5 Lesson Ideas with Picture Books and Laughter

Promotional image featuring five picture books: Panda Problem, How to Walk an Ant, Undercover Ostrich, The Very Impatient Caterpillar and The Great Indoors.“Laughter is the best medicine.” You’ve heard that saying, right? The Mayo Clinic supports this message in their post “Stress Relief from Laughter? It’s No Joke.” They present the benefits of having a good laugh. So when things get a little heavy, try reading a humorous story. Below is a list of funny books with lesson ideas that will lighten your day. 

Undercover Ostrich

Think of an animal that is really good at camouflage. Did an ostrich come to mind? Of course not! The largest bird on Earth is not easy to hide. But the narrator of Undercover Ostrich, by Joe Kulka, believes that ostriches are experts at blending in with their environment. This storyline makes the book hilarious. Each page shows a confused ostrich in unlikely settings. We see him standing on a subway train, squatting in a bird bath, and resting on a telephone wire. The narrator is amazed at how good the ostrich is at hiding in any situation, but readers will disagree.

Invite learners to research animals that use camouflage. Challenge them to illustrate a scene with a disguised animal hidden in the picture. Learners can use art materials or digital platforms. Visit my blog, Library Lessons, for another lesson idea that supports the AASL Standards Framework for Learners.

How to Walk an Ant

Let’s say you wanted to take an ant for a walk. How would you do it? Well, if you are not sure, a guide book can help. How to Walk an Ant, by Cindy Derby, takes the reader through the process. This quirky story is full of inspiring writing elements that readers can try with their work.

Invite learners to explore informational books. Ask what they notice about the different text features. Encourage learners to collect interesting graphics and ideas to write a guide book. Learners can create an informational guide about something fun. Inspire creativity by watching Derby paint in her “Duck Bath” video.

The Very Impatient Caterpillar

What do you do when you have to be patient? Take deep breaths? Count to ten? Now imagine you are a caterpillar waiting to transform into a butterfly. How would you pass the time? The Very Impatient Caterpillar, by Ross Burach, presents a comical spin on metamorphosis. Readers will laugh and learn as they witness a silly caterpillar change into a butterfly.

Invite learners to share what they know about metamorphosis. Watch an entertaining reading of The Very Impatient Caterpillar on the “Storytime with Ryan & Craig” YouTube channel. Investigate further questions by exploring “What Goes on Inside a Cocoon” on Wonderopolis.

The Great Indoors

The Great Indoors, by Julie Falatko and Ruth Chan, begins with a family leaving home for a camping trip. The empty house becomes the perfect vacation spot for woodland creatures. The animals take advantage of everything a comfortable, dry house has to offer. After days of indulging, the animals begin to miss home. They leave their indoor vacation to find peace and quiet in the great outdoors.

Everyone can relate to this story. We are spending lots of time at home because of COVID-19. Ask learners how they feel about staying indoors. Learners can draw or write about their experiences.

The Panda Problem

What does every story need to make it interesting? A problem. But when the main character insists there is no problem, what can a narrator do? Readers will enjoy the banter in The Panda Problemby Deborah Underwood and Hannah Marks. The narrator tries to convince the panda to adhere to traditional conventions of storytelling, but the panda wants no part of that. Silly scenarios fill the pages as the panda brainstorms a problem for the story.

Ask learners to name the elements of a story. Invite them to plan their own story. Learners will brainstorm a main character, setting, problem, and a solution. Watch author Kate DiCamillo offer tips about the writing process.

What books are helping you laugh away your troubles? Please share them in the comment box below!


Author: Maureen Schlosser

Author: Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades and Social and Emotional Learning for Picture Book Readers published by ALA Editions
Blogger: https://LibraryLessonsWithBooks.com
Skillshare Teacher: https://skl.sh/3a852D5

Categories: Blog Topics, Collection Development, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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2 replies

  1. I just discovered Duck! by Meg McKinlay. I think it’s such a funny picture book, you might want to check that one out too. Thank you so much for the other suggestions.

  2. The lesson ideas to go with these humorous books are great! So many subjects are incorporated into these five lessons including reading, writing, science, art, and feelings. Students will love the humorous stories and with the current state of Covid cases on the rise, we could all benefit from some added laughter! Thank you for these suggestions and lesson ideas. I’ve very excited to use these with my students!

    Have you heard of The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak? It is a hilariously funny book for younger children that requires the reader to read with lots of energy and excitement, but kids will beg for more. I typically save it until my students and I get to know each other a bit so we can all let our guard down and have fun with it. You should check it out!

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