Polly Dunbar Learning Resources cfe levels Early and First Resources created by Jen Buchan Contents of this resource


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Polly Dunbar Learning Resources

CFE Levels Early and First
Resources created by Jen Buchan

Contents of this resource
About Polly Dunbar Page 2
Introducing Polly Dunbar: Activities for Early Level Page 3

Introducing Polly Dunbar: Activities for First Level Page 3

Penguin: Nursery-Primary Transition Activity Page 3

Penguin: Activities for Early Level Page 4

Penguin: Activities for First Level Page 5
Arthur’s Dream Boat: Activities for Early Level Page 7

Arthur’s Dream Boat: Activities for First Level Page 8

Polly Dunbar Meet Our Authors Event: Activities for Early Level Page 10

Polly Dunbar Meet Our Authors Event: Activities for First Level Page 11

About Polly Dunbar
Polly Dunbar is one of the most successful children's book illustrators and authors around today. She was born in the Cotswolds and grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon. After school, she completed a foundation course at Norwich School of Art and then went on to do a degree in illustration at Brighton University.

Dunbar’s bestselling book, Penguin, has won numerous awards including the Book Trust Early Year's Award 2007, the Nestle Silver Children's Book Prize 2007, the Practical Pre-School Award 2007, the Red House Children's Book of the Year Award 2008 and was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal.

Polly was The Book Trust's Writer in Residence during 2011. She is also co-founder of Long Nose Puppets, an award winning theatre company that has made successful adaptations of the books Shoe Baby, Fly Away Katie, Penguin and Arthur's Dream Boat.

Polly is the daughter of the distinguished author Joyce Dunbar with whom she collaborated on the picture book Shoe Baby. She is also the illustrator of My Dad's a Birdman and The boy who climbed into the Moon, both written by David Almond. More recently, she has written and illustrated Tilly and Friends, a series of six books following a little girl and her animal friends. Tilly and her friends are now television stars with their own animated series on CBeebies.

  • The official Polly Dunbar website: http://www.pollydunbar.com/

  • The Meet Our authors Scottish Book Trust event with Polly Dunbar: http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/learning/authors-live/polly-dunbar-and-long-nose-puppets

  • Interview with Polly Dunbar: http://www.booktrust.org.uk/books-and-reading/children/illustrators/interviews/123

  • Fantastic suggestions for different penguin-related activities, games, songs and artwork: www.kidzone.ws/animals/penguins/activities.htm

Introducing Polly Dunbar

Activities for Early Level

  • Polly Dunbar is both an author and an illustrator. Talk about what the terms ‘author’ and ‘illustrator’ mean. Have you been the author and illustrator of any stories? Which job do you think you would enjoy the most? Choose one of Dunbar’s stories and be an author and illustrator to show your favourite scene.

Reading – Enjoyment and Choice – LIT 0-01b, LIT 0-11b

Activities for First Level
  • Polly has always had a passion for drawing and illustrating. Follow the link to see a game of illustration consequences that she has played:http://www.booktrust.org.uk/books-and-reading/children/illustrators/illustrators-gallery/29. Play your own illustration consequences. Fold a long piece of paper into 5 equal sections in a concertina style. Work in groups of 5. Ask one person to start a drawing in the first section and to make sure it is not completed and goes right up to the edge of the fold with the second section. Pass the paper to the second person in the group who should complete the drawing you have started by drawing the other half of it in the second section and starting a new drawing, showing only half of this and making sure it goes right up to the fold with the third section. Repeat until all 5 sections are complete. Remember not to speak to each other during the activity! Open out the page and see your illustrated consequence story! Make up a story which would accompany the illustrations.

Writing – Creating Texts – ENG 1-31a

  • Look at the Polly Dunbar website: http://www.pollydunbar.com/. Scroll over the different instruments in the band to see other books that Polly has written.

Technologies – ICT to Enhance Learning – TCH 1-03b

  • Ask your teacher to read to you about the life of Polly Dunbar from her website: http://www.pollydunbar.com/ Listen out carefully to hear about her favourite things. Do you find any of them funny? Do you have any unusual, funny, favourite things of your own? Share them with the class!

