The Chicken Problem

Written by: Jennifer Oxley

Illustrated by: Billy Aronson

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations

Join Peg and Cat as they try to solve the Chicken Problem! Start off by exploring the cover illustration and several illustrations in the book. Talk to your child about what s/he sees and make predictions about what this story will hold. Ask questions like:

What do you notice on the cover?

What do you think The Chicken Problem is?

Why do you think there are so many chickens everywhere?

Who is the little girl? How do you think the cat is feeling? Why do you think that?

Let's see how many chickens we can count. One, two, three...

See how many of the chickens you and your child can count together. Continue on your own when your child gets to the highest that s/he can count, but let him/her help you as you go on by pointing to the chickens as you count.


Activate Prior Knowledge

Does your child know the characters of Peg and Cat from their PBS television show? If not, tell your child that these are two characters that have their own tv show! If they do know Peg and Cat, talk about what your child knows about these characters. Ask, "Who is Peg? Who is Cat? What are some things that they do together?"

As You Read

Number Recognition

Let your child name the numbers that s/he knows and give names to the numbers that s/he is not familiar with. For example, on the first page of the story when Peg is counting the pieces of pie and number of cats, ask, "How many pieces of pie are there? What number is that? How many cats can Peg fit there?" You can also point out the simple equations at the bottom of each page. For older children, you can cover the answers to the equations and have your child figure them out. You can also change the sign and ask, "What is 1-1?" Always be encouraging and try to let your child come to the answer on his/her own before providing guidance. If your child needs help, you can ask, "If Peg had one piece of pie but then Cat took that one piece of pie away from her, how many pieces of pie would Peg have left?"


Vocabulary Building

Help build your child's vocabulary by following the text with your fingers as you read. Be sure to pull out specific letters and words from the text, and ask things like, "What is a wheelbarrow? Can you point to it in the illustration? What letter does this word {insert a word} start with? What sound does that letter make?


Make Connections

Connect the story to the real world by asking about the characters' experiences. For example, when Peg and Cat are pushing the wheelbarrows full of chickens say, "Wow, that is a lot of chickens! Do you think those wheelbarrows are heavy or light? Why do you think that?" You can also ask your child to make predictions or come up with his/her own solutions to Peg and Cat's problems by saying, "Oh no! All of the chickens are out of their cage! What do you think Peg and Cat will do?"

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret

Be sure to discuss the story once you are done and ask questions like:

Why did Peg let the smallest chicken out of the cage?

What was The Chicken Problem?

How did she get them back in their cage?

Can you think of a problem that you have had to solve? How did you solve it?

Extended Learning Exploration

Have Your Own Picnic

Supplies: a picnic blanket, a basket, and food


Whether it's in your living room, in your front yard, or at your favorite park, have your own picnic! Start off by counting how many guests you will be having at your picnic. This is important because you want to have just the right amount of food! Let your child help you prepare the meal and be sure to count each ingredient and snack as you go along. You can pack sandwiches, drinks, fruits and veggies, as well as other yummy snacks that your child may like. You can also invite your child's stuffed animal friends, providing play food for them. Your child will have a blast helping you prepare your picnic and enjoying the fruits of their labor. 


STEM Extension

Try this fun chicken counting activity provided by PBS! Your child will work to find just the right amount of chickens to put in each bag to help you, Farmer {insert your name}, find all of your chickens!


Check This Out

Can't get enough of Pet and Cat? Check out an episode of their show and try out some of these Peg and Cat inspired activities!