Inside: A book review of Big Chickens Fly the Coop plus book extension ideas and lots of free printables.
Title: Big Chickens Fly the Coop
Author: Leslie Helakoski
Illustrator: Henry Cole
Publisher: Scholastic Inc., 2008
Four big silly chickens decide to go adventuring — they really want to visit their farmhouse. In true wacky, tacky chicken style they run into a scary doghouse, tractor and barn. They race back to the safety of their coop each time until finally they figure out how to make it to the farmhouse in one chicken nugget piece!
“Four big chickens sat on their nests and sighed. ‘It’s nice and safe at home in the coop,’ said one chicken. ‘Yes,’ said the others. ‘We should always stay home.’ ‘We could always stay home.’ ‘We would always stay home . . . except . . . we’ve always wanted to see the farmhouse.'”
What I Thought
There’s so much to love about these wildly wonderful chickens. They are silly and not too bright, to be sure, but they’re also curious, brave and determined. I love that they persevere in their quest to reach the farmhouse despite the many dangers they encounter.
I also love the language. It’s full of alliteration and big, bouncy, beautiful rhymes. Here’s an example from the spread above:
The chickens stomped, whomped, and clompity-clomped. The horses chomped at the bit. Skittish ponies bolted. Frazzled feathers molted. Hard shoes kicked. Wing tips flicked. Manes whipped. Tails flipped.
Henry Cole’s signature illustrations are perfect — funny, bold and expressive. The reader knows exactly how those chickens are feeling in each ridiculous situation.
I’ve read this book to at least half a dozen different classes (K-2) and without exception they all loved it.
Book Extension Ideas
1. Round up the Rhymes: After a first or second reading, challenged your kids to find all the rhyming pairs and triplets. Print them on cards, mix ’em up, and match the rhymes. If you’re short on time you can use the rhyming cards I made (download is below).
2. Silly Sentences: Then use a set of rhymes to write a silly sentence. Look below to find a printable of the rhyming words.
3. Bravery Boast: Despite being scared silly throughout the book, the chickens are very brave. Discuss their bravery and what it means to be brave. Can you be scared and brave at the same time? Draw a picture of a time you were very brave. I’ve included a sheet you can use in the download below.
4. Silly Chicken Drawings: Draw your own silly chicken using this guide from Kid Scoop.
5. Map Time: Study the story carefully and draw a map of the farmyard. Be sure to label all the main features.