Meet Mississippi with Laurie Parker
It has been almost a year since we moved to Mississippi and we are slowly but surely feeling at home here and exploring the state. I don't consider myself an expert on all things Mississippi, but I am excited to be representing our current home state in this year's Booking Across the USA Project. This project hosted by Growing Book by Book has brought together bloggers from across the US to share some amazing children's book authors and activities from each of the 50 states.
Despite many authors from Eudora Welty to John Grisham being from Mississippi, there are very few Children's Book authors from the Hospitality State. Laurie Parker, however, is one such Children's Book author. She has authored several books in the State Alphabet Series as well as three other rhyming tales and is known for her distinctive collage illustrations. Our activities exploring our new state fit well with her titles and I am excited to share with you today; where we went, what we read, and how we played:
Since moving here in July of 2014, we have been exploring our new home state of Mississippi and the surrounding area. Being a northerner, I honestly had no idea what to expect when we moved down here. We have found Mississippi to be full of natural beauty, friendly people, and tons of things for families to do. The access to the Gulf Coast, the lush green trees, fun museums, and rich history make this a fun state to explore.
My favorite place to go in Mississippi is the coast. After being thousands of miles from the ocean for my entire life, being just a few short hours from the beach is amazing. The gulf coast doesn't usually have the impressive waves of the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, but it is impressive in size, friendly to children in nature, and lined with beautiful beaches. Check out my Weekend in Biloxi post for family friendly ideas for visiting the coast. I'll share more Explore Mississippi ideas below.
Mississippi Alphabet by Laurie Parker
This is full of Mississippi history and facts in a rhyming, alphabetical format. One could read this as a quick ABC book or really delve in and learn a lot about the state of Mississippi. The illustrations are bright and cheerful collages and the occasional black and white photo. Laurie Parker has authored several in a series of books about Southern states and they are all equally sweet and informative.
Her book inspired me to share with you some of our favorite things for families to do in Mississippi and a couple that the Mississippi Alphabet has encouraged us to add to our list.
10 Places for Families in Mississippi
B is for Biloxi, International Ballet, Hot Air Balloons, and the Blues.
E is for Eudora Welty. I would love to visit her gardens.
F is for Festivals and Fairgrounds. We had a blast at the State Fair.
I is for Islands. Ship Island off the coast of Biloxi is on my list.
M is for Magnolia. We are lucky to be able to see one of these gorgeous trees in our backyard.
N is for Natchez Trace. Beautiful place for driving, biking, or running.
O is for Old Capitol which was a fun place to learn about MS history. I also want to visit Oxford where Ole Miss is located.
R is for Resevoir and the River, of course.
T is for sweet tea. Kind of a must if you visit.
Z is for the Jackson Zoo.
Our twins are fascinated by the alphabet right now, so they grabbed on to the concept of assigning places a letter quickly. They got in the habit of asking me what places started with when we were in the car. "What does the Museum start with Mama?" or "Does the Kroger start with a K like Kangaroo?" We are not quite to the place where they are ready to create their own alphabet book yet, but when they get that old, books like Mississippi Alphabet are a great spring board for creating your own Adventures ABC Book. Once we have mastered the alphabe a little better I will be sure to share ours!
Our twins have been practicing recognizing, saying, and writing upper and lowercase letters. Their interest in the alphabet has encouraged me to set up some alphabet explorations for them during our snack time and afternoon play time. This simple invitation was one of the first:
Set Up: Gather an alphabet puzzle (we love this Melissa and Doug one) and some cards with letters printed on them. You could make these yourself. We have these Eric Carle Animal Flash Cards and while I have never used them as flashcards, they have been integrated into many learning activities. I like them because they are made out of thick, sturdy board that doesn't easily get torn or bent. Lay these materials out attractively on a table or floor mat.
Activity: Depending on your child's abilities there are different ways to use the materials. I set it up as a simple matching activity as presented above. They were encouraged to pick a card and match the letters from the puzzle to the letters on the card. At 3 they saw this and interpreted the activity as I had planned.
*Younger children might simply manipulate the materials, feel the letters, and maybe be interested in having you name the letters for them.
*Older children or children more familiar with the letters and letter sounds, might be interested in matching a word to the letter. I have since presented this with the cards turned around. On the other side are animals for each letter. They would then match the O to the Ostrich, the D to the Duck, etc.
Clean Up: Return the letters to the puzzle and cards to their pile or basket. I encourage you to leave these materials out or accessible for several days. Repetition deepens understanding with the added time for practicing a concept.
Curious about other states? My blogging pals have an author and activity for every state so be sure to check out all of the Booking Across the USA Posts!
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