Oh, Pigeon, you are the light and beacon of children’s literature. Happy 10 year anniversary! Mo Willems’ first book was published 10 years ago on April 1, 2003. Since then, he has created 4 more pigeon picture books and 2 pigeon board books. On top of that he has the famous Elephant and Piggie series for early readers, the Cat the Cat series, and 9 picture books for kids. He also wrote for Sesame Street for 9 seasons, gathering 6 Emmy Awards for his writing. He is one talented fellow. I have often tried to convince my friend to emulate his life after Mo Willems and become a famous illustrator but he’s lazy. (Although, his work would be more along the line of picture books for adults like Go the F**k to Sleep. You must check out The Big Book of Penguins and Petey Murders His Teacher. You will NOT be disappointed [saddened, yes]).
In honor of my favorite bird with an attitude, I hosted a Don’t Let the Pigeon Party! event at the library. It was absolutely delightful and I received praise from many parents and a ridiculous amount of enthusiasm (and focus) from the kids. Here are the specs:
- Time offered: Saturday, 10 am and 1 pm (I always figure, why not have two identical programs–especially on the same day–because I’ve already planned it and I only need to set up the room once)
- Age range: 3 years+
- Attendance Limit: 60 total people (it was a smaller room)
- Supplies Needed: Checked out pigeon books in advance (because they are so popular. There was also a school project on Mo Willems the week after I checked the books out. Phew.), numbered stickers, tables for drawing the pigeon, felt pigeon story, bus supplies & “NO!” signs (see below)
And now I present to you the outline of the event:
- Intro: What was the last thing you really, really wanted?
- Book: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (with “no!” signs)
- “Pigeon Says” with emotions
- Book: The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog
- Book: The Duckling Gets a Cookie?!
- Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It
- Stomp Your Feet
- Flap your wings
- Ask to drive (pa-lease)
- Eat your cookies (nom nom)
- Book: Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!
- Flannel: 5 little pigeons jumping on the bed
- Book: The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!
All the books were a hit. It really helps if you enjoy reading them, too. The pigeon books are a great way to show emotions so you can’t be afraid to be dramatic in your reading. And Willems is such an excellent artist and writer that it’s easy to imitate the emotions of the pigeon. Our activities were also perfect to divide up the book readings. We did a version of Simon Says with the myriad of emotions that the pigeon provides and practiced them before we started. “If You’re Happy And You Know It” was also a great excuse to stand up and get our jiggles out.
There was also two activities that I am quite proud of for their interactive, fun components. During the first “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” I passed out signs made from cardboard, blue paper, and black crayon that read “No!” on them. I had marked certain spots where we would tell the Pigeon “NO!” when he’d try to convince us to drive the bus. With my own sign, I would hold it up for the others to follow. The first group was great at following my lead, the second not so much. They would say NO! after every time the pigeon would say a sentence/question. It didn’t really matter though because they were having fun, I was having fun, and the pigeon was losing. We even handed the signs to the parents sitting in the back–and they had a great time saying NO!, too. The second interactive component was “5 little Pigeons Jumping on the Bed.” When the Bus Driver said “No more pigeons jumping on the bed!” I had the audience scream extra loud because the pigeons refused to listen to them. They took full advantage of this.
After story time, everyone went to the tables to do a few activities. Our first activity was drawing the Pigeon. Suuuuper easy and the results included splendid interpretations. We then started taking pictures on the handmade bus based on the numbered sticker they received as they entered the program in the beginning. Those waiting drew on coloring sheets and created their own “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the _________” (Dont Let Pigeon Drive) which we collected, laminated, and displayed in a binder for all to see at a later date. I pulled a lot of activities from the Pigeon Presents! website.
- Guided Activity: Draw the pigeon
- Pictures with the bus (numbered stickers)
- Coloring sheets
- Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the _________ (collect, laminate, and display)
The Bus was a challenge but I’d do it again in a heartbeat (although it would take much, much longer than a heartbeat). I got the idea from Two Little Birds & a Bug. I called our local Home Depot to see if they had any large boxes they were throwing out, which they did! I collected the box and cut out the holes. My fantastic colleague Ann brought the pigeon book to Home Depot to get the paint color matched to the blue of the book. We only needed 1 pint to paint it. At the end of the second program, we raffled it off.
All in all a successful event that I would highly recommend. Go Pigeon! I mean, Don’t go Pigeon!