"There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly" is one of those classic poems that everyone has probably read --- and memorised --- in school, or heard sung. Not only is it good practice for students to learn memorisation through repetition, it also creates opportunities to learn other skills like sequencing, rhyming and synonyms, to name a few.
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Swallow the Fly Booklet
Young students can create an eight-page booklet, one page for every critter the old lady swallows. Draw an oval representing the woman's stomach on pages one to seven, and have students draw what the woman swallowed in each stomach. They should draw the fly on page one, while page seven will have the fly, spider, bird, cat, dog, goat and the cow. On page eight, students draw the old lady with an extra large midsection. In her belly they draw only the horse.
Old Woman Cutout
Create a large laminated cutout of the old woman, with a hole where her mouth should be, and a kitchen garbage bag taped behind the mouth. Give each younger child a laminated picture of one of the animals that the lady swallowed. As the story is read, the child with the appropriate animal picture puts her card in the old woman's mouth. For a smaller version, each student gets an 11-by-17-inch laminated card with a picture of the old woman, with the mouth cut out. A sandwich bag is taped to the back of the mouth to collect the animals. Each child gets a stack of small, laminated cards with a drawing of each animal to insert in the lady's mouth as the poem is read.
Try a sequencing activity for younger kids. Each child gets a stack of laminated cards with one of the animals that the woman swallows. After reading the poem, have the children place the animal cards in the order that they were swallowed.
Synonyms, Homonyms and Antonyms
Students can create a list of synonyms for the words lady, cat, dog, fly and spider. A separate list should be made for antonyms or opposites of old, lady, die and swallow and for homonyms or rhymes of fly, cat, dog, old, goat and cow like cat and flat, cow and bow or old and bold.
Probability Graph Game
Create a spinner by dividing a 6-by-6-inch square card into eight more-or-less equal segments, and glue a picture one of the swallowed animals onto each segment. Snip the end of a Popsicle stick to create a pointer. Drill a hole in the stick and punch a hole in the centre of the card. Attach the pointer to the card with a brad. Create a chart, numbering the left column from 10 to one in descending order, and labelling the bottom of the chart with the names of the swallowed animals. Have students spin the pointer 10 times, recording the number of times each animal was chosen. Use the chart to create a bar graph. For example, if the fly got three hits and the cow got five, colour the fly column to the number three and cow column to the number five.
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