A friend blessed me with a wonderful new picture book by an author who was unfamiliar to me. Shh! We Have A Plan by Chris Haughton is an adorable simple story with remarkable illustrations. Right away I started to think about how I would have used this book in Kindergarten.
The basic story is how 4 friends were walking in the woods, trying to catch a bird, and each character had a different plan. This is a wonderful picture book for young children to “read” to themselves because the pictures easily portray the story. There are only a few words on each page, many of them common sight words, and there are repetitive phrases throughout the story.
Because of the simple text and repetitive phrases I thought this would be a fun story for the children to act out. Here are some simple pictures of the characters that could be stapled on headbands, mounted on a dowel, or worn on a string around the children’s necks.
The 3 largest friends say “LOOK! A bird!” The smallest guy says “hello birdie”
Then the larger 3 people say “shh SHH! We have a plan.
ready one, ready two, ready three… GO!
These phrases are repeated through the book. There are also simple motions: tiptoe slowly, climbing slowly, paddling slowly; that the children could act out.
This book would be great for teaching simple inferences – what time of day do you think it is? What do you think he plans to do? The plans concocted by the characters are shown by the illustrations, not by the text. They can tell why the characters are holding nets. In general the text does not tell what is going on, the reader relies on pictures.
This book also encourages children to draw on their prior knowledge – they can identify the bird cage, ladder and log that are used, but not named, to try to capture the bird. They will recognize that the character holding up an open palm is gesturing the others to stop.
Another way to retell this story would be a simple cut and paste activity that focuses on beginning, middle and end – or problem, events and resolution.
There are 2 sets of pictures on this page, each child only needs one of each item.
The fun ending of this book lends itself to the idea of a circle story, or coming up with new plans!
My favorite part of this book is that the smallest friend had the best idea – he kept repeating it, did not get involved in the other characters plans, and in the end his plan worked very well. I think this could lead to some great discussions about how everyone has important ideas, and listening to each person, and valuing their contribution is important. We might discuss that although that character appeared younger and smaller than his friends, he still had the best plan.
On his website Chris Haughton provides some coloring pages and activities as well.
I especially like this page full of bird parts. Children can choose different pieces to put together and design their own beautiful bird – or they could just draw or cut and paste their own creation!
My grandchildren loved hearing the story – we had to read it 3 times right away! I hope you love it too! Can’t wait to read the other books by Chris Haughton.