Is there such a thing as ‘catching up’/getting ‘back on track’ with pleasure for reading? Ways to bring a story alive in KS1

    Published: 15 June 2021
    Beegu book cover


    Definitions from Oxford Languages - translations and definitions:

    Pleasure is defined as ‘to please or gratify someone’. An example of pleasure is to cook someone a very special meal. Pleasure means the state of being pleased, delighted or gratified. An example of pleasure is enjoying reading books.

    What greater pleasure is there than being able to engage in a story through ‘playing it out’ with your peers? I use the phrase ‘playing it out’ as this is what young children believe they are doing…..’playing’ the story and having a really good time with their classmates at the same time. We know that the experience is advancing their enjoyment of learning as well as supporting progression in their spoken language/communication, literacy and language to support writing.

    Bringing a book to life for young children can be a transformative experience for all involved. We know that book/themed role play areas can help a child to enter the story, become a part it, live and breathe it and make it their own. Many young children have missed this opportunity and may be continuing to do so as we gradually ease out of current restrictions. One of the last junk models that I had the pleasure of viewing was in a display cabinet in a school entrance hall and it was a KS1 pupil’s re-creation of ‘Beegu’. It was beautiful!

    Beegu by Alexis Deacon happens to be one of my favourite (all time) KS1 classic stories and here are my favourite ways to bring this inspiring story alive whilst reading it aloud to the whole class:

    Display the front cover digitally, close the blinds and turn the lights off as the children enter the classroom in the morning. When the session begins, stand next to the image and slowly drop some leaves, with your arm raised. Ask the children to explain what you are doing. Confirm their responses and then ask them to look at the image displayed and introduce the character. Gather their interpretations. Focus on the main character and the way that Beegu is looking at the leaf. Discuss the fact that there is only one leaf falling and remind the children of their responses to you dropping leaves. Some children would have provided a very literal response. Some children may be slightly confused. This should open up a conversation about ‘Beegu’ before reading the story and begin to create a sense of empathy. Continue to read/display the next few pages in order to develop further comprehension.

    Eventually, Beegu finds some friends (the puppies) and cuddles into them. The children should relate to this as enticing, enclosed learning areas within FS-KS1 support the young learners’ emotional development, sense of acceptance, safety and reassurance. Ask the children to contribute towards discussion as to why Beegu feels safe and accepted. Present the children with a cardboard box with some items of your own that contribute towards your well-being and sense of belonging. Empty the box of your contents as you ask the children to draw or list items that they would put into that box.

    As the story progresses, the children will experience the fact that Beegu is rejected twice. Explore the pictures of the (perceived) school playground scenes and the picture of the adult rejecting Beegu. Ask the children to (individually) freeze frame this scene. Ask them if they think that Beegu has done anything wrong. Explore responses and display the pictures of the final playground scenes with the text, ’But not everyone thought so’. Provide the children with an image of the scene with the sentence stem….’I think’. Allow them to draw or write their responses.

    Personally, I would end the pupils’ experience of the story with Beegu and his mother reuniting. However, I would concentrate upon his experience of ‘How Earth creatures were mostly big and unfriendly, but there were some small ones who seemed hopeful’.

     Perhaps use this as an opportunity to introduce the idea of a ‘Beegu moment’ when the children are finding relationships a challenge or you, as a practitioner, feel that there might be something else at ‘play’.

    We can never truly know what children might be experiencing in their relationships with each other but I do feel that this story provides us with an opening and a positive line of communication that that our youngest pupils can relate to.

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