Palindrome Activities for Children

To be used with Mom and Dad Are Palindromes: A
Dilemma For Words . . . and Backwards
by Mark Shulman and illustrated by Adam McCauley

Recommended for 3rd and 4th grade students, though
2nd graders are invited to try. (Ages 8-10).

Before reading Mom and Dad Are Palindromes aloud to the children, it is important that they have an understanding of what a palindrome is.

First, the activity leader or teacher (like Miss Sim in the story), should help the children recognize a palindrome. She might show a small group of words which include easily recognizable palindromes and one word which is not (for example: MOM, DAD, SIS, bro) as a way into the conversation.

The children can identify which word is different and then, looking at the other words, create their own definition of a palindrome. Once the students can identify a palindrome, it will be fun to show them examples of words, phrases, and sentences that are palindromes such as these below found in Mom and Dad Are Palindromes.

After children are familiar with how to identify palindromes, the activity leader or teacher should tell the children the book is called Mom and Dad Are Palindromes, and ask why the book has that title. Are "Mom" and "Dad" palindromes?

Next, the children can be asked to come up with their own palindromes. The leader can put together a list on the board (or a big piece of butcher paper taped to a wall) including children's suggestions and the leader's favorites as well.

At this point, the activity leader should read out a partial list of the palindromes from the book. Again, she should include words, phrases, and sentences. When she starts, the students should work together to prove that each example is a palindrome. (Hint: she can go through the book and simply point out the words that have ornate capitalized type! Though there are many more palindromes hidden in the artwork too.)

Here is a partial list of palindromes (there are more than 101) found in the book:


AT LAST! Read the book to the children. Now that they are familiar with the concept, they will enjoy the story. The first time they hear it, they will get to enjoy the zany tale of the hero, Bob, and his big dilemma. The activity leader should show the children the colorful pages and humorous illustrations. The children should recognize on their own that the palindromes are called out in different type. They should be listening for the palindromes as well. Perhaps the palindromes they remember at the end of the book can be added to the list on the board.

If there is more time: The activity leader or teacher can share a complete list of the palindromes in the book with the children. She can have the children investigate them with a partner on a handout, illustrate them on cards, and, if you are in a classroom, add them to their word wall, or share them with parents as homework to explain to an adult what a palindrome is.

At this point, it would be a fun challenge to look more closely at the artwork in the book. Click here to download a pdf of the scene when Miss Sim explains what a palindrome is. Print this out and make a copy for each child.

Encourage children to examine the page spread and pick out the palindromes in the background. The shorter palindromes are obvious; keener eyes will find the longer ones, and extra credit goes to the children who discover that numbers can be palindromes as well.

Students would then enjoy looking at some of the other pages in the book to find the palindromes hidden in the artwork throughout.

The teacher can write or copy the sentence found on the endpapers of the book on the board for students to read and figure out why it would be printed so prominently. Where does it reverse? What's the center letter?

Adventurous children can try to create their own stories around the list of palindromes in the book or by using the list you’ve created as a group together.


Q. What makes these words alike?


A. They're all palindromes. Palindromes are words that read the same forward and backward!

Click here to find 44 palindromes in this Q&A with author Mark Shulman.

Activities by Mark Shulman (author of Mom and Dad Are Palindromes © 2006
published by Chronicle Books) and Kara Pranikoff, elementary school reading specialist.
Illustrations © 2006 by Adam McCauley.