Itty & Bitty's World

Classroom Activities using the Itty & Bitty Series:

My hope is that the Itty Bitty series will be used in classrooms to introduce or enhance a unit on poetry. The activities here should be fun, full of the joy of wordplay, and encourage a lively exploration of the dictionary. Poets craft words; those are our primary tools, and students are invited here to enter the world of poetry, language, sound, rhythm, and rhyme.

If this is entered upon as an adventure, I believe it will instill a greater curiosity about language, words, and the amazing richness of the English language. The origins and stories behind certain words in the books are mini-tales unto themselves. The word “ragamuffin” in Book One is over 650 years old! “Camouflage” in Book Two is from the French, in WWI. So many stories!

For the youngest readers (pre-school, for example), a “Where’s Waldo” approach can be used. Students may hunt for the black and white graphics and images in Book Two: Friends on the Farm, which the illustrator uses to play with the “Pinto” theme that is threaded through the series.

BOOK ONEItty & Bitty: Two Miniature Horses

Itty Bitty Two Miniature Horses - Book 1INTRODUCTION TO POETRY
Read the poems aloud for the sheer delight of the sound and sense. This is light verse, written in couplets, with full rhyme at the end of each line. Have students try writing some short, two line poems about a friend, relative, or pet. Have them read their lines aloud, to be sure that each line has the same number of stresses, and that their rhymes really work.

CHARACTERS
The characters of Itty and Bitty are introduced in Book One. They are both miniature horses and best friends, yet they are opposites. Itty is a neat-nick; Bitty, a slob. Have fun pointing out their differences, and why sometimes opposites make such good friends. Once the children get a sense of their personalities, they might have fun making captions for the following photo: Nancy with Itty and Bitty

Feel free to click on the image to download and print off this photo and laminate it.

The children can be creative writing captions for this photo of author, Nancy, reading to the two “real” minis. (It was 103 degrees that day, and we had to pose in the pasture for a professional photographer). Cartoon-type caption balloons can be purchased or made and stuck to a laminated photo or blow up of this photo, adding to the fun.

DICTIONARY & DETECTIVE WORK
Pair off students and have them look up some of the more difficult words in Book One, like ragamuffin, unkempt, and martingale. Show them some of the “codes” in the front of the dictionary, such as OE for Old English and ME for Middle English to help decipher the story behind the words. This is a good way to introduce them to etymology, and make looking up words more of a treasure hunt. They also might begin to understand some easy prefixes, such as “un” in unkempt=”not”.

HISTORY OF THE MINIATURE HORSE BREED
Many stories and myths exist relating to the history of the miniature horse breed. The actual facts are as interesting as any myth. Have students do some library hunting to find out about how this breed got started, and some of the main characteristics of the breed. Author Nancy was careful to research her facts, so for example, minis do not wear shoes (except in the case of service minis, who need traction to go up and down stairs and ramps), and often do sleep two to three in a stall. Of course, they do not drive cars, but they are often transported in the back seats of cars!

MINIATURE HORSES & THE HISTORY OF CHILD LABOR -- COAL MINES
Miniature horses were used in the mid-1800’s to replace the young boys who were harnessed to pull coal tubs deep in the mines of Great Britain and Europe. This is a chapter of the Industrial Revolution that often goes unstudied in history texts, but most students find this very interesting. The photos taken by Lewis Hine to expose this deplorable practice can be “Googled” and discussed. Janet Barkerhouse’s book, The Pit Pony, is an interesting tale of child coal miners in Cape Breton, Canada. Easy to read, and very moving. A movie version of this book exists, and can be found in DVD format.

Would you like Nancy Carpenter to visit your class? Find out more.

 

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