In this post I introduce you to Michael Rosen, the storyteller. Michael’s story Going on a Bear Hunt may be more familiar to you than his name. But Michael Rosen is a storyteller extraordinaire and his website is a treasure trove to explore*.
*Note: Not all of Michael’s stories and videos are suitable for early childhood. Please preview them before presenting them to students.
One of my favourites of Michael’s stories is Chocolate Cake. Please follow the link to view it on his website.
In the story from when he was a boy, Michael sneaks downstairs in the middle of the night and eats all of the remaining chocolate cake, leaving not a skerrick for a lunchtime treat. If only he’d been able to restrain himself, then he would have had a treat as well.
Michael tells the humorous story with expressive voice and face. Children laugh out loud as they recognise themselves in the story, if only they dared (or did they?); and beg for it to be retold, often spontaneously joining in with the telling.
After a few repetitions, children are confident enough to retell the story independently, imitating many of Michael’s humorous gestures and intonations.
Listening to Michael tell stories is a great way to encourage the development of expression, in both telling and reading stories.
Suggestions for using the story:
(Note: These suggestions are now available as a free downloadable resource.)
Introduce the story
Discuss children’s favourite treats. Without a requirement of sharing, ask if they have ever considered sneaking a treat when they weren’t allowed; and to consider what may happen if they ever did and were found out.
Explain that, when Michael was a boy, his favourite treat was his Mum’s chocolate cake, which he found hard to resist.
Share the story
View the video Chocolate Cake.
Respond to the story
Invite children to share their reactions to and thoughts about the story.
View the story again if children’s interest is high.
Ask children to retell their favourite parts of the story.
- Discuss sneaking treats when no one is looking – it might be treats to eat, or sneaky activities (playing a game on the iPad, watching TV, or reading a book under the covers when the light should be off).
- Invite children to innovate on Michael’s story by writing one of their own.
- Discuss and graph favourite cake flavours, or favourite treats that would be worth sneaking around in the middle of the night
- Discuss: Many schools now have rules about bringing cake to school for lunch. Why? Should schools make rules like that? Is it fair? If not, what would be fair?
- Play the Save a piece for Michael game (new resource this week) in Maths groups.
- Invite children to tell the story to each other in small groups.
- Perform the story as a class on assembly or for parents.
- Make a chocolate cake to share. Make a long slab like the one in the Save a piece for Michael game or a round cake like the Moon Cake.
Michael’s book Good Ideas: How to be Your Child’s (and Your Own) Best Teacher is one of the best books for parents and teachers I have read. It’s packed with practical and easy suggestions for making learning fun and keeping children’s natural curiosity and love of language alive. I highly recommend it. It tops my list of gifts for new parents.
The above suggestions are available as a free downloadable resource for future reference.
This sharing game is great for maths groups or for playing with older buddies.
In the story, Michael couldn’t stop himself. He ate the cake and didn’t leave a piece for lunch.
In the game, children follow instructions on a spinner as they try to help Michael save a piece of chocolate cake for his lunch. They take pieces of the cake from the plate, and from each other. The one who has collected (eaten) the fewest pieces of cake when the game ends, wins the game.
I hope you and your children enjoy using these resources. I’ll see you next week with some ideas for teaching number combinations and a new interactive Maths resource Ladybird Spots. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend.
Thank you for reading.
Happy teaching and learning,
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