Developed by:Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications
Mo Willems is a literary god in our house! His books are all over our house: Knuffle Bunny, Knuffle Bunny, Too, Elephant and Piggy, and of course...the Pigeon series. Needless to say, when this app came out, my boys HAD. TO. HAVE. IT. [Insert flailing child arms here] They created story upon story upon story, and loved every minute of it.
Prepare to use the app by introducing one of these activities:
It’s a Pigeon’s World
Read other Don’t Let the Pigeon and other Pigeon books to familiarize yourself with who Pigeon is. Talk about some of the common elements across the titles (i.e. humor; Pigeon wanting to do something but being denied; Pigeons’ negotiation tactics; the forehead-slapping “what’s next” outcome). This activity will help your child grasp the tone of the Pigeon books before creating his/her own through this app.
- Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
- Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late
- The Pigeon Needs a Bath
- The Pigeon Wants a Puppy
You may also want to explore the official Pigeon site to extend your child’s experiences.
Many children think of authors as abstract beings that exist in some magical space, far, far away. We need to change this! Authors are definitely people to be revered, but demystifying who an author is allows children to see writers are people just like them. This, in turn, frees children to view themselves as authors and gives them permission to try on the author hat. Luckily, Mo Willems is an author who definitely puts himself out there and loves to connect with his readers. (By the way, that’s Mo Willems’ voice you hear in the app!) The Today Show put together a fabulous interview with Mo Willems, where he talks about his views on childhood, writing, and the art of doodling.
Help your child get the most out of an app experience by trying the following activities:
Egg, Chick, or Big Pigeon?
This app adapts itself to different levels of independence. For instance, the “Egg” level asks the reader to shake Pigeon to get a result (leading to different story variations). The “Chick” level begins with the Bus Driver inviting the reader to choose answers to multiple-choice questions that are later inserted to complete the story. At the “Big Pigeon” level (my boys’ favorite), the Bus Driver poses the same questions but allows readers to record their answers, leading to endless possibilities!
*Be sure to have the microphone turned on before using this app (visit the “Settings” page on your device). One of the biggest draws of this app is the ability for children to record their voices to help “create” the stories!
Fiction Story Elements
Explain to your child that fiction stories contain specific elements: characters, setting, problem, and solution. The characters are the people in the story while the setting tells where a story takes place. Every story has a main problem with an accompanying solution. After reading your child’s story, encourage him/her to identify the story elements.
Extend the app experience with a real life activity:
No offense to Google Maps or MapQuest...but give me Pigeon GPS! Did you know that pigeons have such a sophisticated sense of navigation that they were used as messengers back in 5th Century BC? What about the 10- year Oxford University study that suggests that pigeons use roadways and freeways to navigate? Holy moly! Other theorists conclude that pigeons use the earth’s magnetic field to navigate their surroundings, similar to a compass. Pigeons are fascinating creatures, right? After sharing this exciting information with your child, teach your child the major cardinal directions (North-South-East-West) using this video from Hi-5. Next, practice these directions with a Simon Says game: “Simon Says walk four steps to the North. Simon Says hop three spaces to the East.” The end goal? Developing pigeon-like navigational skills!
The structure of this app is similar to Mad Libs, a classic story game where users fill in story blanks with predetermined categories (noun, adjective, verb, etc.). The results are hilarious! Let your child try out more Mad Libs with one of these links. Younger kids could click on predetermined word choices while older ones could type in their own Century BC? What about the 10-year Oxford University study word choices, if desired.