Resources for National Simultaneous Storytime 2014
by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
Australia's National Simultaneous Storytime book for 2014 is Too Many Elephants in this House by Ursula Dubosarsky and Andrew Joyner. (Read my book review here.)
It will be read aloud all over Australia at 11.00am, Wednesday May 21, 2014. NSS is such a fun and effective way to promote a love of reading and literacy, and the people at ALIA always choose a stand-out story for sharing. This year is no different! ALIA, the Australian Library and Information Association, also have resources, downloads and inspiration to support the event via their website including a downloadable PDF of Activity Ideas.
Questions for Discussion after Reading Too Many Elephants in this House!
We never see all of Eric’s mother. Why do you think the illustrator chose to show so little of her?
What if you did have too many elephants in your house? What would you do? What might your parents do?
Say you decided to hide a whole lot of elephants. List ten creative ways you could do that.
Imagine you had too many rhinos in the refrigerator, spiders in your socks, or kangaroos in the classroom. What might be good about that? What might be not so good? How many would be too many? How many would be just right?
If you had a pet elephant, what adventures would you have together?
How many elephants lived in Eric’s house? Can you draw and name every single one of Eric’s elephants?
List ten wonderful things you can do with a cardboard box. What’s your favourite thing?
What stories, songs, rhymes or movies do you know about other elephants?
Use a Word Cloud editor like ABCya Word Cloud (the way I did, above) to collect all the elephant-related words children know. Or choose the important words from the story to create a word cloud. Have children defend their “important word” choices.
“Eric” and “elephant” both start with the short vowel sound “e”. How many other words can kids find that start with the same sound? They have three minutes to write them down. Older children could also make a separate list where words do start with the letter "E" but not with the short "e" sound.
Consider re-telling Too Many Elephants in this House! in some other way. Reader’s Theatre springs to mind, but how about having a narrator or group of narrators read the story aloud, pausing for improvised scenes at important plot moments. Polished up, this can make a fine performance for other classes to watch.
Have children get together with classmates to make an elephant shape with their bodies. try this in groups of 2, 3, 4, 5, and more. Try it silently. Try it using only elephant noises to communicate with each other. Can kids create an elephant with tangrams? At home, kids could create elephants from common household objects, wooden or plastic shapes, or building blocks.
Make a book trailer about Too Many Elephants in this House. Here’s one made by TL, Kerry Gittins.
Use PhotoPeach to compile a re-telling of the story.
Have the children help to make a song to suit the story. You could try using a tune children know and inventing simple words to suit. Try this to the tune of (almost!) Wheels on the Bus:
Too many elephants in the house, in the house, in the house
Too many elephants in the house, what will Eric do?
Too many elephants said Eric’s Mum, Eric’s Mum, Eric’s Mum,
Too many elephants said Eric’s Mum, They have got to go!
Eric created an elephant house, elephant house, elephant house,
Eric created an elephant house and the elephants moved in.
All of the elephants loved that house, loved that house, loved that house
All of the elephants loved that house, the house that Eric made.
Older kids might like to imagine an Elephants vs Mothers scenario. List the strengths and weaknesses of each and develop a presentation to show the similarities and differences.
There’s a downloadable elephant mask and other activities on Andrew Joyner’s website. Look out for the jigsaw too.
If you have little time or resources, why not have children draw a simple house shape, then fill it with multiple elephants. Older kids could add the book title, and some other book details to turn the drawing into a poster. I made my digital poster (TOP) at Ribbit with the elephant shape in Stickers/Animalia Scissored.
Kids could draw a simple elephant shape and fill that shape with elephant words, or patterns or colours. I made my digital equivalent of this, in example below, at Scrap Coloring.
Find the picture of the (double-paged spread ) of all the elephants - have kids look at it and study how Joyner showed them so crammed in. Kids could make an elephant template and overlap it, trace around it, gain some understanding of this technique.
Children can create their own small elephants from play-dough, then see how many of their elephants will fit into different-sized box houses.
Here’s a cute and reasonably simple tutorial on how to create a paper elephant on Youtube.
This simple handprint elephant from Red Ted Art is easy to achieve.
Ask kids to imagine how Eric looked when he pictured what it would be like to let his elephants escape. Have them draw a portrait of Eric, then add blown paint to show his hair standing on end. Or they could use the same technique on Eric's mum.
Find more elephant craft activities at DLTK and Activity Village Printables.
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