Chicken and Cat Clean Up

Written and illustrated by Sara Varon
Text Type: Fiction: Narrative—Wordless Picture Book

Summary: Chicken runs a housecleaning business and asks Cat to help. Cat wants to earn enough money to buy a pet, but Cat is sleepy and clumsy and makes so many mistakes while cleaning at Elephant’s house that he is told to leave. He spots Mouse stealing Ladybug’s handbag and redeems himself by catching the thief. A reward is offered, giving Cat enough money to buy a pet turtle.

Oral Language Teaching Strategy: Model Good Language Use Clarify and model good language use, without correcting, when individuals need support.

Time: two 25–30 minute lessons, plus options for further lessons
Chicken and Cat Clean Up
– character and prop cut-outs prepared from BLMs for use with magnetic
whiteboard or flannelboard
Grouping: whole class or small group
Assessment: Kindergarten Oral Language Assessment Scale



Teaching Tip: Go over the story several times to familiarize yourself with the sequence of events, the characters, and the visual features in the text. You need to know the story as you will be storytelling and using the visual text to support your oral narrative.

Activating and Building Prior Knowledge

  • Do your mom and dad ask you to clean up? What kinds of things do you do? How do your mom and dad clean up at home?

    Show students the front cover of the book and read aloud the title and author.
  • Ask students to make connections and talk about what they do when they clean up.
  • Focus on the book and ask the students to make predictions about what they think Chicken and Cat will do to clean up.
  • I am going to look at the pictures carefully and tell you the story in my own words.

    Explain to the students that this book tells the story in pictures and has very few words in it.

  • Model appropriate language and avoid corrections, so that students are encouraged to talk. (Corrections such as, “We don’t say it like that. We say…” can ‘freeze’ talk.)

    Lee: Train set… and trucks… and boxes

    Teacher: Do you tidy away your train set and trucks into a box?

Setting a Purpose for Listening

  • Ask the students to look at the pictures and listen to your story to find out how Chicken and Cat clean up. [Analyzing/inferring]


  • Open the book and show students the pages as you tell the story. Students will need to be able to follow the visual text as well as listen to your storytelling. Project your voice so that all students can hear.
  • Once upon a time, Chicken got up early and said to himself, “What a beautiful day. Time for breakfast!” Next door, sleepy Cat was still in bed. He yawned and said, “Maybe I’ll stay in bed for 10 more minutes.”

    Tell the story in its entirety during the first telling to maintain pacing, voice consistency for characters, atmosphere, and student engagement. Weave in the key elements that may challenge comprehension, e.g., the environmental print (signs and labels, newspaper pages) and words the author sometimes uses to support the pictures, e.g., ‘Clap! Clap!’ ‘knock!’ ‘growl!’
  • Use the following techniques to ensure comprehension and engagement:
    • Use an interesting voice and consider using dialogue and changing your voice to match the character.

      Mouse’s voice (taunting): You can’t catch me Cat!

      Angry and pleading voices after being captured: You were just lucky!

      Now let me go… I won’t steal anything again… I promise!

      I don’t have my running shoes on today!

    • Use gestures and appropriate facial expressions that match the characters and the events, e.g., surprise and horror as Mouse pushes Ladybug over.
    • Pace your storytelling so that it maintains the students’ attention.
    • Focus on oral and visual comprehension. Emphasize the key features that are crucial for comprehension and maintain the narrative. Point out important text features as you tell the story, e.g., the ads about pets in the newspaper, the bubbles to indicate imagination, the soap label on the bottle as Cat prepares to do the laundry, the question marks and the supporting words such as ‘Ring!,’ ‘Crash!,’ and ‘Turn!’
    • Invite participation, e.g., invite the children to do some of the actions and sounds that match the words in the text, e.g., ‘Beh Beh’ (sheep), ‘brush! brush!’ (brushing a horse), ‘Shake! Shake!’ (feeding fish), ‘pop, pop’ (dream bubbles bursting), ‘wipe, wipe!’ (wiping the dishes).


  • Revisit the purpose for listening by asking,How did Chicken and Cat clean up?” Ask students to support their answers.
    • Where does it show us this in the book? [Analyzing/inferring]
  • Provide other prompts that focus on that section of the story. You may want to remind the students by showing them the pictures of how Cat did the washing or wiped the dishes.
    • Do you think Cat did a good job? Why do you think this? [Evaluating/inferring]
    • How do you think Chicken felt about Cat’s work? What tells you this? [Evaluating/inferring]
    • Why did Elephant tell Cat to leave? [Inferring/synthesizing]
  • Remember to model appropriate language use, without correcting, when you discuss ideas with the students.
  • Expand the comprehension discussion. Turn to pages in the text where you want to explore comprehension and give prompts.

