Ideas for day care and preschool teachers
1. Read Benjamin and Bumper to the Rescue at storytime. Ask questions for group discussion. A few ideas:
- What do you think will happen next?
- Do you think Sir Pouncelot will stop eating mice and moles for good? Why? Why not?
- Can you think of other ways that Benjamin and Bumper could rescue Mrs. Middlemouse?
- Point out a detail in one of the photographs and ask children what it might tell us about a particular character.
- What other mice might live in this big old house? What might their names be?
- Do you think that the children who live in the house know that mice live there, too?
Benjamin reads to a baby mouse
Benjamin fights a cat he made out of playdough
2. Imaginative play with handmade mice.
After reading Benjamin and Bumper to the Rescue to the group, print a set of instructions and/or watch the Make-a-Mouse Instructional Video to find out how to make simple, charming mice using baby socks, pipe cleaners, and other common household and craft supplies. Preschoolers will need hands-on help to follow the steps and execute some of the more difficult parts, like twisting together two pipe cleaners to make mouse arms. (A parent volunteer working with a small group of children would be ideal for this project.) Once the mice are made, preschoolers mayl use them in their imaginative play.
Resource: Vivian Gussin Paley’s books like A Child’s Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play, You Can’t Say You Can’t Play, and The Boy Who Would be a Helicopter are some of our all time favorite child development books here at BraveMouse Books. Paley explores why and how children use imaginative play to work through emotional issues and develop their imaginations.
3. Write a silly lunch song
The musically inclined teacher can guide the children in a group song-writing activity inspired by Sir Pouncelot’s aria on a theme of Mouse ‘n’ Mole Casserole. Choose a tune that most children know, like “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Write the first verse based on your own lunch menu.
“Miss Mason has a yummy lunch, yummy lunch, yummy lunch.
Carrots and a peach to munch. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch!”
Next, ask a child what he or she has for lunch and help the group write a verse based on this information.
“Maya has some nuts today, nuts today, nuts today.
She’ll eat them then go out to play. Yay, yay, yay, yay, yay!”
Kindergarten and Elementary School
1. Make-a-Mouse activity as a story starter
After hearing Benjamin and Bumper to the Rescue read aloud, students can watch the Make-a-Mouse Instructional Video, and illustrated instructions can be printed out from the website. Students in the lower grades will need step by step instructions from a teacher, aide, or parent volunteer as they create their mice. Before the students begin, tell them they are creating characters for their own stories. Ask them questions to help them develop a character. Some ideas:
- What does your character look like?
- What does he/she wear?
- Is she fat, thin, weak, strong, old, young, dressed up, carrying something?
- Where does he/she live?
- Does he/she have a family?
- What does he/she like to do? Not like to do?
- Is she/he kind, selfish, bossy, brave, cowardly, forgetful, funny?
Pastis the Persian cat was the inspiration for Sir Pouncelot
Resource: Show your students the mice in the BraveMouse Clubhouse for inspiration! When students are finished with this project, their mice can join the other handmade mice in the clubhouse. Email images of mice to email@example.com.
During the next writing period, the teacher can ask students to start a story about the mouse character they have created. Students in the upper elementary grades might be given the option of building a diorama inside a small box to set the scene for the story. This step can also be taken after the story is written.
The story writing and editing process normally used in the classroom can be followed at this point.
For younger students, it works well to use lined paper with space for illustrations at the top of each page.
(The handmade mice are composed of simple shapes and stick-like limbs and can serve as good models for a drawing lesson, as well.)
For older students, the mice can be posed, placed in a diorama, and photographed with a digital camera.
The images can be printed out (with the help of someone who is camera and technology savvy) and taped or glued onto the paper that could be used for a book.
2. Group Brainstorming/Writing Exercises
Read Benjamin and Bumper to the Rescue aloud. Ask the children to think of alternate endings. How else could Benjamin and Bumper have rescued Mrs. Middlemouse? How else could they have stopped Sir Pouncelot from eating mice and moles once and for all? This is a brainstorming activity, and no idea is too wild or outlandish. The teacher writes them all down on the board or a chart, without editing. This activity helps students see the benefits of group thinking and experience the synergy that can be created from playing off the ideas of others.
The Adventures of Sir Pouncelot
Read Benjamin and Bumper to the Rescue aloud. Ask the students what the story tells them about Sir Pouncelot. Is he evil? Does he have family? What do the illustrations reveal about Sir Pouncelot? Ask the children to speculate. There are no right or wrong answers. Ask them to imagine and write a story in which Sir Pouncelot is the hero, instead of the villain.
Another Adventure for Benjamin and Bumper
Read Benjamin and Bumper to the Rescue aloud. Ask the children to brainstorm other dangers that Benjamin and Bumper might encounter in their world. Discuss rising and falling action and suspense. Ask the students to write a story in which suspense is created by twists and turns in the plot.