Study Guide

Grug

About this guide

This education resource has been developed by Windmill Theatre Co for the production Grug with links to the Australian Curriculum F-2 and the Early Years Learning Framework. Activities have been created to suit each of the achievement standards from Years F to 2 and content descriptions within each learning area as well as the general capabilities. This resource provides teachers with information to help prepare students before attending the performance, as well as structured learning activities for the classroom after viewing the performance.

The general capabilities are embedded within specific learning activities and can be identified with the following icons:

Synopsis

Grug is based on the much-loved picture book character created by Australian writer, Ted Prior. Grug began his life as the top of a Burrawang tree that fell to the ground. Resembling a small, striped haystack with feet, a nose and very BIG eyes, Grug is fascinated by the world around him. Together with his friend Cara the friendly carpet-snake, Grug learns how to get the best out of life!

Coming to the show

Given that this may be many students first performance experience, it is important to talk about the protocols of attending the theatre.

Before the show you can:

  • Ask about their experiences watching live performances (watching older siblings in a school concert, going to a concert, i.e. the Wiggles etc.)
  • Share the journey with them, talk about their thoughts and feelings relating to the production
  • Talk about going to a special theatre space.
  • Explain that a performance usually finishes with clapping.
  • Talk about being an audience member. Explain that audiences are an important part of the performance. In this performance they will be invited to help the performers through movement.
  • Ask questions. What is the role of an audience? What happens during the performance? What can you do in your lounge when you are watching television that you cannot do in the theatre?
  • Talk about the various roles within a theatrical production; from the actors to the lighting technician to the front of house staff. Talk about which roles the students will interact with and which ones they may not see as they work behind the scenes.
  • Speak about how, unlike television or film, you can hear and see the actors and they can hear and see you.
  • Talk to your students about directing their full focus to the performance and how this will help actor concentration.
  • Talk about the importance of appreciation and affirmation for the performers.
  • Speak about what happens when the performance begins and ends. The lights will dim and/or you might hear a voice over or sound. Explain that this is the audiences cue to focus their attention on the performance.

Note from the Director

I don’t imagine there will be many occasions in my career that I’ll get to work with one of my childhood heroes – but creating this show was one of them! Grug is the only creature of his kind, and is perhaps unique for a children’s book character, as he doesn’t have any family to guide him through his experiences in the world. Instead, Grug learns to solve the challenges he encounters on his own, using his creativity, inventiveness and generosity.

Perhaps Grug’s special kind of independence and adventurousness is part of what makes him so appealing to a young child. For the show, I wanted to celebrate the gentle simplicity of those stories that I fell in love with so long ago. Working with designer Jonathon Oxlade and composer DJ Tr!p, I wanted to celebrate the warmth and gentle magic of Ted Prior’s storytelling, and I hope more young people fall in love with Grug just like I did.

What is a Burrawang tree?

A Burrawang tree is an Australian cycad found on the east coast of New South Wales from around Armidale to Bega and on the coastal slopes of the Great Dividing Range. The word burrawang, is derived from the Darug, Daruk, Dharug language. The plants grow in open forests.

Meet the Characters

Grug

Grug started out as the top of a Burrawang tree that fell to the ground. He resembles a small striped haystack with feet and a nose. He is a gentle, inquisitive, positive creature. He is a wonderful friend who shows compassion, care and resilience.

Cara the Carpet Snake

Cara the Carpet Snake is a friendly, slinky creature who is one of Grug’s friends. She loves playing and will always be there for her friends. Like all carpet snakes, she is curious and loves warm weather. Her favourite game is soccer.

Meet the Creative Team

Sam Haren

Director, Co-creator

Sam is a Creative Director of Sandpit, a company that create immersive, and interactive theatre and personal experiences. Sam was the Artistic Director of The Border Project from 2002-2012, directing or co-directing all of their work during that time.

Jonathon Oxlade

Designer, Co-creator

Jonathon studied Illustration and Sculpture at The Queensland College of Art and has designed sets and costumes in Australia for Windmill Theatre Co, Queensland Theatre, LaBoite Theatre, Is This Yours?, Aphids, Circa, Arena Theatre Company and many more.

