Tag Archives: author of the month

Kevin Henkes Mice Birthday Party

About 2 or 3 years before our daughter was born, I bought a bunch of Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday stuff because I knew that one day we would have a baby, and one day that baby would have a first birthday party.  And we did, and she did, and I fell in love with the idea of children’s literature themed birthday parties.  So then came a Madeline party and a Curious George party.  They were so much fun to plan!  I was a little worried that I was on borrowed time to get to pick the theme this year for the 4th birthday party.  After all, four year olds have OPINIONS about pretty much everything.  But I REALLY wanted to do a Kevin Henkes themed party (he’s my favorite children’s author!), so I started trying to get our daughter excited about the Kevin Henkes mice about 6 months ahead of time.  It worked!  We got to have a wonderful Kevin Henkes mice party… and the birthday girl enjoyed it too!

I had a ball making purple purses for the invitations.  I folded card stock so that it opened like a purse and filled the inside with 3 quarter stickers, music notes, and sparkly sunglasses – just like Lilly has in her story!

Purple Plastic Purse Invitation

Purple Plastic Purse Invitation

Inside Purple Plastic Purse Invitation

Inside Purple Plastic Purse Invitation

All of the food was Kevin Henkes mouse themed – mouse cake, meringue mice, chrysanthemum cupcakes, Cheetos, cheese, mouse cookies, and fancy little sandwiches as featured in Chester’s Way.  I put pictures of the inspirations for the snacks from the books on the food label cards – because they were cute and also because without them no one may have know what I had been thinking since I do realize not everyone has every tiny detail of every Kevin Henkes book burned on their brains as I do.  Many of the ideas came from Pinterest, but I came up with several of them on my own too.

Mouse Party Food

Mouse Party Food

More Mouse Party Food

More Mouse Party Food

Chrysanthemum Cupcakes

Chrysanthemum Cupcakes

Mouse Cookies

Mouse Cookies

Mouse Cake

Mouse Cake

For the decorations I used brightly colored polka dot napkins that reminded me of many of the outfits that Lilly wears.  I used purple paper plates and cups, red tablecloths, and crowns to match Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.  I also got artificial chrysanthemums and put them in purple Ball jars to represent Chrysanthemum.  Finally, I put laminated book pages around, once again to look cute and to help the guests understand what was going on at the party.

Mouse Party Table

Mouse Party Table

The party activities included a pin the blanket on Owen game, a bucket of dress up items that represented the mice in all of the different Kevin Henkes books, a game of Parcheesi like Chrysanthemum plays, and a make your own mouse craft project.

Pin the Tail on Owen

Pin the Tail on Owen

Mouse Dress Up

Mouse Dress Up

Parcheesi Game

Parcheesi Game

Make a Mouse Craft

Make a Mouse Craft

The favors were purple plastic purses on top of baggies filled with Cheetos and nifty disguise glasses – right up Lilly’s alley!

Purple Plastic Purse Favors

Purple Plastic Purse Favors

I even found perfect mouse themed clothes for the birthday girl to wear… not that she would actually wear them on the day of the party.  Oh well.  Don’t these go perfectly with Lilly’s clothes?  Thank you Hanna Anderssen and Gymboree for unwittingly coming out with perfect Kevin Henkes themed clothes just in time for our party!

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

Lilly Birthday Outfit

Lilly Birthday Outfit

Hanna Anderssen Mouse Shirt

Hanna Anderssen Mouse Shirt

All bets are off for next year.  I’m pretty sure this was the last of my children’s literature themed parties, so I made it count!  But it’s ok.  I had a good run.  I can’t wait to see what she chooses for the big 5!!!

 

Bonus Author of the Month: Mo Willems

So I know I said May was my final Author of the Month for the year, but I now present to you an Author of the Month Bonus Edition: Mo Willems!  His books are wonderful at any time of the year.  They are so fun, funny, and engaging that I especially like to tack them on either at the very end or the very beginning of the school year when kids are too keyed up to pay attention to much else.  They are also perfect for summer reading, of course!

