100+ Activities to go with books by Emily Gravett

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World Book Day (here in the UK) falls on March 6th this year and in the run up to this delicious day I’m hoping to get the kids at my local infant school buzzing with excitement about the authors and illustrators who feature on this year’s list of World Book Day books. The idea is that if we’ve had fun in school and read lots of books by the same authors and illustrators, the children will be even more excited when it comes to choosing their World Book Day book by authors and illustrators they recognise.

Emily Gravett
Emily Gravett
One of the books children will be able to choose is a new book by Emily Gravett, Little Book Day Parade and so today I’m sharing my ideas and the (free) resources I’ve discovered to go with Emily Gravett’s brilliant range of books.

First some general Emily Gravett resources, before moving on to book specific ones.

  • Emily Gravett’s official website. Includes a biography, online games as well as activities linked to many of her books.
  • A 12 minute video interview with Emily, giving an overview of her books, including about differences between UK and US versions of her books, her influences, why she normally only illustrates books she’s written herself, the role of collage in her work, her family background, her favourite book as a child, background stories to the creation of Wolves and Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears. Towards the end of the video Emily reads Monkey and Me in its entirety. If you just want to use clips from this video, they are usefully cut up and shared here.
  • How long does is take to produce a picture book? – A video of Anthony Browne, Emily Gravett and Catherine Rayner, talking about how long it takes them to produce a picture book.
  • A lovely video of lots of images from Emily’s books, to a soothing soundtrack. You could use this to play “spot the book we’ve read together”. Kids can see how many books they recognise. Alternatively, use it as an introduction, and find out which pictures the kids liked best and start with those books in your class exploration of Emily Gravett books.
  • An interview with Emily Gravett in the Telegraph. This is more for us adults than kids, but it does provide really interesting background information on Emily.
  • Another interview with Emily on the MumandWorking website, again written for an adult audience, though this one could be shared more easily with children.
  • A highly illustrated interview with Emily on my favourite blog dedicated to picture books, Seven Impossible things before breakfast. This is a great interview for adults who want some background on Emily and her work.


  • Now moving on to book specific resources….

    Wolves

    wolves

  • A lesson plan from Mick Smith.
  • Lesson plan from the Carnegie/Kate Greenaway shadowing site.
  • Introduce kids to the idea of research in the school/public library (rather than online). Set them the task of finding books about wolves, and adding further facts to those read by the rabbit in the book
  • Create a library roll play area. Twinkl and Sparklebox both have printable resources for this, here and here. You might also like this library role play areas from Imagination Tree.
  • For wolf crafts you could try making this toilet roll wolf or this cut out and colour in wolf. For rabbit crafts you could try this rabbit ears hat (great for wearing to the library when you go to research wolves!) or this rabbit from a paper plate. Armed with a toilet roll/cut out wolf and some books your children could act out the story.
  • Meerkat Mail

    meerkatmail

  • Lots of ideas from Talk4Writing consultant Carol Satterthwaite, including role play and small world play. These lesson ideas were also featured on the Teach Primary website.
  • A video of Meerkat Mail – you may choose to leave the audio off, but either way, this could be useful for reading in large groups on a white board.
  • Meerkat Mail maze on the World Book Day website
  • A range of activities from map making to motto creation, linked to Meerkat Mail, on the Homeschoolshare.com website.
  • Exciting school based ideas from Emma Rogers on working on Meerkat Mail, including bringing in a suitcase, and creating a desert area.
  • Booktrust lesson plans to go with Meerkat Mail. Includes creating a class charter and plotting an imaginary journey.
  • A video of Meerkat Mail created by Year 3 teacher Tom Silver and shared on The Literacy Shed. “This way you can read the book to your class with the video file playing on your IWB and the whole class will be able to see the pictures in the book. Want to discuss a point? Simply press pause.”
  • Invite an animal person and his/her meerkats into school, just like Havergal C.E.Primary School did for their Meerkat Mail week.
  • Make African necklaces out of paper plates.
  • BBC documentary about Meerkats on youtube. 1 hour. Alternatively there’s a much shorter clip about meerkats on the Cbeebies website.
  • Draw up Sunny’s Family tree using the resources (blank tree and meerkat images) on Ekodecolle’s site.
  • Set up a scavenger hunt, build a shelter and make flat bread – just ike Lord Deramore’s Primary school did alongside reading Meerkat Mail.
  • Write, post and receive postcards
  • Monkey and Me

