In this lesson, the teacher will...
Examine the cover. Ask children to predict what they think will happen in this story. What do they think the Pigeon will say and do to keep from going to bed on time? Make a list and compare them to Pigeon’s actual excuses and strategies.
Ask them to watch for signs that the pigeon is really tired, even if he says he isn’t.
To think about as you read: Yawning is contagious. There is a 2 page spread in the book showing a huge yawn. Watch your students to see if they yawn. Use this opportunity to talk about the impact of a yawn on others. Yawn together to get into the character of Pigeon. Ask your students for what they do to stay awake when they’re tired. Lead them in jumping jacks and other aerobic exercises to get going again. If they have other suggestions, give them a try.
READ THE BOOK: Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willem – if possible project the pictures on a document camera to allow the students to see the details.
If you have read other books by Mo Willem - make a text-to-text connection: what is the name of the stuffed bunny Pigeon is holding under his wing? Where have you seen that bunny before? (It looks amazingly like Trixie’s companion, from Mo Willems’s Knuffle Bunny.) How do you think the Pigeon got it? Speculate on what might have happened between the Pigeon and Trixie.
TALK TO THE PIGEON: Informally assess comprehension
Mo Willem’s stories are interactive. This story is similar to Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. The reader or listener plays an active role, talking back to the Pigeon. Allow your students to turn the book from a monologue into a dialogue. They will develop arguments to fend off the Pigeon’s requests to party, watch TV, and count the stars. They must resist his attempts to con his way to a later bedtime.
After sharing the book, have children get together in pairs and act out the story. One child plays the persistent Pigeon, while the other listens to each of the Pigeon’s requests and tries to get him to go to bed. Then have the children in each pair switch roles and do it again.
There are many possibilities for post-reading activities. Read through the list below and choose activities that are best suited to your classroom.
GIVE ME FIVE - The Pigeon says, “How about five more minutes? C’mon! What’s five minutes in the grand scheme of things?” Make a tie-in with math and time. Predict what can you do in five minutes. Set the timer and see.
HELP ME! -- Ask your students: What do your parents do to help you go to sleep? What are some other ways to get the Pigeon to go to sleep? What do your parents do to make you sleepy and ready for bed? Have them write and illustrate their best ideas. Bind the pages together to make a “Go-To-Sleep” class book.
ROCK-A-BYE, PIGEON - Would a lullaby help Pigeon fall asleep? Sing together the lullabies you know. Make up your own class lullaby: Rock-a-bye, Pigeon, on the treetop; When the bough bends, the cradle will rock. When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, And down will come Pigeon, cradle and all.
FACT CHECK - The Pigeon has plenty of tactics to delay so he can stay up late. Take a closer look at some of them.
1. The Pigeon says, “We could count the stars.” How many stars can we count in the night sky? (Children can go outside with their parents on a clear night and see.) How many stars are there? What is a star?
2. The Pigeon says, “It’s the middle of the day in China.” True or false? What time is it in China right now?
3. The Pigeon says, “Studies show pigeons need hardly any sleep at all.” Is this true or false? How much sleep do you need at night? How could you find out – may trigger a mini-research project (Pigeons actually sleep from sunset to dawn.) What other facts do you know about pigeons? Find some interesting pigeon facts online at:
WHAT A CHARACTER - Begin a character study of Pigeon. Read the books, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog. Explain that we can learn about characters by looking at things that they do and things that they say. Introduce a graphic organizer, such as a web or a T-chart, and encourage students to watch and listen for things that the pigeon does and says. Record these on the organizer. What did they learn about the pigeon based on things he says and does? Add to the character study after reading Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late. Create a bulletin board with pictures of the pigeon, on which children write one word that describes him from the class discussions.
DREAM MAKER - Look at the last page of the story. This picture shows Pigeon sound asleep and dreaming. What is he dreaming about? What do you dream about? Draw a picture of yourself in bed. Make a thought-balloon showing your best dream.
TEXT TO SELF CONNECTION - Revisit making text-to-self connections. Ask students if they’ve ever felt like the pigeon and not wanted to go to bed. Then, guide students through a writing activity where they brainstorm all of the reasons that they might give to their parents for why they should be able to stay up late. Have students make a book in which they draw a picture on each page that shows one of their reasons for staying up late. Have them add a sentence to their pictures. Ask parents/guardians to send a picture to school of their child sleeping. Have children add this picture to the last page of their books.
GET READY FOR BED - What do you do to get ready for bed each night? Brainstorm a list with your group of students and write it on chart paper or on the board. Have the students determine the best sequence of events, from first to last. Copy the newly organized list onto a large chart. As you read the finished list aloud, have your children act out each of the activities in pantomime.