    Page where the mouse steals the ladybug’s handbag: Prompts:

    • How did the ladybug feel? Why do you think this? [Inferring]
    • Why was Cat a hero? [Evaluating]

    Page where police officer hands over the reward: Prompts:

    • How do you think the police officer felt? [Inferring]
    • How did the mouse feel? [Inferring]
    • What do you think will happen to the mouse? [Predicting]
    • Do you think Cat expected to get a reward? Tell me why you think this. [Inferring/evaluating]

    End of the story: Prompts:

    • How do you think Cat is feeling now? Why do you think that? [Inferring]
    • Do you think Chicken should have changed the sign on the truck so that now it says ‘Housekeeping and Mousecatching Services’? Why do you think this? [Evaluating]
    • Who will do the housekeeping/mousecatching? [Synthesizing/evaluating]



Preparation: Cut out the set of characters and props from the Chicken and Cat Clean Up BLMS. Colour the characters (you may also wish to laminate them) and affix small magnets or pieces of flannel to the back for use on a magnetic whiteboard or flannelboard.

  • Review the characters. Start with an empty whiteboard/flannelboard and ask the students to recall the characters in the story. As they identify a character place it on the board and add the props if the students mention them as they recall the character, e.g., the ladybug and her handbag, Chicken and his broom, Cat and the bottle of soap. Change the props when necessary, e.g., the mouse can be given the handbag if a student mentions him stealing it from ladybug.
  • When we tell the story today, the words may be a bit different from yesterday’s words. When the author doesn’t give us many words we make up a story that fits the pictures so we may use a few different words every time we tell it.

    Set up the retelling by explaining to students that you will tell the story again, but this time you’ll invite them to join in and help you.

Setting a Purpose for Listening

  • Ask the students to think about their favourite part of the story.


  • Provide a model for the students. Start retelling the story so that you establish an interesting tone and pace, and model possible dialogue.
  • Is there anything in the picture that told you Cat thought the soap bubbles coming out of the washer was really funny? Let’s look at his face. Tell me how he looks.

    Invite participation by students. Pause in your retelling and ask students to look at a picture carefully, and retell it to a partner, e.g., the page where Chicken and Cat watch the soap bubbles pouring out of the washing machine. The students need to take turns so that one student retells the first event, and his or her partner retells an event at the next pause. Ask one or two students to share their retellings with the class. Discuss and clarify any confusion in comprehension.
  • Continue to alternate retelling and pausing to let the students retell to a partner. Share a couple of retellings with the class each time. Discuss and
    clarify comprehension as necessary. Model appropriate language use without correcting the student’s grammar.

    Carlo: She knowed how to do it?

    Teacher: So you think she knew how to do it. Are you wondering why there were so many bubbles?


  • Think about your reasons. Why was it your favourite part of the story?

    Review the purpose for listening and ask students to discuss their favourite part of the story with a partner, and then share ideas as a class.



Reconstruct the Story

  • Reconstruct the story with the class using the whiteboard/flannelboard characters and props:
    • Are you thinking Elephant was surprised when Cat ate the leaves of the plant? What would you say if you were Elephant?

      move the characters and props to build the sequential narrative, asking students to help you in the process.
    • ask students to take turns in retelling and facilitate the oral narrative by providing a framework and modelling if a student is hesitant or goes off track. Be sure to keep the story moving!

Retell the Story From a New Perspective

  • I felt so sad sitting on the steps. I knew I’d tried my best to be a good cleaner and I only had a tiny nibble out of that leaf. Elephant was so mean. Then I saw that pesky mouse…

    You may decide to give the students experience with viewpoint in a story and retell the story from Cat’s perspective. The story will change from a third person narrator to a first person “I” viewpoint. Model the beginning of the story using Cat as the narrator, and show how the story may change slightly when you tell it from one character’s viewpoint.

    Then invite student participation in the retelling. You may structure this new way of retelling by inviting students to retell a page or two and then alternate by modelling the first person viewpoint yourself and returning to student retelling.

Focus on Story Structure

  • Discuss the elements of the story’s structure:
    • You may wish to use the book to explore ‘setting’ and look at the pictures in terms of what details the author/illustrator uses to build the setting, e.g., the street and home scenes, the labels and signs.
    • You could use the whiteboard/flannelboard to build up a picture of the story’s ‘beginning’ or ‘ending.’



  • Place the whiteboard/flannelboard characters and props along with a copy
    of the book in a centre and encourage story retellings.
  • Ask students to dramatize their favourite part of the story using puppets or
    by role-playing.
  • Suggest that students paint a picture of a story event. Scribe their message below the picture and encourage them to share and talk about their picture
    with a partner, small group, or the class.