More Fun with Nursery Rhymes!

Nora is exploring Nursery Rhymes!  At 18 months she loves to play with some plastic Humpty Dumpty and Old Woman in the Shoe toys.  She has no concern about memorization or rhyming – she just loves to manipulate the toys and yell out “Humpy Dumpy!”  But I know that she is developing essential language skills when she explores the rhythm and patterns of these rhymes.   She is gaining phonemic awareness as she plays with words, she is learning vocabulary when I explain words like broth, fleece, fiddle and curds and whey.   She is starting to sing some of the rhymes and she echoes the inflection of our voices as we emphasize different parts of the rhymes.  Nursery Rhymes are part of our culture and I think it is important for children to experience them.  In Kindergarten these rhymes can be used to enhance early reading skills in lots of ways.

One of my favorite ways to use Nursery Rhymes was to retell them.  Each rhyme is really a miniature story that children can act out, sing or retell from memory.  They gain confidence in retelling when they are repeating something they are so familiar with.  I was very excited to find some wonderful clipart images of Nursery Rhymes on my Kidoodlez Early Years CD.   Most of the pictures I am sharing are from this CD, please visit them at

Here are some pictures of the characters from a variety of rhymes that could be used as necklaces or stapled onto headbands.  When the children act out these short rhymes they are speaking, listening and moving.  Because they are so short it is easy to take turns and let lots of children actively participate.

HumptyThe child playing Humpty Dumpty could sit on a low table or stool, then “fall” off!



MuffetA stool could be used as a tuffet., along with a bowl and spoon for the curds and whey!

JackJill The children could hold onto a bucket and pretend to climb up a hill,


You could draw a large shoe shape on paper for all the children to try to fit into!


For this retelling I would put moveable hands on the clock so the children can turn the hands and point to 1:00.

Hey Diddle

Hey Diddle 2 Of course the cow would need a moon made from something like yellow construction paper to jump over!

Boy Blue

Boy Blue 2

It would be fun if they had a real horn to blow, and you could cut out some corn for the corn field and flowers for the meadow!  The haystack could be taped onto a chair and Little Boy Blue could “sleep” behind it. 

NimbleI had an antique looking metal candle holder that we used with this rhyme.  As each child jumped over we changed the rhyme to include his or her name.  “Owen be nimble, Owen be quick!”

You could also make stick puppets with these characters by taping them onto paint sticks or tongue depressors.

I also created some small stand up figures to go along with each Nursery Rhyme.  You could run these off as they are, or cut them apart and use them as stick puppets too!   Children can manipulate these figures as they retell the rhyme.

Humpty Dumpty


Here is Humpty’s wall along with the haystack from Little Boy Blue.

wall haystack

Little Boy Blue 

Boy blue

Old Mother Hubbard 

Mother hub

cupboard hill 

Jack and Jill

Jack Jill

Jack Be Nimble


Little Miss Muffet

Muffet spider 

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Mary Lamb 

Hey Diddle Diddle


Diddle 2 

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

woman shoe

Tuffet shoe

Here is an example of the stand up figures from Little Boy Blue.


I did a bit of cut and pasting to make pictures that the children could cut out and put together in the right sequence.  Using these pictures would also be helpful for kids learning the rhymes.

Mary Lamb sequence

Little boy blue seq

Humpty Dumpty Sequence 

I also used this great clipart from DJ Inkers to make a couple of  rebus stories for the children to read. 


Humpty rebus 

Mother Hubbard rebus 

Nursery Rhymes provide great practice with concepts about print, one to one word correspondence and early reading.  Because the children sing and memorize these rhymes most of them are successful “reading” them.  I loved putting the words into a pocket chart or posting a large copy of the rhymes on the wall for children to read.  I put together this sheet of characters that could be taped onto tongue depressors or popsicle sticks to make reading pointers.  Great for reading the room! 

Nursery rhyme pointers


I was thinking that I would also like  to keep a set of these sticks in a can at circle time.  It would be fun to have a child pull out a rhyme for the class to remember and recite when you have a few minutes to fill.


Here is a die I made that you could use to reinforce the rhymes or put at a center.  You could run this off on cardstock and tape it together.  When I wanted to make a cube that was more sturdy I got 2 empty milk cartons from the school cafeteria.  I cut them off so they were square cubes, and pushed one inside the other.  Then you could cover it with paper or contact paper, or just glue the pictures onto each side.  These milk carton cubes are almost indestructible!


I also made this little board game as another opportunity to practice the rhymes.  The children could use buttons or coins as markers, and a spinner or die.

