Connecting to prior knowledge

Activity 1: Friends of all sorts

Display pictures of a dog, a cat, a teddy bear, a girl, a boy, an old person, and a goldfish.

Have the students consider whether it is possible to be friends with/have as friends and to love each of the people, animals or objects depicted in the pictures. Ask them to explain their reasons – why or why not?

As the discussion progresses make a list of the qualities of friendship as they emerge from the students’ reasoning.

Activity 2: Pets and friendship

Share one of the following picture story books with the class or another book about friendships with dogs or another type of animal.

  • The Best Days are Dog Days by Aaron Meshon (themes: friends enjoy doing things together).
  • Maggi Milo by Juli Brenning (theme – friends help each other, have fun together and accept each other).
  • Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers (themes: the companionship of friends, it can be lonely when a friend leaves).
  • Fearless by Colin Thompson (themes: being a caring friend; looking after our friends).

After reading the story, ask the students:

  • What does the dog (or other animal) and child or family in the story do that tells us they are friends?
  • How do we know that the child or family in the story and the dog (or other animal) love each other?
  • What happens in the story that is about loyalty or having fun together?

Activity 3: Anticipation Guide

Show the students the front cover of the book, read the title and give them time to view the front cover illustration.

Use large sheet or the interactive whiteboard to display ten clearly written statements, some of which tell about occurrences in the story and others that are not true in terms of the story. Ensure the true and false statements are mixed up. Have columns next to each statement – ‘true’ and ‘not true’. The sentences might be:

True Not True
Rose and John Brown (the dog) live together.
Rose has a lot of pets.
John Brown and the Midnight Cat are friends.
Rose gives the Midnight Cat milk to drink.
The Midnight Cat is a naughty cat.
The Midnight Cat visits Rose and John Brown.
John Brown is always happy to see the Midnight Cat.
John Brown runs away.
Rose gets sick and stays in bed.
John Brown wants Rose to feel better.
John Brown gives Rose a special gift.

Read each of the statements one at a time. For each one, have the students decide if they think it tells them something that will be true about the story or something that will not be true or doesn’t happen in the story. You might also ask them to tell you why they think certain statements tell about something that will happen in (or is true for) the story. Their reasons should draw on the picture clues on the front cover and their prior knowledge.

Note: The statements can be re-visited after reading the story – which were true and which were not true in regards to the story? Again, the students should explain their decisions as some statements might be true or not, depending on how it is being understood. One example of ambiguity is, ‘John Brown Rose gives Rose a special gift’. This might be true if acceptance and welcoming of the Midnight Cat is considered to be a gift.
(ACELY1670)    (EN1-4A)

Activity 4: A Questionnaire about Pets 

Have the children devise questions and then carry out a questionnaire with teachers and/or older children in the school who have pets. As a class use the survey monkey app to build the survey. The purpose of the survey would be to find out about people’s pets and their relationship with their pets. Example survey questions might be:

Questions for people with pets? Questions just for people with more than one pet:
  • How many pets do you have?
  • What types of pet or pets do you have?
  • Are your pets part of your family?
  • Where do your pets sleep?
  • What do you like about having pets?
  • How do you know if your pets love you?
  • If you have more than one pet, are they friends?
  • How do you know? How do they behave with each other?
  • What makes your pet happy, sad, jealous?
  • How do you know when they have these feelings?

Together with the class, collate, share and talk about the survey results

Activity 5: When I feel jealous…

Note: Jealousy is often to do with competition. Examples of when young children might feel jealous are:

  • when there is a new baby in the family – the child might think that his or her parents are giving the new baby more attention or love.
  • when a special friend spends time with other friends or makes a new friend – the child might want to have all of his or her attention all the time.
  • when a friend or peer can do things that she or he can’t do yet.
  • when a brother or sister seems to be getting more attention from their parents that him or her.

