Book-Based Skill Builders

Curriculum Connections

The Umbrella Squish, Splash, Splat!
based on The Umbrella
by Jan Brett
Grades: K–3

View and print the student activity sheet (PDF)

About the Book
Little Carlos takes a trip into the “cloud forest” with his umbrella. He has his sights set on seeing a few animal friends. What he doesn’t expect is while he laid the umbrella down to climb up a fig tree for a better look, his umbrella becomes the favorite resting place for those friends. Monkey, without thinking, flings the umbrella into the river. As they float downstream, it becomes apparent to the animals that they are taking on water. The umbrella becomes too crowded and full and it tumbles over releasing all the animals to go on their way. Carlos has no idea this all happens, retrieves his umbrella, and decides he will try to come back tomorrow.

Set the Stage
Try some of these items to get students ready to read:

  • Show students the cover of the book and have them make predictions of what they think the story will be about.
  • Bring an umbrella from home to compare with the one on the cover. Ask them to guess what they think the umbrella is made from. Ask why they think it is not like the umbrella you have.
  • Talk about the animals shown-you may have to name some of them. Gather ideas from the students where they may think those types of animals live. They inhabit a rain forest. Record their responses on a piece of chart paper.
  • Begin a picture walk and point out the things you see on each page. Go back and read the book to the students.

After enjoying the story and pictures, lead a discussion using these questions:

  • Why do you think Carlos called the forest a “cloud forest” in the beginning of the story?
  • How do you know that Carlos has been in the forest before?
  • Why do you think all the animals want to be in the umbrella?
  • How does the author use the smaller illustrations on each page?
  • Do you think if you could not read any of the words, you still may understand what is happening in the story? Why or Why not?
  • Go back to check the students’ recorded predictions.

Student Activity
This activity introduces students to onomatopoeia and how it can be used in writing.

Related Activities
To extend students’ enjoyment of the book, try these:

  • Bring Story to Life: Gather pictures of the animals from the story and also have a picture of a boy who would be Carlos. Put a green sheet or large piece of paper on the floor. This will be the umbrella. Giving each child a chance to be one of the characters in the story, read the book to the class and have them re-enact the story as you read.
  • Figgy Fun: Carlos climbs a fig tree to get a better view. On his way up the tree, a few figs fall to the ground. Buy some figs from the store or your local market and allow the students to taste them. You can also have other food items on hand such as fig-filled cookies to show the children different uses for figs.
  • Comparing Brett Favorites: Compare and contrast The Umbrella with another Jan Brett book such as The Mitten. Record their responses using a Venn diagram, Double bubble map or another graphic organizer. Discuss the results.
  • Art Exhibit: The Umbrella is beautifully illustrated. The art was done in watercolors and gouache. Allow the children to draw an animal from the story. Have them paint their animal and the setting using watercolors. After the paintings have dried, hang them up and create an art exhibit in the room.
  • Foreign Language Fun: In this book, there are a few phrases in Spanish that are interpreted within the text. Read the phrases and the words that follow to share some Spanish language with the students. It may be fun to continue to use a few phrases such as “adios” or “hola” if the students don’t usually speak another language.

Lesson Developed by Kelley Raybon
Kelley Raybon has been teaching elementary school for 20 years. She is currently a curriculum resource teacher at an elementary school. She earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

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