4th December - How to Hug with Hugless Douglas

Advent Calendar Day 4


For the 12 days of advent, Rising Stars are bringing you a fantastic English lesson plan idea to use with your pupils. Today's is based on David Melling's How to Hug with Hugless Douglas. You can buy the book for your class here.  

Our thanks to Maddy Barnes, Assistant Head Teacher at Sacred Heart Catholic School and English Consultant, for the lesson idea. 


English Grid

Objectives to be taught



By the end of KS1, pupils should have developed good ‘skimming and scanning’ techniques.

This book could be used in EYFS Reception as a guided reading text.

This beautifully written, illustrated book will appeal to pupils of all ages (front cover has a furry bear face too). However, this activity promotes reading skills, specifically ‘training the eye’ towards skimming and scanning with Reception pupils. Teachers could use this text with the whole class or in guided reading sessions.

Guided Reading: Each pupil will need a copy of the text in the small reading group and a plastic counter. In the beginning of the book Douglas explains that his friends need to warm up before they hug each other. The text is written in the shape of the words, for example STRETCH, SMILE and SQUEEZE look like their meaning. This double spread could instigate some pupil participation as the characters act out each action.

Depending on the reading ability of the group, pupils could place their counter on specific words across the opening two pages. Some of the words included are: and, his, friends, a, hello, can, we, in, yes, let, me , show, you, to and up. Pupils may be able to locate these words. Teachers could use language such as, ‘find and point to the word…’ or ‘find and put your counter on the word …’

Using a  plastic counter:

There is a double spread in the book that contains illustrations and captions for 25 different types of hugs, for example: Upside-down hugs; Mum hugs; solo hugs; baby owl hugs; food hugs and piggyback hugs!

Teacher could name a hug and ask pupils to put their plastic counter on the matching illustration.  This will promote enthusiasm to be the fastest finger first. Teachers could also use instructional language such as, ‘Find and put your counter on baby owl hugs.’

NC Year 2 Writing

Pupils should be taught to:

  • develop positive attitudes towards and stamina for writing by:

    •  writing poetry

  • consider what they are going to write before beginning by:

    • planning or saying out loud what they are going to write about

    • writing down ideas and/or key words, including new vocabulary

    •  encapsulating what they want to say, sentence by sentence 

‘How to Hug with Hugless Douglas’ can be used as stimulus to inspire high quality writing.  Teachers could use lines from this book as a poetry writing frame. Douglas says, ‘But you can hug anything really,’ and there are images of Douglas hugging a rock, a present, some leaves and some cushions. Teachers could revise different nouns and ask pupils to create banks of nouns in groups on flipchart paper, sentence strips or post its. Then pupils could revisit another group’s noun word bank and suggest appropriate adjectives to describe the nouns. Teachers could remind pupils that expanded noun phrases are adjectives and nouns.

Pupils could create a list poem. Hugless Douglas says you can hug anything like:

  • a spiky, crinkly pineapple

  • a smooth, cold pebble etc…

Teachers can explain that the poem does not need to rhyme. This is a good opportunity to teach commas in a list after each item in the list poem.

Noun word bank:

eggs, tables, trees, pencils, chairs, benches, books, balls, slide, coats, paint brushes etc…


Expanded noun phrase bank:

Hot, boiled eggs

Old, wooden table

Tough, hard tree

Cosy, comfy coats

Bouncy, blue balls



English and Literacy, Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation, Mathematics

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