Thursday, July 18, 2024
A Tale of a Toothbrush

The Tale of a Toothbrush

by Mark Warner
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Buy This Book * More books by M. G. Leonard

Children use their toothbrushes each morning and evening and get new ones every few months. That’s billions of toothbrushes! What happens to them all when they’re no longer needed? And if toothbrushes take thousands of years to break down, what does that mean for our planet?


  • Could you tell ‘the tale’ of another inanimate object? What might happen to it after it has been used? Could it be reused or recycled in some way?
  • Retell the story from Sammy’s point of view.
  • Write Sofia’s diary for the day when Sammy disappeared (or the day when he reappeared).
  • Think of some questions to ask the items that Sammy meets inside the black rubbish sack. How might they respond?
  • Find examples of direct speech in the story. Can you rewrite some of them as indirect speech?
  • The shampoo bottle in the rubbish bag has the words ‘Silky Shine Shampoo’ written on it. Can you think of other examples of alliteration?
  • Make an acrostic poem based on the words PLASTIC, TOOTHBRUSH or RECYCLE.
  • Watch the author’s video to celebrate World Book Day. What other activities could you carry out on the day? Can you think of some questions that you would like to ask her?


  • Look around the room and count the number of objects you can see that are made from plastic.
  • Collect and sort the different types of rubbish that are thrown away in your classroom in a week. Can you use this to create a graph showing the amount of each material that is thrown away?
  • Find and compare the prices of different types of toothbrushes (plastic, bamboo, electric). Use these to make some word problems to challenge a friend.
  • On average, eight million pieces of plastic enter our oceans every single day. How many pieces is this in a week, month or year?


  • Sammy is made of plastic. Can you make a list of other objects that are made of plastic, too? Why is plastic such a useful material?
  • Investigate the materials that different objects are made from. Why have those materials been chosen for particular objects?


  • Create a game in which Sammy has to avoid obstacles and return home to Sammy.
  • Use publishing software to make a poster or sign that teaches people how (and why) to recycle.
  • Watch this animated trailer that was created to promote the book in Taiwan. Could you make an animation of your own using stop-motion software?

Design Technology:

  • Design and make a new toothbrush holder.
  • Invent a new tooth-brushing device that doesn’t need to be thrown away.


  • Look at the illustrations that show different objects with faces on them. Could you use a similar technique to bring pictures of everyday objects to life?


  • Compose a melody to accompany an animated version of this story.


  • Create a map that shows the journey that Sammy goes on after he is thrown away. Add labels to show the events that take place in different places.
  • Make a list of ways to reuse everyday objects when they are no longer useful for their original purpose.
  • Make a poster to encourage people to reduce, reuse and recycle.
  • Find out the location of your nearest recycling centre. What can be taken there?


  • How does Sofia feel when Sammy is thrown away? How does she feel when he is returned?
  • How does Sammy feel at different points in the story? Why?

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