Moving through Literacy: From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

From Head to ToePicture books are a wonderful way to support literacy in you dance and music classes. From Head to Toe by Eric Carle is a picture book I have been using with my students for the past 8 years. Through simple prose and Carle's signature illustrations, this engaging picture book invites young children to move like different animals, using their own body parts. 

My Teaching Process

I will read this book to my early childhood classes when exploring the concepts of Body Parts and Shape. As I read the story I ask the children to use their body parts to match the illustrations in the book. Each page ends with "Can you do it?" "I can do it!", so once each child has mastered the shape we all say "I can do it!", a great way to boost their confidence as movers. 

To expand on this reading I will then move into one of the following extension activities:

Let's build a Zoo (Fences)

Using the shapes we learned in the book, each dancer will pick a different animal shape to recreate, and then we use body part connections between dancers to create a connected fence (our Zoo). This activity supports relationships between dancers and problem solving skills. 

Animal Obstacle Course

Using body parts as our guide, I ask the dancers to think of how animals move. We then select obstacles to add to the activity. Examples students have created:

  • Stomp like elephants with heavy feet along a path of poly spots.
  • Jump with strong legs over low pylons like a kangaroo.
  • Slither around pylons on your belly like a snake.

This activity supports the dancers’ in using application skills by combining body parts, knowledge of animals and skill development into one new activity!

Monkey See, Monkey Do!

Give each child picture of an animal. Ask them to think of what body part that animal uses to move. Without using words or showing the class their card, how could they move their body in a way that would help their friends guess what animal they are? Once each child has decided how they will move, each gets to turn show the class their movement. The class must mirror the leaders movement before guessing what animal they are. 

This activity supports problem solving skills and the use of expressive, non-verbal communication.