In this lesson, students are “tuning in” to their new unit on Communities. Homes are an important part of any community, and they are the focus of this vocabulary-rich, masterful, creative classic by Mary Ann Hoberman and Betty Fraser. I like to include this lesson for the sheer joy of the language, but it is perfect in Early Elementary when children are quickly acquiring vocabulary.
To understand that a community is filled with plants, animals, objects, and people, and to understand that “The Earth is a house for us all.” (Key Concept: Perspective).
Each child will create a “House” that he will fill with an animal, object, and food item from the story. Together, these “Houses” will form a “Storybook Community” to display in class.
Remind the children that they are learning about communities. Ask them to tell you what they have learned about communities thus far. The main idea should be that a community is often described as (Key Concept: Form):
- A group of people
- With something in common (interests, location, etc.)
Explain that today you’ll be looking at a wide variety of objects and their homes within a community. Ask the children to listen and look for things that they have in their homes and communities, and things that they do not have in their homes and communities.
Also, ask the children to listen for animals, objects, people, and food items in the story.
Teach A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Betty Fraser. Work slowly through the text, checking for understanding as you go. The illustrations are very detailed, so take your time. If you have a way to project or enlarge the illustrations, that would be helpful for this lesson.
From time to time, check to make sure that the kids are keeping track of some of the objects, animals, and food in the story. There are a lot!
From the text, I have come up with:
Objects: Car, truck, plane, ship, train, glove, stocking, shoe, boot, teabag, cartons, body, head, reflections, hum, pennies, ink, peach pits, garbage, envelopes, earmuffs, eggshells, bathrobes, baskets, bins, ragbags, rubbers, roasters, tablecloths, toasters, tins, story, smell, secret, flower.
Animals: Ant, mole, mouse, bee, spider, bird, bug, chicken, sow, sheep, cow, horse, dog, flea, rabbits, mule, bedbug, mosquitoes, whales, fish, snake, shellfish, oysters, lobsters, clams, snail, lions, lambs, monkeys, worms, germs, donkey.
Food: Corn ear, pea, hickory nut, tea, crackers, pickles, jam, potatoes, ham, cookies, bread, peaches.
Kinds of Homes: Hill, hive, hole, web, nest, tree, rug, coop, sty, fold, barn, kennel, hutch, shed, castle, bed, mud holes, puddles, ocean, sea, lake, shell, tree, river, igloo, tepee, pueblo, wigwam, garage, hangar, dock, slip, terminal, husk, pod, nutshell, box, teapot, barrels, bottles, pot, sandwich, cookie jar, breadbox, coat, hat, mirror, throat, pockets, pens, trashcans, book, rose, head, garden, stall, earth.
People: Me, Duchess, Eskimo, Cree, Hopi, Mohee, kings, “us all” or everyone.
To extend this lesson, I like to have the children create a little vocabulary or story village by doing the following:
- On a blank piece of paper, draw one type of home. This could be a tepee, log cabin, apartment block igloo, or yurt. (Use anything you have been studying.) Sketch in only the outline and try to enclose as much of the page as possible.
- Inside the outlined structure, have the children glue down “tabs.” This is a small piece of paper that can flip up and down or side to side.
- One on side of each tab have the children write one of the words from the “Home” list, for example, “sea.” On the flip side, have the child write what makes its home in the sea, in this case a “fish.” Have them do this three or four times on three or four tabs so that each house is filled with lift-the-flaps. Then, illustrate the house and tabs to show some of the homes and creatures.
- Make sure that the children draw themselves in their homes. They can draw themselves as a king or queen if they like!
- As an extra challenge, you could see how many of the animals and objects from the story the children can weave into their illustrations.
The result should be a village of houses, each with lift-the-flaps showing the homes of many of the earth’s people or animals. If children do not have time to finish in one period, they can work on the project during indoor recess or when they finish assignments early.
Draw the children back together. Let them share their progress on the projects. Find a child who drew a castle, one who drew an igloo, and perhaps another who chose a skyscraper. Have them share their tabs and illustrations.
Emphasize that no matter where our home or community is, “the Earth is a house for us all.”
- A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Betty Fraser.
- White paper
- Scrap paper
- Crayons, colored pencils, and markers
The storybook village pieces would make a great display for the Communities Unit of Inquiry or for Eco-Week or Earth Day.
You may wish to use the vocabulary from this book to make a word wall. You may also wish to weave some of the words from the story into spelling or writing assignments. For example, who can think of a sentence using the words “cookie jar” and “ants?”
There are quite a few teaching resources for this book available online. It is a classic, well-known and well-loved in education circles. If you adapt any of those materials to a PYP framework, as I have done, please consider sharing your work here so that others can benefit from your experience.
Recommended books for this lesson:
A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman and Betty Fraser
Homes, Houses, Communities, Earth, Stories in Rhyme