Read or use puppets to tell one of the following stories that highlights the feeling of jealousy in a way young children can relate to:

    • Little Monster Did It! by Helen Cooper
    • Marshmallow by Clare Turlay Newberry
    • Lulu and the Birthday Party by Belinda Hollyer
    • Sun and Moon Sisters by Khoa Le
    • Two Bad Teddies by Kilmeny Niland
    • A New Friend for Sparkle by Amy Young

After reading talk to the class about the feeling of jealousy and have them share their own understanding or experiences.

Alternatively, you might read one of the information books for young children that helps them to understand the feeling of jealousy and how to deal with it.

    • When I Feel Jealous (the way I feel books) by Cornelia Maude Spelman
    • Let’s Talk about Feeling Jealous by Joy Berry
    • Jealous by Isabel Thomas
    • When I’m Jealous by Jane Aaron and Dr Barbara Gardiner

(ACELA1460)   (EN1-6B)   (EN1-7B)   (ACELT1589)   (EN1-11D)   (EN1-4A)


Rich assessment task

Read the story, John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat stopping at each page for the students to take in the illustrations.

Display feeling word cards – love, jealous, lonely, sad, angry, happy – that comprise the word and a facial expression or picture. Put the students in groups of four and provide each group with a copy of the book. Invite students to talk about what the characters are feeling and what it is about the illustration/s that makes them think that. Students might notice the characters’ expressions, the setting/scenery and the activity or actions.

Revisit the Anticipation Guide (Activity 3) and read each statement out, this time asking the students to decide if the statements tell them something true about the story or what occurred in the story or nota.

Ask the students to explain their thoughts in relation to the statements they decide are true and reflect the story content – ask why do you think that? What in the story tells you that?

Have the students create a poster about love using the story to guide them. Invite each student to create a picture and several sentences. They might write this themselves or voice narrate using a digital resource. Students could use poster apps such as MoMA Art Lab or Popplet to complete the task.
(ACELT1589)   (EN1-11D)   (EN1-4A)

Responding to the text

Activity 6: Reading between the lines to construct meaning

In this activity the focus is on the use of inference. It is about how readers use clues in the text to infer meaning about the story; that is, readers determine the information that is not directly stated by the author but that can be inferred from what the author does state.

Begin with a modelled strategy experience to introduce/revise how to infer. This could be done prior to the Anticipation Guide or at this point.

Key questions might be:

  • What is my inference?
  • What information that the author provided did I use?
  • What information in my head did I use?

Useful sentence starters might be:

  • In the book it says……… (information in the book)
  • That makes me think that…….. (inference)
  • I think this because………………….. (link what I know and what is in the book)

The use of consistent question types and sentence starters is useful for young children as they learn to express the thinking that occurs as they listen to a story being read.

Before beginning it is necessary to explain and demonstrate how readers use clues from the text to ‘make inferences’ and determine or expand on story meaning. To demonstrate you might:

  1. Write the following three sentences from the first page of the book in big print so that all the children can clearly see it.

Rose’s husband died a long time ago.
Now she lived with her dog.
His name was John Brown.

  1. Read the sentences aloud and use the ‘think aloud’ technique to demonstrate the process of making inference. For example, you might say to the students:

‘It states in the story that Rose’s husband died and that makes me think that she might be sad or lonely. It also states that Rose lives with her dog and that makes me think that maybe she got her dog after her husband died so that she wasn’t lonely’.

This might be extended to demonstrate how prior knowledge or experience is used to make inferences depending on how experienced the children are with making inferences.

  1. You might continue with another example or move to having the students share their own inferences about other parts of the written text. Display each of the following extracts of the text one at a time and guide the children to share their thinking or inferences. Use the sentence starters as outlined previously.

John Brown loved Rose,
and he looked after her every way that he could.

‘What’s that in the garden, John Brown?’ she said, 
John Brown would not look.
‘Out there,’ said Rose.
‘I don’t see any cat,’ said John Brown.

But Rose saw the midnight cat often after that.
Every night, when John Brown was not looking,
she put out a bowl of milk.

John Brown thought.

He thought all through lunch time
and when supper time came, he was still thinking.

