I Am Not a Chair!: A Reading Aloud Experience

“I Am Not a Chair!” is a book about a giraffe that everybody mistakes for a chair. But he is not as self-confident as to tell them he’s not a chair, but a giraffe. At first he endures a smelly skunk and a heavy rhinoceros sitting on him and a snake wrapping around his neck. Then he decides to build a chair to show everyone what a real chair actually looks like. But it’s no use. Finally, he builds the courage and defends his right by telling everyone that he is not a chair. This book is suitable for Reading Aloud, since it provides many opportunities of having conversations with children.

The report below is based on the experiences of a tutor, reading this book to children in a Reading Aloud session.

  • Center: Kousha House for Children
  • Age Group: Preschool
  • Date: June 2019
  • Tutor: Azadeh Gholami

Activities before Reading Aloud “I Am Not a Chair!”

Before the children came to class, I stuck a huge paper giraffe with a big heart on the floor and covered it with cloth. The heart was the only part left uncovered. When children came to class, what they encountered was a giant heart on the floor.

I asked the first question: “what is this? How huge is it!”. “It’s a flower”, Mehdi guessed. “It’s a heart”, Narges answered. “Whose heart is it?”, I asked. Children didn’t know. “I’ve heard that big hearts are kind ones. Let’s ask this heart who it belongs to.”, I said. Then I listened to its heartbeat with a toy stethoscope. “The heart is awake.”, I told children. I asked for the heart’s permission so that children could ask any questions they had from it.

“Where do you live?”, Narges asked. “Africa”, the heart answered (I was hearing the heart’s response through the stethoscope and answered children’s questions). “Whose heart are you” one of the children asked. “I can’t tell you. You have to find that out yourselves,” Said the heart. “Do you live in the jungle?” “Are you giant? Are you a monster?” “Are you a cat?”, children kept asking and asking until… “Are you a giraffe?”, Fatemeh finally guessed. “Yes, yes! That’s right” I answered enthusiastically. “Now tell me whatever you know about giraffes.”

Learning about Giraffes

“Giraffe has a very long neck and eats leaves from trees.”, they said. “Why does it eat tree leaves? Why doesn’t it eat plants off the ground?” I asked. “Leaves may be dirty or poisonous on the ground. They’ll give giraffes stomachaches.” Taha said.

Then we talked about how giraffes sleep. Taha believed that they sleep like dogs. So we all became giraffes and slept on the floor like dogs. “That’s weird! How can a giraffe so tall, sleep like a dog?” I asked. “No, giraffes sleep on their legs.” Said one of the children and showed us how a giraffe would sleep on its legs. We all did the same… and tried sleeping many different ways.

“How many of you should we put on top of one another to become as tall as a giraffe?” I asked. Children lied on the ground, next to the meter beside the giraffe. We saw that four children are as tall as a female giraffe. “How many jumps or steps does it take to become as tall as a giraffe?” They all tried and answered.

In the end, we sang the Giraffe Song together.

Activities During Reading Aloud “I Am Not a Chair!”

I showed the book cover to children and asked them to talk about what they saw. Throughout the book, I encouraged them to talk about the illustrations, because they were quite descriptive. Children were cooperative and all of them shared their opinions. They were surprised at how everybody mistook the giraffe for a chair. When we started comparing giraffes and chairs, they were unanimous that they are not similar at all. They started talking about differences between the two. Then why didn’t the other animals understand? Why couldn’t the giraffe tell that he was not a chair? What would you have done if you were the giraffe?

Activities After Reading Aloud “I Am Not a Chair!”

For follow-up activities, we played the “cooperative musical chairs”. I brought as many chairs as the children and played some music. Children walked around the chair until the music stopped. Then they had to find a chair to sit in. After each round, I removed one chair, and children had to find a way for everyone to be seated. The less chairs, the louder the sound of their laughter…

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