According to Bateman, Carr and Gunn (2017), “When children narrate experiences and story-tell, they engage in cognitive, affective and social experiences and explorations that extend beyond simple conversation – opportunities to understand the social world – and one’s place within it arises” (p. 1). This process can help parents to stimulate children’s oral narrative expression. This paper will provide some ideas for engaging children in reading and discussing Pig, the Winner by Aaron Blabey.
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How would you describe Pig the Pug?
- What does he look like?
- What adjectives can best describe his personality?
Look at the picture of Pig’s bowl: what does the inscription say about this character?
Why does Pig always want to win?
- What may someone feel when he wins?
- What emotions and thoughts may someone have when he or she loses in a game or a competition?
What may happen when a person always wants to win?
- Could the desire to win make Pig more prone to cheating?
- Looking at the pictures in the book, can you tell how others react to Pig’s behaviour?
How would you describe the relationship between Pig and Trevor?
- Can it be called a friendship?
- Is Pig a good friend? Is Trevor a good friend? Why or why not?
Is there a reason why Pig the Pug changed his mind and started to play just to have fun sometimes?
Why do you play games with others?
- Do you always play to win, or do you play to have fun and communicate?
Are there any new words in the story that you have never seen before?
- Tantrum? Ceased? Glee? Gnashing? Kibble?
What is your favourite picture in the book?
- Why do you prefer it, and what do you most like about it?
Further Activities to Broaden the Storytelling Experience
- Read the book using roles: choose a person who will narrate the story and two students to read it in Pig’s and Trevor’s voices.
- Read the book using dog puppets: act out the parts of both Pig the Pug and Trevor.
- What was your favourite scene in the story? Draw your own illustration for it.
- Play a rhythmic reading game: read your favourite quatrain from the book while trying to get into a rhythm (clapping or tapping on a desk). The only condition is that if you miss a beat and mispronounce a word, you lose a point. Can you win this game?
- Find all the unfamiliar words in the story while reading it, and then try to find their definitions in a dictionary. Think up a few sentences with these new words to help you memorise and understand them better.
- Make your own version of Pig the Winner. Draw pictures to illustrate all the scenes you remember from the story and bind or staple them together to make a book.
- Outcome. “Share feelings and thoughts about the events and characters in texts” (Australian Curriculum, n.d.a, para. 1).
- Focus content. “Using art forms and beginning forms of writing to express personal responses to literature and film experiences” (Australian Curriculum, n.d.a, para. 1)
- Instructions. In this activity, children will think up a story inspired by Pig the Winner. Layout flashcards face down on the table with prompt words and phrases from the book. Let the child/ children pick cards one by one to tell the part of the story that follows. Children may create their own characters or speak about Pig and Trevor, and they may refer to personal experiences, as well.
- Sample prompt phrases. “… was a cheat”, “nothing would stop him”, “have fun”, “I win!”, “… ruin his day”, “turn blue” and so on.
- Outcome. “Recognise and generate rhyming words, alliteration patterns, syllables and sounds (phonemes) in spoken words” (Australian Curriculum, n.d.b, para. 1).
- Focus Content. “Recognising and producing rhyming words when listening to rhyming stories or rhymes” (Australian Curriculum, n.d.b, para. 1).
- Instructions. Place a few cards with words/illustrations on the table. Read each of the cards aloud and try to find as many rhyming words in the book as possible. Write down each rhyming word you find on a sticker, and place it on the appropriate card.
- Sample words. Cheat, play, bowl, champ, less, win.
- Outcome. “Produce some lower case and upper case letters using learned letter formations” (Australian Curriculum, n.d.c, para. 1).
- Focus content. “Learning to construct lower case letters and to combine these into words”, “learning to construct some upper case letters” (Australian Curriculum, n.d.c, para. 1).
- Instructions. Refer to the cards featuring the characters and objects from Pig the Winner. Choose appropriate letter pegs to fill in the missing letters in the illustration descriptions. Thoroughly explore the way the words are constructed. Also, pay attention to the case in which a letter is used. Then practice writing everything yourself in a notebook. You may use the book to check and edit the formation of the letters and words.
- Sample words/phrases. Pig the Pug, squeezed out the bowl, biscuits and dribble and so on.
- Outcome. “Create short texts to explore, record and report ideas and events using familiar words and beginning writing knowledge” (Australian Curriculum, n.d.d, para. 1).
- Focus content. “Using image-making and beginning writing to represent characters and events in written, film and web-based texts” (Australian Curriculum, n.d.d, para. 1).
- Instructions. Look at the first illustration in the book (i.e. where Pig the Pug stands on the podium), and write a collaborative story based on it. Consider everything you have learned about the characters when reading. Then imagine a series of events that led to Pig’s victory and how it all started. Compose an introductory sentence, read it aloud and let your collaborator (a teacher, a caregiver or another student) write the sentence that follows. Continue until the story ends at the moment depicted in the chosen illustration.
- Outcome. “Recognise how capital letters are used for names, and that capital letters and full stops signal the beginning and end of sentences” (Australian Curriculum, n.d.e, para. 1).
- Focus content. “Commenting on punctuation encountered in the everyday texts” (Australian Curriculum, n.d.e, para. 1).
- Instructions. The cards used in this activity feature sentences from Pig the Winner written with a wrong word and punctuation order. Read the mixed-up sentence first, and then say the corrected version out loud. Note: pay attention to punctuation marks, as well as capital letters, as they may prompt the right way to revise the sentence. When you finish, comment on the punctuation used in the sentence and how it helped you to complete your part of the activity.
- Sample sentences. “whoppers! Three sausages − all of them He chomped up;” “begin? where to Oh”, “have ceased. to have fun, and his tantrums He plays”, and so on.
Australian Curriculum. (n.d.a). ACELT1783. Web.
Australian Curriculum. (n.d.b). ACELA1439. Web.
Australian Curriculum. (n.d.c). ACELY1653. Web.
Australian Curriculum. (n.d.d). ACELY1651. Web.
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Australian Curriculum. (n.d.e). ACELA1432. Web.
Bateman, A., Carr, M., & Gunn, A. (2017). Children’s use of objects in their storytelling. Web.