Home » Blog » Healthy Body, Balanced Lifestyle #5: From Head to Toe, by Eric Carle

Healthy Body, Balanced Lifestyle #5: From Head to Toe, by Eric Carle

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students get a chance to learn a traditional dance, listen to a story that incorporates movement, and show off their creative steps in a guided dance from GoNoodle.  Making healthy choices has never been more fun than in this movement-based, literary song-and-dance lesson.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:



To explore movement through literature and dance and to search for non-fiction books on sports, games, and physical activities.  (AASL 4.1.8, “Use creative and artistic formats to express personal learning.”)

Suggested Time:

45-50 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each child will replicate the movements from Eric Carle’s Head to Toe.  Each child will also learn the Hokey Pokey and GoNoodle’s Pop See Ko!

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Remind students that, in this unit, they have learned about healthy eating (Oliver’s Vegetables), a healthy mind (Mabela the Clever), and the importance of sleep (Go To Sleep, Gecko!)  In today’s lesson, they will consider the importance of movement/physical activity in staying healthy.

2. Main:

Ask the students to summarize some of what they have learned about staying healthy and making healthy choices.  They should mention food and healthy diets, sleep, and a balance between work and play.  If they do not mention movement or exercise, prompt them for this as well.  Make sure they know that staying active is important for fitness, growth, and overall health.

Teach From Head to Toe by Eric Carle.  Ensure that the children safely follow and replicate all the animal movements.  This is a wonderful way to reinforce the idea that movement is necessary for health and that a lot of books in the library have to do with sports, dance, fitness, and movement.  (Literary Element)

Next, teach your children the Hokey Pokey.  It is a traditional dance in the U.S., but many international students have never learned it.  I usually ask the class to form a big circle, put on the music, and just show/dance it together.  I recommend that you only use audio for the Hokey Pokey part of the lesson.  Remind the children that dance is one way they can stay active as part of their health plan.  (Traditional Dance Element)

Finally, teach the children GoNoodle’s Pop See Ko! Guided Dance.  I have given a link below to sign up for a GoNoodle account.  If you are not familiar with GoNoodle, it is well worth your time to spend a few minutes exploring the free movement and mindfulness resources it offers.  In Dubai, our teachers make extensive use of GoNoodle for indoor recesses, and it works like a charm.  Pop See Ko! is a kid pleaser and will get them moving and dancing and having lots of fun in the library.  Again, remind the children that there are many ways to stay active, even if they have to stay inside due to extreme weather. (Modern Dance Element).

If your children know some of these elements, I have given a few suggestions below for how you could change/adapt the lesson.

3. Conclusion:

Show the children some of the non-fiction books you’ve pulled on dance, sports, games, and fitness.  Challenge them to find stories in the picture book or fiction collection with the same themes.  If you have a sport genre section in chapter book fiction, be sure to point that out as well.  Encourage the kids to stay active, especially in the extreme cold or hot months, and to make healthy choices about fitness.

  1. From Head to Toe by Eric Carle.
  2. An audio recording of The Hokey Pokey. I bought one from the iTunes store for $0.99, and it is everything I need.
  3. Speakers and audio equipment to play back the Hokey Pokey
  4. GoNoodle Account so that you can access the Pop See Ko! Guided Dance activity. Sign up for a GoNoodle Account here:  https://www.gonoodle.com/
  5. Screen and video equipment so that you can play back the Pop See Ko! Guided Dance activity.
  6. A collection of the library’s non-fiction materials on sports, dance, fitness, etc.

I have chosen a fiction book and song-and-dance activities to extend the Unit of Inquiry.  However, it would be just as easy to design a lesson with non-fiction texts.  Here are a few examples:

  • You could prepare a “Guess the Sport” game using non-fiction books. For example, “This sport is played inside.  The players hold and roll a very heavy ball.  The object is to knock down pins at the end of a lane.  What sport is it?”
  • Instead of song and dance, you could play Library Basketball. See the Back-to-School and Library Games section of PYPLibrarian for instructions on how to play.  I made Library Basketball for my students a couple of years ago and it is now a favorite.
  • Ask the children to choose a non-fiction book on sport. Give them five minutes to look at pictures and skim the text, then ask them to silently act out the sport they chose.  Other children guess which sport is represented by the charade.  This could also be done in small groups.  Example: Baseball pitcher and baseball batter.
Recommended books for this lesson:
  1. From Head to Toe by Eric Carle.
  2. Karate Hour by Carol Nevius (optional, but highly recommended)
  3. Raintree’s Extreme Sports series: Animal Sports, Water Sports, Wheel Sports, Rope Sports, Board Sports
  4. Other non-fiction books on sports, games, fitness, and dance
  5. Dino Football by Lisa Wheeler (optional)
  6. Dino Soccer by Lisa Wheeler (optional)
  7. Dino Basketball by Lisa Wheeler (optional)
  8. Dino Baseball by Lisa Wheeler (optional)
Key Terms:

Exercise, Fitness, Movement, Sports, Games, Dance