Listening and Talking – Finding and Using Information – LIT 1-04a

Nursery-Primary 1 Transition Activity

Primary 1s can prepare a puppet show of the story ‘Penguin’ to perform to nursery children. P1s should choose to make a puppet of Ben, Penguin or the lion. This could be done by drawing and colouring a picture of their chosen character on card, cutting this out and attaching it to a stick. Choose 3 volunteers; 1 to be each character. The show could be performed from behind a desk or shop front (from a home corner, for example) with the 3 volunteers acting out the parts. All other children should stand either side of the ‘stage’ with their puppets. Have the teacher or a confident reader read the story, and have the 3 volunteers act out the story. All other children should hold up their puppet every time their character is mentioned. After the puppet show, ask nursery pupils to comment on what they enjoyed about the show, their favourite character and their favourite part of the story.

For more information about adapting picture books into drama, visit: http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/learning/cpd/toolkits/picture-book-drama

Drama - EXA 0-15a

Drama - EXA 1-14a

Activities for Early Level
Nursery-Primary Transition/Cross Curricular: Penguin Day!

Hold a penguin day when everyone comes in black and white. Carry out some of the following activities:

  • Waddle like penguins over slippery ice, sliding around as you go!

  • Go on a penguin parade around the school

  • Build penguin nests from rocks and stones

  • Watch penguin clips and Webcam footage on the Edinburgh Zoo website: www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/EZPenguinCam.html

  • Have a penguin snack – tuna mayonnaise crackers!

  • See other ideas and examples of penguin poems and songs at www.preschoolexpress.com/theme-station08/penguins-jan08.shtml

Listening and Talking

  • In the story, Ben tries his hardest to make penguin laugh. Pass a talking object (perhaps a toy penguin!) around a circle. When you have the talking object, share with the class something that makes you laugh. You could even show it to the class to see if it makes others laugh, too!

Creating Texts – LIT 0-09a

  • Imagine that you rip open a present just like Ben does. Which animal would you like to find inside and why? Draw a picture to show you opening the box and finding the animal inside. Write the caption underneath, “Hello … (type of animal)!”

Creating Texts – Lit 0-09b
  • Work with a partner and label yourselves 1 and 2. Number 1s should be silent, like penguin and try not to laugh or speak. Number 2s should be in role as Ben in the story and do all the silly things that Ben does to try and make number 1 laugh. Swap roles and repeat the activity. Think of a silly activity of your own and try to make your partner laugh by showing them.

EXA 0-12a
Art and Design

  • Design your own happy hat which you can wear to make yourself or someone else smile when they need to be cheered up. Use different media to show different patterns, lines and colours. Display the happy hat designs for other classes to come and see.

EXA 0-04a

  • Make your own penguin puppets out of toilet rolls. Paint the rolls black and then stick on a white oval for the penguin’s chest and face. Glue on 2 googly eyes and an orange triangle for a beak.

EXA 0-02a

  • Make your own giant class penguin out of recycled materials. Use different collage materials (newspapers, sweetie wrappers, tissue, egg boxes for eyes) which would have otherwise been thrown away.

EXA 0-02a

  • Watch the trailer for the film, “March of the Penguins” http://www.warnerbros.com/movies/home-entertainment/march-of-the-penguins/73759a76-77dc-477a-a54e-d92e70cafd50.html. Look at how the penguins move and listen out for the different noises they make. Pretend to be penguins by waddling, slipping, sliding and calling around the classroom.

ICT to Enhance Learning – TCH 0-03a
Homework Activities
  • In the story, Ben tries to make the penguin happy and to make him laugh. Talk with a parent, carer or sibling about what things or people make you happy and why. Draw a picture to show what makes you happy and be ready to tell the class what it is and why it makes you happy.

Health and Wellbeing - Mental and Emotional Wellbeing – HWB 0-01a

  • Ask a parent, carer or sibling to ask you, “How did the penguin show Ben that he loved him in the story?” Tell them what the penguin did to demonstrate that he cared for Ben. Do something kind or helpful for someone at home to show them that you care.