His books include the Knuffle Bunny series, the Pigeon series, and the Elephant and Piggie series as well as other fabulous stand alone books.  They are all hilarious and so much fun to read out loud.  Kids love to chime in as the books are being read.  They are so relatable for people of all ages – you can’t help but chuckle as you read them.  And I dare you to read the Knuffle Bunny books – especially the last one – without getting a bit choked up.  Because of this, I don’t really use a lot of extra activities to accompany them – they are just a joy to read and stand on their own – another reason they work well for the end or beginning of the school year or for summer.

Learning about Mo Willems himself is great for kids (and grown ups) too.  Be sure to look for his DVD on which he gives step by step instructions about how to draw Pigeon.  Take time to Google him too.  There are some great interviews with him out there – my favorite was when he drew cartoons with Al Roker – he has a great philosophy about how children learn and become excited about reading and learning through drawing and expressing themselves creatively.  Such a refreshing perspective in this time of standardized tests and coloring in bubbles!  My husband is even a huge Mo Willems fan and even follows him on Twitter – he is hilarious and has wonderful things to share for adults and kids alike.

So if you are looking for some funny summer reading, regardless of your age, please check out the work of Mo Willems.  I know it will be a highlight of your summer!

May Author of the Month: Mem Fox

It’s hard to believe it’s time for the May Author of the Month  – the last of the school year!  Mem Fox is my pick for May.  Some of her books are geared toward younger kids or babies (and they are wonderful too!) but that’s ok since May is such a busy month and may require a shorter than usual author study.  Her books are so perfect for May because they work well with both Mother’s Day and end of the school year activities.  A word of warning though – some of her books are tearjerkers so practice reading them ahead of time!

For Mother’s Day I like Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild and Koala Lou (see my post about the Olympics for more information on Koala Lou) – 2 sweet and funny looks at mother/child relationships.  Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild also works well to remind kids about using self control and following classroom rules just when they think they can’t possibly sit still for another minute of school before summer vacation begins.

For more end of the school year activities I like Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.  It’s all about memories.  Have kids make memory books or write top ten lists about the school year after reading the book.

So there you have it, a whole school year of Author of the Month activities.  I must say, I always felt that doing Author of the Month was one of the most valuable experiences of the school year.  I hope you are able to integrate author studies into your classroom or your home activities in some way.  It’s a great way to inspire new readers to become enthusiastic lifelong readers!

April Author of the Month: Leo Lionni

April’s Author of the Month is one of my favorites!  I first fell in love with Leo Lionni’s books from my mom’s book collection.  (As you can see in the picture, some of the books have been much loved over the years!)  I grew to love his books even more when I did a research project about him for a children’s literature class in college.  The possibilities with his books are endless and span all subject areas, and they all have nice morals – often about being true to yourself – to get kids thinking.

Leo Lionni Books

Leo Lionni Books

Little Blue and Little Yellow – I like to use this simple story about two friends to introduce Lionni’s technique of using torn paper to make collages for his illustrations.  After reading the story, let kids make their own pictures using torn paper – no scissors allowed!  The kids may be frustrated with the tearing at first, but they always get more and more comfortable and creative as they continue to work on the project.

Frederick and A Busy Year – These darling mice books are perfect for talking about the change in seasons.

Inch by Inch – I like to practice measuring in math when we read this story about an inchworm.

Fish is Fish – This story about a fish who dreams of being other animals is great for reviewing characteristics of different animal types in science.

A Color of His Own – This book about a frustrated chameleon is another good one to use in science as it provides a wonderful example of animal adaptations and camouflage.  I like to have kids cover a sheet with different colored tissue paper squares and then trace a chameleon over the top to illustrate camouflage after reading this book.

Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse and The Biggest House in the World – These stories about a mouse who wants to be a toy and a snail who wants a bigger shell provide opportunities to discuss and write about how important it is to be proud of who you are.

Swimmy – I love this story about a little fish who helps his friends work together even though he looks different from the rest of them.  It is a great discussion starter for talking about teamwork and how everyone in a classroom community has unique talents and skills to share despite their differences.

