Mimi and the Grands

Educating Through Multiple Intelligences

Letter “E” Activities: Elephants and Engines

on October 30, 2016

My youngest grandson, Tahoe (4), is learning the sounds of the alphabet, so for this unit we focused on the short sound of the letter “E” using the themes of Elephants and Engines. I am planning most of my study units this year for Tahoe since he is the only grandson not yet going to school full time and I watch him three days a week. I still do a few activities with Tigger (8) and Kona (6), but since they have homework after school each day, my time with them is limited for other enrichment projects (although sometimes I can do more when I have them over to our house for a sleepover during the weekend). I usually have time to read with Kona and Tigger on school nights, so I use the books in this study unit during those times. 

As always, I planned a variety of lessons in all eight intelligences. I try to do two intelligences per day with  Tahoe, one of them is always a Linguistic activity. I made this an eight day unit because I had so many books I wanted to introduce and reread with the grands. I usually plan more activities than I can actually do with the grands, but I always do at least one activity from each intelligence with Tahoe. As you can see, many of these activities do not need a lot of materials or preparation, which is why I love using Multiple Intelligence activities with my grandsons rather than worksheets.

If you would like to see other activities for the short sound of E, you can view these posts that I wrote when Kona was four years old:




Linguistic (Word Smart)

Read and discuss books – I decided to focus on two themes for the letter E: elephants and engines. The grands have always had a fascination with train engines and firetruck engines so I thought they would really enjoy these books and activities. (And of course, who doesn’t love elephants?!) Besides focusing on the short vowel sound of “E” with Tahoe as I read the books to him, I also used the books to teach other literacy strategies.


elephant-in-the-darkElephant in the Dark retold by Mina Javaherbin narrates the story of a local merchant who brings an elephant back from India. The villagers have never seen an elephant, and the merchant promises the villagers they can see the magnificent creature in the morning. Since the merchant is tired from his trip, he places the elephant in his barn for the night.  However, the villagers can’t wait to meet the creature and take turns in the dark barn trying to “see” and report back what the creature looks like. Of course, all the villagers find a different part of the elephant and the villagers report back that this creature is like a snake, a tree trunk, a fan, etc.  Academic Focus: Drawing Conclusions: I discussed with the grands whether the villagers conclusions were correct (and why each villager’s conclusion was different from the others).

maisys-fire-engineMaisy’s Fire Engine by Lucy Cousins is a fun book about a mouse named Maisy and her fire engine. As she and her friend Cyril try out the water hose from the fire engine, a little cat is frightened and climbs up onto a roof. Maisy and Cyril are on the job and rescue the scared cat. Academic Focus: Main Character Traits: I had Tahoe discuss what we learned about Maisy from what the characters say and do in the book. 


clemence-and-his-noisy-little-fire-engineClemence and His Noisy Little Fire Engine by Jessica Spanyol is about a brave little bug who loves to play with his noisy little fire engine.  He and his friends examine all parts of the engine to make sure everything is in working order. Then Clemence and his friends have adventures with the fire engine including the retrieval of a kite from a tree. The illustrations are adorable in this little book that Tahoe really enjoyed. Academic Focus: Fact and Fiction: I discussed with the grands the way the author uses facts (the names of the parts of the fire engine) with fiction (bugs don’t drive fire engines or wear shower caps) to create this story.

elephants-cant-jumpElephants Can’t Jump by  Jeanne Willis tells the story of an elephant who wants to be able to jump like his other friends. But no matter how many ways he tries to jump, he is not successful and gets reminded by his friends that, “Elephants can’t jump!” However, a situation arises where jumping gets his friends in trouble and elephant saves the day using a skill that elephants can do. Academic Focus: Problem and Solution: The grands and I discussed the main problem in the story and how it is resolved.



elephants-by-grace-hansenElephants (Abdo Kids: Animal Friends series) by Grace Hansen explains some basic information about elephants and contains vivid photographs of these animals. Information contained in the text includes how elephants care for each other and protect the matriarch, which was a new vocabulary word for all the grands. This book also includes text features such as a table of contents, index, and glossary. Academic Focus: Details: The grands and I discussed details about the elephants after reading the book. Text features: I always try to point out and discuss text features whenever I find them in a book that I read to the grands.


