Pigeon, Elephant and Piggie, Knuffle Bunny… who doesn’t love Mo Willems? While still at the school in Louisiana, I conducted one of my all time favorite programs for Kindergartners through second graders: a Mo Willems author study. We read all the books by Mr. Willems in the library, discussed the characters, the storylines, the humor and the illustrations. We learned that Piggie, Elephant and Pigeon are all a bit dramatic (major understatement here), the characters like to talk to the reader, and Mr. Willems has a very distinct artistic style. The children recognized his books even if they didn’t know the characters (Hooray for Amanda and her Alligator, for example).
After reading and discussing his books, each class and I began our project. Kindergartners drew pictures of Pigeon, Elephant and Piggie, first graders came up with new ideas for Pigeon books or Elephant and Piggie books, and second graders wrote letters to Mr. Willems. This unit worked out perfectly as second graders were about to learn how to structure letters, and loved coming practicing their greetings and salutations.
At the completion of this unit, I gathered all their letters, drawings and story suggestions and mailed them to Mr. Willems. And he responded! He said he’d take some of the story ideas (Don’t Let Pigeon go to Disneyland and Don’t Let the Pigeon have a Donut) into consideration. He even sent the school a signed and illustrated poster.
The students loved reading their letter from Mr. Willems, and he definitely gained some life long fans. Combining elements of fun and curriculum made this one of my most successful school program so far.