One of the books we choose to read this year was The Last Wolf by Michael Morpurgo. I am not quite certain how we got around to choosing it as one of our books – possibly because we enjoy Michael Morpurgo books, maybe because it includes a wolf (I think my kids secretly wish they could raise a wolf cub) or possibly the fact that the book was written in a Historical period that we are covering this year. Not sure what our initially thinking was but whatever the reason was I am really glad we selected this book.
The story is about a young boy who has some really tough breaks and has to deal with a lot in his youth (he is an orphan, has a cruel guardian and then when he finds a couple to love him they die), but it is not a story about lose, it is actually a story about survival and not giving up, about finding somewhere to belong and about hope. And yes there is a wolf cub in the story who loves the main character (I think kids who enjoy animal story will love this angle – both of mine did).
The story is shorter than I expected (we actually covered the whole book and all the activities linked to it in 2 weeks and normally our books last for about 4 weeks, sometimes longer), but still well written and an excellent story to read and talk about with the kids. Like how the author shapes the story, changing time periods, using a will and ancestry search as the reason for the time change (I have a feeling mine are going to steal this trick).
For home educating purposes I downloaded the Free to download Teacher’s Pack from the Oxford University Press website (they have a number of Free teacher’s packs that are linked to stories in their Rollercoaster series).
The Teacher’s pack includes a very useful Navigator page – where the story is summarized and broken down into suggested reading sections.
Then there are lesson plans for each suggested reading section. The lesson plan highlights ideas that you could talk about with the kids. Sometimes it includes things like looking for metaphors, sometimes asking about the characters or how the setting impacts the story.
And then for each lesson there are 1 or 2 worksheets.
This is now the second time that we have used the Teacher Resources from the Oxford University Press site. And it just makes life easier. And let’s be honest easier is better. The night before I read the lesson plan, decide what I want to talk about, print out possible worksheets and I am set. Quick and easy, no fuss. A home educators dream.
And we actually end up covering a lot. With this book the kids wrote diary entries, book reviews, looked at the use of fonts, how repetition can be used for emphasis, rhetorical questions, they researched wolves, read about Scotland and I am sure I am forgetting some stuff. But we did a lot and it was all linked to the story and all with very little prep work from me.
I think the range of stories they have included in the Rollercoaster series is brilliant and I love how easy it is to use their Teacher Guides. So yes we will definitely be visiting the Rollercoaster series again, soon.