And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street
This was Dr. Seuss’ first book to be published. He said that as he was riding on a ship on a trip back from Europe, he became enchanted with the rhythm of the ship’s engine. As he listened to the rhythm over and over in his head, the words forming this book’s title seemed to flow right into the rhythm. This is great for helping children hear the rhythm in words (a key phonological awareness skill) as well as another great book celebrating the fantastic imagination of children!
After discussing the origin of this story with your children, imitate a chugging engine’s rhythm (in keeping with the rhythm of the title as well) Something like, Poof – Chug – Chug – Poof – Chug – Chug, basically the same rhythm as a waltz! Point out the rhythm in the story’s title. Have half of the children keep the engine rhythm and half repeat the title over and over, keeping time together. Next, have them participate by keeping the rhythm in a simple clap-tap-tap pattern, using their hands or rhythm sticks:
And to think that I saw it on Mul-berr-y Street.
x x X x x X x x X x x X
(tap tap CLAP tap tap CLAP tap tap CLAP tap tap CLAP)
Repeat the book’s title with the rhythm a few times again. You may wish to read more of the book to demonstrate how the book maintains the rhythm (be sure to familiarize yourself with the rhythmic reading ahead of time).
Experiment with other rhythms. You may wish to demonstrate a few variations (tap, tap, clap, clap; tap, tap, tap, clap; tap, clap, tap, clap; etc.), and then allow the children to take turns creating new rhythms for the group to follow. Remind them to repeat the pattern, and to remain slow enough that everyone can follow. If you wish, you may want to call out words or phrases that the rhythms call to mind (ex: tap-tap-clap-clap = “Green-Eggs-and-Ham”; also, nursery rhymes lend themselves very well to this activity). To end the activity, tell the children to follow you. Lead them in a pattern, and then end by putting both of your sticks on the floor. The children should follow suit, and the sticks may be collected.
If I Ran the Zoo
It’s fun to tell the children that when Dr. Seuss was a child, his father actually helped to run the zoo! Dr. Seuss had probably been to the zoo quite a lot. Talk with the children about whether they have been to the zoo, and what they enjoyed there. What would they do if they were able to run the zoo? Dr. Seuss came up with some creative suggestions that your children are sure to enjoy!
Now it’s time for the children to let their own imaginations run wild! What kind of an animal would they create for their zoo? Provide the children with art paper, glue, collage materials, and crayons. As they generate their novel creatures, talk to them about what their creatures are named, where they come from, what they look like (discuss the materials they have used), what they sound like, and what they eat. You may wish to write what each child dictates as part of a whole language activity!
Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?
This is a great book that explores the common sounds around us and helps children hone their auditory sensitivity. It is also a great book for transitioning from louder activities (like free play) to quieter activities (like large group), because it starts with loud sounds, but ends with a very quiet whisper, most often bringing the children’s sound and activity level with it. Let the children imitate the sounds in the book along with you!
For an extension activity, the children will use both their sense of hearing as well as cognitive and memory skills. One at a time, play recordings of familiar sounds and have the children listen quietly, and then guess what the sound is. You can do this using ready-made tapes or CDs (Sound Bingo games are a great source for these) or make your own with a tape recorder. If making your own tape, consider your own resources and the interests of your children. Look around your own classroom and consider the sounds they hear everyday. Here are a few suggestions to get you started: running water; vacuum; pencil sharpener; a chair sliding on the floor; knocking; animal sounds from the classroom, home, or zoo; bell; blocks falling; pages turning. As you play each sound, you may want to encourage the children to focus on their sense of hearing by closing their eyes as they listen. After the children have guessed the sound’s source, give them the opportunity to be like Mr. Brown and imitate the sound they have just heard.
For more Dr. Seuss activities, click here!