The Pigeon Party!


Our family spent another fun evening at Commerce Township Community Library celebrating the Pigeon, and other favorite Mo Willems characters.  If somehow you haven’t met and fallen in love with these books, take some time to look at them.  All of my grandchildren love them, from 15 month old Max to 6 year old Owen; and I know they will keep enjoying them for a long time.


Here are a few that were on display at the Pigeon Party.  Our favorites are probably Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Knuffle Bunny, but we haven’t read them all either!

They began the special evening by reading a Mo Willems book and giving the children a chance to try out some special dances:  Piggie Jiggle, Twist and Snout, Air Piggie, Shakin’ Bacon, Happy Hooves, Elephant Slide, The Shy Guy, The Funky Trunky, Jumbo Gumbo, and Rob-Gerald 3000.

After dancing the families were free to explore all the great centers that were set up around the room.

Paper bag puppets

The kids loved making paper bag puppets, they could choose either the Elephant or Piggie.

pig puppet


elephant puppet


Duckling They had fun pretending to be the duckling or the pigeon trying to “eat” a cookie.  The head with an eye was glued onto a spring clothespin and the children counted how many pom poms they could pick up.  Some of the pom poms were decorated to look like chocolate chips – or nuts?

Knufflebunny pics

The illustrations in the book Knufflebunny, and Knufflebunny too are photographs with the characters drawn into the scenes.  For this activity the children chose a large photograph and colored and glued on any characters they liked.  There were lots of background photos to choose from, as well as a whole bunch of characters.


Bird on head

The children enjoyed trying to walk carrying a paper nest filled with plastic eggs on their heads.  I am not sure which book this is from!  I need to check it out!

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This Mad Lib activity was great for the school aged children who attended.  Even the little ones could make suggestions to fill in the blanks.

Elephant and Piggy

I loved seeing what all my grandchildren drew and wrote in their cartoons.

Let's Draw the Pigeon


elephant  drawing



The children had fun making play dough clothes to cover up the Naked Mole Rat!

Mole rat

There are lots of wonderful ideas for extensions of more Mo Willems books on Pinterest, and also on Mo Willems’ website.  Thanks again Commerce Library!




The Cat in the Hat!

Monday was my regular day to volunteer in my grandson’s Kindergarten class, and they were celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday!   I learned a new Cat in the Hat song, to the tune of the Addams Family – including the finger snaps!


After singing this song several times the class made a book to go with it.  I adapted it a little, leaving spaces for the children to write the c and h for cat and hat.  You could also put up this chart for the children to read with a pointer!  I am sharing the book with 2 on each page so you could just xerox it on the collate mode, then cut it in half to make 2 books in one.

Cat in the hat book1

Cat in the hat book2

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The final page of the book gives children a chance to write words from the AT family.  In Owen’s class they highlighted word wall words – using highlighters is always a hit!

Then the children did another fun project.


It was my job, as a volunteer, to paint the children’s hands.

First I painted their right hand – white palm and blue fingers.  I pressed their hand near the top of a 9 x 12 piece of paper.  Then I painted their left hand all red – except I left their ring finger without paint, to give Thing 1 and Thing 2 both legs and arms.  I turned the paper upside down and made the red handprint, just touching the white palm.

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After it dried we painted an oval in the center of Thing’s body.


During the afternoon the children added the face and a numeral 1 or 2 on the circle.  Lots of fun!

Happy Dr. Seuss Day!

Hawaiian Luau


My grandchildren enjoyed another wonderful program at the Commerce Township Community Library.  This time the theme was a Hawaiian Luau!  I never would have thought to include Hula Hoops!  They enjoyed some Hawaiian music and tried out some Hula moves.  They had a chance to try out a few traditional instruments too!


Palm trees

The Palm tree bowling was a big hit.  The pins were large soda bottles filled with crumpled blue tissue paper, with laminated palm trees taped on the front.  They used small inflated beach balls to try to knock them down.



They made leis by stringing pre-cut foam flowers alternating with small pieces of pre-cut colored straws.  Great practice making a pattern!



