The Gruffalo is an award-winning children’s book with over 13 million copies sold worldwide. This story about a cunning mouse and his unlikely friendship with the mysterious Gruffalo has won the hearts of children and parents everywhere. But it’s not only a loveable story. The Gruffalo has the capability of helping children to learn myriad important lessons including how to problem solve, how to think outside the box, and skills in friendship. The story also helps lead on to other important educational topics like rhymes, grammar, and the food chain.
Here, we’ll cover some excellent places to find The Gruffalo teaching resources as well as some creative ideas for activities.
Set the Scene in Your Reading Corner
If you want your students to get excited about The Gruffalo from the word ‘go’, try to set up an exciting immersive experience for them when they hear the story for the first time. Take a look at your classroom reading corner and see if you can give it a woodland makeover so that the kids can feel like they’re right at the heart of the story.
If you don’t have a copy of The Gruffalo ready then our The Gruffalo Story Set is perfect for little ones to feel involved with storytime. The set comes with a 30cm Gruffalo hand puppet and finger puppets to play Owl, Snake, Fox, and Mouse.
We also stock The Gruffalo's Child Story Set for reading after you’ve covered the first book. This set also comes with hand and finger puppets, the Gruffalo puppet with a poseable mouth.
Gruffalo Movement in Drama Class
This lesson plan on Drama Resource will get children thinking about physical movements and how they can be used to express different feelings or communicate emotions. Follow this plan for children ages four to seven years old.
In the lesson, the feeling and actions of the Gruffalo and other characters are brought into question. The children are encouraged to think about what types of expression and behaviour make them appear scary, brave, or friendly, and how the Gruffalo might behave if he wanted to make friends with the other animals. Bring more creativity into the lesson by offering costume props or helping the children to make some. You could create a tail for Mouse and ask the children to think about how Mouse’s tail would move depending on how he feels, or make some wings for Owl with craft feathers and see how he would use them to express himself. Having a big bag of fabric offcuts and other school craft supplies is always useful to have around for tasks like this.
Creating Fantasy Animals
Use Switchzoo to create your own animals. This website allows children to make up imaginary animals by piecing together different animal heads, bodies, tails, and legs. Choose between different animal habitats for a starting point and then let children use their imagination to come up with all kinds of fantasy creations. There are also options to click through and read about the types of animals whose body parts are being spliced together, so students can find out about their lifespan, habitat, diet, predators, and scientific names.
Use this game to have children create their own animal and then do a drawing of the result, or write a profile explaining what habitat the animal lives in, what it likes to eat and how it survives in the wild.
Create a Food Chain
Different animals want to eat Mouse on his journey through the woods while he threatens every one of them that they are the natural prey of the Gruffalo. Use this aspect of the story when teaching children about the food chain. Ask the students to draw a diagram showing the food chain in the story. Can they think of any other food chains? Find 17 visual ways to help children learn about the food chain on We Are Teachers, including crafting an animal food pyramid or creating their own food chain puzzle.
Our Food Chain Flip shows sequences of 10 different food chains for different species. Use one to help children understand and explore how different food chains work.
Rhymes and Made Up Words
The Gruffalo is based on a Chinese folk story about a fox that borrows the terror of the tiger. Julia Donaldson said that she invented the Gruffalo’s name to help her when creating the rhyming structure of the book. Talk to the children about creating narrative poetry and try out an exercise to let them practice creating a rhyming story of their own.
Ask the children to start off by coming up with a name for their character and ask them to think of as many words that rhyme with the name as possible. Use Poetry4Kids to let children put in words and see all the different options for creating rhymes. Task them with finding some rhyming words they haven’t heard before and ask them to look them up in a thesaurus as a library activity. Poetry4Kids breaks down rhyming words by syllable, from one syllable to six, making it a useful resource when teaching phonics to young children too.
Use a kit like our Letters & Sounds Phase 5 Kit to get kids interacting with rhyming tools and play games that expose them to different graphemes and phonemes. Our kits come for levels one to six depending on how advanced your students are with phonics and rhyming. The Phase 5 kit includes:
- Alternative Spelling Consonants
- Short Vowel and Long Vowel Puzzles
- Mnemonic Cards; Phoneme Frieze
- Box of 250 Flash Cards
- Box of 182 Alternative Pronunciation Flash Cards
- Matching Words and Pictures Puzzles
- Sentence Substitution
Watch the Animated Film
The Gruffalo was made into an animated feature-length film. If you’ve covered The Gruffalo with your students in class watching the film might be a good option as an end of term or end of year activity. If you want to give the children a more engaging activity than simply watching the film perhaps you could task them with listing all of the plot points in the film that weren’t in the book and make a comparison at the end stating why they liked the book or the film more.
The Gruffalo on World Book Day
This World Book Day Gruffalo Ideas Pack offers a selection of creative activities to get children moving, making, and having fun at school on World Book Day. This is also an opportunity to get kids excited about reading more books through breathing life into the story of The Gruffalo. Here are some ideas included in the pack:
Decorate the classroom to look like a woodland with paper trees around the walls and drape foliage around from the ceiling to give the room a more mysterious feeling. Camouflage netting is ideal for producing this effect. You could create a green curtain of paper streams or fabric the children would need to enter through to make it more exciting. Set up a tent in one part of the classroom to act as the Gruffalo’s cave.
Create a Gruffalo treasure hunt outside by hiding pictures or the characters from the story around the playground. Have the students pair off or go in teams around the playground in search of the characters, ticking them off as they go. Once they find the Gruffalo there could be a prize. For much younger children, you could arrange this as a group adventure where you read out a different part of the story when you arrive at each character.