In the Shadows of the Gruffalo


accelerator membership

Show students a picture of the Gruffalo from the book, The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. Ask students what they think the image might be. What would you name this creature? How would you describe this creature?

Read the story “The Gruffalo” aloud to students. Before turning the page, to find out what happens in each part of the story, ask students to get in groups of 3 to create a Tableau (frozen picture with their bodies) of what they think might happen as a prediction. Continue to read through the story in this way until the very end. Then ask, Did the ending surprise you? How would you describe the Gruffalo now?

Lesson Process:

Step 1:  Ask students what was the hardest part of acting out their predictions. Was it not talking? Was it standing still? Was it working with others in the group?

Step 2: Explain that students are going to create a shadow show to act out the story as a class. Share the video The Silhouettes that shows a shadow dance to tell a story (show a brief clip – not the whole thing)

Step 3:  Explore high, medium and low levels in moving their bodies. Ask students how they can combine levels to create a new image. Then, experiment using these behind a screen with the lights off and a single light behind the screen turned on (to create a shadow).

Step 4:  Divide students into small groups of 3-4. Each group is assigned a character from the story. They must work together to create a shadow that introduces and show the traits of their character. End with a performance of each character.

Time Required:
30-45 minutes

Materials List:

  • The book The Gruffalo
  • Open space
  • A large white sheet/screen
  • A single light set up behind the screen
  • A support to hang the sheet/screen
  • Computer, sound system, internet, projector



Did students use the following in their performance:

  • Variation of levels (high, medium and low)
  • Specific traits unique to their character
  • Movements that made it clear who their character was.