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HomeClassroom ResourcesCalendar Activities

May 05

Today is Leo Lionni's birthday.

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Today is Leo Lionni's birthday.

Grades K – 3
Calendar Activity Type Author & Text





As a child growing up in Holland, Leo Lionni taught himself how to draw. He earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Genoa, but began his career as an author and illustrator of children's books in 1959. His first book Little Blue and Little Yellow came from a story written for his grandchildren during a boring train ride. He is the winner of four Caldecott awards.




After reading several of Lionni's stories, play the game Guess the Story.† Invite a student to pull a sentence strip that describes one of Lionni's messages from a box.†(Older students can create the sentence strips in collaborative groups.) Students should explain what the message means and the book it is from.† Some suggested messages include the following:

  • Let's work together.
  • Take time to smell the roses.
  • You are never alone when you have a friend.
  • Don't take your family for granted.
  • Everybody is special.
  • Be happy with who you are.

As a follow-up, have your students write and illustrate their messages with the ReadWriteThink Stapleless Book.



  • Leo Lionni

    This site gives an excellent introduction to children in grades K through 5 about Leo Lionniís life, his art work, and his childrenís books. The site includes excellent printable activities and videos of Lionniís art making process.

  • Castellani Art Museum: Leo Lionni

    This packet contains a variety of useful activities made by teachers, for teachers to accompany the Leo Lionni books, as well as original artwork on display at the Castellani Art Museum.

  • American Institute of Graphic Arts Biography: Leo Lionni

    This page provides information about Leo Lionni's life and learns how experiences and events in his life influenced on his work.


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Grades   K – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Designing Elements of Story in Little Blue and Little Yellow

In this series of four lessons, students will explore key elements of design in Little Blue and
Little Yellow
to learn about setting, character relationships, and plot.


Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

The Wonder of Leo Lionni: Increasing Comprehension with Prediction Statements

This lesson focuses on the strategy of "wonder" statements, asking students to stop, think, and write about what may be happening in the text periodically as they read a story.


Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Building a Matrix for Leo Lionni Books: An Author Study

In this author study, students listen to and discuss four books by Leo Lionni. They identify similarities and differences in the stories and then compare two stories of their choice.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Minilesson

She Did What? Revising for Connotation

Did she walk, skip, amble, dance? In this minilesson, students explore connotation by acting out and revising the simple sentence "She walked into the room."