Explore the story

Try out these ideas to help your class understand the idea of narrative and to ensure that they get to grips with character, plot and setting.

When you have read How the platypus got his shape several times, you can delve deeper into the story and begin to explore the key elements of plot, character and setting. Group storytelling, which brings in speaking and listening as well as group discussion and interaction, is an excellent way to do this. For older children, simple storytelling can be extended into different genres and media such as radio interviews and TV documentaries.

Ideas for younger children

In my own words
Begin by asking the children to work in small groups to come up with ideas about the key elements of the story. Give the children some prompt cards to help their discussion. These can include terms such as character, plot and setting and/or questions for them to think about, for example: Who are the main characters in the story? What are they like? What are the key events in the story? Where does the story take place? What is this place like? What does Platypus learn in the story?

In their groups, ask the children to make short notes about what happens in the story, or ask an adult to act as scribe. Explain that they will use their notes as prompt cards to help them retell the story. The activity sheets ‘Order the story’ and ‘Beginnings, middles and endings’ (see Resources section below) will help them to think about the story structure.

Allow the children plenty of time to prepare their retelling as a group, ensuring that every child has a turn to speak. Give them access to the ‘Storytelling prompt cards’ (see Resources section below). Explain that these can be used to help them prepare and, if required, to jog their memory when storytelling. The children could also design animal masks or use puppets in their retelling – these can often boost confidence.

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Start your topic with How the platypus got his shape, an Antipodean creation tale that looks at friendship and supplies the perfect context for looking at Australia. 


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