DJ Tr!P

Composer

DJ TR!P is a multi-award winning producer, composer and performer of electronic music. Over a career spanning 20 years he has built an impressive repertoire of live compositions for his club sets, a variety of high profile events and productions.

Matthew Crook

Performer

Matt is a Flinders Drama Centre graduate, ensemble member of award-winning independent theatre company five.point.one and a Critics’ Circle emerging artist of the year recipient. Matt has appeared in many productions for Windmill Theatre Co.

Tim Overton

Performer

Tim is a proud South Australian maker, performer and director. He has worked broadly across theatre and film and has appeared in productions for Windmill Theatre Co, State Theatre Company South Australia, Belvoir, Slingsby, Patch Theatre Company and Vitalstatistix, among others.

Zoë Dunwoodie

Performer

Zoë is a dancer and performer who has worked broadly across stage and screen. She currently works as a professional dancer with Garry Stewart’s Australian Dance Theatre, touring extensively nationally and internationally since 2012.

Let's play ssssocccer!

Key Themes and Ideas

Resilience

Resilience is one’s ability to recover from difficulties or tough circumstances. Grug never lets a problem dash his spirits and always looks for a solution. He’s always looking on the bright side, and takes every challenge as an opportunity to grow and learn.

Connecting with Nature

Connecting with nature refers to one’s knowledge and affection for the world around them. Grug lives harmoniously with the native animals and plants around his home. As such, he is able to make friends and live peacefully and happily.

Friendship

Grug is always keen to make friends, and it is these friendships that help him solve problems as he faces them throughout the show. For Grug, nurturing friendships helps him live harmoniously.

Celebration

Grug loves to party, and sees it as a necessary and important part of life. He celebrates his achievements and rewards himself for hard work where he can. It motivates him to keep going.

Performance literacy and theatre etiquette

Students viewing live theatre can experience feelings of joy, sadness, anger, wonder and empathy. It can engage their imaginations and invite them to make meaning of their world and their place within it. They can consider new possibilities as they immerse themselves in familiar and not so familiar stories.

Watching theatre also helps students understand the language of the theatre. It is part of the holistic approach to developing student literacy. They learn to ‘read’ the work interpreting the gesture and movement of a performer; deconstructing the designers’ deliberate manipulation of colour, symbol and sound; and reflecting on the director’s and playwright’s intended meaning.

While viewing the show, students’ responses can be immediate as they laugh, cry, question and applaud. After the performance, it is also extremely valuable to provide opportunities for discussion, encouraging students to analyse and comprehend how these responses were evoked by the creatives through the manipulation of production elements and expressive skills.

Having a strong knowledge and understanding of theatre terminology will assist students with this process. Therefore, before coming to see Grug and the Rainbow with your students, explore the different roles involved in making a performance happen, from writing, directing and performing, to lighting, projection, set and costume design and construction.

Theatre Etiquette

Visiting the theatre is very exciting. There are some guidelines that students can follow regarding appropriate behaviour in the theatre and during the performance that will allow their visit to be even more memorable.  Prior to visiting the theatre prepare students for what they will experience as an audience member using the following questions:

Where can you sit?

  • An usher (front of house – FOH) will help you find your seat so you need to follow their directions.

How do you know when the performance begins?

  • The lights will dim and/or you might hear a voice-over or sound. That’s your cue that it has begun and it is time to settle and be quiet.

How is going to the theatre different to going to the movies or watching television in your loungeroom?

  • Something unique to theatre is that it is ‘live’ and the actors are real. You can hear and see the actors, and they can hear and see you.

What is the relationship between the audience and the performers?

  • As the actors can see and hear you, your responses to the performance show your appreciation to the actors. So, show your enjoyment!

Final points to remember:

  • turn off your mobile phone (even the vibration of a phone or lit screen is distracting);
  • avoid eating in the theatre and rustling paper;
  • cover coughs and sneezes;
  • don’t film or photograph the performance due to intellectual ownership.

Let's learn!

Early Years Learning Framework

Outcome 01 Children have a strong sense of identity

Pre-show Activity

Activities
1.1 Children feel safe, secure, and supported.
1.2 Children develop their emerging autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience and sense of agency.
1.3 Children develop knowledgeable and confident self-identities.
1.4 Children learn to interact in relation to others with care, empathy and respect.

