One of the best author / illustrators ever is Oliver Jeffers. He is probably best know for ‘Lost and Found’ a beautiful book and animation about the blossoming friendship between a boy and his penguin.
However, my favourite is ‘How to Catch a Star’ a story of childhood whimsy and imagination. A boy wants a star and then spends days trying to work out the best way to acquire one in a variety of madcap ways. I love using this book as part of a ‘Space’ topic in a Key Stage 1 as it has endless fabulous activities that it inspires and compliments.
I set the scene using this beautiful Kate Rusby song (the Barnsley nightingale!) and video. Turning the lights off adds to the drama…and I enjoy being dramatic (as anyone who knows me can testify!).
If you want to be less ethereal then Perry Como’s ‘Catch a Falling Star’ creates a more upbeat feel…
I have found that a Talk 4 Writing approach works really well with this story as it has a simple and repetitive structure that is easy to learn orally through use of a simple story map. It lends itself to fun actions too.
The simple illustrations can be used as a sequencing activity on a time line or a washing line as the children retell it independently.
I then like to change things a little by creating an instructional text ‘How to Catch a Star’. The children learn this text map and then innovate it, choosing their own way to catch one. This can be written up in a simple format following the key features of writing instructions.
I like to use ‘Marking Ladders’ to provide steps to success to support children’s learning – they can be easily found if you Google them.
Role-play and drama is a great way to get the children to innovate their own ideas for how to catch a star and the wackier the better!
I also love the story ‘Katie and the Starry Night’ which works beautifully with the Oliver Jeffers book and can lead to art activities based on the Van Gough painting.
The Literacy Shed website has a short film called ‘La Luna’ with ideas and inspiration for activities to follow. This is fantastic for children who have little or no English and still images from the animation can be used to scaffold or stimulate writing.
In areas of provision stars can be hidden in foam or gooey gloop, caught and threaded onto string or wool. They can be made in salt dough or play dough, star shapes can be used for printing, glittery stars can be made from card and beads threaded onto string to make tails…
Oliver Jeffers’ book ‘The Way Back Home’ can be used in tandem. There are so many ways you can travel to the Moon..