Ella Sarah Gets Dressed, by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

Ella Sarah needs to get dressed but no one in her family agrees upon what she wants to wear.


  • 15 index cards cut in half the long way. On 20 of the halves, make a small circle of color using a crayon or marker. On the remainder 10, make a bean shape with arms and legs (jumping beans)
  • Paint swatches from local paint store. You will need two to three of each color swatch you choose.
  • Clothing pattern, enlarge for children to color individual items.
  • An assortment of larger buttons, about 20-25 in all.
  • A parachute or large flat sheet. Colored scarves.


  • Naming articles of clothing (short sleeves, t-shirt, blouse, long sleeves, sandals, sneakers, slippers, etc.)

Introducing the Story

Wear something that is one or more of your favorite articles of clothing to school today. Introduce the story by saying’ “I wore my favorite (socks) to school today because (they have cats all over them and cats are my favorite animal). If you know of a child who has a favorite article of clothing, mention it (I see Roger is wearing his baseball shirt, he told me once that he loves baseball. Roger is it one of your favorite shirts?). Let the children share their favorites if they choose to.

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

Reading the Story

As you read the story, use your voice to show Ella Sarah’s displeasure at being told not to wear her favorite outfit. Note to the children after these pages that you think Ella Sarah really wants to wear her pink polka-dot pants, her dress with orange and green flowers, her purple and blue striped socks, her yellow shoes, and her red hat! On the page where Ella Sarah looks in the mirror and feels her outfit is just right, ask the children to look at her face and tell you what they think she might be feeling.

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; shows growing interest and involvement in listening to and discussing a variety of fiction and non-fiction books, and poetry.   AND Social & Emotional Development/Self-Concept; begins to develop and express awareness of self in terms of specific abilities, characteristics, and preferences.

After Reading the Story

Tell the children that Ella Sarah really had on a variety of colors. Ask them if they can remember some of the colors that she was wearing.   Then say, “Let’s play a color game”. Get out your jumping bean cards directions on how to make is under materials.   Hold the cards face down so the children cannot see the marks/colors on the opposite side. Let the children take turns picking a card and naming the color. If they get a jumping bean card they shout ‘Jumping Bean!” and everyone jumps up and down. Continue playing until all the children have had a turn or they lose interest.

Social & Emotional Development/Cooperation; develops increasing abilities to give and take interactions; to take turns in games or using materials; and to interact without being overly submissive or directive.

Music and Movement

Sing What Are You Wearing Today?   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vmhPxdR_do

Creative Arts/Music; participates with increasing interest and enjoyment in a variety of music activities, including listening, singing, finger plays, games, and performances.


Put out the paint color swatches on the table and encourage the children to find the matching cards. For older children you can get several hues in the same color family. For younger children, use swatches that are more defined. When they have matched the color swatches, ask the child if he/she can name the colors.

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


Put out colored blocks today. Encourage them to sort the blocks by colors or to match the blocks to colors that they are wearing. As they build ask them to name some of the colors they are using or if they have a favorite color.

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


Ask each child if they have a favorite article of clothing at home. Challenge them to draw their favorite outfit or give the child a clothing pattern to match their choice and markers or crayons to color them. As they work encourage them to talk about the article with detail., just like Ella Sarah and her family did in the story today.

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

Bring the baby doll clothes over to the center today and fill the water table with soapy water. Let the children wash the clothes. As they wash, talk about the articles of clothing. Can they name them? Do they wear these at home? When do you wear the article of clothing? (I have pajamas at my house for nighttime. I have a fancy dress to wear when I go to parties. My baby has one of these.)

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.

Library and Writing

Put the book in the center today. With one or two children at a time take a picture walk through the book.   As you go through the pages ask the children what happened first, next, and last. Can they remember what Ella Sarah’s favorite outfit was?

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.

Dramatic Play

Get out all the dress up clothes today. Add jewelry and scarves if you have them. Suggest to the children to dress for a party. Comment on how lovely they look (Alison I love your blue striped skirt and green lace blouse, you look marvelous for the party!).

Creative Arts/Dramatic Play; participates in a variety of dramatic play activities that become more extended and complex. Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills

Math and Manipulaties

Call several children over to the table to play a counting game with you. Give each child a copy of the large shirt pattern and put a bowl of buttons in the middle. The children take turns rolling a dice and adding that many buttons to their shirt pattern. After their turn they put the buttons back into the bowl for the next player’s turn. Continue rolling the dice and counting out buttons until each child has had several turns or loses interest.

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

Outdoor Play

Bring your parachute and colored scarves out onto the playground. Spread the parachute out flat and have the children stand all around the edges. Give each child a colored scarf. Have them name the color/s of their scarf and toss it onto the parachute. Once all the scarves are on the parachute, the children pick up the chute by the edges or handles and make the scarves dance by shaking their arms up and down. Repeat giving each child a different color scarf.

Physical Health & Development/Gross Motor Skills; demonstrates increasing abilities to coordinate movements in throwing, catching, kicking, bouncing balls, and using the slide and the swing.


Call the children to the next activity or to line up by what they are wearing. (If you are wearing a shirt with buttons, shoes with laces, pants with a zipper, etc.)

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; understands an increasingly complex and varied vocabulary.

Dear Parents, Today we read a story about a little girl who wanted to choose what she was going to wear, even if it did not match well. Encourage your child to help pick out their clothes for school. As they do, mention the colors or the patterns on the clothing. Give your child a few extra minutes to practice dressing themselves in the morning. This is good not only for their self-esteem but is a wonderful way for your child to develop large and small muscles.


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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.