Teacher-led discussion on how to remember etiquette in the theatre, using your fingers on your hand. Hand raised, fingers out-stretched, each digit represents a reminder:

  1. eyes look
  2. ears listen
  3. mouth closed
  4. hands still
  5. feet quiet

What else can hands do?

Discuss different types of applause and then practice:

  1. A “Round” of Applause – students create a circle in the air, while applauding.
  2. Fairy Claps – students use two fingers on both hands to generate applause.
  3. Crab Applause – Students use a pincer grip on both hands to create a clap.
  4. Silent Cheer – students put their arms in the air and wiggle their fingers and open their mouth as if they are yelling loudly. They can make as much “noise” for the applause, as long as it’s silent!

Getting involved

Children need to know that showing their appreciation by clapping or laughing when it’s funny is great. They also need to know that sometimes the actors will invite them to respond. They might ask them where someone is, or if they can see something, or to join them in a dance, then it’s okay to respond. The actors will let them know when it’s time to sit down and listen again.



Outcome 02 Children connect with and contribute to their world

Pre-show Activities

2.1 Children develop a sense of belonging to groups and communities and an understanding of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active community participation.
2.2 Children respond to diversity with respect.

EXPLORE & APPLY 

Teacher-led, whole group activity

Students sit in a circle to discuss:

  • the different places they have been
  • how we respond/behave differently in those places

Some places to explore and discuss:

  • live theatre (could be in a theatre or outdoor performance)
  • football match
  • music concert
  • wedding

What are the similarities and differences?

  • What does it sound like? (example – loud voices, quiet voices or no voices)
  • What does it look like?

Before the performance

Using the Theatre Etiquette as a guide remind students about:

  • following instructions from the teacher, the usher and the performers
  • using “the hand” technique for staying tuned-in when watching theatre.


Post-show Activities

2.4 Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment.

Whole group discussion

Have the students reflect on Grug’s interaction with his environment. Have them list out the different ways that Grug took care of the natural world around him. Then have them discuss different ways they can, like Grug, take care of the world around them.



Outcome 03 Children have a strong sense of wellbeing

Pre-show Activity

Activities

3.1 Children become strong in their social and emotional wellbeing.
3.2 Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing.

Play a piece of upbeat music and ask your students how it makes them feel. Now play them a more sombre piece, and repeat the question. Make a list of things that make them happy and excited, and things that make them sad or reflective. Now ask them to create movements with their body to show those emotions without using words (e.g. high energy jumping or skipping for happy, slow walking with heads down for sad etc). Put their movements to the music tracks you used previously.

Building on this work, ask your students what they would do if they saw someone who was feeling sad. How could we cheer them up? Create a movement sequence expressing their ideas.



Post-Show Activities

Activities

3.1 Children become strong in their social and emotional wellbeing.

During the activities you carry out, model and explain resilience and managing with frustrations when faced with a challenge.

3.2 Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing.

Ask your students if they remember how Grug solved the problem of being hungry (growing food). How do we get our food?How do we keep our bodies healthy and working well? Discuss healthy foods and sometimes foods.

Make a chart using pictures of different food items and ask your students to sort them into the two categories.



Outcome 04 Children are confident and involved learners

Pre-show Activities

4.1 Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity.

What’s in an ending

Teacher reads a Grug book to the class, except the last two pages.

Discuss with students:

  • what do they know about the ending of stories?
  • what happens
  • how does it make the reader feel?

Students predict what they think happens at the end of the Grug story you are reading.

  • Now read the final 2 pages
  • Does it match what they had predicted?
  • Does the story work with another ending? If ‘yes’ why? If ‘no’ why not?


Post-show Activities

4.2 Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating.
4.3 Children transfer and adapt what they have learned from one context to another.
4.4 Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials.

Discuss how Grug grew his food. Working in groups, have the students plant seeds either in a school garden or pot and then discuss growth as a group. Ask them what it’s like to grow a plant, did they remember to water it? What environmental factors have an impact plant growth?



