Published in 1993, "Possum Magic" is a children's book by Australian author Mem Fox. Grandma Poss, an opossum, uses magic to make her granddaughter Hush invisible, so she remains safe in the bush. Hush determines that she wants to be visible again, so the two go on a quest to find magic food to reverse the effects. Kindergarten through second-grade classroom activities should center on Australian wildlife, character and plot developments and important themes, such as courage and identity.
Overview of Australia With Coloring Maps
Provide a general overview of the geography, flora and fauna in Australia. Give students individual world maps to color and show them where Australia is located. Discuss the types of animals that live in the bush and the Outback and show them images from books or online resources. Make a two-column chart on your blackboard or white board and list reasons why the Australian bush is a good habitat for animals and what types of dangers it presents. Ask students to discuss how characters in "Possum Magic" faced some of those challenges.
Grandma Poss Interview
Dress up like Grandma Poss and invite students to ask you questions about the story -- like an interview. You might start the discussion by saying, "I bet you're wondering why I wanted to make my granddaughter invisible?" Encourage your students to ask questions about the characters, plot, food items, animals, terrain or dangers in the bush. Turn the discussion around and ask your students questions, such as, "Why do you think it would be a good idea or a bad idea for all grandmas to have magical powers?" The goal is to encourage critical thinking skills and story analysis.
Have students make their own book jackets for "Possum Magic." Kindergartners should draw descriptive pictures, and first- and second-graders should fold their papers in half and include brief summaries of the book on the backs of the jackets, as well as illustrative drawings on the fronts. Instruct them to include scenes from the story, tidbits about Australia presented in the text, main characters and important themes. Students should write the title of the book and the author's name on the cover. You'll likely need to help kindergartners write the title and the author's name on their book jackets.
Alternate Invisibility Cures
Ask students to come up with their own ideas for curing Hush's invisibility -- similar to creating alternate endings to the story. Allow kindergartners to draw pictures of their solutions to share with the class. First- and second-graders can write short explanations, detailing their potions and invisibility cures, along with their drawings. Encourage students to keep Grandma Poss and Hush as the two main characters, but they can add other characters if Grandma and Hush need help finding or administering the invisibility cure.
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