Board game 

Here is another activity, the children need to identify which pictures are from the same Nursery Rhyme.  There are 2 pictures that go along with the first picture in each row.  The children cut them out and glue them on so there are 3 in a row from each different rhyme.

Matching game 2

Matching game 1 

I don’t really think that Nursery Rhymes are the best way to introduce or teach the skill of rhyming because there are really not very many rhyming words in these chants, and the rhymes are far apart.  But they can be good for reinforcing rhyming.   For this activity the children cut apart the pictures and find the 2 words that rhyme and then glue them next to each other on the recording sheet.

rhyming game 2

rhyming game 1

I found these small fold up books at Kidzone, please visit their site for more great ideas!






I hope you can use some of these ideas to have fun with Nursery Rhymes with the children in your life too!


More Fun with The Very Hungry Caterpillar


Our community library hosted another great family event this week, this time all the activities were based on Eric Carle’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Last year I shared some of the ways I used this wonderful picture book with my Kindergarten classes, check out the link under the Insects section if you are interested.  After this terrific evening I have more great ideas to share.   The kids loved getting to meet the giant caterpillar, and they even got a chance to dance with him!  And I got a shameless opportunity to share a picture of my youngest granddaughter!

One of the children’s librarians began the evening by retelling the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar using a flannelboard, felt food pieces and a wonderful sock type Caterpillar puppet.  The felt pieces all had large slits cut in them so they fit over the sock caterpillar on the librarian’s arm.  Very cute!

After that parents and children were free to explore all the projects and activities that had been prepared and set up around the large community room.  It was very well organized and clear instructions were posted on each table giving directions for the craft or game.  Oh – and one of my favorite ideas – they set out adhesive name tags for the children to wear, and they were all punched with several holes, I heard several parents and children laughing and enjoying how the caterpillar must have nibbled on them!


The first activity my grandchildren decided to do was making Hungry Caterpillar bookmarks.  They used red and green Bingo markers to make their caterpillar on a strip of card stock, then they used a hole punch to make nibble holes, and a hole to tie a ribbon at the end.  I loved having kids use hole punches in Kindergarten, I think it is a great way to help develop hand strength which is so important for fine motor control.  They had a new kind of hole punch for the children to use – they were easy to squeeze and most of the children were able to punch independently.  I am sure I need one of these!


Here is 2 year old Lily’s bookmark!


The librarians had made large cardboard cutouts of some of the foods that the caterpillar ate.  They were cut out of corrugated cardboard and painted.  The parents held them up and the children had so much fun crawling through the holes.

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My favorite project of the evening was making butterfly wings!  The project had been prepared ahead of time by cutting open brown grocery bags, they were shaped so they were larger at the outsides and a bit narrower in the center.


On the back of the grocery bag, the inside of the wings, they attached 2 handles, one on each end.


The set out glue sticks and small squares of tissue paper, along with crayons to decorate the wings.  They decorated the sides of the bag that did not have the handles.  Glue sticks are by far the most convenient, but a lot of the tissue paper squares fell off because the children didn’t press them into the glue.  I used to use watered down glue and paint brushes, the tissue paper adhered more easily, but sometimes they had to be left to dry awhile and that would not work for the library program.

photo-108 photo-113 photo-112

But the most fun part was using the wings when they were done!  The children held onto the handles and the wings went across their back.  When they moved their arms the wings flapped in and out!  It was so cute!

photo-101 photo 4 photo-105

Another fun idea was making pompom caterpillars, glued onto a spring clip clothespin.  The jiggly eyes had already been glued onto the red pompoms.

photo-132 photo-131

The children had fun “feeding” the hungry caterpillar a variety of colors and sizes of pompoms.  This encouraged even my little ones to recall the food from the story – they called the purple pompoms “plums,” the red ones were “apples,” etc.

photo-129 photo-128


The children used dry erase markers for the final activity.  I loved the idea of gluing large pompoms on the ends of the markers as erasers.

photo-99 photo-95

They provided a laminated paper with the numerals 1 – 5.  The children needed to remember the foods at the beginning of the story, and draw them.  Then they put on a cute caterpillar glove (another great idea – the caterpillar was made of felt and glued onto the pointer finger of the glove), and pointed to each food as they retold the story.  At the bottom of the page there was a butterfly that was covered with dry erase marker and they had to rub off the marker to reveal the butterfly.


So I see the fruit on this paper were not drawn in the right order – of course that wasn’t done by my grandchildren!  Mostly because I prompted them!  It might have helped to have a copy of the book close by in case children needed to check out which food came next, but it really didn’t matter anyway – the whole idea was to think about the story and to have fun!


