Happy summer from Inner City-Inner Child (ICIC)! We hope you enjoyed reading Skip through the Seasons (which we featured in our June 2018 blog [hyperlink]) with your child last month. Our summer reading selection this month is Bear on a Bike, another gem by Stella Blackstone (with illustrations by Debbie Harter).
For the many families for whom “summer vacation” means “summer staycation,” there is good news! Bear on a Bike will take you and your early learner on an exciting adventure without having to leave home. The book invites readers to follow a cheerful brown bear, a curious young boy, and a playful puppy as they use different forms of transportation (including a bike, a boat, and a train) to explore far-way destinations like a forest, an island, and a castle. Bear on a Bike’s rhyming pattern, question-and-answer format, and gorgeous pictures will keep you and your child turning page after page to follow this trio’s delightful travels.
The original music and choreography that ICIC has created to bring Bear on a Book to life in our Dancing With Books classroom residency program show our work at its best. We use the book as part of a residency theme that we call Imaginary Journeys, in which we teach children that a book and their imagination can them anywhere they want to go. Together, we go on an expedition around the world, using African, Latin, and Washington, DC’s own go-go art forms to set the scene for our journey. We also encourage children to create their own movements to express the words and concepts that they encounter in the book (for example, flying on a rocket).
To make the most of the journey that you and your child take with Bear on a Bike this summer, try these activities:
· Read. Studies show that reading a book with your child is one of the most effective ways to help your child learn to read. Set aside some time, get comfortable, and get ready for you and your child to enjoy the social-emotional and learning benefits that result from enjoying a book together. You don’t have to be a perfect reader. You can read to your child, have your child read to you, or make up a story together based on the pictures.
· Visit. Go on an adventure with your child or around your neighborhood or city and discover destinations similar to those that the bear visits in Bear on a Bike. That is an easy challenge in a city like Washington, DC, which has: markets (try a farmer’s market or Eastern Market); forests (visit Rock Creek Park or another safe, wooded area with hiking trails); forest creatures at the National Zoo; islands (Kingman Island and Theodore Roosevelt Island, to name two); and a castle (the Smithsonian Castle). DC also has many examples of transportation similar to those in the book, including bikes, trains, boats, and even rockets (at the National Air and Space Museum). Be sure to take Bear on a Bike and other books with you on your adventure.
· Imagine. Have your child dream up an imaginary journey of her or his own. Where would she or he go? What forms of transportation would she or he use? What animals or other travel companions would be on the journey? Consider taking a few photos of your child at different destinations around the neighborhood or city to make the journey real. You might also want to use the photos for the “Make” activity below.
· Sing, dance, and drum. ICIC uses an original song we created entitled “Let’s Go Traveling” when we present our Imaginary Journeys residency in classrooms that participate in our Dancing With Books program. We sing and dance to the rhythm of a drum beat as we pretend to travel to Ghana, Cuba, and back to DC by boat, car, bus, train, and airplane. You can do the same at home by making up your own travel song and dances, and tapping on any safe, hard, safe surface to create the effect of a drum.
· Make. Now comes the best part: have your child create an original picture book based on the journey that she or he dreams up in the “Imagine” activity above, using simple materials like scrap paper, crayons or markers, and a stapler. Allow your child to draw the pictures freely, and refrain from making criticisms or corrections. Let your child write the words, you can write them from dictation, or you can do a combination of both.
An Invitation to You
A blog can only begin to convey the sense of adventure that children experience when they participate in Inner City-Inner Child’s arts-based literacy programs. To learn more about how to support our work, we invite you to watch our video and click here. Happy travels to you and your child!
For more than two decades, Inner City-Inner Child (ICIC) has supported early childhood education in Washington, DC through arts education programs and early childhood development training. We provide quality arts integration and early childhood development programs that serve low-income families in DC. ICIC also provides arts-focused professional development programs for teachers who work in early childhood centers and school-based early childhood education programs in DC. In addition, we engage low-income DC parents in child development activities that help them create learning experiences at home.