When two bright green peas fall from their pods into the garden, they begin a series of adventures up, down, under, and through the densely patterned black and white landscape, eventually returning to the earth where their newly springing plants give forth to…the third little green pea.
Three Activities for ages 3 through 7, and An Activity for older artists, by Francisca Goldsmith
Activity 1: Traveling Peas
Kids explore the visual patterns and the verbal prepositions through which the two peas travel.
- Three green tennis balls
- Drawing paper
- Green and black crayons or markers for each child
- An area with several levels of environmental fixtures in plain view
After reading the book and discussing all the patterns through which the two green peas move, place two of the three green balls on a shelf, bookcase or vacant chair in view of the group.
Ask for volunteers to contribute answers to:
- What are the peas under?
- What are the peas over?
- What would the peas pass when rolling from [their current position] to [a specific one at a different height]?
Invite each child to draw a pattern in black and white to show the texture of where she or he would like to see the peas appear next (for example, between the rattan chair back and the calico padded chair seat, or on the window sill beneath the slatted blinds)
Ask the children to pass their environmental depictions to another artist in the group so that someone else can place the two green peas in the picture. No talking or pointing! Does the artist placing peas put them where the first artist expected or planned?
While the children are working on their patterns and the placement of the peas in each other’s environmental drawings, collect the two balls from their last placement. Place them near each other but not touching. If possible, keep them a foot or two apart.
Ask: “If the two peas took root here and new pea plants grew, where might the third pea roll into view?”
Volunteers can try their hand at pea planting and the appearance point of the third pea.
Activity 2: Green Eyes and Green Faces
In the book, the two green peas often appear somewhere in the environment that adds color to the design and also an essential element to something appearing in that environment, such as the cat’s eyes and the daisy’s face. Where would you use two green circles to highlight your picture?
- Flannel board covered in white flannel or another light color
- Strips and whirls of black felt with which to create patterns on the white board
- Three green flannel circles, large enough for everyone to see
Two at a time, a team of children arranges the black felt strips and shapes as they like across the flannel board, trying to suggest specific objects, such as flowers, table settings, etc.
A third child places two of the green circles (peas) into the pattern so that they add a detail to something the team depicted.
Ask: “Could the peas take root where they are?”
If not, another team of two, with a third pea-placer, take a turn.
When the answer is “yes,” the group can decide where the third pea might appear if his parents rooted and gave up new shoots from that spot.
Activity 3: Tell Me, Peas, How You’re Feeling?
Identify the many facial expressions worn by the peas and various other plants and creatures appearing in the settings throughout the story.
- Drawing paper
- Crayons or markers in green and black
Reread the story, pausing on each page to discuss any facial expression someone can find. What does that expression tell us about what the animal or plant is feeling?
After finding the various expressive faces and noting the feelings they communicate, children draw three green circles for the three peas on their papers, large enough to add a facial expression to each.
Add simple facial expressions to the peas, whether a different one for each pea or variations of the same emotion depicted somewhat differently, such as a wide closed-mouthed smile and another with an open-mouth grin.
Display the drawings to use in future references to how we interpret how someone feels from reading her facial expression.
Activity 4: Make a Simple Etching for ages 8 and up
Explore designing an illustration that transfers work on a template to ink on a page.
- Aluminum foil
- White vinegar
- Water tray
- “Acid” bath tray
- Gloves to keep materials clean
- Roller for inking
- Vegetable oil
- Litho crayons
- Litho ink
- Roller press
- Litho paper for printing
After reading and studying the illustrations in the book, read the back matter with its discussion of Marine Rivoal’s etching process and illustration technique.
You can try your hand at etching, without the use of dangerous acids, using the white vinegar etching method. Watch this short YouTube video, “How to Etch with White Vinegar,” for step-by-step guidance.