Connecting to prior knowledge
Who am I?
Ask students to create a personal profile (PDF, 76KB) that includes such information as:
- who is in their family
- where their family is from
- what is special about them
- their favourite food, music and books
- any languages they speak
- words they mispronounced when growing up
- anything else they want to include
Who are we?
Set up four ‘compass points’ around the room (i.e. north, east, south, west) using the provided signs (PDF, 67KB). Pose a question to the class with four possible answers, one each for each compass point. For example:
|How many people are in your family?||What is your favourite type of music?|
Students are to move to the compass point that corresponds with their personal profile. They will then record the names of one or two students at the same point on their connections worksheet (PDF, 74KB).
Repeat this process with several more questions related to the personal profiles. Then ask:
- How are people connected?
- Why does being connected matter?
Finish by explaining that the class is going to engage in some activities to answer these questions.
Exploring the text in context of our community, school and ‘me’
Divide the class into eight groups. Explain that each group needs to build its own town using cardboard, LEGO, building blocks, or any other available materials.
The town must have walls and the group members must agree on what to include to create a sense of comfort, safety and happiness. They should also decide:
- what music or song will play in their town
- the town’s most popular food
- the townspeople’s favourite book(s)
- some words that will be used regularly by the residents
- the town’s name
Once they have finished building, each group needs to elect a mayor. They will then pair up with another group so that their mayors can lead a tour of their respective towns. As students follow along, they should record information about the other group’s town in a wonder journal (PDF, 98KB).
Following the tours, ask students:
- What did you see, think, feel and wonder?
- What was the same and what was different between the two towns?
- What connects the people in each town?
Now ask groups to pair up again (these pairs can be the same as before OR completely different) to join their towns together. Allow 15–20 minutes for students to agree on what their combined town will be like and record the new details.
Lead a whole class discussion on the experience of combining towns. Prompt students to reflect on the process by asking:
- What was easy? What was hard?
- What stayed the same? What changed?
- How were decisions made?
- Did the town feel different to your original town? In what ways?
Rich assessment task
Show students the front and back covers, the inside covers, and the title page (p. 1) of Littlelight by Kelly Canby. Remind the class of their inquiry questions:
- How are people connected?
- Why does being connected matter?
Re-read and display the outside and inside covers, plus the first page of the book, one more time. As you do so, students are to write:
- TWO facts about the book
- ONE question about the book
- ONE statement about how the book might link to the inquiry questions
Invite students to share their responses and add any new thoughts to their wonder journals.
Responding to the text
Place students in pairs with a copy of Littlelight (this might be shared between multiple pairs; alternatively, display the front and back covers prominently for the whole class). Ask them to:
- annotate anything they notice on the front and back covers
- write down any questions they have
- predict what they think the book might be about
Now get each pair to join with another pair (pair-to-square) and compare and contrast their annotations, questions and predictions.
Make sure all students can see the front and back covers of Littlelight. Ask them to respond to the following prompts:
- What did you notice about the setting?
- Tell me something about the buildings.
- Did you see any characters?
- What did you notice about the colours?
- Is there anything that appears more than once on the front and back covers?
- How are the title and the blurb related?
- What do you think the story will be about and why do you think this?
NOTE: For the purpose of tracking page numbers, the first page of the story is considered p. 2.
Read the book aloud to the class. Explain that, as you read each page, you want students to listen to the text and then spend some time noticing what is going on in the illustrations. Model this with the first page (p. 2):
I can see the buildings in the town, which are all grey, black and white. I can see pops of colour in five birds, a ladder, and what looks like a young girl. I can see a brick wall behind the buildings, with three or four gaps where bricks are missing bricks.
Stop at the following double page spreads and to ask some questions:
|pp. 6–7||What do you think the Mayor and the people of Littlelight will do?|
|pp. 10–11||Who do you think is responsible for removing the bricks?
Why do you think they are doing it?
|pp. 24–25||What do you think the townspeople are remembering?|
|pp. 30–31||How do you feel about what the Mayor is saying?|
|pp. 32–33||Why do you think the townspeople do this for the Mayor?
What do you think life will be like now?
Remind students of their experiences building their own towns and then joining with another town. Ask them to respond in writing to the following question:
What do you think will go well for the people of Littlelight, and what do you think will be challenging?
They can also add any new thoughts to their wonder journals.
Exploring plot, character, setting and theme
For this activity you will need four rolls of crepe paper: one pink, one green, one aqua and one yellow (or as close as you can get to the four thematic colours in Littlelight).
