My Little Story Corner

For the love of picture books

Banjo and Ruby Red: Teaching Notes

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Banjo and Ruby Red
Libby Gleeson
Illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Please find the Banjo and Ruby Red Review here:

Banjo and Ruby Red: Question Time!

Before Reading:
Show photos of working dogs (on a farm and other work places, like seeing-eye dogs).
Ask if children know what kind of jobs these dogs are doing. Why are they important? Look at the front cover. What are these animals? Where do you think they live? What do you think they might do in the story?
Explain that Banjo is a ‘chook dog’. What jobs might he need to do on the farm?

During Reading:
Why doesn’t Ruby Red want to hop off the woodpile? How do you think Banjo feels about her? How does he feel when he can’t find her? Do you think he will help her? Why?

After Reading:
Why is Ruby Red roosting on and inside the kennel? Do you think Banjo minds? How do Banjo and Ruby Red feel about each other now?

Revisit the photos of the working dogs. Draw a picture of a dog helping someone (or working with animals) and / or write a description of its role.  

Role Play.
Using props or just selves, act out situations for the following:
– Someone wouldn’t listen to your instructions or when you had something to say.
– Helping someone in need, even if they weren’t your friend.
– Becoming friends with someone who seemed to be very different than you (an ‘unlikely friend’).
Think about how each person might react positively or negatively. Role play both reactions and discuss the different outcomes.  

(Discussion questions and role play ideas adapted from Little Hare Book Publishers:

Banjo and Ruby Red: Learning Time!  

– Banjo and Ruby Red could be considered to have an ‘unlikely friendship’. Write your own story about two animals who become ‘unlikely friends’. Would this be possible in real life? Why or why not? What obstacles do they overcome to learn to be friends?
See some terrific examples of books about ‘unlikely friends’ here:

– Write a Procedure Text: How To Round Up Chooks, How To Care For a Sick Chicken, How To Make a Friendship Band, How To Build a Kennel.
Be creative!  

Read other stories by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood:
Amy and Louis
Clancy and Millie and the Very Fine House
Half a World Away

Compare and constrast similarities and differences between the style of writing and illustrations.  

Art and Craft.
– Practise sketching objects using a black pencil. Observe and draw the object’s basic shapes. For example, to draw a toy duck, draw an oval body, add a smaller oval for a head, a triangle for a beak, then fill in the extra details of a tail, wing and eye. Don’t worry if the lines aren’t perfectly aligned… that’s sketching!
– Create a farm yard scene on a large poster, including a barn, tractor, hen house, woodpile, chickens, a dog and any other animals on the farm. Use a range of materials including pencils, pencil shavings, crayons, paint, coloured paper, sticks, hay, sand, grass and so on.  

– 3D Friendship Chooks (adapted from Red Ted Art’s Juggling Bean Bag Chooks, see below).
These are so cute and simple to make. You can make lots and give them to your friends to show how much you love them!
Materials: coloured cardstock (30cm x 15cm), white paper and black pencil for eyes, patterned paper (or gift wrap), scissors, glue, sticky tape, stuffing (optional).
1. Cut out shapes, including two eyes (draw pupils), two wings (oval), two wattles, two combs, two beaks (glue wattles, combs and beaks back to back so colour is seen on both sides).
2. Fold cardstock in half upwards. Glue wattle, beak and comb around open corner. Glue eyes and wings in place on each side.
3. Glue inside on top and side shut, leaving bottom open. Use tape for extra strength.
4. Fill inside with stuffing, or something else just to give it weight.
5. Push down the back so that the beak points in the air, and the two open sides meet. Tape closed.
6. Your chook is done! Enjoy!
IMG_5395 IMG_5398

– Juggling Chook Bean Bags (requires sewing):
juggling-bean-bag-chicken juggling-chickens-bean-bags
– Chooks and Dogs Friendship Hands.
On a long piece of paper, each student makes a handprint, joining it with the next person’s handprint. Once dry, decorate to look like chooks or dogs, that appear to be holding hands (or wings, or paws).  

– Living Eggs: Incubate and hatch baby chicks in your classroom, nursery or care home.
Find more information and teacher program here:

Banjo and Ruby Red were ‘unlikely’ friends. Explore Probability and Chance lessons.
Objectives: To recognise events that are impossible, unlikely, equally likely, likely and certain.
– Play ‘What are the chances…?’ What are the chances that it will rain today? That an alien will visit us? That you will win Tattslotto? Students respond with appropriate language. Play with a partner, create and draw their own ‘likely’, ‘unlikely’, and ‘impossible’ circumstances.
– Teddy Bears in a Bag. Show students and place a certain number of coloured teddies (or other counters) in a bag. Eg. 3 blue, 2 red, 1 yellow. Draw a graph showing colours on the bottom bar and numbers up the side.
Ask children to predict what colour will be taken out of the bag (one teddy at a time). Will one colour be chosen more than others? Why or why not?
Each time a teddy is picked, mark the colour on the graph and place the teddy back in the bag. After 10 turns, count the results for each colour. Which had the most? Least? Equal? Does this fit with our
predictions? Students can play with a partner or small group.
– Dice games, Probability Fans and more found at:  

Information Technology.
– Send an email to a friend, explaining what you like about them, or invite them to play.
– Create a video trailer for the book, Banjo and Ruby Red, using props.
– Create a Powerpoint slideshow: about friendships, working dogs, chickens, or one of the topics written about in the Procedural Writing task.  

Construction / Technology.
– Design and build a dog kennel or chicken coop using paddle pop sticks. What method will work the best? Decorate.
Example with instructions found here:
Variation: Build the kennel / chicken coop with other materials, such as cardboard, playing cards, twigs, or timber.  

Banjo and Ruby Red
Available for purchase from Boomerang Books ($22.46 + $6.95 shipping per order)

Photography and lessons by Romi Sharp, 2014.
These may be used for personal or classroom use only, and not permitted for commercial use.
All sourced resources have been credited.

Author: Romi Sharp

Qualified teacher, copywriter, reviewer, picture book writer and fanatic, acting publicist to the book stars, and constantly immersed in the world of children's literature. Founder of Books On Tour PR & Marketing, Just Write For Kids and My Little Story Corner.

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