Tops & Bottoms, by Janet Stevens

Bear is too lazy to plant his own garden and relies on Hare.  Using his creative powers, Hare finds a way to get the best of the deal for him and his family.


  • Silk flower tops (ask your local craft store if they have any loose flowers that you can have)
  • Pipe cleaners cut into 4-6 inch pieces.
  • Several pieces of celery and several carrots.
  • Model of Jumping from Top to Bottom of the Alphabet board.


  • Hare (another word for rabbit)
  • Cheated (swindle or deceive)
  • Clever (to be smart)
  • Crops (what a farmer plants in the fields)
  • Business Partners (someone you work with or do a job with)
  • Debt (money owed)
  • Profit (crop yield)
  • Harvest (the time to pick produce)

Before Reading the Story

Bring any plastic fruits and vegetables that you have to the group time.  Explain to the children that your story today is about a Hare, or rabbit, that plants many different kinds of vegetables.  Hold up one of your plastic produce pieces and ask if it is a fruit or a vegetable?  Sort them accordingly.  Put the fruits aside and hold up one of the vegetables, can the children name them?  Continue through all your plastic vegetables.  Introduce the story.  Read the Title of the book and then open it up to the first page.  Ask the children if they notice something different about the book (it opens vertically).

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; demonstrates increasing ability to attend to and understand conversations, stories, songs, amd poems.

Reading the Story

When you get to the page where Hare and his family dug up all the carrots, radishes, and beets, ask the children if they know which part of these plants we eat?  When you get to the part where Bear says “You plant this field again-and this season I want the bottoms!”  Ask the children what they think is going to happen.  (Bear will get mad, He’s gonna get the carrots, The rabbit tricked him).  Ask again when you get to the page where Bear says he gets the tops and the bottoms.  (The rabbit won’t get any, He will trick Bear, Bear will help plant the garden and they will share).

Literacy/Book KNowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; to act out stories in dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story.

After Reading the Story

Ask the children why Bear got mad?  Do you think it was fair that Bear should get all the vegetables if he did not help plant and care for the garden?  Begin a discussion on how everybody needs to cooperate and work together.  Make a Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down game out of it using classroom examples.  The children put their thumb up if they feel the statement is fair and their thumb down if they feel the statement is unfair.  1) Everyone has to cleanup to go outside except one child who got to look at books.  2) Everyone has to throw his or her food in the garbage after lunch except one child because he is too tired.  3) All the children worked together to bring the toys outside.  4) No one got to look at books because one child was not taking care of them.  5) All the children were working hard so the teacher said they could go outside ten minutes early.   Make examples of incidents that have happened in your own classroom, leaving out any child’s name.

Social & Emotional Development/Cooperation; shows increasing abilities to use compromise and discussion in working, playing, and resolving conflicts with peers. AND Approaches to Learning/Initiative & Curiosity; chooses to participate in an increasing variety of tasks and activities.


Bring in a couple of pieces of celery and several carrots.  Let the children use their senses to explore the produce and write down their thoughts.  (The celery has bumps, it smells good, the leaves are at the top.  The carrot has dirt on it, it is pointy on the bottom, it’s got circles around it).  After everyone has had a chance to observe the celery and carrots, cut them into small pieces and do a taste test.  Make a chart showing which one each child liked best; carrot-celery.  WARNING, carrots are considered checkable when cut into round circle.  Cut the carrot into thin strips instead.  This activity could be done using more vegetables if monies allow. 

Science/Scientific Skills & Methods; develops growing abilities to collect, describe, and record information through a variety of means, including discussion, drawings, maps, and charts.

At lunch talk about any vegetable that you are eating.  Do we eat the top, bottom, or middle of the vegetable?  Is it crunchy or soft?  Is it cooked or raw?  Ask children to describe the vegetable as best they can. 

Science/Scientific Skills & Methods; develops growing abilities to collect, describe, and record information through a variety of means, including discussion, drawings, maps, and charts.

Music and Movement

The Opposite Song

Everything I always say, you always say the opposite.

