A Week with The Three Little Pigs: Five Lesson Ideas for Taking a Story Outdoors

World Book Day is back on Thursday 5th March! Following on from our Supercharged Storytelling blog, this week we are sharing a progression of five lessons to take the well known story of The Three Little Pigs outside. We followed this progression with our Grade 1 students over five days, with a 1 hour lesson outside each day. Please feel free to use or adapt the ideas to suit your students, timescale, and stories that you are exploring!

Lesson 1: Introduction to the story

Focus: Sequencing and settings

To encourage children to make connections between stories, I start each story with a provocation, where I place objects on a mat and invite them to share ideas of which stories the objects could connect to. This prompts children to use critical thinking skills and enables me to assess their prior knowledge of each story. 

A screenshot of a student’s Book Creator page

As this was our first story that we explored together, the provocation was very simple and our focus story was quickly identified. I then shared a very simple version of the story which highlighted each event with limited detail. This sparked conversations about different versions that children had heard and how stories change as people tell them throughout time and place. 

Bringing the discussion back to the events and settings in our shared text, I challenged the children to create a small world map of The Three Little Pigs. Using natural materials, the children built the setting in sequential order. As they built the houses, I questioned how the pigs would get from A to B and what would they see along the way, encouraging children to add details like a path or a forest etc. 

I also placed a basket of pre-made character stones on the resource table which some children decided to add into their settings or used to retell the story. 

At the end of the lesson, we looked at each small world map and made comparisons between the text and the children’s visual representations of it. 

Lesson 2: The Wolf is in town! 

Focus: Problem solving, Connecting with stories

After exploring the story from the outside looking in, I wanted to bring the story to life and encourage the children to step inside the fictional world of the Three Little Pigs. Arriving in the garden, we found a letter attached to our whiteboard addressed to Grade 1 with an urgent request to ‘please read!’ With excitement and confusion, we opened the letter and read the contents together. Now, let me warn you, your response to this is key in enabling children to engage their imagination and suspend belief. Olivia Colman, move over because the best actress award for 2020 goes to…! 

On the back of the envelope, I had written a predicted time of the wolf’s arrival. This set our time limit for building wolf proof homes for the Three Little Pigs. Children self selected small groups to work in and each group was given a Pig character stone to build a house for (this limited the size of their projects and therefore the amount of materials each group would need). With half an hour before the wolf arrived children set to, selecting materials from the story (straw, sticks and bricks) to build with. Working together, children talked about the story and problem solved ways of wolf proofing their homes, adding signs and chimney traps to defend their properties. 

Once each group was finished building, we tested the stability of the houses by reenacting the wolf huffing and puffing, and blowing all together to see if we could blow them down. In past years, this has been our final test which is great fun and ends with many successful wolf proof homes still standing. However, this year we wanted more excitement so we invited our school gardener, complete with wolf mask and leaf blower to pay us a visit. 

The lesson ended with shrieks of excitement, laughter and pleads for the wolf to return EVERY DAY!

Lesson 3: What Time is it Mr Wolf? Inquiry Time!

Focus: Student led inquiry

After much excitement in our previous lesson, I wanted to allow children the opportunity to harness their enthusiasm and take their inquiry in their own direction. It was interesting to observe the way in which children engaged with the story and the characters within; some children built wolf traps, some acted the story out, and some wrote letters to the Big Bad Wolf. 

At the end of the lesson, we reflected on the ways in which we had chosen to connect with the story and left the garden filled with a sense of wonder. 

Lesson 4: Cross Curricular Links 

Focus: Measurement 

Running alongside our storytelling unit is our measurement strand. Using stories as a springboard for mathematical inquiries adds purpose and value to children’s learning. After checking our wolf traps and finding a letter announcing the wolf’s absence for a few days, we sighed with a mixture of relief and disappointment and redirected our focus for the lesson. Measurement. 

Having drawn out the settings of the story on the pavement with chalk, the children enjoyed following the path around the story. After a few minutes of running chaotically around the settings, we regrouped and I posed the question; “How far did the Big Bad wolf walk?” Together, we asked how many steps did he take from the first Little Pig’s house to the next? Having previously discovered that we all take different sized steps we agreed that we would need to use a standardised measure to ensure we all got the same answers. Using a 30cm ruler, we decided that each ruler length would be one step, therefore 10 rulers, would be 10 wolf steps. 

A Book Creator page that the children can add photos to, write on, and make voice recordings

Using the template above, the children worked in partners to follow the wolf’s journey to calculate how many steps he took from each place to the next. Top tip: having done a similar measurement activity previously, we found that measuring the distances ourselves first and making the children check in after each calculation enabled us to assess quickly which children required more support and allowed the children to check and correct their calculations throughout the lesson. 