Break the class into five groups, each with an allocated town (Littlelight, the northern side, the southern side, the eastern side, and the western side). Students are to work together to create a life-sized postcard of their town, using coloured paper, their own bodies, and any props they can craft or find around the classroom.
Before students begin, demonstrate how to create a postcard for a beach scene. Use volunteers and available props to show them how to compose a scene, with consideration for foreground, background, middle ground, levels (high/mid/low), and available space.
Allow time for groups to create their own postcards, using clues from the text to ensure that their scenes are accurate.
Once all groups are ready, have them pose for their postcard so that the rest of the class can see it. Photograph the postcards, print them out, and glue each one in the centre of an A3 piece of paper. Students will work within their groups to annotate their postcard and record the characteristics of their allocated town.
Play the drama game conscience alley (PDF, 83KB) using the following characters from Littlelight:
- The girl
- The townspeople
- The Mayor
- Someone from the northern, eastern, southern or western sides of town
Now play another drama game: tap and talk. Tell students that, for this activity, they will be taking on the role of the girl who stole the bricks. Ask them to spread out around the classroom and find a spot to stand.
Read aloud and show students the first double page spread (see below). Ask them to pose as the girl and imagine what she might be thinking and feeling. Once everyone is in position, tap one student on the shoulder. They will speak as though they were the girl and share what she is thinking and/or feeling. Tap a few more students, then repeat the entire process with the remaining spreads:
Finish by asking students if they think the girl stayed the same or changed throughout the text, and how/why she did this.
Re-read the final pages (pp. 32–33) and discuss the following questions:
- How did the citizens treat the Mayor?
- Why did they do this?
- Is this the best way?
- Is there a better way?
When you get to the final question, invite students to think-pair-square, then share their responses with the rest of the class.
Rich assessment task
Before and after
As a class, reflect on what Littlelight was like at the beginning of the book and what it was like at the end. Encourage students to use the words ‘before’ and ‘after’ in their discussion.
Working individually, students are to draw the outline of two houses side-by-side. They will label one ‘before’ and the other ‘after’. They will then add words, phrases and images in/around each house to illustrate what life was like for the people of Littlelight at different points in the story:
- Before the bricks first started going missing
- After the citizens realised they needed windows, doors and bridges
Students can add this page, and any new thoughts they have had, to their wonder journal.
Examining text structure and organisation
Multimodal design analysis
Show students pp. 2–3 of Littlelight and ask:
- What do you notice? Why do you think you noticed this?
- How does this page make you feel? Why?
Invite students to share their responses in a whole class discussion.
Now explain that you are going to model how to analyse these pages to answer the question:
What can we learn about the setting and the main character from these pages?
Enlarge the double page spread so that the class can see it clearly. Make annotations as you highlight different points for analysis. These might include:
|Language||Little + light = Littlelight (hence ‘grey old town’)
Repetition (‘a brick missing’)
|Visual design – colour||The colour grey is dominant
Black windows (not transparent)
Colourful birds, ladder and character: yellow, pink, green and aqua
|Visual design – perspectives and vectors||Pointed roofs, ladder pointing upwards
The character’s arms
Houses in foreground, brick in background
Size of each object
|Spatial design||Crowding of buildings, spacing between bricks
White space at the top of the page
Size and position of birds, ladder and character
Position of sentences
Use a think-aloud statement to summarise what you can infer about the setting and main character from these pages.
Now ask students to choose one double page spread from the text and create their own annotations about Kelly Canby’s linguistic, visual and spatial design choices. They can record their answers to the following questions:
- What is happening in these pages?
- Does the illustration show you a particular feeling, theme or idea?
- How do you feel about the character(s) in the illustration?
- What do you think Canby wanted you to notice about this page? Why?
Walls, windows, doors and bridges
Introduce Suri’s Wall, written by Lucy Estela and illustrated by Matt Ottley, for a text comparison. Begin by showing students the front cover of the book and reading out the blurb.
Read pp. 2–3 of both Suri’s Wall and Littlelight. Use the compare and contrast worksheet (PDF, 73KB) to analyse these pages. Areas for analysis might include:
- Language use
- Illustration style
Continue reading Suri’s Wall up to the end of pp. 10–11 (when Eva asks Suri what she can see). Display this spread alongside pp. 26–27 of Littlelight. Explain that in the pages from Littlelight, the townspeople have encountered new foods, words, music, stories, colours and light. By comparison, in Suri’s Wall, we don’t yet know what Suri has seen. Ask students to predict what this might be and provide their reasoning. Then continue reading from pp. 12–23 (up to the pages with the elephant).
