Barney is a solitary little boy, given to wandering off by himself. One day he is lying on the edge of a disused chalk-pit when it gives way and he lands in a sort of cave. Here he meets ‘somebody with a lot of shaggy hair and two bright black eyes’ wearing a rabbit skin and speaking in grunts. He names him Stig. Of course, nobody believes Barney when he tells his family all about Stig, but for Barney cave-man Stig is totally real. They become great friends, learning each other’s ways and embarking on a series of unforgettable adventures.
Teaching Ideas and Resources:
- Write a play script about an argument between Barney and his sister Lou about it not being safe at the chalk pit.
- Choose one of the main events of the story and write a diary entry about it from Barney’s point of view.
- Write a description of the pit and the discarded objects that can be seen at the bottom of it.
- There is a creeper near to the pit called ‘Old Man’s Beard’. Why might it have been called this?
- If you visited Stig, what presents would you take him? Think of five objects that he might find useful, explain why they are useful and why you chose them.
- At the start of the story, Stig shows Barney around his ‘home’. Make a page about Stig’s den in the form of an estate agent’s information sheet about a home for sale.
- Make a character profile to describe Barney and / or Stig. What is their personality like? What are their favourite things? What are their hopes and dreams?
- Imagine that you had to teach Stig how to speak. Which words would you teach him first? Why?
- Barney teaches Stig lots of new skills. Can you choose one of them and write a set of instructions to teach somebody else too?
- Rewrite part of the story in the first person, from Barney or Stig’s point of view.
- Rewrite part of the story in the present tense.
- Write a prequel to the story, explaining where Stig came from.
- In Chapter 4 Barney and Stig go hunting. Have a class debate to discuss the ‘for’ and ‘against’ arguments about hunting.
- The Snargets call themselves ‘the Lone Ranger’, ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘William Tell’. Can you find out about these characters and explain who they are?
- Imagine that you are a policeman interviewing Barney about the robbery. What questions would you ask? How would he respond?
- Write the policeman’s report about the missing property and how it was discovered.
- Write a postcard from Barney to his family to describe some of the adventures that he has.
- Write a newspaper report about the missing leopard from the circus.
- Write the speech that you would give to the tribe if you had the opportunity.
- Think about what happens to Stig after the end of the story. Where does he go next? Will he ever meet Barney again?
- The book was turned into a TV show in the 1980s. Watch some of it and write a review. How does it compare to the book?
- Here are some scenes from newer version of the TV show (produced in 2002). Which do you prefer? Why?
- Make a sign to discourage people from going too near to the edge of the chalk-pit.
- Design a new and improved den for Stig. Think about what he needs there to be comfortable (light / heat etc).
- Design a new tool to help Stig with his digging.
- Design a new machine to help Barney lower his gifts down to Stig.
- Barney and Stig use lots of different tools when they are building things. Make a safety poster to teach people how to use them carefully.
- Create a new costume that Barney or Stig could wear to the party.
- Make a storyboard showing the main events of the first few pages of the story.
- Using the description in the book draw a picture of Stig’s den.
- Draw a picture of the dump at different times of day? in the bright morning sunlight, as the sun is going down and / or at night under the light of the moon.
- Draw your own picture of Stig based on the book’s description.
- In Chapter 3, Stig draws a picture on his chalk wall using a blackened stick. Can you try to recreate the picture that he drew?
- Compose a theme tune for a movie version of the story.
- Can use make some musical instruments using natural objects? Could you use them to make a song?
- This tune was used in the audiobook. Could you compose a song to be played in a new recording?
- Parts of the story take place at different times of the year. Can you explain how things change throughout the seasons?
- Several places are mentioned in the story. Can you look on a map and find where it might be set?
- In the story Stig makes a flint knife. Can you find out about different artefacts used by cavemen? How did they make these objects? What were they made from and what did they use them for?