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The Art and Writing Connection:
Storybook Reviews

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Title: Jump, Frog, Jump!
Author: Robert Kalan
Reviewer: Roberta Thornhill

My book is Jump, Frog, Jump! by Robert Kalan. It is appropriate for pre-school to lower elementary. It is available through Scholastic/Troll Book Clubs or from a bookstore. It has multicultural characters, earth tone colors and a story line that can be made into lots of fun. It is about a frog that jumps away while pursued by a variety of animals. At the end he is caught by a group of boys but one boy sneaks and sets him free. It has 2 different sets of repeated lines: "How did the frog get away?" and "Jump, frog, jump!" This is ideal for turn-taking, waiting for cues, etc. The rest of the story could be set to a song or chant similar to "The House That Jack Built." It has simple predictable text with the story built by using previously cited lines. The story deals with things children like: frogs, snakes, turtles, fish, catching a frog.

Props that can be used include an inexpensive rubber frog that squeaks that the children think is a riot, and a computer program "New Frog & Fly" by Bill Lyn/Simtech Publications. This is a switch training program that the children love because the frog's tongue goes all over the screen and when he catches flies he burps. I also made patterns of the characters in the book to use with a flannel board or story apron. Five frogs velcroed on a mitt for "Five Green & Speckled Frogs" is also fun.

Skills worked on by my group (severely challenged 3-6 year olds) are: attending, making simple requests such as "it's my turn"/"more"/"turn the page" (expressive), understanding/responding to simple requests such as "turn the page"/"wait"/hit the switch"/"it's your turn" (receptive). These activities can be done using switches, pictographs, signs or an AAC device such as the HAWK depending on the skills of the child.

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Response to Robert's Post by Nancy Hogan

Hi, I've also used Jump Frog Jump! successfully with emerging readers. I made a simple HyperStudio stack, which required students to "fill in the blanks" to make predictions and to complete the sentences. I made two copies of the stacks, and used Mayer Johnson symbols as choices for one stack, and used sight words on the other so more members of my (very) diverse group could participate.

We also hatched tadpole eggs and guided them through the first stages of froghood (they never could grow back legs in our tank). The students loved the science unit, especially when we released them into the pond.

Wiggle Works, from Scholastic/Apple Home Learning, has a computer program Frog's Lunch, which was a nice addition to the unit. This package comes with built in access features (scanning, on-screen keyboard).

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Title: Wicker's Wishes
Author: Carol Kaplan (Milliken Publishing)
Reviewer: Julie White

The book is Wicker's Wishes by Carol Kaplan. It is published by Milliken Publishing and is in big book format. This is a story about a basset hound who want s a different set of ears. He goes to various animals wishing he had their ears.

Repeated lines include: "lumpty doodly, lumpty doodly, lumpty doodly dum" (as he walks.....great rhythm here!); "I wish I had ears like yours that...."; "I would miss your long, velvety ears that fall gently to the ground", "without my long ears..."

The book has no rhyme, but some nice rhythmical sections. The book contains several familiar animal characters which have wonderful alliterative names, i.e. Frieda Frog, Rodney Rabbit, Paula Pig. The print is very large and highly visible. Sentences do tend to be a bit long, but some of them flow so nicely (...your long, velvety ears tht fall gently to the ground).

The book does use many pronouns in a repeated fashion which would lend itself to work on possesives such as your, my and on the pronouns you and I. The book is also full of descriptive words.

The graphics in Wicker's Wishes are nice and clean. It does lend itself well to the use of props. You could make masks or models of the various animals and their ears. In particular you could make a "mask" of Wicker and add the different ears to him.

