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Famous threesomes: Uncommon uses for common stories

Listening center. Make available other versions of the Three Little Pigs books and cassettes to the children.
Math and manipulatives center. Invite the children to build a brick house using Lego® type blocks. Additionally, provide puzzles, folder games about three pigs, and other assorted manipulatives. Older children will enjoy the commercially produced games Pass the Pigs and Pig Pile.

Three Pigs folder game
Objective: The children will match shirts to the hats of each of the three pigs.
Here’s what you need:
file folder
heavy-duty envelope or small zipper-top plastic bag
package sealing tape
clear, adhesive-backed plastic or laminator
construction paper
paper in three patterns
copy machine
small hook-and-loop dots

1. Copy and enlarge the pig, hat, and shirt patterns below.
2. Use the pattern to cut out three pigs from construction paper.
3. Use the pattern to cut a hat and matching shirt from each piece of patterned paper.
4. Glue the three pigs to the inside of the file folder. Glue a hat on each pig’s head.
5. Write “Match the shirt to the hat” on the front of the folder.
6. Cover the entire folder with contact paper or laminate it.
7. Cover or laminate each shirt and trim carefully.
8. Glue a hook-and-loop dot to the back of each shirt.
9. Glue the matching dot to the pig’s body.
10. Tape the plastic bag to the back of the folder to hold the pieces.

Group times. Collect pictures of different types of home construction including brick, wood siding, metal siding, apartment buildings, and factory-built homes. Consider putting together a home design prop box with blueprints, paint color chips, tape measures, pencils, paper, and pictures of home interiors and exteriors. Include photographs of familiar buildings in your neighborhood or city.
Gather three large cardboard boxes, glue, straw or dried grass, twigs, and markers. Invite children to cover one with straw, cover one with twigs, and draw bricks on the third. Use the box houses with dolls, stuffed animals, or puppets to act out the story.
Cooking. Try either of these easy classroom cooking activities. (See , Fall 2000, page 28, for general guidelines on classroom cooking.) Both activities require an oven. Always review safety rules before cooking—including starting with clean hands.
Make pig biscuits (see Rebus above). Provide squares of aluminum foil labeled with children’s names, two canned biscuits for each child, plastic serrated knives, raisins, and cinnamon-sugar mix.
Make Pigs in a Blanket for snack. Show children how to flatten a canned biscuit on foil, wrap it around a piece of precooked sausage, and bake.
Discovery center. Place small sticks, pieces of straw, and a few bricks in the sand and water table or in a large plastic tub. Use fireplace bellows or a foot pump to huff and puff. Let the children huff and puff to try to move the objects.
Writing center. Offer paper, crayons, markers, and pencils for free-play drawing and writing. Provide word cards with the words and printed in large, clear letters.
Music and movement center.
Sing the
Part 1—to the tune of
Pig, Pig, build your house, Quickly as you may.
Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up, hurry up!
Wolf is on his way!

Part 2—to the tune of
The Wolf is in the pot!
The Wolf is in the pot!
We will all be safe tonight,
The Wolf is in the pot!

—Joan E. Haines

Play Blindfold one child. Ask the other children to sit on the floor in a circle. Walk around the circle with the blindfolded child who eventually sits on another child’s lap. That child squeals. The blindfolded child tries to guess who the squealer is. Let all the children take turns being blindfolded.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Gather these versions of this traditional Norwegian folk tale:
Appleby, Ellen.
Brown, Maria.
Carpenter, Stephen.
Chardict, Bernice.
Emberley, Rebecca.
Galdone, Paul.
Granowsky, Alvin.
Percy, Graham. , book and cassette
Otfinoski, Steven.
McMullen, Kate.
Story time. Read the traditional story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff retold and illustrated by Paul Galdone. Help children learn the sequence of the story by using flannel board figures or puppets, or by acting it out.
Art center. Introduce water colors by talking about how fluid and water-like a finished painting looks. Relate the water colors to the water under the bridge the Billy Goats Gruff must cross.
Block center. Build bridges using unit blocks, hollow blocks with beams, or cardboard brick blocks. On a warm, sunny day, build a bridge outdoors. Run a stream of water underneath the bridge.
Dramatic play. Make goat horn hats (see examples below) and a pointed troll hat (paper rolled and taped into a cone shape) from colored posterboard. Place in the dramatic play area.
Manipulatives and math center. Encourage children to practice counting with this activity.
Here’s what you need:
egg carton
3 each of several small objects like buttons, marbles, or pebbles, for example
plastic, zipper-top bag

1. On the top of the carton, write “Focus on Three (3).”
2. Instruct children to place three matching objects into each egg cup.
3. Store the objects in the plastic bag when the children are finished counting.
Group times. Introduce , animals that eat plants. Goats are herbivores. They are good climbers, have flat teeth (for grinding their food), and frequently live in grassy and hilly or mountainous areas. Show pictures of goats in their natural —where they live in the wild.
Compare a few herbivores and , animals that eat meat. Ask children for examples of each.
Cooking. Make a salad using field greens and goat cheese.
Discovery center. Put sand, small stones, tongue depressors, plastic goats, and a troll doll in the sand and water table. Encourage the children to make mountains and bridges.
Plant some rye grass seeds in a low, wide clay pot. Watch the grass seeds grow.
Listening area. Show children how to use a cassette recorder. Invite them to make their own recordings of . Older children might enjoy telling the story from the troll’s point of view.
Writing center. Offer paper, crayons, pencils, and markers for free-play drawing and writing. Provide word cards with the words and printed in large, clear letters.
Music center. Sing —to the tune of
First verse:
The mean little troll let the first goat pass, first goat pass, first goat pass.
He’s over the bridge in the nice green grass,
But the ugly, mean troll is still hungry!

