Ideas for every teacher with our Lollies shortlist!

Now that you have had a chance to look through the shortlist for this year’s Lollies awards, and hopefully have managed to buy some copies or access our free extracts, we thought you might like a few ideas for using them in the classroom and some ideas for getting the whole school involved. The great part of this is that reading the books and/or some extracts at least, is an essential part of every idea. You will notice that the age ranges of the books do not necessarily match exactly with the year group, but even adults love picture books and children’s novels so let’s not put too many reading rules in place! Feel free to mix and match ideas between year groups and Key Stages too.

Whole School
1) We know that cats sit on mats, and foxes sit on boxes, don’t they? Well don’t be too sure until you have read Oi Dog!. There is so much fun wordplay in this book by Kes & Claire Grey, as well as amusing imagery by Jim Field, I couldn’t resist a whole school idea for using this book. Why not have a competition across the school to design the best poster for your own version of “? sit on ?” Ask students to come up with a rhyming version of their very own and then design the illustration to go with it. The winning criteria – it has to make you LOL!

2) As a poetry fan I fell in love with the shortlisted I Don’t Like Poetry collection by Joshua Seigal, although the aim is to target even those who don’t like traditional poetry! These poems really challenge the traditional construct and content of poetry, flinging the rule book far away. One that keeps making me laugh every time I think of it is ‘Funny Haiku’ – simple yet hugely effective. There are countless poems in this book which would each make a great study into what makes poetry work. So how about a whole school project to create an anthology for every year group? This idea covers multiple objectives from the English reading and writing Programmes of Study for every year group. Although this book is in the 9-13 age category, there are poems suitable for all ages.

No doubt the Early Years are going to love all of the wonderful picture books in the shortlist. Why not use the sublimely ridiculous The Prince of Pants by Alan MacDonald and Sarah McIntyre to expand on the usual sock matching activity by giving pupils different ways to match an outfit for the Prince with socks and pants which go together? Use physical pants and socks (new pants bought from discount stores!) or pictures printed out to match the patterns and colours, or use ICT programmes to paint clothes to match using the computer. All tying in with the Understanding the World objectives. They are sure to giggle away while designing and matching pants!

Year 1
Danny McGee Drinks the Sea by Andy Stanton and Neal Layton is a great example of a comedy book with an extra comedy twist at the end! I won’t spoil the surprise but the title alone tells you this would be a good hook into exploring volume in mathematics and also working scientifically – specifically using their observations and ideas to suggest answers to questions. Let them fill a cup of water to drink and then use their prior knowledge and access to a range of container sizes and water play to explore the likelihood of Danny McGee being able to really drink the sea!

Year 2
Eat Your People by Lou Kuenzler and David Wojtowycz is a hilariously funny book with lots to get excited about. Your class will no doubt find it wonderfully shocking! It is not for the faint-hearted but will open up a whole new world of fantasy projects. It could have the class all writing more about the monster world and what they get up to. Maybe they could write their own endings and think of other ideas for monster puddings. You could also get baking. I won’t spoil the surprise but maybe you could do some cookery after finding out what the treat in the book is at the end!

Year 3
My favourite aspect of Thimble Monkey Superstar by Jon Blake and Martin Chatterton is that you need to keep reading to discover which elements of the tale are fantasy and which are reality, as well as keeping track of all of the fun events and quirky characters! From page 1 this spreads a smile and the quirky nature of the content and the writing keep you turning the pages to discover all the twists in the tale. Year 3 children would no doubt love to write an “alternative reality” version of their own lives. Making adventures from the mundane or making adventures sound mundane! Anything goes as students can explore their author voice and composition. This style of writing is sure to expand their descriptive vocabulary.

Year 4
Future Ratboy and the Invasion of the Nom Noms is jam-packed full of amusing and informative illustrations. This would make a fantastic study into the usefulness of both illustrations and diagrams, both to pass on facts and also to make a lot of information accessible. With the thoughtful and detailed labelling of many of the pictures, this book would make an ideal comparison between fiction and non-fiction if used alongside scientific diagrams. Jim Smith effortlessly uses pictures as a fundamental part of the writing and shows the power of images alongside and as part of description. This will easily transfer to having to write up a science experiment – albeit slightly more informally perhaps – and back again. Diagrams and labels can be useful AND fun, who would have thought it?!

Year 5
Eddy Stone and the Epic Holiday Mash-Up is a really fun journey into wordplay, exaggeration and vivid descriptions. Simon Cherry has effortlessly packed tons of information and ideas into every sentence. At the end of each paragraph you cannot quite believe how much is in there! A short book yet full of fun and adventure. Bizarre and beautiful, succinct and surreal. As well as being a great prompt for descriptive writing, and a study into keeping writing short but still very sweet and action-packed, this is also a great way to compare languages. How would someone who is learning English be able to understand this book? How are sentences traditionally constructed and how does word play interact with grammatical structure and rules?

Year 6
Hamish and the Neverpeople by Danny Wallace and Jamie Littler does not disappoint on the funny front right from the opening chapter title – ‘You nitwit!’ That opening page and chapter is also a wonderful reminder of the way we can often break the rules in writing and use creative thinking to hook the reader in without losing any momentum. All too often we look at openings of books which follow a similar style. This book certainly breaks that mould – in traditional Danny Wallace style. This could become a great opportunity to move Year 6 past all of the writing constraints to unleash their inner author – the one that stands out among the crowd with their style and substance. Composition at its finest.

Year 7
It may not be a great idea to use My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord by David Solomons as a sample PE lesson for transition days, but once Year 7 are settled it is a great exploration into making ordinary lives into extraordinary events, and ordinary children into superheroes. It is also good for introducing elements of PSHE as you can explore the differences between people, the hidden talents and the need for everyone to work as a team to achieve a common goal. David Solomons infuses action and adventures seamlessly into the very real issues of secondary school students. Any of the students could easily add a touch of superhero magic into their own school lives in their own writing too, I am sure!

Year 8
The Best Medicine is a lesson in how humour helps one child to cope with even the most difficult and heart-breaking situations. Christine Hamill manages to add laughter through the tears and manages to make a very serious subject very accessible for this age group. More options here for PSHE links but also opportunities to explore the emotions and subject of this book and turn it into a drama piece. This book will no doubt strike a chord with staff and students alike who may have experienced a family member or close friend with cancer, but rather than shy away from the topic the humour of the book allows you to tackle things head on and explore the many associated issues.

Year 9
AniMalcolm by David Baddiel and Jim Field is a fun-filled adventure which is a really easy read. Part of what makes it so accessible is a simple writing style without lots of flowery descriptions in the main body of the text, but the addition of footnotes used to give further explanation when needed. This would be a fun way to introduce using footnotes in writing for geography, history, science and many other subjects. David Baddiel has used them brilliantly and rather uniquely for a fiction book, making their use easy to explain and transfer to non-fiction writing using examples from this book alongside.

We hope you like some (or at least one!) of the ideas which you can take into the classroom. The links in the ideas are to purchase one copy of each book, and a bit of blurb about each one, but you can find links to buying class packs and age category packs here, as well as finding more resources and ways to get involved with voting for the winners of the Lollies for each category.

Jodie is an award winning ex-primary teacher who now works as a Freelance Edtech Consultant. Her interest in using technology in education has led to her working with a number of educational technology businesses since leaving the classroom. Most recently she has been Head of Education for an assessment system provider and has specialised in helping schools to transition to the new curriculum and leaving levels behind. Follow her on Twitter here.

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