Contributed by Debbie Pegg.
The Highway Rat
'Give me your buns and your biscuits! Give me your chocolate éclairs! For I am the Rat of the highway, and the Rat Thief never shares!'
Life is not safe for the other animals, as the villainous Highway Rat gallops along the highway, stealing their food. Clover from a rabbit; nuts from a squirrel – he even steals his own horse's hay. Will he finally meet his comeuppance, in the form of a cunning duck?
Book Author: Julia Donaldson
Teaching Ideas and Resources:
- Read the original Highwayman poem by Alfred Noyes.
- Create a Wanted poster to help catch the Highway Rat (see Resources below).
- Look at the use of rhyming words in the story. Can you think of other words which rhyme with the ones used?
- The Highway Rat is described as a 'baddie' and a 'beast'. Can you think of any other words that might be used to describe him?
- Write a diary entry from the point of view of the Highway Rat. What does he do each day? How does he feel about it?
- Imagine that one of the animals in the story is being interviewed by the police. What would they tell the police about their encounter with the Highway Rat?
- Look at the illustrations and think of captions / speech bubbles for each picture.
- Create a new page for the story, in which the Highway Rat steals from a different animal.
- Look at the use of speech marks within the story. Could you use these to turn the story into a play and perform it to others?
- The author uses different words to describe how the Highway Rat speaks (e.g. declared, bellowed). Can you think of any more?
- Write a recipe for one of the cakes in the cake shop.
- Write some instructions to teach somebody how to make Gruffalo biscuits.
- Find out about the author, Julia Donaldson. Watch this video and think of questions that you might like to ask her.
- As the story develops, the Highway Rat's horse has to carry more of the things that he has stolen. How much might each of these things weigh? How much would the horse have to carry in total?
- Create a price list for the cake shop and imagine that some customers would like to buy a selection of the cakes. How much will they need to pay? How much change will they need to be given? What coins would be used for this?
- Try solving the Highway Rat Sudoku Problems (see Resources below).
- Challenge your pupils to answer the Highway Rat Maths Challenges (see Resources below).
- The Highway Rat gets fat from eating everyone else's dinner. Can you think of a healthy diet to help him keep fit?
- The duck calls into the deep, dark cave and an echo is heard. Investigate what echoes are and how they are made.
- Draw a picture showing the inside of one of the Highway Rat's bags. What different items has he stolen?
- Look at the cave paintings near the end of the story. Can you create your own cave paintings?
- Draw a map which shows the route that the Highway Rat travels.
- Find out about the highwaymen of the past. What did they do? Do you know the names of any famous highwaymen?
- Think about stealing and the impact that it has on those affected.
- The Highway Rat's manners were 'rough and rude'. Can you make a list of good manners to help the Highway Rat be nicer to others?
- Find out about the police and how they help people in society. Could you invite a member of the police force to your school to talk to you about their jobs? What questions would you ask them?
- Look at the expressions of the different characters in the illustrations. How are they feeling?
- The Highway Rat never shares. Why is it nice to share our things with others?