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Lessons in a Hurry - Picture Book Edition

17/11/16

It's always good to have a couple of lesson plans up your sleeve for those times no lesson plan is left for you. This is how Jen makes sure she's always prepared. 

Imagine the scene, you had a call from a school at 8:45, after the rush to get there (having gone the wrong way 3 times), you reach the classroom, red-faced and flustered only to find that no planning has been left for you. Step forward; The Super Supply!

Most schools will provide sufficient work for the class to undertake during the day but it pays to be prepared for the worst. I fall back on these time and again when I'm in a tight spot as they can be utilised from Reception classes all the way up to Year 6.

1. The ‘Pigeon series’ by Mo Willems.
This includes 'Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus’, and, my particular favourite, 'The Pigeon Needs A Bath’. These are hilarious books with a good call & response factor. The books are speech based and can be used from Reception sentence construction (Why is it important to keep clean?) to Year 6 SPAG tasks (What else isn't a pigeon allowed do? Write own speech bubbles in the same style). The illustrations are simple & emotive which means they are easily achievable for little hands. Official activities free to download can be found here, here and here.

2. Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman.
As a full time teacher I used this text for year 6's during the first week of term. Now, as a supply, I use these lessons off the cuff. Bonnie meets a man with really crazy hair - he then explains why his hair is so unruly - in delightful rhyming couplets. I begin by withholding the illustrations & asking the children to draw what they hear, next mind map ideas for other things caught in his hair, bulk out these ideas with relevant words/rhymes. Lastly, write your own Crazy Hair verses. A fun art activity is easy if you can find glue & wool - draw face, stick on loads of wool hair, then add all the things you found in the Crazy Hair! These can all be done in a day - bonus instant display for the class teacher! As a sidenote: If you have never experienced Dave McKean's illustration style, I urge you to take a look, The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins is particularly mesmerising.

3. The Lost Happy Endings by Carol Ann Duffy
I first became aware of this book as an NQT on a Talk for Writing course. It is a corker. While I have used this book across the whole primary phase, I did prep my Year 1s thoroughly before reading. The witch is a really good one - and I don't mean Glinda-good. I mean it is everything you could want from a fairytale witch. Gnarled, rude and cruel. l usually go the Talk for Writing route, with lots of re-enactment but this text is a perfect prompt for unusual descriptive writing. I have, in the past, withheld illustrations and asked children to draw one page (including hand-writing the text) to create a class edition.

I also love:

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg
Official activities free to download can be found here.

The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
Official activities free to download can be found here.

I favour picture books for Primary supply, as they allow me to cater to a wider age range. They can provide quick lessons that are meaningful and memorable. Always know your school demographic and think about the maturity of the class as it will determine the success of the lesson. If scaring 5 year olds witless or boring a year 6 class to tears isn't really what you're going for, practise discretion when selecting a text.

So, if instant, interesting lessons are as easy as throwing a book in your bag, what have you got to lose?


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