TRC Read to Kids

Welcome to The Reading Connection’s blog, where you’ll find the best guidance on reading aloud to kids. Whether you are a TRC Read-Aloud volunteer, parent or student, the book themes and crafts ideas, child development guidelines and recommended websites will expand your world. For 25 years, The Reading Connection has worked to improve the lives of at-risk kids by linking the magic of reading to fun experiences that inspire a passion for learning. Visit our website at

Monday, November 24, 2014

Blue-footed boobies and whingdingdillies

If you are looking for a Read-Aloud theme that is light and fun, try this one about odd and unusual animals. This theme provides an easy way to include both nonfiction and fiction selections, as well as real and imaginary animals.

One volunteer's recent trip to the Galapagos Islands provided inspiration for a team from Next Steps (New Hope Housing). Some of the animals of the Galapagos Islands exist nowhere else on earth, and some have evolved to have highly unusual features. The kids loved seeing this volunteer's photos of animals she had seen and could tell stories about -- blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas and giant tortoises. Connecting the content with real-life experience helps kids understand the information and builds excitement.

If no one on your team has taken a trip to the Galapagos Islands, the library is a great source of books on the animals of the Galapagos; an internet search on "animals of the Galapagos Islands" will also yield wonderful photos.

Or, drop the Islands angle altogether and introduce the kids to your favorite quirky animals:  platypus, emus, angler fish, sloths or geckos that can regrow their tails. The animals section of the library will give you lots of options!  

You'll find fiction treatments of silly animals just as much fun.  

William Wegman's famous Weimaraners dressed as humans are a great example of visual humor that kids can appreciate. In this video, he introduces his new book, Flo & Wendell.  

Bill Peet and Dr. Seuss are authors famed for their imaginary animals. Peet, an animator for Walt Disney, develops a story around his imaginary animals.  Seuss' animals are more likely to appear as a name and a drawing in a larger narrative.   

Book list
Flo & Wendell by William Wegman
If I Ran the Zoo and other books by Dr. Seuss
Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent, The Whingdingdilly and other books by Bill Peet
But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton
Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French
The Cow That Went Oink by Bernard Most
Animal Tails by Beth Fielding
Never Smile At a Monkey by Steve Jenkins
Creature Features by Steve Jenkins
How to Clean a Hippopotamus by Steve Jenkins

In the activity portion of the Read-Aloud, the team at Next Steps worked with the kids to make silly animal masks from paper plates. When the children were told that they were free to make the masks as crazy as they wanted, they got very creative. The volunteers cut the centers out of the plates and stapled tongue depressors (handles) ahead of time. At the Read-Aloud, the kids used colored foam, paper, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs to make their imaginary animal masks. It was loads of fun!

To add some movement, play silly animal "Simon Says." "Simon says waddle like a penguin. Simon says show your feet like a blue-footed boobie. Puff up like a puffer fish!" 

For a song, make up a mixed-up version of "Old MacDonald" based on the mix-ups in the book, The Cow That Went Oink. Together with the kids, make up funny combinations of animals and sounds, and then sing your song.

Don't forget to congratulate everyone on their imagination and silliness!

 To receive credit for this online training, please fill out the form here.

No comments:

Post a Comment