Reading – Understanding, Analysing and Evaluating – LIT 0-07a/ENG 0-17a
Activities for First Level

  • Look closely at the illustrations to see the expressions on Ben’s face and think about how he is feeling about the penguin as the story progresses. Think of words to describe how he must be feeling at different points in the story (surprised, excited, frustrated, confused, cross, upset, angry, happy, content). Choose one of the emotions and share a time when you experienced this emotion yourself.

Understanding, Analysing and Evaluating – ENG 1-19a

  • At the end of the book, Penguin finally begins to speak and he retells the story of what has happened to him and Ben. This is shown in the story as a series of pictures. Use the pictures to help you retell the story to a friend, putting events in the correct order and describing what happened at each picture.

Understanding, Analysing and Evaluating – ENG 1-17a
  • Imagine that penguin does talk at different points in the story. Use post-it notes or recordable speech bubbles to show what penguin might have said. What do you think he would have said when Ben stood on his head or sent him into outer space? What do you think he might have said when Ben was gobbled by the lion? Make your speech bubbles and stick them in the correct place in the book. Reread the story with your speech bubbles to see how they change the story.

Creating Texts – Eng 1-31a
Listening and Talking/Drama

  • Think of questions that you could ask the penguin at different points in the story. You could ask him about what he thinks of Ben’s antics or how he feels when Ben tries to feed him to the Lion, for example. You could work with a partner and go into role as the penguin and an interviewer. The interviewer can ask penguin his/her questions and penguin should respond to the different questions.

Understanding, Analysing and Evaluating – LIT 1-07a

Drama – EXA 1-12a

Health and Wellbeing

  • Have a class discussion about what the message of the story might be. Look at the last page to help you. In the story, penguin seems to ignore Ben and appears to not be his friend. When it really matters, though, penguin comes to the rescue and saves Ben from the lion. Discuss the message, “Actions speak louder than words” to think about what it means. Think of a time when someone has done something special for you to show that they love or care for you. Did it catch you by surprise? You could draw a picture of that person with a speech bubble and a heart, just like the last page of the story book, to show who it is that loves and cares for you.

Mental and Emotional Wellbeing – HWB 1-05a
Art and Design

  • Design and create your own happy hat which you can wear to make yourself or someone else smile when they need to be cheered up. Be as whacky and as creative as you can, using different materials, colours and patterns. Have a ‘happy hat’ day when everyone wears their hats to school! EXA 1-03a

  • Make model penguins out of clay. Once your clay is dry, paint and varnish the models. Display them in a class penguin parade!

EXA 1-02a

  • Look at the way in which the title to the book has been created. Make your own ‘Penguin’ sign from different recycled collage materials. This could be used on a display board next to your penguin parade or other activities relating to the storybook.

EXA 1-04a
Technologies/Social Subjects

  • Watch the trailer for the film, “March of the Penguins”: http://www.warnerbros.com/movies/home-entertainment/march-of-the-penguins/73759a76-77dc-477a-a54e-d92e70cafd50.html. Listen out for 2 interesting facts about the penguins and their journey and share these with a friend. Look at some of the beautiful photographs which have been taken by the film crew as they filmed the movie (click the link underneath the trailer for the film). Which words would you use to describe the Antarctic?

ICT to Enhance Learning – TCH 1-03b

People, Place and Environment – SOC 1-13b

Homework Activities

  • Ask a parent, carer or sibling what they think the saying, “Actions speak louder than words” means. Tell them about how this saying is demonstrated in the story of Ben and the penguin. Share with them a time when you did something to show someone you care.

Health and Wellbeing – Mental and Emotional Wellbeing – HWB 1-05a

  • Practise at home a silly dance, action or trick which you think would make someone smile or laugh. Hold a class talent contest to see which performer gets the greatest number of laughs!

Expressive Arts – Participation in Performances and Presentations – EXA 1-01a

Arthur’s Dream Boat
Activities for Early Level
Listening and Talking

  • Every time Arthur goes to speak to a different character, they are too busy doing something and they are making a different noise. As you read the story, spot what each character is doing and the noise s/he is making (Arrhooo, tippety tap, hoo-ha-la-de-da, splitter splatter splodge). Make the different sounds yourself as you come to them in the story!

