Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building

Written by:Christy Hale

Before Reading

Preview and Predict

We absolutely love this book for the way it juxtaposes images of children building with real architecture from around the world. Before you dive into the story, begin with a discussion about buildings, architecture and the imagination. Flip through the book and take a preview of the story while asking questions like:

What do you see on the cover?

What do you think this book will be about?

Do you like to build things? If so, what do you like to build? What materials do you use? 

Make it very clear that your child is welcome to ask questions at any point, as this should be more of a discussion than a silent story time. Reading should be a two-way street, and that will make it more engaging and fun for your child!


Discuss the Architecture Around You

Talk about how architecture is all around us, that someone was responsible for planning and building the house you live in, your child's school, the grocery store, etc. Ask, "Do you think it is hard to build these buildings? Why/why not? How long do you think it takes? Is there a building that you really like? What does it look like?"

As You Read

Build Vocabulary

As you work through the book, be sure to point out new vocabulary that your child may not be familiar with. Discuss their possible meaning give their placement in the story and the illustrations that they are describing. Also be sure to give plenty of other examples. New vocabulary from Dreaming Up might include:

  1. ANCHOREDTalk about what an anchor is and does. Discuss how an anchor is thrown over the side of a boat and helps to keep a ship from moving and then discuss how if something is anchored, that means that it is being kept in place.
  2. INTERLOCKTalk about parts of the word, by saying "You know what it means for something to be locked, but when things are interlocked, that means that they are locked together. If we hold hands and are fingers are connected, that means that our fingers are interlocked."


Monitor Comprehension

Talk to your child about how the things that the children are creating compare to the structures on the opposite page. Discuss color, shape, size, etc. Then go on to discuss their locations. For example,  when you get to the Box House, discuss the snow on the ground, the mountains in the background, etc. Ask questions like "What shapes do you see? What do you think the building is made of?" 


Shape Poems

Also be sure to point out that the text is formed by shape poems, poems that are created in the shape of the thing that they are describing. Ask your child how the formations of the words are similar to the structures on the opposite page as well.

After Reading

Make Connections

Talk about the book and what your child enjoyed/didn't enjoy, then head to the back of the book and read a few of the descriptions for the structures in the book. These descriptions include their name, location, the year in which they were built, as well as short descriptions of the structures themselves and the main architects on each project. Ask questions like:

What was the book about?

Which building did you like the best? Why? My favorite is... because...

Would you like to be an architect when you grow up? Why/why not?

Extending the Story

Write Your Own Shape Poem

It doesn't have to be about a building, it can be about anything! Create a poem about a flower, the sun, your family, etc. Work together to find rhyming words (or don't if you want to make a poem that doesn't rhyme!) and write out the poem before creating the shape, then you can work together to create the shape of the lines. Here are some examples of shape poems:

 Source: Poets Path

Source: Poets Path

 Source: Mr Cobb's Class Blog

Source: Mr Cobb's Class Blog


Be Your Own Architect

Get hands-on and let your child start building! You can start by creating your own version of each structure using things found around the house. Use the materials shown in the illustrations like the couch cushions, playing cards, popsicle sticks, etc., or get creative and branch out! You can also ask your child about other buildings they know of and have them build those things as well. Talk about the different materials and compare and contrast them. If you're looking for ideas that you can try at home, check out Heidi Songs and  Happy Hooligans for some great ideas.