This month, the Virtual Book Club is highlighting the work of Julia Donaldson. We've read many of Donaldson's books, and although some of them are only so-so for me, I really LOVE What the Ladybug Heard. (Other favorites: The Spiffiest Giant in Town, Where's My Mom?, and The Gruffalo.)
The ladybug lived on a happy farm: there was a cow, hen, goose, duck, horse, hog, sheep, dog, and two cats. They all lived in contented harmony. All of the animals were very noisy in their own way except for the ladybug: she "never said a word." But she had other talents, watching and listening being among them. One night she saw two thieves intent on stealing the fine prize cow. She listened to their conniving plans, all perfectly laid out in a simple map. The ladybug knew she had to save her friend. She broke her silence to tell the other animals what would transpire that night. Together, they came up with a plan to lead the thieves in the wrong direction and save the fine prize cow.
I was inspired by this page from the book, which shows the map of the two thieves:
I thought, I'll bet we could draw up our own maps. And that is exactly what we did.
First, I drew up a couple of maps for Aaron and Max to follow. My sister helped me because she is a better artist than I am. The first map included six locations: the piano, the kitchen, the trampoline, the swing set, the washer/dryer, and the toy horse.
For this first map, I helped the boys decode and follow the pictures. I did leave a small treat at the end but nothing at the little stops along the way. The idea was just to have fun following the course of the map. The boys loved it, and it gave us a pretty good workout, too!
Aaron and Max wanted another map to follow, so we headed to the park with this one:
Aaron carefully studied it on the way to the park, and by the time we got there, he didn't need any help from me.
(Picnic tables, twisty slide, swings, teeter-totter, house, and jungle bars)
(Looking at these pictures makes me realize that even though it's starting to feel like spring, the grass doesn't know it yet!)
After the escapade at the park, Aaron did exactly what I was hoping for...he wanted to make his own map! I thought he would want some help thinking of locations or figuring out how to draw items, but he wanted none of it. I left him to his own inspiration, and he came up with this:
(His bed, the trampoline, the slide, the swing set (a popular landmark, it seems), the TV, and the apple tree)
I was actually totally impressed with his map, not only because he thought up some different locations on his own, but also because he grasped the sequencing idea--that one location would follow another in a specific order. (Also, Aaron has only recently become interested in drawing, so just the fact that he actually drew something out of his head was pretty awesome.)
Aaron thought it was even better following his own map than following my map. He liked it so much, in fact, that he decided to draw another:
(Mailbox, slide, game, toy horse, train set, toilet, and scooter)
I liked this map because he used certain objects to represent a specific location (the game for the room where the games are kept, etc.).
By this time, we had run out of treats to put at the end. (I had a little bag of jelly beans, and each time they completed a map, they each got two.) Up until that point, I was pretty sure they were partly so enthusiastic because they got a treat each time. But when the last jelly bean was consumed, Aaron said, "Now we can still make more maps, and we just won't get a treat!" And off he went.
You know how sometimes you have a great idea in your head, but when you try it with your kids, it falls flat? This was NOT one of those times. My boys loved it. Aaron especially would have kept making maps all day if he hadn't had to, you know, eat dinner and other trivial things like that. Even this morning, he was talking about making another map. It's the activity that just keeps on giving.
I hope you map out some fun (heh, heh!) for yourself as well!