Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Drummer Hoff - Oldie but Goodie

Drummer Hoff is the Caldecott Medal Winner for 1968 for its riotously colored illustrations by Ed Emberly.  It was written by Barbara Emberly with a repetitive story structure much like the Farmer in the Dell that children love.  Seven soldiers build a cannon so Drummer Hoff can fire it off.  Each job completed, rhymes with the name of the soldier who completed the job.

Some discussions and activities that can be done in conjunction with a reading of this book:

Teamwork Theme:

Could Drummer Hoff have fired it off without Corporal Farrell and Sergeant Chowder?  Compare the firing of this cannon to another team activity with which your kids are already familiar.

Parts of Speech:

The sentence structure is repeated over and over again and is amazingly simple.  It uses no adjectives or adverbs and keeps things to the most simple use of the English language possible.  It would be a great book for an early reader to try on his or her own for this reason.  Use this story to introduce subject and predicate or nouns and verbs.  Have your child highlight a copy of the story where yellow is the predicate and another color is the subject.  You could also do one color for all the verbs and another highlighter color for all the nouns.  Each sentence also has two nouns, one being a proper noun (the pronoun "it" refers to the cannon).  Can your child sort out the types of nouns throughout the story?  


Every character's name matches the job he had through rhyme.  Make cards that have the nouns of the story and play a matching game by finding the rhymes.

Write Your Own:

Choose something else that a group of people might do that is familiar to your child.  My first thought was of baking a pie - "Auntie Pilling made the filling, Grandpa Govin placed it in the oven, but I served the pie."  You get the idea.  See what you and your young child can come up with,  or simply assign it to an older, more accomplished child and see what he or she does on his or her own.

Learn about Wood-Block Engraving from Colonial America and make a Print:

  • First, on your own; simply type "Colonial Wood Engravings" into your Google Search Bar and a few good articles will come up for you to read on the subject.  
  • Then, share the information and images you feel your child is ready for with your child.  Follow that by making your own "engraving".  
  • Roll out some clay (playdough can be used, but may be just a bit too soft) so it is a flat surface.  Gently press the bottom of a cookie sheet down onto the clay to make it smooth and level.  
  • With your child, "draw" an image of choice with  a toothpick onto the clay - make it simple and make thick and wide "lines" by drawing parallel double lines anywhere you might want a line on your eventual print.  A great place to start is by first forming a thick, bold version of the letter of your child's first name and then allow your child to carve out around the letter's shape.  More delicately he or she can also scrape designs into the letter if they are a bit older too.  The point is that where the clay is high, is what will make the picture, where as where the clay is low there will be negative space.
  • Then, using a small spatula (one for frosting cakes or designed for sculpting will work best) press in dough (or scoop out) where you do NOT want lines to show on your print.  Paint the raised portions of your engraving.  Place a large piece of paper down on your engraving and gently touch the paper to the painted areas.  Peel away and you have a record of your engraving.
  • One can do this with potatoes and make smaller engravings (the most commonly recommended version of making carved prints).  However, while it involves fewer steps for the parent or teacher, it is much harder for the kids to successfully and safely carve into a potato than into clay.

This book would also be a wonderful accompaniment to a collection of books about the revolutionary war during a unit on this part of history.  Why is Drummer Hoff in a red coat?  Why do his shoes have buttons?  Why is there a drummer?  What were they firing it off at?  . . .

Weston Woods Studios produced a movie short based on the book with its psychedelic take on Colonial American engravings and times which is still available on a DVD collection of other Caldecott Medal Winners and has additional ideas for activities that can be done with this book in its "teachers" menu option including discussion questions about comparing times of war and times of peace with young readers.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comments!