In 1914, Joey, a young farm horse, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges towards the enemy, witnessing the horror of the frontline. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey’s courage touches the soldiers around him.
Teaching Ideas and Resources:
- Could you write a new story about an animal who has an extraordinary adventure?
- Use the story to think about how to write in the first / third person.
- Choose a pet or another animal and write a story from its point of view. What does it think about its life? How does it feel? What adventures might it have?
- Look at pictures of horses (see Resources below) and think of as many words as you can to describe them.
- Find out how to look after horses and write a set of instructions to teach others.
- Albert’s father thinks that horses are ‘obstinate and stupid’. Can you think of synonyms for these words? Can you find any antonyms?
- Choose a chapter and look through it, finding unknown words and finding out their meanings (e.g. gawkishness, gangling, emblazoned).
- Read and act out Chapter 4, where Joey is sold to the army. Which emotions are felt by each character at that point in the story?
- At the start of Chapter 6, the soldiers are feeling ‘buoyant with optimism’. What does this mean? Can you think of any other words / phrases to describe this feeling?
- Write a letter from Trooper Warren replying to his family.
- Retell the story from Tophorn’s point of view. How did he come to be involved in the war? How did he feel about taking part and meeting Joey?
- Watch this interview with the author, Michael Morpurgo. What questions would you ask him if you had the opportunity?
- Watch this trailer from the film. How well does it portray the story in the book?
- Read the sequel, Farm Boy. Could you write your own sequel / prequel to the book?
- Albert’s father sells Joey for forty pounds. How much would this be worth today? What could you buy with forty pounds at that time / today?
- Label a photo of a horse (see Resources below).
- Find out about horses, their different features / abilities and how they help people.
- At the start of the story, Joey is a colt. Find out the words that we use to describe other young animals.
- Find out how horses (and other animals) are trained by people. Why do we train them?
- Could you create your own puppets?
- You can also watch this talk by the creators of the puppets in the stage production:
- Can you paint the picture of Joey that is described in the ‘Author’s Note’ at the start of the book?
- Read the descriptions of the farm and other settings in the story. Could you draw / paint a picture of some of these places?
- Use the ‘Draw a Horse’ resource to draw your own horse cartoon (see Resources below).
- Albert is a bell-ringer. Listen to the sounds of bells ringing. What do they sound like?
- In Chapter 4, Joey hears a military band playing in the village. What instruments might be played in a military band? What songs might be played by one?
- Listen to the movie soundtrack. What instruments can you hear? What emotions does the music evoke? Could you compose your own song based on a part of the book?
- Find out about the countries involved in the war. Can you identify them on a map?
- Create a timeline showing the main events of the story.
- What can you find out about World War I? How did it start / end? What were the main events? Who was involved? How were they affected?
- Albert says that the best thing that his dad ever did was buy Joey. What is the best thing that you’ve ever done?
- At the end of Chapter 1, Joey says that there is an ‘instinctive and immediate bond of trust and affection’ between him and Albert. What does this mean? How do we show people that we trust them?
- Joey comes across lots of different people throughout the story. How does he feel towards each of them? How do they feel about him?
- Read the description of the war in Chapter 6. How might the people involved have felt? How does it make you feel? How can people resolve their differences without resorting to fighting?
- Joey gives Trooper Warren his confidence back. How can we help to give those around us more confidence if they are feeling nervous about something?