Peck, Slither, and Slide
Curriculum Guide

by Mary Lou Meerson

To focus attention and activate prior knowledge, ask students to list the animals they have seen or handled. Then have them demonstrate how each one moves. Help students find an action word that describes this movement.

Read the book aloud and give students lots of time to anticipate and enjoy the illustrations.

After reading the book, choose several activities from those listed below to support and enhance your curriculum. Many of the activities call for these students to re-visit the text.


Language Arts

  • Take one or more of the action verbs from the book and have the children show how they use this verb in their own lives. For example, if they choose the verb "build", they might construct something from blocks, Legos or sand. If they choose the verb "slide", they could slide down the playground slide. In cold weather they could slide on snow or ice.


  • Look again at the page about beavers. Have students build a beaver dam from Legos, clay or sticks. Ask them to show how the beavers live and protect themselves.
  • Look again at the page about "Touch". Explain that touch is only one of the ways that all animals, including humans, exchange information and interact with the world. Name all five senses. Explain that in both humans and animals, touch can be used to show affection or to show aggression. In pairs, have students touch each other on the arm gently and then a bit harder. This might be a good time to discuss playground behavior in which a misunderstanding about the force of a "touch" can lead to fights.
  • Look again at the "Flamingo" page. Read aloud the paragraph at the end of the book. Focus on the section which explains why flamingos are pink. To illustrate the principle of coloration, place several white cut flowers into vases of various colored water. The students will observe the petals tinged with color.
  • Look again at the page for "Leopard", and read aloud the associated paragraph at the end of the book. Discuss the term "camouflage". Perhaps you or someone in class has military camouflage pants or shirt. Demonstrate how this is difficult to see in a forest setting. Have students make a list of other animals whose coloring or markings make them difficult to see in their natural habitats. Some examples are moray eels, tigers, many kinds of snakes, etc.
  • Also after "Leopard", discuss why leopards, lions, tigers and other large animals are called Big Cats. Bring a house cat to class and have the students observe the similarities to the larger animals.
  • Look again at the page for "Peck". Have students go outdoors and observe a tree closely for any insects that they see on the outer bark. Have them name or draw pictures of the insects. Then you (or any adult) can carefully cut a small piece of bark away and have the children look to see if any insects live under the bark.

Related Literature

  • Look again at the "Elephant" page. Read or tell the old story of "The Three Blind Men and the Elephant". Other elephant books include Dr. Seuss' Horton Hatches the Egg and Disney's Dumbo.
  • Look again at the "Penguin" page. Read aloud Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater or The Penguin's Tale by Audrey Woods.
  • Look again at the "Snake" page. Read aloud Verdi by Janell Cannon or Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling.


  • Look again at the "Swing" page. Set up some relay races on the playground climbing bars (monkey bars). Station adults or upper grade children below the bars as "catchers" to guard against accidents.
  • Look again at the ''Slither" page. Collect several old pillowcases and cut a hole in the closed top, Set up a relay snake race. The first child on each team must put their head through the cut-out hole and team members pull the case down so that the child cannot use his/her hands or arms. The child lies down on the floor and tries to "slither" for a set distance. The pillowcase is passed to the next child who repeats the process. Children experience an enhanced appreciation for the agility of snakes when they see how difficult it is to maintain forward motion with no arms or hands.
  • Look again at the "Ape" page. Explain that the word ape has come to mean imitate. Set students up in pairs facing each other. One person is "it" and pantomimes a series of movements. The other person tries to copy the movements quickly, as if they were a mirror image.
  • Look again at the "Reach" page. Arrange a chalkboard or a large piece of poster paper just above head height of your students. Give each child (one at a time) a piece of chalk or an ink marker. Have them make a mark at the highest point that they can reach. Label each mark with the child's name or initials. You may wish to label the display "Room Reaches High". You can use this chart to compose math problems.


  • Look again at the "Hide" page. Have students draw a picture in which an animal or object is hidden, Have them exchange pictures and try to discover the hidden object in their partner's picture.
  • Have students try using Suse MacDonald's "part to whole" style of drawing. For younger children it will probably be easier for them to begin with the "whole" picture. Then they can choose a part to enlarge. They can use either animals or objects.




  • Have students create strings of synonyms and antonyms for each action verb in the book.
  • Ask students to write a short story on a topic of their choosing. Use as many of the action words from the book as makes sense.
  • Have the students play a game in which they take words from the book and try to see how many "little' words they can make of each.


  • Ask each student choose an animal and create a poster report. Each poster should include a picture or drawing of the entire animal and a smaller "close-up" of an unusual feature. Print sections should include information on habitat, food and behavior. Students can present their reports orally and make a great "Open House" display.
  • Look again at the "Leopard" page. Have students make a Venn Diagram comparing leopards or other big cats to the domestic house cat.
  • Look again at the "Peck" page. Have each student "Adopt A Tree" for an extended period. This can be all year, but should be at least three months. Students shall keep a journal about 'their" tree. They should make formal observations at least once per week. They should note any animal or insect life and what the tree itself looks like as the seasons change. At the end of the journal they should observe the surroundings. Can the tree get enough sun and water? Is it being crowded by undergrowth, vines or humans? They should make a prediction as to whether or not they think their tree will still be standing in twenty years.

Challenge them to come back and see.

  • Go on a bird walk/sketching trip. Have students draw and identify the birds they see. Contact your Extension Office or a nearby University to inquire about other birds in other seasons. Find out what trees or bushes are favored by the birds in your area. Plant some!
  • Use the Internet and the Library to find out if any of the animals in this book are endangered species. Find out what is being done to protect them.
  • Hold a debate on whether animals should be placed in zoos or left in the wild. Do research on your opinions!


  • Have students experiment with drawing in various perspectives. Have them draw the same animal or object as it looks when it's near and when it's far away. Then as it looks from the side and from the front.


Take a field trip to a zoo.


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