Lois Lenski: A Literature Theme for Preschool
About the Author
Lois Lenski was born the fourth of five children on October 14, 1893 in Springfield, Ohio, to a clergyman father and a schoolteacher mother. She spent much of her childhood in the small town of Anna, also in Ohio, where many of her fondest childhood memories occurred.
Lois was an avid reader and artist whose parents encouraged both her hobbies and her education. She earned her education degree and teaching certificate in 1915 from Ohio State University and then began studying art at the Art Students League in New York City. Lois first began illustrating books in 1920. After illustrating books for other authors, she finally published her first book, Skipping Village, in 1927. Lois Lenski continued writing and illustrating books until her death in 1974. She was a much beloved author of her time, and her books continue to entertain and educate children today.
Discussion and Prior Knowledge
The preschool teacher can introduce Lois Lenski to the students by asking the children the following questions:
- What is a book?
- What is an author?
- Who was Lois Lenski?
All of the preschool aged students should be able to answer the first question by describing or naming some books. The students, however, may or may not be familiar with the concept of author. The teacher should, therefore, explain to the preschoolers that an author is a person who writes a book. Most of the preschool aged children will probably also not be familiar with Lois Lenski, the author and illustrator of many books for children. Before moving onto the reading section of this lesson plan, and book activities, the preschool teacher should tell the students a little bit about Lois Lenski and her books.
- Surprise for Davy (1947)
- On a Summer Day (1953)
- I Went for a Walk (1958)
- The Little Train (1940)
All four of these books are recommended for young readers. While reading the books aloud to the class, the teacher should hold the books so that the students can see the pictures. After reading each book, the teacher should initiate a discussion with the preschool students. For example, some useful questions to ask to encourage discussion are:
- What did you think of the story?
- What did you like about the story?
- What did you not like about the story?
- What did you think about the pictures?
Birthday Cupcake Snacks
- Materials: healthier cupcakes (http://hubpages.com/hub/Lowfat-Cupcakes), low fat whipped topping, sugar free puddings, nuts, fruit pieces, cereals
- Preparation: Bake enough healthier cupcakes for each child in the class. Prepare the sugar free puddings. Thaw the low fat whipped topping. Chop up the nuts and fruits into small pieces.
- Instructions: Give each student a healthier cupcake. Allow the students to "frost" their cupcakes with the whipped topping and puddings. Then allow the preschoolers to "decorate" their cupcakes with the nuts, fruit pieces, and cereals. Have the entire class sing "Happy Birthday" before eating the birthday cupcakes. Always remember to check with parents for food allergies or other dietary restrictions before using any food activity in the classroom. This activity will provide a healthy but tasty snack.
- Materials: props from the book On a Summer Day, stage area, costumes
- Preparation: Prepare the stage area and organize the props and costumes prior to class.
- Instructions: Put the children into pairs and assign a page of the book to each small group. The children should then find props and costumes that fit their summer activity described in the book. For example, the group that gets the "When we play band" page should find a musical instrument. After all the groups are ready, the teacher will read the story aloud while the child perform their assigned pages on the stage area. This activity encourages creative thinking skills.
- Materials: plastic bags
- Instructions: Give each student a plastic bag. Take the entire class outside for a walk. Instruct the students to collect items such as colorful leaves and pretty rocks they find on the walk and place these items in the bags. Also instruct the preschoolers to pay attention to their surroundings on their walk. Once the preschoolers return to the classroom, the students should share their findings with the entire class. This activity improves observation skills.
Train Coloring Pages
- Materials: train coloring pages, crayons
- Preparation: Print out and copy enough train coloring pages (http://www.coloring.ws/trains.htm) for each student in the class.
- Instructions: Allow the students to choose one or two train coloring pages. Instruct the preschoolers to color the train printables with crayons. This activity works on fine motor skills.
At the end of the Lois Lenski literature and book activities for preschool students, the teacher should review what the students learned by discussing the following questions:
- What is an author?
- What is an illustrator?
- Who was Lois Lenski?
- Name a book written by Lois Lenski.
The preschool students should be able to answer all three questions correctly as well as name at least one book written by Lois Lenski after reading one or more of her books and doing one or more of the Lois Lenski activities. Preschoolers will love reading these short, illustrated books as well as learning about the author behind the stories.