About the Author
James Marshall was born in 1942 and died in 1992. He graduated with a master’s degree from Trinity College and had many hobbies such as playing the viola, studying French and doodling while pursuing his love of writing children’s books. From his doodles, unique characters emerged leading to his life’s work of a children’s author. In 2007, his works were awarded the prestigious Laura Ingalls Wilder medal for his contribution to children’s literature.
After reading the entire book or after each individual story, open up a discussion with these questions and then follow through with activities across the curriculum.
What is a friend?
How do you know George and Martha are friends?
What do friends do together?
What is your favorite thing to do with your friend?
Do friends ever fight? Why?
How do you resolve a conflict? (agree to share, decide to take turns, flip a coin)
While in Circle Time, use puppets as props to allow the children to dramatize the story along with typical conflicts and practice how to resolve them. Puppets are an excellent tool for children to vocalize their issues among each other.
In the story, The Tightrope, George had to talk to Martha to help her regain her confidence of an activity she loved to do. In the classroom, lay down masking tape on the floor to look like a tightrope. Ask one student to walk across the line, heel to toe, to the finish line. Ask another child to pretend to be George and say convincing phrases to encourage the tightrope walker to finish the task. Did the child succeed in walking the tightrope? Did he/she wobble? Explain how friends help each other in times of need. Continue playing and taking turns in each role until the entire class has completed this activity.
Collecting Objects (Nature Walk, Science, Math)
Martha loves to collect stamps as a hobby. Other people like to collect coins, dolls, rocks and books. Talk about collections and what they mean. Why do they give people enjoyment?
Take your students on a nature walk to collect natural objects outdoors. Give each child a small paper lunch bag with the child’s name on it. Look for small rocks, twigs, leaves, acorns, flowers and so on. Have children gather what they love and place the items into the bags. In the classroom, children can unload their collection on the table. Look carefully at each item. Did the children find collecting objects fun? Why? The children can count their collections. Have them sort them according to type. Allow them to choose one small object and tape it to a sheet of construction paper. Invite them to dictate something about their collectible item. An adult can write their words on the paper.
My Special Hippo (Art)
Discuss hippos with the children. A hippopotamus is a large mammal that can be found in water areas, such as rivers, lakes and mangrove swamps. They stay cool during the day in the water or mud, and then go on land at dusk to graze on grass. The hippo has a barrel-shaped torso with stubby legs. Their mouth is large with huge teeth.
Invite the children to make paper plate hippopotamuses as an art project. They can name them George or Martha.
You will need:
- 2 paper plates for each child
- Gray paint
- Pink paint
- Safety scissors
- Construction paper and cardstock
- Black marker
- Googly eyes (optional)
- Begin by trimming off a slice from each side of one paper plate to make the head look oval instead of round.
- Fold the plate in half.
- Place both plates on a flat surface covered with newspaper (to protect the tables) and paint one full plate and half of the other one gray.
- Fold the half-gray plate in half with the gray showing on the top. Glue or staple this to the bottom of the first gray plate. Paint the inside of the mouth pink.
- When all the paint is dry, glue on two eyes and two ears. You will also need two nostrils on the top of the mouth (gray side). Use a black marker to make dots to represent the whisker holes.
- Cut strips of white cardstock for the large teeth. Glue these to the upper and lower part of the mouth.
Hippo Song and Fingerplay (Music)
Oh, I Wish I Was (Tune: Oscar Meyer Song)
Oh, I wish I was a hippo at the river,
That is what I’d really like to be,
‘Cause if I was a hippo at the river,
I could shake some water and mud at you!
(Variation of song by Tania Cowling)
I’m a Hippo
I’m a hippo
Hot, hot, hot
I’m going to my favorite spot.
Down to the mudhole,
Squish, squish, squish.
Where I can get cool,
As cool as I wish. AHHHHH!