Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What Pet Should I Get?

Yesterday I did a program to celebrate the release of the new Dr. Seuss book, What Pet Should I Get?. It was really fun!

Over the winter, while I was home on disability, my colleague found out about the book's big release. During a phone conversation one day, she asked me if I'd like to do a program to celebrate it and, naturally, I said yes.

Inside though, I wasn't sure. To be totally honest, I wasn't a big Dr. Seuss fan as a kid and I have always carried that with me. Even putting my personal bias aside, the wording is really important when you're reading a Dr. Suess book. You can't tell parts of the story from memory or ad-lib like you can with most other books. His writing is sing-songy and therefore, it has to have its intended rhythm. Every word plays a vital role; you can't miss one or change one or shorten a wordy section if the kids look bored. This all made me super nervous. I've never read Dr. Suess with the kids before and I was afraid I would have too many stumbles, and worried that my dislike for the book would subtly come through.

Leading up to today, I waited (im)patiently for the big release, with no idea what I had in store for me. Once I saw the book the morning of the program though, I was SO relieved. I liked it! It was sing-songy but was manageable enough and the story was funny, cute, and more realistic than other Dr. Seuss books--which, I think, was my gripe as a kid. I liked realism.

Reading the story out loud went well. The kids were all interested and engaged throughout the book and I didn't flub the sing-songy text too much at all!

At the end of the book the kids got to "make a pet." I had them start by coloring their pet's habitat, made out of these white Treat Boxes from Oriental Trading, crayons, and brown tissue paper to line the box with, like a blanket or a rug. Once they finished decorating their box, I gave each of them a handful of Crayola Air Dry Clay and told them to make an animal. Whatever animal they wanted. As a sample, I'd made a cat, (side-note about me: if I can incorporate cats, I will.) but the tail (and later two legs and an ear) broke off before I could take a picture.

The kids made a nice assortment of pets: a cat, dog, beehive, elephant, and some others. The clay was a total hit! Some kids took the full hour to do their craft (even a little longer!) but many finished more quickly and we all had a good time making other stuff out of the clay after that. We made pretzels, challah bread, lollypops, pizza... mainly food items, really. I used clay once before in a program and I didn't remember it being quite as much fun, but everyone (including me) enjoyed making stuff yesterday. It's like playdough for older kids! For adults, even!

Here is a sampling of pets in their habitats:

What worked best: The story! I can't believe it! Maybe it's because relief is clouding my judgement, but the story really really worked great.

What worked least: The air dry clay got a little too messy as we played with it more and more. There were tiny flakes of it everywhere and a wad of it on the bottom of a brand new sneaker. But other than more mess than I'd planned for, everyone really enjoyed sculpting and being creative!

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