3—Stories about neighbours
Amelia Ellicott’s Garden
Amelia Ellicott’s Garden tells the story of an old lady who lives alone and who thinks she has no one with whom to share her life. After a natural event that affects her, Amelia Ellicott realises that neighbours can work together, care for one another and share aspects of their lives.
Read Amelia Ellicott’s Garden. Show the cover and ask students to predict what the story is about.
Explain to the students that we are exploring the concept of neighbourliness and that they will have to think about some questions. Some of these will be questions that cannot be answered directly from the text and will require students to think carefully about what messages the author is giving.
Read the book to the students, stopping at critical points to ask about the particular language techniques and choices that the author has made to give us information about what kind of person Amelia is and how she is feeling. Construct a list of the nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs that provide insights into Amelia’s personality and feelings. Ask students to comment on the relationship between the written text and the illustrations. Do they complement each other, or do the illustrations provide additional or contrasting information?
Amelia Ellicott had close neighbours, yet she was alone. Do you think she was lonely? Why was she alone? Can you be alone and not lonely? Can you be lonely but still have people near you? Was Amelia’s life improved by knowing her neighbours? Were her neighbours’ lives improved by knowing Amelia?
Ask students to write or tell the key message that they understood from the story.
Have students construct a timeline, story map or flow chart to represent the sequence of events or ideas in Amelia Ellicott’s Garden.
Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten
Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten tells the story of Rose and her family who move into a new home. Mr Wintergarten is her new neighbour. The neighbourhood children tell stories about Mr Wintergarten. This story gives the opportunity to explore how opinions can be influenced.
Read Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten and discuss. Conduct a readers' theatre of parts of the book where the children are talking to Rose about Mr Wintergarten. Students should use appropriate stress and intonation to explore the language used.
Prepare cards with these statements:
Mr Wintergarten is mean.
Draw and label two intersecting circles.
The first is labelled
Place the cards in the part of the circle that corresponds. Allow for discussion, such as Mr Wintergarten’s persona before and after Rose’s visit and his offer of friendship. Ask the children to consider:
- Did Rose believe what she was told about Mr Wintergarten?
- Did these stories influence her opinion of him?
- Is what we are told always right?
- Should we believe everything that we are told?
- Should you try and influence someone’s opinion?
- Why might the children have said these things to Rose?
- Was it right for the neighbourhood children to embellish the description of Mr Wintergarten to make their story more interesting?
Conclude by asking students to develop ideas on how to initiate friendships. Rose was brave and visited Mr Wintergarten with a small gift and a request. She was not sure of Mr Wintergarten’s reaction.
Draw a poster with the top five tips on initiating friendships. Kid’s Health has suggestions on initiating friendships.
Side by Side
Read the big book, Side by Side. As a class, discuss the idea of belonging to a community. Brainstorm what makes a community. Remind students that communities can be small like the classroom and the school or larger, like their suburb or town or even larger, like our country and the part of the world in which we live. This includes tangible things people share as a community, such as schools, places of worship, parks and public gardens, but also how people feel and how they relate to each other.
Ask students what makes a good community. Record these responses.
Guide students to relate this question to values. For example, ask: Is it important for people to care for and respect one another? How do we show these values in our actions?
Refer to the neighbours in Side by Side and look at which neighbours initiate friendships.
Through a role-play, ask students to show ways in which they might initiate and maintain friendships.
How would you be friendly to new neighbours of your age?
Explain that a variety or diversity of people may belong to a community. Discuss possible aspects of difference, such as backgrounds, experiences, interests and ages, culture and language.