Over the past few months, my Grade 4 students and I have been immersed in Julie Andrews Edwards’ book, “The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles“.
It’s a fantasy novel about the importance of imagination and how we tend to lose our ability to see, really see, things as we get older. The girls were so inspired by the author’s words and the interesting characters that we decided to create our own “Whangdoodleland” in class.
Armed with passages from the text, the students set off to create mostly life-sized paintings of the various characters and scenes from the story. To demonstrate their ability to visualize, they worked together in small groups, and then as a larger community, to decide what to paint, how to represent it on paper, and where to place the pieces around the room.
Holding true to Professor Savant’s (a main character) idea that “nobody ever looks up”, most adults that come into the room have to be alerted to the fact that there’s a bird with a wingspan of 5m hanging from the ceiling! Any children, on the other hand, notice that right away.
The girls love the transformation this art has made to their room because it represents the even bigger transformation that this book has created in their lives.
They have learned how to think critically about characters and plot events, how to write lyrically and with suspense, and how to create imaginative stories that entertain.
This is a book that these girls will never forget, and now they’ve been able to create a culminating celebration of their learning that they will always remember, too.