Eight years and innumerable readings later, we still have that copy of Olivia. Ginger was Olivia for Halloween two years ago. Olivia is each of my girls, in her own way. Because of one stranger's kindness, and of course because of Olivia herself, it is one of my most cherished books in our whole library.
So with only two books left to choose for teaching PeeWees, and with its wealth of PeeWee possibilities, this time around, I chose Olivia.
Synopsis: The book Olivia is part story, part character sketch. At the very outset, we learn that Olivia is especially good at wearing people out. She even wears herself out. Therefore, wearing ourselves out became the objective of our day. Olivia lives with her mother, father, little brother Ian, and a dog and cat. Ian copies her a lot, and sometimes she wants him to leave her alone. In the morning, Olivia gets dressed and has to try everything on. On sunny days, she likes to go to the beach. On rainy days, the art museum. But she doesn't "get" David Hockney's art, claiming, "I could do that in about 5 minutes!" When they get home, she tries, and gets in time-out for painting on the walls. She has a bath, dinner (spaghetti with meatballs), and then negotiates with her mom how many books they will read at bedtime ("5 - 1 - 4 - 2 -3 - OK, three but that's it!") At the end, after reading bedtime stories, Olivia's mom says, "You know, you really wear me out. But I love you anyway." Olivia answers, "I love you anyway too."
Arrival: Drawing from the page that tells who Olivia lives with, I set out the dollhouse, dolls, and some furniture for the kids to play with. I was curious if the boys would like this; I didn't think any of them had a dollhouse at home, but it's actually a very gender neutral toy (unless it's all pink and purple plastic, which ours isn't.) They played great, putting the dolls to bed, walking them up the stairs, cooking in the kitchen, etc. Of course, there was also racing the baby stroller off the roof.
Circle Time: We sang our stand up song, did the ABC's, and I had everyone find their name's letters on the alphabet chart. Then I had them come back up and find their last name's letter; this was a little confusing at first, but we got it sorted out and everyone was successful. For counting to 20, we counted books (since Olivia negotiates how many books with her mom.) Getting better at the teens! Fourteen through sixteen seem the toughest to get through.
We read the book, and pointed out some notable things, like Olivia is a pig, all the different things Olivia tries on when she gets dressed...
After the story, we took off everyone's socks and played "This Little Piggy" with our toes. I couldn't tell if they had done this before. Some of them knew how the words went, but no one seemed accustomed to doing this with their toes - but it was really cute!
Snack: We washed our hands and had, big surprise, spaghetti and meatballs for snack! I was a little worried not everyone would like the meatballs and sauce, but I heard no complaints.
Art: When Olivia really wants her brother Ian to leave her alone, she has to be firm. And you know what that means. A sca-a-a-a-ary mask!
As I helped them all clean up and wash their hands, I gave them the tongue twister "higglety pigglety" to practice saying - it was hilarious!
Activity 1: I wanted to revisit the page that tells about Olivia's family.
flannel board family figures, and made Olivia's family with them - mother, father, sister, brother. Then I had each child come up and make his or her family with the figures. The first time was a little confusing, since the people didn't look exactly like us, but everyone got to do it twice, and the second time through they found it really fun.
Activity 2: Olivia's little brother is always copying her. So we decided to do some copying, too.
We turned to the page where Olivia is wearing everyone, including herself, out, and took turns picking an action to do for "Follow the Leader," or as we called it, "Copy Pig." Each kid chose an action and showed us, then we copied him for a few seconds, then we all shouted, "COPY PIG!" Next kid's turn.
While we shook the ball around, we chanted this rhyme:
Piggy, piggy, piggy,
Piggy piggy POP!
Piggy, piggy, piggy,
Pop, pop, POP!
When everyone started fighting over the ball, we put the ball and parachute away, and sat back down on our mats to re-read the story, after which we did our good-bye chant.
And for the last 5 minutes, even though it had nothing to do with Olivia, we did this:
Those PeeWees really wear me out. But I love them anyway.