Extension Activites:
Extension activities might include cooking (making dog bones), art (making masks, head bands with Long, velvety ears that ....(you know).
We have done several activities with Wicker's Wishes by Carol Kaplan. One idea was to make a big mural of Wicker's yard. We put in things like the branches of trees, bushes, flower stems, etc. The kids could then fill in the flowers, leaves etc. using adapted stamps and paint brushes, etc. This allowed them some freedom of expression. Some favorite paint brushes are the foam paint brushes and then (I think these things are pot cleaners) foam cleaners which have strips of foam attached to a plastic handle in a "whorled" fashion. They make for an interesting pattern. We then made basset hounds for the kids to paint, again, giving them the choice of tools and colors. They were provided with various types of ears to attach to their dogs. Great fun!

For a higher tech activity I thought it would be neat to "draw" an outline of Wicker into a program such as Kid Pix and let the kids paint it. I'm not sure how best to get the dog picture into Kid Pix, especially since I can't draw well at all. Maybe scan in a picture or modify some Clip Art. Have any of you done similar things...any tips or suggestions?

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Response to Julie's Post by Betsy Knafo

Julie- I love the pot cleaner idea. My kitchen has suddenly taken on a whole new meaning. Regarding Wicker, yes, you can scan him into KidPix. I just did a similar activity with "Spot" and asked a colleague who likes to draw to draw me an outline in KidPix. My colleague was flattered and enjoyed using the program and I got my drawing. If you are in a school with older kids, I'm sure it would be easy to recruit volunteers. I've also used IntelliTools Coloring Books which are great for switch users and have a much simpler palette than KidPix. I've used the Animals book which comes with a nice variety of line drawn animals. You can also import your own drawings or kids' drawings into the program which they can paint using the mouse, a switch, or an IntelliKeys overlay.

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Title: P.B. Bear's Birthday Party
Author: Lee Davis (Dorling-Kindersley Books)
Reviewer: Gracie Williams

Student Profile: Beginning, Expanded (Pre-School)

Story Objectives: Early learning concepts using multiple photographs in a rebus format; uses familiar and meaningful context of a birthday party; large visible print with counting to five in several instances; photos included on inside covers for easy copying.

Basic: Insert repeated lines "I found it,"What's inside," "Happy Birthday."

Beginning: Request actions, name and identify rebus pictures used with text.

Expanded: Use matching words with pictures; develop two word phrases.

Props: Using color copy or scanning of photos, the foam-backed pictures can be adapted to switches; stuffed animals are easily used as character puppets and readily available as they are familiar.

Extension Activities:
Can make and decorate cake, party hats, pack picnic basket as part of art activities.

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Title: Quick as a Cricket
Author: Brace, Jovanovitch (Child's Play/Harcourt)
Reviewer: Bill Peet

I grabbed our copy of my cousin Audrey Brewer Wood's book Quick as a Cricket (Child's Play/Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovitch, 1982) as soon as I got the gist of this class a couple of weeks ago. I applied the Books for Learning checklist to see if it qualified, and I think it does. Every page has a single line of text, with the sentence frame: "I'm as _____ as a _______," and a beautiful drawing by Audrey's husband Don which greatly aids in identification of the item for the second blank. It has simple, repeated text, predictable text (from pictures), rhyme and rhythm, SOMEWHAT familiar and meaningful context (not so sure about this one, but all animals used - cricket, bunny, rhino, shark - could easily be pre-taught and expanded), relatively large print (? on this - not as large a font as the heading font for the BFL checklist), relatively short and simple text for choral reading (maybe not short enough to make this the FIRST book used, but could be used third or fourth), patterned text - the comparative frame - to promote language goals, easily adaptable text, relatively simple graphics (some are less clear than others - I would have used snow for "cold"), all kinds of stuffed animals and animal dolls and puppets for props, and last, but not least, I'd write a little tune for the repeating line, if Audrey's sister and brother-in-law haven't already done one. They do for some of the books.