    monkeyandme

  • Turn the book into a PE lesson – have the children act out the different animals and move in time to the rhythm of the text.
  • Colouring sheet on the World Book Day website
  • A short video by Emily about Monkey and Me. She talks about what she really enjoyed about this book.
  • Make Monkey and Me biscuits (no baking!) – inspired by these photos from Kenninghall Primary School
  • Using Monkey and Me in Nursery classes to talk about healthy relationships (SEAL topic) – see page 5 of this document from the London Borough of Hounslow
  • How to turn Monkey and Me into a Picture Book Play – from the website set up by Julia Donaldson to encourage schools and libraries to act out picture-book stories, either as a classroom activity or as a performance to an audience/
  • The Odd Egg

    oddegg

  • A video of a child reading The Odd Egg. You could use the video with the sound turned off to read aloud to a large group.
  • Colour by numbers activity sheet on the World Book Day website
  • Comprehension worksheets to go with The Odd Egg, from Kathy Goosev Howell.
  • Egg themed songs and activities from Jen in the Library.
  • Lesson plan for The Odd Egg including looking at different types of eggs, egg poems and other egg themed picture books. p 71 – 106 in this pdf document from Virgian Association of School Librarians.
  • Make your own odd eggs. Either with hardboiled eggs, styrofoam or plastic eggs, decorate them in unusual ways and talk about what creatures (real or imaginary) might be inside. Here are some egg decorating ideas: use stickers, use glue dots and glitter, epsom salts (!), tissue paper, or dripping paint.
  • Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears

    little-mouses-big-book-of-fears-978023001619401

  • A book trailer made by children aged 10 and 11 to accompany Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears. Here’s a tutorial for making a phenakistoscope.
  • Fearsome door danglers to download from Emily’s website.
  • Make your own collage of fears activity sheet on the World Book Day website
  • A short video of Emily talking about why she made Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears and what she enjoyed most about making this book.
  • Enable the children to create their own lift-the-flap book of fears. Fold A4 paper in half, and use an envelope to create the flap (stick the envelope flap to the paper page, so the front of the envelope is facing you). Underneath the envelope flap children can draw or write their fears. Alternatively, turn everything on its head and make a book of things which don’t frighten you. Each child could contribute a page or two to a class book of fears (or things which don’t frighten them).
  • Make paper mice – you could use this tutorial from prytulka (perhaps substituting wool or a pipecleaner for the sweets), or this one from Simple Kids Crafts.
  • Make sugar mice, using ready-to-roll icing, food colouring and sweets, just like we did here.
  • The Rabbit Problem

    rabbitproblem

  • Video of Emily Gravett in her studio, working on The Rabbit Problem. Children might be quite surprised to see the use of technology.
  • A Spot the difference activity sheet to download from Emily’s website.
  • Rabbit dominoes to print and download from Emily’s website
  • For older children, a maths project looking at the fibonacci sequence, from NZMaths, or an alternative but similar project from Alison Hambleton. I think Year 2s could manage some of this.
  • Further lesson plans to go with this book are available from Kelsey Woodrick and Mixing Playdough (including getting the children to practise peeling carrots!)
  • Fill your classroom to overflowing with rabbits – made from cardboard tubes, paper plates with hand and footprints, or even egg cartons and pipecleaners.
  • Ask if any children have pet rabbits and arrange with parents/carers for them to be brought in to school for a session.
  • Dogs

    dogs

  • Pairs game to print and play from the World Book Day website
  • Work with your children to create a classroom book of opposites – this wouldn’t need to be restricted to dogs. For book making ideas take a look here
  • Ask families with dogs if they could bring them in for a session, or ask the Guide Dogs charity if they could come into school to give a chat/assembly.
  • Make dog collages with circles and semi-circles – this could make a great class display.
  • Create a simple origami dog
  • Print, cut out and make a dog collage
  • Orange Pear Apple Bear