Enjoyment and Choice - LIT 0-01a / LIT 0-11a / LIT 0-20a


  • Towards the end of the story, we see Arthur looking at the water, getting in to the boat and then saving his family members. Put on some watery music (listen to the Ravel or Debussy tracks on this link, for example http://www.eduardstan.com/english/discography_cd3.html) and mime Arthur’s different actions. Once you have climbed aboard the boat, mime rowing the boat, sailing over waves and then coming ashore and tying up the boat.

EXA 0-12a

  • Choose a family member from the story and practise what s/he is doing when Arthur tries to tell him/her about his dream boat. Choose a volunteer to be Arthur and tell him/her to tap different children on the shoulder. If you are tapped you should act as the family member you have chosen and other children should guess which character from the story you are.

EXA 0-12a
Art and Design
  • Mix sea colours using blue, yellow and green. Use thick brushes to create waves and splashes. Create a large wall frieze of the sea. Think of words to describe the sound of the ocean, like those given in the story (whoosh, sshhhhh) and write these on the crest of different waves. This could also serve as a backdrop for images of different dream boats created by the children.

EXA 1-03a

  • Bring in different containers from home and make junk box models of boats. Think about how to join the different parts of the boat together – try using plasticine, rubber bands, tape and glue. 2 pieces of card (the sides of the boat) could be punched with holes and laced together. Paint your boats so that they show the same colours and patterns as Arthur’s boat. Alternatively, use different people and objects around you for inspiration for colours and patterns of your own. Once you have finished, see if others can spot the objects and people which have inspired your creation!

Craft, design, engineering and graphics contexts for developing technological skills and knowledge – TCH – 0-14a
Homework Activity

  • At the end of the story, we see a very happy Arthur sailing away with all of his family in his dream boat. Talk with your family or the people you live with about where you would all like to go together on a dream boat. Perhaps it is back to somewhere where you spent a holiday, or perhaps it is somewhere you have always wanted to visit, or perhaps it is somewhere totally made up (Candyfloss Land or Rainbow Island!) Be ready to tell the class about where you and your family have chosen and what it is like there.

Listening and Talking – Creating Texts - LIT 0-09b / LIT 0-31a

Activities for First Level
Health and Wellbeing

  • Throughout the story, Arthur tries to get people in his family to listen to him but they are all too busy. Hold a circle time discussion to talk about the following:

  • Have you ever tried to tell someone something and they are too busy to listen?

  • How did it make you feel?

  • What did you do or who did you turn to?

  • Do you think listening to others is important?

Mental and Emotional Wellbeing – HWB – 1-01a

  • Imagine that Arthur is sailing alone on his dream boat and decides to send a postcard back to his family. Write Arthur’s postcard to show where he has been on his dream boat, what he has seen and how he feels on his adventure. Draw a picture of him on his boat and somewhere he has visited on the front of the postcard.

Creating Texts – ENG 1-31a

  • Imagine you have been shipwrecked on a deserted island and that you write a message in a bottle (as seen in the illustration in the story) and send it to sea, hoping someone will find it and come to rescue you. Prepare paper by dabbing it with wet teabags and tearing it round the edges to make it look old and tatty. Write your message on the paper once it is dry, telling people what happened, where you are and how you are surviving. Put your letters in glass bottles and display these on blue/green materials or a painted seascape to show them floating in the sea.

Creating Texts – ENG 1-31a
Listening and Talking
  • As the story progresses, Arthur adds more and more detail to his dream boat. He starts by describing the colour of the boat, and then the mast, and then the sails, the flag and the figurehead. Create your own class dreamboat by playing Kim’s Game. Sit in a circle and ask someone to start. This person should describe one part of the boat. Move on to the next person, who should state what has been said by the first person, and add a detail of his/her own. Now move to the third person, who should state the 2 details which have been given, and add 1 more of his/her own. Continue the game until someone forgets a piece of information. See how detailed and imaginative you can make your class boat!

Creating Texts – Lit 1-09a

  • Choose a family member from the story and think about what s/he might have said to Arthur as he tried to tell them about his dream boat. Practise saying what they would have said, putting expression into your voice (“Go away Arthur! I’m way too busy!” or “Not now, Arthur, I have got to feed the goldfish!”, for example). Create a thought tunnel by standing opposite another class member and raising and touching hands. Choose a volunteer to be Arthur and tell him/her to walk through the tunnel, describing the dream boat. As Arthur passes under your arms, say out loud what you have rehearsed your character telling Arthur as he tries to tell you about his dream boat. Poor Arthur, everyone is too busy to listen!

