Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, by Simms Taback

Joseph has a blanket that he loves. Instead of throwing it away, his Grandfather helps him turn it into something new.


  • Master of cuts to tell the story with
  • Paper plates with holes punched one inch from edge all the way around. 1 per child
  • Colored yarn
  • Precut squares of various colors of construction paper cut into 7-inch squares, 5-inch squares, 3-inch and 1-inch squares.
  • Several precut shapes of cardboard or poster board (square, rectangle, triangle, oval, circle)


  • Frazzled-exhausted
  • Kaput-finished, done
  • Tattered-all torn and scruffy

Introducing the Story

Begin by telling the children that when you were a little child you had a special blanket or stuffed animal. Ask the children how many of them have something special that they sleep with or use to comfort them? Let the children share about their special blanket or animal. (My sister gots a blankey, I have a purple cow that I sleep with, I like to sleep with my duck that Aunt Lara gived to me). Tell the children that today’s story is about a little boy who had a special blanket that got worn and tattered. Ask them what they think might happen to the blanket.

Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; progresses in abilities to initiate and respond appropriately in conversation and discussions with adults and peers. AND Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; develops increasing abilities to understand and use language to communicate information, experiences, ideas, feelings, opinions, needs, questions, and for other purposes.

Reading the Story

As you read the story, cut out the different items that grandfather sewed. As you are cutting help the children to repeat, “it’s getting smaller and smaller”.

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; shows growing interest and involvement in listening to and discussing a variety of fiction, and non-fiction, and poetry.

After Reading the Story

Ask the children if they can remember what Grandfather gave to Joseph when he was born (a blanket). What happened to the blanket? Then what happened? Help them list the items that the blanket was made into. What was the smallest thing that Grandfather made from the blanket? Explain to the children that Grandfather was recycling Joseph’s blanket. Ask the children if they recycle anything at home (food scraps, newspapers, bottles?). Explain that instead of throwing things away, they can recycle it. Ask if anyone has ever been to a yard sale? This is one way families recycle things they no longer want or need. Allow the children to talk about any recycling that their families might do. Lastly tell the children that you are going to set up a recycle center in your discovery area.

Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; develops increasing abilities to understand and use language to communicate information, experiences, ideas, feelings, opinions, needs, questions, and for other varied purposes.

Music and Movement

Sing songs that have the children going from a squatting position to an upright position and then back down small again.

When I was one years old, I was very very small.  But now I’m 3 years old, and I’ve grown up big and tall!

There was a King of York, he had 500 men.  He marched them  up to the top of the hill, And then marched down again.  And when you’re up you’re up, And when you’re down you’re down, But when you’re only half way up, you’re neither up nor down. you sing this, have the children move and down with the words.

I’m going up, up, up, I’m the elevator man.  Up, up, up, as high as I can.  Coming down so be careful of the doors.  Coming down to the very first floor.

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; builds an increasing understanding of directionality, order, and position of objects, and words such as up, down, over, under, top, bottom, inside, outside, in front, and behind.


Put out a box to collect used paper in. Put out a box to collect used soda cans in. Put out a box to put used clothing in. Write what the box is for on the front of each box. Send a note home and to the other teachers stating that you are collecting cleaned used soda cans. As the cans come into your classroom, show the children how to stomp on the can and toss it into the box marked ‘cans’. How to put paper scraps in the recycle instead of the garbage, and encourage them to bring unwanted clothing to school.

Literacy/Early Writing; develops understanding that writing is a way of communicating for a variety of purposes.

Make Play Dough with the children. In a large bowl add 3 cups of flour and 1 cup of salt. Add in ¾ cup of water and begin stirring with a wooden spoon. At this point it should be similar to bread dough. Keep adding small amounts of water until the dough is workable and not sticky. Give each child a ball of dough and have them punch a hole in the middle. Add 2-3 drops of food coloring into the hole. The children can continue to knead the dough until the color is throughout and the dough is soft and pliable.

Science/Scientific Knowledge; shows increased awareness and beginning understanding of changes in materials and cause-effect relationships.


Challenge the children to use two or more blocks to make and name a new shape. (2-small rectangle wood blocks put together makes a square).

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


Lay out your precut squares of colored construction paper on the art table. Give each child a piece of paper and show them how to glue a 7inch square with a 5 inch square on top, with a 3 inch square on top of the 5 inch square, and lastly a 1 inch square on top of the 3 inch square. This should make a seriated square from large to small. Glue the whole thing onto the piece of paper. Let the children practice gluing largest to smallest onto their paper. Some children will find this difficult to do. Any finished product is wonderfully correct.

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; shows growth in matching, sorting, putting in a series, and regrouping objects according to one or two attributes such as color, shape, or size.

Sand and Water

Put dampened sand into the table today and various sized measuring cups or sand forms. Have the children practice making the shapes by filling the container, tapping the sand, then turning over quickly and tapping again. Pull the shape off. “Look you made something from nothing”.

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; grows in eye-hand coordination in building with blocks, putting together puzzles, reproducing shapes, and patterns, stringing beads, and using scissors.

Library and Writing

Give children your precut shapes that they can trace around onto paper and then decorate like a special blanket.

Literacy/Early Writing; experiments with a growing variety of writing tools and materials, such as pencils, crayons, and computers. AND Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; progresses in abilities to use writing, drawing, and art tools, including pencils, markers, chalk, paint brushes, and various types of technology.

Dramatic Play

Put out many different items of clothing today. Can the children name all the different items? Can they do the zippers, buttons, Velcro, and snaps?

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; develops growing strength, dexterity, and control needed to use tools such as scissors, paper punch, stapler, and hammer.

Math and Manipulatives

Give each child a paper plate and a length of yarn about 18 inches long. At one end of the yarn, fasten a piece of masking tape round and round to make a stiff “needle”. Tie the other end of the yarn through one hole of the paper plate. Show the children how to weave in and out of the holes, sewing the edges of the paper plate. When they have sewn all around the edge of the paper plate, let them use crayons or markers to draw a design or picture inside.

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; grows in eye-hand coordination in building with blocks, putting together puzzles, reproducing shapes and patterns, stringing beads, and using scissors.

Outdoor Play

Play Sculpture with the children. Take each child and hold their hands. Spin around and around with them and then let go of their hands. As they land they have to stand still and decide what kind of a creature or object they have become and act it out. I have found when we play this game I have lots of dinosaurs and sharks or kittens and ponies. It’s all good and the idea is to make oneself something.

Approaches to Learning/Initiative & Curiosity; approaches tasks and activities with increased flexibility, imagination, and inventiveness.


Play Is It Bigger Than or Smaller Than. Ask children one at a time to name an object that is bigger or smaller than an object you name. Bigger than a cat, smaller than a mouse, bigger than a car, smaller than a flower, etc.. Let each child name one bigger than or smaller than as they head off to the next activity.

Approaches to learning/Reasoning & Problem Solving; develops increasing abilities to classify, compare, and contrast objects, events, and experiences.

Dear Parent- Today we read about a boy whose Grandfather made him clothing from an old blanket. Do you have anything in your house that has been up-cycled? If so, point it out to your child. Some examples might be a boo-boo bunny from a washcloth, a rug from old rags, a flower pot from an old coffee mug, etc.. Also we are recycling old clothes for the next week. If your child has any clothing that they have outgrown, you may send it to school and we will find another child who is able to wear it or add it to our dramatic play center.


This picture represents a folded piece of paper.

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This side is the folded edge side
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.