It was such a fun time!  Thanks and hugs to the Commerce Township Community Library, and all the dedicated, talented librarians who provide wonderful programs like this for our kids!


The Gingerbread Man!

Fairy Tales are one of my favorite kinds of stories to retell, and I especially love telling stories with a refrain that encourages the children to chime in.  Of course these stories are also great for acting out.  There are so many different versions of The Gingerbread Man, and so many take-off stories like Gingerbread Baby, etc.  Here are a couple that I used.



The characters are often different, and sometimes the story ends in a different way, but the basic idea is that they bake a gingerbread man and he runs away.

Here are some pictures of the characters from one version that I used to make necklaces or headbands for kids to act out the story.  Sometimes I reduced the size of the pictures and mounted them on popsicle sticks to make stick puppets too.  You could also glue them onto an upside down paper lunch bag and make puppets that way.













Here is a little game that can be used to retell the story.  After coloring and cutting out the Gingerbread Man and Fox, fold them so they stand up and can “move” along the gameboard.


Here are pictures that can also be used to sequence and retell the story:



Along with our reading, acting out and retelling of this story we made cinnamon applesauce Gingerbread Men ornaments (equal parts cinnamon and applesauce – then cut with a cookie cutter).  We also cut out gingerbread men shapes and used paint and markers to decorate them.  Afterward. each child would write a short sentence about something or someone that he or she could outrun.



I would make a display of this writing along with their paper decorated Gingerbread Men.  On cooking day we sometimes made real Gingerbread men to eat too!

I know that I often felt like I was in this story right about this time of year saying  Run, Run, as fast as you can!

I hope you are able to slow down and enjoy this special time with your children!



Hooray for Books!

I received a nice comment recently from CanadianParent, and she asked if I have a list of favorite books to read to Preschoolers and Kindergartners.  Children and books are two of my very favorite things, so I gave it some consideration the last few days.  First I would like to show you an idea for how I organized my books.  When I was teaching I think I had more books than our school library.  Other teachers sometimes came to borrow them, and I wanted to be able to find books quickly and easily.   This is not how I organized my classroom library for the children to use, this was how I stored books in my cupboards.

I bought a large box of these cardstock pocket style file envelopes from an office supply store.

I started out using lighter weight folders but I found that these held up for years.  I bought the kind that could expand to 1 or 1 1/2 inches so lots of books could fit inside.

Then I used a sharpie marker to label the pockets.

I organized my books in 2 basic ways – by author and by subject or type of books.   My leveled books were usually always out in the room.  I had one cupboard containing books that were sorted by author, these folders were in alphabetical order.  In another cupboard I had books by themes like ocean, five senses and ecology; as well as genres such as alphabet books, fairy tales, math books, etc.  I put the folders containing thematic/holiday books in the order I usually used them during the school year.  The genre folders were on other shelves.  I also had some folders for books I used for writer’s workshop and reader’s workshop.  So many books!!   Sometimes I had so many books I needed two folders for the same author or subject.  Sometimes I had just too many books in a category, so I put the books on the shelf between two folders that were labeled.

Of course I had a bunch of books that I just couldn’t part with that didn’t fit easily into any of those categories, so I had another cupboard with dividers labeled A-Z and I filed those books either by title or by an important word in the title.

So … on to my favorite books!

How can you choose?  There are so many wonderful books available.  This list is by no means complete – I love hundreds of books, and there are new fantastic books published all the time.  But I hope maybe someone will find a new favorite among these titles that I loved sharing with Kindergartners.

My very favorite children’s author is Tomie de Paola.

Here are a few of my favorites!  The Art Lesson and Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs are true stories of Tomie’s childhood.  Bill and Peet is a fun adventure story about loyalty.  Now One Foot… is very touching about a special relationship between a child and grandparent.  Pancakes for breakfast is a wordless book that is great for looking at detail, predicting, and just enjoying the story.  Andy, That’s My Name is great when you are working on word families.  If you aren’t very familiar with Tomie de Paola’s great work you are in for a treat!  His illustrations are easily recognizable, and you might notice how many books written by other author’s he has illustrated too!

My next favorite author is Leo Lionni.  Both of these authors are featured in exhibits at the Eric Carle Picture Book Museum that I mentioned in an earlier post.

Little Blue and Little Yellow is a fun story to introduce color blending – I always followed up by finger painting with yellow and blue.   Six Crows, Tico and It’s Mine are great stories for acting out and retelling – and great object lessons in getting along.  Fish is Fish is full of color and imagination – I gave the children a fish tracer, and after they traced and cut out a fish they decorated it to look like a cow-fish or a house-fish or a police officer-fish.  Frederick teaches that everyone needs to contribute and help, Alexander the Wind Up Mouse learns that what you wish for isn’t always better than what you have.