Outcome 05 Children are effective communicators

Pre-show Activities

5.1 Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes.
5.2 Children engage with a range of texts and gain meaning from these texts.
5.3 Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media.
5.4 Children begin to understand how symbols and pattern systems work.
5.5 Children use information and communication technologies to access information, investigate ideas and represent their thinking.

Have a range of books based on friendship and resilience available for your students to look at. Rotate the stories as the feature story of the week and discuss your students’ thoughts on each book. Which was their favourite and why? Which ones didn’t they like as much and why?

Explain that when you go to see the show Grug, there will be characters who become friends and solve problems together . Ask your students to look out for those characters (Grug and Cara the Carpet Snake) and discuss their friendship after the performance.



Post-show Activities

5.3 Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media.
5.4 Children begin to understand how symbols and pattern systems work.

Create Cara the Carpet Snake

After a group discussion and some teacher-led research on snakes that answers questions like:

  • what do we know about carpet snakes?
  • where do carpet snakes live?
  • what do you think they like to eat?
  • where would we find snakes like Cara?

Encourage the students to make their own carpet snakes out of paper:

  • Prepare 3cm wide strips of different coloured paper
  • choose two different colours
  • join strips with glue or staples, at right angles
  • Fold each strip over each-other to create a concertina effect
  • Repeat folding the strips
  • Secure final fold with glue or staple
  • Cut a round piece of paper and stick to the end of the body to create a face, draw on eyes and other details.

Students can then use a combination of found and created materials to create a habitat for their carpet snake in the form of a diorama.



Did you knowWindmill's production of Grug is ten years old in 2020?

Australian Curriculum F-2

English

Pre-show Activity

Activity

Have a number of books based on friendship available in your reading area. Read some as a class and discuss the central themes of the books. These books can include Grug.

Have the students discuss the different themes and ideas expressed in each of the stories and chart their responses.

Have the students create their own story of friendship using a variety of media.

Learning Outcomes

Foundation Year
  • Literature and Context
    Recognise that texts are created by authors who tell stories and share experiences that may be similar or different to students’ own experiences (ACELT1575)
  • Interacting with others
    Listen to and respond orally to texts and to the communication of others in informal and structured classroom situations (ACELY1646)
  • Examining literature
    Identify some features of texts including events and characters and retell events from a text (ACELT1578)
Year 1
  • Literature and context
    Discuss how authors create characters using language and images (ACELT1581)
  • Interacting with others
    Engage in conversations and discussions, using active listening behaviours, showing interest, and contributing ideas, information and questions (ACELY1656)
  • Examining literature
    Discuss features of plot, character and setting in different types of literature and explore some features of characters in different texts (ACELT1584)
Year 2
  • Literature and context
    Discuss how depictions of characters in print, sound and images reflect the contexts in which they were created (ACELT1587)
  • Interacting with others
    Listen for specific purposes and information, including instructions, and extend students’ own and others’ ideas in discussions (ACELY1666)
  • Examining literature
    Discuss the characters and settings of different texts and explore how language is used to present these features in different ways (ACELT1591)



Post-Show Activities

Activity

Discuss Grug with your students and record their responses. What were their favourite parts of the show? Who were their favourite characters? Why?

Ask your students to write a summary of their trip to the theatre. Depending on ability, their report could include pictures and key words, phrases, or more complex sentences. When their written reports are completed, give each student the chance to present their summary to the class.

Learning Outcomes

Foundation Year
  • Retell familiar literary texts through performance, use of illustrations and images (ACELT1580)
  • Use interaction skills including listening while others speak, using appropriate voice levels, articulation and body language, gestures and eye contact (ACELY1784)
  • Deliver short oral presentations to peers (ACELY1647)
  • Create short texts to explore, record and report ideas and events using familiar words and beginning writing knowledge (ACELY1651)
Year 1
  • Use interaction skills including turn-taking, recognising the contributions of others, speaking clearly and using appropriate volume and pace (ACELY1788)
  • Make short presentations using some introduced text structures and language, for example opening statements (ACELY1657)
  • Create short imaginative and informative texts that show emerging use of appropriate text structure, sentence-level grammar, word choice, spelling, punctuation and appropriate multimodal elements, for example illustrations and diagrams (ACELY1661)
Year 2
  • Understand that different types of texts have identifiable text structures and language features that help the text serve its purpose (ACELA1463)
  • Rehearse and deliver short presentations on familiar and new topics (ACELY1667)
  • Create short imaginative, informative and persuasive texts using growing knowledge of text structures and language features for familiar and some less familiar audiences, selecting print and multimodal elements appropriate to the audience and purpose (ACELY1671)


