Peepo! is a delightful story written and illustrated by husband and wife team Janet and Allan Ahlberg. Aimed for young children the educational activities are based upon the recently updated Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. How can this book be used for educational purposes in the classroom?
Communication and language
The great thing about Peepo! is that the holes in the pages, the detailed pictures and the rhyming patterns promote plenty of areas of discussion. The children can decide which part of the story they liked the best and talk about the differences between then and now. They can talk about other books they have read by the same authors.
Allan and Janet Ahlberg have created many books and having a collection of books by them same authors will allow children the opportunity to explore different types of stories and compare them. The children can also look at the rhyming words in this book and predict the words or after reading the book a few times, join in with the repeating words. A class book can be made and the children’s own pictures included.
This book again repeats the words,” Here’s a little baby, one, two, three,” this explores counting and rhyme. In class the children could count the objects on a page, or have a selection of objects brought out on a tray and imagine the baby can see them. These objects can then be counted to help aid their understanding of numbers to ten or even twenty. Exploring the patterns in the illustrations, such as Dad’s stripy pyjamas or the flowery patterns on the wall is also another way of discovering repeating or random patterns.
Understanding the world
The book provokes discussion in the differences between then and now. The pram, the fashion, the use of coal and the family set up is different than the twenty-first century. This provides children to think about the knowledge of their own world and family life and compare it with things in the past. For example, they might have a baby sibling who has a buggy rather than a large pram, or have a gas fire or central heating in their home. All of these comparisons allow them to make sense of their own lifestyle.
Expressive arts and design
The format of the book is unusual because it has holes that are cut out in it to allow the baby to peep through. With adult support children can try and make their own books using a similar design to the Ahlbergs or drawing all the things they can see in the classroom. The role play area can be changed to one of the rooms in the book and give children the chance to express themselves using the story to inspire them. The illustrations in the book are detailed and children may want to create their own paintings or drawings inspired from the book. A doll’s house may also give the children to create their own stories based on the book as the book explores different rooms in the house through the baby’s eyes.
In conclusion, Peepo! is an enchanting read that is innovative. Although it is aimed for young children it can also be used as a starting point for older children studying life in Britain during the 1940s. The book works on several levels, it has an unusual design, the story is set in the past and leads to plenty of discussions that can help promote learning in the classroom.