Jan Slepian and Ann Seidler’s The Hungry Thing, invites children into the world of phonemic/phonological awareness like no other. It is inspirational in its playfulness with language. I’ve heard that this book can be difficult to obtain; should that be the case, the story is also told on YouTube.
When The Hungry Thing shows up in town asking for “schmancakes” and “feetloaf” and “boop with a smacker” the townspeople are confused as to what he could possibly desire! One little boy makes meaning of it all, reminding the townspeople that these words sound like words they know. Lots of laughs throughout the story!
First, I took a large piece of paper and drew a monster on it. I attached it to a box and cut a large hole for a mouth.
(oh, let’s be honest! My husband drew it for me which freed me to think up some more silly words. I’m not sure which of us had more fun!)
Then I looked through the play kitchen and renamed all the fruits and vegetables, etc. I wrote each one on a piece of paper and put it in a basket. It looked something like this:
Strice gream stone (ice cream cone)
Blorn on the Blob (corn on the cob)
Stretchup and custard (ketchup and mustard)
After all of our play food was renamed, one of the kids would pull a slip of paper out of the basket for me to read,
slowly, one at a time. When the correct food was selected that The Hungry Thing wanted, the monster was fed. (Schmanana? Feed that monster a banana!)
Then we switched roles and the kids had to think of a food, and then rename it. (Isn’t this consonant substitution at its finest and funniest?). Others in the group had to guess what food was being suggested.
A variation is just to give each child some food. One child sits in front with the monster. When the monster says “Feed Me”, another child (or the adult) responds “What would you like to eat?” The child who is “it” might say, “Felery and trench stries.” (Celery and French fries). The children who are holding the celery and French fries come up and feed the monster. If just two people are playing all the food goes into a food basket to be selected at the appropriate time.
Rhyming and consonant substitution are fundamental pre-reading skills, and I always leave the book, the monster, and a bowl of food out so the children can continue the activity on their own.
It’s October! Maybe your Hungry Thing will look more like a Halloween monster!