Hi, I'm Greg & I am an Early Childhood Teacher from Australia. I write a blog called Males in Early Childhood which you can find by clicking here.
There is a great deal to be said for celebrating birthdays, whether they be for children or adults. It's often a milestone that is greeted with anticipation and more often than not a joyous occasion. However, this is not about celebrating the birthday of those around us.
Some time ago I came across a blog that celebrates birthdays throughout the year. Authors' birthdays. Coincidentally, it is called Happy Birthday Author. As a result I celebrated Eric Carle's birthday last year with my group of toddlers. This year I thought I would do this more often with the preschoolers I have this year.
I began this month by acknowledging the birthday of Dr Seuss as many of you out there did. I had a multitude of stories to choose from and had decided to go with "Ten Apples up on Top" and "To Think That I Found it on Mulberry Street." My reasoning for the second was to provoke a discussion with the children about what they see on their street. Instead, a discussion arose about where some of the children had been over the weekend so I went with "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" instead.
Some of the children followed up the "Ten Apples up on Top" Story by attempting to stack our own small play apples. While they were initially unsuccessful some quite ingenious ideas came to them, such as using Blu Tack and playdough to hold the apples in place.
Meanwhile one boy was keen to build the house from "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" with the wooden blocks. He was trying to place the book open beside where was working so he could refer to the picture as he was building, but the book kept closing. So I placed a block over part of the book to keep it open for him.
This seemed to work rather well for him and he was well on the way to constructing a rather elaborate structure when it came tumbling down. Although he didn't want to rebuild and therefore the end product did not eventuate, the process was the important aspect of this experience and that is what provided him with the greatest benefits.
While on the subject of process, there's a great collection of posts on this very blog by Debbie Clement on process versus product. If you click here you'll find the latest that will also have links to the others.
The next day we celebrated the birthday of renowned Australian children's author Mem Fox. We read "Magic Hat" and used a jester's hat as a prop to get the children involved.
As the hat landed on each child it turned them into a different animal, one of their choosing. While this meant we didn't follow the story completely, the purpose was to celebrate the ideal that stories are fun and we can become involved in them in many ways.
Following the story I left the book at the drawing table to see if it might inspire some creativity in honour of the occasion. before I had a chance to even set the book down there were children sitting in chairs ready to draw pictures from the book. A group of them began on the title page and as the day went by they made they way through to about two thirds of the way into the story.
There are many advantages to celebrating the life and creations of authors, including a greater appreciation of the books they have enjoyed for so long; opportunities for literacy and language development in so many different ways; Becoming more confident and believing in themselves more as they explore these texts in a range of ways; and most importantly for me, they become increasingly aware of the literary culture of their world, and in particular,