Mossy Book Activities

As a teacher, I loved the two weeks every year during winter when I read Jan Brett’s books to my class and watched them marvel at the illustrations and stories. Books like The Mitten and The Gingerbread Baby were always favorite Jan Brett books in my classroom. Now that I am home with my kids, I love reading her non- winter books just as much all year round.

The book Mossy is perfect for spring and such a gorgeous book to focus on predicting skills by looking in Jan Brett’s borders to infer what comes next in the story. Jan Brett’s illustrations always amaze me, and this book has such exquisite and intricate details that your child will want to read this book over again and again! There are so many incredible illustrations in this book that set up for nature and springtime follow-up activities.

Why I love this book

Mossy by Jan Brett has the most incredible illustrations to show the beauty of a pond and all the plants and animals that live within it. Jan Brett’s word choice is always impeccable, and this book has multiple opportunities to study figurative language examples and descriptive language. For younger readers, this book leads its self perfectly for a read-aloud to focus on story elements and predicting practice. 

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Best Read Aloud Skills for Mossy Include: 

  • Story Elements
  • Predicting 
  • Cause & Effect 
  • Word Meaning
  • Text to illustration connection (Visualization)

Read Aloud Questions to ask while reading Mossy 

  • What is Moss? Find examples in the pictures. 
  • Who is Mossy? 
  • What do you think the book is about? 
  • How does the title of the book connect to the story? 
  • How can we help nature? 

Word Work Activity with the Book Mossy

  • Word search for letters based on your child’s needs. We searched for words that start with the letters m, g, and c. 
  • Amazing Alliterations: After reading the book, go back through it and, using wiki sticks or highlighter tape, find and point out examples of alliteration throughout the book. Examples include; misty/moisty/morning/Mossy, curlicues/carapace/covered, growing/garden, rippled/ruby/red, Scoot/scrambled, wonderful/walks/wondered, Flora/Fauna, good-bye/ garden-growing/glade, misty/moisty/Mossy.
    • I would also then point out how this was an example of a “circle story” because the ending and the beginning used similar settings and words to connect the story into a circle. 

Predicting Picture Walk Initiating Activity for Mossy by Jan Brett 

Before reading the book, I showed the book to my children and flipped through the pages like a “Picture Walk.”  

The borders in Jan Brett’s books are incredibly detailed. I love focusing before reading the book on just the details in the frames for each page. There are different animals and plants found in and around ponds on each page. 

The variety of plants and animals found throughout this book would be incredible to pair this book with a nonfiction pond book for compare and contrast activity. 

Let children make predictions about what the story will be about based on what they discovered in the borders in the book. 

I asked, “What do you think this book is about after looking at the illustrations?” After listening for a response, I flipped back to the cover of the book and asked, “Why do you think this book is called Mossy?”

My goal for this activity was to focus on making predictions and connections from illustrations to the text. The images are intricate, and children might not see the details when we read the book. Doing a picture walk allows children to see details they otherwise would miss as you read the book only one time.

Story Element Mini-Lesson

  • Focus on identifying and discussing story elements; character, main idea, problem/solution, and even life lesson. 

Follow-Up Mossy Book Activities 

I love making as many connections, from reading a brilliant book to hands-on learning opportunities as possible. Therefore, here are some examples of our favorite ways to use the book Mossy to learn and play simultaneously. 

Nature-Based Activities

  • Make your own terrarium (Make your own “Special Exhibit” like the museum in the book). 
  • Visit a botanical garden and search for turtles and other elements found in the book in nature. Take photographs to compare to the illustrations in the book. 
  • Nature walk to collect items to build your turtle like mossy- I asked my kids, “what would be on the top of your turtle if you were the author of this book?”
  • Visit turtles at the local marine park. Make text-to-world connections. 

Sensory Tuff Tray Idea

  • Have them create their own Lilypad Pond garden using loose parts and sensory bin fillers like painted rice, legumes, and pasta with your children. 
  • Create your own turtle tale tuff tray visual after making your own story, as Jan Brett did after seeing a turtle underwater with “garden” on its shell. 

Arts & Crafts Activities

  • Make a portrait of Mossy using paint.
  • Create an underwater Mossy. What would Mossy look like if she was underwater? Please create your drawing/ then make it with things in nature you find for a sensory bin/cardboard turtle shell. We used cardboard from an IKEA box and POSCA acrylic markers to decorate together. I thought my son was too young for these activities, and yet kept up with us the entire time.

Discussion & Journal Activities

  • Brainstorm ways to protects seaturtles that we can do now.
  • Brainstorm together other ways to save/preserve animals in nature (besides turtles).
  • Visit museums and conservation centers to see turtles in real life and journal the experience together.

Math Activities

  • Using cubes, have children build a turtle shell in any design, then ask them to measure the shell design with a ruler or using cubes as a nonstandard measuring tool. Our cubes came from Happy Monkey in Miami. They were a splurge, but we use them all the time. This is not an affiliated link, I just love this product and this company!
  • Using the same cubes, have children build a pattern as a shell and discuss the pattern that is created.

Thank you for visiting Live Learn Literacy!

Hopefully these ideas helped you. We love the book Mossy by Jan Brett and I’ll update this post soon with other activities with Jan Brett books.

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