Thursday, June 16, 2011

Inspiring Imaginations: Dragon Hunting

Over a month ago, I added Where's the Dragon by Jason Hook to our collection of books. This gem of a book quickly became a favorite and was requested daily during our pre-nap "we love books" time. This is a 30-45 minute section of time that the children are all cozy with their pillows and blankets and I read any book they request.

I had lots of ideas of how to bring this book alive, but the children never gravitated towards this particular storyline during their play. So, I decided to wait until the right moment to plop something into play time that would spark their imaginations.

The story is about a young boy who has a grandpa who is a huge fan of dragons and has gone on many dragon hunting adventures in his life. The story begins with this boy pondering the possibility of him being too old to believe in dragons. The grandpa insisted he go dragon hunting with him immediately because "seeing is believing after all".  They pack the boat with items they may need, including grandpa's famous dragon hunting hat, a black top hat with a long twirling feather on top. One of the most wonderful things about this book is there are over 70 dragons hidden throughout and the children have developed keen eyesights as they search while I read.

Can you spot some dragons?!  Notice what Grandpa and George
are standing beside?!!  YIKES!!

My Jenn (daycare idea-sharing/creating buddy of mine) called to thank me for recommending the book, and she told me how much fun her kids were having hunting for dragons. She had some dragons that her boys collected from kid's meals a few years back when "How to Tame a Dragon" came out.   She had hidden these awaiting their discovery. Once discovered, this has been a daily requested activity at her house. I knew this is what I needed to do to bring the book alive, but my problem was I didn't have any toy dragons! I quickly learned toy dragons are hard to come by at a reasonable price! Finally, after much searching I found a set of 8 (four mamas and four matching babies) for $15.99 at Toys R Us.  YAY! Off to Toys r Us I went!

Yesterday I hid the black baby dragon in the rocks of my front yard, and patiently awaited it's discovery. All morning went by, and no dragon. That afternoon, I grew impatient....I could not wait for them to discover it! I almost ruined the fun by announcing "Have you guys ever thought there might be a dragon hidden in Nita's yard?"  Luckily, they did not find it before the end of the day, and they arrived this morning having forgotten all about it.  Whew!

Today, we were in the backyard, so I hid a baby there.  I waited, and waited.  FINALLY! The baby was discovered!  They instantly remembered the fact that there was a black one in the front yard. Instead of going to look however, we just re-hid the blue one and hunted again. It took them FOREVER to find this one. Finally, after many clues and tips the blue baby was found, up in a tree. I ran inside to get the book and told the boys and girls to sit down as we need to listen a little more closely to what Grandpa has to say about hunting dragons.

He says very clearly that you must look high and you must look low, dragons are VERY hard to find, but you must not give up, and, most importantly, you must believe!

Parker made a comment about Grandpa's dragon hunting hat. He said that was why it was so hard for them to find the dragon. We didn't have a dragon hunting hat.

Thank goodness, my mind works a bit like a childs. I KNEW that would be a main component of our bringing the book alive. Last weekend I snagged a long, red twisty feather at Hobby Lobby, and a black top hat at Partyland anticipating the need for a dragon hunting hat.

Quickly, I ran inside, grabbed the feather, hat and some scissors.

First, we investigated the feather. In the story, the feather saves grandpas life by making the dragon sneeze, so we took turns tickling our noses with the feather to see if it made anyone sneeze. Of course, it made EVERYONE sneeze!  Then, I used the scissors to cut three holes in the hat in order to weave the feather in. 

AH ..... Ah.....Ah.....CHOOOOOOOOOO!

We then passed around the hat, and let everyone try it one to make sure it would fit us all!

Trying on the dragon hunting hat

NOW we were ready! Let the dragon hunting continue!

As I was hiding our one blue dragon, I quickly ran to the front and grabbed the black one. I announced that while I was hiding the blue one, I found......the black one. He had moved from the front yard to the back!  So then...."how many dragons do we need to find now?!"  "TWO!!!"

Off to hunt for dragons!

 One child wore the dragon hunting hat, and everyone else followed. They hunted high...and low and found both dragons.

The hat was passed to another child, and we repeated again, this time I announced that I found a mama dragon, and she was not happy. I told them to be extra cautious and watch out for her claws and teeth!  I again asked "how many dragons do we need to find now?!"  "THREE!!" As each dragon was found, we did more math figuring out how many were left to find.

The angry mama dragon has been found!

The tiny black dragon, that wandered into the backyard is found!
After the three were found, I handed the game over to the children. There were arguments over whose turn to hide, who got to wear the hat, but over all, they were a team. A team who wanted to take great care of our special hat, and, most importantly who believed in dragons!

Here's all the reason bringing books alive is so important!  Instilling a love of books in young children will create life-long readers! In the next photo Ella is reading Where's the Dragon "Nita style" to her sister who is having a blast pointing to all the dragons!  When I read the book, they need to use words to tell us where they see a dragon (for example:  "I see a dragon in the trees on the top of the page"....this is amazing for enhancing vocabularies!). Avery is enjoying the simplicity of getting to just point to the dragons with her fingers!  Which, if we broke that down is eye-hand coordination work, which is a pre-writing skill!  Oh the learning is EVERYWHERE!!

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