Stuck for what to do with youngsters during #BookWeekScotland?
I devised this QUIZ (suitable for upper primary/lower secondary school) based on classic and recent children’s titles.
It takes around an hour and a half to run (it helps to have another adult in the room to help with marking!). From The Hungry Caterpillar to The Hunger Games, this quiz should be accessible to all, while still challenging the most devoted of bookworms! The quiz itself is in Powerpoint format, while the solutions are a simple Word document.
I’d suggest handing each team of 4 pupils a sheet for each round. Get groups to think up a group name and nominate a scribe. After each round, collect them in and run through the answers (your helpers can mark the sheets) before issuing the paper for the next round.
Another Highland Clearances activity for teachers – this time it’s a game!
The eviction writ was considered legally binding if villagers had been touched by the document.
In Fir for Luck, the villagers go to great lengths not to touch it – and manage to force the sheriff officer to burn the writ instead. ‘Mind, that writ was never served’ snaps one of the villagers as the servant of the law is sent on his way.
Split the class into two teams. It’s best played in a sports hall or outside, but a cleared area in the classroom may well be fine. Pupils should sit on chairs or benches opposite each other in two lines.
Place a bucket with a rolled up piece of paper in the middle of the two rows, with at least a couple of metres in between.
Number each team, but start the count at opposite sides so that, say, the number 10s on both sides are diagonally across from each other, with the bucket (containing the writ) between them.
Now call out a number. The two pupils with that number will run to the middle, grab the writ and attempt to touch their opponent with it before he/she reaches their seat again. Discourage violence!!!
If successful, they gain a point for their team. If their opponent gets to the writ first and manages to touch them with it, the other team gets a point. Deduct points for not getting up at all.
Mix numbers up, and try to catch pupils out – that way it’s the most fun. Keep it fast-moving, taking care to always place the ‘writ’ back in the middle. I tend to play until the first team reaches 20 points or similar. Kids seem to really like this game.
It also works sitting on the floor, but ensure proper boundaries – in my experience there is a fair bit of bum-shuffling towards the writ! Not something the 18th century villagers would have done, I’m sure!
Another freebie – this time a wee Drama activity: Freeze-frame Comics!
I often use this activity on school visits. The examples here are based on my book Fir for Luck, although you can apply the same principles to any story or class novel.
First establish what a freeze frame is. It is a picture of a dramatic moment in the story, held without movement.
1. Pick two volunteers for the demonstration. One should take the part of a master, and one the part of a servant.
Discuss as a class what dynamic pose (they should both be in the middle of doing something, not just standing there) the characters would strike. The master might stand upright, hands on hips, or wagging a finger at the servant. Facial expression might be stern or even angry. Head will be held high, looking down on the servant (explain use of levels).
The servant, on the other hand, might have his head bowed or look up anxiously at the master. He/she might be in the middle of a task, like scrubbing the floor, or might be begging the angry master for mercy. Kneeling might work.
Once the poses are decided, pupils should hold them for ten seconds without moving. There should be tension in their bodies, as if they were really in the middle of moving – that will make the poses look much more realistic.
2. The Freeze Frame Comic:
For the next part you can either pick volunteers from the class or allow pupils to do this in groups (if you have space enough or are working outside). A few well-chosen costumes and props make all the difference here: for Fir for Luck, you may need a top hat/jacket for the sheriff officer, a shawl for Janet, a wig or waistcoat for the villagers. You will also need a rolled up paper for a writ.
You could tackle the whole book, or just a key scene. A key scene in Fir for Luck is when the main character, Janet, spots a sheriff officer in the distance. Let’s create a comic for this scene!
First picture: The man is coming to deliver a writ of eviction to Janet’s village.
Second picture: She runs to warn the villagers.
Third picture: Together, the women and children overwhelm the sheriff officer, taking care not to touch the writ (touching it would make it legally binding). It is quite a struggle.
Pupils should create a freeze frame for each of these to tell the story. They should maintain their pose and facial expression for ten seconds, allowing the teacher or a fellow pupil to take a photo.
Once the pictures are printed, speech bubbles and sound effects can then be added to create a comic, of the scene or of the book as a whole. They make fab classroom wall displays!
* I’d like to point out that all schools have given me permission to use these photographs. Many thanks!
If any of you are doing a Highland Clearances project, you may be studying my own book Fir for Luck, or maybe The Desperate Journey. The 19th century diet in Sutherland consisted of food that could be grown in the region. The staple grain was bere, and beremeal bannocks or scones would be eaten daily in these communities.
Per table, you’ll need 8oz beremeal, 1-2 level tsp of baking powder, 1 level tsp salt, 2 tsp sugar and 6 fl oz buttermilk.
(Chances are, the originals may not have contained much sugar, but hey – kids like this recipe!)
I discovered something new this month. Teachers are really, really interested in children’s books – and the writers behind them. Teachers appreciate free resources (as long as they are good) and will use them.
After February’s ‘A Writing Quote a Day’ extravaganza, aimed at writers and aspiring writerly types, I had a few school visits lined up, so I thought I’d tweet and FB a link to a wee World Book Day activity: a ‘Book Blind Date’.
Well! It’s worth saying that hits on the blog quadrupled the previous highest number of visitors to the site, and then some.
People engaged, shared, commented and appreciated, so as a teacher and a writer, I decided that, among the usual opportunities for writers, plus interesting, kidlit-related stuff, there was room for something aimed at teachers and librarians.
I won’t go down the Reflective Reading route as my publishers are currently working on a Fir for Luck RR-guide for schools, but there are plenty of extras I CAN share: Games/Interactive ideas/Drama etc.
Coming very soon, the first instalment: Highland Clearances Cooking for the Classroom.