A story-time workshop: Feathers for Phoebe (Self- esteem)

A story-time workshop is a little more than reading a story, and it is a wonderful way to bring books to life and help children fall in love with the wonder of reading.

On Wednesday 25 May, My Little Bookcase joined forces with Cubbyhouse Canteen to run an event for National Simultaneous Story-time. We enjoyed reading Feathers for Phoebe with a small group of toddlers and pre-schoolers who were part of over 170,000 children Australia-wide that read the story.

You may have missed attending a NSS event, but this is a story not to be missed. Below is an outline of our workshop, and it would be easy for you to re-create at home with your children.

This workshop involves four stages:

Tuning In: Capturing the child’s interest and attention so they can gain as much from the story as possible

Reading the story

Making Connections: Providing the child with an experience that can help them relate to the story

Book-chatting: A chance to talk about the story, characters and messages in the book

The stages can take place in one session or they can take place over a number of days, depending on the age of the child. I hope you can find a way to incorporate some of these activities in your home, as this is one very special book to share with your children.

This workshop is inspired by:

Feathers for Phoebe by Rod Clement (Published by HarperCollins)


1. Songs and finger-play about birds (See below)

2. Get to know the main character, and play ‘Pin the tail on Phoebe’

3. Cover Talk: Talk about the front cover, particularly about Phoebe- her size and her colour.


1. Read the story, asking children to assist with the reading of some of the repeated words: fabulous, marvellous, wonderful

2. This may be a lengthy book for young children. You might like to take a break during the book and role-play Phoebe’s songs and moves.


1. Children decorate their own crest (using a cardboard headband, coloured feathers and masking tape)

2. Physical play: Spend some time flying like birds and dancing like Phoebe.

3. Children can make up their own unique songs and moves.

4. Tell your child what makes them special.


As well as being a story about a bird, Feathers for Phoebe covers a variety of themes. So when chatting to your child about the book you might also like to ask questions about self esteem, self acceptance, identity and making friends. Here are some examples.


  • What colour is Phoebe?
  • Why didn’t she like being small and grey?


  • Why does Phoebe want to look like Zelda?
  • Why were the two grey birds happy to be friends?


  • How do you try to make friends?
  • What do you love about yourself?

Analysis and Evaluation

  • What feathers (crest, tail and wings) would you have chosen if you were Phoebe?
  • Why didn’t Phoebe’s new feathers suit her?
  • Why do you think people try to change who they are or what they look like?

Wondering what these types of questions are? Find out more here, as part of our series on ‘Book-chatting’.


1. Five Little Birds (From Education Oasis)

Five little birds without any home,
(raise 5 fingers of right hand)
Five little trees in a row.
(raise left hand high overhead)
Come and build your nests in our branches tall
(cup left hand for nest-right fingers in)
We’ll rock you to and fro.
(then rock both hands)

2. Little Robin Redbreast (From Education Oasis)

Little Robin Redbreast
Sat upon a rail
(crouch like bird with 2 hands behind back like bird’s tail )
Niddle noddle went his head
(nod head)
And wag went his tail.
(use hands to make tail wagging)
Niddle noddle went his head
And wag went his tail.

3. Two Little Dickie Birds (From Education Oasis)

Two little birds sat up on a wall,
(one index placed on each knee)
One named Peter, one named Paul
(raise each finger in turn)
Fly away Peter, fly away Paul
(waggle finger as you move arm behind in arc. . .ditto return)
Come back Peter, come back Paul.

4. The Stork (Education Oasis)

The stork is such a funny bird,
She stands on one leg all night.
(Children stand on one foot.)
Her head is tucked beneath her wing
Completely out of sight.
(Tuck head under arm)
In the morning when she wakes
Up pops her head so high,
Down drops her foot
Out spread her wings,
And she flies to meet the sky.
(Spread arms and flap them)

5. Five Little Birdies (From Preschool Rainbow)

Five little birdies, flying around our door,

(five fingers up in the air)

The blue one flew away and then there were four.

(bend one finger-continue this in each verse)

Four little birdies sitting in a tree,

The yellow one flew away and then there were three.

The little birdies didn’t know what to do,

So the red one flew away, and then there were two.

Two little birdies sitting in the sun,

The Brown one flew away, and there was one.

The little green birdie felt so all alone,

He/she flew away and then there was none.

Later on that very day, five little birdies came back to play.



  • Dress-up: Give your child access to your wardrobe. Let them choose their favourite outfit, dress-up and put on a fashion parade. Given Zelda ran the forest beauty salon, you could also create new hair styles for each other.
  • Feather Play: give your child a container and feathers and let them touch, explore, sort and play.


  • Go further and help your child to create wings and a tail to match their crest.
  • Feather art:         You could try using a feather in place of a paint brush.

Place a feather under some paper and rub a crayon over the top.

Draw feather creatures. Glue different shaped feathers to a piece of paper. Use these as bodies. Draw/add a head, arms and legs to the creatures


  • Ask your child to think about what makes them special.


  • Encourage your child to talk about a time when they tried to be someone that they’re not or maybe you could tell your child about a time when you tried to be different.


  • Bird watching: Head to a park or a bird sanctuary and watch the birds. Try to mimic their sounds, movements etc.


  • Find out about different types of birds (their colours and feathers)
  • Find out about Rod Clement (author and illustrator) and some of his other books.


  • Dress up and act out the story as a family.


  • Help your child to write a letter to a friend and tell them why they are special.
  • Write a list of things that are fabulous, marvellous and wonderful.

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