“Cleversticks” by Bernard Ashley


This book embraces the idea that everyone (even little people with fewer life experiences) is good a something. It is also a great multi-cultural text, as it’s clear through the pictures, names of children and the teachers that various cultures are represented in this class.

I have used it most successfully with PP – Grade 1.  With scaffolding at the start, it allows students to consider their own strengths as the story is read. Great self esteem boost!

We begin by looking at the cover and discussing why it may be called “Cleversticks”. Guide kids by looking at the pictures and main character. brainstorm some ideas.

As the story is read to the class, I have used the technique of putting the book down and asking them a question about each page – usually an observational question and the pictures etc. With older kids, some discussion surrounding culture can be introduced.

Once the story is read, students get into groups of 4 or 5 and create a performance called “We are Cleversticks”. Each child comes up with something they are good at doing – may be something at home, at school, sport related, arty, anything! Try to steer them away form using the ideas from the book.

They practise their piece. All together they will say “We are cleversticks!”. They then each take a turn at saying their own special thing (with an action) to which the others in the group respond with “What a cleversticks!” – which is the last line from the book. This is a structured performance that still allows each child to contribute in a meaningful way.

It’s hard to not feel good after performing a piece celebrating your strengths. Win!

You can also end with a living picture of things the class can do 🙂 ” Yes, Let’s” is also a good warm up game to use with this book.

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