There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom Ideas
Age Range: 7 to 11
'There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom' is a fantastic story by Louis Sachar. It is about a boy called Bradley Chalkers. Nobody at his school likes him... apart from the new school counsellor Carla, and a new boy called Jeff Fishkin.
The story can be used in lots of ways in the classroom. Here are a selection of ideas and resources to try:
1) Read the text together. Discuss the characters / settings / events. Identify any unusual words... there are many American words in the story which children outside of America may be unfamiliar with. Make a glossary of these words.
2) Look at these images. They show the most common words from the first two pages in the book, and from Chapter 1. What do they tell us about those parts of the book? Which words appear most often? Why? What types of words are they (nouns / adjectives etc.)? You can make images like these by pasting your own text into www.wordle.net.
Pages 1 and 2:
3) Make a diary from Bradley's point of view. What thoughts and feelings would he include? How would he present the diary - in a neat and tidy way, or scruffy and messy?
4) Make a diary from Jeff's point of view. What would he say about Bradley and the events of the story? How would his diary be different from Bradley's? Why?
5) Use the images provided below to support your diary writing. You could also try adding speech / thought bubbles to each picture to show what each person is thinking / feeling. A tool like Voicethread could also be used in a similar way.
These images were created by Helen Warner and are available to download in this PDF .
6) Make a Powerpoint story - This Powerpoint presentation has a selection of images which are based on the events of the story. Can children add their own text to explain what is happening? Weaker writers could use the audio recording options within Powerpoint to tell their version of the story and then play this back later.
7) Drama activities. Try some of the following:
- Hotseating - Take on the role of one of the characters and ask other children to interview them about the events of the story.
- Conscience Corridor - Split the class into two groups and have each group form a line which faces the other. Have one child take on the role of Bradley and get him / her to walk down the 'corridor' in between the lines. 'Bradley' should ask each person a question about what has happened to him in the story, e.g. Should he go and see Carla today? What should he say to Jeff when he sees him next? How can he get Mrs. Ebbel to like him?
- Choose one of the chapters and rewrite it as a storyboard / script which the children can then perform. These could be recorded and played back for evaluation.
8) Make a character profile about each person in the story. What do they look like? What are their personalities like? What kinds of things do they say? How do other people respond to them?
9) Use email to interact with the characters. If possible, the teacher can set up an email account for 'Jeff'. The pupils could then send emails to Jeff at this address with the teacher responding in role as the character. Children could ask Jeff how he feels about particular events in the story, or give him advice about how he can help Bradley. A child could also take on the role of Jeff and write appropriate responses.
10) When you reach the end of the story, think about how each of the characters has changed. When / how / why did these changes take place? What did each character learn?
11) The story is also a great starting point for discussions about PSHE and bullying. How does each character in the story behave and how does this influence how others treat them?
12) Jen Kenny suggests... Get the children to create a trailer for the film of the book, so they have to pick out key moments without giving away too much of the plot. They could use movie maker to do this, using drawn images, images from the net or digital camera photos.
13) Eve Wilson has contributed this display based on the book. See it in full, with information about how it was created, at Teaching Photos.
14) Martin Row has also contributed some display images based on the story. See them at Teaching Photos here.
15) Billenda Hemeyer has suggested the following idea:
'I have been using this book for the last five years in fourth grade. Every year we stop at the point
where Bradley thinks he's a monster and the kids in groups draw life-size posters of monsters, with a red heart in the middle. They then write an 'I Am' poem from his point of view. At the end of the book we do the same thing, only this time Bradley is a regular looking boy with a big smile. Then we do another 'I Am' Poem. It beautifully shows the profound changes Bradley Chalkers goes through!'
Do you have any other ideas? Feel free to email me, or leave a comment below, and I'll add your ideas to this page. Thanks!
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