Another author that I love is Kevin Henkes.   He addresses that beloved blanket so many children have in Owen.  He also deals with disappointments, taking risks, sibling rivalry and lots of other topics that young children identify with.

I loved these Pat Hutchins books too.  For Good Night Owl we made a construction paper owl, and wrote about the kind of things that kept the children from being able to fall asleep.  We made maps of the farm in Rosie’s Walk and retold the story with small paper hens and foxes.  This is another great story to act out, but you need to make or collect some props.  The Doorbell Rang is a great math story, and the Monster story is just fun.

Ezra Jack Keats is another great author.

The Snowy Day is fun to act out right at circle time, pretending to make a snowball and put it in your pocket, walking with your toes pointing in and pointing out … There is such great language to retell and enjoy.  When I made time to read it over and over the children started to use the vocabulary and talk about it when they were out on the playground in the snow.  We had a class pet show and the book fit right into our activity.  Peter’s Chair is great when a family is having a new baby.

Mercer Mayer was one of my own children’s favorite authors.  They absolutely loved this alphabet book:

He is also well known for Nightmare in My Closet – we had fun making up “nightmares” out of scrap paper and putting them into construction paper closets.  I love the Little Critter series, Pirate Soup is great to talk about problem solving!

I loved and used many of Don and Audrey Woods books too – here are some favorites:

We used the Napping House and King Bidgood in our Healthy Habits unit.  Check out how we remade Silly Sally in a previous post.

P.K. Hallinan is another author I always shared with the children.

He has written tons of books, I have a lot of them.  Heartprints is a great book for thinking about how you affect other people.  If you are familiar with Bucket Fillers, the theme is very similar.  His books promote great relationships, they are loving, warm and touching.

I really liked sharing song books with children, especially when they already knew the song.  I have lots of books for Raffi songs, here are a few others – there are lots and lots on the market.

My granddaughters are 19 months old now and they love Over in the Meadow, Eensy Weensy Spider and other books based on songs we sing.  Kindergartners could often “read” these independently!

Here are some other favorite books:

Go Dog Go is often one of the first books children can read by themselves.  Ian Faulkner tells great stories about the michievous Olivia.  The Important Book is great to emphasize descriptive language.  One Hungry Monster is just fun!

Robert Munsch has written lots of funny books, I wasn’t comfortable reading all of them at school, but Stephanie’s Ponytail is a great story about being unique and not following the crowd.  Lyle, Lyle, Are You My Mother and Katy Kangaroo are old classics that I always made sure to share with my class.

ABC of Monsters was another favorite of my children.  I have an extensive collection of alphabet books!  The Pigeon books were always favorites – I like using them to show expression and voice.  Leo the Late Bloomer is a great reminder of how every child blooms in his or her own time.  I loved all of Helme Heine’s books – the illustrations are warm and wonderful.

I also had lots of versions of fairy tales, but my favorite ones were those illustrated and retold my James Marshall.  (That reminds me of when the teacher next door was sharing a variety of different Red Ridinghood books and a little boy raised his hand and asked if they were going to read more about the virgin Red Ridinghood.  It took a few minutes to realize she needed to explain the word VERSION!)

We always acted out The Little Engine That Could, and referred to that when we needed to keep trying and not give up!  Elmer and Woolbur fit into zoo and farm themes and are great characters that you won’t want to miss.

As I said, this list could never be complete – but I just couldn’t leave out Pete the Cat!

I love the basic, repetitive text and the free song that is available online.  It also has a great message in a very simple story.

Here are these books and more in list form, including the authors!

Here is a printable copy:

Favorite book List

Happy Readng!

I always love to find new favorites, please add a comment and share books you love too!

Chickens to the Rescue!

I take Owen to story time at our local library.  Today we heard this fun story, it was new to me and I loved it!  It was full of silliness and opportunities for children to join in; but mostly I loved it because it would be wonderful to introduce or practice the story elements – Problem and Solution.

Basically this story is about the Greenstalk’s – a farm family who run into a myriad of problems, but luckily their flock of chickens always comes to the rescue, until the end of the story.  The events take place through a week, so it is another chance to reinforce the names of the days of the week.  This would be a fun story to act out.  You could make headbands for the characters using pictures like these.  You could make as many chickens as you’d like to include more children in the retelling.

These directions are to make a mask, I would just staple the chicken head onto a paper strip for a headband.

Here are the farmer, his wife and their two children from the story.   There is also a duck and a cow.