March Author of the Month: Marcus Pfister

A new month means a new Author of the Month.  My pick for March is Marcus Pfister.  He is probably best know for his Rainbow Fish books, but all of his books are wonderful!

One activity I like to do with all of my Authors of the Month is have the kids write letters to them at the end of each month.  (I usually just find the addresses to the publishing companies and send the letters there.  Some authors have websites with email links as well.)  Responses to the kids’ letters usually range from nothing to a form newsletter to ads promoting the author’s next new book.  Hands down though the best response we ever received was from Marcus Pfister.  The kids got a handwritten note with a pencil drawing of the Rainbow Fish on it.  They were thrilled and it made me appreciate his books even more.

Here are some other activities for you to try with his books:

  • Rainbow Fish Books – Talk about caring and sharing.  Use the stories to spark interest in a springtime service learning project.  It’s also fun to make rainbow fish.  Just get paper plates and add fin and tail shapes.  Then cover them with scraps of blue, purple, green, and sparkly silver paper.  Enjoy!
  • Hopper Books – Perfect for discussing the change of seasons from winter to spring.  Also great for learning about animal adaptations for different environments.
  • Penguin Pete Books – Great for wrapping up winter or introducing a study of animal habitats, which we often taught in the spring anyway.  (By the way – Rainbow Fish books work well with ocean habitats and Hopper books work well with arctic or forest habitats.)

All of Marcus Pfister’s books make great inspirations for character sketches, and all have wonderful lessons about being yourself and getting along with others – important reminders for antsy kiddos in March as the school year enters the home stretch!

February Author of the Month: Tomie dePaola

My choice for the February Author of the Month is Tomie dePaola.  I like his books for February because they all have themes of families, caring, and love.  He even signs his name with a little heart – perfect for Valentine’s Day month!

I don’t usually do individual activities or projects with his books – simple is best in this case.  This is helpful in the very busy yet very short month of February.  Instead, I like to read them aloud and have children practice making text to self connections and text to text connections.  His books provide lots of great opportunities for using the strategy of making connections with such loving descriptions of his family and childhood memories as well as retellings of familiar and not so familiar folktales.  Every kid can find something relatable in his books.

I also love to end the month with his book “Snip, Snip, Little Lambs,” a cute story about early spring that is a great springboard for a discussion about whether March will come in like a lion or a lamb.

For now though, it looks like more snow is on the way, so curl up with a blanket and a good Tomie dePaola book!

January Author of the Month: Jan Brett

Brrr!  Winter is here!  Time for January’s Author of the Month – Jan Brett.  An obvious choice perhaps, but her books just can’t be beat – especially for January.  I love her winter books like The Mitten and The Hat so much, I even decorate my kitchen with red and white mitten themed decorations for January and February!

Mitten Decorations

Mitten Decorations

In addition to winter decorating inspiration, here are some fun activities to do with Jan Brett’s books all month.

Jan Brett Books

Jan Brett Books

  • The Mitten – Make a chart of the animals in the story.  Discuss how they survive in the cold weather.
  • The Hat – Practice making text to text connections with The Mitten.  Also, use this book to introduce Jan Brett’s character Hedgie.  Follow it up with Hedgie’s Surprise and Hedgie Blasts Off!  Then make Hedgies out of brown construction paper circles and toothpicks.
    Hedgie

    Hedgie

    Have kids use the Hedgies they made to imagine new adventures for Hedgie.  Then have them write their own stories about these adventures.  Over the years I’ve done this with kids, these stories are always some of the best writing I see each year.  Hedgie is such a fun character, he sparks great creativity in the kids.  He’s been a superhero, a detective, you name it!  Also Hedgie appears at least once in every Jan Brett book.  Kids LOVE hunting for their little buddy in the illustrations of all her books, usually making them the most popular books in the classroom each year.

  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Three Snow Bears – Compare and contrast the two versions and make text to text connections between the books.  Also discuss the polar habitat and forest habitat and compare the two.
  • Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends – Compare and contrast them with the original “Gingerbread Man” story.  Make and decorate gingerbread cookies.  Perhaps even stage a runaway gingerbread cookie hunt in your classroom!

