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Winter Dance and Early Literacy

“When a million snowflakes fill the air, twirling, tumbling, spinning, waltzing, you and I join them.”

-- Marion Dane Bauer


Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Richard Jones


Snow is coming and the animals of the forest prepare for winter. Most animals gather food, create burrows for hibernating, or leave the forest altogether. But none of these plans seems right for the fox as he questions what foxes are to do as winter moves in.


This week we are keeping it short and sweet with some simple ideas for developing your child’s early reading skills through word play and story recall. Anytime we read a book with our kiddos, there are so many opportunities for practicing important skills in ways that are fun and inspire a love for stories.


Early Literacy Connections


Rhythm and Rhyme

🔹 Understanding words, sounds, and language formation

🔹 Repetition creates secure foundations for early learning


Sing our Say Goodnight song with your child, going through a few of the animals from the story and remembering together what each animal told the fox. We like to use the ASL signs for each animal during the song, but choose whatever motions work for you and your child. If you choose ASL, here are two sites with easy to navigate searches for each sign - Lifeprint and Handspeak.


Say Goodnight (Tune of Teddy Bear Teddy

Bear - Animals from Winter Dance by Bauer)


Caterpillar, Caterpillar, munch and crunch

Caterpillar, Caterpillar, bunch and scrunch

Caterpillar, Caterpillar, curl up tight

Caterpillar, Caterpillar, say goodnight


Turtle - swim down low, in mud you go


Bat - hang from feet, time to sleep


Squirrel - on a nut spree, in the tree


Hare - change your fur, new color


Black bear - time to sleep, not a peep


(end all creatures above with curl up tight

and say goodnight)


Red fox, Red fox, jump and leap

Red fox, Red fox, doesn’t sleep

Red fox, Red fox, what a sight

Red fox, Red fox, dance all night



Story Recall

🔹 Remembering details and patterns

🔹 Listening comprehension skills


Using either stuffed animals or the printable animals from our storytime lesson plan Animals in Winter, practice story recall with your child. After reading the story, have your child put the animals the fox spoke with in order from first to last. Ask what each animal told the fox to do and discuss how the fox responded. If your child needs to look through the book to recall the story that is okay! Recall takes practice and repetition and understanding that they can use the book to help find information is another wonderful skill to develop.


More Playful Learning


Looking for more ways to support your child’s early literacy skills and foster a love for reading? Join us for storytime! On the third Thursday of each month we meet in the park for outdoor storytime where we read, sing, move and explore in community all while developing important skills to help young readers thrive. You can learn more about the importance of storytime for young children here or find previous storytime lesson plans for home use in our shop.




I’d love to hear which ideas sparked play and joy with your explorers or if you have any other connections for play and learning! Comment below or tag me in your play on Instagram @magnoliaoutoor.

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