Here are printable versions:

chicken hat

cow duck


After reading this book a few times I would show the children pictures of the problems that occur in the story, and each of the solutions.  After reviewing story elements, I would remind the children that most stories have a problem that needs to be fixed.   I would encourage the children to make two columns of pictures – ones that show a problem, others that depict a solution.

Here are sorting words:


Printable pictures

problem and solution

I put the problem and matching solution on the same page, if you print them just cut them apart.  I always glued pictures like these on construction paper to make them a little more durable.

After sorting the pictures into the problem or solution columns,  I would ask the children to match each problem with the right solution.

I would discuss all the ways these chickens were problem solvers in the story.  I might lead into a writing activity:


Since this book ends with the pigs solving the final problem it would be easy to do a new story as a class, thinking of problems that the pigs might solve.  Of course it would be titled Pigs to the Rescue!

At story time today the preschoolers made this very simple chicken project – it was fast and very cute.  If you plan to display the children’s writing these would look great next to their writing paper.

The comb was made by tracing Owen’s hand, then we folded it in half and taped it to the back of the small (6 inch) paper plate.

One child at story time had read this book before, as soon as the librarian turned to a picture of the group of chickens he started yelling “Chickens to the rescue!”  Soon they were all joining in.  It was so fun!

Red Ridinghood

Red Ridinghood was another Fairy Tale that I loved to use with my Kindergartners.  I usually told this story using props before I read it.  I always found that my whole class was really paying attention when I told a story, and I could look around at their reaction when I wasn’t looking at the pages of a book.  I liked having simple props or pictures to show while I told them the story.  These pictures fold in half and stand up.

Here is the basic story that I told my class:


Here are printable copies of the stand up figures:

Red and Hunter

Mom and Gma


cottage 4

wolf bed 1

Sometimes I used these sequencing pictures.  You could show these while you tell the story.  You could use them as a follow up activity to help the children retell the story.  Sometimes I gave the children a few of the pictures and had them write a sentence about what was going on in that part of the story.  Sequencing pictures like this is great for practicing the beginning, middle and end of stories – or putting events in order.

My class loved to take turns acting out the story too!  I had a red cape, left over from Halloween for Red Ridinghood.  The Woodsman held a paper towel tube for an axe.  We used a basket from housekeeping, and I made a paper headband for the wolf.

The wolf face was fastened on a headband strip.  I used paperclips to hold it on instead of stapling the headband so it could fit a variety of children.  I loved hearing the children acting out the story – they used such great language and remembered so many details.

When I told the story I always said that the wolf shoved Grandma in the closet.  When we read the book by James Marshall the children always noticed that in his version, the wolf ate Grandma.  I like the G-rated version better myself!  There are lots of versions of this story available and it is fun to read and compare them.

This story also lends itself very well to talking about strangers.  This was part of our Social Studies unit so it fit right into our curriculum.  I made a simple outline of a child wearing a hooded sweatshirt and each child glued his/her face onto the picture.

Then I gave them a picture of a wolf and talked about how he was a stranger.

Then we talked about how scary the wolf looked and that I knew they were all too smart to talk to someone that was so scary.  We talked about how strangers don’t always look scary, but that it really is not safe to talk to anyone that they don’t know unless they are with a grownup that they trust.  So we glued a picture of Bob the Builder on the back side of the wolf picture.  I thought that Bob the Builder was a recognizable, friendly character to represent a stranger that did not look scary.

I have started telling Fairy Tales to my grandchildren.  It’s even better than sharing them with Kindergartners!

10 Little Rubber Ducks

I was so happy when I found out that Kohls was releasing more of Eric Carle’s picture books in their Kohls Cares for Kids program.  These are such wonderful hardcover picture books for the bargain price of $5!  If you don’t live near a Kohls you can find them online!

I already owned a copy of this book, but it was one of those that I had not taken time to develop lessons and use.  When I reread it I was so excited about all the possibilities!

1.  I loved the whole idea of talking about HOW AN AUTHOR GETS AN IDEA.  Eric Carle shares a news article that inspired this book on the inside cover.  He read about a cargo ship containing toys that dumped into the ocean, and decided he just had to make it into a picture book.  It would be really fun to look for simple news stories that the children might adapt – or to create a story as a class based on something in the news!

2.  This book is wonderful for RETELLING and acting out.  I found some clipart pictures that you might be able to use, either staple pictures on headbands, or punch holes to wear as a necklace – or even glue them onto construction paper for the children to hold.

