Monday, October 4, 2010

Something from Nothing

Recently, I have started a storytime at Indigo Books for children birth to six years old. Our first story together was Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman.

For those of you who arent' familiar with the's the retelling of a Jewish folktale. A boy recieves a blanket from his grandfather when he is born. Eventually, it starts to wear so grandpa fixes it by making it into a jacket. When the jacket gets worn it becomes a vest, then a tie, then a handkerchief, and finally a button. One day Joseph loses his button. He is so sad. Even his amazing grandfather can't make something from nothing. The next day Joseph goes to school and writes a story (presumably about his blanket and its many transformations).

It is a truly a beautiful story with plenty of repetition for youngsters to join in. To make my storytime interesting, I tried to provide many opportunities for children to interact with the book. I brought a measuring tape for them to touch (just like the one on the grandfather's neck on the cover of the book and related the book to their lives by asking if they have something special like Joseph's blanket.

I used feltboard pieces to help tell the story and encourage children to fill in the blanks, "There's just enough material here to make...a wonderful jacket".

After the story, I made a connection to the book Owen by Kevin Henkes, but we did not have time to read it. This book is somewhat similar because both have a blanket that carry a lot of sentiment. It differs in that Owen is not allowed to bring his blanet to school because he is too old. The resolution is that they make a handkerchief for him to keep in his pocket.

Before leaving, I pulled out a bunch of items I am recycling (a tin can, mesh from oranges, a piece of cardboard) and asked the children if they could make "something from nothing". There were some very creative ideas! The CCCF handout Creating Toys and Activities for Children from Beautiful Junk was given to parents to give suggestions that can be used at home.

Here is a suggestion on how you can use this story in big book format to teach.

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