Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Reading Tent Town

As one child put it, today was the "Best Day Ever!"  I think we can safely say Reading Tent Town was a resounding success.  Now we've got to decide how soon to do it again. 

The activity began in the mess hall.  Each of the kids was given a plastic plate, a plastic knife, and some veggies.  They cut up vegetables while my friend Cindy read Stone Soup.  Anytime she got to a point in the story when a new ingredient mentioned, she would ask a child to come and add it to her big soup pot.  The version she read was by Ann Mcgovern.

Tip: Brown and crumble the ground beef ahead of time.  Also open and drain your canned veggies before anyone arrives.  Finally, pre-cut the potatoes, celery, carrots, and onion into sticks that will be easier for the kids to chop with their flimsy knives.

The kids loved to chop up and add their veggies.  They were working away so hard.  But the other moms told me they think Tertius was the only one interested in cutting up the onions.  When everything was added to the pot, including of course the stone, it went in the house and on the stove to cook while the kids moved on to the next phase of the activity. 

Tip: Scrub the stone really good and then boil it by itself beforehand to make sure it is nice and clean. 
Spread around my yard were six small kid-sized tents.  Each tent was attended by a mom with a book (or a few).  Attached to the outside of each tent was a picture to represent those stories.  And on a card around each child's neck were all of the pictures so they could get them marked off as they visit each tent.  The themes we did were princess, pioneer, farm, train, Hiawatha, and Easter.

Tip: Those cards were so perfect!  I'm so glad I decided to do them.  Even one of the youngest kids (who is younger than Tertius) would look at his card, pick a picture, and then walk around to find the tent that matches the picture he had decided on.  It was so cute!

We had six story tents and sixteen children age 2-6.  Each small tent could accommodate 2-3 kids, with the adult sitting outside reading the story.  I keep referring to adults, but actually, 2 of the tents were attended by "big kids."  I love that we had older siblings interested in helping out.  I think the 11 year old boy was disappointed that he was too big to sit in the tents and listen to the stories, but he had a great attitude about it and made sure I knew he was a great reader. 

Tip: Either have tarps under the tents or towels/blankets for the adults to sit on.

The princess story tent was run by two 15 year old girls.  They got to use an awesome castle-shaped tent and they came dressed as Snow White and Rapunzel.  It was so awesome!  The kids loved having these celebrities attend.

Tip: I thought it would be really fun to have all the readers dress in a costume related to their books.  That didn't happen, but it didn't really matter.  Another great idea the mom in charge of the farm tent had was to bring farm animal puppets.  I think it helped some of the littlest kids to warm up to the experience.

One of the pictures on their cards was a bowl of soup to prompt them to go in the house and stir the soup.  It smelled so good!  Everyone was done listening to stories after about an hour.  A few minutes later, the soup was done cooking and it was lunch time!  Since the kids had worked so hard on making it themselves, most of them were very willing to taste it.

Tip: Our princesses brought princess coloring pages with them.  I don't know what prompted them to do that, but I'm glad they did!  It gave the kids something to do in the mess tent while we waited for the soup to finish and cool.

As the kids left, they each got an Airhead candy with the label, "Don't be an Airhead.  Read a Book."

Things I would do different next time:
*Have a bigger mess tent.  It was pretty crowded in there!
*Have hand sanitizer so the kids didn't have to crowd into the kitchen and bathrooms to wash before starting to make the soup.
*Clean my kitchen and bathrooms.  That was pretty embarrassing.
*Make sure everyone is aware of how crazy hot my entire stove gets when one burner is on.  One kid got hurt.  It wasn't a bad burn, thankfully, but it hurt.
*Have juice boxes.  Once we started eating, I realized that I was super thirsty.  So spur of the moment I grabbed a couple bottles of juice from my pantry and started pouring cups for the kids.  They were obviously thirsty, too.  Juice boxes would have just been more convenient.

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