“On a Tall, Tall Cliff” by Andrew Murray

On a Tall cliff

I used this book as in introduction to a science lesson with a Grade 4/5 class with the topic being erosion.  I wanted to explore the idea of picture books as more than just springboards for drama but also to stimulate interest and get kids involved in a story through observation.  Of course, there is also the opportunity to go further with drama based work, also.

So, I began by simply gathering the kids and reading the story – not explaining why – that will come later.  As I read, obviously with animated voices for the two main characters, I also stop after each page and ask a question about the picture. This quickly gets kids focussed and looking at the pictures more intently as they know a questions will follow: ‘What colour was Puffle’s top?”, “How many rats parachuted down together?”

At the end of the story, I asked “So, how does this relate to Science?”. It’s okay if it takes a while to get the kids to get there – give leading questions, ask them to think about parts of the story etc.  This hopefully leads into a natural discussion based on what would have caused Puffle’s part of the cliff to fall.

This can be left here and onto Science or it can go further into drama based. Three freeze-frames from the book or groups create a tableaux of the objects that were taken to Busby’s house……


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