Teaching Ideas


Annabelle lives in a quiet Pennsylvania town, mostly untouched by the troubles abounding in the world around her. But in the autumn of 1943, she feels personally the effects of both war and hostility as they creep into her tranquil and sheltered hometown. Annabelle learns that even at the tender age of twelve, what she says and does matters in the lives of the people in her small community and she boldly and bravely fights against injustice.

If Annabelle is the protagonist of this richly told story, then Betty Glengarry is it’s strongest antagonist. She quickly reveals herself to be the worst kind of bully, taunting and singling out the weakest members of the community to pick on. It isn’t long before Toby, a World War I veteran becomes the target of her abuse. Betty’s feelings towards Toby soon have a powerful influence over the feelings of others in the community. However, Annabelle has only ever experienced Toby’s gentle kindness and feels it only right that she find the courage to offer him aid. Hiding Toby in the loft of her family's barn, whilst officers of the law pursue him, Annabelle learns of the true horrors Toby has experienced and develops an even greater empathy for those who have suffered due to the effects of war. Annabelle feels keenly a sense of responsibility for Toby and works to prove his innocence.

Lauren Wolk has produced stunning piece of children’s literature in 'Wolf Hollow' that would not be out of place sitting next to 'Anne of Green Gables', 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'Little House on the Prairie'. A story of more that just acceptance and understanding, but of standing up for what is right.

This book has been nominated for many children’s book awards and several excellent guides for using it in the classroom have already been written.

You can find some Simply Teach ideas here, a Penguin discussion guide here, reading notes here, a TES review here, and a Story Path review here, with some very engaging moral questions highlighted by the book. Finally, an excellent interview with author, Lauren Wolk, can be found here, where she explains more about her characters and her intentions for what meanings she would like readers to draw from the book.


Wolf Hollow   Lauren Wolk

 Corgi       ISBN: 9780552574297

Take Away The A

Longlisted for the North Somerset Teachers' Book Award Picture Book Category

Book Title: Take Away The A

Author: Michaël Escoffier

Illustrator: Kris Di Giacomo

Publisher: Anderson Press

ISBN: 9781783443444

This is no ordinary A-Z picture book! It’s an alphabeast of a book!

Brilliantly illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo and creatively written by Michaël Escoffier, it is a imaginative manipulation of the letters of the alphabet.

Each double page spread involves the subtraction of a letter of the alphabet from a word…

Without the A - Beast is the best

Without the B - The bride goes for a ride

Without the C - The chair has hair

Each of Kris Di Giacomo’s wonderful illustrations enhances the story created by taking away each letter. Each eliminated letter creates a story to discuss and provides the perfect setting for developing inference skills. Discuss why the glove feel in love with the glove, how the monkey makes money and why the plate was too late!

Readers could use white boards or magnetic as they read along with the story guessing which letters might be taken away.

A class could create a minus 1 or plus 1 game using a variety of words - exploring what happens to words when letters are taken away or added. To make things easier when playing, the game clues could be added, for example -1 turns the time into something you find on the beach.

A class could create their own ‘Take away’ alphabet book.

Readers could create their own simple stories using the characters and objects found on each page - for example the ‘D’ page - dice, ice, playing cards, mouse, rat & a goose.

The perfect book for inspiring children to play with words, think about spelling patterns, to enjoy working with words- 'Take Away the A' is a must for everyone!

Poetry Pie

Longlisted for the North Somerset Teachers' Book Award Poetry Category

Book Title: Poetry Pie

Author: Roger McGough

Publisher: Puffin

ISBN: 978-0141356860

This poetry book is dedicated with complete wholehearted devotion to the readers, writers and the spreaders of the written word. I guess that includes you and me!

Written in the contemporary and enigmatic voice of Roger McGough, this is a new collection of poems that play with words and word meanings, poems to perform, engage with and really enjoy.

Take a look at similes in the poem ‘You Are Useless’ on page 79 and homophones in the poem ‘The Juggler’ on page 74. The poem ‘My First is in Apple’ on page 34 is a brilliant way to explore the manipulation of letters and the poems on page 56 ‘Poetry Pie’ and page 94 ‘Don’t Go Where the Scarecrows Are’ are perfect for investigating rhythm.

For poems that are great fun, look at ‘The Giant Finger’ on page 73 and ‘The Game of Rhymes’ on page 12. And if you want to read something really silly, look at ‘Rhyming Sausages’ on page 11 - have you ever tried to rhyme the word sausages?

So ‘let your imagination feed on the fantastic, let it move like quicksilver, stretch like elastic’…