Connecting to prior knowledge

Before reading

Read the title of the book to students without showing them the front cover. Ask:

  • Have you ever heard the word ‘bamboozled’ before? Where and when?
  • Does this word sound like any other words (e.g. ‘bamboo’)?
    • Have students clap out the syllables as they say the word ‘bamboozled’. Another way to identify syllables is to place a hand under the chin and count the number of times the chin touches the hand (as each syllable has a vowel as its nucleus, the mouth has to open to make the vowel sound).
  • What do you think ‘bamboozled’ means?

Record students’ answers on butcher’s paper so you can refer to them after reading (at that point, students may wish to change their answers).

Now show students the front cover of the book. Ask them to describe what they see in the picture. Does it give the reader any clues as to what the word ‘bamboozled’ might mean? Add students’ ideas to the sheet with their other answers.

Next, explore the back cover. Ask students what they notice (i.e. the blurb is upside down). Why do they think the author has done this?

Read the blurb and ask students if they have heard the story of Alice and the White Rabbit (i.e. Alice in Wonderland).

  • What type of story is it?
  • Why does the blurb mention Alice and the White Rabbit, only to say that they’re from a different story?
  • Does this give the reader any more clues to what the book might be about?

Encourage students to predict what they think the story might be about.

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Exploring the text in context of our community, school and ‘me’

Bamboozled is about a young girl who visits her Grandad, playing games with him and helping him with his housework.

Before reading, you might want to develop the concept of community using the following resources:

Class discussion: what is a Grandad?

Find out what students already know about Grandads. Explain that a Grandad is a grandparent, which is the parent of a child’s mum or dad.

Ask students what they call their own grandparents. For example, instead of Grandad, they might say Poppy, Pa, Gramps, Grandfather, Nonno (Italian), Saba (Hebrew), Harabeoji (Korean), etc. Record all the titles the class comes up with, marking students’ names beneath the ones they use.

Lead a discussion about why we have different names for the same person in a family. For instance, Nonno is the Italian word for grandfather; other names, like Gramps, may come from family traditions. Explore this as a class by researching the meaning of some of the names students suggested.

Key questions
  • Do you have grandparents or a special older person that you visit and spend time with?
  • What are some of the activities that you do together?
  • How do you feel when you spend time with this person?
  • How does this person feel when they spend time with you?

NOTE: In some cultures, grandparents have a key parenting or mentoring role; in others they have more of a social role.

Poster: my grandparent or special older person

Grandparents often have special bonds with their grandchildren and spend their time together doing fun things or spoiling them with gifts, treats, etc. Explain to students that they are going to create a poster all about their grandfather or grandmother (or a special older person in their lives, if they do not have grandparents to write about). They will need to gather some important information for this task, so you may wish to send a note home asking for the information required, or support students to write out some questions to take home.

Students will paint a picture of their grandparent or special older person using watercolours, just like David Legge does (you could show them a picture from the book as an example). They will then use the information collected from home to complete this template (PDF, 87KB).

This activity can be extended by recording on a map where each students’ grandparent or special older person was born. You could then use this information to explore the meaning behind their names. For example, John’s grandfather was born in England and is called Grandad, a term often used by the English.

As a further extension activity, students might explore their own family tree.

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Rich assessment task

Partner share activity

Ask students to share an enjoyable moment that they have had with their grandparent or special older person. The teacher can model this first if needed. For example:

  • ‘When I go to my Grandad’s house we play games on his really old computer.’
  • ‘Grandad always has lots of sweets that we get to eat.’

Invite students to share their stories, first in partners, then with the class.

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Responding to the illustrations

The detailed and fantastical illustrations in Bamboozled immediately capture the reader’s attention and create an interesting subtext for the story.

Explain that illustrators can insert details into images that complement or even differ from what is being said in the text. A good example of this is on p. 12–13, when the girl describes the work she and her Grandad did in the garden. If you read the text by itself, this seems like a normal event; when you look at the illustration, however, you see that it is far from normal!

Other examples of this concept can be found in:

Ask students what they think and how they feel when they see Legge’s illustrations. Are they confused? Amused? Why?

Choose one spread from the book to analyse as a class. Display the pages so that students can see them clearly. Encourage them to use their senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell) to describe the illustration; a template with visuals may help them to relate (e.g. an eye for sight, a nose for smell).

Complete one spread together, modelling the use of descriptive language. Students will then choose their own illustrations and complete the following worksheet (PDF, 90KB). This can be differentiated to suit the ability of each student.

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Exploring plot, character, setting and theme

Read Bamboozled to the class. During this initial read, allow time for students to explore the illustrations on each page.

When you reach pp. 16–19 (which show an elephant in the kitchen window and a camel in the hallway), draw students’ attention to the girl’s stance and facial expression.

