Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Learning With Leo Lionni

There are MANY great books by author Leo Lionni which continue to be a valued part of many teachers' libraries, even though they are not new books - the books below were first published between 1960-1975! Wonderful, beautiful picture books (some Caldecott winners!), they also deliver powerful messages - some may be favorites you remember from your own childhood!

 If you're looking for books that have lessons about friendship, bullying, sharing, etc. - this author is one to look for! Read each on their own or as part of an author study group! Here is a short sampling of some of his books:

'"Swimmy": Swimmy gets a group of fish to swim as one to scare off the big fish that has been scaring them.

"Fish is Fish": A fish wishes he could go on land like his friend and see all the wonders of the world, but, when he tries, he sees that his own world was actually the most beautiful to him.

"Frederick": Frederick shows his friends the value of words, thoughts and poetry when they need some inspiration.

"A Color of His Own":
A chameleon finds out that having a friend to share with is better than having his own color.

"Inch by Inch": The inchworm outsmarts his enemies by talking and using his ability, measuring, to get away from threats.

With each book, take time to explore the pictures, which are full of color and texture - Eric Carle counts Leo Lionni as one of his great influences!

Read and re-read - explore the messages that are presented, as Leo Lionni gives each animal character human situations or dilemmas to work through - talk about these "problems" and "solutions" with your children - use them as jumping off points for discussions about events in their own lives. Make your reading time a time for sharing, also!

When you are ready to do some crafts to extend these stories, check these out:

Make a large fish out of posterboard or craft paper. Have children use a stencil or sponge (or any way you want!) to make many fish within the big fish - or have a whole class each stamp a fish and supply one dark-colored one for an eye! All will work together to make one!

"Fish is Fish"
Supply fish cut-outs to children and have them glue on larger paper and design their own fish-kids! Add arms, legs, clothing, hats - use your imagination!!

Write a poem together on large paper - dream up a list of descriptive words and phrases and try to re-create a favorite place or feeling!

"A Color Of His Own"
Have your children draw an outdoor scene. Make a cut-out of the chameleon from the story from posterboard and have the children trace him into their picture when they are finished. He will be a perfect "hidden" chameleon! Add a dictated or written sentence about the child's chameleon! If you're doing with a whole class, you just might have a new favorite class book :)

"Inch by Inch"
Make a six-inch worm to use as a unit of measure. We used a large-sized craft stick (just about 6-inches!), pompoms and googly eyes - see what you have on hand! Then measure away!! (This paper is two-worms long! This table is six-worms wide!)

Have fun!


  1. FABULOUS! The chameleon is my favorite. Now I have a new list of books to look for at the library. Yippee!

  2. Some lovely extension activities! Thanks for linking up!