Here is a link to full sized pictures:

Necklace clipart pdf

3.  Along with retelling – this book makes great use of DIRECTIONAL TERMS!  You could choose one child to be a duck – or 10, and have them go in the specified directions.  This would be a great time to label North, South, East, West in your classroom – if you can figure it out!  I am a bit directionally challenged myself!  I do have a good concept of left and right though!


4.  This book would be a good tool if you have children still working on basic NUMERAL RECOGNITION.  I am sharing some pictures of numbered ducks, but it would be even more fun to get small plastic ducks (they come 2 in a pack) from a dollar store or somewhere, and put numbers on them!

Number ducks

5.  COUNTING BACKWARD!  You could also use these pictures or the plastic ducks to practice counting backward from 10 – 0.

6.  When you first read this book it is obviously a great way to introduce or reinforce ORDINAL NUMBERS!  Here are the same ducks labeled with ordinal numbers.

Ducks ordinal

Then I had an idea – you could run off copies of a box for each child and cut a vertical slit in it. Each child will cut out these strips, overlap them and glue them together.  Then they could cut out the numbered ducks and put duck 1 in the box under the word 1st, etc.

This is kind of large – you might just want to use it to demonstrate or play with as a group – you could probably reduce all the pages on the copy machine to make a smaller project for each child!

out of box

7.  In the story they packed 10 ducks in each box.  This would lead right into practice COUNTING BY 10’s!

I had a couple of ideas to use with this story.  You could give each child a copy of the cargo ship and just let him/her glue on 5 boxes labeled 10, 20, etc.

Or you could give them pictures of 5 boxes full of 10 ducks each.  After cutting out the boxes they could glue on the numbers counting to 50 by 10’s on the back, and then glue them onto the boat.  That would give them a more concrete idea of what it means to count by 10’s.

Count by 10s

8.  Of course this book would tie in to an OCEAN UNIT very well because the ducks fall into the sea and met a variety of ocean animals.

9.  There is some great VOCABULARY too!  I loved the  “Chuckedy-chuckedy-chuck” sound of the rubber duck machine.  I would spend a few minutes talking about “bob” and “drift.”  The more I read this book, the more I love it!!

10.  One of my favorite parts of this book is the wonderful STYLE and VOICE!  A technique that Eric Carle uses is to repeat the last few words of some paragraphs, I would tell the children that when I read this book it touches my heart!

He repeats phrases like “whistles across the sea,”  “10 ducks overboard!” and “only water and sky.”  It is a very effective way to include emotion in this story!

If you don’t already own this book I hope you get a chance to pick it up at Kohls!  And I hope you love it as much as I do!

Sequencing Stories

When we took our grandchildren to the apple orchard it reminded me of my favorite way to introduce the idea of sequencing to my Kindergartners.  I usually began by introducing the idea of the beginning, middle and end of a story.  I began by showing pictures similar to these.

apple sequence

I told the children that I had a story to tell them, and I put the three pictures in a pocket chart or on the floor in front of the children in a mixed up order.

Then I said “I ate up my whole apple, then I ate the first bite and then I picked the apple off of the tree!”

Of course I used a fun tone of voice, that invited the children to correct me – and they always interrupted and said that it was not right.  I asked what was wrong and called on a few children.   Sometimes they said you have to pick the apple first, sometimes they actually said something about being in the wrong order.

So I would say “Oh, I get it!  I picked the apple off the tree, then I ate it all up, then I had the first bite.”

They would correct me again and finally I would retell the story in the right order.  I would try to get someone to tell me that the story did not make sense when I told it out of order – if they didn’t say that I  would tell them that it did not make sense.

Then I would retell it again, adding the terms, beginning, middle and end – saying “at the beginning of my story I picked an apple off the tree.  Then in the middle I took the first bite.  At the end of my story I ate it all up.”

Then I would tell them that most stories are like that – they have a beginning and a middle and an ending.  I would tell them that we were going to read a story and I wanted them to tell me what happened in the book at the beginning, middle and end.  I usually did this the first time using a familiar story, often a fairy tale like the 3 Bears or Little Red Ridinghood.

After using my apple story it was easy for the children to identify beginning, middle and end with clipart of the apple.  Sometimes I had them draw a simple picture of each part of the story.


If my children were ready to draw and/or write more I might give them a folded booklet.

BME sequence

I would run these back to back, adding a title to the front, then fold them to make a booklet 5 1/2 x 8 inches.

If you would like to use this idea for sequencing a story, but not just the beginning, middle and end you could add an apple tree.  My story would be something like this:

One day I saw a beautiful apple tree.  I picked a delicious looking apple.  I took a bite out of the apple.  I ate the whole apple and just left the core.

Of course I would mix it up and tell it in the wrong order first.

