Review Blog

Apr 08 2011

Birdsong by Ellie Sandall

cover image

Egmont, 2011. ISBN 9781405247382.
'One small bird, in a tree - kitcha, kitcha, kee, kee, kee' is joined by a friend 'Urrah! Urrah! Rah rah ree'. And more and more friends come and join this wonderful bird chorus. Everything is fine until "'a huge bird with a mighty beak joins them with a piercing shriek'. But then something else lands on the branch and he gets his come-uppance!
A simple theme with an old message that makes a delightful story with heaps of potential for the classroom. Kindergarten had enormous fun acting it out but were challenged when I asked them to make their bodies the orchestra - they had to make all the bird sounds but they couldn't use their mouths. Then we made a body band with little groups beating out different rhythms in sequence and together. It was like singing a round but using our body music. Trace around your hand with thumb and pinky outstretched on a piece of paper towelling, drop a few drops of dye so the colours gently merge (because that's how they think Ellie Sandall did it), add some lines with black pencil for features, cut them out when they are dry and you have your own bird to add to the branch. But not until you've invented your own sound for it so we can have another body band and more laughs.
And when all that fun and learning about the delight of language and stories is done, talk about the message of the story and have them complete their own: 'I got so ______ when __________ and I __________.' Get them to illustrate that, if you dare, because Heidi wrote 'I got so full when I ate the last Easter egg that I spewed!' and Ellie wrote 'I got so mad when my brother teased me again that I punched him.' Ya got love 'em!
Barbara Braxton

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