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Jasper & Ollie Build a Fort

Last updated Thursday, June 6, 2024

Author: Alex Millan
Date of Publication: 2020
ISBN: 0525645241
Grade Level: Kindergarten    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2024

Synopsis: Best friends Jasper, a quick and feisty fox, and Ollie, a slow and deliberate sloth, decide to build forts in the yard. While Jasper's enormous fort goes up in minutes (complete with a rock climbing wall, bouncy, castle, and moat), it's Ollie's humble fort that has what the pair need most . . . a place that they can share.

This highly visual story allows young readers to easily recognize the differences between the two pals, as Jasper's increasingly frenzied building contrasts with Ollie's more reserved and planned approach.

Note to readers:
•  There aren’t many words in this book, so the “story” could go fast. Spend time on each page, describing what’s happening to create a fuller understanding of the narrative.
•  Try making Jasper’s voice fast and excited, while Ollie is slower and more methodical.
•  The story begins on the introductory pages, so read even the cover flap and the title page.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Jasper and Ollie are a fox and a sloth. Do you know what a sloth is? How are these animals usually different?
•  Have you ever tried building a fort or treehouse – even if it’s just with pillows and blankets? What’s the purpose for that kind of space?
•  What do you think a fort needs? (walls, space, friends …)
•  Look at the signs for each fort. What does that tell you about Ollie and Jasper?

•  Stupendous: amazing, wonderful, marvelous, and all the words for the best imaginable
•  Come together: starting to be completed as imagined
•  Second floor: a top level
•  Sweet: perfect, inviting
•  Intruders: people who are not welcome
•  Final touch: the last detail

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  The friends start the morning brushing their teeth. Can you already see how they are different? Can you guess which towel belongs to who?
•  Notice the bird on each page. What do you imagine they’re thinking? (Kids enjoy finding a consistent element that appears on every page.)
•  Ollie is looking at a blueprint (a building plan). Why might that be important?
•  Jasper is even building a moat! That’s a water boundary that kept people out of castles. Is that necessary?
•  Compare their choice of tools (drill versus duct tape). Which is more secure?
•  Compare their final touches (a welcome mat versus a monument). What does that say about each of them?
•  Compare the final forts. Where would you feel more comfortable and safe?
•  What does Ollie’s fort have that’s most important? Explore the final illustration and ask the kids what they think makes it the better one.
•  Compare the signs on the opening and closing pages.
•  Jasper and Ollie approach things very differently. Can people like that be friends? Ask the kis to describe a friend who is different from them.

Craft ideas:
•  Make a house/fort out of popsicle sticks. If a 3-D version is too much for your kindergarteners, they can glue a flat version to paper. https://www.craftsbyria.com/popsicle-stick-house-on-paper/

Special activities:
•  Discuss wants and needs. Imagine all the things you might want in a fort or home, then decide what you actually need.
•  Ask the kids to describe what kind of fort they would build.
•  If you have any extra large cardboard boxes available, or maybe some sheets or blankets to drape over chairs, bring them in for the kids to build a fort together. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aaPBp2gw3k (3:15 minutes)
•  Go outside to play red-light-green-light. Point out the strategy of going more slowly so it’s easier to stop.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!