Literacy Analysis and Comprehension With The Curious Garden Activities
Welcome to a guide on teaching literacy analysis through The Curious Garden activities. This beautifully illustrated book by Peter Brown offers a rich tapestry of themes and characters, making it an excellent tool for enhancing students' critical thinking skills. The Curious Garden activities allow you to explore character development, prediction and sequencing, creating an interactive and engaging learning environment.
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The Curious Garden Summary
Inspired by NYC's High Line, ‘The Curious Garden' shows how one person can make an environmental difference.
Liam loves to be outside but lives in a city “without gardens or trees or greenery of any kind.” His curiosity leads him to explore a derelict, elevated railway track and discover dying flowers.
Liam soon learns what plants need to thrive, and his dedication and perseverance pay off when the flowers grow and spread. Soon, nature covers the entire city, and its residents come out of their homes to garden, socialise and enjoy their surroundings.
The Curious Garden Activities
The Curious Garden book celebrates how hard work and perseverance pay off, how one person can make a difference and how communities can work together to create something positive in their neighbourhood. As a teacher, you can use The Curious Garden activities to teach about setting, inferences, theme, cause & effect, character traits, and making connections.
This post will focus on The Curious Garden activities for character analysis, prediction and sequencing.
The Curious Garden Read-Aloud Questions
The Curious Garden questions encourage your students to reflect on the story, interpret the characters' motivations and feelings, analyse the author's message, and apply their understanding to their experiences.
These questions encourage your students to think critically about The Curious Garden story, character development, plot progression, setting, and underlying themes, helping to improve their reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.
I have over 100 questions to use before, during and after reading The Curious Garden book in this activity pack.
- Here are some questions you can ask before reading the book.
- How do the people of the city change throughout the story?
- What would have happened if Liam didn't care for the plants?
- Why do you think Liam didn't give up when he made mistakes looking after the plants?
- What is the setting of the story at the beginning? How does it change throughout the book?
- Who is the main character in this story? What do we know about him?
- Why do you think Liam decided to take care of the garden?
- How did Liam feel when he first found the garden? How do you know?
- What challenges did Liam face while taking care of the garden? How did he overcome them?
- How did the garden change over time? What caused these changes?
- How did the garden affect the city and its inhabitants?
- How do the illustrations in the book help tell the story?
- How would you describe the mood of the story? How does it change from the beginning to the end?
- What is the central message or theme of the story? What makes you say that?
- How did the other people in the city react to the changes in the garden, and why?
- How do you think Liam felt seeing the city's transformation?
- What predictions can you make about what might happen after the story ends?
- If you were Liam, what would you have done differently and why?
The Curious Garden Character Analysis Activities
Liam, the main character, shows determination, curiosity, and patience. Discussing his character traits and their contribution helps students comprehend the narrative.
Character Growth: Liam grows from a curious boy into a skilled and dedicated gardener throughout the story. This transformation can help students understand how characters can change and develop over time.
Activity: Discuss how Liam grows and changes throughout the story. Have students create a timeline of these changes.
Character Traits: Liam exhibits many positive traits, such as curiosity, determination, patience, and care for the environment. Students can identify these traits and discuss how they influence his actions and the story's outcome.
Activity: Ask students to identify traits that describe Liam. Have them find examples from the text or illustrations that support each trait. For example, Liam is curious (he discovers the garden), determined (he nurtures the garden even in unfavourable conditions), and patient (he waits for the garden to grow)
Motivations and Actions: Liam's love for the garden and his desire to see it flourish motivate his actions. Analysing this can help students understand how a character's motivations can drive the plot.
Activity: Explore why Liam takes care of the garden. What does this tell us about his character? Students can write or discuss their thoughts.
Impact on the Story: Liam's actions significantly impact his city, transforming it into a lush, green space. Students can analyse how one character can influence the setting and the plot.
Activity: Look at how Liam's actions drive the story forward. How does the garden change as a result of his care? How does the city change? This can help students understand the relationship between character actions and plot development.
Relationships: Liam's relationship with the garden can be analysed to show how characters can interact with elements of the setting, not just other characters.
The Curious Garden Sequencing Activities
The Curious Garden book follows a clear sequence as Liam discovers the garden, nurtures it, and watches it transform his city. This can help students practice sequencing events. The Curious Garden activities include:
Clear chronological progression: The story of Liam discovering a struggling garden and nurturing it into a thriving green space unfolds in a clear, chronological order. This provides an excellent opportunity for students to practice sequencing events as they happen.
Activity: You can create cards representing an event from the book. Allow students to arrange these cards in the order they occurred in the story. This exercise reinforces their understanding of the sequence of events and improves their memory and attention to detail. See the image below for an example.
Distinct seasons: The Curious Garden book beautifully illustrates the changing seasons, which naturally lends itself to discussions about natural sequences and cycles.
Activity: Discuss how seasons change and how this affects the garden. Based on what they've learned, students should write a short paragraph predicting what might happen to the garden in the next season.
Growth and development of the garden: The garden's transformation from a small patch to a vast spread of greenery visually represents growth over time.
Activity: Ask students to create a timeline charting the garden's growth. They can use phrases or sentences to describe each stage of growth. This activity fosters critical thinking as students must determine the significant stages of growth and how to represent them best.
Problem-solving sequences: Throughout the book, Liam encounters problems (like lack of water, poor soil, etc.) and finds solutions. This presents an opportunity to discuss problem-solving sequences.
Activity: Divide students into groups and give each group a problem Liam faced. Ask them to list down the steps Liam took to solve the problem in the correct order. Discuss why each step was necessary and if there could have been other possible solutions.
The Curious Garden Prediction Activities
As The Curious Garden book unfolds, students can predict what will happen next, like where the garden will spread or how the people will react. The Curious Garden activities include:
Progression of the Story: The story follows a clear, linear progression that encourages students to predict what might happen next. As Liam nurtures the garden and it begins to spread, students can make predictions about where the garden will grow next or how it will change the city.
Activity: Ask students to write their predictions, the clues they used to make them, and the outcome. For example, they might predict that the garden will grow (prediction) because Liam is taking care of it (clue), and then they can confirm or revise their prediction as they continue reading (outcome).
Cause and Effect: The story presents clear cause-and-effect relationships that students can use to make predictions. If Liam continues to care for the garden (cause), what will be the effect on the garden and the city?
Activity: Students can draw diagrams to illustrate these relationships, which also helps reinforce sequencing.
What Happens Next?: After finishing the book, ask students to predict what might happen next. Will the garden continue to grow? Will more people join Liam in caring for the green spaces around the city?
Activity: After reading the book, engage the class in a discussion of ‘what if' scenarios. For example, “What if Liam hadn't found the garden?” or “What will happen to the garden in the future?” This encourages students to think critically and make predictions based on their understanding of the story.
Visual Cues: Peter Brown's rich and detailed illustrations provide visual clues to help students make informed predictions. For example, they might predict how the garden will change throughout the seasons or how the townsfolk will react to the growing garden.
Activity: The book's illustrations provide visual cues that can help students make informed predictions. Have students examine the illustrations and discuss what they think will happen in the story.
Foreshadowing: The book uses foreshadowing to hint at what will happen later. This encourages students to make predictions about future events. For instance, when Liam explores the city more, students might predict that he will find more gardens to tend to.
Open-Ended Conclusion: The Curious Garden book ends on a hopeful note with the possibility of the garden continuing to grow and spread. This open-ended conclusion lets students predict what could happen after the story ends.