    orangepearapplebear

  • A video of Orange Pear Apple Bear. You could use this in class (with or without the audio).
  • Follow the trail activity to download from Emily’s website
  • A wide range of suggestions covering everything from maths to music linked to Orange Pear Apple Bear, on the Teaching Ideas website.
  • Emily has said that it was whilst reading Lynn Truss’s Eats, Shoots and Leaves that she got the idea for Orang Pear Apple Bear. With older children you could look at the power a comma has to change meaning. Primary Resources has a Powerpoint presentation you could use in class and many more resources here.
  • Play balancing games with plastic fruit. How high can you build your tower of fruit? This would be especially fun if you dressed up as a bear 😉
  • Have an orange and apple tasting party. Depending on the time of year you could have a variety of different oranges or apples, and talk about the different colours, textures and tastes. Some apples are almost orange!
  • This book is available in several different formats including picture book, board book and ebook. With older children you could explore what differences these different formats take, and what advantages each of these different formats has.
  • Make a 3-D paper fruit mobile
  • Use a brown paper bag to make a bear and fill it with an orange, apple and pear. Then you’re all ready to take the book on a picnic. For full details see Patton’s Bookcase.
  • Blue Chameleon

    bluechameleon

  • Blue Chameleon from the World Book Day website
  • Picture Book a Day has yoga ideas to go with this book – why not take it into your PE lesson?
  • Writing prompts to go with Blue Chameleon, from Teach Mentor Texts.
  • Detailed art based lesson plan to go with Blue Chameleon
  • Create your own colour changing chameleons with the help of some purple cabbage, just like we did!
  • Create colourful chameleons with card templates and wool – a class of these would make a spectacular display.
  • Experience what it is like to have a chameleon’s tongue! A great science activity with kids and party tooters.
  • A chameleon colour changing craft using paper plates – this requires a bit of fiddly prep, but the end result is quite lovely.
  • Spells

    spells

  • A word search from the World Book Day website
  • Mixed up words game to download from Emily’s website
  • Lesson plan for Spells from Scholastic
  • This book is a great resource to use to make it fun to practise nonwords of the type children might experience at the end of Year 1 phonics test in the UK (the phonics screening check). You could take Gravett’s split pages with nonsense words to inspire the kids to create their own non-word generators.
  • Play the British Council’s Spell game – good for comprehension as requires readers to place sentences in right order.
  • Be inspired by this template to get your kids creating their own book of spells (the template actually comes from another children’s books, but the idea would still work for Gravett’s Spells). Once the spells have been written, you could stain the pages of the spell book with a wet teabag to give them an antique look – just make sure the children have written in waterproof ink.
  • Make potions! Vinegar, washing up liquid, food colouring and bicarbonate of soda make great bubbling potions and give children plenty of practise at pouring and measuring. Alternatively for a theoretically edible/drinkable potion, stick to food colouring, water, cake sprinkles of all varieties, and effervescent vitamin pills to create fizzy potions kids can try. We did this here and the kids enjoyed it so much.
  • Cave Baby

    cavebaby

  • A video of Emily at work, illustrating Cave Baby
  • Listen to and watch Julia Donaldson and her husband sing the Cave Baby song. You can also download the lyrics so you can sing along!
  • Online game to paint your own cave with the help of Cave Baby.
  • Cave Baby painting sheet to download from Emily’s website
  • Cave Baby dot-to-dot to download from Emily’s website
  • If you have access to Playmobil’s stone age sets, they would be perfect for small world play
  • There are lots of art ideas you could try inspire by Cave Baby. We tried hand stencils, charcoal and splatter painting in this post (with a review of the book).
  • Make your own classroom cave out of newspaper and wallpaper. This would be amazing for a role play corner.
  • Again!

    again

  • How to draw Cedric the dragon! – A video tutorial from Emily.
  • How to draw dragons – a series of slides from Emily to help you draw your own dragons.
  • A brief video by Emily giving key tips on how to draw Cedric (think bananas!). This is just one short video from a series Emily made about Again! For more videos about details in this book and her techniques visit this post from 100 Scope Notes.
  • A wide range of suggestions for activites from science to PSHE linked to Again!, on the Teaching Ideas website.
  • Make your own dragon breathing out fire, using a paper cup and tissue paper. Here’s a tutorial from Domestic Goddesque.
  • It would be great to include some activity with fire but I’ve yet to come across a lesson plan that teachers would be ok with that includes matches and flames… If you know of one, let me know!
  • Matilda’s Cat

