Read Aloud: the Pigeon books by Mo Willems


The Pigeon Needs a Bath

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog

The Duckling Gets a Cookie

By Mo Willems


Students will engage in a read-aloud exercise that will challenge them to make connections between the book, themselves and the world. The read-aloud methods will allow students to explore this topic in a structured setting, while practicing comprehension, fluency, inference and vocabulary. This read aloud will be conducted as a “Making Connections In First Grade” read aloud, as presented by Vanessa Morrison and Lisa Wheeler, writers for Reading Rockets. Anderson (1994) states, “When reading a text, proficient readers activate numerous interacting knowledge sources to construct meaning of the message. One of these knowledge sources is schema, which is the stored body of knowledge one already has in memory. Schema theory maintains that reading is an active process, whereby readers construct new ideas and concepts based on their prior knowledge” (as Cited in Morrison & Wheeler, 2015, pp. 8-10). The purpose of this activity is to link prior knowledge of other stories, self and the world to the events happening in the read aloud books.


Student will explore and review glue expectations by

-listening and participating in class read-aloud methods

-looking for evidence within the text to answer questions thoughtfully

-building conclusions from the text in their own lives.


-The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems

The Duckling Gets a Cookie By Mo Willems

-Connections Grid (included below)

-Bristol Board

-Acrylic Paint

-Black Crayons



INTRODUCTION: Introduce the three books, first by reading the titles and author and sharing the front and back covers of the books to the class. The pigeon gets himself into lots of trouble and he often gets very upset. Often times he wants to get his own way! While you listen to the book, think about how the pigeon reacts to each problem he gets into? Does he respond the same? Can you think about a time when you desperately wanted to get your own way? Can you think about a time when someone else needed to get their own way?

TEXT-TO-TEXT: After reading, place Post-it notes on students’ desks. Invite the students to think about how the three stories were similar. Can they think of any other stories they’ve read that might be similar in some way. On one post-it, ask the students to write one sentence about that experience.

TEXT-TO-SELF: Invite the students to reflect on their own experiences that may be similar to the experiences they read in the Pigeon books. On one post-it, ask the students to write one sentence about that experience.

TEXT-TO-WORLD: Although it may be difficult for students to think past their own personal experiences, invite the students to reflect on events that happen, or people who react like the pigeon in the book. An example to share might be: The pigeon in this book acts like a man I once saw, screaming at cars in traffic.   On a post-it, ask the students to write one sentence about that experience.

THINK/PAIR/SHARE: After the class has finished writing, pair the students up to share their answers with a partner. The pair can also brainstorm other text-to-text, text-to-self and text-to-world ideas. Provide additional post-it notes for the additional ideas.

In the front of the room, use the poster attached, or create a chart on the board, separating columns for text-to-text, text-to-self and text-to-world. Invite the pairs to the front of the room to place their post-it notes on the chart in the correct column. When all of the post-it notes are in the front of the room, take some time to read them aloud and discuss.


  1. Ask the students to reflect on their favorite post-it sentence.
  2. On a scrap piece of paper, allow the students to brainstorm what an illustration might look like in a Mo Willems’ book, if their scenario happened to the pigeon. For example, if I were to use the traffic example listed above, maybe I would draw the pigeon with his head out of the window of a car. He might be shaking his wing at another car, and shouting something in a lightning bolt speech bubble.
  3. Mo Willems draws simple characters in his books, as a way of inviting students to draw the characters themselves.   Look at the images illustrated by Mo Willems in the book. Discuss how the head and eye are made from circles. The neck is a rectangle, and the body is like a raindrop. The wings are made from two simple lines, and the legs are a long line with three short lines for talons.
  4. Pass out Bristol board or cardstock to the students. Invite them to recreate their brainstormed idea on a “final copy.” Remind the students to fill the paper, and to think about the shapes that are used by Mo Willems in the book to recreate the pigeon. As they draw, walk around and provide feedback on student writing by providing “Adult Underwriting,” modeling correct punctuation and spelling (Gentry, 2006, p. 58).
  5. Provide tempera or watercolor paint and allow the students to paint the pigeon’s they’ve created.
  6. Once the paint is dry, invite the students to outline their work with a black crayon and cut their work out.
  7. Paste the drawing and the speech bubble on a plain piece of colored paper.
  8. Display around the classroom.

-As an additional activity, students could journal or “Kid’s blog” about their illustration or the read aloud experience. Writing can be posted with the artwork.


Gentry, J. R. (2006). Breaking the code: The new science of beginning reading and writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Morrison, V. & Wheeler, L. (2015). Revisiting read-aloud: instructional strategies that encourage students’ engagement with text. Retrieved from:

Willems, M. (2004). The pigeon finds a hot dog. New York, NY: Hyperion Books For Children.

Willems, M. (2012). The duckling gets a cookie. New York, NY: Hyperion Books For Children.

Willems, M (2014). The pigeon needs a bath. New York, NY: Hyperion Books For Children.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s