Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae is a thought provoking tale about bullying and insecurity written in verse form. As well as being an entertaining story there are many elements that makes it ideal for Literacy lessons. The activities below are related to the key stage 1 age group (5-7) but can easily be adapted for different age ranges. They may be used with the whole class or small groups depending upon the age and ability of the class.
Speaking and Listening.
When introducing Giraffes Can’t Dance allow the children to comment on the cover and make predictions about the story based on the illustrations. Once the book has been read the children can decide whether they liked or disliked the book and give their reasons why. At key moments the adult can ask questions about the story and check listening abilities. A yes or no game can be played where the children have to guess which animal is being described in the story. For example, “Have you got a trunk?” Or “Have you got stripes?” Using a character mask such as a giraffe or an elephant a character can be interviewed which can then be used for writing.
Check the children can identify the author and illustrator and discuss whether they have read any of Giles Andrea’s books. The children can glance at the book and see if they can spot familiar words and sounds. What can they notice about the format of the tale? Throughout the reading experience the children can answer questions about the characters or the story either orally or written. Less confident children may prefer to have talking partners before answering questions. This may be used as part of guided reading where the children take turns in reading parts of the book. Using phonics to decode any unfamiliar words will help the children to gain confidence with their work.
With its rich language there are lots of opportunities for writing. This can also be linked to art. The teacher may give the children the verses with the last rhyming words missing and see if they can remember or make a good guess to match the rhyme. Clusters of rhymes can be found and written down. A passage of the book can be used with mistakes in to check the children’s editing skills. A summary of the story can be written up.
Animal books can be made. When linking this to a non-fiction piece of writing, a jungle animal can be chosen and information about it researched and a fact sheet made. Finding facts about the author or Africa is another example of how the book can be used to write non fiction. A competition poster can be drawn and labelled to use persuasive language to encourage the animals to enter the competition. An animal from the story can be drawn and labelled. Acrostic animal poems can be written or general animal poems.
In conclusion, not only is Giles Andrea’s book, fun it can also be used as a stepping stone for literacy activities. With its themes of bullying, it is also an ideal book for using in PSHE.