Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Books to Love: "The Little House" by Virginia Lee Burton

Virginia Lee Burton's "The Little House" is one of those books that has been around forever but still captivates new readers every year! It was first published in 1942, but seems timeless - even as it lays the groundwork for some cool history lessons! I loved it as a little girl (a long time ago!) and I love it now!

Make sure to preview or review the illustrations in this book - they are charming and such a large part of the story as a whole! I swear that the house looks like it has a face - and, in fact, the house IS the main character in the book. The theme of curiosity, on the part of the house, leads the readers into the developing story, and their own curious natures will be looking ahead for "what-happens-next!"

Children will be fascinated by the changes in the same old scene, as the days, nights, seasons and years pass. They will see for themselves how the old saying, "The grass is always greener ..." is proven false, as the city encroaches on the little house in the country. Depending on their age and experience, great discussions about the balance between progress and protecting our environment could take place - "progress" is another theme of the story.

There are so many different lessons contained in the text and pictures - changes in clothing, transportation and types of neighborhoods, cycles of day and night, seasons and years - every time you pick it up you can focus on something new!

For an extension activity, use a cutout of a "little house" as a picture-starter. Make available different colors of construction paper in smaller pieces to be cut into shapes for doors, windows and shutters. Use larger paper for mounting the house on and have LOTS of art materials to create the scene of each child's perfect "little house." Have them include things that they think would make it perfect ... after brainstorming and listing! Maybe they would like a pool or a swing, as in the story, or something else!! Have them dictate or write the response to "My Little House would have ..."

For a seasons lesson, divide large paper into four, with four little houses, and have the children decorate accordingly ...leaves sprouting, sun shining, leaves changing, snow falling, ...

If your reader has a great imagination, have them take on the "personality" of one of the big buildings toward the end of the story and tell a story from the building's point of view! Stretch those story-telling brains!! Make sure to illustrate it, as well :)

Have fun!

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