Ask them to describe what she might be thinking. How do they know (e.g. from the way she is standing, from listening to the text)? Encourage students to demonstrate how their body might look when they are thinking.

Continue reading and pause on pp. 22–23, when the girl says that she was finally ‘struck’ by what was odd. What does this phrase mean? Discuss other ways of saying the same thing, such as:

  • I finally worked out what was odd (literal)
  • I know what is odd! (literal)
  • I have an idea (literal)
  • It dawned on me (figurative)
  • The penny dropped (figurative)

Invite students to share what they think the girl has noticed about her visit to her Grandad.

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Rich assessment task

Predicting the ending to the story

Give each student a blank piece of A4 paper. Using the knowledge they have gained from the story and illustrations thus far, students will draw and write their own ending to Bamboozled.

Once all students have completed their endings, read the text on p. 23 again. Then invite students to share what they wrote and draw. Where did they get their ideas from? Did anyone have the same idea? Encourage students to explain why they chose their endings.

Finally, read the girl’s realisation on pp. 24–25.

Ask students how this ending makes them feel. Are they confused? Do they find it funny? Did they come to the same conclusion in their own endings?

Ask why the girl might think it odd to wear two different socks. Does this seem odd to anyone else?

Discuss how people can have different perspectives, and how it is possible for each of us to have different opinions on what is and is not ‘normal’.

Collect all the different endings that students came up with and turn them into a book that students can return to when reading Bamboozled.

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Examining text structure and organisation

Return to the illustrations that the class agreed were unusual and/or funny (similar illustrations can be found in Counting on Frank by Rod Clement).

Explain to students that illustrations are an extremely powerful tool for telling a story. Read Bamboozled aloud again, this time without displaying the illustrations. Pause on pp. 10–11, when the girl discusses doing housework. Ask students to visualise what this page might look like based on the text alone. What sort of things might someone do as part of housework (e.g. vacuuming, washing windows, etc.)?

Show students the actual illustration for this spread and discuss what they see.

Re-read the accompanying text, focusing on the word ‘bothered’. What does ‘bothered’ mean? Why might the girl feel this way? Discuss the illustration further.

Continue to pp. 12–13 and read the text here without showing students the illustrations. Focus on the first sentence about planting bulbs. Ask:

  • What should this illustration look like?
  • What is a bulb?
  • What is a flower bed?

Show students the actual illustration and continue discussing it. This is a good opportunity to explore words that are spelt and sound the same but have more than one meaning. See the below activity on Homonyms to explore this concept further.

Continue reading Bamboozled, taking time to focus on the text and compare it to the illustrations. Discuss how Legge makes the reader question what the story is about and draws them to examine the illustrations to understand its meaning.

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Examining grammar and vocabulary

Read the first page of the story (p. 2) and focus on the word ‘odd’. Tell students that you find this word interesting and write it on the whiteboard.

Continue reading until you get to pp. 12–13, stopping at the word ‘strange’. Tell students that you really like that word and write it on the whiteboard below ‘odd’.

Ask students if they know what these words mean, then explain that they have a similar meaning. Brainstorm other words that mean ‘odd’ or ‘strange’ and create a word map of students’ responses (e.g. weird, unusual, peculiar, abnormal, bizarre, funny, etc.). Experiment using these words to describe one of the illustrations. For example: ‘It is bizarre that there is a hat in the fridge.’

In small groups, students can examine an illustration from the book and come up with their own sentence that includes one of the brainstormed words. Record their sentences on a large piece of paper and put it aside for the next Rich Assessment Task.

Discuss the fact that some words can have more than one meaning, depending on the context in which they are used. Use ‘odd’ as an example. In Bamboozled, ‘odd’ is used to mean ‘strange’ or ‘different to what is usual’. Students would know this from the story and the illustrations that depict the strange things at Grandad’s house. In maths, however, ‘odd’ refers to numbers that have one left over as a remainder when divided by two.

Look at the word ‘bulb’ on pp. 12–13; this can refer to either a light bulb or a plant bulb. Use this opportunity to explain how understanding the meaning of words helps us to make sense of a story.


Homonyms are words that have the same spelling or pronunciation but different meanings, such as ‘right’ and ‘write’, ‘hair’ and ‘hare’, or ‘ate’ and ‘eight’.

Students are to work in small groups to come up with a list of homonyms. Once they have exhausted their own ideas, they can look through books in the class library for further inspiration.

Reconvene as a class and brainstorm a final list. At this point you might use the Internet to search for more words with students. Use some of these to create sentences that make the reader question their meaning (e.g. ‘I put my bat in the bag’, referring to either a cricket bat or an animal).

Guide students to undertake a small group activity writing sentences with homonyms and drawing matching pictures. Invite them to read the sentences aloud and have the rest of the class predict their meaning. Have students reveal their pictures to see if the class guessed correctly. If they are incorrect, explain that they have been ‘bamboozled’! Legge does this to the reader many times throughout his story.

