A number of people who have bought Charlie Weatherburn and the Flying Machine are primary school teachers. They’ve read the story to their students, and I’m delighted that many of them have taken the story to the next level and used it as the basis for an entire lesson. Some of the ideas are fantastic, so I thought I’d collate them (and include a couple of suggestions of my own) as a resource for other teachers.
- Downloadable worksheets
On this very website there are some worksheets available for free download: a crossword, a word-find, a dot-to-dot puzzle, a maze, and some colouring worksheets. The crossword obviously requires a minimum level of literacy, but the others have been used successfully by students from Prep up to Grade 2.
- What does Charlie see while in the sky?
Ask the class to think about what the world below would look like to Charlie, while he is flying high. Have them draw a “bird’s eye view” map of their bedroom, their classroom, or the path that they take to get to school. This task is sure to deliver some interesting maps!
- Draw your own flying machine
After reading the story, encourage kids to draw the flying machine that they would like to build. I love the imagination that some children put into this activity—you’re guaranteed to see some weird and wacky contraptions! A variation on this would be to encourage students to fold paper planes and compete to see who can throw theirs the furthest, but this has the potential to become dangerous, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you were certain that you could keep things under control!
- What would you invent?
Expanding on activity #3, talk about Charlie as an inventor, and ask students to draw pictures of the invention they would create if they were Charlie. I’ve seen everything from elaborate military vehicles to mobile wardrobes and everything in between.
- Write and illustrate your own book
One school that I visited used the fact that I was visiting the school as an opportunity to inspire budding author/illustrators that writing, illustrating and publishing their own book is well within reach. Two students wrote their own masterpiece ahead of my visit and presented it to me as a present: their own version of the Charlie Weatherburn tale, but instead of falling into a rubbish bin, Charlie smacks into a wall. Gold!
- Measuring stuff
Use the page where Charlie is constructing his flying machine to talk about measurement. Talk about what might happen if we built things without measuring them. Assign students the task of measuring a number of items inside or outside the classroom—tables, chairs, sandpit, basketball court.
- Gravity and surface area
Use the page where Charlie falls from the sky to talk about why objects fall. Assign students into groups to build an object to be dropped from a height, with the winning group the one whose object takes the longest to fall to the ground. Discuss why the winning object took longer to fall.
I hope you find these ideas useful. I’d love to hear from you if you decide to use any of these in your classroom. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments!