Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Interactive Read-Aloud and Story Box of The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

Stuffed gruffalo with braillewriter in background

The Gruffalo is a rhyming story written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler; this is a beloved tale about a mouse and monster. The story begins when a mouse goes for a walk in the forest and runs into animals that want to eat him. To scare them off, he invents a story about meeting up with a made-up monster only to find out that the made-up monster is real.

Interactive read-alouds, combined with a story box, make books accessible for all students. Books with story boxes bring real-life items to the story, which helps increase concept development, vocabulary, listening comprehension, and predicting. Having the child read the braille or follow along with their fingers helps increase braille literacy and awareness. For children with visual impairments to further understand their world, they must build concepts through purposeful exploration.  The Gruffalo is a fun way to do so.

Materials: 

  • Gruffalo (in our case Sully from Monster’s Inc. modified with a wart on his nose, a black tongue, and knobby knees)
  • Snake
  • Fox
  • Mouse
  • Book in print/ braille
  • Braille cards with animals (listed above) Velcro backed
  • Velcro board
  • iPad The Gruffalo - Read by Alan Mandel - YouTube

Procedure: 

The teacher can read the story to their students, listen to the story on YouTube, or have the student read the story to the teacher depending on their braille abilities. You can even watch the short movie, The Gruffalo on Amazon Prime. This story was written for children between the ages of 3-5. However, it is such a great story; older kids will still enjoy it. I have an 8 and 10-year old that will still watch the movie. My 8-year old read the book in her 3rd-grade class this year.

By playing The Gruffalo on YouTube, while reading the story in braille, the teacher can help the student follow along. The first time you listen to and read the story, pause the story after the mouse meets each animal and discuss key features of the book using the items from the story box.

  1. Fox:
    1. Identify the fox.  
    2. What are some key features of the fox compared to the other animals in the story box?
  2. Gruffalo:
    1. What body parts of the Gruffalo did the mouse describe? Can the student find them all?
  1. Owl:
    1. Identify the owl.  
    2. What are some key features of the owl compared to the other animals in the story box?
  1. Gruffalo:
    1. What body parts of the Gruffalo did the mouse describe? Can the student find them all?
  1. Snake:
    1. Identify the snake.  
    2. What are some key features of the snake compared to the other animals in the story box?
  1. Gruffalo:
    1. What body parts of the Gruffalo did the mouse describe? Can the student find them all?

The second time you read and listen to the story, have the student recall which animal the mouse meets first. Have the student put the animals in order of who the mouse runs into first. Then use the braille animal cards with Velcro backing and Velcro board to list which animal the mouse meets again after the Gruffalo follows him back.  

 

Variations: 

Story re-enactment

Students can re-enact the story using the items from the story box. The re-enactment can occur in the classroom or outside, where the student can make an underground house for the fox, treetop house for the owl, or log pile house for the snake. Discuss where a Gruffalo would live or where a mouse would live.

Have a Gruffalo meal

  • Create a braille menu of Roasted Fox, Owl ice cream, Scrambled snake, Gruffalo crumble. Have the student pick one or all the items to make or eat.
  • Brainstorm what you would use as a replacement for Scrambled snake. (e.g., Scrambled eggs, spinach salad, or pasta)
  • Have the student follow a braille recipe to make the item of their choice or bring in an item like Gruffalo (apple) crumble, so the student will learn what a crumble is.

Braille Literacy

  1. Students can braille their summary of the story.
  2. Students can braille a list of animals they would like to see in the forest or animals they would not like to meet.
  3. Students can make up their own monster and describe the monster’s features. What color, or what he feels like, or how the monster gets around?
  4. Students can braille words that rhyme with words from the story. 

Activity inspired by: Building on Patterns Prekindergarten Lesson 12.

Gruffalo braille and print books

Collage of The Gruffalo

Posted on April 29, 2021
Updated on: May 4, 2021