Elmer & Elephants



Information provided on this page for classroom use only; not for publication.

thevirtualvine.com 2003




When working on Letter E, I seem to always gravitate to using Elmer by David McKee as a connection for the letter.  Because I like colorful things, Elmer the patchwork elephant appeals to me and "Elmer" & "elephant" are great words to reinforce the /e/sound.  And it's also a good story to use when reinforcing the concept that each person is unique and has their own unique qualities.  The book is about Elmer, who unlike the rest of his herd, is a patchwork elephant.  He's well loved however by his friends because of his great sense of humor.  He decides though that he'd like to look like the rest of the herd.  So he ends up becoming gray like the rest.  His friends no longer recognize him in his "new skin", and wish he'd return.  And they get their wish after a hard rain. 


We'll begin this mini-unit by reading Elmer, then we're going to color a patchwork elephant and glue on a black capital E and lowercase e.  I stress to the students when coloring not to have two of the same colors touch.  I leave out my elephant as a model if they'd like to use it. They also have access to the book as well.  I have this elephant colored and laminated as well as the Es.  I don't show the students the Es until we're finished.  Then I model for them where/how they're to be placed, and they glue them on their elephant.  We'll display them in the hall with the word "Elmer" formed using a different color for each letter.



printable elephant pattern


These elephants were done by my Ks. 

Of course, they had to have some help with the placement of the Es.


We're also going to use elephants like this one to practice counting out the appropriate number of peanuts 1 - 5.  You can use real parched peanuts or brown paper peanuts.  I'm using the latter, but I did not bring them home to scan in the picture.

We'll also working on writing and forming the letter Ee.

Another activity that we'll do that the children enjoy, I call a Do-A-Dot.  I believe there's a commercial product out similar to this or there was at one time.  Several years ago some teachers online were using them, so I created some for my class according to the information I gathered from them.  I created mine using graphics software, but some said that they could be made by using a film canister as the stamp to make the circle.  The circle is about the right size, but by doing it on the computer I could move the circles around until I had them as close to what I wanted as possible.

The students stamp inside the circle with a colored Bingo stamper of their choice.  (Good way to get them to identify their colors in a natural setting.  They have to tell me what color they want and then they get that color.)  I model for them first how it's done.  I say the letter name each time I stamp the capital letter (over and over and over again).   I show them where to start stamping and how to form the letter correctly with the stamper (same as if we were writing it ... they have to follow the correct letter formation route)  Then I say the letter's sound while stamping the lowercase letter (over and over and over again).  And show them the correct formation for the lowercase letters.  Then I have the students do theirs.  I walk around and listen and watch what they're doing so that I can make corrections where needed.

Letter Ee Do-A-Dot

 For a counting activity, we'll count elephant die-cuts in the pocketchart.  Each row will have a different number of elephants on it (1 - 5).  They'll count the elephants and then place the correct number card at the beginning of the row.

After having the story of Elmer reread, we'll make the elephant puppet.  They'll use a black crayon to write the capital and lowercase Ee on it.  The next day, we'll reread the story again, then they'll use the puppet to retell the story.  Of course, I'll model for them what to do before asking them to do it.  This is really, really hard for my students.  This pattern is from Alphabet Puppets plus More! (Teacher's Friend Publications)  Not only are these puppets good for retelling the story,  but they're also a good exercise in learning to cut with scissors.  I always have a model already finished so that I can use it to show how many pieces they should end up with and where they'll need to cut and not cut.  They do a lot better than you'd think they would.

We'll also read The Right Number of Elephants by Jeff Sheppard, because it reinforces counting, albeit backwards from 10.  But we also count all the elephants on each page, so that gives us practice in counting forward as well.

Another resource for this unit is called [I think] A Letter A Week (TEC251).  It has activities for "E is for Elephant".   My book is at school, I just have some of the pages here.

Another counting activity is to have students count out 5 die-cut elephants and glue them on to a large size sheet of construction paper.  Then they number their elephants 1 - 5 and draw in a background if they choose.


Sequence elephants in the pocketchart that have been programmed with the numbers 1 - 5.


Activity sheet counting peanuts and circling the correct number.


If you have an elephant stamp, you could divide a sheet of paper into 6 sections.  Then program each section with a number 0 - 5.  Students stamp the correct number of elephants in each box.


Use two different color elephant die-cuts to reinforce AB patterns.  We're using red & yellow, and we're going to glue them onto a sentence strip to form a "hat". 


We will end the week long mini-unit by creating an elephant snack. 


Elmer's Color Collecting Game (printable)






last updated 3.9.08


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