Extension Activities:
Libby (my wife, teacher of SMH class, mother of SMH child, computer access specialist) told me that Arjan Khalsa, CEO of Intellitools, has already prepared some Intellikeys overlays designed to be used with Intellitalk, to give kids the tools to construct their own sentences for Quick as a Cricket. We have been re-examining the overlay he sent her with a video on training people to use the Intellikeys for workshops she was doing in Louisiana. Contact Intellitools for the info on this set of activities (overlay, Intellikeys setup on disk, etc.). I believe you have to print out your own overlay from their disk, using their software Overlay Maker.

In any case, it has the "I'm as" at the top left, then the adjectives (big, small, loud, quiet, etc.) arrayed down the left side, then another "as" at top middle, then animal pictures with the words underneath ("a rat, a cat, a frog, etc."). At the bottom right are buttons "Read, Read All, Delete, Delete All, and Print," with a comma and a period for punctuation. If you used it with Intellitalk set to 72 point text, with a black background setting and yellow letters, the sentences would be enormous, visible to children with sight challenges. Or not, for children with no sight challenges. So that would be one high-tech activity.

But I like the idea of blending some off-computer manipulatives. We could start by taking photos of each child in the class (Lib's suggestion, for realism and recognition), then letting them place their pictures, mounted with velcro on an "I'm as" card, in juxtaposition with the animal pictures and some type of visual representation of the comparative adjectives. Some of the adjectives just beg for tangible representations: "cold, hot;" while others could be drawn abstractly by the children: "big, small, etc," and yet others would need visuals prepared: "scary, stubborn, etc.," or could be acted by teachers or children. Blank animal pictures could be prepared by teacher and the children would color the animal they chose to be.

Polaroid snaps would be the best way to get the children's pictures, then their faces could be pasted on the head of the animal they had colored. Libby, my teacher consultant in these matters, suggests the next step in another high tech activity would be to scan these pictures into the computer. Teacher could use the pictures in a Hyperstudio activity, which would allow animations of the child/animals to coordinate with the adjectives: LARGE/SMALL/WEAK/STRONG, hop QUICK/SLOW, be SAD/HAPPY/NICE/MEAN/LOUD/QUIET(could use sounds to make the last four more realistic, e.g. "Hi (sweet intonation), I'm nice!/Grrr, I'm mean/(bang on pots and pans)I'm loud/Shhh, I'm quiet, "With these animations, on their personalized animals, a non-verbal child can growl and a child in a wheelchair can hop quick or slow, etc.

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Title: Too Much Talk
Author: Angela Shelf Medearis
Reviewer: Jean Hightower

Too Much Talk is an African Folktale that might appeal to lower elementary students. It has a great line "AIYEEE" which is yelled almost every page and a few repeated lines- "This can't happen." "Oh, yes it can." The story is about a yam who yaks and then a fish that declares a yam can also talk and a weaver who's cloth declares oh yes it can and so on.

The text is easy to learn in that the same thing happens on every page. It just happens to a new person. All of the text is built on the previous text. The graphics are wonderful with lots of room for discussion.

This would be a great story for making puppets and augmentative communication- using a loop tape or a yak bak to say the simple repeated lines coming from a yam or a fish or a piece of cloth. It is also great for dramatic play and it gets everyone involved. It starts with one person who meets another and then another until the whole village goes to the chief. You also have running, swimming, fishing and weaving great things to build into activities. There could be some great cooking lessons with yams!

Extension Activities:
If I was using this book I would try to have the classroom set up like an African Village. There would be lots of African cloth around and material in the dramatic play area so that the students could wrap the material around themselves to dress like the people in this book. I would hope that they would gain a feel for African art work.

In the story a weaver is freaked out when his cloth talks to him. For an art activity with a low tech adaptation I would have the students batik. For the students who could not use a paint brush to put the cooled melted wax on the material I would have them use sponges which could be attached with velcro to a mit made out of temple loop fabric. Or we could hot glue old film containers to pieces of sponge to make a handle that they could use.

For a high tech activity I thought we could have an AAC user pick out the colors and plan his design on the computer using KidPixs (KidPixs has some great stamps that go well with this story.) The AAC user could be paired with a typical peer and they could together make their cloth, one designing and one carrying it out. This also puts the AAC user in control.

