Go Home, Cheeky Animals!

Exploring the 2017 CBCA Short List: Early Childhood

Go Home Cheeky Animals book cover

Authors: Johanna Bell and Dion Beasley

Allen and Unwin

Themes: Family, home, country, weather, seasons

Years: Australian Curriculum: English, Foundation to Year 2; Mathematics Years 1 and 2; Science, Year 1 (NSW Early Stage 1 and Stage 1)

From the publisher’s synopsis: At Canteen Creek where we live, there are cheeky dogs everywhere. But when the cheeky goats, donkeys, buffaloes and camels make mischief in the camp, the dogs just lie there — until those pesky animals really go too far. Then the cheeky camp dogs roar into action!

Unit writer: Amanda Nicholls

Building field knowledge

  • The story is set in Canteen Creek, Northern Territory. Find Canteen Creek on a map of Australia, and do a Google image search of the area. What is the environment like in Canteen Creek?  Is it in a country or city setting? Does it look hot or cold? Wet or dry? Does it look like where you live? ACELT1575 ENe-11D
  • Have any students ever visited the Northern Territory? What can they share about their experience? ACELT1582 EN1-11D
  • Canteen Creek school has several videos on line — a video postcard, and a clip explaining their sustainability program. How is the school similar and different to your school? Plot the responses on a Venn diagram.  ACELT1589 EN1-4A

Exploring the context of the text

  • What does the word ‘cheeky’ mean? Have you ever been called cheeky? What were you doing when you were being cheeky? Think/pair/share. Come up with a class definition of the word ‘cheeky’. After reading the text, why do you think the animals are described as cheeky?  ACELA1437 ENe-6B
  • What animals are featured in the story? Would you find these animals running wild around where you live? ACELT1582 EN1-11D
  • Do you have a pet dog? What characteristics do dogs have that can make them useful to humans? ACELT1582 EN1-11D

Responding to the text

  • Examine the first page. How many dogs are there? Have students estimate and write down their answer. What is the best way to count a large number of scattered objects? Model marking or ticking off as you count, and then have students compare their estimates to the actual number. ACMNA289
  • The child in the story lives with or close by to a number of family members. Who are the members of the family mentioned in the text? Who lives at your house? Draw a picture of the people who live with you and label with their names. ACELT1575 ENe-11D

Exploring plot character and setting

  • Why does Grandpa think that the dogs help to keep the other animals away? Is he right? Why or why not? ACELY1650 ENe-4A
  • Why do the dogs finally act and chase the animals away? Why have they done nothing for the rest of the time? Was Grandpa right all along? ACELY1650 ENe-4A
  • If the animals could talk, what do you think they might be saying? Select a page and have the students write speech bubbles, or act out some of the antics of the cheeky animals. ACELA1469 EN1-4A
  • Examine the double page spread of the animals going crazy. Make a list of all the naughty things the cheeky animals do. Categorise into ‘will happen’, ‘might happen’ or ‘won’t happen’. ACMSP024
  • Why do you think the animals come to Canteen Creek? Use evidence from the text to justify your answer. For example, the buffalo come to eat the grass on the oval because their grass has dried up. Why is this a problem for the people of Canteen Creek? ACSSU211

Creating texts

  • Examine the map on the end papers. What features can you see? Make a map of your classroom, school or local area, adding and labelling important features. ACMMG044
  • What numbers can you see on the map of Canteen Creek?  What are the numbers for? Do you know what your house number and address is? Have students make a paper replica of their house and clearly write their house number on it. Watch the clip Odd Todd and Even Steven and have the students categorise their house as odd or even, or get them to order their houses from smallest to biggest number. ACMNA013

Examining text structure and organisation

  • At the end of the story when the big rains come again and the cheeky dogs have the camp to themselves, it seems that the family can relax — or can they? What can the students predict from the last page? ACELY1650 ENe-4A

Examining grammar

  • The authors use alliteration to describe the groups of animals — a gang of goats, a drove of donkeys, a herd of horses, a bunch of buffaloes and a caravan of camels. What other words beginning with the same letters could they have used? As an extension activity, introduce the term ‘collective noun’.  Have you heard of the terms a flock of birds, a litter of kittens, a herd of cows or a school of fish? What would be some funny collective nouns for your class, friends or your teachers? ACELA1439 ENe-4A
  • How does the text use bold type and font size to show expression and loud or quiet voices? Find examples in the text and read aloud with and without volume and expression to demonstrate. ACELA1463 EN1-7B

Examining visual and multimodal features

  • The passing of the seasons in the Northern Territory are depicted with words and pictures in the text, but they are not the seasons typically experienced in more temperate areas of Australia. As you read through the text, note down the cycle of seasons — big rains, sweaty season, cool winds, dry, then big storms. How do the illustrations help us understand the seasons experienced in this part of Australia? View the Gulumoerrgin seasonal map developed by the members of the Gulumoerrgin language group and the CSIRO. How is it different to the seasons where you live? ACSSU019

Additional resources and links to other texts:  Find further teaching notes and ideas (.pdf 701 kB) from Lamont Books. 

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