I think this may very well be my new favorite book! At least for today! Hiccupotamus by Aaron Zenz is, in a word, hilarious. Of course, brevity is not a quality I possess, so here are a few more words.
Hiccupotamus is a sure-fire winner with the little ones, combining the whimsy of Dr. Seuss-style invented rhymes, along with rollicking rhythm and rhyme that children crave. The illustrations are bright and draw you right in to a hilarious story of a hiccupping hippopotamus and his friends, an elephant, a centipede, and a rhino.
Just to give you a small taste, here are the opening lines:
There was a hippopotamus
who hiccupped quite-a-lotamus.
And every time he got’emus . . .
he’d fall upon his bottomus!
And if that wasn’t enough to get you marching right to your local library or book store, you should check out this interview with the author that left me laughing out loud!
This book is fantastic for building a child’s phonemic awareness, which I harp on incessantly, but it truly is so key to reading! It appeals to a child’s humor as well, which is always a great way to keep them engaged in a learning activity, but also creates a positive, enjoyable interaction, which always feeds the adult-child relationship. (Read here for more on the benefits of using humor with children.)
As an extension activity for Hiccupotamus, a bright art activity, mimicking the bright artwork in the book is ideal! Crayons can do the trick, but you could also change things up a bit by using oil pastels, chalk, watercolors, or colored pencils (as the author/illustrator did). You can really catch the light in your colors by trying this fun finger-painting technique using glue and wax paper, and then hanging the project in your window! I would use bright colors like the yellows, oranges, pinks, purples, and greens in the book. Talk with the children about these bright colors. Why are they called “bright”? How do they make them feel? What are they reminded of when they see these colors? (Read here for more tips on discussing art with children.)
Expand vocabulary by using words to describe the colors and the feelings associated, like “vibrant”, “vivid”, “colorful”, “flashy”, “zippy”, “zest”, or whatever else comes to mind. Such an art activity builds creativity, small motor skills, as well as language skills as the children create and discuss simultaneously!
Some children may choose to depict something from the story, or they may talk about the story as they create something more abstract. Some children may choose to create something completely different, and that’s great too! This is, afterall, a creative art activity!
Enjoy a hilarious book, and a vibrant, vivacious, zippy, colorful, and bright art activity!