This book by Marilyn Sadler was another great way to review characters. It is a simple story of a bunny who did not like being a bunny, and tried out living with lots of different animals – in the end he decided it was best to be a bunny after all. I liked reading and comparing this book to The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings, by Carolyn Bailey. The theme of the stories was the basically the same. You could do a T-Chart or Venn Diagram for the comparison.
Again I copied a picture for each character in the book. Sometimes the children wore them as a necklace as they acted out the story, sometimes I stapled them onto headbands. If you want to use headbands for acting out stories someone gave me the suggestion of stapling a strip onto each side of the picture, but instead of stapling it together to fit around their head, use a paper clip – that way you can adjust the size for different children. If head lice is a problem in your building you probably would never share headbands, and even putting a yarn string around their neck for a necklace might be risky. The children could just hold the pictures.
I also sometimes put magnets on the back of pictures of the characters and let the children retell the story by placing them on a magnet board.
This story is fun because P.J. got into trouble when he tried living with all the different animals – that makes it fun to act out – the bird pretends to fly, the pig pretends to roll in the mud, etc.
Here are some of the pictures I used for the retelling:
Here are copies you could print:
I reduced the size of these pictures and put them all onto one page. I gave a copy to each child along with a long fan-folded strip of white paper, about 4 x 24 inches. I asked them to glue the characters on in the order they came in the story, and to write and draw to show why P.J. decided he didn’t want to live with those animals. For example, on the bird page they would phonetically write – “He couldn’t fly.” On the page with the beaver they might draw a log and write “He didn’t like to work,” etc. I found that after reading it and acting it out a few times the children were able to do this pretty easily. Sometimes I asked them to draw the animals, but there are a lot of them to remember. In this story the particular order is really not important to the story, my goal was really just to help them retell the basic ideas.
This was one of those projects that took the children awhile to complete, and they worked on it well independently. I often left the book out for them to refer to if they couldn’t remember a part – we talked about how big kids and adults go back and reread something if they don’t remember it. While the children were busy working on this I was able to pull one at a time to do assessments or DRA. Some children handle being interrupted during a project better than others, but if you don’t have a paraeducator you need to find ways to fit in these assessments, at the same time finding meaningful ways to keep the children busy.
When the children in my class completed anything they always brought it to me and read it. If they knew they were not going to show it to me, some children would just stuff it into their mailbox. But it was another challenge to sit and listen to each child read his/her writing. Sometimes I had a few children read their work to each other, sometimes I had parent volunteers that could listen to them read their work. Occasionally I just looked it over quickly with the child, then collected them to read later so I didn’t have a long line of children waiting to show their work to me. Of course, you always have to be ready for what they will do next. I often had them get out book baskets and read, or math manipulatives.
My kids enjoyed acting out this story so much that we sometimes included it in our end of the year program.