Amelia Bedeliaby Peggy Parish
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Children will get the giggles from this book because Amelia Bedelia does exactly as the words in a note command, or she follows directions exactly as she hears the words. We say that she takes things "literally." Amelia Bedelia does not "read between the lines," nor does she try to "make sense" of what someone tells her to do. She just does it as she hears it.
Books by Peggy Parish
Enrichment ActivitiesOne reason that children like these stories so much is that they bring understanding to the words and put them in context, where Amelia Bedelia does not. Therefore, reading or listening to the story makes children feel good. They are in a position of knowing more than she does. If the story were a movie, it would be called "slapstick" humor.
Children love to "talk to" Amelia Bedelia and to explain things to her in their own words, so the books (there are several in a series) call for puppet making.
- Trace Amelia Bedelia.
- A student volunteer can lie flat on a double piece of brown butcher paper, and one or two others can trace around the outline of the child's body.
- It is good eye-hand coordination practice to cut out the outline of the shape.
- Have children work in small groups one group can cut out construction paper shapes for her face and paste them on, another group can make her construction paper dress, another can make an apron and shoes, another can make her construction paper hat and hair. (Use crayons minimally.)
- Everyone can have a turn to work on the large figure.
- Staple around the edges and gently stuff with small paper pieces. (Repaste where necessary.)
- We now have an Amelia Bedelia for a quiet area where children can go and sit with her (she is as big as they are) and read to her and explain things to her.
- Some children will want to show her things in the room special building blocks, how to make towers, and so on.
- They will even have her sit on their laps and guide her hand.
- It is good for children to be able to instruct her informally during free time; some have an amazing amount of patience for this.
On Being Amelia
- Ask children to imagine they are Amelia Bedelia. Write directions for an activity on the board that students could complete in class.
- Ask them how Amelia would complete the instructions.
- Have students act out what they think Amelia would do.
Making Books for Amelia
- Bring a variety of magazines to class.
- Have students go through magazines and cut out advertisements and slogans about soap, traveling on airlines, fast food, and the like that might be very confusing to Amelia Bedelia.
- Put them in a magazine scrapbook for her so that she can "read" it in her spare time.
- Children and the puppets can help her.
Have students explain the following idioms and objects to Amelia.
- Spoons. Long ago, the first spoons were made of wood. Later, iron and silver spoons were made. If a family had enough money, a silver spoon was given to a new baby at christening time. That's where we get the saying, "He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth." Try explaining that one to Amelia Bedelia.
- Have children draw Amelia Bedelia's example of a toothpick. Before there were toothpicks, some people used to pick their teeth with the sharp end of the knife. What kind of a pick will Amelia Bedelia draw? (For younger children, a demonstration of things that we use to pick up objects might be helpful, such as tongs, tweezers, and so on.)
- Sometimes at holiday dinners or special parties, people make a "toast" (short speech) and clink glasses with the person next to them. Write or draw an illustration of Amelia Bedelia's "toast to good health!"
- Draw a cartoon picture of Amelia Bedelia with a thought bubble overhead showing just what she is thinking when she hears us say, "Amelia Bedelia is a good egg!"
- Have children come up with their own kitchen sayings that could confuse Amelia Bedelia.
Cooking with young children affords many opportunities for doing math and for children to learn that math is a useful and necessary tool for measuring (liquid and dry), classifying, timing, and controlling temperature.
- Look through several cookbooks for "confusing directions" such as: "add a pinch of salt," or "a drop of oil," or a recipe that calls for "tail onions," and so on. There are plenty of examples in cookbooks.
- To follow through on this, some children might want to make a simplified picture cookbook for Amelia Bedelia to follow so that she does not become confused.
- Divide the page in half.
- On one side, draw an illustration as she would do it, and on the other side, draw or write the correct interpretation.
- Cookbooks have plenty of really good examples, such as:
- Bake until bread leaves the side of the pan.
- Place dough in a greased bowl and turn once.
- Strain and cool.
- Beat butter until soft.
- Dry with a paper towel or drain.
- Roast until done.
- One of Amelia Bedelia's specialties is lemon meringue pie, and that's not easy! How many children have ever had the experience at home of watching someone make meringue? Look up the recipe for meringue in a cookbook. Have the children make it, and drop it onto lemon cookies or lemon pudding.
- For a real treat, make "pigs in blankets" for a party snack (frankfurter fried in an electric fry pan, and hot dog roll, with a "dash" of mustard or ketchup). How would Amelia Bedelia make them?