Starting school has been made easier for reception children at Abbey Meads Primary when a big hairy scary monster the Gruffalo came to tea.
Reception class teacher Donna Wright said The Gruffalo , the classic by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, was the book that came up all the time when she and colleague Liz Arblaster made home visits during the Spring and Summer. "So many of the children said it was their favourite book, one that we love as well, that we thought it would be a good way to help the small children settle into a big, busy school."
The story told in rhyme describes a tiny mouse making his way through a dark wood avoiding being eaten by bigger creatures by telling them that he’s going to meet an imaginary creature. To his surprise he does bump into a real Gruffalo and to avoid being eaten the mouse says all other animals are scared of him. To prove it the pair return through the wood and all the big animals make a hasty retreat.
"It’s a about growing up, not being afraid and having courage to take on big challenges," said Liz. "The children wrote invitations to the Gruffalo to come to a tea party but we prepared them for the visit by arranging for him to appear the day before beyond the school fence. The children were besides themselves with excitement and were pleased to see the Gruffalo came into the classroom door and were able to give him hugs."
It was a bit much for one or two children. Five year old Daisy Hall said, "I was quite scared of him because he was very big."
Mrs Wright said, "the visit encouraged lots of imaginative and creative work and huge amounts of discussion before and afterwards. It was also a great way to help children feel comfortable in the school surroundings."
Hiring the Gruffalo costume was funded by the Friends of Abbey Meads School (FOAMS).