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"The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza" by Philemon Sturges: Summary and Pre-K Lesson Plan

The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza Preschool Lesson

The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza Preschool Lesson


Summary of The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza, by Philemon Sturges

The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza, by Philemon Sturges and Amy Walrod, is a retelling of the classic Little Red Hen folktale. In this classic story, Little Red Hen uses persistence and hard work to harvest wheat, mill flour, and eventually bake a loaf of bread for her little chicks. In the classic story, Little Red Hen asks her animal friends to help do the chores required to make the tasty loaf of bread. The lazy friends repeatedly refuse to help, so she is left to do the work on her own. At the end of the classic version of the story, Little Red Hen refuses to share the bread she has made since it's only fair that she did all the work.

This clever re-staging of the original story moves the Little Red Hen off of the farm and into a city neighborhood, complete with a beatnik buddy. Sturgis and Walrod depict the Little Red Hen making a pizza instead of bread. And what child isn't fascinated by making homemade pizza? The language of this version retains the charm of the original story, with repetitive refusals of her lazy friends to work, but introduces bold and colorful artwork with an infusion of humor that adults will appreciate.

It is the ending that truly sets this new version of the story apart from the old version—Instead of giving her lazy friends a just consequence for not helping her bake, Little Red Hen allows her friends to share in the meal. The focus is on forgiveness instead of fairness. Some folks will balk at the complete change of this story, whose moral is "You reap what you sow," but I think it is a fun read, especially in contrast to the original tale.

For What Ages?

Recommended for group reading: Ages 5 and up

Preschoolers: Toddlers will enjoy the story in the book, but not all of them will grasp the ethical message of forgiveness.

Elementary Ages: The pictures and language are captivating and will hold their attention. If you read this book as a companion to a more traditional telling of the Little Red Hen story, this age group could begin a discussion about the difference between the endings of the traditional folktale and The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza.

Emergent Readers: This is a great book to reintroduce to a child who is mastering learning to read. The repetitive words and phrases in the text make it an appealing longer book for reading aloud.


The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza Pre-K Lesson Plan

I used this book as the central reading for a story hour on several different occasions. Following are suggestions for use in a story hour or preschool circle time setting. Pick and choose what works best for your story hour, keeping in mind that preschool children learn best if circle time is kept to 15 minutes or less. Some of these songs are dependent upon having a way to project media, and some of the games and activities work best for smaller groups.

Little Red Hen-Themed Action Songs and More

Usually, I prefer to include simple action songs that are easy to learn. But some of these songs are hilarious and irreproducible. Decide what works best in your program.

10 Fluffy Chicks

10 Fluffy Chicks finger play teaches children that 5 and 5 make 10. It is a cute, short-action rhyme that isn't very complicated. View the 10 Fluffly Chicks video performed by the Teacher Sig channel.

The Farmer in the Dell

This traditional circle game works for groups under 10 children, and children need to be able to follow instructions.

Old McDonald Had a Farm

Sing "Old McDonald Had a Farm," highlighting the animals from the story: a chicken, dog, duck, and cat. To encourage participation, use prepared, laminated images of the animals found in the story or use hand puppets, if available.

Pizza Man Song

Sing "Pizza Man" by Jack Hartmann. This song is a "repeat after me" song with actions. Play the video for your students and sing along to this silly song.

The Little Red Hen Song

"The Little Red Hen" song by Adam Guillian is masterfully performed, with voices for each of the animals and just the right level of indignation for the end of the song. If you have a way to project videos, this would be a nice addition to a story hour. Perhaps to accompany a felt-board story or a magnet-board version of the more traditional Little Red Hen. See the video below.

The Milkshake Song

Several artists do this action song. Koo Koo Kangaroo's version is so over-the-top I laughed out loud several times. They had me at "Do it British." The song includes a pizza, so it deserves a mention here. See the video below.

Koo Koo Kanga Roo - Milkshake

The Little Red Hen Song by Adam Guillain

Felt-Board Story and Pre-Reading

Transition Activities

Ask the children, Do you like to eat pizza? What is your favorite topping to put on pizza?

Pizza Toppings Feltboard Story

This story could be a felt-board or laminated magnet-board story, depending on what materials you choose.

Prepare a laminated pizza by drawing a simple circle and coloring it yellow. Use a ruler to draw in pizza slices. Use simple shapes to represent toppings: red circles for pepperoni, black circles for olives, skinny green rectangles for green peppers, yellow triangles for pineapple, and so on. Don't get too elaborate. Show the children your pizza and ask them to help you make a pizza by adding toppings. Have the kids help you build a pizza with the shapes. Review the colors of the toppings as you add them to the pizza.

Pre-Reading The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza

Go through the book and point to the main characters. What sound does each animal make? Children can make the sounds as a group.

Craft and Enrichment Activities

Foamcraft Pizzas

Make simple circles from construction paper or craft foam for each child, about 6 inches in diameter. Give them colored paper or foam shapes to glue onto their own pizzas. See the instructions for the felt-board shapes above.

Paper Plate Pizzas

Paint or color a white paper plate yellow or brown to represent pizza dough. Precut topping shapes and have children glue them to the pizza. Add crimped, shredded paper (available for purchase in the party section of the dollar store) as your cheese. Create die-cut circles or use a paper punch to make your preparations easier. Create half-circle onions from white construction paper and rectangular peppers from red, yellow, and/or green construction paper.

English Muffin Pizzas

(Recommended for a smaller group.) If you are incredibly ambitious, you could make English muffin pizzas. And before you laugh incredulously, I actually did this activity twice with my storytime group. You would need access to a cooking source, such as an oven, for this activity, which makes it more appropriate for a small home preschool environment. Make sure you have lots of parent helpers if you cook with young children.

Pete the Cat and the Perfect Pizza Party by Kimberly and James Dean

Pete the Cat and the Perfect Pizza Party by Kimberly and James Dean

Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin

Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin

Consider these additional titles for reading with The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza.

  • The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone. A Traditional retelling of the little red hen fable.
  • The Little Red Hen by John Escott and Annie West. Another version of the little red hen fable.
  • The Princess and the Pizza by Jane Auch and Herm Auch.
  • Pete the Cat and the Perfect Pizza Party by Kimberly & James Dean. Pete invites all of his friends to a pizza party, but none of them can agree on the toppings.
  • Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin. A mischievous raccoon just wants to eat pizza. He'll do just about anything to get it.
  • Souperchicken by Jane and Herm Auch. This superbly funny book with a peppy poultry heroine promotes reading as a beneficial and even life-saving activity. Young readers will laugh all the way to the funny farm with this silly story.
  • The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman. Another Little Red Hen adaptation, this one with a Jewish twist serves as an excellent and respectful introduction to Jewish culture, including a heroine that is a real mensch. Please read my complete review of this excellent story by clicking on the title.

© 2008 Carolyn Augustine


Carolyn Augustine (author) from Tractor Town, Iowa on January 18, 2019:

It is one of my favorites. The beatnik character might have been an inspiration for Pete the Cat, who knows?

Kara Skinner from Maine on October 02, 2018:

Wow, this sounds like such a cute story. I loved The Little Red Hen when I was younger, and this sounds like an excellent modernized version.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Tractor Town, Iowa on August 28, 2009:

I'm sorry, I don't know!

P Morgan on August 28, 2009:

Wow, any relation to the Little Sturges Biker Rally, I wonder....?

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Tractor Town, Iowa on March 28, 2008:

What do you think about the way the author recast the ending of this story? How have your children liked this book?