Emma White explains how and why she created the Oi Frog! teaching unit and how it can be used to achieve high-quality reading and writing skills.
Cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs, mules sit on stools and gophers sit on sofas, but Frog does not want to sit on a log!
Oi Frog! is the first in a hilarious picture book series from the award-winning pairing of Kes Gray (and Claire Gray for Oi Dog!) and the winner of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize Jim Field. The Oi Frog! and friends stories are a top ten bestselling series and it is easy to see why. The ‘laugh out loud’ stories are accompanied by bold, vibrant and vivid illustrations that perfectly capture the facial expressions of the silliest of animals. The use of ingenious rhyme and repetition will make children want to follow along and immerse themselves in the comical adventures of Frog, Cat, Dog and friends.
Knowing that these books are firm favourites with young children, they are the perfect counter measure to traditional phonics routines. They allow for learning opportunities that are fun and engaging, making them the perfect picture books to share in the classroom.
Jam packed with obscure and interesting animals, the creatures are a focal point of the books, so we’ve used these as a starting point to the session plans. The stories lend themselves well to a range of cross-curricular activities including life cycles, habitats, adaptation, animal homes and habitats around the world.
Oi Frog! Teaching Slide
The unit therefore starts with the children undertaking research about frogs. This allows them to build their background knowledge in order to gain a deeper understanding of the book and thus immerse themselves into the world of all things ‘frog’. There are opportunities for asking and answering questions. They carefully study the illustrations of the frog and compare them to real-life photographs. Children soon become ‘wildlife detectives’ and set out to answer their own questions.
When planning the unit sessions, for individuals to achieve high-quality reading skills, it is important to submerge the class slowly into the book. Uncovering the plot, a layer at a time gives way to deeper discussion. I wanted to ensure that as the unit developed, there were plenty of speaking and listening tasks. It’s important with any book, that young readers understand the characters of a story and their motivations. Allowing time for this allows children to empathise with the characters and I have found that this in turn leads into writing at greater depth. With high quality picture books such as these, it is a joy to be able to use the illustrations in the session plans as much as the text in order to discuss the characters. We wanted to provide activities that involved hot-seating, role-play and drama. Not only are these types of activities fun for the children (at any age!), but they can enhance imagination and really engage the pupils in reading.
One of my favourite session plans to write was the letter of complaint writing task where the children are asked to write a letter of complaint to the Frog from one of the animals in the story Oi Dog! After engaging in a fun and silly rhyming game to generate ideas and stimulate the senses, the children take part in a hot-seating activity inspiring them to plan and write for a target audience. By this time, pupils have hopefully made a connection with the characters on a personal level leading to meaningful writing.
Oi Frog! Teaching Slide
The Oi Frog! and friends books are rich in dialogue, for example as Cat ‘explains’ (dictates) the rules to frog, that a log is what he MUST sit on! This unit hopefully proves that it is possible to teach grammar, punctuation and spelling in an interesting way. With the use of a picture book, it is possible to teach capital letters, full stops, question marks exclamation marks, name the letters of the alphabet and apply simple spelling rules in a way that makes perfect sense to young readers and writers.
This unit culminates in a final piece of work, where pupils are asked to apply all that they have learned in the stories to create a short rhyming story of their own. As an author of session plans, when a text or picture book can act as a model to the children for their own writing it is a valuable tool. The Oi Frog! and friends books seemed to naturally lend themselves to the children writing their own short rhyming poem or story that could then be made into their own books to share with others. All the Read in to Writing units ensure that writing is purposeful and created for a reason. It was great to think creatively about how the children might present their writing and I have tried to include extension ideas and cross curricular tasks that can carry the texts beyond the English lesson.
Learn more about the Oi Frog! teaching unit and download sample material here.