Sometimes as adults, we see our kids being fearless and we forget that the world can be a big scary place for them. My daughter almost never shows fear, so when she gets scared and hides behind my knee, it sometimes takes me by surprise. It is our job as parents to help them develop the courage to take chances and try new things, while still allowing them to be afraid sometimes. (I will totally admit to still being afraid of spiders… and bats…). The book Free Rain is a great jumping off point to teach them about bravery and trying new things!
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Free Rain is a new children’s book written by Daniel Wentzel and illustrated by José Lucio. It tells the story of a group of chickens who are huddled in their cages on the farm, when they hear that their farm is going to be free range. (They hear the words “Free Rain”, which explains the title and confusion of the chickens!). When their cages suddenly open, they must decide if they’re going to be brave enough to venture into the world. While some of the chickens are excited by the idea, two of them are firmly against it. This beautifully illustrated book follows the chicken as they venture into the unknown, meeting new creatures and discovering just how brave they can be.
Free the Chickens!
Gross Motor – This is a fun way to bring the book to life, while getting kids up and moving! Set up a box or basket of colored plastic eggs on one end of a room. Tell kids that they have to set the eggs free, but they have to follow the directions to do it. When you say go, have them run to the basket and get a certain colored egg. Have them take it to the other end of the room to set it free. You can have them hop, skip or jump to the end of the room, roll the eggs across the floor, carry it on a spoon, or anything else you can come up with.
Feather Races – Using just a few feathers and some masking tape, you can have hours of fun! Set up a starting line and finish line out of masking tape on each end of a room or tabletop. Set a feather on the line for each person participating. Use different colors if possible to keep them straight! When you say go, have them start blowing their feathers toward the finish line.
Egg-cellent Matching Skills!
Color Matching – The brightly colored chickens in the vivid illustrations inspired me to create this matching game. To set up the game, you will need to cut chicken shapes out of colored construction paper. I have included a printable tracer to make this easier. For each chicken that you cut out, you will need a matching egg with the color word written on it. You could write the same color on as many eggs as you would like to make the game more interesting. Put all of the eggs in a pile and have kids sort through them and match the correct color word to the correctly colored chicken.
Match the Eggs!
Homophone Puzzles – The chickens in the book hear the words “free range” as “free rain”. This leads to some confusion among the chickens. While “range” and “rain” are not homophones (they just sound similar), you can use this opportunity to talk to your kids about words that have the same pronunciation, but have different meanings. Cut out several egg shapes from white paper. You will need to fit two words on them, so you will want to make them big enough. Write a pair of homophones on each egg, then cut them down the middle like a broken egg. You should have two pieces of egg, each with a word on it. Repeat this process with the remaining eggs, making sure that each egg is cut in half in a slightly different pattern. Have kids sort through the eggs to complete the egg puzzles by correctly matching the homophones.
This game also worked for my daughter who is only 22 months. Since she can’t read yet, she didn’t understand the homophones, but she enjoyed putting the egg puzzles together. You can easily adapt this game for young kids by having them match the broken pieces. This can also be adapted for other skills by changing up what you write on the eggs (capital and lower case letters, numerals and number words, etc).
Fun with Feathers!
Sensory Bin – The chickens in this story (and the leftover Easter eggs around the house) inspired me to create a sensory bin for my daughter with brightly colored feathers and plastic eggs. She had a lot of fun digging through it to find hidden objects or pulling out certain colors of eggs. She also enjoyed playing with the feathers and talking about how soft they were.
Fine Motor – The plastic eggs that we still have around from Easter have holes in the bottom of them, which made them perfect for some fine motor practice. Given a pile of eggs and matching feathers, my daughter first matched the feathers to the same colored eggs. She then stuck the feathers into the holes. I had to hold the eggs steady for her, but she was determined to get the feathers into the holes.
Free Rain is a fun book which is easy to adapt for several learning opportunities. The story encourages the reader to take chances and be brave. The vivid illustrations will inspire laughter and smiles all around. You can purchase the book from Amazon through the links above, or you can purchase an autographed copy from José Lucio’s website.