Sunday, March 3, 2013

Celebrating Dr. Seuss on His Birthday and Throughout the Year

Many years ago, Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) wrote a number children's stories.  His books are both entertaining and offer valuable life lessons.  I enjoyed reading them when I was young.

Today, children still love reading his books. On March 2nd, Dr. Seuss's birthday is celebrated by children and teachers alike. Educators plan special activities with their students as they enjoy "Dr. Seuss Week". Many schools have dress up days in which children can become a favorite book character from one of Dr. Seuss's tales. Or sometimes it's a school wide trivia contest in which the children answer questions related to some of the most popular Seuss books. In classrooms, there are crafts to make, goodies to eat, and a trip to Seussville on the computers. 

One of my favorite children's books, is Horton Hears a Who.  It's about a brave elephant who stands up for the little guy as he attempts to protect the "Whos" in "Whoville" from the jungle animals.  Horton demonstrates the character trait of perseverance when he carefully searches through a field of clover looking for  "Whoville" after this micro-planet is thoughtlessly dropped from the air.  After what seems to be hours and hours, Horton finally finds the small speck of dust that his friends inhabit.  As a child, I was glad the story's outcome had a happy ending.  The "Whos" in "Whoville" were validated by the jungle animals.  They are safe now.  Horton lived in his jungle over fifty years ago.  The story's message about good character still rings true today.

Another one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books is, The Lorax.  The protection theme in Horton Hears a Who, is also present in The Lorax.  The Lorax is a creature that attempts to protect the Truffula trees from being chopped down.  Due to the popularity of the colorful tufts on the Truffula trees, they're sought after for use in industry.  The Lorax's efforts to save the trees are unsuccessful.  Sadly, all the Truffula trees are chopped down and the environment suffers as a result of it.  I like to use this book when Earth Day approaches so I'm a little ahead on my planning.  This year I decided to make my own representations of colorful trees.  Here are a few pictures of my "Colorful Trees".

 Our classroom activity will relate to mapping.  The "Colorful Trees" will be located in different places on the play area.  For the pictures above, I placed them closer together.  The children will have a paper copy of a map focused on the location from which our "Colorful Trees" are placed.  Their maps will not have the trees marked though.  Adding the tree locations on the maps will be their job.  We'll take a load of crayons outside and some clipboards.  The children will draw the trees on their maps according to correct color and location, marking the tree placement on their maps. 

When I came up with this idea, I thought about some other engaging activities the children could do with it.  Here are a few more ideas:
1.  Act out the story, The Lorax. -  One child attempts to preserve the trees while the other children become the tree choppers using wooden rulers.
2.  A "Nut Tree.  A Nut Hunt" - Place peanuts under the trees for the children to collect.  (Change things up and make it a fruit tree instead of a nut tree using Kiwi fruit in place of nuts.)
3.  Recording Data - Leave a message or number attached to each tree.  The children use a teacher-made printable with the tree colors listed.  They record the number or message discovered beside the appropriate tree color.
4.  A Positive Story Outcome - Share ideas about how new trees grow and what would help to replenish a "Truffula" forest.  Have children informally measure their colorful trees and compare the tree height to their own height. 
For my activity I wanted eight trees.  It was super easy to do.  Here's the "How To".
Materials Needed:

I started by purchasing eight bath sponges.  They were $1.00 a piece at the Family Dollar and Dollar Tree.  I needed three items at Michael's.  These were:   one package of wooden wheels with holes in the center, eight wooden dowels, and eight wood slats.  The wooden wheels were 1 1/2 inches in diameter with the hole in the center at about 1/4 inch.  The wooden dowels were 36 inches long and 1/4" in diameter.  The wood slats were 7 4/25" x 2 3/4" x 4/25".  I made sure the size of the hole in the wooden circles matched the dowel size.  The cost:  wooden wheels were $3.49 for a package of 12, wooden dowels were 59 cents a piece, and the wood slats were $2.49 for a package of six.  I bought two packages of wood slats.  I received a 15% discount on everything.  The total cost including the bath sponges was a little under $20.00.  Of course if I drove the dowels into the ground instead of placing them on concrete, I could have skipped purchasing both the wooden wheels and the wood slats.


1.  Hot glue on the flat side of the wooden wheel to the center of the wood slat.   Make sure that the glue does not go inside the hole in the wooden wheel.
2.  Push one end of the wooden dowel into the hole in the wooden wheel.
3.  Push a bath sponge into the other end (top) of the wooden dowel.

Note:  This activity is not great for windy days.  I recommend using  rocks, beans, or something else to anchor the wood slats down - even on calm days.

Wooden Wheels

Wooden Dowels

Wood Slates

Bath Sponges
Hot glue the flat side of wooden wheels to the wood slats in the center.

Push the wooden dowel into the hole in the wooden wheel.
Lessons by Molly © 2013  All rights reserved.


  1. What fun ideas! I am your newest follower :)

    Mindful Rambles

    1. Rae,

      Glad you liked the colorful trees mapping activity. Thank you for commenting.

  2. So many wonderful Seussy ideas. The trees are fantastic. I bet the kids had so much fun while they were learning. Thanks for sharing.

    The Fun Factory

    1. Kids like almost anything that gets their bodies moving. The trees are fun to use but NOT on windy days. Thank you for commenting.

  3. I love your trees!! Thanks for such a clear explaination on how to make them! I too love Horton Hears A of my favorites! Thanks for sharing!
    Tori's Teacher Tips

    1. Tori,

      Horton Hears A Who and Yertle the Turtle are my two favorites. It's hard to decide because I love so many of the Dr. Seuss books.

  4. I love your truffula tres! They are really cute. Thanks for including the directions, that is very helpful!

    Clearly Kindergarten

    1. Sarah,

      Thank you for commenting about the trees! They're simple to make.