About a year ago, I decided to attempt to teach Matthew, my oldest son, some thematic lessons. You know…D is for Doggie or P is for Pumpkin (or W is for What Was I Thinking?) I kid. However, as a former teacher to much older children, I quickly realized that I was seriously lacking in Early Childhood Education skills. I decided to do our first thematic unit on A is for Apple. This was pretty basic and I knew there were resources everywhere.
We quickly discovered the lovely book Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington. This sweet story chronicles the duties of an apple farmer while highlighting the many uses for apples. The story depicts Annie as honest, hardworking, and passionate about her job. Furthermore, it ends with a trip to the farmer’s market as Annie sells her crisp apples and her baked apple goods. This book was an instant hit with my son. After a week of reading it over and over again, I decided to take Matthew on a trip to the Red Stick Farmer’s Market.
While apples are not one of our local crops, Matthew was able to make instant connections between our beloved Annie and the many farmers we met that day. He understood the many jobs that farmers have to do and he was excited to learn about the other fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and meats that the market had to offer. Since then, taking trips to the Farmer’s Market has become one of our family’s favorite weekly traditions.
As a mother to an almost-three-year-old and a seventeen-month-old, I am quickly learning that children (specifically young children) are easily as capable of making connections between literature and life experiences as my former middle and high school students. They are able to then develop deeper meaning to both the texts and their experiences. This fosters so many opportunities to begin discussing literature with your families on a consistent basis. One thing that I noted in my years as a reading and English teacher is that students who had positive attitudes about reading had both 1) a family that encouraged and celebrated reading and 2) a life-long love for literature.