Location: In-house or on-site (for this assignment, it is on-site at an elementary school)
Audience: 4-5th grade (possibly 3rd grade. I’ve used this book with high schoolers)
Length: Approximately 45 minutes per session/number of sessions depends on book length (for this assignment, I am using “The Velveteen Rabbit,” so it will take three total sessions)
Scheduling Strategy: After school to partner with the local Safe Harbor after school program
Staff Time: Dependent on book length – read prior to program
Budget: Supplies on-hand – crayons, paper, glue, discarded magazines, scissors
Collection Connection: Books from the collection
Estimated Prep time: See “Staff Time,” plus amount of time to collect supplies and learn information about the author and/or illustrator
NOTE: Use the William Nicholson illustrated book (original illustrations), not a different edition of the book.
Program description and plan:
Begin by talking about favorite toys, such as stuffed animals or dolls. These can be toys the children have now, or had in the past. Discuss what they mean to the children. Do they talk to them? Act like they are real? Have feelings? Make clothes for them? Special bedding? Take them places? Sleep with them? You can even tie this in with the “Toy Story” movies. Let the children freely discuss their “friends.” Ask them to bring their favorite toy with them next week.
Now, bring out the book, with the cover hidden. Explain a bit about the author (Margery Winifred Williams [1881 – 1944] born in London, moved to the United States in 1890), and when the book was originally written (1922). I have more information to share with the children, but I’ll omit it here.
Now the fun begins! Begin by having the children imagine what the Velveteen Rabbit looks like. Do not show them the cover of the book. Once you are reading aloud the story to the children, do not show any of the illustrations. There will be time for that at the end of the book and activity. Read up to page 16.
Now it is the next week, so begin with the children sharing their favorite toys with the rest of the group. Have them share a story or two about their friend. Now, discuss the book so far, sort of refresh their memories. Continue reading the book, beginning where you left off, at page 17. There should be time to finish the entire book.
Once the book is completed, discuss the childrens’ feelings and reactions to the story. Ask them questions such as, “What would you do…” in various situations in the book. Discuss what they think the toys in the book look like and discuss each toy. For the next week, ask each child to think of their favorite toy(s) from the book (any toy is fine, it doesn’t have to be the rabbit). And, again, imagine what the toy(s) looks like.
The third week now begins. Take the supplies with you and each child can make a picture, or collage, of their favorite toy(s) from the book. Now, show them the book’s illustrations.
I have stretched this over three sessions, however, depending on the time you have with your group, this can be done over two sessions. Plus, it depends on the book. Additionally, any craft you can come up with to go along with the book would work well. For example, years ago I had a “gifted” group of students (8th grade) at a local parochial school. We read “The Hobbit” over several weeks. The library supplied paperback copies of the book (over the $10.00 limit for this assignment). The students designed a variety of crafts, games, dioramas, etc. They used their own supplies. I displayed the finished products at the library.
Graphic courtesy of Pixabay