Each time the students share their thinking provide feedback using the word, ‘inference’. For example, ‘that was a good inference’ or ‘you used the clues well to make that inference’ so as to develop metalanguage and to reinforce the process.

Other approaches to ‘making inferences’ might be:

  • for students to draw their inferences for one or two of the above story extracts and then share them in pairs.
  • to use the illustrations by showing different illustrations from the book one at a time and have students note the information they contain and then consider what is not shown in an illustration but that can be inferred from it.

Note: Be mindful that the background knowledge used to make inferences will vary from child to child but that it should be connected to the written text.
(ACELY1670)   (EN1-4A)

Activity 7: I wonder what they’re thinking?

Select a few pages from the book and for each page, attach a temporary thought bubble to one of the characters; for example, you might choose from the following pages and characters:

  • page 2: The written text states, John Brown loved Rose, and he looked after her in any way he could. (Attach a thought bubble to Rose.)
  • page 5: The written text states, ‘We are all right, John Brown,’ said Rose. ‘Just the two of us, you and me.’ (Attach a thought bubble to John Brown.)
  • pages 10–11: The written text states, But that night, when Rose was safe in bed, John Brown went outside. He drew a line around the house and told the midnight cat to stay away. ‘We don’t need you, cat,’ he said. ‘We are all right, Rose and I.’ (Attach a thought bubble to the midnight cat.)
  • page 15: The written text states, Every night, when John Brown was not looking, she put out a bowl of milk. (Attach a thought bubble to Rose.)
  • page 16: The written text states, And every night, when Rose was not looking, John Brown tipped it out again. (Attach a thought bubble to John Brown.)
  • page 29–30: The written text states, Then Rose got up and sat by the fire, for a while. And the midnight cat sat on the arm of the chair…and purred. (Attach a thought bubble to the midnight cat on page 30).

For each of your selected pages ask students to consider and share what they think the selected character might be thinking – what might be written in the thought bubble? Model this first, sharing your own ideas in relation to the first page and character. You might then do a few pages together with the whole class and move to having the students do the activity in pairs, sharing their ideas with each other.

Note: This activity extends from the previous one and requires students to infer from the information in the written text and pictures as well as their background knowledge to decide on the characters’ thoughts.
(ACELY1670)   (EN1-4A)   (ACELY1666)   (EN1-1A)


Exploring plot, character, setting and theme

Activity 8: How is John Brown feeling?

This activity will require the students to consider John Brown’s feelings in relation to different events in the story and how his feelings changed as the story progressed. Do some preliminary work with emotion vocabulary before starting the activity and display the words on cards to be referred to as the activity progresses. Introduce sets of words that have similar meaning.

Examples of emotion words: happy, joyful, cheerful, delighted, confident, relaxed, comfortable, calm, fondness, loving, cautious, lonely, sad, hurt, suspicious, worried, shocked, afraid, fearful, nervous, curious, helpless, jealous, annoyed, grumpy, bored, pity, confused.

  1. Walk through the book focusing on the pictures and John Brown and how he is feeling. At different points have students identify the event and John Brown’s feelings in relation to the event. Questions to elicit responses might be:
  • What is happening in this part of the story?
  • How is John Brown feeling here?
  • Why was he feeling like that?
  1. As each event is identified record it at the top of a chart that is clearly displayed in front of the students. The chart with the events might be prepared before the lesson or the events might be written down as the children identify them.



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Rose lived with John Brown who kept her company and looked after her. It was just the two of them. Rose saw the midnight cat in the garden. John Brown told the midnight cat to stay away. Rose put out some milk for the midnight cat but John Brown tipped it out. Rose liked the midnight cat. She wanted to let him in but John Brown wouldn’t. Rose was sick and so stayed in bed. John Brown did a lot of thinking. John Brown asked Rose if the midnight cat would make her better. He let the midnight cat in to the house. John Brown, Rose and the midnight cat sat by the fire together.

