Summer Reading Camp: Day 7: The Gruffalo!

Summer Reading Camp: Day 7: The Gruffalo!


We were on a Julia Donaldson-esque ‘high’. First we were hooked on to the Paper Dolls and now the Gruffalo! I am a big (and I mean BIG) fan of the book! For years I passed by it in book stores but never really picked it up, but when I finally did (thanks to the daughter’s school library), there was no looking back. The book has sold over 13 million (yes, 13 MILLION) copies since its initial release in 1999 and has been adapted into West End and Broadway plays. (Something I would DEFINITELY wanna go watch if I had a chance).

As I said, I was introduced to Donaldson pretty late in the day. The book is targeted towards 3-7 year olds and I am so glad I finally discovered it before my daughter crossed that age. (Phew!)

The book (for the few ignorant ones like me) is fun, imaginative, has cutesy illustrations and is written in lively verse- what’s not to love? Needless to say, instant hit with the girls.

So I read it out to them and then this is what we did: I got a print out of a Gruffalo coloring page and stuck it to the wall. Since the book is rich in descriptions of the Gruffalo’s physical features, I printed out small tabs with different body parts on some and their corresponding adjectives on others. (E.g. The Gruffalo has ‘knobbly/knees’ and ‘turned out/toes’.)


Each kid had to rummage through the pile of paper tabs and first find a body part (in this case- knees) and then rack their memories to find out what goes with it (in this case- knobbly). She then had to fish out the complete phrase and stick the tabs on the Gruffalo on the wall. So we had ‘Orange Eyes’, ‘Terrible Tusks’, ‘Poisonous Wart’ and so on.


Next I asked them to fish out phrases that go with the other animals in the book. For instance, the kid had to look for ‘owl’ and ‘ice-cream’ from the mixed up pile of tabs and stick the complete phrase ‘owl ice cream’ next to the picture of the owl! (And so we had ‘Scrambled/snake, Roasted/fox’, etc.)


Lastly, as an art extension activity, I gave them a step by step tutorial on how to draw a fox, a snake and an owl.


All in all, a fun day! Alhamdulilah!


Summer Reading Camp: Day 6: Julia Donaldson!

Summer Reading Camp: Day 6: Julia Donaldson!

IMG_20160423_185813Day 6

This ought to be one of my favorites- who DOESN’T love Julia Donaldson??? I was introduced to her books kinda late in the day. The Gruffalo was released sometime in the 90’s which means I wasn’t kid enough to read them and well, not grown up enough to bother about kid’s perspectives. But once I read them (to the daughter, of course!), boy was I hooked!

I ordered this book along with the two Gruffalo books, not because it had been recommended but because the cover looked oh-so-pretty! I know, I know, never judge a book by its cover and all that, but then I had read other books by Donaldson and I was sure this couldn’t POSSIBLY be bad!IMG_20160423_180257

So I read the book to them. The ‘audience’ being all girls helped. They absolutely LOVED the narrative! And today I let them off the hook for private reading, instead we sat down together to make paper dolls of our own. No points for guessing how THAT activity went!  My girl also started naming her dolls 🙂 And another kept singing the refrain from the book, “And Ticky and Tacky and Jackie the Backie, and Jim with two noses and Jo with the bow!” Oh, the joys of childhood!


IMG_20160423_171609098We then did this really fun activity adapted from here on (although I made quite a few changes to the basic idea). Here’s what I did: I made a list of words that first graders should be able to spell. I then pulled out my scrabble set and gave them the whole pile of tiles. I told each kid they had to ‘manufacture’ words in their ‘factory’. So if I told them I wanted a ‘kite’, they had to spell ‘kite’ from the pile. Was good fun, Alhamdulillah!

IMG_20160423_180147929IMG_20160423_173300179And that was that! A very satisfying, literary, crafty day in all!



Summer Reading Camp 2016

IMG_20160423_151525797I will skip with the introductions for now. That’s what the ABOUT ME section is all about. However, I do want to document this mini summer reading camp I am doing for my 6 year old daughter and some of her neighborhood friends. Age group 6-7.5, give or take. I decided to start small. A small group, meeting for an hour for a stint of ten days. Two reasons:

#1: Her toddler brother won’t allow any commitment bigger than this.

#2: The daughter was a somewhat reluctant reader. I had introduced her to books even before she turned 2 and read to her diligently but all that had taken a backseat when baby n0. 2 arrived on the scene. That had to change. I always had visions of my daughter reading out story books fluently and with pleasure by the time she turned 6. So when her 6th birthday was around the corner, I thought this would be a good way to involve her friends and get them to motivate each other. Who says peer pressure is always a bad thing?

We are nearing the end of the ‘Camp’ and I can gratefully say there has been a marked spike in her interest level. She’s reading more books, more fluently, is more motivated and has begun picking books to read for pleasure. (Not to mention making earnest attempts to read sign boards, labels and cartons!)

Here’s how we did it. I will be posting each day’s activities under a separate post Inshalah, but here’s a gist.

We kept it simple. The sessions were broken down roughly like this:

15-20 minutes of story telling (by me; I try to use a lot of voice modulation, onomatopoeia and exaggerated gestures to keep the kids engaged. For non native learners I think non verbal cues are even more important; even if the kids are sufficiently comfortable with the target language.) This was followed by a brief discussion. Kids could ask questions, quip in with their own experiences or talk about their favorite part, general theme, etc.

15 minutes INDEPENDENT reading: Most people would think nothing really ‘happens’ in this slot. But personally (and as an English teacher) I believe this is the most HAPPENING part of all. Eventually that’s the point of any reading program: to create independent readers. I set up a mini ‘library’, mostly with my daughter’s books while some kids got their own books to add to it. Each kid chose a book of her choice and read as many pages as she could in 15 minutes. I counted how many pages each child read and marked that number on a progress chart against their name with a gold star. So by the end of the day, each child could see her reading ‘score’ on the chart.  My friend and I would help the kids with tough words they got stuck with. I can tell you this: NOTHING motivates a 6 year old more than the desire to get more ‘points’ on the wall than her friends! (And no, I don’t believe any kid was ‘traumatized’ by a poorer score. I kept telling them they each had to become the best reader THEY could be. And each day the ‘strugglers’ put in more effort to better their previous score.) Of course I kept this bit flexible. If the kids seemed to be enjoying an extension activity I would let them be but insist they finish at least ONE book at home.


20 minutes of some literacy based activity or game

5 minutes for each child to select a book from the ‘library’ that they could take home to read. If they finished the entire book by themselves at home, they were marked accordingly on the chart.