• Michelle Smith

Literary Based Lesson Planning: simple strategies for preschool learning

Updated: Feb 27, 2020

I am all about practical learning, and I have found that one of the best ways to practice this is through literature. I especially love combining books with practical learning because it only heightens the love for reading with young minds. This allows the stories to come to life, and provide a connection between books and real life learning. I have found it very useful and simple to use one book as an anchor to pull various activities from. These activities can be stretched out through the course of a week if done daily, to a month if done weekly. What I love most about this strategy is that it is very adaptable to various lifestyles for the reason previously mentioned. You can also make this as simple or layered as you like. From the stay at home mom, to the fulltime working mom, these activities can be implemented however you see fit!


Foreign Language

This book is one of my favorites because it is a simple read, and therefore easy to translate into different languages. My boys and I are in the process of learning Spanish, and I found this book to be very helpful in building our Spanish vocabulary for everyday use. Most of the story consists of “Owl is…” statements, which makes it very convenient to plug in words. The repetitive nature is also helpful with practicing new words in a rhythmic way, which helps with memorization.

Ex. Owl is dirty. Owl is clean.

      Owl is blue. Owl is green.

Búho esta susio. Buho esta limpiar.

Búho esta azul. Buho esta verde.

Phonemic Awareness: Rhyming and Opposites

While getting to know Owl, we also became familiar with concepts of opposite and rhyming words. Through words and illustration, a contrast is noted between dirty; clean, asleep; awake, quiet; loud, push; pull and big; small. This is especially helpful when attempting to teach a fresh three year what opposites are. The rhyming schemes, clean; green, awake; bake, loud; crowd and boots; hoot, are fun and encourages the littles to participate in the story. Consistently reviewing these words and concepts provide tons of learning without the littles having a clue!

Creative Art and Fine Motor Skills:

This book came with the perfect mascot for preschool art. Owls are fairly easy to draw and be creative with. Outside of creative expression, I love art projects because there are so many learning approaches that can be used to strengthen skills such as color and shape recognition, exploring various textures, following directions and strengthening fine motor skills. I simply drew and cut out a silhouette of an own, two wings and a triangle for a beak. I used wiggly eyes purchased for a dollar at Dollar Tree, and cut pieces of newspaper into medium to small squares. I applied the glue, as I surely don’t trust a one and three year old with liquid glue, then encouraged them to pick the pieces of paper up and apply them to the owl as they served as feathers. This was a challenge for my one year old, as the pieces of paper where thin and some even stuck together. I assisted when necessary, but mostly encouraged him to keep trying by demonstrating the grip between my index finder and thumb. When applying the eyes and wings I again applied the glue in the appropriate areas and emphasized the placement on the owl that I previously made. This project turned out so cute and was exciting to make as they were eager to have their very own owl!

Gross Motor Skills: Push/Pull

There is a part of the book where Owl demonstrates pushing and pulling an elephant. I gave an example of the difference between pushing and pulling an object by using a toy shopping cart. Almost any accessible item can be used for the demonstration alone, but I chose to use the shopping cart because it would require using gross motor skills that promote coordination. I then allowed the boys to take turns pushing the cart as well, which they are already familiar with as they love to push the cart when helping (if that’s what you want to call it) Mommy shop for groceries. When demonstrating the pull mechanism, I used a string that I tied to the handlebar of the grocery cart to emphasize the notion of pulling. They had so much fun learning to push and pull that they decided to use me as an object. 😊

Sensory and Life Skills

In a day and life of Owl, we saw that he likes to get dirty. And because he is such a responsible owl, he also likes to clean himself. I found this a perfect opportunity to sneak in some sensory play, while learning how Owl stays clean in the mist of all of his exciting ventures. Because I do not have any owl toys around we used dinosaurs instead. I filled a small plastic bin with planting soil and a little water (just enough to make a muddy consistency), and a large plastic bin with water and a small amount of bubble bath. We played with the dinosaurs in the small bin to get them nice and dirty. I also used this as an opportunity to introduce a new word, “mud”, and how it is made by mixing dirt and water. After our dinos were nice and dirty, we then put them in the clean water. I demonstrated, then encouraged them to wet their wash cloth, apply soap and rub together to form a lather. While using the rags to wash the dinos, we also explored the various textures of the dinosaurs, using words such as smooth, rough, bumpy and spiky. After the dinos were nice and clean we dried them with a towel and put them to bed!

More than the activities themselves, the boys are always delighted to have quality mommy time. Even if your child is in an educational program outside of the home, it is critical to make sure constructive learning is taking place with loved and trusted parents and siblings. In a world of hustle and bustle we must stop and remember that it is often the small gestures that have the biggest impact!

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