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Recently, I received a copy of My Big Tree by Maria Ashworth to post an unpaid review on this blog. This book is a fun counting story featuring various animals who can be found in a tree. In addition to providing children with a charming story of a bluebird in a tree, the story allows preschoolers the opportunity to practice counting with 1-to-1 correspondence. The picture book also has an authors note that describes some of the characteristics of the animals depicted.
The illustrations in this picture book are simple, but that’s not a bad thing. My four-year-old enjoyed the images as well as the story. I think it’s an important thing for using the book as a preschool math enrichment resource that the animals are all uniform. This makes it easier for children to make the 1-to-1 connections necessary for developing number sense. The illustrations are also colorful, with each of the animal species having its own vivid color distinct from the others.
In addition to asking the child to count along while you read the book, here are some fun ideas to stretch the book into learning and play:
- Collect some animal figures such as these by Safari, Ltd. and identify a squirrel, bear, owl, bat, mouse, opossum, frog, snake, bee and bird. My local zoo gift shop has a bin where you can select your animals to fill a Toob for a discounted price. Have your child match up the animal figure to the animal in the book.
- Ask your child to count how many animals all together are on each page. Once you have the two black bears join the blue bird, you could phrase it like this: “There was one bird in the tree, now there are two bears in the tree also. How many animals all together are in the tree?”
- See if your child can recall the different animal sounds from the animals who join in the tree. Play “who said it?” Make a noise and see if your child can remember who made the noise – or try the reverse – name an animal and ask if your child remembers what sound that animal makes.
What activities would you come up with to have your children do alongside reading this book?