Who doesn’t love summer days: lazy mornings with no school routine, no plans, no commitments? Oh, wait, that can be an at-home parent’s worst nightmare. Life always seems easier with a little structure and a planned activity or two, even if it’s just a jaunt to the park or a splash in the pool.
If you find yourself casting about for a little summer routine, look no further than Vivian Kirkfield’s Show Me How. This ingenious guide pairs 100 classic picture books with related crafts and recipes you can easily do with your child, which helps build self-esteem. The picture book recommendations are arranged around six themes. For example, the section “I Am Really Mad Right Now!” includes books like Where the Wild Things Are and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which help children learn how to express their feelings. The other themes are: “I Can Do It Myself!,” “I’m Special!,” I Love You and You Love Me!,” “I’m Afraid!,” and “Tell Me One More Story, Please!”
We road tested a few of Kirkfield’s book suggestions and activities. We read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963), in which Max is “sent to be without his supper” for acting naughty. In his room, he creates a world where the wild things are and becomes king. Kirkfield pairs this book with a bookmaking activity. She provides directions for helping your child write and illustrate his or her own picture book using clippings from old magazines. She also includes the recipe for delicious “Wildly Spiced Apple Muffins,” which Cooper and Finley helped me make — and gobble up — for breakfast. Yum!
Our second book was Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (1939), in which little Madeline has an appendectomy. Ouch! Kirfield suggests making get-well cards and sending them to someone who is ailing. Cooper decided to make a get well card for one of his imaginary friends using construction paper, markers and stickers. The accompanying recipe is Sweet Wheat Bread, since Madeline and the girls at her school eat bread with each meal.
This book is recommended for children ages 2-5, but I think it works for children up to age 7. Children ages 4-7 would probably get the most out of the activities and cooking experiences.
As a bonus, Kirkfield includes her own recipe for a successful day, which she used as a teacher with pre-Ks and kindergarteners and as a day-care provider. She provides a loose structure that includes times for eating, reading, music, crafts, free play and cooking.
Kirkfield is mom, grandmother, a former teacher and a former daycare operator who practices what she preaches. Her blog, Positive Parental Participation, is a great resource for teachers and caregivers of small children.