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Rich assessment task

Return to the word map and sentences generated from the words ‘odd’ and ‘strange’.

This activity can be completed inside or outside the classroom. Explain that students are going to create an odd illustration, just like in Bamboozled. They are to observe their environment and choose one or two ordinary items that they see, then draw that item and add various details to make it odd or strange.

Next, students will write a sentence to describe their illustration. Model the requirements, revising what a sentence is and highlighting the punctuation.

Write out the words and punctuation marks from one of these sentences on separate pieces of paper. Distribute them to different students and ask them to reconstruct the sentence. You may need to prompt students if they get stuck (e.g. ‘Who has the capital letter to start the sentence?’).

If more practise is required, repeat with other sentences from the book or other students.

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Ask students to write a new sentence about their illustration using words from the word map, like ‘The plant growing out of the TV is strange’ or ‘It is odd that the chair legs are made of pencils’. Invite students to share their work with the rest of the class.

Try exchanging some of the adjectives with others from the word map, e.g. ‘The plant growing out of the TV is unusual’. Ask students if the sentences still make sense. Revise the previous lesson about words that have the same meaning.

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Creating a class mural

Read the first page of the story (p. 2) aloud again, focusing on the last line.

As a class, study the illustration and list all the things that look odd (e.g. the tennis racquet inside the clock or the tie in the letterbox).

Look through the rest of the illustrations and record some of the other items the class finds odd. Discuss the details in each picture and draw attention to how Legge has used watercolours throughout the book.

Draw an outline of your classroom on an A2 sheet of paper. Ask students to look around the room and see if they can spot anything odd. Ask what sort of things they might see in the classroom if it had been bamboozled. Using their imaginations, students will create a picture of something they see in the classroom, then add details to make it odd (they can use watercolours to match the book). Examples might include a teacher’s desk with tiger legs and a tail, or pencils with leaves hanging off.

Attach these pictures to the A2 sheet to create a collaborative art piece. Display it in your classroom and add to it whenever students come up with new ideas and creations. This piece of work can also be used as inspiration for writing.

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I am a writer/author

Conduct a whole class brainstorm about what writers do. Ask:

  • What do writers do to create stories?
  • Where might they get their ideas?
  • Does it take a long time to write a book?
  • How do you write a book?
  • Do all books have words and pictures?
  • What types of books are there?
  • Why do writers write stories?

Record students’ answers for future reference.

At the back of the book, Legge outlines where he got the idea for Bamboozled. Read ‘A note from David Legge’ on p. 31. The pages that follow (pp. 32–33) contain notes, drawings and photos of people on which Legge based his characters and settings. They show us how he experimented with ideas and how the story evolved into what eventually became Bamboozled. Show students these pages, pointing out some of Legge’s early ideas and comparing them to the finished product.

Explain that Legge collected these ideas over time, drawing on his environment and life experiences, and recorded them in a notebook. Many writers keep notebooks to record what they hear and see in the hope that these things might provide inspiration for stories and/or illustrations.

For more on writers’ notebooks, see Alan Wright’s blog posts (including this guest post).

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I am an illustrator

Conduct another whole class brainstorm about illustrators. Discuss the importance of illustrations in picture books and how they help tell a story.

Explain that many authors work with other people to illustrate their books. Legge has written and illustrated two of his own books (Bamboozled and Rise & Shine), but he has also illustrated titles by other authors, such as Kisses for Daddy, The Fearsome, Frightening, Ferocious Box and Captain Crabclaw’s Crew (all written by Frances Watts).

Explore some wordless picture books, such as:

Give each student a blank booklet consisting of 3–4 pages of A4 paper folded in half. Their task is to create a book that tells a story using illustrations, not words. Invite students to share their completed books with the rest of the class so they can guess what the story was about. Discuss whether these guesses were correct and why or why not (e.g. ‘the pictures were very detailed so it was easy to see what was happening in the story’).

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Rich assessment task

My writer’s notebook

For this activity, purchase or make small notebooks for each student in your class. Explain that they can keep and take their notebooks with them wherever they choose. Share the sorts of things writers include in their notebooks, like photos, drawings, interesting words, quotes, overheard conversations, favourite stories, etc. Keep your own OR a whole class notebook so you can model the process of filling it.

Refer to the last pages of Bamboozled and discuss where and how Legge may have found inspiration for his book. For example, the old man and the young girl in the photos may be his family members.

Students should then use their writer’s notebook on a daily basis to record things that interest them. This may include a character from their favourite TV show; something that happened during recess; a new toy; a great word they heard or read; and so on.

Encourage students to refer to their notebooks for ideas that will support them to write. You can observe how they use this resource during writing lessons.

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