By Cindy O'Connell
"A person's a person, no matter how small." — Dr. Theodore Seuss Geisel
Celebrate the birthday of the much-loved children’s author, Dr. Seuss, with book-related activities for the month of March. Children love the repetition, rhyming, alliteration, tongue twisters, and often-ridiculous aspect of Dr. Seuss books. Try reading a different Dr. Seuss book every day of the month or the same book every day for a week. Make Dr. Seuss books easily accessible (in appropriate mediums), to encourage independent reading and create story boxes to go with favorite books.
Use the ABC Book to work on rhyming and sound-letter identification. Develop spatial concepts with Fox in Socks and Hop on Pop. Use The Foot Book to teach body parts and opposites. Teach counting and color discrimination through One Fish, Two Fish. Use Dr. Seuss books to introduce the concept of real and make believe, silly and serious.
Here are some hands-on Dr. Seuss-themed activities with adaptations and thoughts on how to make them concept-based. Designing themed activities around a favorite book is a good way to make learning fun, don't limit this concept to just Dr. Seuss!
Have a Book Drive
Celebrate Dr. Seuss' love for books with a book drive. Deliver notices and put up posters asking for donations (composition). Rehearse a rote script and go neighbor-to-neighbor or classroom-to-classroom announcing the book drive. Set up a table in the lobby or on your porch (enlist friends and relatives) at posted collection times. Role- play interactions and use personal communication devices and switches with a prepared script (if appropriate).
Set up collection bins and make daily trips to check on them. Use empty bins to reinforce the concept of empty/full. Bring the books back to class and use them to build functional classification & discrimination skills by sorting them into like groups - paperback/hardcover, big/little, Braille/print, picture books/text only books. Use collected books to reinforce concepts and build skills, e.g., count the number of books you collect each day, chart the number of books you take in each day over a two week period (Data & Statistics), measure them, weigh them, group them into sets of five (Number Sense), stack them, shelve them, bundle them, box them, etc.
Discuss what to do with the books you collect and come up with manageable choices. For example, you could distribute the collected books to classrooms, nursery schools, shelters, hospitals, and waiting rooms, or donate them to your school library (community experience). You could even give away one free book to any child that wants one as they arrive at school in the morning (social interaction and one-to one correspondence).
Make Story Boxes
Pairing books with tangible objects helps children relate to stories on a concrete level. Making a story box is easy. Simply collect as many props for a book as you can find and store them all together in a box with a copy of the book. Start your story box collection by gathering props to go with a favorite Dr. Seuss book.
For example, to set up a story box for HOP ON POP, you might include a cup, a bat, a sheet for a tent, a toy mouse, a branch for a tree... use puppets, stuffed animals, dolls, or action figures in place of Dr. Seuss's endearingly named characters.
Explore the props, label them (object identification), pass them around (social skills), and talk about their attributes. Build anticipation by wondering how Dr. Seuss will use the props in the story. Use the objects to illustrate actions in the story (e.g., put the pup in the cup, the mouse on the house...).
Pink Yink Ink Drink
Adapted from The Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook
By Georgeanne Brennan
1 cup of frozen blackberries, thawed
1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed (or ten fresh)
1 cup of milk (or 2 scoops of frozen yogurt or ice cream)
Generous squirt of honey (optional)
Braille letters or visual/tactile adhesives (to identify on/off buttons)
Use the blender to puree 1 cup of blackberries (measuring). Pour the blended blackberries into a glass. Put 1 cup of frozen strawberries (or count out ten fresh strawberries) into the empty blender. Add 1 cup of milk (or 2 scoops of frozen yogurt or ice cream) with a generous squirt of honey. Puree. Pour the strawberry mixture carefully on top of the blended blackberries. Congratulations, you have just made "Pink Yink Ink" from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish!
Adapt the blender by marking the start and stop buttons using Braille letters, adhesive bumps, rough and soft Velcro, bright colors or textured fabric. Time the blending process by counting to a fixed number, such as five or ten (rote counting). Work on the concept of on/off and start/finish. Encourage isolating the index finger to operate the control buttons (push/down).
For students with motor limitations, or operating at the cause and effect level, hook the blender to a Power Link (available through adaptive technology catalogues) so they can turn the blender on and off with a Jelly Bean switch. If you don't have a blender, simply mash up the frozen fruit by hand (up/down, hand strength) and mix the strawberries and milk together with a fork (one hand to stabilize, one to manipulate).
Note: To ensure a positive experience, introduce the blender before you plan to use it so that students can become comfortable with the sound it makes (desensitization strategy).
From Bartholomew and the Oobleck
1 to 1 1/2 cups of water
1 1/2 to 2 cups of cornstarch
Drops of food coloring (optional)
Newspapers to contain any potential mess!
Mixing bowl and fork
Start with the water in a bowl and stir in the cornstarch a little at a time until you get the consistency of thick honey. When it gets too thick to stir with a fork, switch to mixing it by hand. It can be tricky to get the proportions right, but the process itself is fun, just play with it until it feels right and use it as a lesson on texture.
Squeeze it, roll it, pound it, jab it, make a puddle with it, and throw it. Put it in a container and observe the change in shape when you remove it. Oobleck is a fun exercise on Properties of Matter and the concepts of liquid and solid because it has properties of each depending on how much pressure you apply. There is a video on YouTube of someone actually walking across a tub of Oobleck! It will make a glorious mess, but it can be washed away with water (food coloring may take a little longer to wear off).
Note: Be cautious not to pour Oobleck down the drain when you are done - it will clog the drain.
Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!