“Shoes from Grandpa” by Mem Fox


Mem Fox is one of my favourite authors to use. She comes from a drama background and I think this shines through in all her books. There are so many ways you can use Mem Fox books to introduce your students to drama, language and patterns.

This book is great in getting kids to get involved with the reading. Apart from the usual prediction that can be done with the cover and illustration, once the story gets going, kids can easily see a pattern. As you read, invite kids early on to finish the line “to go with the shoes……..”. Gradually, add the ends of other lines. By the end of the book, they are completely involved in the story.

One thing that bothered me about this book (and funnily enough after reading Mem Fox’s blog, she also would concur) was the lack of rhyming of blouse and bows. It does affect the rhythm somewhat. But – it can open a great discussion later….which word would better rhyme? Flowers? etc…. Taking this one step further, the kids could create their own “Shoes from Grandpa” where the gifts are different (maybe not clothes) and have a different rhyming end. This would be a great activity for Grade 3 – 5. In groups of 5, students help each other create this new story, and then get up and present to class their five new ideas. This could develop into a whole class reworking of the book, with illustrations and all (drama into English)! You have to love to Mem!

If you want to keep it simple and more accessible for PP – Grade 1/2, a great idea is to grab some costume props in a big box – a hat, some shoes, a scarf, etc. Volunteers could then take on the roles of those in the book and bring the book to life, having fun with pieces of clothing that may not be the right size. This is a good one for those a little shy – as props always help the nerves as the focus is on something else.



After a vocal warm up, kids get into pairs. WE play Knife and Fork – but all the items are clothing: pair of shoes, a jacket with a zip, a scarf, a wedding dress, a suit of armor, a hat, bathers, pair of jeans. Afterwards ask them what the theme was.

Read an interactive version of the story with them – having them finish off sentences as they get the rhythm and rhyme.

Explain to them that a visitor will be coming to see them and that when you have a scarf, glasses or hat on you are the visitor. When the prop/costume comes off you are the teacher. I turn around and put on my costume, and come back as granny – slow moving with an appropriate voice- very excited to see the kids. I introduce myself as Granny May and say how happy I am to meet them as Jessie has told me so much about them.

IN character, ask kids questions and get some answers: What is your favourite thing to wear? Do you have a lucky shirt or hat? Has anyone given you a special item of clothing?

Granny then tells them that they have been having some trouble getting the right clothing for Jessie. And she would love some help. She tells them that she will come back in a little while to get some advice about what to buy Jesssie (or what to tell family to buy).

Teacher takes off costume and returns as the teacher. Ask students – so who was your visitor? Shall we help her come up with some ideas?

Place students in groups of about 4 -5. Tell them that each group will come up with ideas depending on the occassion of things to buy Jessie.  They will perform it for Granny May when she returns.

  • Clothing/accessories for a trip to the beach
  • Clothing for playing sport
  • Clothes for a rainy day bushwalk
  • Clothes and accessories for a trip to the snow
  • Clothes/outfit for a fancy night to the theatre

They have a couple minutes to work out their little scene.

Granny May returns and sits in the centre of the room, and all the groups are places around the room. Granny then says…”I would love ideas of what to buy Jessie for sport” – that group will get excited with hands up. They get up and each one steps forward with their idea (being the item) – creating a little picture of appropriate items. Granny makes comment and then goes onto the next thing she need help with.

Once all done, costume off and tell them Granny loved all their ideas (maybe pick out a coupe of really clever ideas).




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