Make puppets! Create characters for a felt board! Craft a story basket! And the book to inspire you? There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann, illustrated by Ben Mantle (who also illustrated another one of my new favorites, Land Shark).
You know, I’ve read all kinds of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly variations through the years, and the children always love it. There is something about the absurdity, silliness, and repetition of it all . . . it is forever a hit with my young audiences. And that’s just when you read (or, if you, like me, have no shame — sing) it aloud!
All these stories lend themselves to re-telling, which can happen in any number of ways. But there is something in the retelling of a story that gives children a thrill, excitement, understanding, and confidence. If they’re not yet literate, props such as felt characters or puppets or stuffed animals or even pictures taped onto a popsicle stick (or masks, which I did just recently) can provide them the clues they need to tell the story independently.
So, pick any of the There was an Old Lady Who . . . take-offs –or – try the deliciousness that is There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight. Yes, he did. And you know what? It’s not polite! The dragon winds up swallowing a moat, a castle, a lady, a cook, and a squire, which causes him, towards the story’s conclusion, to accumulate a bit of gas. So, they all get burped back out in the end. Just try and find a child who doesn’t love a big, fat dragon belch, I mean to tell you.
And, I should mention that the illustrations are just as fabulous as the story? A red/orange dragon with horns? A mustached knight in armor? A pink castle with turrets and tassels? This book will have you singing, retelling, laughing, and reading again and again and again. See? Delicious.
~ Retelling this story! So many ways to have children re-tell a story – pick your favorite and watch them beam with pride when they do!
~ Ask the question, “If you were the Dragon, what would you swallow?” Have them announce, write, and/or draw their answer!
UPDATE (11/22): I try, if I can, to always let an author/illustrator know when I’ve blogged about his/her book. Who doesn’t like a compliment? Right? So, I emailed Penny Parker Klostermann, who was kind enough to reply! And, she brought to my attention some activities based on this book, found on her website! Thanks so much!
Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com