Sunday, 26 April 2020

Funny Investigations with Kes Grey and Jim Field

As our house descends into pretty much 'anything goes' (my daughter is at this very minute covering my husband in paint),  books and the weather continue to be my salvation. This week my son went rooting through the bookshelves and rediscovered some brilliantly funny picture books by Kes Gray. Not only have they given us a much needed laugh but they gave me some ideas for silly investigations in Science, English and Maths.
If you're not familiar with Kes Gray, he is a well established children's author, well-known for his Daisy chapter books and Oi! picture book series; Oi Frog! Oi Cat! Oi Dog! Oi Platypus!, Oi Puppies! and soon to be released, Oi Aardvark! These, brilliantly illustrated by Jim Field, can in themselves spark off some fun with rhyme. But there are a few, maybe lesser known, stories that he's written which are fantastic for inducing both giggles and creative learning.


You're called What?!

Ever heard of a Blue-footed Booby, a Fried Egg Jellyfish or a Aha ha wasp? Well, not only do they make exceptionally humorous book characters but they also actually exist in real life.
Yes! This book features a collection of the strangest-named animals on the planet and on the back pages you will find actual pictures of them. Which leads me to the question:
Can you find or name any more hilarious creatures?
This story is great for sparking up a naming game. Can kids re-name well known animals with a more humorous title? Can they make up their own weird and wonderful creature? Can they research more about these weird and wonderful creatures? And can they find more that actually exist? For those really wanting to go all out - can you work out why the creatures evolved this way and how it helps them to survive?
Whether you do all or none of the activities, this is a really funny read, which always brings me to my own curious question: What is it with the name, Dave?


Quick Quack Quentin

Quentin has a problem! He's lost the 'A' from his Quack and a Quck will never do. In order to sound like a duck again, Quentin must visit the farm and the zoo and find an animal who can lend him an 'A'. Easier said than done when everyone needs to hang on to them...or do they?
This book is genius. Simple but funny and brilliant for a phonics investigation. Who has an 'A' in their name? What would happen if you lost it? Who could you borrow one from?
Of course, it doesn't have to be an 'A' you lose? What about another letter? What if some animals lost the first letter of their name? What would their new name be?
This is also great for word building and lateral thinking. What is 'crow' without the 'c'? What is 'cow' without the 'c'? What is 'hat' with a 'w' in front of it?
Let's get some silly word play going on!!!


How Many Legs?

Moving on to Maths, this rhyming picture book asks readers to add up the number of legs of the party guests. Problem is, they just keep coming...
Once you've worked out the total number on the page, how about working out the number of legs in your house? Or fingers, toes, feet, eyes...? Can you include your pets? Maybe even the table (as the book suggests?) Is the answer going to be even or odd?

Whilst reading Planet Stan by Elaine Wickson this week, I also stumbled on another maths idea which the Gran in the story uses to entertain her very lively grandson. On your daily walk, why not work out how many hands high the gate is or how many feet wide the stream is? How many bums wide is the bench or the bridge or anything else that might keep them occupied for a few minutes. This one I trialled immediately and it worked! It didn't work the following day but, hey, I was winning for a little bit. And, right now, every tiny victory counts right?

The good thing is, many books can trigger curiosity and investigations whether they are fiction or non-fiction. There is a currently a huge demand for children's non-fiction and narrative non-fiction books (this is non-fiction told in a story format, rather like 'You're Called What?). We particularly like these ones because they are so much fun to read but look out for How to be Extraordinary by Rashmi Sirdeshpande or Nosy Crow's HerStory by Katherine Halligan and Wildlives by Ben Lerwill for more serious but interesting research projects. And if you come across a good one, please let us know. Anything that gets us through the morning in a relatively fun and enjoyable way is in serious demand over here ;)

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