John Brown’s feelings








  1. Invite students to work in groups of three. Provide each student with three plain white circles that they use to draw pictures that depict John Brown’s feelings in relation to three events of the story. Each group of three should work together and between them cover John Brown’s feelings for all the events of the story as outlined in the chart.
  2. Have students attach their pictures to the chart underneath the event they relate to and explain their picture and the feelings it depicts. – He was feeling…because…
    (ACELT1591)   (EN1-10C)   (EN1-9B)

Activity 9: Improvised Dialogue

Work with students to assist them to generate improvised interaction and dialogue between characters for different situations in the story. Examples of situations that might be used for this are:

  • When Rose and John Brown are sitting in the lounge room by the fire and they hug each other.
  • When John Brown goes outside to confront the midnight cat and tell him to stay away.
  • When Rose and John Brown are eating dinner at the table and John Brown tells Rose that she doesn’t need a cat because she has him.
  • When John Brown went to the kitchen and opened the door and let the midnight cat come in.
  • When John Brown, Rose and the midnight cat were in the lounge room by the fire.

(ACELT1589)   (EN1-11D)   (EN1-4A)


Rich assessment task

A Many Responses Journal

Provide each student with a small booklet made from stapling about six A5 sheets of paper that they will use to represent their different story responses. Use the booklet over a period of time and have them complete the story response activities that are outlined below. Provide time to talk and discuss each activity and to develop ideas and thoughts before and after doing each activity in the booklet.

  • Page 1:  Have the students design a new front cover for the booklet that includes a new title and picture.
  • Page 2: The students share their opinion of the story by writing or drawing. Ensure they provide their reason when orally sharing afterwards.
  • Page 3: The students depict the setting of the story by means of an aerial view map which includes the outside and the different rooms of the house in which the story takes place.
  • Page 4: Who is the midnight cat? The students draw to represent where the midnight cat has come from and write a sentence in their booklet underneath their picture.
  • Page 5: Students use magazines to find pictures or shapes and objects that remind them of or can symbolise the story.
  • Page 6: Students create a small timeline depicting what John Brown, Rose and the midnight cat do in a day a few weeks after the story ends.

(ACELT1587)   (EN1-11D)

Examining text structure and organisation

Activity 10: The pictures and me

  1. Identify two or three pictures in the story that might be used to consider the illustrator’s use of visual elements and how these influence the meaning or reader’s response. Examples of pictures you might use are:
  • Rose and John Brown sitting under the pear tree.
  • Rose and John Brown sitting by the fire.
  • John Brown when lying down all day thinking while holding Rose’s slipper.
  1. Begin with one of the pictures, show it to the class and ask them:
  • How does the picture make you feel?
  • What is it about the picture that makes you feel that way?
  • What do you notice about the faces of the characters in the picture?
  • What do you notice about the direction of the character’s gaze?
  • What special title would you give this picture?
  • What do you notice about the way the illustrator has created the pictures – colour, texture?
  1. Choose another of the pictures from the book. Provide the students with an A3 sheet of paper on which one half is the picture from the book and on the other half is space for them to draw.
  2. Instruct the students to draw the same picture but in doing so to change how they use colour so that it is different from the choices of the book’s illustrator.
  3. Display the pictures and discuss:
  • how they changed the use of colour and;
  • whether this makes the picture seem different to the one in the book and if it changes the meaning or how it makes them feel.

(ACELT1587)   (EN1-11D)

Note: Visual elements are used by illustrators to create precise meaning in the pictures they produce; they include such things as colour, line, texture, perspective and shape which they employ in ways so as to communicate a precise meaning. It might be to communicate the mood of a story or shifts in mood as a story progresses, emotions or frame of mind of characters, relationships between characters or a setting’s ambience. In working with the use of visual elements in the pictures of John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat, you might consider:

  • Colour: The illustrator’s choices in regards to colour and hues (shades of a colour), tone and saturation and the effect it has on meaning.
  • Texture: The use of brush or pencil lines and shading so as to give the impression on something looking hard or soft, smooth or rough. Of course, other methods, such as collage (with different types of paper) can also be used to manipulate texture.
  • Line: The weight of the lines is varied. It can be thick and solid or thin and whispy. Cross hatching (the crisscross of fine lines) can darken areas and provide a sense of energy or tension.

