Fairy Tales

One of Nora’s favorite things to do is act out Fairy Tales.  I love to see how she has taken ownership of these simple stories after “playing them” over and over.  Lately we have been playing “The Princess and the Pea” a LOT.   Max plays the Prince, Nora – of course, is the Princess, and I get to narrate and be the Queen, although Nora often chimes in to help tell the details.  Oh – and Nora also has to be the one to hide the ‘pea.’

She is quite dramatic when she explains what a terrible sleep she had because of that lumpy pea.   Nora loves to play this story, and she certainly knows it and understands it; but she has not wanted to retell the story by herself yet.


Many years ago I bought this Frank Schaffer book that contains simple versions of Fairy Tales along with 6 pictures for each story.  I used them in lots of ways to retell stories.  I have shared a few of them on this blog, and I have received many, many requests for a copy of the entire book.  I have tried for the past couple of years to obtain permission from the publisher, but have not been able to contact the right people.  I wrote to the address in the book and got no reply.  Then I found out that Carson Dellosa had bought out Frank Schaffer products but when I contacted them they had no record of this book.

I make no profit from my blog – I don’t charge for anything that I share.  I am happy to help teachers develop materials that they can use to help children.  I am sharing the stories from this book but I am giving full credit to the author Sue Ryono.  Please do not use these images for personal gain – or on TPT or any other site that charges a fee.  If I find out that I am infringing rights I will remove them from my blog.

So today I gave Nora the pictures from the story “The Princess and the Pea” and asked her to put them in order.  It was fun hearing her talk about what was going on in each picture.

After she got them all in the right order she did a great job telling me the entire story without any prompting.  Then she wanted to take the pictures home to tell the story to Mommy and Daddy too!

Acting out stories is a wonderful way to help children with comprehension and developing new vocabulary.   I also see children making connections between stories and other things that they hear or experience.   Last week I baked cookies with my Grandchildren Owen, Anna and Lily.  They went home with a container of our cookies, but when their Dad asked to sample one, Anna asked, “Do you remember the Little Red Hen?”  Since he had not helped she wasn’t sure she wanted to share!

I think these pictures can also be a great resource to encourage children to retell stories.  I hope they are helpful for you!

In the original book these short stories are all in the back of the book, 4 stories on each page.  I enlarged and separated them so I could put each story under the matching sequencing pictures.  I never worried about telling a story exactly as this is written, but they are helpful if you are trying to remember details of some of the stories.



I hope you love using these as much as I have.  And if you can – take some time to act out stories too!  So much fun!


The Main Idea

I have been having so much fun volunteering in my grandson’s First Grade classroom this year.  I get to work with small groups of children during Reader’s Workshop, and I love it.  Over the last few weeks I noticed that several groups of children have trouble identifying the main idea of a text.  This week I spent some time researching on Pinterest and other wonderful sites for helpful ideas.  I found that many of the lessons available to teach Main Idea deal with informational text.  There are wonderful posts if you are working on this, but I was trying to help these students find the main idea in stories.


I found lots of examples of this fun idea!

Collect a few objects that all relate to one idea and put them into a bag.  Take them out one at a time and ask the children to figure out the main idea of the bag.

The main idea might be a farm:


Or the main idea might be school tools


Or it could be baking cookies:


I would take out the least obvious thing first, building up to the thing that will give the children the biggest clue.  For example,  with the farm idea I would start with the fence, and save the farmer for the last item I showed the children.  For the school bag I would pull out a crayon or pencil first, and save the school bus for the very last thing.

I think this activity would be helpful by giving the children practice in thinking about what all the items have in common.  The items in the bag are the details that all go together to tell the main idea.

When the students get the idea of this activity I might add a writing component.


I printed these 2 on a sheet to save paper!  It is pretty straight forward and simple.  The children would list a few of the items and the main idea of the bag.  For the final sentence I would expect the children to write something like “all these things belong on a farm,” or “you use all these things to bake cookies.”   Part of the reason I like this activity is because it does make it seem very simple to figure out the main idea – it kind of takes the mystery out of it, although of course it gets a bit more tricky when they are looking for the main idea of a story.

Here are a few more ideas for Main Idea Bags:



Suggestions  3

A similar idea that could be used to introduce Main Idea is to show the children an illustration and asking “What is the most important thing going on in this picture?”

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For this illustration the children might say “the animals are at a circus,”  or “the animals are in the circus.”  Then you could ask what they see that gives them that idea.  This gives them practice determining the main idea and identifying supporting details.

You could begin with a very simple picture that clearly shows the main idea.
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And also show them some pictures that they will need to think a bit – I love this illustration from Lorinda Bryan Cauley’s book Clap Your Hands, where the characters are all whispering secrets!

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Of course you would need to be clear that you are only talking about the main idea of that picture, and for the main idea of a book you have to look at the whole book.

It might be helpful to use photographs – even photos taken in your classroom.

Here is a writing activity that could be used with looking at illustrations to find the main idea.

illustration writing



I intentionally did not crop this photo.  I would expect the children to see that the main idea is the children driving vehicles down the ramp.  They might talk about things they see like the Christmas stockings, the Dad sitting on the floor and the edge of the Frozen Castle.  This would be great practice in talking about how to figure out what is the most important part.  There are often details that are not important and the children need to be able to figure that out.   I would discuss which details support the main idea.  If I used the writing activity with this photograph I would explain that the details they list should be things that help them know the most important part of the picture.

Two Words

I came across another idea that I thought might help children think about the main idea.  The basic idea of this strategy is to challenge the children to tell a story using 2 words.  For example, they might say “fell-playground,” and the story they are telling would be about an accident at recess.   “Bike-park” might be about riding their bike at a park.  “Grandma-cookies” might be about baking with their grandmother.  I would discuss how the 2 words they chose tell the main idea of their story.

One teacher asked her children to write a 2 word story about what they did over the weekend.  You could have them write on small pieces of paper, then collect them and draw one out at a time and ask the children to tell the details of their story.

You could also have the children share their 2 word story with a partner, first reading their 2 words, then adding the details.

Tomorrow is my day to volunteer in Owen’s room!  Maybe I’ll get a chance to try out a few of these ideas!



Shh! We Have A Plan!


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.

Sequencing sheet

Sequencing pics

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!

Catch squirrel


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.


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 Roomonthebroom.com.  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!

ROTB-activity-sheet-4 (1)

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!


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 djinkers.com.

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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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!


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!

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