Project work inspired by The Smartest Giant in Town

Inspired by early education at Reggio Emilia we love our project work at KTB Kids – it’s all about the in-depth exploration of a topic or theme carried out over an extended period of time, rather than just in a single session. Children and educators work together to learn and reflect promoting collaboration and sustained shared thinking.

Our core book The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson, tells the story of George the giant who kindly donates all of his smartest clothes to the animals in his town who need them more than he does. This story prompted our preschool children to ask if they could make a giant of their own, inspired by George in the story. This was the perfect opportunity for some child-led project work, allowing them to take the lead and decide for themselves exactly how they wanted to bring their giant to life.

First, the children compared their heights and then arranged themselves in height order, having concluded that the tallest child would be the most appropriate template for their giant. This developed their use of comparative language e.g. ‘taller than’, ‘shorter than’, their analytical skills when assessing each other’s physical characteristics and their self-perception- not just comparing the heights of their peers who they could actually see in front of them, but also thinking ‘where do I fit into this order?’. They then rolled out a long sheet of parcel paper, and the tallest child laid down for the others to draw around their outline forming the foundation of their figure. Giving the children free access to multi-media, they decorated their giant in whatever way they wanted, exploring different textures and colours over an entire week. Their chosen materials included felt, tissue paper, yarn, buttons, cotton wool, paint, cotton buds and coloured card. Applying these materials to the paper required teamwork and forward thinking in terms of exactly what materials and colours they wanted to use where on the body and why, as well fine motor skills, particularly when applying the smaller, more intricate pieces. Throughout the creation the children made comparisons to George from the book, including his hair colour, eye colour, style of clothing and size. What was different? What was the same?

In the story, George the giant repeatedly sings a song to himself. Of course, we see the lyrics to this song in the book, but one of the limitations of the written form is that it doesn’t give us any idea of the tune. This opened an opportunity for the children to use their imaginations to suggest exactly how George might sing his song. Would it be loud? Quiet? Happy? Sad? Why? We enjoyed a lovely afternoon as they all shared their different ideas and considered each other’s points of view. This helped them to realise that we don’t always agree with each other, and that’s fine- it’s part of what makes each of us unique!

The finished giant was proudly displayed on the wall in preschool, next to the book corner, and the children reflected on their achievements, discussing which aspects they thought they had done well and could be really proud of. They also considered what, if given another chance, they might change about their giant. They suggested he could have been even bigger!

When we move on to our next core book, Room on the Broom, our pre-schoolers’ giant will displayed on the wall in our atélier, so that the children can continue to reflect on and discuss their project for months to come.