Communication and language: A rhyming artist

Nick Sharratt is a prolific children’s author and illustrator famous for his rhyming text and colourful illustrations. The following activities use his work to develop children’s communication and language skills.

Binoculars; telescope; digital camera; Viking helmets; conical shaped items; cardboard; scissors; magazines; paper; pencils; shape templates; tracing paper; cardboard tubes; sticky tape; felt pens; 
stickers; bricks; plastic animals; large letter shapes; easel; paper; sketchbooks; mark-making materials. Books
A collection of books written or illustrated by Nick Sharratt 

This classic author and illustrator is famous for his rhyming text and bold, colourful illustrations through books such
A Shark in the Park, Don’t put your Finger in the Jelly, Nelly and Elephant Wellyphant. He has illustrated almost 250 books and written around 40 of his own books including a fun reading series with characters such as Mrs Pirate and Caveman Dave, lots
of visual tricks and treats such as in
What’s in the Witch’s Kitchen? and The Foggy, Foggy Forest, and his rst poetry collection Vikings in the Supermarket.

Use some of these books to develop children’s communication and language skills in a variety of ways. Challenge them to make up rhyming phrases, write simple poems, join in refrains, and create their own stories, as well as having a go at copying, tracing and drawing characters in the ‘Illustrator’s corner’

  • Playing and exploring
    Children share lots of the author’s books together.
    They can make up and act out their own stories.
    They enjoy joining in with the repeated refrains in the books.

Shark spotting
Share the book Shark in the Park! or its sequels Shark in the Dark! and Shark in the Park on a Windy Day! with the children. Why does Timothy Pope, see sharks down his telescope? Organise a walk to the park and invite parents and carers to join you. Take along the book and some real binoculars or a telescope for children to observe things through. Let children use their toy telescopes too (see ‘Creating and thinking critically’). Talk about what they can actually see. Take photos using a digital camera. What will they chant if they see a shark?

Try some poetry
Read some of Nick Sharratt’s original poetry from Vikings in the SupermarketThe Vikings in the title poem use lots of things they buy to redesign their horned helmets, including bananas, carrots, ice-cream cones and croissants. Watch the animated version of the title poem on YouTube. Ask children to act out the poem before being revealed as the page is turned. Provide templates of shapes, figures and letters for children to make rubbings using pencils and tracing paper. Can they try to draw their own foggy forest? What is hiding behind the paper?

Pop-in-the-slot storybooks
Share Pirate Pete or Once Upon a Time with the children. Explain that these books allow the reader to be more involved in making up the story themselves. By moving cut-outs around the book, different variations on the story emerge. Use them as a stimulus for the children to write their own stories either in a small group or with a partner. Can they think of a character using their own name? Invite them to go to the ‘Illustrator’s corner’ and draw a picture of their new character. Provide children with a story board with slots cut in and let them make their own props to pop- in-the-slot.

Ketchup on Your Cornflakes?
This split-page book conjures up some very strange food and life combinations. Encourage the children to join in answering the questions together. ‘Do you like ketchup on your corn akes’ or ‘do you like salt on your toes?’ Can they make up some new ideas for crazy combinations?

  • Active learning
    Children make up rhyming phrases using familiar word patterns.
    They persist in nding rhyming words for names.
    They try to trace, rub and draw their own foggy, foggy forest.

Back at your setting try making up new rhyming phrases using the same rhythm or word pattern as ‘shark in the park’, such as ‘dog doing a jog’, ‘crow ying low’ or ‘ ower in a shower’. Invite children to recite or write down their word patterns on a writing frame.

Don’t Put Your Finger in the Jelly, Nelly
Read Don’t Put Your Finger in the Jelly, Nelly where the author nds even more rhymes to go with names. Challenge children to nd rhyming words to go with their names such as ‘Sam on a tram’, ‘Kai in the sky’ and ‘get busy Lizzie’. Allow some use of nonsense words to help them develop a sense of rhyme.

Lift the flap, fairy tales
Read some of the series of funny fairy tales adapted by Nick Sharratt such as The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood or Goldilocks. These are traditional tales written in rhyme, with aps for children to lift revealing inner secrets of the characters, such as what the wolf keeps in his kitchen cupboard. Allow time for children to take turns to guess what is hidden under the aps. Talk about what the children notice is different in the stories.

The Foggy, Foggy Forest
This book is a real visual treat. The pages are translucent, or ‘foggy’, so that pictures appear in silhouette or shadow before being revealed as the page is turned. Provide templates of shapes, gures and letters for children to make rubbings using pencils and tracing paper. Can they try to draw their own foggy forest? What is hiding behind the paper?

  • Creating and thinking critically
    Children make their own telescopes and use imagination to spot things in the park.
    They act out new funny combinations of words.
    Children create shadows using sunlight, objects and white paper.

Make simple toy telescopes for the children to use at the park using different sized cardboard tubes. Choose two tubes that slide inside each other for added effect. Decorate the outside of both tubes using felt pens and stickers. Can the children think of a way to use tubes to make some toy binoculars? Encourage children to use their imagination and pretend to see different things.

Why are the Vikings ‘out of place’ in the supermarket? Use the idea of people being in a surprising place to stimulate play and poetry. Try ‘pirates in the library’ or ‘elephants in the garage’. Can the children think of what might go wrong in each situation? Work together as a group to create a new funny scenario and develop it into a poem or story. Use drama and role play to try out and develop ideas. Let children show each other their different ‘out of place’ dramas.

Create some silhouettes and shadow pictures outside. Choose a bright sunny day to go outside, set up a table with a white sheet of paper, and provide a variety of different objects. Place them so that the sun casts a shadow onto the white sheet. Try different-shaped bricks and plastic animals, or prop up large letter shapes. Ask children to choose their initial letters to cast shadows. Let children draw around the shadows that are cast by the objects.

Illustrator’s corner
Set up an artist’s studio with lots of different drawing materials – easels, paper, sketchbooks, pencils, pens, crayons, pastels, chalks, charcoal, clipboards, and so on. Encourage children to trace or copy some illustrations from favourite books by Nick Sharratt. Let children watch some YouTube videos of the artist at work.

EYFS Early Learning Goals
Children will be developing their skills in making up stories and ‘connecting ideas or events’ at the same time as they ‘handle equipment and tools effectively’ to make toy telescopes or binoculars or use pop-in-the-slot story boards (Physical Development). Writing down some of the rhyming word patterns they create will develop literacy skills (L). Creating shadows using sunlight and different-shaped objects will help children to become aware of change and ‘features of their environment’ (UTW).


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