Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Learning Activities for Favorite Children's Books: 25 Ways to Play with Whistle for Willie

Ezra Jack Keats's 1964 picture book, Whistle for Willie, includes many examples of play, as Peter entertains himself in his neighborhood while also trying to learn how to whistle. Featured in the story are a traffic light, an empty carton, colored chalk, a mirror, Peter's father's hat, Peter's own shadow, a trip to the grocery store, and of course, Willie the dachshund. The activities on this list connect with these elements to help bring this classic story more fully to life for the youngest readers.
  1. Play Red Light Green Light. This classic game is a fun way to burn off excess energy and to reinforce the idea that red means stop and green means go. 
  2. Sing and dance to Turn Around by Hap Palmer. When Peter first discovers he can't whistle, he passes some time turning around and around until he makes himself dizzy.  This song, which is great for teaching kids to follow simple directions, is also perfect for spinning around and around. 
  3. Play a simple memory game using the motions of up, down, and around. Have your children take turns choosing whether to move up, down, or around. When it is his or her turn, each child must repeat the motions chosen by the previous players before adding a new one to the chain. See how long you can keep the chain going without forgetting the order! 
  4. Practice whistling. Young children may not be ready to learn to whistle, but they can still have fun practicing. If the experience proves too frustrating, let your kids blow a toy whistle instead. 
  5. Whistle rhythms. Whistle some notes in rhythm, then invite your child to copy you. 
  6. Play name that tune - with whistling. Whistle a favorite tune and have your child name the song. 
  7. Sing songs about whistling.  There are some great kid-friendly songs about whistling, including Whistle While You Work, Give a Little Whistle, and Whistle a Happy Tune. Turn one on and sing along! 
  8. Make shadows against a wall. Shine a flashlight against a blank wall and invite your kids to make shadow animals. 
  9. Do the "I'm Your Shadow" chant. This rhyme comes from a 1986 video, Clifford's Sing-Along Adventure, which we used to show after lunch at the special ed preschool where I worked for a while during library school. I have looked for it occasionally online and finally found it on YouTube here.
  10. Try on different hats and pretend to be different characters. Provide your child with some hats and see how her imagination comes to life as she imagines who might wear each one. 
  11. Match hats to their owners. Use this printable set from kizclub.com to match hats to the workers who wear them. 
  12. Play a memory game with a cardboard box. Lay out an array of objects, and invite your child to study them. Have your child look away for a moment, and hide one of the objects under a cardboard box. Then have him tell you which item is missing. (You could also do this with a group of children. Have one child leave the room and another hide under a box. Then have the child who was out of the room tell you who is hiding.) 
  13. Play dog-themed memory. Create your own memory cards, or use a printable set like this one from sunnydayfamily.com. 
  14. List words beginning with W. Whistle and Willie both begin with W. Challenge your child to come up with more words that also begin with this letter. 
  15. Make a whistle from a straw. There are instructions for this activity all over YouTube and Pinterest. Personally, I like these kid-friendly directions from Science Guy on YouTube.
  16. Balance on a piece of tape. Just as Peter balances on a crack in the sidewalk, challenge your child to walk along a piece of tape on the floor. Make this activity more challenging by putting lots of twists and turns in your tape "crack." 
  17. Draw a chalk line on the sidewalk (or on long paper). Imitate Peter by creating a long line right up to your front door. 
  18. Write and draw your own version of the story. Rewrite the first line of the book, "Oh, how Peter wished he could whistle!" by substituting your child's name and an activity he or she wishes to learn how to do. Then invite him or her to illustrate the sentence with a picture showing what it would be like to have that skill.  
  19. Make a dog like Willie. Use this wonderful template from Learn Create Love to create  your own dachshund like Willie. (Or, for a real keepsake, order these plush dogs from Discount School Supply and decorate with fabric markers.) 
  20. Listen to James Garner read the story. This vintage video from Bank Street College of Education is probably more fun for adults than for kids, but it's a decent performance of the book even if kids don't know who James Garner was. 
  21. Play a comprehension game based on the book. Make your own game board, or purchase this one from 2nd Grade Nemo at Teachers Pay Teachers. 
  22. Create your neighborhood in Keats's artistic style. Use collage materials to create a visual representation of your neighborhood and your favorite things to do there. 
  23. Draw your reflection. Provide your child with a mirror and invite him or her to draw his or her face the way it looks in the mirror. 
  24. Pretend to do grocery shopping. Set out some canned goods and other non-perishables and have your child pretend to go grocery shopping as Peter and Willie do at the end of the book. 
  25. Have a grocery store scavenger hunt. When you visit the actual grocery store, give your kids lists of items to locate. Hands On As We Grow has some great ideas for this activity. 

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