A reading comprehension and art activity to go along with Mo Willem’s book, Knuffle Bunny.

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Knuffle Bunny activities for elementary teachers including a reading comprehension idea and an art project, 1st and 2nd graders love this!

The Book


Knuffle Bunny is the first in a series of three great books by Mo Willems.  The story starts with little babbling, bright-eyed Trixie and her dad taking a trip to the laundromat.

On the way home…”Trixie realizes something…”   Her favorite stuffed animal, Knuffle Bunny, has been left at the laundromat!  Even though Trixie can’t really talk she finds plenty of other ways to express herself.

The whole family helps in the search for the beloved toy.  (Look closely for a cameo appearance by the main character from Mo’s series about the pigeon.) Read to the end to hear about the fate of Knuffle Bunny and Trixie’s big breakthrough.

Kids will enjoy Willems’s expressive illustrations and humor.  They will also be able to relate to Trixie’s love for a special toy and her frustration to communicate clearly with adults.

Art Activity


Mo Willems has a unique form of illustration in the Knuffle Bunny books.  He puts an illustration on top of a black and white photo.  Kids will enjoy creating art in this same style.


1. Start by printing and copying a photograph for the background. Here are a couple I found on Pixabay that you can copy and paste into your own file and print:





2. On a sheet of white paper draw a character.  Drawing people may seem intimidating but look at the examples Willems gives.  Use simple shapes and straight or curved lines.  Heads are circles, bodies are rectangles.  Arms and legs are rectangles put together.  Hands can be rounded off to make them simpler to draw.


Willems draws faces very simply, a couple of ovals for the eyes, two straight lines for the nose, a curved line for the mouth and eyebrows.  Add hair and clothing.


3. Outline the pencil drawing with pen.  Willems uses a back-and-forth scratchy style of line.


4. Erase any extra pencil lines that can still be seen.


5. Add color.


6. Cut around the outside of the character.


an art project that goes along with the Knuffle Bunny books my Mo Willems, makes a fun reading extension activity for first and second grade classes


7. Glue the character onto the background.  Add other characters or speech bubbles as desired.


an art project that goes along with the Knuffle Bunny books my Mo Willems, lots of fun for a first or second grade classroom


Curriculum connections:

Students can:
-make pictures to illustrate their own writing.
-practice writing dialogue with quotations inside speech bubbles in the picture
-create three pictures to illustrate the beginning and middle and end of a story, comic strip style
-create an alternate ending for Knuffle Bunny


Story Structure Lesson


I love how anchor charts give kids a visual representation of a concept and allow the teacher to refer back to previous lessons.  However, anchor charts that rely on text are not accessible for younger learners.  Here is a style of anchor chart that you can use to teach story structure (characters, setting, problem, and solution) to young children.


Use a grid like this when teaching the important elements of fiction, perfect for a 1st or 2nd grade class


Create a grid with four boxes either on a piece of chart paper or on the board.  Label the boxes “characters,” “setting,” “problem,” and “solution.”  Copy pictures from the book that match each box.  My pictures here are in color but black and white ones off the copy machine work just fine.


I like to tell kids that there’s no way we’ll remember everything from a book so we need to look for the most important parts and at least make sure we know those.


As you read the story aloud, demonstrate how you find each of the four important parts of the story.  Once you have found them, tape the picture to the correct spot in the grid.  This gives kids with limited reading ability an opportunity to grasp a comprehension skill.


After you have done this lesson as a demonstration, repeat it with a different story and have students participate in locating the four important elements.  I am amazed how powerful it can be to repeat a lesson more than once but with different reading material.


As stories become more complex there may be more than one setting or more than one problem and solution.  New characters may come in toward the middle of the story.  When this happens I pop up my pointer finger as if a light bulb as turned on in my head and I say, “oh! the author just told us something important that we should remember.  Did you hear it?”


Eventually, kids start doing this on their own and it’s so exciting to see them actively monitoring their reading and making sure they remember the important parts!


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Hannah Braun
Hannah Braun
Hannah Braun is a former teacher with 8 years of experience in the classroom and a master's degree in early childhood education. She designs engaging, organized classroom resources for 1st-3rd grade teachers.


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