Ask students to stand on the left side of the classroom if they prefer Littlelight, and the right side if they prefer Suri’s Wall. They should talk with people on the same side of the room to find out why they prefer that book, then talk with people on the other side of the room to learn more about their preferences. Come back together as a class and ask students to share any reasons they heard that were similar, different or interesting.
Next, ask students to imagine that they are walking along the streets of the new Littlelight when they come across a window. They stop and peer in; what do they see? Invite students to share some ideas. What clues from the book helped them to imagine what was through the window?
Now ask students to imagine walking through new Littlelight when they come across a door. They slowly open it; what is on the other side? Invite some responses and justifications.
Finally, ask students to imagine that they are walking through town when they come across a bridge. They cross the bridge to the other side; what is there? Invite some responses and justifications.
These drama activities could be recorded and shared on a class blog.
Examining grammar and vocabulary
Using Littlelight, engage students in a vocabulary hunt. Ask:
Can you find and record any words or sentences that use different colours, cases or styles?
Following this, place students in small groups, allocating each a different font style. For example:
|words in colour||words in bold||words in capitals|
|words in colour AND capitals||words in bold AND italics||words in bold AND capitals|
Ask them to revisit the text and suggest why Canby may have used this style.
Synonyms and antonyms
Display pp. 18–19 of Littlelight and highlight the bold/italicised words.
Have students work in groups to generate antonyms for these words. For example:
- different = same
- unusual = common, everyday
- strange = normal, ordinary
Students will then re-write the text on pp. 18–19 by replacing the bold/italicised words with their antonyms. Display each group’s text for the rest of the class and discuss the effect of the changes.
Now display the words/phrases relating to anger on the following pages:
|madness||pp. 4–5, 6–7, 8–9|
|fury||pp. 18–19, 20–21, 22–23|
Work as a class to create a word cline using these words. What do they reveal about the characters’ feelings and the mood of the text?
A new name
Write ‘Littlelight’ on a strip of paper. Demonstrate cutting the paper in two, revealing ‘little’ and ‘light’ as separate words. Ask students why they think Canby named the town in her book this way.
Explain that the town needs a new name because it is no longer little, grey or lacking in light! Ask students to come up with some suggestions, providing reasons for their ideas.
Rich assessment task
Windows in a wall
What do you think you would see in a world where people are connected to one another and to nature, and where diversity is celebrated?
Working individually, students are to create a paper plate window (PDF, 104KB) that depicts this world. Turn the plates into a class display by arranging them against a backdrop that looks like a wall. Allow time for the class to view and discuss the display.
Next, analyse how Kelly Canby and Lucy Estela use language to create their worlds. There are useful examples on pp. 12–15 of Suri’s Wall and pp. 26–27 of Littlelight.
Finish by asking students to write a few sentences describing their paper plate windows. They can write on strips of paper and place these under their respective windows on the display wall. Again, allow time for students to view and discuss the display.
My Culture and Me
Read My Culture and Me by Gregg Dreise to the class, then play the accompanying song. Together brainstorm some of the things that the character in the story is connected to (e.g. places, songs, traditions, people). Display the following question:
What does this story tell us about connection?
Draw students’ attention to the first double page spread in the book. Use a think-aloud statement to model a multimodal analysis of these pages. You might wish to address:
- placement of the river, rainbow, people, sun, tree, rock art
- vocabulary and illustrations working together
As part of your think-aloud, reflect on what these pages tell us about connection.
Now turn to pp. 10–11 and work together to analyse the multimodal elements. Aspects to address might include:
- new vocabulary
- background vs foreground
- close up vs full shot
Again, reflect on what these pages tell us about connection.
Finally, place students in pairs or have them work individually to analyse another double page spread. As always, they should return to the question of what the pages reveal about connection.
Our Class and Me
As a class, construct a one-page multimodal text (titled Our Class) that explores one way the students are connected. This can be done using art or collage materials and/or digital tools.
Rich assessment task
In Littlelight the main town is surrounded by four other towns, each with particular connections to things that make their place special and unique. Ask students to individually brainstorm things to which they are connected (real or imagined). They should narrow their list to just four items.
Students will then create a four-page picture book (or a four-frame picture) titled My World, with each page/frame sharing one of their four connections. They should use images and text to communicate these connections, drawing on what they have learned from reading Littlelight, Suri’s Wall and My Culture and Me.