Then, a few weeks ago, I got the idea to try our sun shelter instead -- you know, one of those little tent-type structures that people set up to have a little shade at the beach?  It's much bigger than I remembered, but boy does it make a perfect little indoor play space!  And, though it assembles just like a tent, it doesn't require any stakes to stand up on its own.  It was a huge hit, and my kids and I played in it all afternoon.  We laid out one of our beach towels, then filled the tent with pillows and some of our favorite summertime books about oceans and the beach.  We worked up an appetite setting up our beach-side spot, so we started out with a picnic lunch in our tent.  Then, we got to reading.  Among our featured titles were:

Over In the Ocean: In a Coral Reef by Maryanne Berkes
Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea by Cynthia Rylant
A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

Who doesn't love to read at the beach??

Ocean Painting:  As we were reading Over in the Ocean (one of our absolute favorites!), I thought it might be fun to do our own ocean paintings using shimmery aluminum foil as a canvas.  I had seen a post about painting on foil on the blog Picklebums, and thought this would be the perfect time to try it out.  I added a little dish detergent to the paint as suggested, and taped sheets of foil to some cardboard to make it a little more sturdy.  (I used the top of a take-out pizza box for the cardboard base -- worked like a charm! Little yogurt cups make perfect paint containers, too, I might add.)  I gave both kids their shiny canvas and let them go at it.
I was curious to see how sponge dabber paints might work with the foil, so I gave those to little E and she had a ball.  Turns out, they work quite well.  They are more watery than the tempera paint I gave W, which made for a great ocean effect.

W loved the way his paint seemed to shine on the foil, and once he had his ocean painted on, decided to add some green seaweed and yellow seahorses.  Eventually, as their fingers and hands got covered in paint, they moved on to making hand prints on other paper... but the foil paintings were so much fun while they lasted!  I just love those little seahorses.

Water table play:  To help get cleaned up after our painting, we decided to do a little fishing in our water table.  W and E love any excuse to play in water and thorough soak themselves, so today we got out our fishing set and splashed away.  You can't go to the beach without playing in the water and getting wet, right?

Oh, and I almost forgot our theme music for the day!  We needed some good tunes to make the day feel truly summery. While we painted and fished, we listened to Putamayo's Caribbean Playground album.  If you haven't yet discovered this world music series, you've got to check it out. I used to play Putamayo's albums from around the world in my 7th grade geography classroom, but now my kids and I listen to them all the time.  I love that it exposes them to the music of different cultures, and they love the funky beats. Caribbean Playground was the perfect soundtrack for our day at the beach!

Bath time stories, anglerfish, and bioluminescence:  After getting a little (or in E's case, very) soaked and chilly fishing in the water table, we decided to take our beach party upstairs to the bath to warm up.  And this time, we took our stories with us!  I started out by reading The Pout Pout Fish in the Big Big Dark as they played in the tub.  W always loves the anglerfish in this story, and is fascinated by fish that glow in the dark.  I am, too, for that matter.  Animals are just so cool sometimes, aren't they?  I thought it would be fun to make our own glow in the dark ocean using glow sticks, so after we finished reading, we cracked some on, turned off the lights, and pretended we were Mr. Fish and Miss Shimmer exploring the dark ocean depths with only the glowing lights of the anglerfish to guide our way.  W and E had so much fun swirling the glow sticks around.  They really were very cool!
Eventually, W decided that he wanted to read another ocean story while they played, so the lights went back on and we read Imagine (a fabulous little story by Alison Lester) naming every sea creature on the ocean page as we went.  I have to say, it was one of the most fun bath times we've ever had!

So there you have it -- our story-inspired, beach-craving adventures of this dreary February day.  I've decided to try and share some of the other book-related activities that we do from time to time on here, as well, and will post them on the "Storytime Activities" page I've created above.  I hope to feature other fabulous ideas from you and fellow bloggers as I find them, so please feel free to comment and share any of your favorite ways to bring stories to life.  Happy reading, and happy playing!


katef said...

We have the opposite problem here today... too hot to go anywhere, even the beach!
Looks like you guys had lovely time!

Lauren said...

Oh no! Too bad you couldn't do the opposite and pretend to bundle up and play in the snow to feel cooled off :) My kids love putting colored ice cubes in their water table when it's really hot. I love summer, but not those brutally hot kinds of days. Hope you can all stay cool!

Anonymous said...

Wow! What an awesome way to spend the day with your little people! Love the tinfoil painting! And your sun shelter worked beautifully! You've given me some great ideas!

MamaMelanie said...

I'm so impressed Lauren!

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