The premise is that a pile of postcards arrive for Duncan from a number of his crayons telling him about the terrible predicaments that they have got themselves in. Many of them directly blame him for their situations and demand that he does something to help them.
The magic of this text is that it can be used to explore so many different aspects of reading
- Check that the text makes sense to them, discussing their understanding and explaining the meaning of words in context – Ask pupils to read it in their heads and then read it out loud. Why do they have to read tan crayon in a specific way? When does he get angry? How do we know?
- Identify how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning – How does the text actually work? What does the first sentence do to open up the communication? How does the post-card end?
- Draw inferences such as inferring characters’ feelings, thoughts and motives from their actions, and justify inferences with evidence – How does Glow in the dark crayon show us that he is feeling frightened?
Last week I used the book with year 6 to see what they knew about purpose and audience, personification, writing in role and manipulating punctuation in their own writing to capture characterisation and emotion. It was just one literacy lesson, but the children responded really well to the text.
I began with an image from the film ‘Inside Out’ and asked them to discuss what they knew about the film. This developed into a short unpicking of why the different characters were portrayed as they were. One child thought that ‘sadness was blue because tears were blue’ and deduced that the phrase’ feeling blue probably came from that’:
I then gave them a list of words and asked them to work in pairs to colour them in appropriately – this led to a great discussion on shading and embellishment. It was agreed that excited would be bright yellow with glitter on, whilst pensive was probably a deep purple as it was like a brain working.
Finally I wrote my own version!
How could you? You betrayer…life-taker….brute. I thought we were friends because of all the hours spent colouring Batman together. How wrong I was! I helped you reach the highest echelons of artistic expression with my subtle shading and intense mood creation. What did you give me in return? A broken back. A BROKEN BACK! Last night, in a violent rage, you snapped me like a twig and discarded me in the bin. It wasn’t my fault that you coloured over the lines and ruined your ‘masterpiece’!. Who do you think you are? MONET!
Retrieve me immediately or you will be hearing from my lawyer and it won’t be pretty.
The children then started working on their initial drafts. Here are a few:
Hopefully I will be able to add more ideas as I will be using this book over the next few weeks. I am going to challenge the most able children to write an Ofsted style report about Duncan’s ‘parenting’ skills. That should be really interesting!
Here are some displays that schools produced after working on The day the crayon’s quit. I think they could inspire lots of new ones!