This next Kevin Henkes pick works best for the youngest of readers, especially those learning colors. “Birds” is a simple story that draws on its illustrations to take the meaning of the text deeper. Children will enjoy the artwork Henkes uses to parallel what his main character is thinking. This text is not so much a story, but the thought process a little girl goes through as she peers out the window at the songbirds. Her thoughts can act as a springboard for your child to wonder about animals or objects.
Ready for some activities?!
-Discuss how each letter in the title of the book is a different color. Ask your child to point to the “B” and identify its color. Or, ask your child to point to the blue one and identify its letter.
-Make an inference. On the first page ask “Why is the curtain slanted?” As simple as it sounds, inferences are a complex skill where readers must draw from background knowledge and clues from the story in order to determine what’s happening.
-Count the number of birds on the telephone wire. How many birds are drawn altogether?
-Since that page is repetitive, see if your young learner can use their finger to track the words “They didn’t move.”
-Have them make a prediction on this page as to what will happen to the birds when the little girl looks away. At the end of the story, also have he/she predict where the birds go during storms. Predictions are a great way to set a purpose for reading, and to engage the reader in actively listening to the story to determine if his/her prediction is correct.
-Henkes’ cloud reference offers an opportunity to add a little artistic flair to your reading. Have your child paint or draw a sky with clouds resembling birds or another object.
-Draw in some science and ask your child why the leaves are off trees in winter.
-Shout SURPRISE as the birds fly away from the tree! Discuss that exclamation points tell the reader to put much excitement into their voices. Beginning readers need to hear different intonations as you read. This not only helps with their comprehension, but also with just making the stories more FUN!
-Pick out all the blue birds, or yellow, etc.
-Allow the young readers to copy a sentence onto index cards (one word per card). Mix the cards up and see if he/she can arrange them in the correct order.
Again, I’m dying to hear from YOU! Did you try any of these or previous activities? Do you have any other suggestions?