Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book of the Week: Is Your Mama a Llama by Deborah Guarino

We love this book and my little guy just got his very own copy of it for his birthday. While my baby girl napped today, we tried out a few fun book-related activities.

Materials Needed:
- copy of book, Is Your Mama a Llama by Deborah Guarino
- markers
- animal matching cards
- scissors

We came up with several different games using the set of animal cards that I made.

First, we read the book and then went through it a second time and talked about each animal. Next, I found pictures of each animal (baby/mama) on Google images and we printed them out. Lastly, we looked at each image and I wrote the name of the animal on the bottom of the card... then it was game time!

These games were pretty simple but were awesome for working on a variety of skills:

- listening comprehension
- vocabulary building
- creating sentences/ expanding on phrases
- making I-spy descriptive statements
- identifying similarities/differences

Game 1: Matching Mamas and Babies

Lay out all the cards around the room on the floor (or table). Have child match the mama with the baby animal and set the pairs in a specific place. Practice learning names of animals (ie. calf for baby cow)

Game 2: Sorting Mamas and Babies

Write "mama" on one white paper and "baby" on another white paper. Place each category on a separate side of the room. Spread animal cards all over the room. Have child sort animal cards into the two categories. You could also come up with other categories to sort with: animals with wings/animals with legs, animals that live on land/animals that live in the water, etc.

Game 3: I Spy

Lay the cards all over the floor. I started off with only the mama cards. I said an "I spy" statement and then my son had to try and locate which card I was talking about. For example, "I spy an animal that has a pocket in the front" (kangaroo). He would then find the card and either make the sound that the animal made... or act like the animal. For the kangaroo he jumped all around the room (see picture below) and then brought me the kangaroo animal card.

I Spy was one of his favorite games. Once I took several turns telling him I Spy statements, then we changed jobs and he told me what to look for and I tried to find the correct animal. It was a really good exercise for him to have to come up with descriptive statements about each animal (without giving me the answer). I loved his descriptions and was surprised at how well he did! He wanted to play I Spy for the next hour.

Game 4: Charades

An easy transition from the I Spy game is to start a game of charades. Have the animal cards on hand to hand to the child. Have the child make sounds like the animal card he picks or act like the animal and try and guess which animal he is trying to be. This game is even more fun with a larger group. If kids are older and like to draw, this could also transition into a pictionary game...
or even a playdoh pictionary game (kids sculpt an animal and you guess which one).

There are several other fun activities to do with this book here and here (some of which are mentioned above). I loved the idea of making a picture frame to house a photo of you and your child together (child & mama). Maybe we'll try it another day.

We ended our activity time by watching Scholastic's "Is Your Mama a Llama" video on YouTube. After watching the video my son was much more capable of sequencing the story and answering WH questions regarding the specific story details.

What other fun activities do you like to do along with this book?


  1. I love this book and I love all that you did with it. You should link to Read.Explore.Learn.

  2. Thank you for recommending this book. I read your post on Wednesday when it was posted. On Saturday I went to out local library book sale. Going through the boxes, what book do you think I came across? You guessed it, "Is Your Momma A Llama." I would have never picked it up. It was worn and the cover is falling off, but because of your post I thought I would get it. Hey, it was only $.25. I love the book! It is so cute and my son likes the rhymes in it. Sorry to bore you with mu story. I was just amazed at the timing of the post. Thanks again!

  3. What perfect timing!! What a great find at your book sale! I need to find one of those to go to sometime soon!

  4. Thank you so much for all your kind comments about my book, and for sharing the wealth of educational activities it's inspired for you and your child! I'm really humbled to know that it's made such an impression on so many wonderful readers for these last 22 years, and that a whole new generation is enjoying it now.

    My own "little boy," who is now six foot two and doing stand-up comedy in Brooklyn, was the one who indirectly inspired this story, and I wrote it very quickly after hearing myself say the words, "Mama Llama" while trying to describe a female llama he and I had just seen at a petting zoo. Suffice it to say I never realized that hour of hectic writing would lead to such a wonderful legacy. I can only hope, despite the confusion some people have between my book and the new "mama llama" books being written today by that other author (who shall go nameless), people will remember whose book was the original source of that particular rhyme. Sadly, you can't copyright these things, and not everyone cares about intruding upon another author's territory, but there you are. Hopefully my book will continue to be the perennial that lasts, as its themes are a bit more universal, and I'm as proud of its impact today as I was 22 years ago...and just as amazed by how many children and adults are still enjoying it. Glad to know your readers and their children are some of them. Thanks again!

    Deborah Guarino


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