Beyond the Book: Hands-On Learning with Your Favorite Children's Books

Beyond the Book: Hands-On Learning with Your Favorite Children's Books

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Engaging in activities related to favorite children's books is a great way to incorporate relaxed homeschooling and low-key learning with young children. And, it's fun for the whole family. As C.S. Lewis said, “A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”

One of my family's favorite picture books is Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban. In the story, Frances the badger only wants to eat bread and jam. Her picky eating habit are frustrating for Frances' mother. She says Frances won't try anything new. Parents of picky eaters can surely relate.

Read Bread and Jam for Frances with your child, then, try some of these fun activities!

Hands-on Learning Activities Using the Picture Book Bread and Jam for Frances

1. Jump rope.

Frances seems to always have her jump rope handy. She jumps while chanting, “Jam on biscuits. Jam on toast. Jam is the thing that I like most.”

Talk to your child about the importance of physical activity. Discuss her favorite activities and the health benefits of fresh air and sunshine.

Encourage your child to get active by jumping rope. It's a fantastic cardiovascular activity that helps kids develop better coordination and rhythm. See if you can jump in time to Frances' chant or try making up jump rope rhymes of your own.

2. Make homemade bread.

Frances loves bread and jam. Who can blame her? Homemade bread is especially tasty. Try making your own bread. Baking bread offers many educational benefits, such as:

  • Reading a recipe
  • Measuring and fractions
  • Following directions
  • Discovering the science of yeast

Following easy bread baking tips for beginners, you can make a simple, one-loaf yeast bread.

If you don't want to make your own, take a trip a bakery. Call ahead to arrange a tour so you can see how bread and other baked goods are made on a large-scale basis.

3. Make jam.

Store-bought jam is definitely easier, but homemade jam is delicious! Try making a simple, homemade jam to enjoy. Depending on the time of year, consider taking a field trip to pick your own strawberries or blueberries for your homemade jam.

4. Plan a nutritional meal.

Frances prefers bread and jam to the nutritious meals her mother prepares. Even Frances' younger sister is willing to try new things. And, Frances' friend Albert has practically turned his lunchtime routine into a work of art.

Talk with your child about what it means to make healthy food choices. Discuss which foods are the best for a healthy diet and what foods make healthy snacks for kids.

Then brainstorm together to plan a healthy menu for the day. Include foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Be sure to experiment with some healthy recipes that are new to your family.

Make a shopping list for the meals on your list and visit the grocery store. Many grocery stores offer field trips for homeschool groups. Our local store offers a tour that includes a discussion about healthy food choices and provides students with an opportunity to sample foods they may not have tried before.

5. Practice setting the table.

Frances makes a big deal out of the last meal we observe her eating at the end of the book. Not only is she excited to try new things, but she takes the time to set a lovely table to enjoy the meal.

Talk with your child about how to set a table. Discuss good table manners. You can even make some tissue paper flowers to place on your table.

My kids and I love all of the Frances books, but Bread and Jam for Frances is one of our favorites. Use these simple extension activities from the story of the picky-eater badger as a springboard for fun learning opportunities.


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