My daughter LOVES animals and we are all about books at our house! So I wanted to find some great read alouds for her that would suit her interests. A couple of years ago we tried reading Dr Dolittle to my Boo… we got about 6 chapters in but we just couldn’t finish. About a month ago I felt like we were ready to try the chapter book thing again. I found an old copy of Charlottes Web and I knew it would be a perfect fit for my daughter. Before we started reading I did a little bit of prep work. I scoured the internet looking for ways to share this book with a preschooler. I found lots of websites with vocabulary worksheets, upper elementary reading comprehension activities,… lots of things that I knew wouldn’t specifically work for my daughter. I thought that since Charlottes Web was on so many of those must-read lists for preschool age children that I would find more activities to go along with it! But nothing that seemed to meet my needs.
So I came up with my own plan.
It’s nothing fancy, but it worked. My daughter was captivated from start to finish. Maybe some of these ideas will inspire you as you read this classic with your young child.
1- Find a stuffed pig (or spider). We found this beauty at a local book store for $2.99. Having a little Wilbur to snuggle with while reading gave my daughter something tactile to hold while soaking in this classic piece of literature.
|feeding Wilbur became a nightly job|
2- Act it out! This is a great story with so many different scenes to reenact with your child… don’t wait until the end of the book to do it either- you can start acting a section or chapter at a time. After reading the first chapter, I told my daughter that daddy was outside on his way to kill a baby pig. At first she looked at me like I was from another planet, but then she caught on and was outside screaming at daddy to save the pig. Daddy then gave her a shoebox with the stuffed pig inside…. quoting lines from the story. It was a wonderful retelling activity. We had a great time acting out other scenes- like Lurvy chasing Wilbur to put him back into his pigpen.
3. During the first chapter you are introduced to the vocaublary word “runt”. After explaining it to my daughter, we went to the store and bought a box of Runts candy and talked about why they are called that (because they are super small fruit). During some of the chapters I would pull out the box of Runts and everytime I would read the word “Wilbur” (or another word) she would get to eat one candy. She had to hear me say the word though… it kept her listening!
4. Make stick puppets. I did a quick google search for barnyard animals and easily able to find pictures of the characters. During some of the chapters I would pull out the stick puppets. They came in handy during the barnyard scenes when there was a lot of character conversation.
5. Take advantage of Youtube! We were able to see little videos of baby pigs, spiders spinning webs and making egg sacs, baby spiders hatching… kind of gross but it strengthened our mental images of the story.
6. Crafts! There are so many different preschool craft ideas that would go perfectly with this book. (think pigs, spiders,…any farm craft!) My daughter prefers acting over making, so we didn’t make any crafts… we are sticking with her interests!
7. In one of the chapters the author tells us Wilbur’s schedule for the day. After reading about his schedule, my daughter and I sat down and wrote our schedule. From the pic you can probably tell where I got input from her. 🙂
8. Make snacks! There are plenty of farm-related treats out there that you can snack on while reading. Due to time constraints we opted out of doing this…but it would be a fun, yummy activity!
9. Go to the play or watch the movie. We were fortunate enough to go see a live performance of Charlottes Web by a local childrens theatre company. It was SPECTACULAR. On the way home we talked about our favorite parts of the play, and any differences we noticed between the play and the book.
10. Play it. Pull out your old Little People barn and let your child recreate the magic of Wilbur and Charlotte. This was an activity my daughter requested again and again. And you don’t have to stick to the script- have fun with the characters and try and predict how they would act in different scenarios.
I absolutely love this children’s classic. Take the time to read it to your little ones!