Come to Tea on Planet Zum-Zee by Tony Mitton is a book that I cherish, and one that I’m sure your pupils will simply adore too. It is a book that will get your tongue twisting around the words, and your feet tapping to its rhythm. This book is one that no child (or adult) would be able to resist, and it is jam-packed with opportunities to make the children want to engage, react and respond.
The story begins with aliens descending on Planet Zum‑Zee for a tea party. The endearing creatures each bring their own mouth-watering dish, and every alien’s arrival is announced with their spaceship’s landing. Onomatopoeia and a rich variety of vocabulary are cleverly used to set the scene for a legendary tea party. As the anticipation and excitement build, so too does the rhythm. Then the bombshell hits: one of the creatures and his ‘dollops, all gloopy and blue…[that] quiver and shiver like rubbery goo’ are rejected by the others. At this point the pace of the rhythm slows. However, the problem is quickly resolved when an apology is given, and the tea party finally gets into full swing.
I first fell in love with Come to Tea on Planet Zum-Zee when I was sharing it as a bedtime story with my little girl. As I almost rapped the whole story, barely taking a breath, both my daughter and I found ourselves tapping away. It was at that moment I realised its potential as a shared text for children in KS1, and as a perfect text for a KS1 Love That Book (LTB) unit.
This book explores the themes of friendship, rejection and inclusion, and the story itself is a great example of the development of tension and resolution in a story. This combination means that the opportunities to enthuse children about reading, and entice them with writing outcomes are endless.
Of course, the choice of written outcomes depends on several factors: the age of the children; their previous writing experiences; the interests and motivations of the class; their reaction to the text; the time available for the LTB unit and the skills that need to be developed. It may be that the children write one extended written outcome over several days, or that they write a shorter complete piece each day. Either way, the children will need to be supported to achieve quality outcomes in the usual way.
With this in mind, here are some reading and writing ideas that could be used as part of a for a two-week LTB unit using the wonderful text, Come to Tea on Planet Zum-Zee:
- Design party invitations for their very own alien tea party;
- predict events from different point in the text;
- re-enact story in a variety of ways, e.g. through role-play, using dolls or puppets;
- re-tell story, giving the main points in sequence;
- create a story map of the main events;
- develop a set of instructions for a party game (pin the spaceship on a planet/pin the pants on the alien);
- hot seat the adult/children aliens;
- write character profiles/passports for any of the colourful and fascinating aliens;
- produce recipes for musical biscuits/alien cupcakes, dollops (slime) or any other delicious party treat;
- compose letters of apology to the monster;
- produce a simple flowchart or cyclical diagram and record a series of sentences to support the explanation of cake making;
- create a three-word descriptive poem of the delicious treats on offer, for example:
- Gloopy dollops quiver
- Bendy jelly shivers
- Crumbly cookies wiggle
- Wobbly blobs giggle
Write a diary account of the events from either the monster and alien’s point of view;
write a postcard home – imagining you are visiting Zum-Zee.
In addition to this, who could resist the opportunity, or shall I say excuse, for an alien tea party to provide a platform for the audience and purpose for writing? Musical biscuits; wiggling, giggling jelly; hovering pizza; quivering, shivering, dollops of gloop - a tea party not to be missed!