Where the Wild Things Are: 10 teaching ideas

Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is a modern classic. Much loved in KS1 classrooms, this text is also a great model of a voyage and return story,  which could be used alongside a longer text such as The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in KS2. There is also now a film version available but as it is quite dark (and younger children may find it frightening) think very carefully before using this is KS1.

Here are 10 teaching ideas for using Where the Wild Things Are in the classroom:

  1. Start with a trigger before reading the text If you were sent to bed with no dinner, what would you do?” or What might you have done to get sent to bed with no dinner?”

  2. Make an emotions chart or graph of Max’s feeling throughout the story.

  3. Look carefully at the pictures – what happens as you move through the book? They start small and they grow to become full page before reducing again. Does this signify Max’s world experience getting bigger?

  4. Due to the predominance of the illustrations the descriptive text in the book could be further enhanced; so can the children describe the Wild Things, or the setting?

  5. Speech punctuation features quite heavily at the start of the book. Use this as a model for teaching speech conventions.  Then with the later pictures write what characters may be saying to each other .

  6. Use the pattern of they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth etc’ as a model and rewrite the phrase using different words to create alternate effects…‘they whispered their twinkly squeals and licked their luscious lips’

  7. Challenge children to write a ‘Quick Write’ poem about Max: 1 Noun, 2 Verbs, 3 Adjectives/Adverbs, e.g


Swinging, Dangling

Dangerously, Perilously, Precariously

  1. Ask children to write a set of Wild Thing rules?

  2. Encourage children to write the prequel? What had happened on the day Max was sent to bed?

  3. ‘Box up the story’ ready to write your own version e.g.

    1. Max sent to room, forest grows

    2. Max sails away, arrives at island

    3. Meets Wild Things – becomes king

    4. Has a rumpus!

    5. Misses his family and is sad

    6. Sails and arrives home

Charlotte Reed – Director, Primary English Education Consultancy Limited

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