The moon seems to take on magical properties in the winter time — it glows just a little brighter during the winter months. This could be why Owl Moon is one of my favorite books for December reading. Written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr, Owl Moon tells the story of a little girl and her father searching for owls (also known as owling) one snowy, winter night. Their trip through the woods is lit only by the glowing moon. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I promise Owl Moon deserves a place on your bookshelf this winter. Here at Jumpstart, we’ve come up with a few Owl Moon related activities to extend learning well beyond the pages of the book.
Owling at Home
Gather objects of different shapes and sizes, such as pictures of owls or a child’s favorite plush animal, and scatter them throughout your home. Turn off the lights and let your flashlights light the way. Let the child lead the scavenger hunt as you embark on your own owling experience. Be sure to walk very softly; you don’t want to disturb any owls or other critters that may be hiding! Make sure you stop to call the owls too, “whoo-whoo-who-who-who-whooooooo!”
The illustrations in Owl Moon provide a rich backdrop for this sweet story. Gather some dark blue construction paper, black and brown crayons, and white chalk. Using the black and brown crayons, draw your trees. Be sure to make them different shapes and sizes, just like in the story. Use the white chalk to add snow on the branches and the ground. You can also draw some of the animals seen throughout the book: a fox, owl, mouse, and a raccoon. As you draw, ask questions about what animals would live in the forest, where those animals would live, and what they would do to keep warm during the cold winter months.
Our Own Owls
Whoooo has ever made an owl before? Now is your chance! Swirl together brown, gray, and white paint on a paper plate. Dunk the palm of your hand into the paint mixture and then place your hand, with fingers close together, down on a piece of construction paper. Wash your hands while you let the paint dry. Once it has dried, cut two circles out of construction paper for the eyes and small triangle for the beak. Glue the eyes and beak onto your owl and draw a tree branch for your owl to sit on. Using a crayon or marker, invite children to write a story about their owls.
Head over to your local library and explore books about snow, the moon, or owls! The possibilities are endless! Ask the librarian for help finding new winter-inspired books and be sure to ask about books like Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan, Stellaluna by Janell Cannon, or Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes.
These activities are sure to keep any child, no matter how big or small, happy and engaged this winter. As you take part in these activities, be sure to ask open ended questions that start with how, what, where, or why. Participate in playing and follow children’s lead in activities and conversations. Use detailed descriptions and rich language to acknowledge children’s comments and extend what children are saying. Stay in the moment and enjoy!