Here are some ideas of how you might ask your children to draw or write to retell the story.


1-4 sequence

Here’s another choice if you want longer lines for the children to write on:

portrait view 1

portrait view 2


I would cut these in half and collate the pages to make horizontal books.

I always found that I needed to explain to the children that there are lots of events that happen in a story.  There is usually one beginning and one ending, but lots of things in the middle.  They could choose one or two things that happen in the middle of the story.

After introducing the idea of beginning, middle and end, I would usually teach a lesson about events of a story.  I used a footprint to symbolize the idea of the events.  You could actually draw a simple picture or clipart on each foot and the children could lay them out in the right order.  It is fun to let them walk along telling the events – taking a step for each one.   Instead of clipart I usually just cut out footprints from construction paper.


You would probably want to enlarge this footprint on a copy machine – or find your own.  This one got blurry when I tried to make it bigger.

Choosing the right story to teach sequencing is important because there are a lot of stories that the correct order is not really important.  For example, Brown Bear, Brown Bear – there are a lot of characters but they seem to be in random order.  You might use a story like that just to teach the idea that a story can have a lot of events.  If you are asking them to remember the correct order, try to find a story that makes the sequence easier to remember.  In The Napping House the characters get smaller through the story – the Granny, the child, the dog, the cat, the mouse etc.  I always pointed this out to the kids as we read and reread the story.  In The Mitten – the characters get larger until the last animal.  In the Three Bears – the bears went for a walk, Goldilocks came into their house, the bears came home and found her – she ran away.

When I wanted the children to remember the sequence of a story I always read it more than once, and often acted it out or used flannelboard pictures, puppets or magnetic pictures to retell it as a group.  Sometimes I just photocopied important pictures from the book itself.  You can call on children to come up and sequence the pictures in the right order.  When you reread a book many times it helps all children to be successful.

Happy Birthday Eric Carle!

Last Saturday, June 25, Eric Carle celebrated his 82nd birthday!  I would guess he is one of the most well known children’s authors!  Years ago McDonalds restaurants included toys based on Eric Carle’s books in their Happy Meals!  Of course I had to have them all!

This one is based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar – eating through an apple.  They are all actually small finger puppets.  You can make the worm wiggle and move a little by putting your finger inside.

This is the Grouchy Ladybug.  You push a button that makes the wings open and close.


This is The Lonely Firefly – the tail lights up – it is a little tricky to push the light because your finger fits in toward the front, and the light is toward the back – the kids love it anyway!

This is The Very Quiet Cricket – it makes a clicking sound by pushing on a button inside.

This is A House for Hermit Crab!


Here is The Very Busy Spider.

I know if I were reading this I would be so jealous – and really really want to have my own set!  I haven’t ever searched for more – you might try Ebay – or contacting McDonalds!  Toys like this are fun and motivating for the children, and help encourage the children to fall in love with Eric Carle’s books – of course so many children are already devoted fans!  Making projects and props to retell stories are another great way to help the children remember and retell these wonderful stories.

Several years ago my husband and I vacationed in Massachusetts and had a chance to visit the Eric Carle Picture Book Museum.  I highly recommend it if you ever have a chance!

They conduct many wonderful classes and special celebrations at the museum too!  Check out their website –!  If you visit you will see lots of art work from picture book artists all over the world.  There is a craft room where you can create, and a library where you can browse lots and lots of books.

When we visited, this VW decorated with images from the Hungry Caterpillar was sitting outside the museum!
They were getting ready to celebrate Eric Carle’s 80th birthday and the 40th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The walls were decorated with these banners and signs.

One of my favorite things was the bathroom:

The tiles contained pictures from Brown Bear, Brown Bear!  I’m not sure of the significance of the ‘ruffly’ toilet seat – but I loved it!  I guess I am a little strange for sharing bathroom photos.  There is a virtual tour on the website, but it doesn’t include the bathroom!

Some of the exhibitions rotate or are only there for a limited time.   They had a great display of Leo Lionni books, and they were renovating their Tomie de Paola section – which means I definitely have to go back because he is one of my favorite authors!  They have a great gift shop – and you can order lots of fun stuff online!  Owen has a Very Hungry Caterpillar bedroom at my house – with caterpillar curtains, posters, bedspread and sheets, and of course tons of books!  They sell fabric by the yard that coordinates with his books!  I was ecstatic!

So in honor of Eric Carle’s birthday – here is a little story/science experiment that I loved to do with my Kindergartners, and often used it when we read Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear.  You could really do it anytime – but the character in the story is a polar bear.

