Where the Wild Things Are: Lessons for Young Readers

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Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, has become a beloved classic since its publication in 1963. Students enjoy repeated readings of the book, which makes it perfect for enhancing lessons across the curriculum. These Where the Wild Things Are kindergarten lessons should jump-start your creativity and lead to fun.

  • Discuss the illustrations in the book, pointing out that Sendak’s monsters appear to have different textures to their bodies. Let students use old wallpaper samples to create their own monsters. Glue lined paper to the backs; ask students to describe their monster’s actions. You might also discuss the fact that the monsters sound scary in the text, but look friendly in the illustrations. Let students make their monsters do the same.

  • Use the book as a stepping-off point for teaching about point of view. Ask students to describe what they see from where they are sitting and discuss the idea that they see things a little bit differently. Students then retell the story from the point of view of one of the monsters. Ask them to describe what the monster saw, felt, and did when Max appeared.

  • This book is a great resource for teaching beginning, middle, and ending, because they are so clear in the story. After discussing the story with the group, have students make three-panel comic strips to illustrate the sections of the story. Another choice is to have them illustrate them on monster-shaped pages.

  • Max’s journey “through night and day and in and out of weeks” presents a fun introduction to the calendar. Use a boat shape to “sail” through a visual of a day and night, then through a week. Let students see a month’s view and year’s view of a calendar to show the relationship of the time periods that Max felt he traveled through.

  • Bring science into the lessons by talking about forests and plants. Root sweet potatoes in water to see vines by poking toothpicks in the sides to hold them halfway submerged in a clear container of water. Make legs for a white potato from toothpicks and add eyes to the potato animal. Hollow out the top of the potato and sprinkle grass seeds into the hole; water lightly and wait for the “hair” to grow. Reinforce students’ writing skills with a lab journal describing the changes in the plants.

  • Practice counting skills by asking students to count the monsters, the eyes, teeth, claws, or other monster parts. Let students write simple addition word problems of their own, such as “If one monster has 3 teeth, and another has 2 teeth, how many teeth are there in all?”

  • Extend the story by talking about how Max’s mother and father may have felt about his behavior before he went to the place where the wild things live and how they might feel if they knew he was gone. Create a group story about what might happen when Max came back home.

With these Where the Wild Things Are kindergarten lessons, Maurice Sendak will fast become a beloved author for you and your students. Max and the monsters, along with Sendak’s other characters, may inspire a lifelong love of reading in your young students.