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Every preschool classroom needs a copy of The Napping House by Audrey Wood and wonderfully illustrated by Don Wood. When you introduce this preschool theme your students will be begging you to read the book again. You will also find students sitting with the book and retelling it to themselves. The cumulative rhymes will engage your children and they will quickly join in as you read. Then let The Napping House activities begin!
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Send home notes ahead of The Napping House Preschool Theme asking parents to send a favorite blanket, pillow or stuffed anima lwith their child to school. Set the tone! Bring something cuddly with you too. You may even want the children to wear their pajamas or slippers.
Also have the props that represent the characters in the book: A toy mouse, a stuffed cat, a stuffed dog, a large doll to represent the child in the book, a nightcap of some sort(a large scarf will do) for a student to wear when playing the granny and a mat or rug to use as a bed. Last you will need something that represents the flea.
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Gather your students around you and have them get cozy with stuffed animals, pillows and blankets. The first reading of The Napping House to your students must be done in a soft whispery voice. After all, everyone is napping! You may want to ask the students to just listen for the first reading. They will want to hear the book again and at that time they can join in with the cumulative tale and you may pause so that they can add the correct rhyming word.
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Let the Drama Begin!
Now it's time to pull out the props and reenact the story. Have one student be the granny with the nightcap on her head. To avoid chaos or injury the other parts will be "played" by the props that you brought. So, for example, after grannie lays down on the bed, another student can put the doll on top of granny, the next student will add the dog and so on. The last student will have the flea that bites the mouse. The students who originally placed the item will remove it with flourish. Remind them that each character has been startled so they will jump up quickly. Reenact several times so that each student gets a turn at doing something.
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In the last tour of The Napping House book, start at the second page and show the students that the flea was actually in the room the whole time. If you'll notice, the flea has a glow around it and is perched on the top of the chair where the child is napping. Turn each page and have the students search for the flea as it makes its move.
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You've Got Skills!
1. Sequence: Using a copy machine, reproduce pictures of the characters' faces and glue them on file cards. Mix them up and line the cards up where the students can see them. See if some can put the cards in order of how they piled on the bed. Mix them up and have a student put them in order of how they jumped off the bed.
2. Size: Using the same cards as mentioned in the above activity, place the cards where the students can see them. This time ask questions like: "Think about the granny, the child, the cat, the dog, the mouse and the flea, which one is the smallest?" To continue: Which one is the largest? Name two things smaller than the dog. Name two things bigger than the cat. Which one is smaller than the cat and bigger than the flea.
3. Position: Using the props you brought in, give each student an opportunity to follow directions. Here are some examples: Put the cat under a chair. Put the dog on top of a table. Put the child on the chair. Put the mouse inside a tub of blocks.
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Nap Time is Over!
The Napping House activities are ones that your students won't forget. Place the book in a place where they can reach for it often. Not only is it a gentle yet funny book with amazing illustrations but there are skills that can be reinforced as well. The most valuable part is that you are instilling a love of books in all of your students.