December Author of the Month: Laura Numeroff

Hard to believe it’s December already!  Time for this month’s Author of the Month.  Laura Numeroff is my pick for December.  She is the author of the wonderful If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series.  Her books are great for the busy, hectic, crazy month of December because they are quick, simple, funny, and engaging enough to grab those little attention spans distracted by visions of sugar plums this time of year.  There is even a Christmas themed book in the series: If You Take a Mouse to the Movies.

Laura Numeroff Books

Laura Numeroff Books

The books are so much fun to read aloud, and they are repetitive and predictable enough that kids reading at just about any level can read them on their own without frustration.  They are great for teaching about cause and effect.  Kids can even write their own cause and effect stories based on Laura Numeroff’s books.  Her books also provide opportunities to make treats that go along with them: cookies, donuts, muffins, cupcakes, etc.  And everyone needs more treats in December, right???

Have fun reading!  And remember, if you read a kid a Laura Numeroff book… he or she will probably want to read another one!

November Author of the Month: Lois Ehlert

It’s November already – time for a new Author of the Month!  My choice for November is Lois Ehlert.  She is an author and illustrator.  Her illustrations are collages, and they are beautiful and creative.

Lois Ehlert Books

Lois Ehlert Books

Her books cover so many topics that they would work well at any time of the year.  However, her fall themed books are my favorites, so I save her for November.

Fall Lois Ehlert Books

Fall Lois Ehlert Books

Here are some activities I like to use with these fall books in particular:

Boo to You! – This book is good to use at the end of October actually since it is about Halloween.  Use it to accompany any fun Halloween activity!

Nuts to You! – This is a darling book about a squirrel who visits a kid’s house.  Make squirrels from rolled construction paper and have kids write their own stories about their own squirrels.

Paper Squirrel

Paper Squirrel

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf – This is a book about the life of a maple tree.  Make bird feeders from bread, peanut butter or Crisco, and birdseed.  There is a recipe in the back of the book.  Works great except for the time one of my students ate his bird feeder on the bus on the way home from school.  Oops!  A not so gentle reminder that some kids may not have enough to eat at home and may need extra food from school.

Leaf Man – The illustrations in the book are some of my favorites – all kinds of animals made from fall leaves.  Go on a leaf hunt.  Collect leaves, acorns, etc. and have kids make their own leaf creatures.

Snowballs – So it may be a little early for snow in November, but it will be coming soon enough!  This is a cute book about a bunch of different snow people.  Clean out extra miscellaneous art supplies by giving kids a random assortment of “stuff” and see what snow people they can create themselves!

 

 

October Author of the Month: James Marshall

Happy October!  Time to share October’s Author of the Month.  In my opinion, James Marshall (aka Harry Allard) is the perfect author for October.  His book are hilarious as well as a bit spooky and mysterious at times too.  Here is a list of some of his books and related activities.  Happy reading!

James Marshall Books

James Marshall Books

  • Miss Nelson is Missing, Miss Nelson is Back, Miss Nelson Has a Field Day: These popular stories about a sweet teacher with a class full of unruly students and her creepy substitute who whips them into shape are made for October.  Kids might need a reminder of how to behave once the “honeymoon period” of back to school time is over.  These books provide a great opportunity to review those classroom rules.  I always like to have kids write their own stories about their own teacher being missing.  Put their stories together for a cute class book.
  • Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, The Three Little Pigs, Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears:  James Marshall’s versions of familiar fairy tales are so funny and silly, and kids LOVE them.  They lend themselves nicely to comparing and contrasting different versions of fairy tales.  It’s also fun to have kids write their own versions of fairy tales after reading these books.
  • Space Case:  This book is just right for wrapping up October’s author study.  It takes place on Halloween and November 1st.  It is about an alien who comes to Earth on Halloween just in time for costumes and trick or treating.  He is then disappointed when things are back to normal on November 1st.  This book is great for helping kids explore the idea of point of view.