Extension task: For those who finished early, we asked them to calculate how many steps the wolf took in total. Depending on age and ability of your students you could extend the task further by asking questions such as; if the first Little Pig takes 2 steps for every 1 wolf step, how many steps did the Little Pig run from his house to the second Little Pig’s house etc. You could also measure in standardised units of measurement to get exact answers in M and CM. 

Lesson 5: The True Story of The Three Little Pigs 

Focus: Storytelling

Since our first conversation about differing versions of the story, we combed the school library and were pleasantly surprised by the many creative tales of the three little pink porkers. In lesson 3 we read another, more detailed version of the story before splitting off for inquiry time and I placed the other books in our treasure chest for children to leaf through at their leisure. On the last day, I shared the version entitled; The True Story of The Three Little Pigs written by Jon Scieszka (Aff Link). After a week of wolf trap building, it was interesting to observe the children’s reactions to the tale that portrayed the wolf as a misunderstood neighbour who just wanted a cup of sugar! Telling the story from a different perspective generated a heated debate over which version was true and led to our final activities. 

Together we created a simple bar chart on the ground to display which story each child enjoyed most. I drew the axis with chalk and the children placed a character stone in their favourite column. This was a quick and powerful visual representation, that demonstrated how we connect differently to stories. 

After reflecting on this, the children were asked to form groups to tell what they believed was the ‘True Story’. I explained that it could be one of the versions already told, or perhaps they had their own idea of what really happened. Children were free to choose how they would tell their story, either using character stones and building small world settings or acting as the characters themselves and using the garden as a backdrop to their tale. 

Ending the week with an open activity allowed for children to self differentiate. Some children  chose to reenact the story directly, imitating characters sayings and story language whilst others created magical tales with added characters and extraordinary events. 

We left time at the end of the lesson to share our tales and celebrate the ways in which we had grown as storytellers.

So there you have it, our week of exploring just one story outside. Use this as you like and please comment below if you have any ideas of storytelling activities that have worked well for you outside!

Supercharged Storytelling: 10 Ways to Use Your Outdoor Environment to Enhance Storytelling

There are many ways to tell a story. In Grade 1, we are exploring this concept using the outdoor setting to spark curiosity and imagination. There are so many stories that can be authentically explored outdoors, making connections to the setting and character skill sets. Here are 10 ways that you can take storytelling outside.

1) Story Doors

Ignite children’s sense of wonder with a well placed story door that can be stumbled upon. Ask who, what, where, why, when, how questions to gain information about who lives behind the door. Be aware that this may end with you scribbling tiny notes in response to their questions for the foreseeable future. 

2) Story Journeys

Why read a book when you can physically step into the story? Bring the story alive as you travel from place to place imitating the character as they move through the story. A good example of this is; “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”, squelch through thick, oozy mud and stumble your way through the forest. Don’t have a forest? Get creative.

3) The Environment as a Backdrop

A simple way to take storytelling outdoors is to use the natural setting as a backdrop to your play. Most fairy tales are largely set in the great outdoors.

4) Create settings

Whether it’s real size or a small world setting, use your natural loose parts to create settings and story maps.

5) Story Stones

Your small world setting is not complete without tiny characters to retell the story with. Grab a handful of stones and use chalk, pens, or glued on photographs to create your own character stones.

6) Mud Kitchen

If you have a mud kitchen already, then get busy making the perfect porridge for Baby Bear, or stir up your own Stone Soup. If you don’t have a mud kitchen yet, build one.

7) Light your Fire

After creating wonderful delights in the mud kitchen, light a fire or your Kelly Kettle and make the real thing. Taste the porridge and see if it’s “Just right” or harvest some vegetables and make a stone soup.

8) Skill Development

Explore characters through their skill sets. Batoning is really easy skill where children can experience splitting wood like the wood cutter in Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood. Alternatively, create maps like Percy The Park Keeper. Look out for good stories to connect with outdoor skill development.

9) Problem Solving

Oh-oh! The Wolf is back in town and he’s hungry! Help the Three Little Pigs to build new wolf-proof homes to keep them safe. Get creative and put your outdoor skills to the test, helping out characters from different stories.

10) Make noise!

Make the most of being outside away from quiet classrooms and make noise! Howl like a wolf, stomp like a giant and growl like a bear. Explore stories through sound. Using buckets and natural materials as instruments create soundscapes to compliment the events of a story.

So there you have it. Take inspiration and feel free to use ideas that take your fancy. Whether it’s sunshine or snow, grab a book to match the season and step outside!

Here are some of our favourite stories: