I can't take complete credit for this birthday post.  My daughter turned my simple idea for an activity into something really special for her great-grandparents.  In fact, this wasn't the only time this week that I was impressed by the ideas of children.  I was lucky enough to have a few children check out one of my current book projects.  Their ideas helped me make a few key changes to my illustrations which really improved those pages.  I find the creativity and thoughtfulness of children quite amazing. 

Jim Aylesworth learned what makes a great picture book from the children he encountered during his 25 years as a teacher.   "Rhythm, rhyme, and repetition are three of the elements that young children like best in their books. I learned that this is true by reading hundreds and hundreds of books out loud to my students." (Ayles.com).  His biography page on his website shares more about the influence his students had on his writing. "Their enjoyment of his stories encouraged him to persist in pursuing his dream of being a children's book writer.  It was in the classroom that he realized the power of books." He also credits his students with helping him live up to his own words, "Never give up."  It was the children in Jim Aylesworth's life that lead him to a successful career of publishing over 30 books for children.

Our favorite book this week by Jim Aylesworth was The Full Belly Bowl.  It is a story of an older man that receives a bowl as a gift. He is given a warning to use it wisely, pour it out when finished, and store it upside down when not in use.  The man learns that it is a magic bowl when he uses it to hold his stew.  The bowl remained full even as he ate more and more. Then one morning, the man awakes to a house full of spiders and realizes that he left the bowl out all night for the spiders to crawl in. He man learns that the bowl is able to multiply anything that he places in and removes -- strawberries, buttons, and even coins!

Jim Aylesworth said, "If my books somehow inspire a teacher to do an extension lesson, that would please me...Writing children's books is my way of being the teacher beyond the walls of my classroom for children that I may never know." (Patricia Newman). My children were so engaged during the reading of The Full Belly Bowl that I was inspired to do an extension activity.  We ventured to make our own papier mache Full Belly Bowls.

I researched many blogs on Pinterest on how to make papier mache bowls. I learned to cover a bowl with plastic wrap to use as a mold, and then apply the papier mache.  There were many blogs that suggested covering the outside of your bowl and many others that said cover the inside.  We tried both and found that we preferred to cover the outside of the bowl as it was easier to apply the paper strips and had a quicker drying time. - Click Here to Read More -

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