© 2011 Braden Paule

Braden Paule
SPED 671
Prof. Martin

PBS Infant/Toddler Activity: Elephant Finds a Friend
Materials: Book: “Elephant Finds a Friend”, puppets (optional), “Will you play with me?”
cards (optional)
Target Audience: Toddlers
Objective: The book “Elephant Finds a Friend” introduces toddlers to a script for finding a
playmate when they feel lonely. It starts with a brief description of the sensation of loneliness,
followed by a positive script for asking others to play that is repeated three times. It concludes with
with a successful, happy ending. The goal of the activity is to help toddlers better recognize the
feelings of loneliness and to give them an appropriate script to engage playmates which they can
use whenever they are feeling lonely.
Lead-in: Discuss the feeling of loneliness with children. Start with an example of teacher
feeling lonely, focus on normalcy of the feeling and positive solution in finding someone to spend
time with. Next discuss an example of the children feeling lonely. If possible use examples from
real life including children present. If loneliness was not observed, use hypothetical situations.
Again emphasize that loneliness can usually be overcome by finding someone to play with and
introduce phrase, “Do you want to play with me?”
Activity: Read book “Elephant Finds a Friend” to children. Keep children engaged with
questions and comments about what is happening in the story. Following are some suggested
comments by page.
Page1/2: Ask students to name things in picture. Notice all characters present and point out
mouse if children do not see him. Ask children what they think could be missing and why Elephant
is not happy today even though he is playing in the sandbox.
Page 3: Can discuss other sensations related to loneliness.
Page 4/5: Get students to help Elephant by saying his line along with him. On page 5 they
could say it in a big voice to make sure it reaches all the way up to the sun. Ask students why Tree
and Sun do not play with Elephant. Perhaps they do not want to play and are ignoring him. Perhaps
they are inappropriate playmates and did not answer because they cannot talk. Either way, focus on
the fact that this is normal. Not everyone will want to play with us or be able to play with us.
Elephant's solution is just to move on and try someone else. Notice Elephant's changing expression.
Could reaching out and talking to other people help with loneliness even if they do not end up
Page 6: Get students to help Elephant ask mouse to play. Does Mouse seem like a good
playmate for Elephant? On the teeter-totter? Let's find out.
Page 7: Evaluation: Do Elephant and Mouse look like they are having fun playing together?
What if one of them doesn't want to play together any more? What if Elephant wants to go play in
the sandbox, but Mouse doesn't want to? Ask students for their ideas.
Short-term Follow up: Immediate reinforcement with puppets and/or role play. Pretend that
one character is lonely and have them practice asking other characters to play. Others can say yes or
no. The game of Duck, Duck, Goose could be adapted so that as each person in the circle is tapped
on the head they say, “Will you play with me?” If child tapping says “No” they stay still; if they say
“Yes” it is the same as calling “goose” – the sitting child has to chase the other around the circle and
try to get back to their seat first.
Long-term Follow Up: Notice when children are feeling lonely or left out and help them to
go find another children to ask “will you play with me?” If potential playmates do not want to play
remind child of the Tree and Sun who did not play with Elephant and encourage them to try again
with someone else.
1. The story could be turned into a puppet show for children with Autism or with language
impairment who may understand the visual representation of the puppets acting the story out better
than the words with still pictures that are in the book.
2. The script taught in the story could be modified for children based on their speaking ability. For
example the phrase could be shortened to “Want to play?” or just “Play?” Children who cannot say
“Play?” could be given a printed card with the words “Will you play with me?” and a picture of
Elephant and Mouse on the teeter-totter which they could show to other children they want to play
with. The teacher would explain the meaning and use of the card to the class.