The first time I told my son to stop his monkey business, he instantly stopped what he was doing and matter-of-factly told me, “Mom, I am NOT a monkey.” Idioms are difficult to teach because they are not literal and in his newest book, Fowl Play, Travis Nichols has created an awesome book to teach my little monkey the differences between the literal and the figurative.
A detective agency, created of animals, has to help Mr. Hound figure out who has broken his store front window. With 40 pages of clever idioms surrounded by hand drawn pictures it makes a fun and clever way to teach a difficult concept. It is within the first few pages students will pick up the theme of animal idioms by the apologies given from the speaker to the animal they have offended. Fowl Play is cleverly arranged to add humor and mystery while teaching a grammatical skill.
In the Classroom: This is a dream book for a ESOL teachers classroom, as well as the fourth and fifth grade teachers who have to show proficiency in idioms for CCSS. Due to CCSS, idioms are on most standardized state tests. According to the afterword of Fowl Play there are over 25,000 idioms used in the English language. WOW! After reading this book, have your students select an idiom not used in the book and illustrate it. Often times we have our students write, but this is an opportunity to utilize the use of Gardner’s multiple intelligences (visual-spatial) by having them draw the explanation of the idiom’s meaning (CCSS Literacy 4.5 and 5.5.)
Fowl Play by Travis Nichols (Chronicle Books | 9781452131825 | August 4, 2015)