Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Into the Outdoors: A Plethora of Prepositions!

Read It. Move It. Share It. 
Dance educator Maria Hanley and I explored Into the Outdoors as the August picture book in our monthly collaboration. Its unique blend of two themes -- camping and prepositions -- makes it a one-of-a-kind book for sure. And it's also a fun one to incorporate into dance classes for young children. After you read this post, you can see how Maria used it with her young dancers here.

When I was growing up, a few times every summer my family would lug our camper behind our car into the forests of Pennsylvania, where we would spend a few nights out in the wilderness with friends. Hiking, canoeing, playing in the creek, making fires, roasting marshmallows, and watching wildlife -- particularly chipmunks, deer, raccoons, and the occasional black bear! -- are all wonderful memories I have from my childhood.

Nowadays, once or twice a year my husband, our two daughters, and I head out into the Maryland woods, pitch a tent, and spend a few nights in the great outdoors as well. We haven't taken the girls hiking or canoeing yet and haven't seen quite as many animals as I did growing up, but hopefully we'll get there one day.

How about you? Do you have any special camping memories? Would you be interested in a picture book about camping? Or, although this may seem a little off topic, might you be interested in a book about prepositions? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then I just might have the book for you!

In Into the Outdoors by Susan Gal, a family of four fill their car to the brim and leave the city to go camping in the mountains. Over the course of the book, the family partakes in many of the same same activities I did as a child. They go for a hike, they play in a stream, they build a fire and roast marshmallows, and they climb into their tent at night.

Throughout the day, the family also sees tons and tons of wildlife. Although they saw many of the same animals I usually see when I go camping, they saw a few others, too. Like a fox, a porcupine, and a moose! As you may be realizing, the story line of this book is quite simple. But, what makes the story so unique is its superfluous use of prepositions!

Alongside each other, we dream our dreams, 
beside the lake and beneath the moon, 
outside in the great outdoors.

I counted the prepositions in the book, and I came up with 19, all printed in yellow text to stand out from the otherwise white wording in the book. Almost all of the prepositions -- including across, along, around, behind, beneath, beside, over, through, up, and under -- would be great to introduce to a dance class. The youngest children might not know all of their meanings, but the illustrations can help show them. Plus, several of the prepositions are used more than once, giving the children extra opportunities to practice their meanings.

If I were teaching a dance class with this book, I think I'd set up a really neat obstacle course using as many of the prepositions as the kids could remember. Or, since there are so many prepositions, maybe I would use the book for a couple weeks and make a few different courses. Are you curious too see how Maria used the book? Let's see here!

If you're looking for other ideas for teaching prepositions, We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury is another picture book I recommend. Maria and I featured it around this time last year. Here's that post.

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