Date : August 9, 2018
Book Week is a time of celebration in primary schools. Librarians put on their very best displays as part of their tireless efforts to engage children in the magic and wonder of reading. There are costume competitions, parades and games to keep the energy high and the laughter loud.
Sometimes, though, it seems that our students can become confused as to what the intentions of Book Week actually are. This celebratory week is always shaped around a theme that is hand-selected to promote a love of literacy. Connecting with books and enjoying reading at a young age can not only set children up for academic success but richly improve their lives in a variety of ways. Reading provides social connection, feeds the imagination, develops writing and comprehension skills and promotes a sense of childlike wonder and awe that adults often sadly lose.
A Book Week lesson plan crafted around the classic Australian tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie will suit every year’s theme. The Children’s Book Council of Australia’s recent themes of ‘Escape to Everywhere’, ‘Story Country’ and ‘Books Light Up Our World’ can be easily adapted to fit these simple, timeless tales.
Book Week Lesson Plan
The purpose of this lesson plan is to connect students with historical children’s literature. Students will:
- Understand the intention and focus of Book Week.
- Identify, select and discuss their favourite books with the rest of the class (Speaking and Listening – Pair, Group and Whole Class Oral Interactions).
- Engage in active listening as their teacher reads to them and then checks for comprehension (Reading and Viewing – Understanding Texts).
- Extend their learning into the creation of a freeze frame (Offer, Accept and Extend Ideas in Improvisation).
Teachers will need:
- Text material: your favourite story from childhood.
- Text material: any stories from the May Gibbs collection.
- Materials for students to express their ideas on. Depending on your class, this could be posters and pens, laptops or iPads.
- An open-plan, creative space capable of giving children room to move, explore and create.
Process of Australian Literature Lesson Plans
Speak to the students about your favourite story from childhood. Talk about what you loved about it. How did reading it make you feel? What did it make you imagine? Do you have any memories associated with the book? Read the story from your childhood to your class. Ask them to follow along with you in the book or, if they like, they can close their eyes and imagine.
Ask students the following questions:
- What was the story about?
- Who were the characters in the story?
- Where did the story take place? What was the environment like?
- What might have happened after the story took place?
- What might have happened before the story took place?
Challenge your students to create a small poster advertising their favourite story. If they have a book that they love or remember from when they were little, then that is an ideal choice. If they do not, their favourite TV show would suffice. Remember that not all of your class will have had the same exposure to literature. It is important not to isolate them but instead gently encourage them into reading.
Your class will now be creating their own visual versions of their favourite story. Ask them to keep in mind the five questions you asked them earlier. Write these on the board and keep repeating them throughout the lesson.
Ask students to share their posters. Depending on your class, this may work better as a paired or small group activity. One student will explain their poster and book and then answer any questions that the others may have.
After these small presentations have been completed, bring your students back to the centre of the space. Provide some brief context on the importance of May Gibbs as the creator of classic children’s stories.
Read the class your choice of May Gibbs stories. Ask them to close their eyes and really listen to the story. Imagine the characters and what they think they might look and sound like.
Ask your students to open their eyes and view some May Gibbs art work. Did this match with what they imagined? How? What did they imagine differently?
Explain the FREEZE FRAME. Students are to form small groups and, using their bodies and found objects, re-create a scene from the text. Give students about ten minutes or so to form their ideas. This is the most important part of their creative process – explaining themselves, selecting some ideas and rejecting others.
Ask the groups to perform their freeze frames for the rest of the class to see if they can guess. This will be funny, silly, giggly and LOUD. The perfect happy feelings to associate with reading and literacy.
Lesson Review and Follow Up
It would be easy to extend this lesson into a unit of work on the stories of May Gibbs and the connection to Australian history and literature. There are more lesson plans on site if you would like to build on the work done in this lesson.