Inside: Book review of When Stella was Very, Very Small and related activities.
If you’re not familiar with the Stella books you need to check them out. They’re adorable and my K’s, Grade 1s and 2s have always loved them.
Title: When Stella Was Very, Very Small
Author: Marie-Louise Gay
Publisher: Groundwood Books, 2009
For Ages: 2-7
Themes: Siblings, Wonder, Imagination
Synopsis (from Amazon):
Marie-Louise Gay has gone back in time to answer the questions often asked by the children who read and love her Stella books. Where does Stella get her wild ideas? How big is Stella’s imagination? What did Stella look like when she was small? How did Stella come to be the big sister to Sam? Although Gay didn’t know what she would find when she started to explore Stella’s childhood, she soon realized that when Stella was very small, she saw the world in her own unique way — with wonder, curiosity, and the sense that everything is possible. Evocative watercolors and imaginative text make this one of the most endearing entries in the series.
Why I Like This Book:
I’m a big fan of all the Stella books. I just find them to be so sweet and innocent. I love the gentle relationship between Stella and her little brother Sam. She’s such a wonderful big sister who’s full of wonder and curiosity about the world around her. The illustrations are always charming in a mixture of watercolour, pastels and collage.
- How Did You Get to School? This is a wonderfully silly drama game designed to stretch the imagination, which is the perfect accompaniment to all the Stella books. Have the kids sit in a circle. Each child takes a turn telling the class how they got to school. But of course they don’t tell the truth. They make up a wondrous tale. For example, I rode here on the back of a magical whale. Or I hopped to school in a kangaroo’s pouch.
- Write About It: After playing the game above, have everyone draw and write about their imaginary trip to school.
- Act Out the Story: Often during the 2nd or 3rd reading of a favourite book I’ll ask the kids to silently act it out while I read aloud. They can move anywhere in the class but they can’t touch anyone or talk out loud. Occasionally I have to silently act with them (especially for the shy groups) but this is easy enough to do while reading. This activity is VERY popular!
- Paint the Story: Take some lines from the book, e.g., “Then she saw a ferocious man-eating tiger and giant slithering snakes. Huge insects buzzed around her ears.” Talk about how Stella uses her imagination and how when you’re small everything else seems very big. Encourage the kids to paint a picture of themselves very small, but the insects and cat etc. very very large.
- Now and Then: Use the sheets below and have your students write about when they were very small, compared to now.