Engage your child in some science fun with “Garden Friends.” The close-up pictures of garden creatures will fascinate your child. To encourage beginning reading skills, talk with him about his own life experiences and encourage him to explore his own back yard through drawing or writing. Use the names of these creepy crawly friends to practice phonological skills and play letter knowledge games.
Before, During and After Reading
Provide a magnifying glass for your child to use as you look through the book and later in your own yard, just like the character at the end of the story.
Sweep your finger under the words as you read the title of the book.Ask your child if he has any thoughts on what “Garden Friends” might mean. You might ask:
Why do you think that insects or animals would be called friends?
Hand him the magnifying glass to explore the front cover. If he looks at the letters, take the opportunity to talk about the letter names and sounds —maybe even a word that begins with the letter. If he looks at the picture, ask questions or comment on what you see him looking at. Invite him to predict what the story might be about.
Practice syllable segmenting and blending as you read the words. Read the word caterpillar. Then say the word again – slowly — to break it into syllables. Have your child say it slowly with you. Add a clap to emphasize the word parts.
You might say:
Listen as I say the word caterpillar slowly, ca-ter-pil-lar. Say it slowly with me: ca-ter-pil-lar.
We can add a clap as we say it slowly, ca-[clap] ter-[clap] pil- [clap] lar! [clap] Let’s try that aga
We clapped four times because the word caterpillar has four parts or four syllables. Let’s say it fast: caterpillar!
Try words with different numbers of syllables and try other motions like stomping, jumping or tapping.
Remember to ask questions that allow your child to express his thought and ideas. Acknowledge and accept any response he may make to encourage his conversation.
You might say:
The butterfly and bumblebee have wings. If you had wings, where would you fly? What do you think you would see? Show me how you would fly here in your room. I see your wings flapping!
The spider and centipede have many legs. What would it be like if you had so many legs?
How would you move if you had no legs like the worm? Can you show me? Look how you wiggle like a worm!
Use ideas generated from your conversation to draw a picture. Invite your child to draw a picture of himself with wings, including where he would fly, or what he would see. Have him add details, label pictures, write a sentence or dictate a story.
Use the Picture Word List on the last page of the book to play a letter game. Gather some or all of the following letters — b, c, l, s, d, w, f, and g — and put them in a bowl. Invite your child to pull a letter from the bowl, look at the letter and talk about the letter name, letter shape, and letter sound. Look at the Picture Word List and see if your child can find the letter he has chosen. If the letter is at the beginning of a word, say the word isolating the beginning sound.
You might say:
We are going to play a letter game. Choose a letter from this bowl. What letter did you choose? Yes, that’s the lowercase letter b! The letter b has a long stick and a bump at the bottom. Do you remember what sound the letter b makes? That’s right, the /b/ /b/ sound!
See if you can find the letter b on this page. You found it, see, butterfly begins with the letter b. Say it with me /b//b/ butterfly. Let’s try another one.
You can also use the theme of this story to adapt and enjoy the following At-Home Activities for 4-year-olds.
Beginning Writing: In My Town. Use the magnifying glass to find animals or insects in your garden. Take pictures or have your child draw pictures, and write or have him dictate a sentence for each picture to make a book.
Letter Knowledge: Memory Game With Names. Use the names of the creepy crawlers found in this story to play the name matching game.
Oral Language: Who Am I? Find pictures similar to the ones found in Garden Friends. Take turns describing the picture, while the other tries to guess who it is.
Phonological Awareness: Star+Fish = Starfish. Use compound words from the book like butterfly, ladybug, and dragonfly.