This rhyming story by Dr. Seuss explains how an elephant came to sit on a small nest as a favor to a friend, and then hatched a creature of a new species. Class activities for "Horton Hatches the Egg" can span everything from science to friendship. Young students in kindergarten through second grade are likely to find this story engaging. Students in third and fourth grade will find that this is written to their reading level. You can also use this book as a literacy connection to other topics for higher grades.
Kindergarten and first grade students can create an ABC Foldable about the story. Give students a folded paper book that has a page for each letter of the alphabet. As you read the book a second time, pause to write the important story words on a chart next to the corresponding first letter. Students then write one to three of the words for each letter of the alphabet in their foldable. Then, the students can draw a picture that corresponds to how the word was used in the story. Older students can create a story map that contains descriptions of the characters, settings and plot. You can also use the theme of the story -- patience and responsibility – for discussion, and to write or draw about with older students.
Students in second grade and up can write an original rhyming poem in the style of Seuss, with the same theme as in "Horton Hatches the Egg." Read the Seuss story out loud and have the students identify possible themes and rhyming word pairs they might want to use later. Discuss the themes of patience, faithfulness and responsibility that appear in the book. Make a class chart of the themes and rhyming words for students to use as an aide when writing their poems. Ask your students to brainstorm an idea for an imaginative story about one creature helping another. After your students come up with an idea, have them make a list of important words for their poem and of any related rhyming words before starting a draft. Instruct your students to write the poem draft after these pre-writing activities. Students might also publish the poem with illustrations they’ve made in the same style as in Dr. Seuss' book.
To use the book as a science connection with third or fourth graders, focus on the connection between the egg shape and shell strength. Ask the students what they think will happen if someone piles heavy objects on top of eggs. Discuss the word “hypothesis” as students share their thinking, which reinforces the scientific method. Teach your students the vocabulary word "ovoid," which is the name of the egg-shaped oval. Also teach them that the strongest part of the ovoid is the pointed, narrow tip. You can have students test egg strength by placing four dozen eggs in their cartons with the pointed side down, so that you create a level surface. Place a board over the eggs to create an even surface, and then have your students carefully pile heavy objects, such as books, on the board to find out if -- or when -- the eggs will break. The eggs will hold a heavy load if objects are carefully stacked and the eggs have been carefully examined and placed in the carton.
Geography and Math Connection
In the story, Horton is snatched by a circus and travels around the country. Provide third or fourth graders a United States map with a scale and help them mark all the places that Horton traveled to, as you share the story out loud. After reading, have students work in pairs to calculate the number of miles that Horton traveled between the different cities. Write the names of these on the map. The students can then write math word problems based on the story. The math word problems should contain story details and ask questions about how many miles combined Horton traveled between various cities or how many more miles he traveled from some places than from others, for example. The students can trade math problems with classmates and attempt to solve other students' math problems.
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