PPBF: Clothesline Clues

It's that time of year again, 
time to talk with our littles about the end goal of school, 
to find out what they want to do when they grow up, 
to find out what they dream about for their future. 
Time also, to get out the tissues you'll want as you listen to a group of my littlest superheroes singing that signature kindergarten graduation song 
Big Big Dreams!

Doesn't that dreaminess just bring happy tears to your heart?

So today I'm delighted that my friend Tanya Kirschman, 2014 Montana School Counselor of the Year, selected our PPBF and offered to share a lesson she created with this career-clues treasure.

Title: Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do
Authors: Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook
Illustrator: Andy Robert Davies
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Date: July 2012
Suitable for: ages 3-7
Themes: careers, jobs, professions
Brief synopsis: Readers look at what's hanging on and surrounding the clothesline and guess which career they would complement.
Opening page: 
Look at this clothesline and see every clue. 
Who uses these things for the jobs that they do?
Christy Grisson has a comprehensive Career Collection {here}.
Read a review and find extension activities at book's webpage {here}.
Enjoy an interactive game of From Crayons To College {here}. 
Make a word search bulletin board; hide the word careers 
and related words like profession, job, work, and calling.

Why I like this book ~ Hung Up On Careers by Tanya Kirschman 

Who doesn’t love a good surprise? In this engaging lesson, you're sure to be amused as young students practice their detective skills and likely keep you in suspense as well. Begin the lesson by asking students to clap once if they know someone who has a job. Then, ask if they know reasons why people work and, if time permits, what they want to be when they grow up. I've had kids who want to be the tooth fairy, the president, a Maurice's worker, a professional wrestler. 

After listening to their answers, confirm or clarify that people choose jobs that interest them so they can do something they're passionate about or think is exciting and important. Students may want to talk about salaries, too, because people get paid money for their work and money helps to buy things they need.

Explain that each page of the book contains a mystery with clues, clues your students will have to figure out, clues that will lead your students to a certain career. Challenge students to use their detective skills to make smart guesses about the jobs in the book. While reading, make reference to the featured clothing, as well as different tools and the workplace shown. 

Discussion Questions:
* This book only mentions seven jobs; what are some other jobs you know about?
* Why do you think specific clothing might be required for a job?
* How tools are important to a job?  What if someone didn’t have the tools they needed to do their job? 

Worksheet can be downloaded by clicking on the image. 
Fonts from Lettering Delights.

Worksheet Activity

Encourage students to close their eyes and think about a job that they want to do someday, and have them imagine getting ready for their first day of work.  They’ll need to get their clothes washed and ready. Ask, “What clothes would YOU be hanging on your clothesline for your first day of work? What tools will you need to do your job?” Read the worksheet and instruct students to draw and color the clothing they would wear hanging from the clothespins.  Encourage them to draw related tools near the bottom of the page. 

Then say, “Now you get to create your own mystery! Don’t tell anyone what your job is. If someone tries to guess or ask, tell them it's a surprise. When we’re done drawing, we’ll sit in a circle and you’ll each get to share your clues while others guess what your job is.” 

If students are struggling to identify tools, I allow them to whisper their job to me and I whisper back tools used in that career.

A teacher with pencil, apple, whiteboard, Expo marker, umbrella

When students have completed their drawings and the circle is formed, allow each child a turn sharing their picture. Encourage them to describe their tools and clothing. In the interest of time, one classmate takes a guess before revealing the job and moving on. Encourage your students to keep their surprise and challenge their parents to guess their job, too. Or, for an eye-catching bulletin board, display students’ work on a makeshift clothesline with clothespins.

Extension: Bring clothing (i.e. Halloween costumes) of different job apparel in a laundry basket and have students identify the job that goes with each clothing item. 

Enrichment: Use Lakeshore Community Block Play People to review the jobs represented in the book. Figurines also give students additional ideas for career clothing and tools.

Another reason I like this book is that it avoids gender stereotypes. For example, the text features females as a mail carrier, carpenter, fire fighter, astronaut. Males work as a farmer, a chef and an artist. Students will probably notice that the mail carrier delivers something to each person as the book goes on culminating with a launch party for the astronaut. Ask what the mail carrier was delivering. {Answer: Party Invitations!}

Thank you, Tanya, for sharing your inspiration and expertise. 
For today's other PPBF picks, visit Susanna's blog.


  1. This book is so fun that it makes you want to go on a very snoopy field trip to see what is hanging on people's clotheslines. Except.... where are all the clotheslines?

    1. Yep, the clotheslines aren't as plentiful as they once were. My favorite memory of them is when the clothes would freeze stiff with the winter winds, right on the line.

  2. "Big Big Dreams!" made me smile. And thanks for sharing Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do. I can imagine children creating their "clothesline." Great concept!

    1. Thank you. I love that song and when these kindies sing it at K graduation, there won't be a dry eye in the room. Thanks for stopping by, Manju.

  3. Oh this looks fantastic! I love your activity ideas as well. My son would love this.

    1. I think so, too, Heather, and I can't wait to check it out. There's actually a sequel with a sports theme, so watch for that one for your son as well.

  4. What a fun end-of-the year focus for children. The book is very clever. But, I especially loved the video and the job clue sheets you use with children. It would be fun to use it in subsequent grades to show the kids how their age and experiences may change their thoughts about dreams. This is a great post!

    1. Pat, your comments are always so insightful and reflective. Thank you, thank you.

  5. What fun activity ideas with this adorable picture book! Just shared with a friend who presents on the history of the clothesline! Thanks, Lindsey at www.a-is-for-aging.com

    1. Thank you, Lindsey, for your kind affirmations and for sharing the post.

  6. I especially love your activities here. Discussing jobs is such a great way to discuss gender stereotypes, too.

    1. Yes, Joanna, I was pleased that there weren't gender biases in this adorable find! Thank you for coming by the Corner.

  7. I wonder if kids know what a clothesline is?? Our neighborhood forbids them. (I know, craziness) It would be fun to share this at storytime to see.

    1. Forbidden? Say it isn't so. Because of possible dangers, Wendy? I agree that it'd be fun to see which kids know about clotheslines. We sure hung up a lot of clothing over the years behind our big farm house.

  8. What a clever book to introduced kids to ideas about jobs and careers. I recently visited an area nearby where a lot of Amish live and noticed clotheslines. The invention of the dryer had an effect but then my daughter attended a ''green'' university in California and they encouraged air drying clothing. They didn't have many dryers in their laundry room! Love the activities too.


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!