We know the benefits of reading to our kids, but here’s how you can help them process and learn from reading Dawn Baker’s Around Newfoundland
When adults finish a book, we are often eager to discuss it with others to share our thoughts about it through conversations and book clubs. Children often have the same desire to enjoy a book in a different way once the story’s been read. Adults can help them extend their literary experience through reading extension activities, using music, art and science.
Around Newfoundland, written and illustrated by Dawn Baker, is a great example of a book that lends itself well to reading extension activities. The story begins on the ferry to Newfoundland, where Gary, his sister and his mother meet a local boy, Peter, and his parents. Peter’s family offers to travel with them to St. John’s and show them the sights. This leads to a trip that starts in Port Aux Basques and heads through Gros Morne, L’Anse aux Meadows, a powwow, Twillingate, Jelly Bean Row Houses, Signal Hill and many other stops. We watch Gary and his family learn about, and fall in love with, the province through their adventures.
This book cleverly introduces readers to many of the province’s sights, history and culture through a fictional tale. It also sets the stage for prying deeper into each part after the book is finished.
Creating a map art project for Around Newfoundland is a wonderful way to teach children about geography and cultivate their artistic and dramatic sides as well. To do so, sketch out the shape of Newfoundland (there is a reference map on the last page) on a piece of bristol board. Then work with the child to read through the book and consult the book’s map to label each of the activities that the families do on their trip across the province. Once it’s been filled in, encourage the child to draw a picture for each activity, either using the book’s illustrations or their own imagination as a guide. For example, they could draw a lighthouse at Bonavista along with some boats in the water and seagulls in the sky.
To extend this activity even further, draw characters or photocopy a page in the book [Editor’s note: It’s OK to photocopy a page from a book for personal use as long as it is not distributed], with Gary and Peter, such as the one at L’Anse aux Meadows or on the beach in Eastport. Cut the characters out and glue them to a craft stick. Using the completed map the child can read the story and simultaneously act it out with the stick puppets travelling along the map.
Another extension of this would be to have the child create a map of his or her own city or neighbourhood and make a stick puppet of using their own photo. Then work with them to create a story like Gary’s but using the sights, culture and history of the place they know best.
Each page in Around Newfoundland shares a small snapshot of the province. By taking any page of this book and exploring it further with a reading extension activity, children will understand it better and remember it more clearly.
An example would be the visit to Twillingate to see the icebergs. Children and parents can do some research online or at their local library to learn more about how icebergs are created and then make one themselves using a balloon. They can simply fill a balloon with water by pulling the end over a tap (to get it as full as possible), and then tie it off and leave it in the freezer overnight. You may wish to put the balloon in a sealed baggie in case it pops mid-freeze! By arranging other items around it, children can “shape” the balloon to a more realistic iceberg shape, although during the melting process it often changes shape itself.
Once it’s frozen, fill a clear container with water to act as the “ocean,” leaving some space at the top so it doesn’t overflow when the iceberg is added. Cut the balloon off the ice and add it to the water. Children will observe how most of the ice sinks below the water, like a real iceberg. Toy whales or boats could be added to the water for dramatic play while they continue to observe the iceberg melting. Older children may wish to chart their observations and the time it takes for it to melt.
Reading extension activities can be added to any book a child is interested in and are a great tool to encourage even the youngest of readers to become critical thinkers and book lovers.
by Dawn Baker
Flanker Press, 2016