This post's try it today lesson plan is about play ing with words —and a fun way to teach prepositional phrases with Dr. Seuss! (No Joke.) No, the picture (above) isn't of Dr. Seuss. But the more I read about Theodor Seuss Geisel (Happy March 2nd Birthday!), I think he'd appreciate the giant gnome statue we discovered in British Columbia last summer. (the face and beard look a lot like the guy in the first cartoon Ted Seuss Geisel drew for his high school newspaper, the Central Recorder in 1937!)
It looks even more like the gnome in first drafts of my pb, Little Bo Peep Can't Get to Sleep. Yes, I mistakenly wrote in a gnome under the bridge instead of the TROLL who snarled at Bo Peep. (In fact, my illustrator even drew a gnome in the first sketch.)
As I tell students at school visits, writers and illustrators make mistakes too! (That's what the sloppy copy is for!) And writers also love playing with words.
According to Charles D. Cohen's Seuss biography, THE SEUSS AND NOTHING BUT THE SEUSS (Random House/2004), Ted Geisel loved playing with words. One example: at age 14, he wrote "O Latin," a parody of Walt Whitman's "O Captain, My Captain!" for the Recorder.
So to celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday (or just have fun teaching prepositional phrases–no seriously! It's possible!), try my PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE GAME with your students:
GREEN EGGS AND HAM by Dr. Seuss (Random House), 1 hat (a red striped Cat-in-the-Hat hat is optional), strips of paper and pencils.
1. To prep the class for The Prepositional Phrase Game (pun intended) tell them Dr. Seuss' GREEN EGGS AND HAM is full of prepositions. (Write the definition of a prep phrase on the board: a group of words beginning with a preposition–words like in, for, to, with, after, near–and usually ending with a noun or pronoun.)
2. Read p.19-20 of GREEN EGGS AND HAM and point out the prep phrases.
3. Next, read the entire book and have students raise their hands when they recognize prep phrases.
4. NOW, have each student write a prep phrase that describes a location in their class room on a slip of paper. (Under the desk, near the flag, etc.) Collect them in a HAT. (Did you know that Dr. Seuss had an enormous hat collection, and this was the inspiration for THE 500 HATS OF BARTHOLOMEW CUBBINS ?)
5. NOTE: be sure to write a few Non-prepositional phrases of your own and put them in the hat. Examples: find the book case, touch the door handle, walk to the white board, etc. (think "Simon Says")
6. Have the class stand, and tell them you will read one paper out loud at a time. If it is a correct prepositional phrase, they must follow the direction (ex they must ALL move "near the flag" if they think it is a correct pp). If they move on a phrase that is not a correct pp, they must sit down. The fun begins when they all have to huddle "under Jake's desk" or sit "on top of my desk." (Sneak a few of those into the hat too!)
I made this game up on a day when we had a few extra minutes to kill and from then on, it was a class favorite. Your students will never forget what a prepositional phrase is again!
Congrats to Canada for an awesome Winter Olympics, cool libraries, and the crazy giant gnome.
And Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!