• Margie Marc

Making A Difference with Picture Books (an Upside-down Egg Comes to the Rescue)

Updated: May 27, 2021

Teachers know from experience that picturebooks are an excellent source of language-rich input for English language learning. They provide authentic language exposure, a meaningful learning context and are accompanied by attractive images that support comprehension. But how often do we use picture books to support learning in other areas of the curriculum?

In many subject areas, the content load and demands of coursebooks don't always grant us the luxury of time to pause, work with picture books and be creative with teaching and learning.


We all know that picture books (and stories) often contain the four C's (content, cognition, communication and culture (Coyle, D. 1990)) that can make a CLIL experience meaningful and accessible for our learners.


However, for busy teachers, finding appropriate stories that promote learning in other areas can be a challenge.


Here‘s one picture book I love and some suggested ideas on how to use it in your CLIL classrooms: "Egg" by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet (2 to 4-year-olds).


Story summary


“Egg” is a story about a little upside-down egg who is different from the other eggs that have pointy tops and round bottoms. All the eggs are a bit unsure about this upside-down egg so they try to help him look like them by encouraging him to change position. Finally the upside-down egg takes control of the situation and calls the other eggs to a trampoline. The eggs jump up and down and soon realise that they too can be upside-down and that the upside-down egg, although he looks different, is still an egg.


And the story doesn't end there! Along comes a side-ways egg and … well, try guessing what happens next!


Language work

The story itself uses just one word, “egg” (in the singular and plural), together with a range of punctuation marks that are expressed with different intonation. Despite the story's simplicity, the variety of intonation can make the story tricky to tell. This YouTube clip in which the authors tell the story is a useful resource to help you to prepare to tell the story in advance.

Suggested ideas for CLIL


Natural Science


Carry out an egg blowing experiment. The instructions and a video to model the experiment can be found here. Older children could carry out the experiment for themselves, whereas, with younger children, you may want to demonstrate the experiment. Encourage all children to predict, speculate, notice what happens and perhaps draw conclusions.


Art and language


Alternatively, try an egg painting activity so learners can create their own egg characters in order to re- tell the story.


Maths


Younger children could count eggs in a basket or match geometric designs. Older children could create their own geometric designs and then paint them onto eggs, and as such, develop both mathematical and artistic competences.


Social Science

Of course, the theme of the story about difference and perseverance are key discussion points for encouraging tolerance and helping children to develop resilience.


As you can see, thanks to “Egg” we've managed to create some great language input and even played around with intonation, within a meaningful learning context accompanied by attractive images, and have got our young learners thinking about differences and similarities, in a context that they can relate to!


By Margie Marc


Bio: Margie has been working in the field of education for many years. She loves the positive change that can be provoked through learning, for both students and teachers. Margie currently works as a teacher and teacher trainer.