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It's All the Buzz

The animal sound effects from “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale” by Verna Aardema really resonate with children. Children invent creative sounds when they represent their favorite creatures.

  • Kindergarten
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Share the cover of “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale” with students. Ask children to predict why they think mosquitoes buzz. Write their ideas on a white board using Crayola® Dry Erase Markers. Encourage children to make sounds like buzzing mosquitoes.
    2. Ask children to consider this African folktale that describes one possible explanation of why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears. Encourage children to listen carefully for the unique, creative sounds the animals in the story make. Ask children to repeat those as you read.
    3. During the reading, ask children if they notice something a little unusual about the illustration style. Keep the suspense about what it is for as long as possible.
    4. Review the story, discussing the sounds each animal made. Take a second look at the illustrations. Ask children to describe how white or light-colored lines are used to outline the drawings. How could they do that in their own art?
    5. Ask children to choose a favorite animal from the story, an animal that intrigues them, or invent an imaginary one.
    6. Invite them to choose colorful, dark Crayola Construction Paper on which to draw with Crayola Construction Paper™ Crayons. If needed, demonstrate how to first outline the exterior shape of their animal, and then define the animal’s interior parts, using white or another light color. Children may even want to practice this technique on scrap paper first.
    7. Children fill the spaces between the outlines with color.
    8. When children finish, have them present their work to the class. First, ask them to present the sound the animal makes. Keep the drawing a mystery. Can classmates identify the animal from its sound? Make sure everyone repeats the sound before the name of the animal is revealed. Then ask children to describe the animal parts that are depicted in their drawings.
  • Standards

    LA: With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.

    LA: Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).

    LA: Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.

    MATH: Reason with shapes and their attributes.

    SCI: Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.

    SS: Give examples of how experiences may be interpreted differently by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference.

    VA: Students will initiate making works of art and design by experimenting, imagining and identifying content.

    VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.

    VA: Students will use a variety of methods for preparing their artwork and the work of others for presentation.

  • Adaptations

    Record children’s animal sounds, both those in the book and the ones they create. Play the recordings back. Ask children to identify which animal is represented and match it with their drawings.

    Ask children to choose their favorite books about animals. Retell the story using as many sound effects as possible. Make original costumes and present the stories to other classes.

    Discuss the similarities and differences between this and other children’s stories about animal warnings or exaggerations, such as “The Little Red Hen.”

    Ask children to consider why it is important to always tell the truth.

    This classic book won the Caldecott Award in 1976. Why do children think it was an award-winning book? What other books do they know that also won the Caldecott Award?

    Ask children to represent imaginary animal sounds with alphabet letters. Invent spellings!


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