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It’s Bedtime, William!

Literature Singles: Early Childhood

Book cover depicting a child in pyjamas playing

Author: Deborah Nilan

Penguin Books  | ISBN: 9780670073825

Themes: Parents, family roles, responsibility, imagination.

Years: Australian Curriculum: English   Foundation  Year 1  Year 2
Suitable for ages 5–8 (publisher’s guide only). This unit targets Early Years and Lower Primary.

From the publisher's synopsis:

'William, no more jumping,' says Dad.

'William, it's bedtime NOW,' says Mum.

But William has other ideas, and a very special friend to help make this his most memorable night ever!

Exploring the context of literature

  • Hold a class sharing session where students tell their best ‘bedtime excuse’ anecdote. ACELT1575
  • Create short dramatic role plays with parents who have to try to convince the children to go to bed and children who create excuses. Discuss how each character felt and identify similarities and differences to the story. ACELY1665
  • Discuss the idea of ‘being in somebody else’s shoes’. Where did this expression come from and what does it mean? ACELT1587

Examining literature

  • Hot-seat students in role as: the parents, William and the Lion at various points throughout the book. Use props such as pyjamas and a teddy bear to help students get into role. ACELT1584
  • Use Google docs or another shared platform to upload scanned pictures of William looking frustrated and the Lion being playful to add speech and thought bubbles to the images. Use these to explore the different characters’ perspectives. ACELT1591
  • List all the phrases William’s parents say when he is going to bed and compare them to the responses William gives to Lion. How are they similar? Jointly create some more phrases the parents might say and list them on an interactive whiteboard. ACELT1591

Responding to literature

  • How would you feel if you found a lion in your bedroom one night? Write a diary or blog entry. Alternatively film a fake news story including an interview about a boy who found a lion in his bed. Edit and produce it online using Animoto. ACELT1596
  • As a class brainstorm reasons for both sides of the topic 'Children should go to bed by 7pm'. Hold a debate in class or choose one side and write a persuasive text to convince your reader. ACELT1582
  • Watch the scene from the movie Shrek the Third where Donkey and Puss in Boots switch roles. How did they react? How would you react if you switched roles with your parents? ACELT1587
  • Read I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed by Lauren Child. Compare and contrast the two books using a matrix on an interactive whiteboard with the headings: ‘excuses for not going to bed’ and ‘reasons why you should go to bed’. ACELT1589

Creating literature

  • Brainstorm a list of situations where a parent and child might have different opinions (such as cleaning your teeth, doing your homework). Consider how you would develop a plot to show either the child or the parents changing their opinion. Write a short story based on these ideas. ACELT1593
  • Discuss what William learned about going to bed on time and why it is important. Show students some different opening sequences of the Simpsons and record the blackboard messages. Use the website AddLetters to create your own Simpson’s inspired blackboard showing what William has learned (for example, I must go to bed on time). ACELT1586
  • Plan and draw a short cartoon about another situation with Lion and William where William ends up in the responsible role and Lion uses avoidance tactics. ACELT1580

Examining text structure and cohesion (including punctuation)

  • Examine the language that William uses towards the end of the book and compare it with that of his parents at the beginning. What are the similarities? How do they help develop both plot and cohesion in the book? ACELA1464
  • Use the range of statements, commands, exclamations and questions to teach the different functions of a sentence. Play the question mark game on Roy the Zebra to learn about different types of sentence. ACELA1449

Examining grammar and vocabulary

  • The parents use vocabulary with strong modality and William initially uses weak modality, then strengthens his language. Discuss how the author has used this grammatical feature to help us understand William’s growing frustration. ACELA1470
  • Identify all the nouns in the text, discuss the differences between common and proper nouns and find examples of short noun groups using articles and adjectives. ACELA1468

Examining visual and multi-modal features

  • Scan in the two pictures where the lion fills the page. On an interactive whiteboard, circle the positioning of William (foreground or background?) and discuss how this explains the power relationship between the two of them, and how it changes. ACELA1469

Additional resources: Watch a YouTube video of Glen Dhu Primary School students reading It's Bedtime, William!. Use an activity by Deborah Niland to make a mobile of William having a pillow fight with his visiting friend, the lion.