These cute fish were preassembled, but many children could cut the triangle and glue it onto the back independently.  The library program has limited time and lots of fun activities so some projects are often pre-cut.  The children used markers, stickers, bingo markers and glue on jewels to decorate their fish.  They could also cut out shiny scales – just like Rainbow Fish!


Beach blanket



There were large beach towels on the floor to play Beach Blanket Bingo, but my kids chose to stand at the table.  I loved the colored shells they used as markers – I am guessing you could color them by shaking them in a baggie with a bit of food color and alcohol.  They were set out in small buckets – so cute and fun!  The high school helper pulled a picture out of her container.  I liked how this game showed some things that are special about Hawaii – birds, flowers, hula, surfing, etc.  The prize for the game was a candy bar – everybody played until they won!bingo

I found some free clipart online in case anyone wanted to make their own bingo boards.


The kids loved using a plastic stylus to scratch designs in these black shapes.  As they drew with them, pretty colors showed up.  There was string if the children wanted to hang these up.


Of course they loved the special snack of Hawaiian Punch (what else?) and pretzels mixed with colored Goldfish crackers.



They set out a few books based on Hawaii – Owen was anxious to check one out!

It was a great evening.  Just for fun I looked up a few Hawaiian terms that would be fun to use with children.


Mahalo  Commerce Library!  It was such a fun evening!



More Dramatic Play!

I still love socio-dramatic play!  I love the way it brings children of different ages and abilities together in  a common experience.  I love the way children incorporate reading and writing on their own as they take on roles and interactions.  I love the way children use higher levels of vocabulary and sentence structure as they make believe.  I love the way children are empowered to initiate play and draw on their own prior experiences when they are pretending to be a restaurant worker or mail carrier.  I love watching children have fun!

Dramatic play is one of the things I have missed most about teaching Kindergarten.  The most meaningful kind of dramatic play is when children initiate it by themselves.  It often naturally flows out of constructive play or dressing dolls, etc.  They might be using blocks and turn it into a castle, then pretend to be a princess or a King, etc.  Or dressing up their baby doll, then ‘taking it to the grocery store.’  This kind of play is so rich and meaningful, but it takes time, and sometimes encouragement for this play to develop.  At school I found that if I set up the structure of a dramatic play experience the children were always anxious to have a turn and jumped into the dramatic play.  I know that my grandchildren take on roles and use dolls and puppets in their play all the time, but I wanted to find an easy way to set up some fun dramatic play experiences at my house.


I had this small media cart that used to hold a TV and VCR, wasting away in my basement.  So I bribed my in-house handyman to lower the shelf and add a board to the back and a part over the top – like this:

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A coat of paint and a curtain, and I was ready to set up a restaurant!


This really is small, 22 x 15 inches but just the right size for my grandchildren to have fun.  I asked them what we should turn it into first, and they chose a restaurant.  So I made some menus, they gathered some play food and added some paper placemats.  If I hadn’t been so anxious I would have encouraged them to make the menus themselves!  We had a play cash register that we set on top of the shelf.   I ordered a set of very inexpensive aprons online, and used Sharpie markers to turn them into restaurant uniforms.  I found a very cheap rectangular chalkboard at Michaels that fits into a groove on the top – so the children can change the name of the play center.

After a few weeks of playing restaurant they wanted to change the play center into a Fire Station.  So they helped make some flames from colored foam sheets, dug out their fire fighter hats and Mr. Handyman cut off a few pieces of old hose.  We brought out Benchly – a relic from my Kindergarten days – just a bench with a steering wheel attached to the front, makes a great fire truck but can also be used as a school bus, airplane, tractor, van, etc.  Benchly is long enough for 3 or 4 children but here Owen and Max were on their way to fight a fire!


Nora had the hose and did a great job making squirting noises!


Back at the station, Owen was ready for another call.

IMG_8102 Anna took care of the flames on the recliner!


Great job Fire Fighters!


I added a wipe off board to the front of the play center.  They love to write on that too!

So I’m having a wonderful time playing with my grandchildren – hope you’re having a really happy new year too!


We Are Thankful!

Thanksgiving is a great time to talk about gratitude and what it means to be thankful.

