Educational Activities for Granpa by John Burningham

The picture book, Granpa, by John Burningham has many disconnected themes that teachers can explore with their classes. One theme is big versus little things, another is animals, yet another is just to have a lesson about grandfathers.

Big versus small

The book shows a number of pictures that children can brainstorm. In the story, the little girl thought what it small things. She got caught in a spider’s web. What things do your children like? How do they think it feels to be small? What problems might they encounter? A similar lesson could occur for very big things.


A storm comes, and grandpa’s house becomes a Noah’s Ark. How many pets do the children’s grandparents have? Do they let big animals in the house? Should all animals come in the house? What animals are in the house? This can lead to a discussion about zoos and zoo animals. It can also spark a discussion about Noah’s Ark. The story is the same for both: a storm comes and the animals enter into a safe place.


The grandfather in the story wondered whether his granddaughter would visit. Have children share when they last visited their grandparents. The children can tell what they talked about. Have their grandparents talked about “the old days?” What happened to the grandfather at the end of the story? This can lead into a talk about death. The little girl in the story has some nice memories about her grandfather. Do the children in your class? What do the children like most about their grandparents? What do they like least? The grandfather in the story plays games with the little girl, sings and dances with her, and shares a party. They go on trips to the beach together and have an ice cream together. The grandfather reads stories to her. He comforts her when she gets hurt sledding.


The pictures tell the story more than the words. Children can learn a lot by looking at the pictures. They have a lot going on each page. This is a great book for a rainy day when teachers can sit with children and just discuss the pages.

The story is a mix of happy and sad themes. The little girl remembers all the pleasant and fun times she had with her grandfather. The story will make most people cry as the ending shows an empty chair where granpa used to sit.