This month we are participating in the Virtual Book Club for Kids, and the featured author is Bill Martin Jr.  Until this month, I only knew of one book by this author: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  I remember my teacher reading me that story in first grade.  I fell in love with it then and still love it just as much today.  Discovering all the other Bill Martin Jr. books this month has been just as fun!  Bill Martin Jr. writes his books with rythm as the driving force . . . if you have ever read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom or Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, you know what I mean.

Reading ConfettiAfter checking out all the books by Bill Martin Jr. available at our library, I found a new favorite: his poetry collection, The Bill Martin Jr Big Book of Poetry.  The foreward by Eric Carle gives an enlightening look into the life of Bill Martin Jr., who did not learn to read until college.  As you read through the beautiful collection of poems, hand-picked by Bill Martin Jr., you can tell that he had a deep connection to, and love for, poetry.  So it was not surprising to learn, that is actually how he learned to read–through poetry!

Our new favorite books of his turned out to be “Fire! Fire!” Said Mrs. McGuire and Barn Dance!  Barn Dance! has wonderfully detailed illustrations of a middle-of-the night escapade had by the farmer’s boy.  He joins up with a fiddling scarecrow and all the barn yard animals for a hoe-down.  My two-year-old sat and looked at the illustrations and asked me to re-tell him the story over and over and over.  That is one characteristic of Bill Martin Jr., he always picks the perfect illustrator for each story he writes.

For “Fire! Fire!” Said Mrs. McGuire we decided to do some activities.  This story features a group of funny little mice that spy a fire through the key-hole of a door.  Each mouse says something simple that happens to rhyme with their name, and at the end of the story they discover that the fire they saw is actually . . . well you need to read it for yourself!  After reading the story I saw this awesome idea from JDaniel4’s Mom for making a visual discrimination folder, and thought it would be a perfect fit with our story.

I made some little doors with key-holes, and gathered some old magazines, scissors and glue.  

Sifting through the magazines, I looked for scences that would be fun and interesting to look at and cut them to fit inside each “door.”  I made sure to do this during rest time so that all the images would be a surprise for my boys.  I also tried to make sure each picture was an actual photograph, thinking that the more realistic the pictures, the better the activity would be for using their brains and sense of sight!

 After I found a good variety of pictures, I glued them all inside a “door.”  I was so excited to find this Superman one . . . Jefe loves superheroes right now and I could not wait to see his reaction.

Think he will be able to guess what it is?

Here they are all finished!  I am glad I was able to find a variety of scenes: nature, food, animals, domestic, cultural, and of course, super.

It took me a while to decide how to present the activity.  I decided to print off some text that says, “Veo…Veo…” which means “I see…I see…” and hang it on the refrigerator with all the “doors.”  If you do this activity at home you can use phrases like these: 
¿Qué ves? (kay vays) = What do you see?
Veo un… (BAY-oh oohn) = I see a/an… (for masculine nouns)
Veo una… (BAY-oh OOHN-ah) = I see a/an… (for feminine nouns)
For example, here Jefe thought he saw a dog.  I said, ¿Qué ves? and he answered, “A dog!” (Veo un perro.)  As he opened it I asked, ¿Es un perro? (Is it a dog?) and as the picture was revealed I said playfully, ¡No, es un pingüino! (No, it is a penguin!).  
My kids are not forming Spanish sentences on their own yet, so I model them as we play.  

Each time we opened a new door I would excitedly ask, ¿Qué ves? (What do you see?) or ¿Qué ven? (What do you all see?).  Then as we saw the picture I might say something like, ¡Yo veo Superman! (I see Superman!).  

Or Yo veo un director de orquesta” (I see a conductor).

Yo veo un perro durmiendo en una cama. (I see a dog sleeping on a bed.)

I have to admit the boys really had fun with this activity, but it only lasted a few minutes.  If I were to do it again, I might make a door with a key-hole that is glued to a stick which we could use to cover up any number of illustrations in a book or magazine.  Either way, it was a fun activity and the doors are still hanging on the refrigerator.  Even though they now know what is behind each door, we can still use the images to talk about things like colors, nature, or even Spanish nouns and actions!

Of course, we could not read this story without doing a fire-themed activity as well.  So I taped some red and yellow tissue paper to some white card stock, and hung them on our deck posts outside.  We gathered up all of our bomberos gear and headed out to fight fires!  We yelled “Fire! Fire!” like Mrs. McGuire and “Water! Water!” like Mrs. Votter.  In Spanish it would be¡fuego, fuego!” and ¡agua, agua!”
I was hoping the water would bleed like in this art project here so we could have a neat piece of “fire” art at the end as well.  However, apparently not all tissue paper bleeds.  Oh well, the boys found other “projects” to do with it, which of course involved dirt and rocks.  

And just like anything we do around here, I looked for new Spanish words we could learn.  Below are some flashcards I made with Spanish words we found in the story.  You can download them for free!  You can also click here for more Spanish vocab about fire fighters.  
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