Drama

Pre-Show Activity

Make a happy face and ask your students to tell you what emotion you are expressing. Strike a pose with your whole body that shows sadness and ask the same question. Explain that our faces and bodies can show other people how we are feeling, and being able to read body language is very helpful in social situations.

Pair up your students and ask them to decide who is A and who is B. A should express an emotion, using their face and body, and B should try to guess. After a few turns, B takes their turn expressing different emotions. If they are confident enough, you could have some students express an emotion for the whole class to guess.

Explain that in drama, we can sometimes create a freeze-frame, or tableau. This is a frozen picture, or photograph, of an event. Put your students into small, mixed ability pairs, and ask them to create tableau for the following situations. After giving them the title, give a few examples of other people that may be in the tableau (other students, teachers, people shopping etc). Allow the groups one minute to get into their characters and hold a freeze. They must be frozen when you finish your countdown from 10.

  • A new student starting school
  • Someone with no friends on the playground
  • A child lost in a supermarket

After showing the rest of the class their freezes, ask the groups to recreate their freezes, but this time, one of the other characters in their tableau is going to show that they are helping the person in need. Give them time to change their pictures, and then share with the rest of the class.

Learning Outcomes

  • Explore role and dramatic action in dramatic play, improvisation and process drama (ACADRM027)
  • Use voice, facial expression, movement and space to imagine and establish role and situation (ACADRM028)


Post-Show Activity

Have the students discuss how each of the characters in Grug (Grug, Cara the Carpet Snake, Snail, Crab) behaved. Discuss what movements and motions each of the characters displayed, and what each of those things communicated.

Based on these discussions have the students use their bodies to build the characters from the play by walking from one end of the room to the other in character. Ask them to:

  • Walk like Grug
  • Slither like Cara
  • Glide like Snail
  • Crawl like Crab

Have the students play with pace, timing and different ranges of motion. Following the activity, have the students discuss how it felt to move in different ways, and what effect this may have had on an audience.

Learning Outcomes

  • Explore role and dramatic action in a play, improvisation and process drama ACADRM027.
  • Present drama that communicates ideas, including stories from their community, to an audience ACADRM029.


Science

Post-Show Activity

When Grug gets hungry, he grows his food. Exploring underground and creating gardens is a theme from the performance of Grug, in that it helps him solve problems and is an example of resilience.

Get students to research how plants grow and observe plants outside, in their natural environment. Have them list out, or draw, their findings. Discuss these findings as a class.

Following this discussion, work with students to conduct the following experiment that will have them grow a plant of their very own, just like Grug!

Here’s how you grow your plant:

  • Each child has a clear plastic cup (or plastic free a glass jar)
  • Cut strips of black construction paper (approx. 10cm x 15cm)
  • Line the cup or jar with the black paper
  • Stuff paper towel into the cup to hold the paper up against the sides
  • Next – place 3 to 4 seeds, for example kidney beans, between the black paper and the side of the container
  • Water the paper towel
  • Keep the paper towel damp, but not flooded
  • Put plants in a light sunny position.

Watch and Observe

  • The beans wrinkle as the water softens the seed coat
  • Sprout
  • Grow roots
  • Stems

Students are able to watch all of this happening right through the clear container. Have them track the changes and discuss why they think these things are occurring.

