Once There were Giants-Animals including humans, life cycles
This story depicts the life of a little girl from being a baby, when her house was populated by giants, to motherhood and becoming one of the giants in her own baby's world. It shows her at different stages in her life including learning to walk, starting school and getting her first job. As well as showing her development from babyhood to adulthood it shows the change in her parents from young adults to late middle age. Penny Dale's beautiful illustrations are accompanied by Martin Waddell's rhyming text. At first glance it might seem better suited to the youngest children in school, however, the concept is not fully appreciated by most children in EYFS but often sparks interesting lines of conversation with 5-7 year old children.
The book could perhaps be criticised for depicting an idealistic picture of an extended family who appear to live harmoniously under one roof for much of the story. However, this could perhaps be balanced by also sharing a book such as 'The Family Book' by Todd Parr which celebrates the diversity of family life.
This book would support children to understand that all animals, including humans, have offspring which grow into adults.
Links and Resources
These resources link to the 'In the Zone' box which was sent to all UK state schools in 2012 to coincide with the Olympics being held in London. Even if you do not have access to the box you will be able to do the activities, however if you are based in the UK you will be able to use the contents of the box (including the puppet) to support the lessons. It supports children to understand that if they practice they can improve their ability to balance for a period of time.
The activities described would link particularly well with the page where the girl wins a race. Do the children think she could always run this fast? What might she have done which helped her to learn to run faster? What else does the girl learn to do in the story? What have they learned to do since they were babies? What are they going to learn to do when they are older?
These resources link to the 'In the Zone' box which was sent to all UK state schools in 2012 to coincide with the Olympics being held in London. Even if you do not have access to the box you will be able to do the activities, however if you are based in the UK you will be able to use the contents of the box (including the puppet) to support the lessons.
As described above the activities described would link particularly well with the page where the girl wins a race. It supports children to understand that, with practice, they can improve their reaction times. It also gives them the opportunity to work scientifically by comparing different sorts of steps such as galloping, skipping, running or hopping.
Thinking about the girl in the story winning the race do the children think she could always run this fast? What might she have done which helped her to learn to run faster? What else does the girl learn to do in the story? What have they learned to do since they were babies? What are they going to learn to do when they are older?
The first video clip shows several life cycles including a human, a frog and a poppy. This would be great to share with children and to spark conversation about the different life stages that animals and plants go through. Children could compare the lives that they see here with the life of the little girl in the story.
The third clip down is called 'odd one out'. I would not use this with the class as it shows four animals and asks which is the odd one out before suggesting that the 'right' answer is human as it is the only one that does not undergo metamorphosis. An equally good scientific answer could have been frog, as it is the only one that lives in water, or bee as it is the only one that stings.
Telling children that there is a single correct answer discourages them from having their own ideas or raising their own questions. Instead of using this clip as it is you could however show the pictures to the children and encourage them to think of as many 'odd ones out' as possible.
There is a lot of information in this resource that is presented in the form of 'Discovery Cards'. These have lots of information to support teaching about mini-beasts and could also lead to some interesting conversations about the differences between humans and invertebrates. The most useful Discovery Card to link with this book is number 6 which gives lots of ideas for teaching about the life cyles of mini-beasts.
Ladybirds are a useful lifecycle to study as there are likely to be less children who are already familiar with the stages of a ladybird's life. This can 'level the playing field' and allow all children to participate fully in the lesson without holding back children for whom work around tadpoles or caterpillars might be 'old hat'. This resource comprises an engaging powerpoint display which explains about the lifecycle of a ladybird as well as providing information about the diversity of ladybirds.
The teachers notes here have been contributed by several teachers and parents who describe different ways that they have used this book which depicts the life cycle of a caterpillar. Each contributor has written a paragraph based on their own experience of using this story to teach an aspect of the curriculum. Ideas range from making a fruit salad, a mobile depicting the lifecycle and a butterfly and using the story to explore simple graphing and maths problems (If one caterpillar ate through three plums, how many plums how many plums would four caterpillars eat?)