Teaching Science Process Skills with Children’s Literature: What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?


What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? is a great book written by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page. It is filled with fun facts about various animals and is beautifully adorned with unique texturally appealing die-cut-paper collages. Each page features different animals body parts (ears, eyes, noses, tails, mouths,etc.) and poses the question "What do you do with a ___ like this?” This format allows for the reader(s) to observe, infer, and predict what animal the body part belongs to and what unique purpose it may serve that animal. Asking the reader the questions before revealing the answer allows the readers to communicate and collaborate amongst each other in regards to reaching an answer. The page following the question page shows the body part attached to the correct animals along with a brief description of what that body part does for the animal.

Example: Page 1 shows the nose of a platypus and page 2 shows the whole platypus along with the following statement: If you’re a platypus, you use your nose to dig in the mud.

The book follows this format for several pages, although the last 4 pages provide smaller thumbnail pictures of the animals and more detailed information & unique facts about each animal for the curious learner!

Curriculum Connections
This book would be an excellent book to read aloud to the whole class or in small group instruction because it allows for student interaction. The pictures are captivating and the facts about each animal are informative and range from funny, to strange, to gross which will help to keep even the most inquisitive students engaged. This book could be used to introduce elementary students to new animal species and it also provides the reader with a chance to explore the concept of observation and prediction prior to the discovery of an answer. What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? is suitable for grades k-2 because it allows the reader to choose the depth at which each animal is explored. However, I think this book would be most engaging for the younger set. This book compliments VA SOL K.1 (a), (b), (c) ,and (g).

Additional Resources:

  • This fun quiz allows students to match animal body parts with the animals themselves.
  • This website provides fun easy coloring sheet templates that can be printed for student use.
  • This teacher created site provides a WebQuest that can be conducted by the students after reading What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?

Book: What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?
Authors: Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
Illustrator: Steve Jenkins
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 32 pages
Grade Range: K-2
ISBN: 0439703840