Sunday, December 27, 2015

Elmer on Stilts by David McKee

Towards the end of the year I love to explore some of my favourite book series with our Kindergarten groups.  We read the circle stories by Laura Numeroff which begin with If you give a mouse a cookie.  Next we read the Blue Kangaroo books by Emma Chichester Clark followed by several books from the Elmer series by David McKee.

I have talked about Elmer in a previous post but today I thought I might mention my favorites from this extensive series (there are more than twenty titles) and focus on one especially - Elmer on Stilts.

There are so many interesting things you can explore with young children before reading this book and while reading this book and in a discussion after reading.

What are stilts?
Why would they be painted green?  Would another colour work just as well?
Why would an elephant climb onto a set of stilts?
What are some of the problems the elephant might encounter?
How could the elephant climb onto the stilts?
Does it matter if the ground underneath is hard or soft?
Why would the hunters want to catch the elephants?
How do the elephants feel at the end of this story?
How do the hunters feel at the end of this story?

When we read Elmer on stilts I like to make some simple stilts using two rulers.  Pushing them into a cushion shows the problem with soft soil.  Adding cardboard 'feet' to the stilts is a way to show Elmer's ingenious solution. I have collected some other Elmer ideas here.

At its heart this is a book about problem solving, about right over wrong, poetic justice and, most importantly, determination.

My other favourite Elmer titles are :
Elmer and the snow
Elmer in the wind
Elmer and the lost teddy
Elmer and Wilbur

You can see some glorious Elmer illustrations here.  You could even make some stilts for fun!

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