Sunday, June 2, 2013

Playground Day!

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 share our experiences with the book. Our May book was Playground Day! by Jennifer Merz. When you're done reading about it here, stop by Maria's Movers to read what she has to say!

Stretching, swaying, 
jungle playing, 
I climb like a...

For my latest collaboration with Maria, I've once again chosen a picture book that I enjoyed reading to my two girls when they were toddlers and early preschoolers. Playground Day! by Jennifer Merz weaves two child-friendly themes -- the playground and animals -- together with movement for a fun read-aloud for young children. 

In the book, a little girl carts a red wagon full of stuffed animals all the way to the playground, where she plays on different playground equipment in ways that her animals would if they were real. For instance, when she plays on the monkey bars, she moves like a monkey. And when she swings on the swing, she feels like a bird flying high in the sky. 

The book is also a bit of a guessing game, sort of along the lines of the picture book Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig and Marc Brown. Like that book, Playground Day! is full of great page turns where the kids have to guess which animal is being featured. If you look closely, you'll notice that a different stuffed animal is actually near the girls on each page -- the perfect clue for little readers who are paying attention!

The art in this book is really fun, too. Lots of bright paper and fabric has been cut and torn in different ways to create the images on the pages. It kind of gives the book an "imperfect" quality, but in a good way. Seems just right for a trip to the playground with young children, where inevitably there will be a little dirt and chaos. My two girls finally went to our neighborhood pool yesterday for the first time this summer. Next stop -- the playground! 

Don't forget to stop by Maria's Movers to see how Maria used this book in her creative movement classes. I hope it worked well!

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