When I say up, you say down.

Include other opposites such as top/bottom, lazy/active, in/out, under/over

Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; uses an increasingly complex and varied vocabulary. AND Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; builds an increasinging understanding of directionality, oeder, positions of objects, and words such as up, down, oover, under, top, bottom, inside, outside, in front, behind.

Act out the poem, Dig a little hole

Dig a little hole and put the seed in.

Cover it with dirt and let the sun shine in.

Add a little water and keep it fed,

pretty soon a little plant will show it’s head.

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; demonstrates increasing ability to attend to and understand conversations, stories, songs, and poems.

Pretend to be a seed and grow into a plant. Ask the children what kind of a plant they grew in to.

Creative Arts/Dramatic Play; participates in a variety of dramatic play activities that become more extended and complex.


Cut out a triangle, a square, and a rectangle from paper.  Show the children the shapes and say that many people put fences around their gardens to keep critters out.  Give the children a paper shape and encourage them to copy the shape out of blocks.  When they are finished they can trade shapes with one another.

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; progresses in ability to put together and take shapes apart.


Put out orange playdough today and make lots of carrots.  Ask the child, “Can you make 5 carrots”? Or “How many carrots did you make in all”?

Mathematics/Number & Operations; begins to make use of one-to-one correspondence in counting objects and matching groups of objects.

Have carrot shapes drawn on orange paper for the children to cut out.  Glue this to a piece of construction paper.  When the carrot is dry, put out bowls of brown paint that you have mixed a little sand into (this will give the paint a full body and texture).  Have the children paint over the carrot bottom.  When this is dry, add a few strips of green to make the carrot top.

Creative Arts/Art; progresses in abilities to create drawings, paintings, models, and other art creations that are more detailed, creative, or realistic.

Sand and Water

Put damp sand in the table today.  Add pipe cleaners cut into 4-6 inch pieces and the flower tops.  Show the children how to put the flower onto the pipe cleaner and then pretend to plant them in the damp sand.  Add a couple of spoons to help with the digging.

Creative Arts/Dramatic Play; shows growing creativity and imagination in using materials and in assuming different roles in dramatic play situations.

Library and Writing

Give the children the above the line/below the line page along with alphabet magnets or letters. Have the children sort by those that the letter goes below the line and those that the letter stays above the line.

Literacy/Alphabet Knowledge; shows progress in associating the names of letters with their shapes and sounds.

Dramatic Play

Pull out your play produce and 3 bowls.  Challenge the children to sort the produce by which part of the plant we eat.  The bottom/roots, top/flower, or middle/stems- leaves.

Mathematics/Patterns & Measurements; begins t make comparisons between several objects based on a single attribute.

Math and Manipulatives

On a piece of paper draw a line across the center.  Label Tops and Bottoms.  The children use the vegetable cards to sort by those that we eat the tops of and those that we eat the bottoms of.

Mathematics/Patterns & Measurements; begins t make comparisons between several objects based on a single attribute.

Outdoor Play

Play Jumping to the Top of the Alphabet.  Look under resources to see how to draw the jumping board on your sidewalk area.  Make each square big enough for a child to jump inside of.  The child starts with A and jumps along naming the letters.  If they miss a letter, they must return to A and start again.  For older children who know many of their letters, after they jump and name the letter, they must say a word that begins with the letter.

Literacy/Alphabet Knowledge; identifies at least 10 letters of the alphabet, especially those in their name.


Tell the children that the littlest rabbit was hungry but Mrs. Rabbit and Hare could not understand what she wanted to eat!  When she said Weet, she really meant Beet.  When she said Warrot, she really meant ________.  When she said Welery, she really meant _________.   When she said Woccoli, she really meant ________.  When she said Wettuce, she really meant ________.  When she said Worn, she really meant ________.

Continue making up words until everyone has had a turn to name a vegetable.

Literacy/Phonological Awareness; progresses in recognizing matching sounds and rhymes in familiar words, games, songs, stories, and poems.


Jumping to the top of the alphabet

About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.