Monday, May 26, 2014

Pecking Away at Vocab Lessons

Little Lipstick's current favorite book is Peck Peck Peck by Lucy Cousins.
This book has, um, no real plot. It has potential. In fact on first reading you are struck by the sweet daddy woodpecker teaching his son how to peck. They have some guided practice and then the daddy releases responsibility so the son can go off independently and peck whatever he would like. The young woodpecker takes the challenge to heart, flies into a nearby house and pecks everything in sight. The washing machine, a book of Jane Erye, a tennis racket, clothing, kitchen appliances, even the toilet. 

On first reading you are sure he is in for it. At any moment this daring little bird is going to be run out of the house by the humans, growled at by a dog, or at least chased when he tries to peck a napping cat. 
*spoiler alert* no such climax takes place. Proud of his hard work the young bird returns to his nest where his father tells him how proud he is of all his pecking, kisses his head and sends him to bed.
Sweet ending but I'm personally left wondering about the poor family whose family portraits have been destroyed. And what exactly the publisher was thinking.

Then, on our 37th reading I found myself doing what I always do- thinking like a teacher. This book would be a fabulous Vocab builder, especially for your ESOL populations. Since it is really just a long list of common vocabulary with somewhat of a narrative twist it could be a very engaging book for a younger crowd that needs practice with words. 

While it doesn't include any school vocabulary it is begging for your class to write a sequel- when the little woodpecker comes to school. It would be a great way to list all the school tools in your classroom with words and pictures (also teaching concepts of print). As a class you could re-read it over and over again so your students could put the words into long term memory. It would be rote practice without it being boring practice. How engaged would a kinder class be at the idea of a bird pecking their room? It's just too silly (which means right up their alley). 
Now I want to make some lesson plans and go teach!  Ah, maternity leave- maybe I'll just cuddle Baby Lipstick instead.

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