My first graders LOVE Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson books! Today I’m sharing the fictitious birthday celebration that we had in my classroom after finishing Kate’s series, along with her prequel book, A Piglet Named Mercy. Below, you’ll find ideas and information on how and why I read the series aloud and the simple and engaging culminating celebration we had. If you’re looking for a new read-aloud series to enjoy with your kindergarten, first-grade, or second-grade students, I think you’ll find this post helpful, fun, and filled with ideas!
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Who is Mercy Watson?
If you’re not familiar with Kate’s Mercy Watson books, the stories follow a lovable pig named Mercy who lives with Mr. and Mrs. Watson. Mercy is a pig who loves buttered toast and goes on lots of fun adventures in each of the six books! I hadn’t planned on reading all six Mercy Watson books when I started school this year. We read the first book just for fun, and after just a couple of chapters, my students were HOOKED and we continued to devour the remaining five titles. It’s important to note that I did not do any kind of a “unit” with the Mercy Watson books. We simply read and enjoyed the joy of these books and characters. During our last quarter of school, “Mercy Watson Time,” as my kids called it, was our favorite part of the day!
The students giggled up a storm every time Mercy unknowingly caused trouble. They held their breath as Animal Control Officer Francine Poulet tried to catch Mercy, and shrieked as Mercy drove a convertible in Book 2. My students fell in love with every character they met along the way. Reading each book to my students was as if I was watching them fall in love with the very reason for why reading is such a gift. You can find the Mercy Watson book series here or clicking on the image below. I’ve also included a link to the presequel book, A Piglet for Mercy, that we read after the series, which was also the highlight of our Mercy Watson Birthday Party Celebration!
Our Mercy Watson Birthday Celebration
After we finished all six books, I built up anticipation for the prequel book, A Piglet for Mercy. Kate released this picture book to share the story of how Mercy came to live with the Watson’s. Since this detail was not explained in the chapter books, my students couldn’t wait to read it! Mercy is a baby in the prequel book, so we threw a fictitious birthday party to add some fun and engagement to our reading block! All week long, my students could not wait for Mercy’s birthday party celebration!
Below are pictures and explanations of all of the Mercy Watson activities we completed during the day. I used my Happy Birthday, Mercy Watson pack from my shop for the day’s activities. You can find this birthday resource by clicking here or on the image below:
When my students came into the classroom on our Mercy Watson Birthday Party day, I had this cute coloring page (see picture below) on their tables for morning work. They had fun coloring this page and chatting about Mercy with their friends! Natural conversation about books?! It was music to my ears!
After our morning work, we gathered on the carpet together and enjoyed A Piglet Named Mercy. It is ADORABLE! The students drew understanding from the schema that they had after reading the six chapter books. They even clapped after I read the last page aloud! It was precious!
Mercy Watson Birthday Preparation
After we read the book together, the students headed back to their seats and completed this Mercy Watson character toast activity. The students wrote a character trait that described Mercy and drew a picture that showed the trait. This was one of the birthday gifts we “gave” to Mercy at the party:
We also added a little writing activity into our morning. The students wrote birthday cards to Mercy on a piece of printable toast. They were allowed to write about whatever they wanted to Mercy. Most students complimented Mercy, told her their favorite part of one of the books, and even gave her some advice. They were precious!
Birthday Party Set-Up
After my students completed the character trait activity, they left them on their tables and headed to music. At that time, I did a super quick and insanely easy classroom transformation. I hung up a birthday and set out party hats, a lemonade Capri Sun (Mercy drank lemonade in Book 5.), and a plate with a piece of bread. Ta-da!
The classroom transformation was not elaborate, but to first graders, they thought it was the BEST.DAY.EVER! Their squeals and excitement was through the roof when they got back from music class. Here are some pictures of what their tables looked like:
A Mercy Watson Birthday Snack
We learned from the first book we read that Mercy Watson is a pig who LOVES buttered toast. This favorite treat shows up again and again in every Mercy Watson book. It is usually the reason behind all of the funny shenanigans that Mercy causes in the books. A Mercy Watson Birthday Party would not be complete without making buttered toast as our celebration treat! To make this process as easy as possible, I brought in two four-slice toasters. I called on one table at a time. After they toasted their bread, they put a scoop of margarine on their plate and buttered the bread back at the table. This snack routine was quick, easy, and so fun for the kids!
A Letter To The Author
After the birthday snack, the students wrote friendly letters to Kate DiCamillo. They expressed their opinions about the series and about the characters. Many students shared their favorite parts, asked questions, and shared what a wonderful author Kate is. While we read the Mercy Watson series, a goal I had was to help my students think of the author as an old friend. For this reason, the Happy Birthday Mercy pack uses Kate DiCamillo’s first name for this friendly letter template. (Differentiated writing templates are included in the resource.) Below are a few pictures of the letters:
Extra Birthday Activities
My Happy Birthday Mercy resource comes with extra activities and resources that you can add to your read aloud celebration party! These extra activities include a birthday card, birthday design activity, word search, writing craftivity template, and birthday invitations.
We had so much fun celebrating Mercy Watson’s character and Kate’s book series. I hope you take away some fun ideas for your own Mercy Watson birthday party! When we celebrate books, characters, and the joy of reading, we share our passion for literacy with our students. Is there any better gift than that?!
If you enjoyed this classroom transformation activity, you’ll want to check out my Restaurant Retell day and our Compare and Contrast Construction Day! To share this post with a colleague, or save it as a reference for later, be sure to click on the image below and pin it to your Pinterest boards!