Lending Library Highlight
Preschool Literacy Bag - The Mixed-Up Chameleon

Eric Carle is a popular author and illustrator of children’s books and he most often tells his stories of acceptance, kindness, and responsibility through the experiences of nature and animal characters. Within their stories, he also embeds a large variety of learning concepts, which links to his widespread appeal in the early childhood educator community.  In the book, The Mixed-Up Chameleon, he tells the story of a chameleon who wishes it could be like all the other animals it sees, but in the end comes to embrace his own unique self. 

Because this story has many possible discussion threads and learning concepts built into it, a preschool teacher could easily read it every day at circle time for a week with a different learning focus each time. One day the discussion could be about things the animals share in common and things that make them unique, and then following day the conversation could expand into how the special characteristics of animals help them survive in the world.  Another day the discussion could be about what things the students have in common with their classmates, and what things are unique to only them, while other days could delve into color matching, color mixing, colors in a rainbow, and story retelling.

Retelling stories, also called narrative skills, are one of the essential literacy skills preschool children need support in learning. Before formal reading instruction can begin, children must have a solid understanding that stories have a beginning, a middle and an end, and understanding the sequence of events in a story helps children later with their reading comprehension skills. Children also need to be able to describe events that happen within a story so they can understand story structure and grammar. On page 31 of the Kansas Early Learning Standards it shows that children should be able to start retelling some details of a book using pictures or props as support by the end of their third year.

We help children grow these skills when we:
  • Talk with children about our activities as we are doing them in the classroom to develop their receptive language skills.
  • Tell stories about events that have happened.
  • Help children tell their stories and describe events that have happened.
  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage children to talk more and practice their expressive language skills.
  • Point to a picture and say “Tell me what’s happening here?” or “What do you think will happen next?”
  • Read favorite books again and again.
  • Sort items by size, shape and color.
  • Ask children to draw a picture. Then let them tell you what is happening in the picture. Write their words on the picture.
  • Talk about activities that happened that day in the order that they occurred.
  • Ask children to reenact stories about a book you read.
  • Provide props to encourage storytelling and retelling.

For story retelling props that go with The Mixed-Up Chameleon, you can print off pieces from Kizclub like the one in our bag below.

In our literacy bag there are chameleon color matching games, like this one.

And this one . . .

And for your students that are starting to sight read color words, this is another activity you can offer. . .

Click here and here to download a couple lesson plans for the Mixed-Up Chameleon book, or if you are interested in checking out the literacy bag, visit our lending library!

Home Grown Friends has some great extension ideas. 

What are some of your favorite Mixed-Up Chameleon activities?