Learning Outcomes

Foundation Year
  • Science involves observing, asking questions about, and describing changes in, objects and events (ACSHE034)
  • Pose and respond to questions, and make predictions about familiar objects and events (ACSIS037)
  • Participate in guided investigations to explore and answer questions (ACSIS038)
  • Compare observations with those of others (ACSIS041)
  • Represent and communicate observations and ideas in a variety of ways (ACSIS042)
Year 1
  • Everyday materials can be physically changed in a variety of ways (ACSSU018)
  • Science involves observing, asking questions about, and describing changes in, objects and events (ACSHE021)
  • Pose and respond to questions, and make predictions about familiar objects and events (ACSIS024)
  • Participate in guided investigations to explore and answer questions (ACSIS025)
  • Use informal measurements to collect and record observations, using digital technologies as appropriate (ACSIS026)
  • Use a range of methods to sort information, including drawings and provided tables and through discussion, compare observations with predictions (ACSIS027)
  • Compare observations with those of others (ACSIS213)
  • Represent and communicate observations and ideas in a variety of ways (ACSIS029)
Year 2
  • Science involves observing, asking questions about, and describing changes in, objects and events (ACSHE034)
  • Pose and respond to questions, and make predictions about familiar objects and events (ACSIS037)
  • Participate in guided investigations to explore and answer questions (ACSIS038)
  • Use informal measurements to collect and record observations, using digital technologies as appropriate (ACSIS039)
  • Use a range of methods to sort information, including drawings and provided tables and through discussion, compare observations with predictions (ACSIS040)
  • Compare observations with those of others (ACSIS041)
  • Represent and communicate observations and ideas in a variety of ways (ACSIS042)


Visual Arts

Post-show Activity

Activity

Discuss the plants in Grug’s garden – could they see the plants above the ground and the roots underground? Could they see the worm and the home it lived in under the ground?

  • Draw an illustration of a plant above the ground and what they think they will see underground using only one colour – BLACK!
  • Using only black provides an opportunity to:
  • play close attention to the details of shape, line, and texture.
  • Appreciate the details in the world around them, as well as their own ability to capture details on paper.

Learning Outcomes

  • Use and experiment with different materials, techniques, technologies and processes to make artworks (ACAVAM107)
  • Create and display artworks to communicate ideas to an audience (ACAVAM108)
  • Create short texts to explore, record and report ideas and events using familiar words and beginning writing


Post-show Activity

Using media of your choosing (paint, collage, clay etc). allow your students to create their own versions of a character from the play. The finished products could accompany any written work that your students complete and be put on display for other classes and parents to see.

Characters from Grug:

  • Grug
  • Cara the Carpet Snake
  • Snail
  • Crab

Learning Outcomes

  • Use and experiment with different materials, techniques, technologies and processes to make artworks (ACAVAM107)
  • Create and display artworks to communicate ideas to an audience (ACAVAM108)
  • Create short texts to explore, record and report ideas and events using familiar words and beginning writing


Health and Physical Education

Post-show Activity

Activity

Do the Grug

Students can be encouraged to do the Grug to warm up their bodies and test their memory of the show. Students should then be encouraged to create their own signature dance either individually or in groups. These dance(s) can be presented to the class.

These dances can be used as warm-ups or ‘brain-breaks’ for your class throughout the term.

Learning Outcomes

Foundation Year
  • Practise personal and social skills to interact with and include
    others (ACPPS004)
  • Participate in games with and without equipment (ACPMP009)
  • Cooperate with others when participating in physical activities (ACPMP012)
  • Follow rules when participating in physical activities (ACPMP014)
Year 1-2
  • Describe ways to include others to make them feel that they
    belong (ACPPS019)
  • Identify and practise emotional responses that account for own and
    others’ feelings (ACPPS020)
  • Create and participate in games (ACPMP027)
  • Use strategies to work in group situations when participating in physical activities (ACPMP030)
  • Identify rules and play fairly when participating in physical activities (ACPMP032)


That's all! Thank you for reading.

Acknowledgements

Produced by Windmill Theatre Co. Developed and compiled by Drama Education Specialist Karen Houghton and Windmill Theatre Co.

The activities and resources contained in this document are designed for educators as the starting point for developing more comprehensive lessons for this work.

© Copyright protects this Education Resource. Except for purposes permitted by the Copyright Act, reproduction by whatever means is prohibited. However, limited photocopying for classroom use only is permitted by educational institutions.

This resource is proudly supported by the South Australian Department for Education and the Lang Foundation.

 

  •  Lang Foundation

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