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First of all, I would like to wish Abby a happy 1st Blogiversary! I love reading Abby's blog and checking out her ideas, so when she asked me to share a guest post with you today, I was happy (and honored) to do so! If you're familiar with my blog, you may know that I do a "Book of the Week" (more or less) feature. I wanted to share one of my favorite books for the little ones, plus some activities to accompany the book.
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell is a lift-the flap board book, making it perfect for little hands! The story begins with a child who writes a letter to the zoo to ask for a pet. The zoo obliges and sends the boy 8 different animals, 7 of which he sends back with good reason! The language of the book is repetitive and predictable ("They sent me a (animal)...He was too ____! I sent him back."), making it perfect for little language learners! The flaps make it highly entertaining and fun for the little ones as well!
Just to give you an indication of the simplicity of the book, here are a couple of pictures...
Preschool Therapy Ideas:
I spend most of my times working with preschoolers. Everything about Dear Zoo is perfect for this age group! One of my favorite things to do with the kids after reading a story like this is play a fun game to reinforce the vocabulary. Although the vocabulary is not complex, I have many kids who don't know all of these animals! So we might play a game like Memory:
Each child says the name of the animal on the card as they turn them over. They get to hear the words as other children in the group say them, as well as practice saying the words themselves.
Another thing I like to do with my preschool students is to ask them recall questions regarding the story. Because they are young, I like to keep things simple and give them visuals. So, the kids get to see a page like this:
They can respond to my questions verbally or by pointing to the pictures as need be. Examples of questions include:
- Which animal was too tall?
- Which animal was too jumpy?
- Which animal was perfect?
- Which animal was too big?
- Which animal was too fierce?
You can also use a simple board game (like the one below) to work on any language/articulation skill and reinforce the learned vocabulary at the same time! (Examples: "I just passed the monkey." "I'm getting closer to the lion!" "I landed on the snake!").
Upper Elementary Therapy Ideas:
I may have mentioned that Dear Zoo is great for preschoolers and I think you can easily see why. However, you can also adapt this book for therapy sessions for upper elementary students as well! I've mentioned that the book starts out with a child who writes a letter to the zoo to ask for a pet. What I didn't mention is that we don't get to see the letter. You can have older students infer the contents of the letter. I also developed this writing prompt/sheet for students to request their favorite animal from the zoo, great for persuasive writing practice!
Conversely, when the child in the story sends the animals back, he should probably include a note, right? Students can use pages like these to explain to the zoo why they cannot keep the animal that was sent.
What do you think? If you like these activities, you can download them HERE. A big Thank You to Abby for letting me share with you today! Happy Blogiversary!!!
Carrie Manchester is an ASHA certified speech and language pathologist and is a Certified Early Intervention Specialist in the state of Massachusetts. She currently provides speech and language services in a public school setting, working primarily at the early childhood level (preschool and kindergarten). Prior to transitioning to the schools, she has spent many years working in early intervention settings and providing trainings to childcare professionals. Carrie is the author of the speech and language blog: Carrie’s Speech Corner. She can also be found on Facebook, Pinterest, and Teachers Pay Teachers.