Inside: Directions for a Skippyjon Jones drawing lesson and critical thinking activity.
My class of first grade students absolutely adore Skippyjon Jones. When I started reading them the books a couple of weeks ago they could NOT get enough!
If you’re not familiar with these picture books by Judy Schachner AND you teach primary grades or have a 5 to 9-year-old at home, you need to check ’em out.
These sweet and hilarious books are all about the imaginary adventures of Skippyjon Jones, the Siamese cat who THINKS he’s a chihuahua.
He loves to don his cape and mask and transform into the great sword-fighting Skippito Friskito. The books are a blend of English (mostly), Spanish and made-up words. They’re hilarious!
Skippyjon Jones Activities
We LOVE to do directed drawings / paintings and often use them to springboard into a related writing activity.
My directed drawing lessons are always fairly simple. I don’t often follow directions; I usually just look at an illustration and work from there.
I begin by handing out large white paper, pencils and erasers. I either refer to a picture in a book or online as I draw for the kids on the white board. We take it slow and they follow along.
For Skippyjon, the first thing we did was draw his head. I talked about how it was a large flat oval shape.
Ears were next and we noticed that they were large, slightly rounded triangles.
We added a little neck and an oval shaped body. I reminded the kids that his body was quite small compared to his head.
Then we added his arms, legs and tail.
Our final step, of course, was to complete the face details.
Before moving to the next step, I invited the kids to jazz up Skippyjon Jones in any way they liked. Some of them chose to add a mask and cape.
To add some needed contrast we outlined the drawings with black chalk pastels, but crayons could also be used.
There are always a couple of kids who find the drawing a teeny bit stressful, but EVERYONE loves to paint!
We used watercolour pan paints with medium sized brushes. I reminded the kids to paint some pink in Skippyjon Jones’ ears, to make his eyes bright blue and to add chocolate brown around his muzzle, limbs and tail.
A couple of intrepid painters decided to paint his body beige, so we experimented with mixing white with yellow and brown. Some kids mixed white with blue to make a pale gray.
The next day we worked on some critical thinking and writing. I got this idea from a blog I routinely follow, but do you think I can remember now who it was?? I feel awful for forgetting, but if you’re that blogger, please let me know. I’d love to give you a shout-out!
This activity is called “The Answer Is _____. What’s the Question?”
We practiced this whole-class with partners.
I told them that the answer is one. What could the question be?
They all just looked at me like I was nuts. But I stifled the urge to give them an example. I told them to think about it and talk to their partners.
The first few suggestions I got were way off. The concept of “question” is just so tricky for many first graders. I was getting things like “I have one dog”, “Do you like the number one?” Haha.
But happily, one of my little bright lights asked, “What is 2 takeaway 1?”
Eureka! After that question we were off and running.
Then I told them the answer was “red”. What is the question?
They were much better with this one and said things like “What colour is an apple?” and “What colour is the tent in our room?”
We practiced a bit more and they definitely had the hang of it.
The Answer is Skippyjon Jones:
When I told them the answer was Skippyjon Jones they were VERY excited and came up with all sorts of fabulous questions. One of my favourites was “Who likes to bounce on his big boy bed?”
So we shared a gazillion questions (okay, maybe about 18) and I sent them off to work with a partner.
The Writing Part:
Each child worked with a partner to come up with 3 possible questions to the answer, Skippyjon Jones.
They showed them to me, told me their favourite, and I handed them the paper you can see in the pics below (you can click right here to grab). I quickly fixed up their spelling and they went off to print their question in their very best printing!
If you’d like some more Skippyjon Jones ideas you can visit Judy Schachner’s website.
If you’d like more book-related activities, I have lots here.
Do YOU have a favourite Skippyjon Jones book? What about a favourite activity? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.