"A gruffalo? What's a gruffalo?"
"A gruffalo! Why didn't you know?"
Let me introduce you to The Gruffalo, my new favorite book of forever. And I mean it.
Here's the summary:
A mouse is taking a stroll through the deep, dark wood when along comes a hungry fox, then an owl, and then a snake. The mouse is good enough to eat, but smart enough to know this, so he invents...the gruffalo! As Mouse explains, the gruffalo is a creature with terrible claws, and terrible tusks in its terrible jaws, and knobbly knees and turned-out toes, and a poisonous wart at the end of its nose. But Mouse has no worry to show. After all, there’s no such thing as a gruffalo...
Before you begin reading, show your class the spread of pages in the book that shows the setting.
Activate schema by asking questions such as:
“Have you ever been in the deep, dark wood?”
“What animals live in the forest?”
Discuss the words predator and prey.
Show the cover of the book with the picture of the gruffalo covered.
Explain that as you read the first half of the book, the students should listen for clues that help them visualize what a gruffalo might look like. Read aloud until the gruffalo makes his first appearance.
Have the class help you make a chart similar to the one shown that lists the physical characteristics of the gruffalo.
For added fun, play the song from the audio recording of the book. (Available at audible.com. Click the image to go to the recording.)
You can also listen to the song with this youtube link:
Now reveal the gruffalo on your chart and have students compare their drawings with Axel Scheffler's gruffalo.
Read the entire book from start to finish!
During another read aloud time, use the illustrations to have the children practice inferring. Show the students the picture of one of the animals as it approaches the mouse (remember that predator/prey relationship!). Compare to the picture of the animal after Mouse describes the gruffalo. What facial expressions change? How do the animals' movements change from showing confidence to fear? Invite the students to practice making these actions.
These masks are a hit when it comes to retelling and dramatizing the story. Of course, you can use them when leading students through a reenactment. To increase the thinking-skill level, ask a student to choose a character mask. Then interview the character to find out what it was thinking at different points in the story. Click the image to download the masks from Early Learning HQ.
We went out to the "deep, dark wood!"
This wonderful site also contains finger puppets, word cards, posters and more!
Here's another video worth sharing to your young readers and and writers. Julia Donaldson shares her drafts of the book. Then she delights her audience by singing the gruffalo song with Gruffalo himself!
Here's a picture of bridge maps we made. The analogies answer,
Where did the animals live?
What was the invitation from each animal?
How did each animal escape?
What did the mouse say to each animal that the gruffalo likes to eat?
Here's a story map.
I also worked with small groups of kids to sort word cards found on the same site as the masks, Early Learning HQ. This group decided to sort the words as they related to each of the characters. Watch the video as they justify their reasons for their sorts.
Finally, here is a writing prompt. I invited my kids to choose which one they wanted to write. The first asks them to describe the gruffalo. The second asks them to create their own new monster to describe. Get them here.
Leave a comment if you try any of these ideas!