Logical/Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart)

Counting activities: Using the book Elephants by Grace Hansen, Tahoe counted the number of elephants that were protecting the matriarch in one of the photographs. 

Measuring:  Elephants can suck as much as 2 gallons of water into its trunk at one time. Before filling the bathtub at bathtime, I had Tahoe measure two gallons of water (using empty and clean milk containers to measure the water) so he could see how much water that would be. I also discovered the water hoses on fire engines can be 10, 14, 24 and 35 feet long. We measured some of those amounts on the sidewalk in the front of the house.

   Interpersonal (People Smart)

Dramatic play: I will encourage Tahoe and his brothers to use a fire engine or train engine as part of their dramatic play. (They watch “Thomas the Train” often so I’ll get out the train tracks and let each of them choose an engine to use in their “play” together.)

Pink Elephants on Parade: We will act out part of the song “Pink Elephants on Parade” with the family. I will use the first half of the song which has “active” lyrics such as “Hippety hoppety,” “They’re walking around the bed,” and “On their head.” This would also be a bodily-kinesthetic activity.

 Bodily-Kinesthetic (Body Smart)

(See “Pink Elephants on Parade” under Interpersonal Intelligence for another Bodily-Kinesthetic activity.)

Elephant Walk: I found an Elephant Walk exercise (and other animal walks) that I can use for the grands at this website:


Pantomimes: Tahoe and I practiced several “E” words that are easy to pantomime such as: elephants, elevator, egg, elbow, elk, and exit. Tahoe will show them to his brothers and have them guess the word he is pantomiming.

Musical Intelligence (Music Smart)

Finger plays, rhymes, and songs: There is a traditional nursery rhyme “Engine Engine, Number 9” which can also be found online as as song. Here are the lyrics:

Engine, engine, number nine,
Running on the Chicago Line.
See it sparkle, see it shine,
Engine, engine, number nine.

I found other fingerplays and songs about elephants at this website:


Movie Music Fun: I loved the movie Dumbo when I was little and just had to share “When I See an Elephant Fly” and “Pink Elephants on Parade” with the grands.


 Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart)

20161026_115808Craft: E is for Elephant: I read several books about elephants to Tahoe so it was only natural to create an easy elephant craft for him. I basically drew the shapes for him: a large circle, two lowercase “e” cut-outs, two small circles for eyes, and a trunk (Tahoe wanted to do a “J” craft today so I used the “J” as the trunk of the elephant). He cut out all the shapes, glued them on paper, and added googly eyes to the small circles.


Craft: E is for Engine: After reading the books about fire engines, it was fun to make a more complicated craft that connected “engines” with the letter “E”. This project used several types of art materials so Tahoe was also using a lot of different fine motor skills. The materials for this projects included:

  • Yellow, orange, and red tissue paper
  • Glue and water solution
  • Construction paper (red, black, and green)
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie pen

Elephant Pancakes: Another fun spatial activity I did with with the grands was to use fruit to decorate a pancake like an elephant. They loved making and eating their final product!

Naturalist Intelligence (Nature Smart)

Field trips: Zoo trips to see real elephants are always fun. At the zoo there are other animals that begin with the short “e” sound such as elk and emperor penguin.

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt- We made a list of “E” words that could be found in nature and took a walk around our neighborhood or local park to find as many as we could. Here is a partial list: elm trees, earth, environment, and evergreen.

 Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self Smart)

Independent reading: The grands love to look over the books we have previously read throughout this unit of study on their own time.

Favorites: I asked the grands which of the books from our book study were their favorites. Tahoe’s favorite was Maisy’s Fire Engine, while Kona really enjoyed Elephant in the Dark.


I hope you are finding these Multiple Intelligence activities useful as you plan lessons for children in your care. If you would like to see more of these unit studies as I create them, you can become a follower of this blog.


I love to add my blog posts to link parties such as:


2 responses to “Letter “E” Activities: Elephants and Engines

  1. These are such cute ideas!


  2. You are so organized! I always love looking through the books others are reading 🙂 Great choices for the letter E!
    Amy @ http://www.livinglifetruth.com/


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