Posted 20 hours ago

The Highway Rat

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As mom who was an English Lit major, I LOVE this cheeky little book...it's a retelling of/homage to Alfred Noyes' poem "The Highwayman" (without all the, you know, shooting and death and ghosts and whatnot). My son loves the great rhythm, and at two, fills in the words at the end of each stanza. The fact that it's a long poem makes it a fun read-aloud, and it's great to start to expose little ones to poetry concepts at an early age, from a literacy standpoint. Plus, it's just fun. One of my television songs, A SQUASH AND A SQUEEZE, was made into a book in 1993, with illustrations by the wonderful Axel Scheffler. It was great to hold the book in my hand without it vanishing in the air the way the songs did. This prompted me to unearth some plays I’d written for a school reading group, and since then I’ve had 20 plays published. Most children love acting and it’s a tremendous way to improve their reading.

Create a price list for the cake shop and imagine that some customers would like to buy a selection of the cakes. How much will they need to pay? How much change will they need to be given? What coins would be used for this? Draw a picture showing the inside of one of the Highway Rat’s bags. What different items has he stolen?

Julia Donaldson Adaptations

The artwork is colorful and fun. The rat looks a little like Zorro, but he is a baddie for certain. I love Julia Donaldson’s work. She works with Axel as illustrator and they make an excellent team. Imagine that one of the animals in the story is being interviewed by the police. What would they tell the police about their encounter with the Highway Rat? Although the story line is very simple, there is a lot of cross curricular links there. Our year 2 created a ‘WANTED!’ poster for the Highway Rat and wrote about the crimes of the rat and why they needed to catch him as soon as possible. The children had to use a range of descriptive language to make their writing interesting and for creating a sense of urgency. In addition, our year 2 created their own version of the capture of the Highway Rat with a clear beginning, middle and end. They had to use a lot of similes, adjectives and body language to create tension and a chase to grab their reader’s attention.

The Highway Rat is our new book for our Literacy lessons in Year 1. They have all really engaged with the story and the characters. It has provided us with many different discussion points - one child pointed out to me today that the Highway Rat is naughty not only because he steals people's food, but also because he talks to strangers! This gave us the opportunity to have a little PSHE talk about 'stranger danger', and why the Highway Rat has not been making good choices! Help your child to dress up as a highway rat use a piece of cloth as a cloak. You could make a mask for your child out of card. For instructions follow link here and scroll to ‘Method 2’ Play the story As the story develops, the Highway Rat’s horse has to carry more of the things that he has stolen. How much might each of these things weigh? How much would the horse have to carry in total?Look at the use of rhyming words in the story. Can you think of other words which rhyme with the ones used?

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