Second verse: Repeat first verse using “second goat.”
Third verse:
The third billy goat pushed the mean troll over!
The third billy goat pushed the mean troll over!
The three billy goats are in fields of clover—
Hurray for the Billy Goats Gruff.

—Joan E. Haines

The Three Little Kittens
Gather these versions of this familiar nursery rhyme.
Alter, Anna.
Gladone, Paul.
Kelly, Martin. , photographs
Linch, Tanya.
Marzollo, Jean.
Obligado, Lilian.
Scott, Dorothy.
Art center. Encourage children to use yarn in an art activity.
Here’s what you need:
lengths of colored yarn
construction paper

1. Dip a piece of yarn in glue.
2. Squeeze out the excess glue.
3. Arrange the yarn on a sheet of paper to make a design.
Variation: After the yarn dries, invite children to use markers or crayons to add to the yarn art.
Invite children to make prints from sponges cut into cat, mitten, or paw shapes.
Cut large mittens from easel paper. Invite children to create unique designs with markers, paint, and collage materials.
Dramatic play. Place three pairs of mittens, an apron, washboard, clothesline and pins, and pie plate in the dramatic play center. Invite children to use the washboard in the sand and water table to wash the mittens and hang them out to dry.
Listening area. Provide a cassette of familiar household sounds, including a cat meowing. Encourage the children to identify each sound.
Math and manipulatives center. Provide matching games, puzzles, cat counters, and other manipulatives.
Reinforce the concept of or two of an object. Use fabric squares, stringing beads, sea shells, or Concentration cards to encourage children to form pairs.

Three Little Kittens folder game
Objective: The children will make three sets of three similar objects.
Here’s what you need:
paper or fabric in three patterns
3 lengths of yarn, each 16-inches long
mitten and scarf patterns
9 pairs of small hook-and-loop dots
clear, adhesive-backed plastic or laminator
small, zipper-top storage bag

1. Copy and enlarge the mitten and scarf patterns on Page 16. Use the patterns to cut out one pair of mittens and one scarf from each different piece of fabric or paper.
2. Glue the lengths of yarn across the inside of the folder like three clotheslines.
3. Write “Match the scarf and mittens” across the top of the folder.
4. Cover the folder with clear, adhesive-backed plastic or laminate.
5. Glue three hook-and-loop dots across each length of yarn.
6. Glue the other half of the hook-and-loop dot to the back of each scarf and mitten.
7. Tape the storage bag to the back of the folder.
8. Instruct children to hang the matching sets of mittens and scarves on each clothesline.

Group time. Discuss feelings. Ask: Why did the kittens cry when they disappointed their mother? What did the mother cat feel? What would be a good reward for a real cat?
Share the story in poetry and storybook forms. Talk about the differences and vote on the one the children like best.
Cooking. Make pie for snack. Children crush graham crackers with butter to make a crust. They can also mix instant pudding for pie filling. Remember to insist on clean hands before cooking and eating.
Math and manipulatives center. Use a paper pie to demonstrate size. Cut the pie in half. Ask if there are enough pieces for the three kittens and their mother to each get a slice. Cut the pie in fourths or quarters and repeat the question. Let the children cut a paper pie in half and fourths.
Writing center. Offer paper, crayons, markers, and pencils for free-play drawing and writing. Provide word cards with the words and printed in large, clear letters.
Discovery center. Invite a parent, Humane Society volunteer, or veterinarian to bring a pet cat to visit the classroom. Ask the visitor to tell the children about pet care, including handling and feeding.
Ask children to bring pictures of their own pets to share with the group. Sort the photos into categories like cats, dogs, reptiles, caged pet, and outside pet. Help children recognize that a pet could be appropriately placed in more than one category.
Music and movement center. Play , moving as cats do. Later expand the activity to include all pets. Let the children hop, crawl, leap, slither, run, gallop, walk, pounce, and climb, for example.

Want more?
If you want more famous threesomes, consider: retold by Steven Kellogg, Anne Rockwell, Margot Zemach, and others; by Tomi Ungerer; retold by Harriet Ziefert and Margot Zemach; the by Angela Hunt; and by Helme Heine.

About the author
Jo Ann Lohl Spears retired from teaching in 1999 after 18 years of experience as a preschool teacher and director. She currently writes and works as the periodicals manager at the University of Houston-Victoria library.