Does anyone know any way to make something that would work like a loom that the students could do. Ideas??

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Response to Jean's Post by Rhonda Etter

While it is not exactly a loom, a knitting machine comes pretty close. They are a little bit expensive ($150 or so), but a parent who uses one as a hobby or a knitting store representative might be willing to bring one to demonstrate to the class and let them try it out. Once the yarn is placed into the knitting hooks, the operator simply moves a portion of the machine back and forth to create the knitted cloth. Patterns can be created by changing the position of the hooks.

We have old fashioned standing floor looms that are used in "cooperative weaving." One person, who is responsible for the weaving, weaves a wide stick up and down through the fibers, then turns the stick on edge. This separates the "upper fibers" from the "lower fibers" and creates a wide tunnel for the shuttle to pass through. A second person is responsible for passing the shuttle through this tunnel. This task can be made easier by placing the shuttle on a stick also.

By my description of the process, you have surely guessed that I am not a weaver! I really like your batik idea!

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Title: Ten in the Bed
Author: Penny Dale (Discovery Toys)
Reviewer: Sandra Ourth


Extension activities:

  1. Acting out the story - sequencing animals.
  2. Adapting it to a song.
  3. Associating sound effect with specific animal.
  4. Using interjection key on DeltaTalker to supply sound effects.
  5. Rewriting story to include only pets, farm animals or zoo animals.

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Title: It's a Perfect Day!
Author: Abigail Pizer (J.B. Lippincott)
Reviewer: Sandra Ourth


Extension activities:

  1. Imitating action words (gallop, wallow, bark, chase, swim, crow).
  2. Acting out the sory using puppets or miniatures.
  3. Drawing/writing another story about zoo animals, family members, or classmates.
  4. Drawing a picture about the story using free form art for background and stickers or stamps for animals.
  5. Adapting the story to a song entitled "What a Perfect Day!"

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Title: Earl's Too Cool for Me
Author: Leah Komaiko
Reviewer: Rhonda Etter

Extension Activities:
Light tech art/writing activity: "Cool People I Have Known" scrapbook. We will prowl the school grounds looking for cool people with a polaroid camera adapted to be operated by a switch. We will use a Big Mack with the message "Can I take your picture for my scrapbook?" to ask permission before we take someone's picture. We will ask people to write their names on the bottom of the picture to help us with spelling when we get back to the room. We will glue one picture onto each page. In the margins all around the picture, we will write and draw pictures about what makes that person cool using adapted writing and drawing tools.

High tech art/writing activity: "The Book of Lies" scrapbook. We will use the digital camera to take a pictures of each student in the classroom. We will import the pictures into our computer and using the program "Power Goo," turn the picture into a "lie." Kai's Power Goo is an inexpensive ($49) program that allows the user to "morph" images simply by dragging across them with the cursor. We will use a touch screen so that we are actually just rubbing our finger across the screen to change the photo. Each student will alter their own photograph, making noses and necks longer or shorter, adding a third eye, changing hairstyles . . . or anything else these creative minds can come up with. We will make up fake names and write them under the print outs of our pictures.

For Earl's Too Cool for Me, I could use any 16 matrix or larger communication device or the Intellikeys with a word processor to construct a story using the pattern from Earl's Too Cool. I would make 4 columns:

Column 1: Names of students in the class (I might use the photos that we use for taking attendance, etc.).

Column 2: A series of descriptors using the story pattern; for example: "too cool for me," "too strange for me," "too sweet for me," "too wild for me."

Column 3: One half of a four outrageous rhyming couplets; for example: "he eats olives with the red thing in the middle," "she reads books while she's taking a shower," "he drinks Fresca through an itty bitty straw," "she likes to wear bright purple nail polish."

