Learn All Year Long
ReadWriteThink has a variety of resources for out-of-school use. Visit our Parent & Afterschool Resources section to learn more.
Let’s Share a Story
- The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (North-South Books, 1992) or another picture book
- Art supplies
- Before the playdate, select the book. You and the child can pick an old favorite or something new. If you’re having trouble choosing a book, ask parents of the other children who will be attending or the child’s teacher for suggestions.
Read the book a few times to familiarize yourself with it. Note any words that you might need to explain to the children. Practice using different voices for the various characters to make the story more fun for your listeners. Prepare for the art project, making sure you have all the materials set out and have completed any necessary prep work, such as printing out pages for coloring.
- Once the children have gathered, read the book at a natural pace using different voices for the characters and inflections to indicate emotions. Pause to explain any words that might be unfamiliar to the children or to point out interesting features in the illustration. You can also pause to ask the children what they think will happen next. Make sure all the children can see you and the illustrations.
- After reading the book, talk about a few of the book’s themes. For example, in The Rainbow Fish, you could ask the children what it means to be a good friend, how it feels when someone doesn’t share, and how it makes you feel when you share with someone.
- Engage the children with an art project. For The Rainbow Fish, you could make black-and-white copies of the book cover, enough so that each child gets one. Have the children color or paint all but one of the fish scales with plain colors, and the one remaining scale with glitter crayons, markers, or paint.
- Feed the children’s tummies and their minds with a snack that ties into the book’s theme. For a Rainbow Fish playdate, serve fish-shaped crackers and fruits that match the colors of the rainbow fish, such as blueberries and strawberries for the blue and red scales. Lay the fruit out on a big plate in a fish-shaped pattern. Always make sure you check ahead of time about any food allergies your guests might have and make sure food is in small enough pieces to avoid being a choking hazard.
If the child and his or her guest enjoy this activity, you can create a children’s book club that has a story-time playdate once a month. Parents can take turns hosting. Have the children make lists of the books they have read to create a sense of accomplishment.
Instead of the art project, try turning your playdate into a science lesson. Share a book like The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Philomel, 1969) and then get outside to try and find insects and leaves. Talk about what you saw while eating a picnic of fruit on the grass.