Elephant and Piggie Wow the Crowd

We have long been offering continuing education opportunities on a monthly basis for our day care providers. Because we are registered instructors, providers who take our free hour-long classes are able to gain credits for continued certification in our state's certification program. Libraries place such importance on early literacy that it makes sense to give providers the knowledge and encouragement to do just that through these workshops!

We recently did a workshop demonstrating how to create story extension activities using a book and one's own imagination. Activities that extend a story help children play with characters, plots and situations in the just-read book and more firmly embrace and enjoy the story and the concepts inside it. These extensions can be craft-based; sensory-based; pretend-play exploratory; art-based and more. The point is finding the kernel(s) of the book and extend them into the activity. Since we wanted to explore this in a simple fun way, what better books than Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie (aka E&P in this post!) series to do the job?

Here's how it went down:

I read There's a Bird on My Head and demonstrated a fun nest hat the children could make. This was followed with I Will Surprise My Friend and a demonstration on how paper bag E&P puppets could help kids understand the situation of the rock hiding the characters (you can find the extensions used in this post).

Providers then picked a Willems' E&P book, and were given 10-12 minutes to read it and either working as a team or alone, come up with an idea for an extension idea or two that might work. The crowd was enthusiastic and came up with some great ideas. Here's a few they shared when we re-gathered and book-talked their selection and made their suggestions. Look what great stuff they came up with in just a few minutes:

Watch Me Throw the Ball - have the kids toss a ball and comment on all the different ways they throw (best throw to the left; highest; softest; kindest to the ball; best ball that went to the left; etc. Important to focus not on far the ball is thrown but how fun throwing the ball, no matter the result is!)

I Broke My Trunk - using paper towel rolls, let kids hold them to their noses. Talk about what might break their nose. Let the kids wrap their broken noses in toilet paper as a bandage.

Elephants Cannot Dance - have kids practice the dance moves Elephant does. Then ask them to try a new dance move (depending on the group, they may come up with plenty of their own). Add music and have a dance party!

Let's Go For a Drive - let kids pack and unpack a suitcase with clothes. Show them maps. Make a map of a walk around the block and walk with the kids showing them how a map works. Let the kids draw a map. Ask kids what they want to pack for a trip to the store; to the woods; to the beach; to a very cold place with snow.

My New Friend is So Fun! - Have kids draw a picture of their favorite friend.

I'm a Frog - have kids pretend to be frogs and cows. Ask them what other animals they would like to pretend to be. Use pictures of real animals to extend the idea.

Many of the providers had never heard of these books and realized that an early reader could work great with the kids in their care. It also stimulated alot of conversation of other books they love to use with the kids and how they could use the story extension concept to enhance the kids' enjoyment. Mission accomplished!

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