Activity 11: Classifying Characters

  1. Provide students with three cut out pictures – (1) John Brown, (2) Rose and (3) the midnight cat. They don’t have to be from the book but can simply be a dog, an old lady and a cat. Additionally, provide them with a ladder template on which the word ‘least’ is written on the bottom rung and the word ‘most’ is written on the top rung.
  2. Choose words (descriptive adjectives) that can be used to describe someone’s disposition or character traits. You might consider some of the following words – cheerful, lonely, jealous, loyal, stubborn, generous, kind, peaceful, patient, polite, clever, selfish, patient, shy, scared, friendly, mysterious, grateful. Students might not know the meaning of some of these words and so you would need to explain or demonstrate their meaning before they consider how they apply to each character.
  3. Have students place their story character cutouts on their ladders in order from least (the story character displaying the nominated trait the least or not at all) to most (the story character displaying the nominated trait most strongly).
  4. Discuss the reasons for their ranking.

(ACELT1783)   (ENe-10C)

Activity 12: What happened just before? What happens next?

  1. Show one page from the story that clearly depicts an event of the story line; for instance, you might show them the page with Rose and John Brown hugging as they sit by the fire and Rose says, ‘We are all right John Brown. Just the two of us, you and me.’ Ask students to tell you, what happened just before this and then, what happened just after this? The students are required to describe the story leading up to the focus event and then think about and describe what occurs immediately after. The point is for them to consider and recall the order of events in a story rather than to recall the exact details of a specific page.
  2. Do the same activity as above, but this time, instead of showing a page from the book provide them with a copy of a page (the picture and written language) which clearly represents an event in the story. Copy the book page onto the middle of a sheet of paper so that there is a blank area clearly available on either side of it. A page that might be considered for the activity this time is the one where Rose puts out some milk for the midnight cat. After some discussion about this event, ask the children to draw pictures to depict what occurred immediately before this event and what occurred immediately after.

(ACELT1591)   (EN1-10C)   (EN1-9B)


Examining grammar and vocabulary

Activity 13: Creating pictures in my mind

Note: Similes do not explicitly appear in the curriculum at this level but the activity might be done if it follows interest, wonderings and curiosities of your class. Alternatively you might do this with a small group of students as extension.

  1. Show the picture of the cat in the moonlight (page 17) and read the written text to the students.

One night the midnight cat jumped up at the window
and rubbed his back against the glass.
His eyes were like lamps,
and his fur shone against the ragged sky.

Figurative language – simile:

Focus the attention on the clause, His eyes were like lamps, and read it again emphasising the word like 

  1. Ask the students to work in pairs to consider what the author means when she describes the cat’s eyes as being like lamps. After a few minutes, have them share their ideas with the class.
  2. As they share their ideas, add comments that assist them to understand that when an author says that something is ‘like’ something else, she or he is helping us to imagine it in our minds and it makes the story more interesting.
  3. Now look at the picture again and ask them to think if they can come up with other things that the cat’s eyes remind them of (or are like) using the sentence starter, ‘The cat’s eyes are like…’  
  4. You might extend this by choosing something in another picture in the story and asking students to have a go at describing it by thinking about what it reminds them of or is like. Provide a sentence starter – The ……………. is like ……………. (be sure to choose examples for which using a simile is reasonable).


  1. Use the same page and written text but this time focus on the use of the word, ‘ragged’ to describe the sky (…his fur shone against the ragged sky).

Note: This experience is reliant on previous experiences and engagements with literature and conversations. Your students may require pictorial support to engage with the concept of ragged, e.g. pointing out the shape of the rocks and the edge of the torn coat.

