Connecting to prior knowledge

Before Reading

Look at the front cover illustrations and title and ask the students to do a ‘quick draw’ about some predictions they have about the book and what may happen.

Key Questions

The title is a warning. Why do you think the author is giving you a warning?
What do you know about a spoonbill?
What does the name suggest about this bird?
What mischief do you think a spoonbill could get up to in the kitchen?

After Reading

Do a first reading of Don’t Let a Spoonbill in the Kitchen! for enjoyment and have a class discussion about their initial reaction to the story and chaos created by the different birds.

Key Questions

Were your predictions right?
Make a list of the different birds in the book (put aside for later).
Have you ever had a messy time in the kitchen? What happened?

After the discussion have students write and draw about a time when they have accidentally made a mess in the kitchen, laundry, bathroom, etc. and share back to the class.

Drawing on Prior Knowledge

After modelling a diagram on the board, have the students draw a diagram of a bird they are familiar with and encourage them to label any features that they know and possibly their function (as there is a direct link between each birds’ features and why each scenario was chosen).

Key Questions

Talk about the different kinds of birds in the book. Refer to your list.
Have you seen any of these birds before? Where?

What are the main features of each bird in the book and what does the bird use them for? Add to the list. For example: the Jacana has long legs and large webbed feet to walk on lilypads.


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

Connecting to the School Environment

There will most likely be many students who have not seen or heard of all of these birds before. Take a walk around the school grounds and look and listen for the different types of birds found in the area. Try to identify the birds.

Key Questions

What kind of habitat was the bird in?
Why is this the right habitat for this bird (food, shelter and water).
(ACELT1575)   (ENe-11D)


Rich assessment task

Students choose a bird found in the school environment as a focus. Have them draw a sketch of the bird and its habitat. Then have the students look for the food, shelter and water source. Alternatively students can choose to research one of the birds from the book and put together the same information.

As a class put this local information onto a simple map of the school and look at ways that these habitats can be cared for to protect the bird and ensure that they are not disturbed. Display the other research with the list already made.

Responding to the text

Responding to the Illustrations

Closely look at the contrast in the illustrations between the birds and the places where they create havoc. The black and white linocut prints of the birds contrast with the colourful mixed media paper and photography collages in the other illustrations.

Key Questions

How do you think the illustrations were made?
Are they photographs, paintings or drawings?
Why do you think Narelle Oliver made the birds look different to the scenes where they aren’t supposed to be?
Talk about how the birds contrast with their new environment. What effect does this have?

Explore some of Narelle Oliver’s other books and look at the similarities and differences in the illustrations. What do the students notice? Refer to background information for teachers.

Responding to the Events of the Text

Put the class into six mixed ability groups (one for each bird featured in the book: Spoonbill, Cormorant, Pelican, Jacana, Stilt, Osprey) and give each group a copy of one of the pages depicting the chaos that each bird creates. As a group have them complete an ‘I see, I think, I wonder’ activity to share with the class.

Discuss with the class if they think that the birds are having fun in the wrong places.

Key Questions

What were the clues?
Was it the illustrations, their prior knowledge about birds or something else?
Look at the final page about the birds sleeping over. Do a think-pair-share about what they think is going to happen next when someone comes home.

Key Questions

What will they say?
What will they do?
What will happen to the birds?
Who will have to clean up?
(ACELT1783)   (ENe-10C)

Responding by sharing opinions about characters and events

Responding to the humour in the text

Discuss the idea that this book was written to entertain.

Key Questions

Do the students think that this was achieved?
How was this achieved? Was it the words, illustrations or the events of the story?
Was it all of these together?

Have the students recreate the part of the book that they thought was the most funny on KidPix, making good use of the backgrounds, stamp and stickers to imitate the mixed media style of Narelle Oliver. Ask them to explain why they thought that this was the funniest part.
(ACELT1783)   (ENe-10C)


Rich assessment task

As a class talk about the purpose of a review. Expose students to movie and book reviews and discuss how they can be useful. List the key elements.
Have students complete a simple book review about Don’t Let a Spoonbill in the Kitchen!If required use the template.

Examining text structure and organisation

Pattern and Repetition

Draw the students’ attention to the pattern created on each page. Each page has two quatrains that has the same structure at the beginning:
“I see a …” and “Now just in case you’re wondering if”.
Choose another bird with an obvious feature and as a class innovate on the text and create a new page using the same structure. For example, a cockatoo with its crest on display shouldn’t be at the hairdresser.
(ACELT1785)   (ENe-10C)


Examining grammar and vocabulary


Re-read the book emphasising the rhyming and encouraging children to join in and complete the rhyme in each quatrain. Discuss how rhyme and meter make it entertaining to listen to and easy to listen and join in.
Using a copy of the text up on the board underline the rhyming words to highlight the rhyming words at the end of every second line.
I see a pelican
Paddling in the sea,
With giant beak that’s like a bag,
She traps fish for her tea.

In groups of two complete a rhyming pairs activity by finding the rhyming pairs in the book. Then come up with some rhyming words to add to the new page created in the last activity.


Apart from the spoonbill, every new bird page features a simile (Jacana: with feet so long and wide like snowshoes on at the lilypads. . .). Discuss with the students why the author might do this and how it contributes to the imagery and the story. How does the simile connect to the warning on the next page. For example, the cormorant has its wings stretched out “like all the washing pegged up in the sun outside” and the warning is about the laundry.


Rich assessment task

Have the students imagine that they are a bird flying up in the sky. If they have been in a plane before or on a high mountain they may like to draw on this experience. Get them to visualise what the view would be like from up high. Make a list of of all the very small things to compare this to.

Key Questions

What would they be able to see?
How small would everything appear?

Help students create a simile about what they could see if they were a bird flying up in the sky.
“From the sky I can see/feel . . . like . . .”
Illustrate with a birds’ eye view drawing what they have written about.

Retell familiar literary texts through performance, use of illustrations and images

Recreating Familiar Texts Through Performance

Put the students into six small groups and assign one of the different birds to each group from the story. Talk about each bird providing a few facts about how they move. You may need to do a little research before the lesson.
Each group imitates the natural movements of the bird they have been given in its natural habitat until the teacher calls out “Freeze!” Once they have stopped, have the group then act out the bird in the wrong environment from the book and get the class to guess which bird it is and where they are.

Create new texts through various media

Creating new texts

This book is all about warnings. As a class brainstorm all the different places that you find warning signs. Many of these signs have pictures and few words. Look at a variety of examples and discuss why.

Key Questions

Why do you think that warning signs mainly contain pictures, not words?
If you were travelling in a car why might it be better to have mainly pictures instead of lots of writing?
If you were visiting another country would this be helpful? Why?
Why do you think the colour/shape/picture was chosen?

Show the students a range of warning signs and get them to guess what the hazard is.
Ask students to make up their own warning signs, thinking carefully about the best shape, colour, image and writing to get their message across as easily and effectively as possible.
(ACELT1580)   (ENe-10C)


Rich assessment task

Get students to think of their favourite animal and a place where it could create a lot of mayhem. Help students to create a black and white picture of this animal in the style of Narelle Oliver’s linocuts from the book, cut it out and paste it onto a collage depicting the animal in the wrong environment. This will require a collection of scrapbooking paper, magazine pictures and catalogues for cutting up.
Using this collage, students create a warning page in the style of Don’t Let a Spoonbill in the Kitchen!