Have you read Kevin Henkes’ picture book Chrysanthemum? I hadn’t until last week. In fact, I even missed it in my attempt to check out as many of Henkes’ books from the library as possible for this month’s Virtual Book Club post. But, after seeing several great name recognition activities based on Chrysanthemum, I decided to read the book and create: Chrysanthemum themed Flower Sensory Bottles.
In Henkes’ book Chrysanthemum, a mother and father know that their daughter is perfect and wonderful so they choose a name to reflect just that: Chrysanthemum. Well, little Chrysanthemum (who happens to be a cute mouse . . . but you probably already guessed that) LOVES her name until the day she begins school. At school, she realizes (thanks to some smart mouthed classmates) that her name is long and that she is named after a flower. I won’t spoil the ending, but it involves a winsome teacher and a sweet surprise.
So, I figured that a book all about names, spelling, and flowers would be a perfect chance to sneak a letter and name recognition activity in with my preschooler.
Just in case, I haven’t mentioned it before. My preschooler has a severe case of alphabetphobia. I noticed the early symptoms when he was three and refused to play Starfall because he “didn’t like letter games.” Last time, I showed him letters in his name, he informed me that learning the letters of his name was boring and proceeded to make up his own letters and see if I could guess them. All I’m trying to say is: Letter themed activities in my home have to be pretty interesting to engage my little critic.
To set up the activity, I brought out our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom sensory bin (which basically consists letters in various shapes and sizes).
I placed artificial flowers in three empty plastic bottles and used letter stickers to write the names of the flowers on the bottle. Since my child is still in the beginning stages of learning letters and words, I chose short flower names: Rose, Daisy, and Mum. (Sorry, Chrysanthemum, your name is too long for this activity. But, we still like it.)
I talked to my child about how each of the flowers had a different name and showed him the letters while explaining the sounds that they make. We then hunted through the bin to find the letters that went in each of the flower’s names to place in that flower’s bottle. I mainly emphasized the beginning letter of each name with him as we looked through the letters. (Note: In retrospect, I wish I would have used all capital letters and the same color of stickers when labeling the bottles so that recognizing the letters would have been easier.)
As you can see from the photo above, he ended up distracted by some foam letter stickers that I had placed in the bin. Rather than trying to work against his interests, I allowed him to stick letters on a piece of paper while I talked to him about the letters that I was finding and placing in the bottles. He also ended up with letters all over his hands and forehead.
Activities like letter themed sensory play are great for kids that aren’t quite ready to learn letters, because touching and looking at the letters prepares their mind to recognize the symbols faster once they are ready.
Once the sensory bottles were completed, we put the lids back on and played with the bottles by rattling them around and looking at them. Later, I added some rice to them, and now they are spelling Look-and-Find bottles.
After we finished making the flower bottles, I let him make his own sensory bottle with his name on it. He decided to put feathers, pom-poms, and sequins in his sensory bottle.
And, he misspelled his name. He (unlike Chrysanthemum) only has three letters in his name. But, as he informed me . . . he likes his name misspelled. “It looks better that way.”
But, he doesn’t realize that I’m smarter than he thinks. I figured out how to get him to practice his letters. And I also know now what I have long suspected, that he does know how to spell his name.
This activity would also make a lovely Chrysanthemum themed sensory bin. You could write your child’s name and some flower names on a card and let your child search for the letters while playing in the bin.
For more Chrysanthemum themed activities see:
- Julie at Creekside Learning has a whole set of hands-on learning activities, including a “Flower Garden of Names”.
- On Ready. Set. Read!, you can download a free Chrysanthemum themed printable that has spaces for your child to practice writing his/her name.
- Wise Owl Factory has a free set of Chrysanthemum themed worksheets.
- And Deborah Stewart at Teach Preschool made Chrysanthemum “Name Puzzles” and a special name tracing activity. (The best part is her activity has an accidentally misspelled name too. I love it!)
- You can buy Chrysanthemum and find more of Kevin Henkes’ books on Amazon.
Be sure to also check out my Kevin Henkes’ Old Bear themed Sensory Bottles and Sensory Bin.
I would love to hear what you think? Do any of your preschoolers have alphabetphobia? Maybe we should start a support club!
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