The sun is out - so are the moles and monsters

It was the summer term, the sun was shining and we were in the middle of a whole-school project on our home county of Kent. The children could feel the holidays approaching and I just had to get them outside.

We headed to the playground and, as always, I silently pledged to take my pupils outdoors more often. Getting out of the classroom really is a great learning experience.

The plan for the day was to build on our work on The Tunnel by Brian Wildsmith, an author and illustrator. This wonderful bilingual book offers plenty of scope for cross-curricular links. It follows the story of two moles - one French, one English - who decide to dig a tunnel under the Channel to see each other. Along the way they meet some fantastic monsters. Children can read the story from the perspective of either mole.

I set the class the task of chalking a monster, in the style of Wildsmith's illustrations, on the playground. The children were absolutely engrossed. They passed around cameras, taking pictures of their creations and carefully ticking their names off the register to ensure that every classmate had their monster photographed.

Then we started on speech bubbles, to bring these monsters to life by getting them to talk to each other. The children orally rehearsed what the monsters would say. Normally shy children were standing up and calling out to other monsters, while the more dominant pupils listened to what the others were saying so that they could respond.

By the time we returned to the classroom, the children were fired up about the book and more than ready to write.

Inside, the learning was reinforced through a French cafe-themed role play, and the children acted out the story themselves using mole puppets.

It really was a great lesson. The children enjoyed it and learned a lot - and I did, too.

Alice Edgington teaches at St Stephen's Infant School in Canterbury, Kent

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