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Lessons and materials

Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey

Extend the multi-sensory learning activities for the Traction Man book!

Traction Man and The Beach Odyssey is a popular book by Mini Grey.  The ideas here provide a way to make the story accessible to children with visual impairments, as well as to extend learning opportunities using real objects and fun cross-curricular activities.  The activities below teach concepts, tactile discrimination, fine motor, language development, book and story skills, science, and numeracy – counting, capacity, measuring, problem solving.  These multi-sensory experiences are a great way to integrate and promote skills from the Expanded Core Curriculum into inclusive activities.

Use a bucket pocket apron fastened around a bucket to create a place for the child to explore the real objects and enjoy a multi-sensory experience about Traction Man!

Traction Man character dolls

  • Boy doll or action figure
  • 2 dolls
  • 1 doll to play role of girl on beach
  • Dog – Truffles
  • Scrubbing Brush – add eyes 

scrubbing brush

  • Equipment case

    • Goggles
    • Binoculars
    • Spade (shovel)
    • Bucket
    • Gloves
    • Cap
    • Hoolas (hula hoop)
    • Hobble Nobbles (cookies or biscuits)
    • Instant soup
    • Oxo (beef broth)
    • Head torch (flashlight)
    • Torch (flashlight)

Traction Man's equipment including shovels, flip flops, a hard hat, a bucket, and gloves

  • Scuba suit
  • Shorts
  • Plastic bottle
  • Sea creatures – variety
  • Flip Flops 
  • Sarong

Traction man wrapped in a yellow sarong

  • Ice cream
  • Lollipops
  • Shells
  • Hard hat
  • Seaweed
  • Aquatic air tanks – big plastic bottle with pipe and breathing mask made with base of another plastic bottle
  • Read Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey with the class and discuss Traction Man’s adventures.


Ideas for teaching concepts, tactile discrimination, fine motor, language development, book and story skills and numeracy – counting, capacity, measuring, problem solving

  • Think of  a new adventure for Traction Man, where he goes on a different journey.
  • Traction Man does an “equipment check” before he goes on holiday. Make a list of things to take on holiday. Then think of things you will need for different places, e.g. in a very cold place or on a hot island.

Traction Man's equipment list on a clipboard

Traction Man Equipment Checklist

  • Look at some of the unusual words in the book and find out what they mean.

vocabulary words on index cards with print and braille text

  • Create a new story with the little girl, who owns Fluffy, as the main character.
  • Write some instructions of how to look after a dog like Truffles or Fluffy.
  • Write the story of the trip to the beach in the first person from the boy’s who owns Traction Man.
  • Make an audio story using sounds of the seaside.
  • At the end of the story, the Dollies plan to go on “an expedition to the Mysterious Cave”. What could happen in this story?
  • Find out about sea creatures that might be found in a rock pool.

toys representing underwater sea creatures

  • Make ice cream. Set up experiments to keep it cool.
  • Plan and make a healthy picnic lunch for Traction Man’s family.
  • Traction Man’s scuba suit is waterproof. Test other materials to find out if they are waterproof.
  • Truffles is saved by a plastic bottle raft. Make a raft and find out if it will keep objects afloat.
  • Make a model of the Dollies’ castle (using sand or junk modelling).
  • Design some outfits that Traction Man can wear in different places and seasons.
  • Find out where there is a beach nearest to where you live. Plan a trip to the beach. How will you get there? How long will it take?
  • Make sandcastles and put in the characters – recreate the ‘earthquake’ by demolishing the castle – learning to wait and when to demolish.

Traction Man's sandcastles

  • Sing seaside songs, e.g. Surfing Safari.
  • Make an indoor sandpit and aquarium and make sea creatures to live in them.
  • Try eating seaweed (from Chinese outlets). 
  • Visit a fish shop or fish market.
  • Visit a pet shop.
  • Make magnetic fishing rods to “fish” in a “rock pool” (to support number work).
  • Teach multiplication times tables using sea creatures with different number of legs, e.g. 5 starfish, 8 octopus, 6 crab, 2 flipper creatures, 4 finned fish, 7 spined anenomies.
  • How do you think the boy felt when he had lost his toy? Talk about how Traction Man might have felt in the dark cave? Talk about a time when you have you ever felt worried or scared.
  • Make a scuba mask and breathing tanks using plastic bottles and tubing.

a breathing bottle and mask made out of tubing and a plastic bottle

  • Use drama to explore some of the scenes in the story.
  • Think about relative size of the boy and Traction Man and how stories can be magical and imaginative.
  • Think about other objects around the classroom which could become characters such as “Scrubbing Brush”.
  • Look at the equipment in Traction Man’s case and think about why he needs to take it on his adventure. Categorise the items according to function.

Traction Man with his open equipment tin containing binoculars, torch, head torch, hat, boots, shorts, and string       


Traction Man Vocabulary Words

Vocabulary words for traction man


Traction Man Photograph Gallery

Traction Man's equipment tin       Grandma's hat, necklace, and purse       

doll of the little boy who owns Traction Man             doll representing Traction Man   

  Traction Man's equipment including binoculars, rope, a head torch, a torch, and a hatbags of snack foods to represent Traction Man's rations   

  a tin containing Traction Man's food rations

For more ideas, see Teaching Ideas for Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey and

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