The Story About Ping
March 2015 Guide

Joseph Had A Little Overcoat

by Simms Taback

We have often commented on our propensity to save a really good box, an unusual jar, and our most recent save - some very interesting die cut corrugated cardboard shapes used for packing in a shipment of tea we received. While this is most likely a very common trait in kindergarten teachers as well as artistic types, what allows us to be classified as savers and not hoarders is our talent (or is it a curse?) is seeing the numerous possibilities for a second life for these recyclable treasures.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat exemplifies the message of recycle and reuse. Readers will delight to see how Joseph stared with an overcoat that became a jacket that became a vest that became... until it finally became a book. Using colorful collages and die cut pages, Simms Taback adapted the traditional Yiddish folk song he grew up loving into a spirited, classic picture book that shows readers you really can make something out of nothing.

You Might Also Enjoy: The Button Box

In this Issue

  • Textile Collage
  • Watch and Learn: I Had A Little Overcoat
  • Apple, Raisin, and Almond Kugel


Textile Collage


Taking our lead from Joseph and his ingenuity and reinventing his overcoat many times, we thought it would be fun to reinvent a piece of fabric as the medium to create a collage. Depending on your reader's scissor skills, cut the fabric into pieces, and then using a stretched canvas or a piece of heavy cardboard for the base, create a textile collage. 

No fabric on hand? You can do the same activity with colorful construction paper. 



Textile Collage


  • Fabric or paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Stretched canvas or a piece of corrugated cardboard
  • Crayons or markers
  1. Give your young reader a piece of fabric or paper. Depending on scissor skills, invite them to cut it into several pieces. 
  2. Your young reader may decide to create an abstract collage, or to play with the pieces to form pictures. Glue pieces to canvas or cardboard. 
  3. Add additional details with crayons or markers as desired. 


 I Had a Little Overcoat

You've read the book, now enjoy watching and singing along with Joseph!


 Apple, Raisin and Almond Kugel

Inspired by Joseph's Jewish celebrations and customs, this week we made a noodle kugel. Included with this recipe is the following description: 'The word "kugel" is generally translated as "pudding," although it does not mean pudding in the Jell-O brand dairy dessert sense; more in the sense of bread pudding. The word "kugel" is pronounced "koo-gel" (with the "oo" in "book"; not to rhyme with "google") or "ki-gel," depending on where your grandmother comes from.'

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might enjoy the other traditional Jewish recipes like Apple Cake or Matzah Ball Soup. 

Apple, Raisin, and Almond Kugel Recipe - Joseph Had a Little Overcoat - Simms Taback - Off the Shelf

Apple, Raisin, and Almond Kugel


  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 8 ounces wide noodles (about 6 cups)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped apple
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil; cook noodles until tender. Drain. 
  2. While the noodles cook, mix together the eggs, melted butter, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the noodles and stir until the noodles are well-coated with the egg mixture.  Place in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes. Stir noodle mixture again after removing from fridge.
  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop almonds and apples. 
  4. Grease a casserole dish. Place half of the noodle mixture in the casserole dish. Top with the almonds, chopped apple, and raisins, then cover with the remaining noodles. 
  5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until egg is set and top is golden. 


Where in the World is Poland?

Bring the story of Joseph Had a Little Overcoat alive by showing your young reader where he lived. Use a globe or world map to find Poland, then compare to where you live on the map. 

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