A House of Leaves by Kiyoshi Soya: A Tale of Rain and Insect Friends
What would you do if you were caught in a summer shower? The book, “A House of Leaves” by Kiyoshi Soya is a story of a little girl named Sarah who becomes caught in a summer rain and takes shelter under some big leafed plants until the shower stops. While waiting, some insects come to the same spot for protection. Sarah sees a praying mantis, a cabbage butterfly, a beetle, an ant and a ladybug during her wait in her house of leaves.
Through the leaves, Sarah sees the sun come out and knows she is safe to travel back home. She experienced a great science lesson by observing these beautiful insect creatures in nature during her stay in the house of leaves.
This book is a short, gentle story with innocent expressions from Sarah. The beautiful watercolor drawings depict these insects in their natural setting and a teachable moment for Sarah to learn about how these creatures are smart to find shelter from the rain in the house of leaves just like her.
This children’s book was authored by Kiyoshi Soya who was born in Japan in 1935. He loved writing children’s stories, as well as editing books for other authors. His illustrator, Aiko Hayashi was born in Tokyo in 1945. After she graduated from Yokohama National University in Fine Arts, she became a magazine illustrator and then went on to children’s books.
Circle Time Discussion (Literature)
After reading the story, ask your students the following questions:
Have you been caught outdoors in the rain?
What is the difference between a summer shower and thunderstorm?
Where did you take shelter?
Have you ever thought about hiding within a bush with large leaves as the roof?
Which insects visited Sarah?
Do you like insects (bugs)? Which ones?
Tell us about your favorite bug.
You may want to read this short book again, making sure your preschoolers understand the context of the story. What happened first? In the middle of the story? How did the story end?
This story opens up a theme on insects and allows you to partake in various activities across the curriculum. Here are a few to try.
Some Insect Information (Science)
Here are some facts that you can openly discuss with your group. Having some photos of the insects to visualize is helpful.
- Insects are the most numerous kind of animal in the world.
- Insects are many different sizes, shapes and colors.
- Beetles, grasshoppers, bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, ants, mosquitoes, flies and ladybugs are some of the most common bugs.
- An insect has six legs and a jointed body that consists of three distinct parts: the head, thorax (middle body), and abdomen. A good example of this is the ant.
- Most winged insect have four wings (two pairs).
- Some insects are helpful as they produce foods we eat (bees make honey), pollinate plants, eat other insects which are harmful, and a source of food for other animals. However, other insects eat crops and spread disease.
Do the Bug Boogie (Creative Movement)
Dramatize the following verse.
Grasshoppers go jumpily jump, jumpily jump.
Caterpillars crawl humpity hump, humpity hump.
Playful crickets go hoppity hop, hoppity hop.
In the summer happy children like you will go jumpily, humpity, hoppity too!
- Worm wiggle - lie on your stomach and hold arms at your side. Try to move your body forward without using your hands or elbows.
- Grasshopper leap - Squat with your fingers touching the floor. Leap upward and forward and then return to the squatting position.
- Butterfly flutter - move your arms up and down as if you were flying. Do this movement around the room.
- Flight of the bumblebee - move your arms in a figure-eight motion. Pretend to fly around the room making a buzzing sound.
A Green House of Leaves (Art)
Provide the children with white construction paper and green paint. Ask them to make brush strokes and create a variety of leaves on the paper to look like a house of leaves from the story. When the paint is dry, proceed to make ladybugs walking along the leaves. Dip the thumb into red paint and make prints on the painted leaves. When the ladybug prints are dry, use a black marker to draw divisional lines, spots, and eyes on each ladybug.
Beautiful Butterflies (Art and Music)
Explain to your class how butterflies begin as caterpillars and go through changes. This is known as metamorphosis. Sing this song with your class to the tune of “Three Blind Mice.”
Three caterpillars, three caterpillars.
See how they crawl, see how they crawl.
They roll up in a chrysalis,
And wait for metamorphosis,
A signal you wouldn’t want to miss!
Three butterflies, three butterflies.
Butterfly Sun Catcher
Make a beautiful butterfly sun catcher with these easy instructions.
- Take a large sheet of construction paper (any color you choose) and fold it in half.
- Draw a large letter B on the page with the upper part of the B smaller than the bottom part.
- Inside the letter B, cut out two ovals (one in the upper part of the letter and one in the lower half.
- Open the butterfly flat on the table.
- Place a sheet of clear adhesive paper onto the back of the shape.
- Invite the children to sprinkle purchased confetti (or even punched dots from colorful paper) on the sticky side of the paper in the oval holes in each wing.
- When finished, cover the entire shape with another sheet of clear adhesive paper.
- Trim the excess stick paper around the shape.
- Punch a hole in the middle of the top of the butterfly. Insert a piece of pipe cleaner in the hole and twist it to make antennae.