Exposing children to a variety of literary genres in the early grades helps to develop vocabulary, cognitive thinking, and hopefully, a love of reading in its many forms. One of the more complex and interesting styles of children’s literature may be found in the works of Dr. Seuss.
On this day in 1904, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born. He has written 46 books for children and is a well-known author, cartoonist and poet, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1984. He also worked as an illustrator for many advertising campaigns and was a political cartoonist during World War II.
Dr. Seuss (who was not really a doctor) was a perfectionist and it often took him over a year to write a book. He wrote his last book, Oh the Places You’ll Go, in 1990, and died in 1991 at the age of 87. His famous children’s books have been translated into over 20 languages and are still enjoyed in homes, schools, and communities all over the world.
For more interesting facts about Dr. Seuss, check out this website.
Ask students if they have ever heard of Dr. Seuss. What stories do they remember? What do they like about his books? Explain that today is Dr. Seuss Day in honour of his birthday.
Read your favourite Dr. Seuss book to the class and tell them why you like it.
Allow children to explore the artwork as you read some of their favourite choices aloud.
If students are interested in more Dr. Seuss-themed activities, consider exploring the links shared in the Introduction.
Share the information from the Introduction about Dr. Seuss Day.
Ask students if they have read Green Eggs and Ham. Invite several volunteers to read a page from the book, showing the illustrations as you move through the text.
Point out that in this whole text there are only 49 one-syllable words and one three-syllable word.
Challenge students to identify all 49 one-syllable words and the one three-syllable word used in this text.
Explain that Dr. Seuss created Green Eggs and Ham to prove to a colleague that he could write a whole book with only 50 words!
Share the information about Dr. Seuss Day from the Introduction.
Explain that Dr. Seuss used rhyme, rhythm, and unique vocabulary to capture the attention of his readers. Introduce the concept of meter: the pattern of accented and unaccented beats in a line of poetry. The term can also refer to a unit of rhythm, called a “foot.” A foot has a certain number of syllables in it, usually two or three. What makes the difference between one type of meter and another is the number of syllables and which ones are accented.
Briefly introduce the term anapestic tetrameter and explain that it represents a type of meter that Dr. Seuss used in his texts. This meter consists of four feet; each foot has three syllables with the accent on the third syllable. It sounds like this: da da DUM/ da da DUM/ da da DUM/ dada DUM.
Have students try out the meter by tapping on a hard surface.
Read one of the following Dr. Seuss texts and ask students to listen to the meter: The Cat in the Hat, The Sneeches, or Yertle the Turtle. Encourage students to suggest why Dr. Seuss might have liked writing with this meter.
Invite students to create a simple poem using anapestic tetrameter. Share the results. Take the lesson a step further by analyzing other poems and comparing their meters!