“Oliver Moon and the Broomstick Battle” by Sue Mongredien is a fun read for children aged 5 and upwards. The story is about a young boy who desperately wants to be part of the Olympics in the broomstick obstacle race event. Rich in material, it covers several subjects and is ideal for using in primary school either as part of a one off enjoyable read or part of a cross curricular topic. The following ideas below are suggestions for various subjects.
After making predictions about the story, the novel can be read as a whole class or group activity. The children can retell or rewrite the story depending on their level of ability. Thoughts about the vocabulary used can also allow children to think about language and books. It poses the question: What kind of language do authors need to use to indicate the genre they are writing? For example this is a wizard story and so uses disgusting food, references to creatures such as frogs and slugs that are associated with witches and wizards.
Many of the characters have alliterative names such as Freddie Frogmouth and Horace Hogbody. The children, either as a class, in groups or individually can try and think of ideal character names for a wizard story. The scandal of Bully Bogeywort’s cheating makes it ideal sensationalism for budding reporters to write about. The children can create their own spin on the story by making up a report about the games.
Different problems can be created based on the different branches of maths. For example, it can start off with something basic such as observing patterns of clothes in the illustrations. Revisiting ordinal and cardinal numbers is also an ideal topic as the medals use ordinal numbers such as first, second and third. The slug eating contest allows children to think about the number of activities that can occur in a certain time. The children could experiment with estimating and then checking how many activities they can do in a minute such as fixing cubes together, jumping on the spot or placing items in a box. The broomstick race lends itself to distance and time, so problems around the distance Oliver travels can be covered.
The official website offers readers the opportunity to send in their ideas in for things such as make-believe recipes, which is a good link in with English. The children can use the website to research the other books available and find out about the author and illustrator.
Plenty of senses are incorporated in the book through Sue Mongredien’s descriptions. By recalling the senses mentioned in the book, the children can think about the different senses they have. What can they show see, hear, smell, taste and touch? For teachers embarking on a mini-beasts topic, there are references to creatures such as slugs and this too makes a good starting point for thinking about the creatures they might find in their environment.
A plan of the route can be drawn, or a map showing directions from Magic School to Oliver’s house or the area of Cacklewick can be drawn.
Bully Bogeywort is not a good citizen or team player because he cheats during the trials. This is a good opportunity for teachers to introduce issues of cheating, fairness and bullying. It might simply be a discussion activity in the form of a circle time or include follow up activities. Posters, role play about bullying or cheating can be recorded by the children.
Whether it is Sports Day or a year that significant games are taking place, such as the Olympics or Commonwealth games, then this book links in with a sporting theme. Mini tournaments can be set up in the gym or on the field that can be part of a P.E. lesson or a whole school event if it is Sports Day.
Art/Design and Technology
The official site offers creative activities related to the story such as colouring in pages. The novel can be used as a stimulus to design the characters from the book or their own made up characters (see English). Miniature books, wizard displays can all be added to the creative mix. Clothes can be designed or the prototype of a broomstick can be created.
In conclusion, “Oliver Moon and the Broomstick Battle” offers a wealth of ideas. It is part of a series and therefore allows the book to be enjoyed as a taster of the series or compared to the other “Oliver Moon” books. The imaginary world of Cacklewick can transform a classroom and provide plenty of opportunities for teachers in the classroom.