  1. Ask students to think about and try and work out what the word, ‘ragged’ means. – What would a sky at night time look like if it looked ‘ragged’? (ragged – the surface or edges are rough or uneven). You might assist  by providing other sentences that use the word ‘ragged’ but in different contexts. For example, Her coat was old and torn. It was a ragged coat and, The waves crashed on the ragged rocks. In this instance it might be useful to have an example of a ‘ragged rock’ and perhaps some pictures that demonstrate the meaning of ‘ragged’.
    Ask students to suggest other things that could be described as ‘ragged’.
  2. Together create a poster using an app that displays the word ‘ragged’ in the middle and write noun groups that comprise the word, ‘ragged’ such as those suggested and your own examples – ragged sky, old ragged coat, ragged rocks. Write words (and provide illustrations) that have the same or similar meaning as the word ragged; for example, uneven, rough, rough-edged, worn out. Display the poster and attempt to use the word ‘ragged’ in context at other times in the day.

(ACELY1470)   (EN1-9B) 

Activity 14: Using context clues

  1. Write an excerpt of the story on the board or a large chart so that it can be seen by the whole class; an example of a suitable excerpt is:
    John Brown loved Rose,
    and he looked after her in every way he could.
    In summer he sat under the pear tree with her.
    In winter he watched as she dozed by the fire.
    All year round he kept her company.
    ‘We are all right, John Brown’, said Rose.
    ‘Just the two of us, you and me.’
  1. Write some words (refer underlined) from the story excerpt on detachable word cards but keep them included in the displayed story excerpt. Draw a word box underneath each detachable word card so that when it is removed a word box can be seen and will indicate a word is missing.
  2. Read the story excerpt aloud so that they see and hear the words in a meaningful context.
  3. Remove the detachable word cards and display them in random order to the side of the story excerpt where they can still be seen by the students.
  4. Read the story excerpt again from beginning to end saying ‘something’ or pausing at each missing word. Read the excerpt once more but this time stop at each missing word to allow the students to suggest a word that might go there. Ask, ‘What word makes sense here? What word sounds right?’ As the students suggest a word, return its word card to the sentence. The teacher can do this or ask a child to locate it and place it back in the story excerpt. If they suggest a word that is not the one used in the book then write it in and check whether the word they suggest makes sense and sounds right by reading the sentence or phrase with the suggested word included. The objective is not necessarily to get the exact word from the story but to choose a word that makes sense (meaning) and that sounds right in terms of structure (grammar).
  5. You might extend the activity by removing the detachable word cards from the story excerpt again and giving them to different students who can place them in the appropriate location of the written text as the story excerpt is once again read aloud.

Activity 15: Moving the story along

  1. Read the story to the class and stop at each page where the written text is the narrator telling the events of the story (read but don’t stop when it involves direct speech between characters). At each page, focus attention on the written language and on how the sentences begin. You might write the sentence beginning on a chart (refer below) as they are identified so as to then be able to analyse and discuss. The sentence beginnings in the story book are:
Sentence beginnings…character actions  Sentence beginnings…time order
 Rose’s husband…

John Brown…

John Brown went…

But John Brown…


John Brown…

But Rose…

John Brown…

He went…

John Brown…

He thought…

John Brown went…

And the…

Now she…Then she…

Then Rose…

In summer…

In winter…

One night…

But that night…

The next nigh…

Every night…

And every nigh…

One night…

Next morning…

An hour past…

  1. Discuss the different sentence beginnings and how they help us to follow the events and actions of the story and the order in which things happen.
      • sentence beginnings that indicate character movement or actions
      • time or time-order sentence beginnings that show time passing or the time distance between actions or events.

You may want to brainstorm time order words before beginning.
(ACELA1432)   (EN1-9B)


Rich assessment task

Story retell using a ‘scene-scape’

