A bunch of real characters

23rd January 2004 at 00:00
This week, TES and McDonald's are offering readers 1,500 sets of 10 new Mr Men stories. Mary Hinton suggests ways to use them in class

Children will be excited to explore this attractive box of stories and find out what their favourite characters are up to now. Those aged seven or up will be able to enjoy them on their own or with some help. Although the text is quite complex for children who are just beginning to read, several literacy activities can be drawn from the set. For instance, they could investigate the use of double letters by looking for names that include them, such as Mr Funny and Mr Cool, not to mention all the Little Misses.

Then they can find other words with the same letter patterns.

The books could also be sorted to identify which Mr Man or Little Miss is a verb (for instance, Mr Tickle) and which is an adjective (Little Miss Splendid for example). The story of Mr Good offers the chance to start an investigation into onomatopoeic words, and the Mr Bump book would be a good starter for looking at words and phrases that signal the passing of time (the next day; the day after; the following day).

At text level, there are many ways in which the books could be used. A simple story-map covering the questions - What is the problem? How is it solved? What is the result? - Jcould be used to illustrate story structure.

Pupils could then be encouraged to invent their own Mr Man or Little Miss and write a story that follows a similar pattern.

Activities such as writing a letter to Miss Sunshine about how she could help Little Miss Shy can also help foster an understanding of character.

Children could also role-play an interview with Little Miss Chatterbox about her friends and her party and role-play Mr Grumpy and Mr Happy to explore different perspectives on the same event.

Once familiar with the stories, children could be given sentences from different books with the name of the character removed and then try to identify the character and explain their reasoning. This would be a good first step to understanding inference.

Other types of writing that could come from the books include instructions on how to keep safe for Mr Bump and some rhyming nonsense poetry for Mr Funny.

Mr Men books provide opportunities in other areas of the curriculum, in particular PSHE. The story of Mr Cool offers the chance to focus on the fact that everyone is good at something but not always what you would expect. Little Miss Giggles is all about appropriate behaviour and Mr Happy looks at different perspectives on the same events, an issue that arises daily on most playgrounds. In geography they could map out the town where the characters live, thinking about the places named in the stories and using the pictures to inform their mapping, while also considering what else they would need to have in their town.

All in all, a very useful little resource.

Mary Hinton is primary co-ordinator at Patcham House Special School, Brighton

See the advert on the back page to find out how to win the Mr Men set

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