Early Literacy: Lost and Found


With my school trying hard to remain non-denominational during the chaotic month of December, I had to think creatively to bring in a fun winter-y book that didn't focus on Christmas and didn't focus on snow, since we live in the  land of tropics. In my research I rediscovered Oliver Jeffers’ Lost and Found, a lovely book about a lonely little penguin who befriends a young boy.  The boy rows the penguin all the way back to the South Pole only to realize that the penguin doesn’t want to go home - he just wants a friend.

I decided to do a picture walk/yoga sequence with “penguin pose” (feet in ballet first position and arms at the sides), “house pose” (arms over the head with hands forming a point), bird pose, boat pose (with rowing action), and “wave pose” (arms up and then forward into a fold forming the motion of a wave).

So. Book chosen? Check.  Yoga/movement sequence planned? Check.  Activity?  Activity…?

I turned to my good friend Google for penguin-y activity ideas, and came up with the idea to play “lost and found” with a penguin crafted from a toilet paper tube, construction paper, and googly eyes. Two kids would leave the room while I hid the penguin, and the other kids help the seekers find it by telling them if they were hot/cold. We could work on relevant opposites, such as warm/cool and hot/cold, as well as more descriptive words like freezing and burning.

Today was my “guinea pig” lesson - the first of the new cycle.  Hmmm.  It’s the end of the year, it’s a Friday, we had a special assembly today, and everyone is equally amped and exhausted.  Needless to say there was a lot of “everyone back to the carpet!” and “once more, we don’t tell the seekers where the penguin is - that ruins the game!” and “are they warm?” being shouted by me over the noisy din of 13 4-year-olds.  My voice is on its way out - and I have five more of these classes to teach!

That said, the kids had a blast “rowing” through the ocean and "waddling" their penguin bodies in and out of the circle. They were so enthusiastic about telling the seekers if they were hot/cold.  At the end, some of the boys came up with different variations on how to play the game, and another little girl was so excited to teach her mom.

My guinea pig classes are always fun and definitely help guide me for the next 5 classrooms.  With the next class, I will do things a bit differently.  For instance, we might go outside. The classroom was full of things they tripped over in their excitement to play. I will explain the rules more specifically, as well as the idea of teamwork.  If you have a partner, work together.  If people are giving you clues, make sure you listen to them.

UPDATE: I have done this lesson with two more classes, one EC1 (3-4 year olds) and one EC2 (4-5 year olds). All in all, they love the movements, especially “wave” and acting like a penguin.  So very cute to watch. In other areas…

  • With the EC1 class I modified the activity a bit to make it simpler.  I hid the penguin while all of the kids closed their eyes.  Then they went on a scavenger hunt for it. Whoever found it got to help me hide the penguin for the next round.  In theory this was a great activity.  But in reality, the kids are still a bit too young even for this.  With one penguin and 13 kids, there was some level of crying at not being the one to find it and grabbing of my little penguin causing an eye to fall off.  I would further modify this activity to maybe have a little penguin for each student hid around the room.  Or…just do an arts and craft activity with the little ones :)
  • For EC2, we did the original activity and it worked much better as all of the kids who were giving the “hot/cold” clues had to stay on the carpet while the two seekers looked around the room.  This eliminated the problem of kids giving away the hiding place.  It was very sweet as they all cheered each other with great enthusiasm!