Dharma the Llama

By Matt Cosgrove


I feel very honoured to introduce Janette Colbert to you all. Many moons ago, Janette and I worked closely together at Beaconsfield Primary School in Victoria. She continues to be a passionate teacher! The beauty of our profession is the many friendships you develop over time. I am happy to present the teaching ideas created by Janette and I – ENJOY!

I adore the way Matt writes and illustrates. His books have been great seeds for my Writer’s Notebook and to develop comprehension strategies. This book is my favourite! I adore the character Dharma – but I also LOVE reading books and flowers. (Maybe a text to self connection)

Listen and view Matt introduce Dharma:

Listen to and view Jessica Mauboy present this fabulous story as a rap:

I think this is a great initiative and once you hear this rap….you love the story even more!

  • Looking at the front cover what shapes can you see? What could you draw using these shapes?
  • Study the end papers inside the front and back cover. What clues do they give us about the story? Can you create end papers for your own story?
  • On the title page, how many butterflies do you see? Activate your prior knowledge. What do you know about butterflies? Why do you think Matt include them in this illustration?
  • Explore the rhyming words in the text by selecting four words and make a Think Board of rhyming words. Put one word in each section of the Think Board and brainstorm as many rhyming words as possible to fill each section.
  • Go on a print walk and select words you love! Can you show the meaning of the words using colour, size, and shape?
    • Dharma loves to read both fiction and nonfiction books. After reading Dharma the Llama, read a nonfiction book about llamas. Compare and contrast – how are the two books similar? How are they different?
    • What are your favourite fiction and nonfiction books? How would you promote these books?
    • Go on a punctuation mark hunt! What did you find? How are you going to show your findings?
    • Dharma’s books all have titles with a twist on real life stories. Think of your favourite book and give it a llama twist for its title. Create a new front cover for your book with its new title and yourself as the author. Create a new back cover, including a blurb for your book.
    • Dharma declares ‘X marks the spot!’ Create a pirate map using a birds-eye-view. Use your best pirate voice to explain your map!
    • Follow instructions to make a pirate hat like Dharmas. Make a short video for someone else to follow.
    • Use the colours of the llamas in the story to create your own pattern – how many elements can you include?
    • Dharma made her own rope ladder. Make your own creation out of rope. Write the instructions as a procedural text that someone else could follow. Create a class book for everyone to try!
    • Make Ooblek and put objects in it to recreate the llamas stuck in the mud. Explore the properties of Ooblek – what makes it tricky for objects to get out? How is this similar to mud?
    • Create a new adventurous way for Dharma to save the other llamas – she tried a rope ladder, a vine swing and hot air balloons as an astronaut. Illustrate and write your solution.
    • Make a list of all of the bold words in the book. Categorise them as verbs and adjectives.
    • Create a list of everything that you would need to throw a party. Use a shopping catalogue or online shopping to find out the total cost of your party.
  • Create a map that shows all of the adventures of the llamas. Use a map key to show important features on your map.
  • Collect data in response to the question- What animals appear in the book? how will you present your data?
  • Make a list of all of the titles of the books Dharma reads. Survey your family and friends or classmates to find out which book they would most like to read. Present your survey findings as a graph of your choice.
  • Use the activities of the llamas to create a daily timetable – include the times they started and finished each activity.
  • Dharma wears a chain of flowers around her neck. Have you ever made a daisy chain? Try it out! How long is it? How many flowers did you use?
  • Dharma loves to read anything, any time and anywhere! What do you like to read? What is your favourite spot? Create a profile about yourself and share.

Happy World Teacher’s Day everyone!


Andrea Hillbrick