Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Elephant and Piggie

Please tell me you have read Mo Willem's Elephant and Piggie books. These books are hilarious and they make great read alouds. I have been reading a different book from this series every day to my summer school class and they are completely hooked-I think it is their favorite part of the morning! There are currently 15 books in this fabulous series and I wish my school's library had them all!

The books are very simple and a few of my students are even able to read them on their own after I've read them aloud to the class. All of the text is written through speech bubbles, so you are basically reading what the characters are saying to each other. The main characters are Piggie and Gerald (the elephant). The expressions on these two in the illustrations crack me up!

Yesterday I realized we were nearing the end of our tall stack of Elephant and Piggie books and started to worry-what will my summer school class look forward to now? That's when I realized my students know these books so well they could probably write their own Elephant and Piggie books! And Mo Willems is totally cool with this-I happened to see him a few years ago at a local book signing and he told me that he drew the characters in his books very simply so that kids would be able to copy them!

So, today's writing workshop mini-lesson was: speech bubbles. I drew Piggie and Gerald on my chart paper, and then modeled drawing speech bubbles and writing what the characters were saying. The kids thought it was a hoot watching me try to draw Elephant and Piggie - I am no artist! They were beyond excited when it was finally their turn to give it a try and make up speech bubble conversations between two of their favorite characters! Check out their awesome work:

Since this is summer school, many of my students really struggle with writing. However, even my reluctant writers loved this assignment. I think there is something less daunting about just writing a few speech bubbles compared with tackling a whole story. Let me tell you-their writing was SO funny. They had Piggie and Gerald talking about going to the pool, ordering pizza, and even skateboarding!

I definitely recommend introducing speech bubbles into your writing workshop. Not only do the Elephant and Piggie books show great examples of speech bubbles, but the Pigeon books do as well. Looks like I might need to do a Mo Willem's author study in reading and in writing next year!


  1. My boyfriend and I spent twenty minutes yesterday reading all the Elephant and Piggie books at Borders! You had a great idea to read them aloud and have the students make their own books! I am so going to do that. Thanks!! :)

    Marvelous Multiagers!

  2. Cute idea! My kinders LOVE these books and by the end of the year many of the kiddos can actually read them, or pick out sight words!
    I love how they wrote their own versions!

  3. I had not heard of them until my room mother read one of them at the end of the year last year. They are great. Thanks for sharing the ideas!

    Kinder Kraziness

  4. Lol I just wrote about Mo Willems being my favorite children's book author for Clutter-Free Classroom's linky party! This is a great writing project - I'm totally stealing this idea for my kinders this year!
    I'm also your latest follower!

    HerdingKats In Kindergarten: Mo Willems!

  5. I found some speech bubble die cuts at the dollar tree this past week. Now I have a cute idea to use them for. Thanks a bunches.