It was just recently that I discovered the social emotional lessons in my go to book for teaching Concepts of Print.
A few years ago, I was thrilled to discover that The Monster at the End of This Book had been brought to life, still as a storybook, through animation. Here is just a taste of what goes on in kindergarten when it is being played:
Did you notice the activity on the floor?
Concepts of Print
The Monster at the End of This Book is a natural and entertaining model of Social Language and lesson about early Concepts of Print.
I start the lesson by sharing the front cover, and asking who is on it. Those familiar with Sesame Street recognize Grover, who politely introduces himself on page one.
Most are puzzled when I ask them what Grover is, and do not seem to process that he is a monster. In all of the years I have introduced the title of the story and read the first page, very few have made the connection between Grover’s fear and what he actually is.
Throughout the story, Grover politely urges the reader not to turn the page, and on the bottom right of each double-page is an illustrated curled up corner, giving the reader a sneak peak of what lies ahead. Despite Grover’s valiant and hilarious attempts at preventing page-turning, it is just too tempting. The creative, visual prompts ensure success and immediate reward. Readers are met with a massive CRASH, disastrous mess and/or Grover’s pleas to avoid getting to the end of the book.
Until a few weeks ago, I did not truly realize the social emotional value of this story.
I was teaching a Virtual Kindergarten class from a few area schools. It was a large group, and we were finally feeling settled after five weeks. We had put time into our scheduling smaller groups for shorter times, having ‘Meet the Teachers’ time with each family and everyone was happy.
One Wednesday afternoon it all changed. A couple of school boards in our area announced that elementary school organization model was changing. The Face-to-Face and Virtual classes would be put back together into home school groups to allow more flexibility for students switching between. Suddenly, we had two days left with our class before reorganization into the hybrid model.
I had planned to do this storybook lesson with our students that Friday already.
As I thought about it, I realized that it was the perfect story for that day. Grover was feeling anxious. The situation was out of his control. No matter what he did or said, the pages kept on turning and he had to go along with it, and he did so bravely. He managed to remain kind when he must have been frustrated.
As expected, our students loved the story.
When it was finished, I asked them what Grover was afraid of at the beginning? When he was imagining this monster at the end of the book, what might he have pictured?
A few shared their opinions about that. We agreed that Grover had a good imagination. I asked if any of them had good imaginations. We talked about how Grover had to deal with change all the way through the story, and how his imagination made him feel very anxious – when, in the end, everything was just fine!
Many things in life are like that, I told them, giving them the example of teachers having trouble sleeping before the first day of school. We are all human, and having feelings is part of that. We get anxious too, especially during times of change. And in the end, then things usually work out. They will settle in to their new classes, just as we settled into ours. Because they are brave adventurers who can roll with change. And I knew they would have an easier time than silly Grover!
Before this, our final Meet, I had sent them Brave Adventurer Crowns to color and wear (and also gave them the option of making their own). I hope you find these free crowns helpful for your own students going through changes in their own lives:
I like to keep this story on our class bookshelf after the students are familiar with it. It is a high-interest book with its vivid, action-packed pictures, and motivating to beginning readers. With so many visual supports in the pictures (along with listening to it repeatedly), it is a popular book to ‘read’ to friends or ‘play teacher’ with.
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Do you have any favorite Sesame Street books? I have another one that I plan to post about soon. Please include them in the comments!
Best wishes, my friends. Stay safe and well.
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