From Unit Plan: Come Explore Your Neighborhood


Children are beginning to grow friendships at school and need guidance in understanding how to be a good friend. As they begin to see their place in the world, the school community becomes interesting to students. These books discuss the importance of friendship and the diversity of our neighborhoods.

Books for Students

Versions Of The Gingerbread Man Story:

The Gingerbread Man
by Karen Schmidt

This is a classic retelling of the favorite tale about a Gingerbread Man who runs through his neighborhood community shouting, "Run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me I'm the gingerbread man!"

Classroom Tip: Make felt board characters from the story and have children retell the story at the Language Arts center.

The Gingerbread Man
by Jim Aylesworth; Illustrated by Barbara McClintock

In this traditional version, each character is shown in vivid action as he or she tries to pursue the freshly baked gingerbread man. Includes a recipe.

Classroom Tip: Bake real gingerbread men using the recipe provided.

The Gingerbread Baby
by Jan Brett

This variation on the tale has a surprise ending. Instead of being eaten by the fox, the little boy in the story bakes a gingerbread house for the gingerbread baby and lures him to it.

Classroom Tip: Bake and decorate gingerbread houses in cooperative groups.

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales And Other Fairly Stupid Tales
by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

This collection of fractured fairy tales includes the most irreverent retelling of the gingerbread man tale — a man baked out of cheese that no one wants and everyone avoids.

Classroom Tip: Have children plan and design their own "man" made of other kinds of foods: peanut butter man, hot dog man, carrot man, cottonball man, etc.

Books About Friendship:

Little Blue and Little Yellow
by Leo Lionni

Two characters explore their friendship as told through teaching the concept of color mixing.

Classroom Tip: Have students explore color mixing with their own blue and yellow dots of paint.

It's Mine!
by Leo Lionni

Three frog friends learn the importance of sharing.

Classroom Tip: Have children talk about the things they share with their friends and how sharing is part of being a good friend.

Franklin's New Friend and Franklin Is Bossy
by Paulette Bourgeois; Illustrated by Brenda Clark

The charming turtle learns about friendship and that no one likes a bossy friend.

Classroom Tip: Ask students to draw a picture of a new friend they made this year and write a description. Then, chart the qualities that make a good friend.

It's My Turn
by David Bedford; Illustrated by Elaine Field

Two friends learn to share, take turns, and cooperate in order to enjoy the best ride at the playground: the seesaw.

Classroom Tip: Play games in pairs where children must share and cooperate to enjoy them: Frisbee, catch, checkers, tic-tac-toe, etc.

The Little Red Hen or La Gallinita Roja
by Lucinda McQueen

This favorite tale of the industrious hen and her freeloading friends is written for beginning readers and with repetitious phrases.

Classroom Tip: Discuss how the other animals were not real friends to the Little Red Hen. Make bread with the children using math measuring skills.

My Friends
by Taro Gomi

A little girl recounts in simple text all she has learned from her friends.

Classroom Tip: Have children trace their hand on paper and write or draw one thing they have learned from a friend. Post on a bulletin board.

Friends at School
by Rochelle Bunnett; Photographs by Matt Brown

In colorful photographs, a diverse group of students demonstrates the meaning of friendship in their activities.

Classroom Tip: Children draw pictures of and write about how they do things in the classroom with their friends. Make a class book.

Professional Books and Resources

15 Instant and Irresistible Learning Centers That Build Early Reading and Writing Skills
by Marjorie Fields and Deborah Hillstead

This teacher resource book has easy how-tos, quick tips, and reproducible fill-in forms to inspire kids to use their play in order to learn.

Classroom Tip: After we have visited one of the many places in our neighborhood, we come back and create a dramatic play center using the children's ideas and those in this guide.

Neighborhood and Community
by Kathleen M. Hollenbeck

This teacher resource book has ready to go activities, literature links, and hands-on reproducible activities.

Classroom Tip: These activities help children to make connections between the places we visit in our neighborhood and in their own lives.

15 Easy-To-Read Neighborhood and Community Mini-Book Plays
by Sheryl Ann Crawford and Nancy I. Sanders

These are engaging, reproducible play scripts that help emergent readers and other children explore the theme of community.

Classroom Tip: More developed readers can read the text while non-readers can retell the little plays. A great addition to our literacy time!