Thursday, June 6, 2019

An Alphabet of Learning, Movement, and Fun!


Time to play and have some fun, 
trying new things one by one.
Are you ready? Are you set? 
Let's explore the alphabet!

As a lover of both writing and movement, I am always looking for children's books that truly integrate the two. The new picture book From A to Z with Energy by Connie Bergstein Dow and Gareth Llewhellin does exactly that, introducing young children to the alphabet while teaching them about the importance of movement and encouraging them to make movement part of their regular routine.

Image courtesy of Free Spirit Publishing

As the book goes through each letter of the alphabet, a group of children experiment with movements ranging from climbing, wading, and hiking to dribbling, kicking, and passing. Interspersed between all the movements are some equally important lessons on healthy living in general.

L is for a healthy lunch
that gives you fuel to grow.
M is for your muscles, 
from your head to your big toe.

As you can tell from the images above, the illustrations by Gareth Llewhellin only add to the exuberance emanating from this book. What a diverse and friendly bunch of children included on each and every page! From camping trips to sled rides to baseball games, the settings that Gareth created only highlight the point that movements can be done everywhere!

It might come as no surprise that the mastermind behind this book, author Connie Bergstein Dow, is both a writer and a mover herself. After receiving an MFA in dance from the University of Michigan, Connie danced professionally in both the United States and South America, and she has also been a dance educator for many years. She has written two books on integrating movement into early childhood classrooms and has published poetry in Highlights High Five and Highlights Hello magazines. From A to Z with Energy is her debut picture book, and what a perfect fit for her background!

Something that sets this book apart from many others is that it includes a six-page guide at the back explaining the physical and social-emotional benefits of movement and providing parents, teachers, and caregivers with a variety of movement activities to supplement those mentioned in the book. Half of the movement activities use prompts from the book, and half can be used alongside the book or independently. All of the activities are designed to use movement to explore the letters of the alphabet.

Now that I know more about Connie, the inspiration for this unique book and guide makes a whole lot of sense! Learn more about Connie, her books, and her ideas at her website, Moving Is Learning!

Connie leading a movement activity during a
recent school visit for A to Z with Energy.

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