Kevin Henkes


Begin the year with an Author Study of Kevin Henkes! His stories address many beginning of school issues. We read almost all of his books in the first couple months of school. 

I use part of my classroom library bulletin board to display information about our author of the month.  I title it "Meet the Author."  I visit websites on the various authors and print off photos, biographical information, and pictures of their books.  Students love to read Kevin Henkes!  Here are some of our favorite activities:


This is a wonderful story to use during the first couple days of school because it focuses on names. It also works really well with an All About Me unit. Here are a few activities for extending the story:

Name Graph:

Start by graphing Chrysanthemum's name on an alphabet graph.  I like to enlarge my graph on the copier to at least legal size.  Have each child graph the letters of his or her first and last name.  Afterwards, have students tally the number of vowels, consonants, syllables, and total number of letters in his or her name.  This activity helps you quickly assess letter recognition and counting skills.


Name Art:

Die cut the letters in each students name prior to the first day of school.  Place the letters in a ziploc bag.  On the first day of school, students can color and decorate both sides of each letter.  Laminate the names vertically and hang from the ceiling.  Attach a clothespin at the bottom and use all year to display seasonal or thematic crafts!


Investigating My Name:

This is a fun questionnaire to send home and children love learning about why their parents chose their name! Thanks to Mrs. Critchell at Kinderteacher for posting this activity on the web! 


Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse
A creative writing story extension

Learning Objective: The students will be able to listen during read aloud; participate by answering questions, predicting, summarizing, and clarifying. The students will be able to make connections between events in the story and real life. The students will be able to use their imaginations to create a story extension. The students will be able to develop increased fine motor skills.
Materials: Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes; lavender construction paper, purse tracers, crayons, scissors, cover for class book, yarn, purple syran wrap
Focus: Ask students what they think they might like to be when they grow up. Discuss why they might want to do a particular job.
Input: Prepare to read the story by activating background knowledge. Has anyone ever gotten so mad that they did something that they weren’t very proud of? Share a few stories. Browse the story looking for clues about what the story might be about. Read Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse. Stop to summarize, clarify, predict, ask questions, and make connections.
“The Light bulb Lab”
Writing Activity 1:

 Students will extend the story by thinking about how it might feel to be Lily. Where would be a good place to take her purple plastic purse? If you were Lily, where would you take your purse? Make a class list of all the places they might take the purse. Students will then draw and write or dictate about where they would take their own purple plastic purse. Give each child a tracer the shape of a purse. Ahead of time create the cover by tracing a purse shape out of purple construction paper. Cover the purse shape with purple syran wrap and make a handle using yarn. Bind the pages together to form a class book.

Alternate: Have students do their writing in individual purple purses and extend it by including what they would fill the purse with.

Writing Activity 2:

Option A: Have students write letters to Lilly.  Students may include a personal connection or suggestions for how to better follow the classroom rules. 

Option B: Have students write letters to the teacher in the voice of Lilly.  Students may choose to write an an angry or apologetic letter.

Sheila Rae the Brave

Writing activity:

Have students think of a time when they felt brave. Students can create an individual page for a class book using the writing prompt 

I feel brave when ________________________________.

Social Studies:

Invite students to create maps of their travel route from home to school.  This could be a family homework activity.  Encourage students to label major streets, landmarks, and community areas. 


Wemberly Worried

Writing activity:

Before the story have students write a short list of things they worry about.  After reading the story, re-visit the list.  Are all of these things worth worrying about?  Create a class list of important and not-so-important worries.



This is a great book to use as one of your first "Book Treasure" books.  I send home small pieces of yellow felt.  Before reading this book invite students to bring a special or treasured item to school for show and tell.  If you don't have time to share, you could also have students draw pictures of special items.  Use your discussion to help students build background knowledge for the story.


Kevin Henkes Author Celebration

At the end of your unit, host a classroom author celebration!  Enlist parent volunteers to send in special foods for the party.  There are a number of wonderful recipes at the official Kevin Henkes site. There used to be more recipes listed on the website, but they are no longer posted.  I printed more recipes off of the official website several years ago.  Because the recipes are good ones that I have used in my classroom for years, I am including them here so that more teachers can continue to use this Kevin Henkes resource.

Here are some of the recipes that were previously online:

Mouse Recipes 1

Mouse Recipes 2


For the party, I usually have several parents send in Chester and Wilson's Never Better Peanut Butter Cookies (if there are not allergies), Mr. Slinger's cheese crispies and/or cheese nips, cheese cubes, and Mr. Slinger's Zinger punch.  Basically, it's a mouse feast!  The kids love to taste the "character's" recipes.


During the special celebration, we create graphs of our favorite characters and books using post it notes.  We also read our favorite story and watch a video collection of Kevin Henkes books.  Order one for your classroom!


Links to more Kevin Henkes activities:

A Unit on Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

More Activities for Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

Kevin Henkes: A Collection of links to biographical information and lesson plans

Chrysanthemum: Name Bingo

Ponton's Pond: Growing with Henkes