Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Let's Celebrate Dr Seuss' Birthday

March is a big month for education, especially literacy. We had World Maths Day yesterday, and the latest issue of Literacy Lava was published; World Book Day is March 3 in UK (April 23 other countries); on March 9 it's World Read Aloud Day; we have the Share a Story - Shape a Future blog conference soon - a chook could get confused as to what's happening when! So let's declare March a month to simply celebrate children's literacy and enjoy ourselves.

Today is Dr Seuss' birthday. Theodor Seuss Geisel was born March 2, 1904. I'm choosing to celebrate his birthday because I think he did so much for children's literature. If kids must read simplified vocabulary to learn to read, (and some kids must) then why not give them the wonderful illustrations, sense of humour and catchy rhymes and rhythms of a Dr Seuss book? I strongly believe in rhyme as a stepping stone to reading as I explain in Rhyme Helps Reading.

Lots of children know and love Dr Seuss books. If yours haven't encountered them yet, then your local library is almost bound to have some. Seussville (Random House) is also a great way to explore his books, characters and have some online fun at the same time. Once the home page has loaded, click on any part of Seussville to be transported to interesting features - find out more about Dr Seuss in his studio, create your very own Who and name it, and visit the Jungle of Nool, McElligot's Pool etc to learn more about Seuss books.

In Seussville, there are games for kids to play that involve Dr Seuss characters, and drawing, matching, colouring activities plus some nice word skills ones available as downloadable pdfs. My favourite activity is the story maker, where children can select backgrounds, characters, music and write dialogue for little stories about Seuss characters. PBS Kids also has Cat in the Hat games, video clips and activities.

To celebrate Dr Seuss' birthday where you are, why not design a menu and assemble lunch from as many ingredients mentioned in his book titles and books as you can? It might be fun to dress as a Seuss character, talk in rhyme, or make your own foot book from these printable feet patterns. Creating your own Dr Seuss parody is a challenge but sure to be fun. Two parodies I like are Dr Seuss Does Star Wars and Dr Seuss Wedding Vows. Melissa of Imagination Soup has a great post about making up words with your kids - another perfect activity for today. You'll find more word and nonsense games in Book Chook Bag of Tricks, and Erin of Letter Soup has a treasure trove of literacy activities you can fit into a few spare moments in her post Effortless Literacy Fun. How many books did Dr Seuss actually write? Find out at Ready, Set, Read, where Jackie reminds is this is also Read Across America week.

Dr Seuss created wonderful characters. Can your kids create a new character who might be accepted in Seussville? What might an eggbedunk or a slooper or a triffingle look like? How many things can you balance on your head like The Cat in the Hat? If crafts are more your style, Family Crafts has lots. And for a real challenge, why not see how fast you and your youngsters can read Fox in Socks? This young lady sets a very high standard.

Some of my favourite quotes are from Dr Seuss. "If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good." "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go..." "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." "I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities." If your kids have access to several Seuss books, they might like to start their own quote collection.

I'm not really a Cat in the Hat fan. My favourite Dr Seuss book is, for some reason, I Wish That I Had Duck Feet. However, I adore that Seuss- style book, P.D.Eastman's Are You My Mother?

Will you be celebrating today? What's your favourite Seuss book?
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