If you haven’t gotten your hands on a copy of ‘Fox’ (written by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Ron Brooks) then you need to do so now. ‘Fox’ is a quality text that provides opportunities to explore rich language, textual techniques and visual literacy. It also raises some interesting themes for discussion, traversing friendship, love, loyalty and betrayal.
I’ve developed a few activities around ‘Fox’ that I’ve adapted from things I’ve found elsewhere, and which can be undertaken in a Stage 3 class. These can be used as one-off activities for the casual teacher, or can be extended for longer phases of work. For this reason, it is mainly just a shopping list of ideas to be curated as appropriate.
Discussion (after modelled read):
- Talk about what sort of friend each of the different characters would make. What do we know about dogs – are they loyal friends? Are you like any of the characters? Why are Dog and Magpie friends? Do they help each other? Have you been hurt by a friend as Magpie was hurt by Fox or Dog was hurt by Magpie? Have you ever hurt a friend? Why is Fox so mean to Magpie? At the end he says, “now you and Dog will know what it’s like to be truly alone”, why? How can Dog and Magpie be friends again? Do you need to do something to be friends again with someone?
- Talk about the style of lettering in the book. How do you think the effect was achieved? Why does the direction of the lettering change in different parts of the book? Is it easy to read? Why has the illustrator done this?
- Why do you think the book is called ‘Fox’ and not ‘Dog’ or ‘Magpie’?
- Which characters do you like best? Why?
- Do a second read and record language used to describe each character – what does it tell us about each of them?
- Use a graphic organiser to list words that are used for each character (Dog – gentle mouth, tend her wing. Fox – haunted eyes, rich red coat, flickers, tongue of fire). Pick three other animals (rabbit, snake, wombat, for example) and have students develop personas for each by using descriptive language as Margaret Wild has
- Some of the language used to describe Fox can be related to something else – Fox ‘scorches’ through woodlands…out into the ‘hot red desert’. What else scorches the landscape? Why do you think the author has chosen to use this imagery? What other words would be good to use? Students can come up with their own ‘fire’ related sentences, or you could introduce a new landscape and come up with related words i.e. rainforest, desert, beach, mountains
- Create acrostic poems based upon the characters in the book: Magpie, Dog, and Fox
- Talk about literary techniques used by authors to make text richer – metaphor, onomatapoeia, emotive language. Give students an excerpt of text to analyse in groups of three.
- Art: Experiment with painting the name of one of the animals in the book in a way which reflects its character. You could vary the colour, painting implement and direction you use. Then fill a page of art paper with the name of one of the characters from the story: Dog, Magpie, or Fox. Display.
- Drama: Get students to do a Reader’s Theatre, coming up with creative and emotive ways to tell the story. Break the class into 6 groups and break the text into 6 sections accordingly. Give each group a section of text to practice and piece it all together to do a class reading.
- Drama: Create drama tableaux in groups of four or five to communicate an emotion from the book (sadness, fear, happiness). Present to the class. Have the audience ‘read’ the tableaux and guess the emotion communicated.
- Drama warm up: In a clear space, ask students to use their body to find the shapes of Dog, Magpie and then Fox (calling out each character by name). Give them at least 1 minute to find their shapes. This is a silent activity. Drama activity: Break students into groups of 3. Get them to create tableaux with scenes from the story e.g. Magpie on Dogs back flying, with jealous Fox in the background
- Drama: Hot seat each character – brainstorm words to describe each of the three characters. Explore the way each might move and talk. Interview three children and have them tell the story from their perspective. Have them give reasons for their actions. Then write from the perspective of a character.
- Dance: Imagine that Magpie must find her way back to the bush and her friend Dog. Fox has left her alone in the desert. In small groups, students must create a dance phase based on the themes of courage, fear and persistence. Students must:
- create 3 movements based on fear x 8 counts
- create 3 movements based on courage x 8 counts
- create 3 movements based on persistance x 8 counts
- Music: After reading through the story, categorise the sounds that could be used to represent the movements and personalities of each character in relation to:
- High and low
- Loud and soft
- Fast and slow
- Regular and irregular
- Choose instruments to represent each animal and as the story is narrated, play the instruments at the appropriate time.