Trumpet of the Swan is a delightful children's novel by E.B. White published in 1970. It is one of those stories you grieve when you finish reading because you don’t want it to end. Trumpet of the Swan tells the story of Louis, a trumpeter swan who was born without a voice. Louis overcomes this difficulty by learning to play the trumpet in order to impress a beautiful swan named Serena. The story takes him around Canada and the United States on all sorts of adventures.
After reading this book over the course of about 5 weeks, we celebrated with our book club. Read more about How to Start a Children's Book Club here.
Here are the activities we did at this meet up.
Using this recipe, the kids made their own bird nest treats. We used broken up pretzel sticks instead of noodles and mini marshmallows instead of candy eggs. The kids loved stirring the mixture and forming their nests on parchment paper. We popped them in the freezer to harden quicker while we moved on to the next activity.
Using this tutorial, one of the moms led the kids in making air-dry clay swans. To better represent the trumpeter swan, we used all white clay and painted the swans beaks black after drying.
Chalk Name Writing
In the story, Louis learned how to communicate by writing with chalk, using his beak. I wrapped duct tape around pieces of chalk and the children used their mouths to write their names on our big chalkboard. It was so funny to watch and the mamas even gave it a go. The kids loved that!
Snack and Chat
We munched on our bird’s nests and Bugle chips (mini trumpets) while we had a little book discussion. Everyone shared their favorite part of the story. Then we talked about Louis Armstrong and his mention in the book. I pulled up a photo of him for the kids to see and read some information to them about his life. We finished munching while listening to some of his music!
Funnel Trumpet Craft and Game
We provided each child with a funnel, some duct tape, a paper towel tube, and foil. They built their trumpet and wrapped it in foil. Then we sat in a circle and took turns being “Louis.” When a child was Louis, they wore the four items around their neck that Louis wore in the story–a slate, the life-saving medal, the trumpet, and a money bag. The kids absolutely loved that little touch to bring the story to life. When it was their turn they played “taps” on their trumpet and the rest of the children mimicked their tune.
I allowed the children to brainstorm scenes from the book they wanted to reenact together. Here is what they chose and how we did it.
Swan Boat Ride
Using a blanket, one child pretended to be Louis by pulling it along the hardwood floor and playing their trumpet while another child sat on top for a ride.
In the story, Louis saved a boy named Applegate Skinner. The kids reenacted this scene by using our ballpit to be the lake. One child was Applegate, drowning in the ballpit, and another was Louis “swimming” out to save his life. So many laughs on this one!
I pulled these ideas from various resources, including The Masterpiece Studio. The Masterpiece Studio has an Art + Baking Study Guide for The Trumpet of the Swan that would be great to use if you were going chapter-by-chapter through the book and wanted enrichment ideas. Use my code TREEHOUSE15 to get 15% off any order.
We had such a good time with this bookclub meet up! If you try any of these activities in your home to celebrate this story or with your bookclub, I would love it if you would share them with me by tagging me on Instagram at @treehouse_schoolhouse.