We began our curriculum on the topic of identity last week by focusing on feelings. During literacy day last Thursday, we read several books from the Mo Willems', Elephant and Piggy book series. Elephant and Piggy books (also the main characters of every story) typically center on a social problem or issue that young children can relate to I.e. Making new friends and including others.

The stories are told in narrations from the point of views of Elephant, Piggy, and guest characters through word bubbles. They are great books to help formulate a better understanding of print and it's meaning. In addition, we chose to read these books to begin a discussion on feelings, as it can sometimes be challenging to understand our own feelings and express them in healthy ways. The author and illustrator, Mo Willems, does a fantastic job dissecting what it means to feel happy, sad, mad, and silly.

As we read our first Elephant and Piggy story, I made sure to allow ample time for the children to look at the illustrations, focusing on their facial expressions, body language and text size in the word bubbles. These were all indicators of how the characters were feeling throughout the story. It is important to give children the opportunity to comment on what is going on in the pages of a book. Rich conversation can erupt from this practice. 

Teacher questions or wonderings during a read aloud include:

  • I wonder how Piggy is feeling.
  • I remember when I hurt my knee and it made me feel sad. 
  • Have you ever felt mad about something a friend did? 

The children have requested to read these books over and over. During one story, we stopped to examine the facial expressions of the characters and determined how they have must felt at the time and why. We practiced making faces to go along with different feelings and will soon make a "feelings chart" with the children's photographs to help us navigate what we can do when we experience being sad, happy, mad, etc. 

We also worked on our first self-portraits of the school year this week! 

Avery: I see my hair first and my eyes. My hair is blond hair. Me love my hair and me eye brows!

Sebastian: Eyes, nose, a mouth. I'm smiling. There, I'm happy! A happy face. I need arms. There, arms!

Kai: Head and hair. I can make the feet and the fingers. Oh, wow! It's a nice picture! Oh, wow!

Noah: Do you see my hair? My hair is wobbly! I have one more nostril. Do you see my nostrils? I have two nostrils. And I have to make my legs and my ears.

Arya: I see my face. My nose, I made one nose. And my mouth. I have my belly and my arms and hair. I make my feet!