Monday, May 6, 2013

Up, Down, and Around in the Garden!

Read It. Move It. Share It. 
Each month I recommend a picture book for dance educator Maria Hanley to use in her creative movement classes in New York, and then we both share our experiences with the book. Our April book was Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres and Nadine Bernard Westcott. Read about the book here and then stop by Maria's Movers to see how Maria used the book in her classes!

The sun has peeked out from behind the clouds a couple times this week, the tulips in our front yard are blooming, and the whole neighborhood is starting to smell like mulch -- all signs that it's time for gardening!

I have adored the rhyming picture book Up, Down, and Around since I first read it shortly after it was published in 2007. I don't actually own a copy, but I have read it with my girls many times and I am always happy when I see it on display at the library. 

It's the simple story of a man and two children who plant some vegetable seeds, watch them grow, pick the vegetables, and eat them! The story is told as if this all happens within a day's time, which is of course unrealistic but somehow makes the book especially charming... 

In the dirt we'll dig a row, 
drop some seeds, and watch them grow.
Dirt piles up; seeds go down.
Water splashes around and around.

Corn grows up.
Carrots grow down.
Cucumbers climb around and around.

The structure of the stanzas repeats over and over as readers learn how different garden vegetables grow...or at least in what direction they grow! Peppers, broccoli, and okra are other vegetables that grow up. Potatoes, beets, and onions are others that grow down (under the ground). And pumpkins, green beans, and tomatoes are others that grow around and around (on vines).

This book would be great for teaching preschoolers about the different ways vegetables can grow. And to be honest, I didn't even know that cucumbers and green beans grew on vines until I read this book! 
The extremely cheerful and colorful illustrations also make this book a winner. Illustrator Nadine Bernard Westcott even added a dog, a cat, a rabbit, birds, and lots of insects to the story to make it even more fun. I have to admit I'm not the most enthusiastic of gardeners, but this book makes even me want to get outside and grow some vegetables!

And of course I can't end my post without mentioning how great I think this book would be for a spring or summer dance class for preschoolers. "Up," "down," and "around" are all great words to explore with bodies (or with bodies and props), so I'm excited to see how Maria explored them in her creative movement classes. Click here to find out!

If you're in the mood for more picture books about gardening, Angela from OMazing Kids has posted a list of seed- and garden-themed books to use with children's yoga. Zoe at Playing by the Book has also gathered a list of books about gardening for kids. Happy gardening!


  1. Sounds like a really fun book. We've just spent all of a day's holiday in the sunshine gardening - we've planted out runner beans and sweetcorn :-)

    1. I actually just returned the book to the library and my six-year-old was really upset. I may have to buy this one! Hope your beans and corn are ready to eat soon :)


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