Take Away Teaching Ideas #10

The Tiny Star

By Mem Fox and Freya Blackwood

Once upon a time, although this happens all the time, a tiny star fell to earth . . .

This touching and timeless story combines, for the first time, the talents of world-renowned author Mem Fox with the heart-warming illustrations of Freya Blackwood. These two luminaries craft a truly unique and moving story about the journey of life, to be cherished and shared for generations to come.

A special treat for me! I am collaborating with my dear friend whom I started teaching with. Elissa Jackson @lissandtrev and I had a team-teaching classroom many years ago. It was in this classroom I developed my beliefs as a teacher.



View the engaging video preview of the book HERE 



Listen to Mem and Freya talk about their book. It is so insightful! HERE



Listen to Mem Fox read the story HERE



Elissa and I have collaborated to plan these teaching ideas for you!



Reading:

This story provides the perfect opportunity to ….

  • Make predictions – Before reading the text, give the students the first line of text and ask them to illustrate the first page. The students explain their illustration and the connections to the first line of the story.
  • Consider the illustrator’s perspective – look at the illustration on the first page and discuss what Freya has included. After reading the whole text, return to the first page and revisit the illustration and hypothesise why.
  • Allow students to share their understanding of the text by retelling the story. Prior to a second reading of the story, let students know they will be retelling the story, and allow them to jot down their thinking during the second reading.
  • Explore the deeper meanings of the text – think about the meaning of the star used throughout the book – the star in the sky, on the quilt, the baby as a star
  • Grapple with some of the themes in the text:
    • Why does birth bring a community together?
    • What does it mean ‘…a life that it lived to the full?’
    • What does the author value in life?
    • How does she show that?
    • What does the illustrator value in life, how does she show that?
    • Why is it important to remember?
  • Have a look at some other books about growing old and remembering e.g. Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge
  • Talk about the ‘Circle of life’ – how is it depicted in The Tiny Star? How is this similar/different to The Lion King?
  • Infer the characters’ feelings. What would the characters be thinking and saying in this illustration?

the tiny star

  • What do you think about when you look at the night sky?
  • Enrich vocabulary – list the words and phrases that reflect the feelings of love – wrapped gently, took it home carefully
  • Think like an illustrator: Why has the illustrator chosen to use the colour blue so predominantly? How does it make us feel? Compare to Shaun Tan’s The Red Thing.
  • Research – What inspired Mem to write this book?

Writing:

I have used this as a mentor text for …

  • Explore sizzling starts. Look at the first line of the story – what makes it awesome? Go to the library and find 6 more awesome opening lines for a story.

the tiny star

You could just look at other books by Mem Fox or branch out into a range of texts. Keep a collection of Sizzling Starts as an anchor chart in the classroom.

  • To inspire students to share writing about themselves and their family. A family photo may be helpful to generate an idea.
  • Looking at the power of using pairs of descriptive words – rounder and rounder, caring and kind, loving and wise, loved and adored, …

Mathematics:

This is an ideal book to explore …

  • Timelines – show the events in the text on a timeline.
  • Time – what are the things you do when there is a night sky?
  • Really big numbers! How many stars are in the sky? Ask the students to make predictions, then do some research to check you answer. Brainstorm some other collections that could be really large.
  • …forever… the last line of the text is ‘forever’. How long is forever? We use the word ‘forever’ to describe a length of time – brainstorm the times you have said ‘forever’ and think about the time it described.
  • Problem solving – Freya has included many animals in the illustrations. How many can you find? How many legs are there altogether?
  • Measurement – The baby in the story grows taller and taller. Can you build a tower that is tall and another tower that is taller? How many blocks are in each tower?
  • Patterns – design and create your own quilt. What shapes and colours did you use?
  • Symmetry – draw a symmetrical star. Provide instructions to a friend to draw it too!
  • Size – use a range of materials to create a tiny star.

It was such a treat to plan learning experiences for this story – I did shed a tear or two.

Enjoy and take care,

Andrea

Andrea Hillbrick