Sam and the Firefly, by P.D. Eastman

            Sam is lonely until he meets a new friend who can write words.  But sometimes words can lead to trouble. 


  • Jar and fireflies (10-15)
  • Glow in the dark paint (you can buy jar at craft store for around 1.00)
  • Small laser light (ask a friend who owns a cat if they have one)
  • Several flashlights


  • Firefly (a kind of insect with a bottom that glows like a little light in the dark)

Before Reading the Story

            Tell the children that you are going to play a word game.  Bring in pictures of animals, about 8-10.  These can be from a book.  Tell the children that you are going to write a word and they are going to practice reading it.  Write the first letter of the animal name and make the letter sound.  Continue slowly writing each letter and sounding out the letter name.  When the children have guessed the word, finish writing the name, have all the children repeat the word and then show the children the picture.  When you are finished with this activity, tell the children that the story today is about a firefly that can write words with his glowing bottom.

Literacy/Phonological Awareness; shows increasing ability to discriminate and identify sounds in spoken language.

Reading the Story

            When you get to the page where Sam is trying to figure out how to get Gus out of the jar, stop and ask the children if they have any ideas.

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experience; 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 Gus got in trouble?  Tell them that sometimes playing jokes on people can hurt their feelings and make them mad.  Talk about all the good things we use words for (words tell us the story in the book, words help us ask someone to play with us, words let people know what you want or like).  Ask the children if they know what words are made out of (letters).  Use your flashlight/laser to point to letters on your word wall or alphabet chart.  Ask them to name the letters.  Point out as you sing the alphabet song.

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


            Put several flashlights in the discovery center for the children to try being fireflies and flashing out the syllables of each others names. For more of a challenge, take the flashlights apart and have the children put them together.

Literacy/Phonological Awareness; shows growing ability to hear and discriminate separate syllables in words. AND Science/Scientific Skills & Methods; begins to uses senses and a variety of tools and simple measuring devices to gather information, investigate materials, and observe processes and relationships.

            If you live in an area where there are fireflies, catch them the night before and bring them in for the children to observe and record.

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

            Have your children recite the following poem with you.  Each time you say blink they can open and shut their hands to make a blink motion.


Fireflies come out at night

Blink blink, blink blink

Showing off their shiny light

Blink blink, blink blink

In the summer sky

Blink blink, blink blink

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


            Gus the firefly made a traffic jam.  Ask the children to make a road and add traffic signs.

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


            Put out glow in the dark paint and Qtips for the children to make small fireflies onto dark paper (print up and down) or to write their names.

Literacy/Early Writing; progresses from scribbles, shapes, or pictures to represent ideas, to using letter-like symbols, to copying or writing familiar words such as their own name.

Library and Writing

            Put out yellow or neon markers and paper. Encourage the children to write their names or copy words from the book.

Literacy/Early Writing; progresses from scribbles, shapes, or pictures to represent ideas, to using letter-like symbols, to copying or writing familiar words such as their own name.

Sand and Water

Put a very small amount of sand mixed with water to make a mixture that you can form into castles. Give the children alphabet cookie cutters or other shape cutters to make letters/designs in the sand.

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

Dramatic Play

            The story takes place at night.  Encourage the children to act out night time rituals.

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

Math and Manipulatives

            Make several copies of the jar and firefly page.  Play an adding and subtracting game with the children. (Catch one firefly and put it in the jar.  Now catch two more.  How many fireflies do you have in the jar?  Oops, one flew away, how many are left in the jar?)

Mathematics/Number & Operations; develops increased abilities to combine, serarate, and name “how many” concrete objects.

Outdoor Play

            Play firefly tag.  The teacher is the light flasher.  The children run around the playground and try not to get tagged by the flashlight/laser light.   If they are tagged, they must go to the “jar” a designated spot on the playground.  The other children can free those in the jar by touching it/the designated spot (ie- a tree).  All the children continue to run until the laser light lands on them.

Physical Health & Development/Health Status & Practices; participates actively in games, outdoor play, and other forms of exercise that enhance physical fitness.


            As you dismiss the children to the next activity use a flashlight to blink out the syllables of their name.  Ask them to count the syllables. (Ker-ry=2)

Literacy/Phonological Awareness; shows growing ability to hear and discriminate separate syllables in words.


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.