My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes

Week Two
I love this book. I don't really know why. Lynley Dodd's illustrations are so simple and every page is a work of art that makes you laugh. The language is so rhythmic and the story is so global! I don't really like cats but this story inspired me to dress as a cat in a box once. Actually I didn't intellectuallise much about which books to read. I just thought of some of the books that touch me and that I've noticed children like. This week we will be making shadow puppets of the various cats. I've been thinking that it would be fun to turn the giant "Not a box" into a little movie theatre. I'm going to cut a hole in one end and make a little box with architect's paper screen and play the movies back into the big box. The kids can make movie tickets and popcorn.

Favourite picture books

Day One
Four children have brought their favourite books in to share. I didn't ask them to or tell their parents. That's interesting. There is a kind of creative synergy that occurs when teaching and learning are at there best, a kind of group electricity that seems to take on it's own momentum. It's happening now. It's fun and a bit dangerous. You don't quite know where it will lead. Today I forgot all about the Kidpix. I read Not a Box again and asked the kids who liked it. All of the children said they liked it except two. "Why don't you like it?" I asked. Both of them felt that the illustrations were too boring. They weren't detailed enough.
Next I read My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes. The children laughed most of the way through. At the end I asked, "What did you think? Any thoughts or comments about this book?" I will listen to my voice recorder to see, but I think every child wanted to come and show their favourite page and tell us why. After about the fifth child I realized that they were all relating the page they liked to their own experiences. The girls said they liked a page because the cat was a girl. We were going to do some more filming but I had a video camera crisis so we will do it tomorrow. When you are working with new equipment or in new programmes it always takes awhile to figure things out and you just don't always have the time or the energy or patience to sort it. The children took photos of their friends with their favourite books and I think we will make a little slide show about books we love and why.

eating technology


Day Two
What did Clint Eastwood say? Make my day. I want to be a cowgirl and I'll go swaggering down the main hall with my two video cameras ready to shoot film. Except I won't be able to watch any of it because I can't get my computer to kindly say hello to my video camera. Either of them.
Today I read My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes again. The kids seem to know it already. They cuddle up on the cushions and eat the rest of their lunch in the sun and I think it must be lovely to be them. They listen and laugh with delight when the cat from Norway gets stuck in the doorway. I told them we would make puppets and asked them to choose a cat. A lot of them want to be the cat who hides in boxes. Nobody wants to be the cat from Spain who flies an aeroplane or the cat from Berlin who plays the violin. I wonder why not.

I asked if any of them thought they could read a picture book. No, they couldn't do that they said. I asked a girl to come and try reading Not A Box and after some persuasion she came up to try to read it to the class. She got quite a surprise to find she could. After that the boy who said he didn't like the book was desperate to read it. Tomorrow.
Later in the afternoon we dressed up again and I filmed some Not a Box episodes of cowboy antics and two gorillas in the zoo. The children are desperate to watch their movies but I can't seem to get the technology to work.
The Cuddle Corner

Boys reading with nana bear

Day Three
I was the cat from Norway stuck in the doorway and now I'm the cat from France who can sing and dance. A kind friend came and helped figure out the video problem and I am unstuck and having a jolly old time playing with the movies.It restores my faith in human adult beings when one of them is so generous. This afternoon was kind of like where the wild things are. A bit crazy and chaotic. I was going to teach the kids to make shadow puppets but I suddenly got an inspiration to paint whiskers on them and act out the story instead. As soon as they had whiskers they turned into howling cats and the big box was rolling along in a wild sea with sailors and cats were running everywhere. It was quite fun making the movie but I think I will plan the next one with a storyboard and shoot scenes with a few kids at a time while the others are outside playing and working on the deck.

It was lovely today to see two boys who normally don't choose to read in the snuggle corner, cuddled up looking at a book together. Another special thing happened. At the end of the day an older boy came to help us pack our bags. He saw us with the video. I had taught him when he was five at another school. It is six years later and here he was remembering details of the films that we made together at Founders with obvious nostalgia. I can't wait to set up the movie theatre and show the kids the movies.


Day Four
I think some smart cookie should research how long it takes a five year old to memorize a good picture book. I could be that cookie. I bet most of the kids in my class could "read"
My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes and Not a Box after a week of listening to it and "playing" it. So what. They learn to read in a way that they love and in a way that seems quite natural to their minds and their development.
Today we checked out all of the countries on the globe. We saw Norway but not the doorway and Spain and France and so forth. I set up the data projector and we watched the unfinished uncut version of our movie. The children couldn't believe it. They were BIG EYED. They wanted to watch it a lot. Of course. We had a much calmer bit of filming while some of the kids enjoyed the afternoon sun building make believe worlds. A much better way to organize the filming. We made a podcast of the kids reading Number One by Joy Cowley. This is having a profound affect on their expressive reading of Big Books. Fun and I like it because it is so easy.
I am a feeling a bit overwhelmed as we cannot find a reliever so that I can take some release to do my research. When will I edit and reflect and step back and get a perspective on things. Which cat am I now? Yup. The one that likes to hide in boxes

Look at those faces. They are the answer to my question. Can making films with children support their connection to learning, to stories?
Watching Our Movie.

My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes
Long Version For Patient Adults and All Children.

Here it is at last! This movie was filmed one funny afternoon. We made a voiceover because the original soundtrack was a bit hard to hear. I forgot to turn the white noise off on the last recording so it has a bit of background shuffling. It is good to just do something. Now I know how I would do it differently. I like the slowness of it and the way the children were having such fun. I didn't think about camera angles or close ups or making a background. Next time. I would bet every child will remember this book!

My Cat Likes to Hide In Boxes.
Shorter Version.
I decided to edit the movie to a much quicker smaller version with written text instead of voiceover. I like it better in some ways but it would be good to learn to do the voiceovers more effectively so that we could combine them.