Friday, May 24, 2013

Camping in the Inner City

This past Friday I had the pleasure of sharing my book, When You Are Camping, with almost 70
families at a special retreat hosted by the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Family Care Connection.  Held at Camp Guyasuta, a boy scout retreat on the Allegheny River and pretty much smack dab in the middle of Pittsburgh and its suburbs, families enjoyed a special morning of outdoor activities beneath a canopy of trees and along a rambling creek.  Proving, that you don't have to go very far to enjoy a little nature.

When I was writing When You Are Camping I knew that the title would primarily appeal to families who have already made camping a family experience and tradition, but I really wanted it to be a book that a teacher, librarian, or caregiver could share with children who had never gone camping.  I felt that it was really important to include experiences that children who had never slept outside in a tent could relate to: chasing moths, seeing fireflies, walking in the rain and finding a great mud puddle.

FCC's families live deep, deep, deep in the city-- post-industrial neighborhoods in the heart of the Rust Belt kind of deep city.  Only a small handful of families said they had gone camping or fishing. Nonetheless, I couldn't have hoped for a more engaged and excited group of kids who thrilled at recalling how they had seen deer in a cemetery, watched bugs in their yard, or caught fireflies in the park.   Sharing my book with Family Care Connection's families on Friday, I knew that I had achieved that goal of writing a story that any child, any where could enjoy.

If you're doing a camping program this summer here is the copy from the handout that I passed out, including rhymes and an easy literacy-building exercise.  I can't wait to post some photos from the event as soon as possible!  Have a great summer.

Today We Met Author, Anne Lee, and This is What We Did…                                     
We read When You Are Camping by Anne Lee

We learned a rhyme, I AM GOING CAMPING:
I am going camping (point to self),
Time to pack (point to watch or wrist),
My tent (cup hands in a triangle like a tent),
my sleeping bag (hold hands as if sleeping), and a snack (eat).
I’ll sit by the fire, warm and bright, (wiggle fingers and rub hands together)
And tell ghost stories (wave hands eerily)
‘Til I say good night! (wave and hold hands as if sleeping).

We are building narrative skills and vocabulary by talking about the story and what we see around us!

There are many different animals in When You Are Camping.  Which ones do you remember?  What animals do you see in your yard or at the park?  What are they doing?

We sang a song and clapped along to the beat, Let's Go Camping (to the tune of Where is Thumbkin):
Let's go camping, let's go camping.
Pack the tent, pack the tent.
We will all go hiking.
We will all go swimming.
Let's have fun! Let's have fun!
(Ask the audience for things to pack.  Repeat the song and pack different items each time)

You put one marshmallow in, you take one marshmallow out,
You put one marshmallow in and you shake it all about!
You do the hokey-pokey and you turn yourself around.
That’s what it’s all about!
(Repeat with more marshmallows or different foods….Have fun!)