goodnight gorilla pinable image read aloud free printable puppet craft
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Goodnight Gorilla Read Aloud, Activities and Free Printable Craft

Welcome back to Story Time & Craft with Miss Jennifer!

Today’s story is Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann. If your little ones love zoo animals and a little silliness, they’ll love this story! You’ll also love having a free printable craft for them to create after the reading.

Goodnight, Gorilla is a beautiful picture book that tells the story of a zoo at night, with mostly pictures, not a lot of words. I love that about most picture books!

The story is about a zookeeper who says good night to each of his animals in their cages. Little does he know, a mischievous little gorilla is following close behind, unlocking every cage!

Sit back and enjoy the reading of the story to find out what happens next. When it’s over, I’ll share some ideas for building upon the story with discussion questions, suggested extension activities, and a fun craft for kids to do at home or school. I’ve also included free printable coloring sheets for the final craft.

Just click on the video below to begin my reading of Goodnight, Gorilla.


Reading of “Goodnight, Gorilla”

Isn’t that a fun story? I’m sure your kids will love it, too!

To make the most of your story time with young children, I have gathered some discussion questions and activities in the form of a lesson plan. This integrated lesson plan includes activities related to language arts, science, arts and crafts, and creative dramatics. You can pick a few of the activities, or all of them, or just skip to the printable download for some fun zoo animals to color and cut out.

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Lesson Objectives:

  • Children will learn about different kinds of animals.
  • Children will be introduced to humor in a story.
  • Children will learn that pictures, as well as words, tell a story.
goodnight gorilla, book by peggy rathmann

Before Reading Discussion:

Talk with children about experiences they may have had visiting a zoo. Ask:

  • What kinds of animals did you see there? Describe their sounds.
  • How were the animals cared for?
  • What kinds of foods were the different animals eating?

Explain to the children what a prank is. Have children talk about how it feels to fool someone or to be fooled. If children have not experienced harmless tricks or pranks, have them describe something funny they saw or heard.

goodnight gorilla, stick puppets, zookeeper's wife, hyena

After Reading Discussion:

Share the book Goodnight, Gorilla with children. Then ask:

  • Why didn’t the zookeeper know what was going on?
  • Where did the animals go when they followed the zookeeper?
  • Who woke up when the animals all said “good night”?
  • Where did the zookeeper’s wife take the animals?

After Reading Activities

To expand on the concept of different animals in the story, use this opportunity to create an art integrated science lesson for your preschool or elementary students. Here are a few suggestions:

Visit the library with children and gather up some books about the animals described in the story (gorilla, mouse, elephant, lion, hyena, giraffe, armadillo.) Have children choose one animal to learn about and share their information with others in the group, or with you!

Encourage children to demonstrate the ways the animals move, describe the different kinds of foods they eat, discuss the kinds of habitats they live in, or describe the ways they care for their young. Let children accompany the stories with their own illustrations.

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This “research project” can culminate in different ways, depending on the literacy level of the children. A short discussion and some time to make a simple drawing of their animal will suffice for the youngest learners.

Older children (ages 6 and up) may be able to create a small book about their chosen zoo animal, complete with written facts and more detailed illustrations.

Good Night, Gorilla Puppet Craft

goodnight gorilla, zookeeper, lion stick puppets

A great way to summarize this story and activity is to retell the story in the form of a puppet show. Retelling a story is a great way for children to recall its events and details. Children build confidence with their oral story telling skills, and have fun performing the action with their own handmade puppets in front of a live audience. (even if it’s just you!)

In this activity, we will keep things simple by using basic craft materials for making puppets, and just a piece of furniture for a makeshift theater.

goodnight gorilla stick puppets, armadillo,giraffe,gorilla

What You Need:

*** Click on the link below for your downloadable, free printable coloring sheets! (4 pages total):

Michaels Kids Crafts

What to Do:

  1. Download the file (above) and print out the 4 sheets of animal shapes, including the zookeeper and his wife. White cardstock or heavy weight paper is recommended.
  2. Color in the characters. Feel free to add details, such as fur and different textures of each animal’s body.
  3. Cut out the character shapes, leaving a little white space around the edges of each animal. (Keep it simple for small hands, also easier for gluing onto sticks.) You could even draw a simple, light outline in pencil around the shapes for younger children to follow.
  4. Glue each animal shape to a wooden craft stick. Let dry.
  5. Assign a role for each child, depending on the size of your group. Large groups can break up into smaller groups, for repeat performances.
  6. Set up a simple “theater”: a blanket over the back of a chair is fine. Instruct children to hold their stick puppets just above the blanket, keeping their heads hidden. This helps the audience see only the action of the puppets.
  7. Practice narrating the story while the children act it out with their animals puppets. If a child is able to read and narrate, great! Otherwise you can have the honor. 😉 Practice holding up more than one animal puppet in each hand, if necessary. Or move the puppets one at a time.
  8. Prepare an audience, and perform your version of Good Night, Gorilla. Have fun!!
goodnight gorilla stick puppets, puppet theater

I hope you have enjoyed this creative activity for preschoolers or elementary children. I especially love using creative dramatics such as puppet shows to culminate a learning activity with a story performance. Children love using puppets, and there’s something about hiding behind the puppet that can embolden even the shyest child to perform with confidence!

If your children or students are becoming hooked on puppeteering, you might consider investing in a permanent puppet theater they can easily use on their own, or with the class. I have found a couple of them online, as you’ll see in the photo ads below. Children can still make their own puppets, (or buy your own), create their own stories and perform them in a real puppet theater! (hint: makes a great birthday gift, and will bolster their creativity and confidence all year long!) Teachers of small children will find puppets and a puppet theater to be wonderful additions to their classroom learning centers.

Happy Puppeteering!