Here are two of my favorite books to help spark that discussion:


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I also like this book that gives information about the history of Thanksgiving, and a great short description of the first Thanksgiving; and uses the format of an alphabet book!

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I thought it might be fun to use the alphabet book format to make a class book about things we are thankful for.  After brainstorming and making a list as a group, each child could illustrate the page for a different letter of the alphabet.

thankful pdf

I am having so much fun helping out in Owen’s Kindergarten classroom each week.  I am a little rusty on all the copy machine tricks, but I love getting a little peek back into a classroom.  Owen’s great teacher, Ms. Rosing, gave me permission to share a fun turkey book they will be reading.

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Isn’t this a fun idea?  She asked me to tie a feather onto a 26 inch length of yarn and tape it to the back upper corner of the book.   The children can use the feather as a reading pointer, and of course to tickle their turkey!  I know they will love it.

I was thinking about all the different reasons teachers might provide this activity for their class.  They might be focusing on pointing to each word as they read or helping children develop confidence reading, since most of the text is repetitive.  They might be assessing which children try to decode the last word of each sentence that changes from page to page.

I thought it might be helpful to add a picture cue so every child could be successful reading this book independently.  Of course you can cover the pictures before you copy it if you prefer.

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Here is another idea you might like:


Happy Thanksgiving!

As for me, I am thankful for my family … and for teachers who share!  (Thanks Laura!)

Tape Town!

Tape town

Commerce Township Community Library presented another fun family activity called Tape Town.   They filled the entire multi-purpose program room with colored tape that was used as roads for match box szied cars.  Throughout the room they set up all kinds of fun towns!

tape town 1

tape town 2

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Our girls LOVED Fairy Tale Town!

tape town 6 Owen’s favorite was hands down the Monster Truck Rally!  They created small foil cars by pressing squares of foil over a car and carefully removing it.  Then the children used small Monster Trucks to crash over them!  Who wouldn’t love that?

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At each town they displayed several books that were related to the town.  It was so fun to see the children playing and parents reading throughout the room!  Another great evening!



Room on the Broom

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I know this book was published in 2001, but it is new to me!  I ordered it from a recent Scholastic Book Order, and I have loved reading it to my grandchildren!   There are lots of ideas of activities to use with this book on Pinterest, as well as the website  If you have a chance, check them out!

I think this story would be great for retelling!  My favorite way to retell stories is to act them out.  Here are some pictures of the characters that I found online and enlarged.  You could print them on cardstock and punch holes to make yarn necklaces, or put them on headbands for the children to wear.

witch cat

Good characters 2 dog

Good characters 3 


Here is a smaller set that you could print out, add magnets and retell on a magnetic board.

character cutouts

Or finger puppets!

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Please check out the websites noted on these pages, they have great ideas!  Also, check out this site for more great graphics!

story cut outs

Another activity would be to sequence some of the events of this story.

Sequence board 

The children would just cut out the pictures on the following page and glue them onto the recording sheet in the order they happened in the story.

Sequence pieces

This story was just full of great examples of problems and solutions.  As well as generating some great discussions you might ask children to identify the problem represented by each picture, and find the picture that represents the solution.

Problem solution 1 

Problem solution

There are 2 of each item on this page – each child would get a half sheet.

This book is full of rich vocabulary.  I think it might be helpful to have some illustrations to help children understand these unfamiliar terms.

vocabularyYou might choose one or two fun new words to concentrate on, and then look for opportunities to use these new words over and over in your classroom.  I love the word “magnificent!”

The rhymes in this book make it fun to read, but I don’t think I would emphasize the skill of rhyming.  The words that rhyme are far apart in the story, and children who are still gaining confidence in rhyming might have trouble recognizing the rhymes.  But it would be fun to point out the phrases that are repeated through the book, and emphasize those rhymes – room/broom, ground/found, be/me and on/gone.

Another teacher in my building made a great bulletin board display – she cut out a very large paper broom and taped it up horizontally.  Then each child created an animal or character that might be riding on the broom, and she mounted those pictures as if they were riding on the broom, with the title, “Is There Room on the Broom for Me?”

Maybe you have been using this book for years and love it too!  I would love to hear how you use it in your classroom!


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