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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wind in the Willows

It's amazing how fast the summer is flying by. It feels like it was only just yesterday and we were celebrating that summer had begun. We have really been enjoying ourselves and have made many good memories. One of our recent activities was our "Wind in the Willows" book party. It's always a little sad when the time comes for the book party because we know that school is almost back in session. Every year we choose a different children's book to read aloud together. When we've finished the book, we spend a day living like we are from that story. We try to do several hands on activities to bring the book to life.

This is our 4th summer having a book party. We've done several exciting things in the past. Our first year we read "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett and took a day trip to Ward Meade park to walk around the gardens there. Our second book party was "The Little Princess" also written by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The girls got to experience what life would be like to be penniless. Last year we read "Pollyanna" by Eleanor H. Porter. We had a wonderful afternoon playing the "glad game" and making some beautiful rainbow light catchers. At the end of every party we always gather around the television and watch the movie of the book. The kids really enjoy that part, being able to see the characters come alive before them.

This year we chose the book "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame. It was a Christmas gift from the kids great grandparents. We thought it would make a nice summer read. This book was a little more difficult for the kids to understand and grasp, but I believe they enjoyed it just the same. The main characters of the book are four different talking animals that have many adventures and share a special friendship. The book is British so there are several terms and phrases that you may need to research to get the full meaning and understanding.

the wind in the willows Kenneth grahame
To start our party we headed to the pond at Gage park for a nice quiet picnic lunch. The picnic we were reenacting took place at the very beginning of the book with Ratty and Mole. It was the start of their friendship.

The rat reappeared staggering under a fat, wicker luncheon- basket.
What's inside it?" asked the Mole, wiggling with curiosity.
"There's cold chicken inside it," replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater-'

We chose to eat fried chicken, rolls, sweet gherkins, and ginger ale.

One of the chapters "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" the Mole and Rat are treated to a rare glimpse into the magic of nature. We found out for ourselves what that was like. The kids all brought a notebook to record their findings and we just sat and listened by the water. We tried to use all our senses as we felt the peace and tranquility of nature.

Another of the main characters is Mr. Toad. Now Mr. Toad is about as ornery and selfish as you could be. He thinks only of himself, and is drawn to motor cars. His friends try to keep him in check, but that can be a difficult thing. He escapes their watchful eye, and ends up stealing a motor car for the thrill of it. He wrecks the car and is thrown in jail. After a few days the jailer's daughter takes pity on him and helps him escape. He has many more unfortunate experiences where he appears to show his true colors. Mr. Toad really is a good example of how NOT to live. For our next activity, we pretended we were police officers looking for Toad after he had escaped from jail. We created some "Wanted" posters for him, trying to include as much information about his character as possible.
wind in the willows wanted posters
I thought Ariel did a wonderful job of making her "Wanted" poster.
Just for fun we all took turns being "Wanted". Some of us did a better job than others at looking the part.

Our last activity before we watched the movie was the most fun I thought. It was again inspired by Mr. Toad. He is quite proud of himself and tends to exaggerate. After all of his adventures he makes up songs about his heroics, and sings them often to himself and anyone who will listen to him. We all wrote poems or songs about ourselves. The fun part was that it didn't even need to be true and we could exaggerate as much as possible. We got to turn ourselves into heroes.

Gabriel's Song
Gabriel even went so far as to add music to his page. We were all impressed, and he sang his song very well for us all.

Ariel's Song
Smart and intelligent
Ariel knows more than anyone about birds.
She saved a bird.
All the birds love her.
She's the best leader of a team.
Everybody she meets becomes a friend.
Ariel Rocks, She Rules, She's Awesome
She's Awesome, A-W-E-S-O-M-E

Mikaela's Song
Oh, me, me, me!
Who is the best!?!
Oh, that would be me, of course!

Who is the greatest!?!
Oh, of course it is me!
Oh, me, me, me!

Amanda's Song
Who is this wonderful, beautiful woman?
It's Super Mom!
Who is the adventurer, bold and daring?
It's Amanda, the Super Mom!

She flies through the house, as quick as a mouse
Saving her children from harm.
She runs down the halls, cleaning the walls
As her children scream with glee to her arms.

Everyone loves and cares for this woman
Everyone envies the things she can do
God made her beautifully, wonderfully, fearless and brave
Who is this mom? She's Amanda!

Rachael's Song
She sports the latest fashions
Makes friends everywhere she goes
Upon entering a room
The people always know
That this girl holds many secrets
Never lets anyone get close
On the outside she slides by
But how long can she live a lie?

Debbie's Song
Over the river and through the wood,
Where do you think we'd go?
Off to the best place on this earth,
All the way to my Grandmother's home!

The very best place?
How can that be so?
Why you never would ask if you ever did go
To the very best Grandmother's home.

Her house is so grand,
The best in the land.
Her cookies and cakes
Are divine.

No one can compare
But I don't want to share
Because my, oh my, she's all mine.

We had a wonderful party, and the kids really enjoyed the day. I'm already looking forward to next summer. Who knows where that book will take us?

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