The Learning Lady has been delighted to work with Year 1 teachers on a new Literacy unit based on Chris Haughton’s book ‘A Bit Lost’. The story tells the tale of a little owl who loses his mum when he falls out of a tree. It’s great for exploring familiar emotions and the description of feelings at the point of transition into a new Key Stage. The unit follows the new national curriculum through a clear teaching sequence; where children ‘become’ the characters’ and the use of masks as a storytelling devise was rejected. Here’s why…
The Learning Lady Method
“Aren’t masks a bit of a nightmare when you’re asking children to role play in character?
- They are behind the mask, rather than in front of it so can easily forget the part being played.
- It’s hard for the characters to hear what is being said or speak clearly from behind a mask which is strapped on.
- They’re not very durable with elastic frequency pinging off here there and everywhere!
- They often get in the way of the important objective which is to play a character in role (it’s hard to feel and sound like a squirrel or a bear when you’ve got laminated card strapped to your face so it can’t move and string cutting off the circulation to your ears or slipping down your face.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe in the creative process of mask making and its imaginative potential but in terms of developing language objectives…I just felt there had to be an easier way.
At first I thought about using cardboard bands for the children to represent the characters on their heads rather than their faces; this would at least enable them to speak clearly and be heard. However, this was fraught with difficultly as they weren’t a durable solution either and all of the children I noticed had varying head sizes.
As I rummaged through a classic Lost Property box one home time, I began to notice a number of old woolly hats which had been left behind at school and forgotten, and I began to wonder about their potential in solving my problem. Could these long forgotten sad and sorry items be used to better effect in place of the dreaded masks?
A Bit Lost by Chris Haughton was a perfect text to trial this idea- and the children loved it! There aren’t many characters in the story; you can find hats in all colours to match the characters, and the unit was carried out during the Autumn Term- perfect for introducing the benefits of the woolly hat!
Here Are The Hats!
So if you’re looking for an alternative to printing, laminating and elasticating masks which will only last till Wednesday, or you have a lost property box full of old hats which need to be loved, this solution is ideal because:
- The Year 1 children could clearly see one another to identify the characters
- They could all hear what on another was saying, allowing the adults to support clarity of speech and effectively develop key listening skills.
- All children stayed on task for longer as they were able to concentrate without the distractions of pinging elastic or discomfort.
- The hats all fitted! Because they were stretchy they fitted all children. Roles could be easily swapped and the hats could be used (and washed) again and again. The children even continued the learning through lunchtime as they took it in turns to wear the hats in the playground too!
Experience this success for yourself!!!
Help! is available for YOU as a whole Literacy unit (including all of the resources you’ll need to get started).
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