Column 4: The other half of the rhyming couplets--out of order so that it will be fun to find the rhyme; for example: his favorite song is "hey diddle diddle," "when she grows up she wants to be a sunflower," his favorite scary movie is called "The Claw," the sign on her room says "Demolish."

I will need a "delete" button if I am using the Intellikeys/word processor so that the author can remove the last phrase if they change their mind.

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Title: Wonderful Snow
Author: Jean Slater (Slater Software)
Reviewer: C Rawlins

We have just completed a unit on snow and used Jean Slaters book Wonderful Snow. It is available from Slater Software in Guffey, Co. One of the extension art activities we did was to make our own puff paint for pictures. The recipe is to mix equal parts of flour, salt and water in a bowl. Add liquid tempera paint for color in desired amount. If the mixture is to stiff add a little more water. Pour into plastic squeeze bottles and enjoy. My students loved it and worked on a lot of skills. They had to follow a recipe, measure, mix, pour, take lids on and off, tracing a line, filling in a specified area, and work cooperatively. We had the recipe in print and with pic syms for all students to read. This paint does not run and when it dries it sparkles from the salt. We put some of the paint in ketchup bottles and some in old perm solution bottles. The perm solution bottles are harder to squeeze so be careful with them. Also do not mix more than you need as it does not store for long periods.

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Title: The Very Busy Spider
Eric Carle
Renee Prochaska

Repeated text or repeated lines: The spider didn't answer. She was very busy spinning her web.

Predictable Text: "Moo! Moo!" (or appropriate animal noise), said the cow (or other animal). "Want to ________ (eat grass, or an action appropriate to that animal.)"

Rhyme and rhythm: No rhyme, some limited rhythm

Familiar and meaningful context (ie. stories based on activities familiar to the child, or routines the child engages in frequently): Kids are often exposed to animal noises and animals in their daily environment, on a "Farmer says" See 'n Say, etc. Large, highly visible print. - relatively large, but could be made even larger with a large font typed on the computer, or by enlarging on copier. There is room on the page to put an enlarged sentence strip over the print.

Short and simple text (i.e., test that lends itself to choral reading by children with low verbal skills, or children who use use augmentative systems): There are two short either predictable or repeatable sentences per page. A Big Mack could be used to tape the repeatable line "The spider didn't answer. She was very busy spinning her web." The child who can access just one message could use this.

For the the other page where the animal noises and animal and activity change: Pictures of the various animals, their noises and their activity could be used on a device like an Alphatalker or Macaw. Since the sound is used first in the storyline, if the child hit the cow, it could say, "Moo, Moo, said the cow." On other squares the actions the animals perform could be depicted.

A vehicle to promote the child's language and communication goals through patterned text (could be used to further develop vocabulary about animals): Simple graphics that easily depict concepts. Nice big pictures of the animals and of the spider (with the predictable line).

A vehicle for using props: Could either make own puppets from cloth or whatever, or make puppets by xeroxing (color xerox would be best). To xerox animals, put on foam board and then glue to tongue depressors (borrowed from the school nurse's office) as a vehicle for generating literacy-related extension activities (art, song, play, etc.). This would be an easy story to do as a play or a song.

Extension Activities:
For the low tech art activity, I would have two mits (like the washing the car/dusting mits you can buy at the dollar stores) and add velcro to each of these in the palm, fingertips area. Then I would add velcro to the sides and bottom next to the sides of an old cookie sheet. A piece of paper of contrasting color to the paint used would be placed on to the cookie sheet (for example, black paper, white paint, white paper, black paint, yellow paper, black paint.). The student would then have the mits on his/her hands and the pan would be placed in the hand and adhered to the velcro of the mitt. A marble then dipped in the contrasting paint would be added. The student would then by moving hands, cause the marble to roll around the paper, creating a 'web' for the busy spider. If assistance is needed for the student a 'typical' peer from their classroom would assist. Once the paint is dry, a spider could be added to the web, made various ways.

