This fingerplay is great to do with little kids — it gives rhyme, rhythm,and manual dexterity practice, and also introduces the numbers one through five. You can make it a safety lesson, too.
Hold one hand out flat for the bed and jump the five fingers of the other hand up and down behind it. On “bumped his head” — and you can make it “her head” too — hold your head and make a face. Mime a phone call for the third line, and shake your finger while you sternly say “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”
“Five little monkeys, jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor, the doctor said
‘No more monkeys jumping on the bed!’”
Continue on with four, three, two, one, and finally no more monkeys jumping on the bed! Eileen Christelow has done a fun picture book of Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, and a sequel, Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree . Here is a PDF file of a comparison chart for the two books. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed is also available as aBig Book , a Board Book and in a Spanish Edition.
Get your room ready for monkey lessons with the Monkey Mischief Bulletin Board Set. There’s also a complete set with all the classroom accessories from borders to stickers for a quick room setup. For bulletin board headlines, you can use something like this:
- “Monkeying Around…” with math or whatever the subject is
- “We’re having more fun than a barrel of monkeys”
- “Swinging Through the School Year”
- “Monkey Business”
- “Monkey See, Monkey Do”
- “Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkeys!”
Go above and beyond the call of duty by making cookies in the shape of monkey faces.
- Use your favorite sugar cookie recipe. Keep a small part plain vanilla and add cocoa to the rest so you’ll have two colors. If you’re feeling really energetic, take these two balls of dough to class and let the students help.
- Flatten a ball of the chocolate dough for the monkey face.
- Flatten a small ball of the vanilla dough for the muzzle, and cut another in half to make the ears.
- If the kids are doing this part, have them look at some monkey pictures to see where the parts of the face go on a monkey.
- Use chocolate chips for eyes.
- Add a mouth made from decorating gel after the cookies are baked.
You’ll end up with some cute cookies — here we have Five Little Monkeys!
If you don’t care to make cookies, you might choose to let the students make monkey faces from Crayola Model Magic or clay and use them for counting or other manipulatives. The process involves plenty of basic modeling skills — rolling balls of clay, flattening, cutting, and layering.
A more permanent alternative would be these 5 Little Monkey Character Mitts. They are little Velcro puppets to put on your Chracter Mitt glove, designed to be used for the fingerplay “5 Little Monkeys”.
Keep monkeying around with monkey-related lessons:
- Reference the Three Wise Monkeys for a character lesson. “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” is the saying associated with the image of three monkeys covering their ears, eyes, and mouth.
The saying originated in a Buddhist teaching story in Japan, but nowadays it is used in different ways. Some people use this expression to suggest that we should not gossip or not be judgmental. Others use it to describe a policy of willful ignorance, refusing to speak up about wrongdoing. Have students draw their own image of the Three Wise Monkeys and explain what they think it means, and why. This could be a persuasive essay, and could lead to a debate.
- Listen to the Monkees and discuss bubble gum rock. Note that the lyrics to songs like “Pleasant Valley Sunday” by the famous songwriting team of Goffin and King actually bring up some serious themes. Why don’t they get the respect that poetry does?
- Use these directions to make a climbing monkey toy that demonstrates some interesting points about friction. The instructions don’t specify a monkey, but we think you could make monkeys — or even use monkey cutouts.
- Play “Monkey in the Middle” with older kids — you might know this game as “Keep Away.” One player is in the middle of a circle of other players, and tries to get the ball as the others throw it. This is a good game for coordination, but you may want to set time limits in order to keep any one “monkey” from being in the middle too long.
- For a more academic game, try “Monkey on Your Back.” Tape the name of a primate to the back of each student. The students then have to ask each other questions to guess what monkey they have. Use real primates for a biology lesson, or stick to literary monkeys like Curious George. Questions can range from “Does my primate run upright (like gibbons or humans)?” to “Is my monkey curious?”, so this is a very adaptable activity.
- Here you can find stories of the Chinese Monkey King. Compare Mozart’s Magic Flute and the Monkey King for an unusual music and lit lesson.
- Here is a card game for studying apes. Apes, you will remember, are a group of primates closely related to monkeys and to humans. Gibbons, chimpanzees, and orangutans are examples of apes. Monkeys usually have tails and apes don’t. Monkeys, apes, and hominids (like humans and extinct groups such as Neanderthals) are the three groups of anthropoids in the primate group. For a monkey theme, we don’t mind mixing the monkeys and the apes, but it’s good to make sure the kids don’t get confused about it.