  1. Provide each group of three with a ‘scene-scape’ board for the story. A ‘scene-scape’ board is a long piece of thick cardboard that is sectioned according to the number of setting variations in the story with each section visually depicting a different setting. Note that it is not necessary to include all the detail of each setting but ensure there are certain key items relevant to the story that will denote the setting. For this book the scene-scape would be divided into five settings. The general setting is Rose’s home but the story moves from outside to inside and between rooms and so these changes are depicted on the scene-scape. Refer to the table below to show the five setting variations to be depicted on the scene-scape.
Section 1 setting Section 2 setting Section 3 setting Section 4 setting Section 5 setting
Outside scene during the daytime which includes ducks in pen, tree and chair and a fence. The living room which includes a fireplace, chair, window through which the night-time sky outside can be seen. Outside during the night-time with dark sky, moon, trees, barn, house. The dining room showing table and chairs, cupboards, a window through which the daytime sky can be seen. The bedroom showing bed, cupboard and flowers.
  1. Additionally provide each group with cardboard cut-outs of the three story characters – John Brown, Rose and the midnight cat.
  2. Model an oral retell of the story using the scene-scape and cardboard characters demonstrating how the story moves from one setting variation to another (and sometimes back again) as it unfolds.
  3. Have students work in the groups of three to orally retell the story while also using the scene-scape and cardboard characters to indicate shifts in settings.

Discuss the characters and settings of different texts and explore how language is used to present these features in different ways.
(ACELT1591)   (EN1-10C)   (EN1-9B)

Activity 16: Narrative Pantomime

Invite students to find their own personal space in the room; they won’t need to interact but will be acting out their own story.

Read the story aloud ensuring to read at a pace that gives them the time to listen and respond.

As you read the story aloud students act it out, taking on the role of John Brown. There are no sounds or costumes just each child going through the physical movements of John Brown at each event of the story.


Repeat this activity but with the idea of having the children respond to your instructions by means of ‘the remote control’ as they act out the story. The remote control element is based on the concept of a DVD remote control and calls for students to make changes to the manner in which they are acting out the story. You press the button of a pretend ‘remote control’ while calling out an instruction (pause, rewind, fast forward, slow motion, add sound) which the children then apply to their acting out of the story.
(ACELT1587)   (EN1-10C)

Activity 17: Story Soundscape

  1. Provide a range of musical instruments and allow the children to experiment with them; after a short time provide a more structured context to work with the students to play the instruments and to consider each in relation to the feelings or mood the instrument evokes. Students might want to experiment with the playing of two or three instruments and the use of soft and loud or fast and slow to create different moods or evoke different feelings.
  2. Walk through the pictures of the book with the students and taking each page one at a time, assisting them to identify the mood of each part of the story. To assist with understanding and labelling the moods, ask the students about how the picture makes them feel and why. They might also consider what any of the characters associated with each event are feeling. You could ask students to close their eyes, visualise a scene/event and take it in using the different senses.
  3. Help students to assign music to each part of the story by choosing what instruments to use and how to play them. This might be audio or video recorded for later recollection of choices made.
  4. Allocate instruments and guide students in using the suggested instruments to create the type of music they chose to represent the mood of each picture or event. The students can decide to make some changes as they go so as to portray the appropriate mood or feelings of each picture or sequence of pictures.
  5. Read the story aloud while students depict the changing moods using the musical instruments.

(ACELT1593)   (EN1-10C)   (EN1-2A)


Play the online video clip of a reading of John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat while different excerpts of classical music are being played in relation to different parts of the story.

Have the students consider the choices of music and the mood or feelings each portrays and how this relates to the different parts of the story to which they are applied.
(ACELT1589)   (EN1-11D)   (EN1-4A)


Rich assessment task

Digital Storytelling

For this activity the students use an app/program to retell the story in pictures and words. They might also use musical instruments as used in an earlier activity to represent the mood or feelings of the story.

  1. Have the children work as a whole class or in groups for the project which involves creating a six-section storyboard that depicts the events of the story. The events might be shown in pictures and words.
  2. Have the students draw the pictures to go with each of the six identified parts to use in creating their digital retell.
  3. Using their pictures students practise retelling the story in their own words, in such a way that it aligns with their pictures. At this stage, they might decide how the musical instruments will be used. They should then rehearse the story retelling with the pictures and the musical instruments.
  4. When everything is organised, work with the students to use an appropriate app to record their story retell. One of the following tools or applications might be useful for this purpose:

(ACELT1593)   (EN1-10C)   (EN1-2A)   (ACELY1671)   (EN1-10C)