My good friend, author and illustrator, Samantha Bell, graced me with her book Firefly Night at our critique group. It came just in time for the unit I was teaching about the autumn night. My unit included constellations, moon phases, and nocturnal animals. That sounds like a tall order for four-year-olds, but finding the right literature simplifies the teaching. Nursery rhymes like Hey Diddle Diddle and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star along with a saved copy of National Geographic Young Explorer (May 2009) and Seeing Stars by Dandi Daley Mackall were important components of the unit.
I’d like to share some of the activities we enjoyed with this unit. Each child cut a moon phase of choice and glued a cow to the moon. These Hey Diddle Diddle illustrations we hung from our ceiling.
Each child made a chalk outline of anything on black construction paper. Then star stickers were added to create constellations for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. These were the beginning of our night bulletin board.
Finding a simple book for nocturnal animals is not always easy. That’s why Firefly Night was such a special gift. The simple rhyming text hooked the children’s interest. The unique scratch illustrations seemed to jump off the page. Creating our own scratch illustrations of nocturnal animals proved to be the hit of the week. We used crayons to heavily coat ½ sheet of cardstock. Then, we completely painted over the crayon with black tempera paint. After the paint dried, we used small round craft sticks to scratch away a figure of a favorite nocturnal animal and a few fireflies twinkling in the night. We added these to the bottom of our bulletin board to create a complete night scene with moons dancing around the room.
Firefly Night is written for readers 7-10 years old, but is easily comprehended as a read aloud for children 4-6 years old. This unit proved to be an amazing learning opportunity of God’s autumn night with lots of literacy fun!
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? Psalms 8:3,4.