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You Can't take an Elephant on the Bus

In Bookshelf Stories to support PSED: general


‘Elephants on buses? Monkeys in shopping trolleys? Hippos in hot air balloons? A whale … on a bike?’

Join in the crazy chaotic fun (and chortle loudly) as an array of animals ride all sorts of unsuitable vehicles in this energetic picture book


Children will enjoy the silliness of this book and the familiar font and layout will naturally draw some children to it – it looks very much like a Lauren Child ‘Charlie and Lola’ picture book.

Read aloud, children will appreciate the humour in the illustrations and delight in searching out the jokes on each page. The consistent rhymes throughout the story help it bounce along nicely.

Possible links to Statutory Framework:

The aspect of this book that captured my attention more than anything else were the exciting possibilities of using it to challenge children’s philosophical thinking. At the start of the story we are told that “You can’t take an elephant on the bus”. I would be challenging children to think is that ‘can’t’ as in ‘you’re not allowed to’ or ‘can’t’ as in ‘it’s simply not possible?’ ‘Can’t’ we take an elephant on the bus because it is too dangerous? Or is it because of something else? The story gives us some ideas as to why we can’t but I would want my children to think of some of the cause/effect reasons for themselves. We are told on the next page, “Don’t sit a monkey in a shopping trolley”. Again, ‘don’t’ because we ‘mustn’t’ as it is dangerous? Or ‘don’t’ because there are rules to be followed? We are given ideas as to what might happen if you did put a monkey in a shopping trolley – and it’s seems very sensible not to, they would get up to all kinds of capers.

So, having brought these kinds of questions to the forefront of children’s minds I would then start to talk about the rules we have at the setting. Are there ‘Can’t and don’t’ rules that are made to keep each other safe? Are there rules that are made to show consideration for others? I think it’s important that children think about the rules that are in place, and consider the reasons why they are there. This way we can teach children about self, and mutual respect and about how behaviour is managed and moderated within groups – all important aspects of British Values (PSED)

Possible thematic links• Animals• Transport

Edited by Rebecca

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