Basically you tell a story and encourage the children to chime in on a chant that is repeated several times.  You need one of those plastic bears that come with honey inside – empty and washed out well.  You begin the story with clear water in the bear bottle, and a piece of white paper behind it so it looks white to the children.  You add drops of different colors of food color as you tell the story and the Polar Bear changes color.  Then at the end of the story he changes back to white – and you add drops of household bleach until the water turns clear again.  To the children it seems like magic!

I know there can be concerns about using bleach in the classroom, and you do have to be very careful, I brought a small amount in a well closed container, and was sure to keep it out of the children’s reach.  I talked to them after the story about the fact that bleach is a chemical and parents might use it doing laundry – but it is NOT safe for children.  I never had any problem using it, and the children loved the whole activity.

Here is a copy of the story and directions!  Even if you don’t choose to do this activity, find some way to include some of Eric Carle’s wonderful books in your classroom.

Polar Bear story

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I used the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar for a preschool storyhour, and wanted a way to engage the children, most of them had already heard and seen this story.  I used colored posterboard to make story boards of each page in the book.  I cut the posterboard into rectangles about 22 x 9 1/2 – I made these a long time ago, but I think I basically cut each posterboard in 1/3s.  Making a project like this takes quite a bit of time, but I used it with my Kindergartners over and over again for many years.

I used construction paper and cut out the tree, leaf, moon and egg, then I rubber-cemented them onto the posterboard.

On the back of each posterboard I wrote the words from the story so I could hold up the picture and read the words.

Because these pictures were so big and it was a new way to hear the story, it really kept the children’s attention.

I cut a hole – using an exacto knife – through the apple and the posterboard.
I made a caterpillar from small red and green pompoms.

I stuck the pompoms onto a piece of magnet strip – using the sticky side of the magnet to hold the pompoms on.  I have used this caterpillar for 20 years!!  I just keep it in the file with the posterboards, it is a little flattened from all those years of storage!!

This looks quite big here, but  it is only about 2 1/2 inches long.  Then I took a rubber band and slipped it over the caterpillar between the red and first green pompom.  If you don’t have a small rubberband twist it on a few times – leaving just enough room for your pointer finger to slip in under the caterpillar, on the magnet side.

Then you can poke the caterpillar through the hole in the apple, and pretend to munch, munch, munch all the way around the circle.  The kids love it!!

If you don’t want to make a caterpillar, you could just draw eyes and a mouth on your pointer finger and use that.

One thing you have to remember is to poke your finger into the right hole so you are helping reinforce counting from left to right.  I added sound effects like slurping, munching, gobbling, etc. as the caterpillar ate through the hole in each food.

When you are cutting out the strawberries and stems, I folded the paper and cut all 4 at once to make it faster, then I just tipped them a bit as I glued them onto the board.

Over the years we made lots of different projects to go along with this story.  For preschoolers we wrapped a pipe cleaner around a pencil to make it coiled up and called it a caterpillar.  Then we ‘decorated’ a brown paper lunch bag for the cocoon.  We made a butterfly by pushing tissue paper into the legs of a slip on wooden clothespin.  We put the butterfly inside the paper bag and as the children retold the story – they put the caterpillar into the bag, pretended he was nibbling his way out, and pulled out the butterfly.

In recent years I used this near the end of the year in Kindergarten and my children were ready to write phonetically, and reread some text.  We made a book to retell the story.

This is a half page sized book.



The first letter of the day of the week was already printed on the page.  The children also need to write the number word on some pages.  I provided “helper sheets” for them to refer to if they needed help writing the days of the week or number words.  You could cut these into strips of days/numbers if you’d like.



To make this book a little easier, the children drew the parts they would glue on first.  Then the next day we made the books, they just bubble cut around their pictures and glued them on.  Most children were pretty independent with this.

There were 2 on this page – each child got 1/2.

I put little picture cues to help them remember each food.  The children could draw with crayons or markers.  I didn’t leave a space for them to write their name – be sure they write their name on the back of their paper!

On this page they had to draw at least 3 things, and write the words phonetically.

They just had to color the cocoon or chrysalis, it was already printed on the page.  I debated over the years over whether to keep using the word cocoon that was in the text, but I used this book with end-of-the-year kindergartners and we had been talking about how a butterfly comes from a chrysalis – so I used that term.

The children created a butterfly – practicing symmetry – but using a folded piece of paper and free cutting the wings, then decorating both sides the same – and glued it on.

Here are the masters for this book – there are 2 on each page so you can xerox, collate and just cut each book in half to make 2.  Sorry about all the separate files – not sure how to put them all together!  I am definitely not a techie person!









Sunday again





helping sheets

I hope you have as much fun with this as I have!


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