Finding Comfort

Every year two big events raise attention to mental well-being: In February we have the Mental Children’s Health week and in May, the Mental Health Awareness week takes place. In these times ensuring mental well being, inner strength and balance might not always be easy. We decided therefore that our theme of the month for May 2020 would be ‘Finding Comfort’ and we would celebrate the Power of a Hug – a real one or a virtual one. Our book of the month is Hug Me, written and illustrated by Simona Ciraolo and published by Flying Eye Books. You can find our videos here.

Peritextual features
Front and back covers: Identify the main character. Is the cactus male or female? How does he/she feel? Who could / would want to hug a cactus? Open up front and back – they show one image. Read the blurb and discover the cactus’ name.
Endpapers: Different front and back endpapers showing a passing of time. Front endpapers show a cactus family tree, with some really interesting names. Well worth looking at after the first read aloud. And maybe use as a prompt to create own family trees or creative family trees based around different plant life / animals Back endpapers are an album page of Filipe and his friend Camila the rock. This can prompt children to talk about what they do with their best friends.
Dedication : Share this after you’ve read the picturebook, as the illustration shows Filipe and his new friend the rock, Camilla. 
Title page: Presents Filipe with name tag (just in case you didn’t read the backcover blurb). Presents main character and his happy disposition.

Teacher education
Identifying a language focus, developing a writing task 
Thinking of combinations of items / people / animals which find hugging difficult 
Developing a craft-based task – looking at language for instructions

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Multiliteracies
Emotional:  empathising with the main character who seeks comfort in the form of a hug;understanding the difference between being alone and being lonely;valuing and accepting people for who they are;valuing friendship.
Visual:  reading facial expressions and body language to understand feelings and emotions;noticing details in the illustrations.
Nature:  finding out about cactus plants.

Notes from the classroom
Understanding life in a desert – brainstorming and discussion.
Cacti in pots in my house – cactus and succulent care.
Types of hugs – vocabulary building.
Let’s Hug – a poem for Mum.
Making a comic – Camilla and Felipe.
Comparing and contrasting two characters Felipe and Hank.

Additional Suggestions

As you know we like to make a few suggestions in addition to our picturebook of the month and here comes. We had three for this month:

1. Cyril and Pat written and illustrated by Emily Gravett.

This is the story of a lonely squirrel looking for friendship, finding friendship and overcoming obstacles to make it work … and getting a big hug as you can see. Emily has prepared some great downloadable resources and there are also videos of her reading and teaching children how to draw Cyril & Pat. From a language point of view, look at expressing feelings, predicting and discussing friendship. This book offers a fabulous opportunity for children to do some research and find out unusual facts about squirrels and rats. You will find all the resource & video links on our website: https://bit.ly/3bkTyw6

2. The Hug by Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar

Hedgehog was feeling sad.
As sad as a hedgehog can feel.
So sad only one thing could help…AND
Tortoise was feeling sad.
As sad as a tortoise can feel.
So sad only one thing could help…

Both the hedgehog and the tortoise are looking for a hug but for some reason no-one will hug them. Finally, a wise owl explains: Hedgehog is too spiky; Tortoise is too bony.

This book has a unique format – you read it, flip it and read it backwards. In the middle of the book the hedgehog and tortoise hug … This book lends itself to practise describing hedgehog and turtle, both their physical appearances and their emotions. Children can express how a hug feels, when they need a hug and perhaps they could draw what it feels like being hugged? 

3. Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers.

No doubt, many of you will know the story of a little boy, a penguin, loneliness and friendship. And of course, a big hug at the end. We have a number of Oliver Jeffers’ printable resources for this book linked on our website and also a link to a range of fabulous teaching ideas by Teaching Ideas. Check here: https://pepelt21.com/friendship/

There is a film for this picturebook which has been aired on TV – you might find a recording if you browse You Tube. There is also a trailer but we are attaching a clip called Lunch Time which might give you some ideas how to start your lesson – always nice to talk about food, favourite lunch habits …

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