Leo Lionni's illustrations are bright splashes of color that draw the eye in, but allow the readers to employ their imagination and decide what creatures the shapes might be.
The book has a repetitive structure which children enjoy, as Pezzettino goes from creature to creature asking if he might belong to them. You might encourage them to chime in at these parts once they recognize the pattern.
Music: I played the album "The Yoga Sessions" by Masood Ali Khan as background music. It has an organic, rhythmic flow that builds, which I thought was a nice soundtrack to Pezzettino's journey.
Materials and Props:
-"Pezzettino" by Leo Lionni, available on Amazon (I got my copy for $0.02) or through a public library
-A length of rope or strong string, tied in a loop large enough for all of your students to stand together inside
-1 square of wax paper (about 1'x1') per student (if your space is carpeted or covered by a rug)
-Optional: a smooth stone for each student (a bag of river rocks can be purchased at a dollar store or hobby shop)
Come Together and Warm Up:
Breathing: TALL/SMALL BREATH: As you breath in, stand tall on your tiptoes and reach arms up. When you breath out, squat all the way down to the floor, hugging knees to curl into a little ball. Repeat several times.
Lay the rope on the floor in a circle shape and ask all of the students to stand inside and then pick up the rope to waist height. Tell the children that they are all part of one "blob," so they must work together and move together. Give them a goal to work towards ("Let's move to the blue wall together. Now let's cross the room to the coats and boots wall. Can we move back to the middle of the room?") and perhaps, experiment with levels and ways of moving, depending on age and coordination. For example, try shuffling along on knees within the rope, or tiptoeing. Eventually have students make their way back to the center of the room, drop the rope and step out of the circle.
Yoga (Alongside reading Pezzettinno)
Introduce Pezzettino, read first page and let all the students learn to say his name, which means "Little Piece" in Italian.
On the next page, Pezzettino comes to the "one-who-runs." After reading the text, use one-who-runs to inspire a warm-up that challenges balance and coordination skills, as well as gets the heart rate up. OPPOSITE-KNEE TAPS: March in place, lifting knees high enough to tap your knee with the palm of the opposite arm's hand. For younger students, use same hand as knee. Older students can try tapping with elbow instead of hand (more oblique engagement).
Then Pezzettino comes to the strong-one. We will try two poses to make our muscles stronger.
PLANK POSE: From hands and knees, step feet back, lifting knees and pressing down into palms and curled-under toes so the body is straight like a plank, or the top of a push-up. For older students, try holding the pose while everyone goes around the circle and says their name, or counts. Remind students not to hold their breath.
WARRIOR II: Step feet wide, bending front knee so thigh/shin form a right angle, keeping the back leg straight and strong. Lift and extend arms, show a strong arm shape (like a muscle-builder).
Pezzettino meets the swimming-one in the water. BIG FISH POSE: Lay on belly and bend knees, pressing heels together with flexed feet to form a tail. Put hands on hips and try lifting elbows to point up like a dorsal fin. Lift shoulders and thighs away from the floor, strengthening the muscles along the spine. Using momentum, rock forward and back across the belly like a fish bobbing along.
Climbing, Pezzettino meets the one-on-the-mountain. Take a few breaths in MOUNTAIN POSE to return to breath and stillness. Feet together, fingertips touching lightly in front of sternum, tall neck. Older students might try closing their eyes to see if they can hold their stability.
For the flying-one, have older students with more coordination try EAGLE POSE: Feet together, knees bent, wrap one leg over the other. Bring elbows to shoulder height and wrap forearms around each other. Sit deeper into the hips. Look down like an eagle looking over a mountain's edge. When ready to "take flight," unwrap arms and legs and flap wings up and down. Younger students can try BABY EAGLE: Feet together and knees together, bend knees as though sitting into a chair. Place fingertips on shoulders, elbows bent like small wings, flap wings quickly like a baby eagle learning to fly.
Pezzettino finally finds someone to guide his search. The wise-one in the cave directs him to the Island of Wham. SAGE'S POSE: Sit on the floor with one leg extended straight ahead and the other knee bent, foot on the floor next to extended leg's knee. The hand on the same side as the bent knee supports the twist, resting on the floor behind the hip, and the opposite arm hugs around the bent knee. Twist torso toward bent knee. Sit up tall and breathe deeply. Repeat on the other side (challenge for older students: try changing which knee is bent without using the support of the hands on the floor, reach to the sky instead as you switch legs).
Pezzettino sails to the Island of Wham. BOAT POSE: Balance on sitting bones, lift toes off the floor with knees bent, reaching arms long towards the toes. Try rowing motions with the hands or make a sail (press hands together over head). BONUS CREATIVE MOVEMENT ACTIVITY: On a carpeted floor or rug, have children partner up. One student sits in boat pose on a square of wax paper (approx. 1' x 1'). For this variation, have the boat pose student hold the backs of their thighs for stability. Their partner holds them by the ankles and slowly slides them across the sea. For my students, who were 3-4, I just took each of them for a ride one by one as the other students sat in a circle waving at Pezzettino as he passed by.
Pezzettino climbs around the deserted island, finding no one--until he becomes tired and falls down a hill, breaking into many tinier pieces. CLIMBING/FALLING/ROLLING: Stand and climb, lifting knees and reaching arms. Then sweep forward into a forward fold and hit hands on to the floor (kids love making this noise). Then, like Pezzettino's little parts, roll around (on mats or across the floor)
Pezzettino puts himself back together and rows all night to get home. MOON SIDE STRETCHES: Sit cross-legged and reach arms over head, palms press. Lean from one side to the other, without tipping over and shine your bright light over the water so Pezzettino can find his way home.
Pezzettino's friends are all happy that he is home and feeling happy. SMILE CIRCLE: Sit in a circle. Let each student have a smooth river stone and ask them to keep it warm and safe in their cupped hands. Just like Pezzettino, we all feel small sometimes and wonder if we fit in. The rock in your hand is also small, but is part of the earth, and although we may feel small sometimes, we are all part of the family of the world--you're an important part of this circle of friends, too! Holding your rock, look around the circle and try to give each of your friends a big smile (allow a moment for this to happen). Let's all bring our rocks to the middle of our circle and make a little mountain.
REST: Find a cozy spot on your mat and feel all the little parts of your body that make YOU--that help you walk, think, talk, dance, breathe and move--let all of the little parts rest on the floor and take a break. You are strong, important and good, just the way you are.