EXA 1-12a
Art and Design

  • Look closely at the way in which the dream boat becomes more colourful and detailed as the story progresses. Arthur appears to use the people and objects around him to inspire him. Look at each family member and spot the different objects which inspire Arthur each time (dog’s tongue and collar, stripy lamp stand, red spotty dress/goldfish/beads, golden hair/pyjamas/butter and cereal, mermaid newspaper headline).

The illustrator also builds up different images of the sea as the story progresses. As you read the book, look out for the pictures of sea objects on each page (spilt water, octopus tentacle and sea shells, starfish curtains, fish and shell necklace, message in a bottle, seaweed, fish and crab.)

Discuss whether you think building up the images in this way is an effective idea of Polly Dunbar’s and what this technique adds to the story.

EXA 1-07a

  • Create each of the patterns and colours that are included in Arthur’s dream boat as the story progresses. Use a range of media (paints, tissue, shiny paper, recycled materials…) and make each pattern on a new piece of paper. (Patterns are: red/green thick stripes, multicoloured thin stripes, white with red dots, different shades of golden, mermaid image). Once all of the patterns have been created, make a giant Arthur’s Dream Boat collage by overlapping the different patterns, shapes and colours. Ask another class to come and spot where the different patterns you have created can be found on the dream boat.

EXA 1-03a


  • Make your own puppet show of Arthur’s Dream Boat. Work in groups and make a silhouetted cut-out of each character on black card. Tape each character to a stick. Use the light from a projector or torch which is shining on a large screen and move the characters in front of the light beam. Watch the characters grow in size and appear on the large screen! Read through the story and have the puppets appear and move at the correct times. You could even hold blue or green plastic or filters in front of the light to make the screen turn blue or green for the water scenes!

ICT to Enhance Learning – TCH – 1-04b
Homework Activity

  • Discuss with each of your family members or people living in your home what action they think they spend most time doing and what they would have been doing in the story if Arthur had come to speak to them! Does your dad or carer enjoy reading the newspaper in his pyjamas? Is your brother always on his computer or phone? Together, act and mime what each family might have been doing if s/he was in the story.

Reading – Understanding, Analysing and Evaluating – ENG 1-19a

Drama – EXA 1-12a

Whole School Activity

Have a ‘Dream Hat’ day. Children should choose a mode of transport of their own (a rocket, plane, train, canoe, bus…) and make a hat to show their dream vessel. Children should make their fantasy hat as creative as they can, using different materials, colours and objects. Hold a Dream Hat competition to vote for the best school dream hat. Tell children to think about where they would like to go on their dream vessel and who they would take with them.

Expressive Arts – Art and Design – EXA 1-02a

Meet Our Authors Event
Activities for Early Level
Listening and Talking

  • During the event, there will be a puppet show based on the story, Arthur’s Dream Boat. Talk about any puppet shows that you have seen or have made yourself. What happened in the show and how did you feel during the show (surprised, scared, excited..)? Discuss some of the differences between watching a puppet show and reading a storybook.

Enjoyment and Choice - LIT 0-01b / LIT 0-11b
Activities for First Level
Art and Design

  • Choose one of the characters from ‘Arthur’s Dream Boat’ and make a puppet of him/her. Look at http://www.daniellesplace.com/html/puppets.html to help you learn about how to make different types of puppets. You could make a sock puppet, a paper bag puppet, a finger puppet, a stick puppet or a toilet roll puppet! Use different colours and materials to show the same clothing as the characters wear in the story. During the performance, hold up your puppet whenever s/he appears so that your puppet, too, becomes part of the performance.

EXA 1-02a

  • Polly makes puppets of some of her different characters and creates puppet shows based on the stories. Go to the webpage for Long Nose Puppets (http://www.longnosepuppets.com/) to see the puppet of Arthur and his Dream Boat. Think of questions that you would like to ask Polly about how to make puppets. ICT to Enhance Learning – TCH 1-03b


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