Saturday, October 6, 2012

What do Apples and Butterflies Have in Common?

A few years ago my sister went to France and came back with a beautiful picture book La Pomme Et Le Papillon. (It means the apple and the butterfly.)  I love books and wanted her to bring me back a children's book, even though I do not speak French. 
To my surprise and delight there are no words in this book - only illustrations.  The first page is an illustration of the inside of an apple hanging from a tree with a tiny little caterpillar emerging from the core.  The caterpillar slowly eats its way out of the apple and as you flip the pages you continue the caterpillar's adventure as it  hangs down off the apple, lands on a nearby branch and builds a cocoon.  The illustration of the tree shows the passing of time as the leaves change color, fall off the branches and then new leaves develop as the butterfly peaks its head outside of its slumbering home.  At the end of the story, the butterfly flies off to a new blossoming apple tree and lays an egg on an apple blossom.  The cycle begins again.
I was thinking of this book today because it is apple picking season here in New England.  And when I teach thematic classes in autumn I utilitze the idea of picking apples.  The children and I usually talk about reaching to pick the apples, pushing the wagon, rolling down the hill, slicing and crunching apples but never what can happen inside an apple.
Dans la pomme, il y a une petite chenille. (...) - next picture
The mysteries of the unknown, a world within a world - now that is the place that imaginations can really soar like a butterfly!  New ways of approaching a subject can be exciting for student and teacher alike. 
This book's story unfolds with pictures.  It clearly demonstrates that a story can be told elequently without a single word.  This is a great way to tie movement and literacy together.  The students can dance the story.  
And of course there are so many action words that can come out of the story as well: peak, crawl, wiggle, hang, nestle, fall, grow, expand, fly, glide, perch, open, descend - to name a few.  And I bet your students can come up with twice as many by exploring the story with their bodies or by coming up with their own apple adventure.  
Think outside the box and open this book for a new look at using the imagery of apples this autumn season.  And don't forget to come back to it at spring time to add to the discovery and adventure!