As parents and caregivers, we read a lot of boring books (if we're willing to admit it to ourselves). Once in a long while, however, a book comes along that entertains us as much as the kids we're reading it to. Room on the Broom is one of those books, and it's also perfect for Halloween.
The book, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, is a best-seller that needs little introduction, if you don't have it yet, you need to go to the bookstore or to the library and get your hands on a copy (note: we weren't able to find it in our local Madrid library, so we bought a copy, and then some extra ones as gifts for friends).
Room on the Broom is feisty, fun, speaks of friendship and teamwork, and features a witch, a frog, a dragon and a host of other friends. It's also got great rhythm, which makes it a fantastic tool for learning and practicing English.
Best of all, it can be used successfully with children of a wide age range.
So, as a tutor/ au pair/ nanny, what can you do with the book, besides reading it to your charges? Here's a few ideas:
Otra vez, otra vez. Yes, you can read it again. Don't be afraid of repetition, most children love hearing the same stories again and again, and this one is a particularly satisfying read.
Rhythm matters. Have the kids read it out loud with you or, if they are too young to do that, repeat key verses together, like "The witch had a cat and a very tall hat." This is a fun, easy way to address or preempt pronunciation issues for English learners.
Nouns and adjectives go well together. Use a template like this one below to match each animal to their adjective. The dog is keen, the frog is clean... and what if there were more animals? What would the snail be?
If there were other animals... what would their spot on the broom look like at the end of the story? Would the snake wrap itself around a small tree? Would the fish need a fishbowl? What about the snail or the hippo? Bring in the child's favorite animals here. Test your artistic talents, can you draw the broom with these new characters?
What would these animals look like? Perhaps a pig with a wig, a shrimp with a limp... the key her would be to have some fun while trying not to compare one's writing with Julia Donaldson's.
What happens to the dragon? The dragon is a bit of a bully, and also the real loser in the story. Where does he fly to next? Is he still hungry? Does he settle for a bite of cake or a plate of steamed broccoli? Kids often show empathy for all the characters.
Note: the official Room on the Broom website features some cool activities to print out, also, such as a memory game, a word search, a coloring page... great to complement the language-building activities!
Key English/Spanish vocabulary
Broom - la escoba
Cat - el gato
Cauldron - el caldero
Dog - el perro
Dragon - el dragón
Frog - la rana
Hair - el pelo
Monster - el monstruo
Moon - la luna
Witch - la bruja