Children's Poet Laureate Mary Ann Hoberman offers a bouncy, fun-to-read-aloud text and a refreshingly agreeable, resourceful protagonist who likes old clothes for their "history" and "mystery." Illustrator Patrice Barton brings new, contemporary life to the poem, with an adorable little girl and her younger brother playing dress-up, making crafts, and happily treasuring their hand-me-downs.
Extension: One of my favorite memories is of the summer my mother gave my brother and I a budget for old clothes from yard sales. We filled a trunk with the best dress-up collection ever, and we and our friends played with the items in it for years! See what your kids can put together from your local thrift shops, and then sit back and enjoy the stories that unfold.
Extension: print a list of Caldecott winners (found here) and see how many you can read this month.
(see also I Had a Favorite Hat)
As the year passes, the narrator’s favorite dress goes through a series of creative changes, from dress to shirt to tank top to scarf and so on, until all that’s left of it is a good memory. Assisted by her patient and crafty mama, the narrator finds that when disaster strikes her favorite things, she doesn’t need to make mountains out of molehills—she “makes molehills out of mountains” instead! Structured around the days of the week, the story is also illustrated to show the passing of the seasons, a perfect complement to the themes of growing older and keeping hold (and letting go) of special mementos.
Other old things:
Anyone can dive for treasure in the ocean, but Steve dives for it in his neighborhood dumpster! As he delves into the trash each weekend, Steve encourages his young neighbors (aka the Diving Team) to see the potential in what other people throw away. With a little bit of imagination, trash can be transformed into treasure — and as the Diving Team soon discovers, it might even help a friend in need.
Extension: If this doesn't inspire you to create something cool out of found objects, I just don't know what to say. Visit a thrift shop and give each child a budget - say $3 to spend on items that cost 50 cents or less, and which they will NOT use as is. Bring them home and see what amazing creations you can come up with!
Let's think even bigger:
This is just the sweetest book! I do have a soft spot for old things, and fixing up an old house with character holds a strong appeal.
Extension: Explore some of the old houses in your area with a driving tour. What characteristics do your children especially like? What would they change or keep the same if that was their house? (Warning: This activity may induce bursts of home improvement yearnings in the teachers as well)
Head back to that thrift shop and note prices of items your family uses - furniture, clothing, toys, books - then go to the store and find out how much those things cost new. Draw up a chart comparing prices, and figure out the savings of buying used. Are there pitfalls with buying used? When is it best to buy new and when is it better to buy used?
Time for a trip to the museum! I have found it helpful with my younger kids to go check things out myself first, so that I can then give them a little background information on the items/time periods they are going to be looking at. See if your local museum has a docent who would be willing to walk around with you. Our county has a wonderful little gem in the Tularosa Basin Museum of History. So much more than you would guess from looking at the outside, and very nicely arranged. If you have a chance to get Mr. Lewandowski's attention, he seems to have a fascinating story about every single item there!
So many 'old' things just end up in landfills. How long does it take for them to decompose? Or do they ever?
You can find a simple experiment here, designed for an entire class but easy to scale down for your family. I like the simple explanation of vocabulary in this link.
This old man he played one
He played nick nack on my drum
With a nick nack paddy whack
Give a dog a bone
This old man came rolling home
You know the rest, don't you? No? That's okay, there are a million versions out there. In fact, your kids might find it interesting that the original wordings of this rhyme were quite different. Wikipedia has a short history, including this early version:
My name is Jack Jintle, the eldest but one,
And I can play nick-nack upon my own thumb.
With my nick-nack and click-clack and sing a fine song,
And all the fine ladies come dancing along.
Learn both, and talk about other songs or nursery rhymes that have changed over the years.
Other Web Sites to Explore