    matildascat

  • Make cat costumes – the easiest would be to get kids to decorate their own cat masks. You could also try making cat noses out of pipe cleaners and egg cartons.
  • Play with wool – give the kids a ball or two of brightly coloured wool/yarn and let them wrap it around some classroom furniture or a bench or tree in the playground, to create a modern art installation! Alternatively make yarn/wool balloons with glue. This will take longer, but at least the kids will end up with something they can take home.
  • Play with boxes. Snaffle the largest cardboard boxes you can eg from a white goods store, and let the kids turn them into dens / houses / tunnels. For some inspiration take a look at this post from Let the Children Play.
  • Learn how to make shadow animals. Using an anglepoise lamp and a darkened classroom teach your kids how to create simple shadow puppets using their hands. Here are some ideas to get you going from Instructables. You might like to share some of these images of shadow are from Buzzfeed too (though do check them out yourself first before sharing).
  • Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts

    beasts

  • Mimic Gravett’s illustrations by providing children with images of “scary” animals and letting them add grafitti/collage/paint/masking tape to make the animals safer/ less frightening. Kids love drawing moustaches on people in newspaper photos and this activity takes it a step further.
  • Create new monster animals by tearing up images of animals and then letting the children rearrange them so, for example the head of one animal is stuck on the body of another animal.
  • Give the children post it notes and let them make lists of things which scare them, and things which make them feel safe.
  • Sensory play with toothpaste – allow the children to “draw” by squeezing out toothpast. You could include plastic animals and toothbrushes and get the kids to brush the animals’ teeth. Sensory play with a tub of jelly would also work well.
  • Wolf Won’t Bite

    wolfwontbite

  • A video of the book on Youtube – you may choose to not use the audio, but could be useful if reading to a large group
  • Activities for older children to look in detail and discuss the illustrations in Wolf Won’t Bit, from the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway shadowing site. I think this could work well with Year 2s (with some adaptations) and up – even with Secondary school aged children.
  • Use the eBook with audio by former Dr Who, David Tennant. Only available for i-devices (not android).
  • A dot to dot from the World Book Day website
  • An articulated paper wolf puppet from the World Book Day website
  • Role play circus activities. Sparklebox has lots of free circus themed downloads , and you could include a dressing up box with clown costumes (think silly hats, wigs, glasses), or tutus, a top hat for the ringmaster and so on. Silk scarves for juggling and mini stilts would be great additions if you have the space.


  • Emily Gravett is just one of this year’s World Book Day authors/illustrators.

    infantschoolwbdbooks

    These are the World Book Day books by the authors and illustrators we’ll be focussing on (i.e. the ones most appropriate for an infant school, though there are more books for older children and apps for teenagers).

    Have you got any plans yet for World Book Day?

    11 Responses

    1. This has got to be the best post ever… we are just such fans of hers!!! You know we a actually met her (http://www.se7en.org.za/2012/09/26/se7en-got-to-meet-the-author-emily-gravett-we-did-really )and she was just so lovely!!! She drew have a picture for us in her sketchbook… special!!!
      se7en recently posted..Se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun #207

    2. That’s so cool Se7en! I’ve never met her, but she sounds like she’s lived a really rich life!

    3. Oh Zoe, this is such a wonderful post. So many resources & ideas, what a treat!

      I love Emily books.

      Thanks so much.
      Emma @ My Book Corner recently posted..International Book Giving Day 2014: Author

      • Thanks Emma. I think the post is a little overwhelming actually 😉 But I hope it will proved to be a useful resource.

    4. Wow, fabulous post, where do I start? Maybe with the Monkey and Me and Orange Pear Apple Bear as Bagl loves them. Must get some others out of the library to see if he likes them, I have The Rabbit Problem but I think he would tear somethine quite quickly!
      Katherine recently posted..#10in2014 – Painting

    5. […] 100+ Activities to go with books by Emily Gravett ~ Playing by the Book […]

    6. I didn’t realise that there were so many Emily Gravett books!

      Orange Pear Apple Bear is a great story and I had to read The Odd Egg after illustrator Maria Bogade recommended it on my blog.
      Catherine recently posted..Splash, Anna Hibiscus! by Atinuke & Lauren Tobia

    7. […] Playing by the book has the Ultimate Post on Everything Emily Gravett has ever written!!! […]

    8. […] Take a look at Emily Gravett’s website for a full biography and information about her work. You can also find a huge list of activity ideas to go with her books on Playing By The Book. […]

    9. Thanks so much for sharing! What a great list of resources.

    10. […] encourage you to look into this awesome article from playingbythebook.net about activities to go with Little Mouse’s Big Books of Fears and many of Emily […]

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