If a simple spider is made to by cut out by students and glued to web, T-handle scissors which are embedded in triwall could be used and stabilized on a wheelchair tray. The scissors requires that the student have the batting or slapping motion and then peer could feed the paper through the scissors. A purple colored glue stick (student can see the glue as it comes out purple, but dries clear) would then be used to glue the spider onto web. It is possible to make an adapted glue stick holder from a foam built up (used as the top of the T) and then the stick would be the bottom of the T and embedded in the foam handle. Velcro would then attach the top of the T around the hand to other side of the T to keep student's hand on T. Mole foam would be added and stretchy material where needed to keep the student comfortable.

Part 2: The High Tech Version

For the high tech version of this activity, Kid Works 2 could be used. If clip art did not already contain pictures of the cow, sheep, rooster, spider, pig, goat, dog, etc. used in the story, a coloring book (line drawing pictures could be used) could be scanned into the clip art and then imported into Kids Works 2. I believe (as I have not tried this) that Intellikeys could be used to have color selections on the overlay, so that the student can color in the pictures. This could be used as a peer-partner assisted activity. The 'typical' peer could then move the mouse, big track ball, whatever to a place to be colored and then ask the student what color should that part be. The student could then touch a color part on the Intellikeys and this would then color in that part.

A communication board could be added to this activity for the student to indicate to his peer which animal he would like to color next. Then the peer could give the student an enlarged copy of the animal. The student might be able to then place his fist on that part. If a student uses eye gaze to communicate, he/she could eye gaze to the picture of the animal they wanted to do next, and then to pick the part they wanted to do of the animal, they could eye point to their choice. The pictures choices would show a different part of the animal colored in, and they would eye point to the part that they wanted the peer to move the cursor to next.

This lesson would incorporate cooperative peer interaction and communication in an inclusive classroom.

Extension Activities Continued:
For The Very Busy Spider, I could use my SuperHawk configured into 6x6. The vocabulary on it would be: the animal sounds (Cock-a-doodle do!) the names of the animals, (said the rooster) and activities that the animal suggested. Ex: "Want to chase a cat?" And two spots would be reserved for the predictable lines ("The spider didn't answer." "She was very busy spinning her web."). This set up could be used to retell the story as well as to have fun with the animals making different sounds or activities than in the story. Words would be written over these pictures (taken from the book and shrunken on the xerox machine to fit the overlay). For a low tech way of writing sentence strips could be used to go along with how the child told the story. Or I do have Intellitalk and this could be typed into the computer. Ideally, this could be done on an Intellikeys keyboard and printed out and reviewed again and again. Feedback please.

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Title: Little Buddy Goes Shopping
Author: Patrick Yee
Reviewer: Bonnie Lattin-Hensel

My preschool SH students need real objects and are just begining to listen to stories at circle time. The book I have selected is Little Buddy Goes Shopping by Patrick Yee. (Penguin Books) It works on the communication goals of asking and answering questions and community awareness. The same sentence is on every page, "Do you sell carrots?" A child recorded this sentence on our Big Mack so everyone can join in this part. This is a favorite book because it has opening doors on each page. Extension activities are focused around this idea. I made large tagboard "store fronts" copying each page (with an opening door of course!) and stick puppets.

For drama I made large box "stores" with appropriate prop clues on the top and props inside. The children helped paint the boxes. The students love to hide in the box until its their turn. (Of course they can't wait!) Our Adapted PE specialist joins in the fun by extending the drama with an activitiy between each store. We have hills to climb (wedges), tunnels to crawl through, puddles to jump over and wade through (wading pool with shredded paper water) bridges to cross, etc.

Other extensions are Easter songs and poems about rabbits, (I made up verses to "Little Bunny Foo Foo" going to the market. Going to buy some carrots, not some hats.), purchasing and peeling real carrots with tops, and planting carrot seeds (book and song Carrots Come From Carrot Seeds). I have enjoyed reading others book ideas.

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998.

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