Thursday, 10 April 2014

"Grumpy Cat", "Pete the Cat" and youth depression

Grumpy Cat has become an internet sensation.  You can check out the official Grumpy Cat Facebook page here or by clicking on the Grumpy Cat image.  His Facebook page has 4.8 million likes making him one popular cat!!!  

These images are reproduced from the official Grumpy Cat Facebook page and linked back to the source.

I have long loved "Pete the Cat" and was thrilled to purchase the latest in the series, "Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses."  Now Pete is not a grumpy cat, but one day he is not happy and has the blue cat blues.  With the help of his cool blue magic sunglasses, he sees things in a different way. Click on the image below to view the YouTube book trailer.

You can read a blog post over at Chalk Talk about the children doing a retelling of "Pete the Cat and his Magic Sunglasses", a venn diagram activity for making text-to-text connections and  how the children explored character descriptions - their art work to go with the book is just great!  I love the link to companion texts at the end of the blog post.  

Back to Grumpy Cat...Did you know her real name is Tardar Sauce?  

The YouTube clip shows how Grumpy Cat has gone from a meme to a possible Hollywood sensation, giving Garfield some competition.  
A free conversation activity using the Grumpy Cat meme and focusing on adjectives can be found here.
Did you know that there is a picture book called, "Grumpy Cat" (2008) by Britta Teckentrup? 
Cat is lonely but the other cats think he is grumpy and never ask him to play, then one night during a terrible storm, everything changes.  This is a beautiful tale of friendship and I was smiling while reading it as it reminded me of my rescue puppy (who I truly believe is more like a cat) and does everything to try to get my attention when I am busy.  It would also be a useful mentor text for exploring comparatives and superlatives.  Activities for teaching using "Grumpy Cat" including lesson plans and blackline masters can be found here.

"To be a Cat" by Matt Haig was published in 2013. The description from the Book Depository states that Barney Willow's life couldn't get any worse. He's weedy, with sticky-out ears. Horrible Gavin Needle loves tormenting him - Barney has no idea why. And headteacher-from-hell Miss Whipmire seems determined to make every second of Barney's existence a complete misery.  It sounds like an interesting companion text within the "Grumpy Cat" theme.  Other companion texts are included below:
"Riley and the Grumpy Wombat" by Tania McCartney (2011) is a lovely picture book about a Riley and all his contraptions and inventions that he uses to try to solve the mystery of the grumpy wombat, that takes him all across Melbourne.  You can read a review of the book, view a book trailer and find activities here.  It is a terrific mentor text for introducing challenging vocabulary in context. The author shares her story of writing and a review of the book here and more from the author can be found here.  Other free activities to use with the book can be found here or here.  Free teaching notes are available here.  This Australian Curriculum unit of work on Melbourne would be useful for contextualising this book.

"Happily Ever After is so Once Upon a Time" by Yixian Quek (2012) features Belle, a seven year old who is pretty cynical actually for one so young, questioning what happens when you wish upon a star, whether dreams actually do come true and whether there really is gold at the end of the rainbow.  This would be a great text to support critical literacy and could be paired with "The Three Bears (Sort Of)".  You can read my previous blog post about that title here.

"The Grumpy Lighthouse Keeper" by Terrizita Corpus (2011) is set on a stormy night in a lighthouse in Broome, in Australia's North-West. Cassius the crab, Jacob the jellyfish, Bruce the bluebone and more sea creatures seek shelter from the storm in the lighthouse keeper's bed, all while the lighthouse keeper is out checking the lamp. When he gets back and discovers his bed has been taken over, he is, indeed, grumpy.  This title is another from one of my favourite publishers, Magabala Books.  Free teaching notes are available here.  This is an excellent mentor text for exploring onomatopoeia and alliteration.  

A review of the book including information about the iconic Gantheaume Point with the remains of the old lighthouse keeper's house at Cable Beach in Western Australia can be read here.

A free lighthouse board game is available here and a free educational resource about lighthouses and their history is available here.

It would be terrific to compare and contrast the different lighthouse keeper stories, for example, "The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch" and "The Lighthouse Keeper's Picnic" using a Venn Diagram; or with other grumpy stories, for example, "The Bad-Tempered Ladybird".

"Mouse Was Mad" by Linda Urban (2012) is the story of a mouse who learns who to show he is mad.  Bear stomps.  Hare hops.  Bobcat screams, but mouse just sits still and quiet and learns that his own way might be best of all.  Free ideas for using this book can be found at the Book Nook here or from the Corner on Character blog post here.  Ideas for using the book and links for following up on discussing anger issues with children can be found here.  The Book Nook also has some terrific ideas for developing students' social and emotional learning skills here.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that depression is the leading cause of disability in both males and females and globally more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression.  According to WHO, depression is a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.  There is a series of books based on the metaphor of depression being like a black dog which are really helpful for people experiencing the effects of depression.  
Click on the link below to view a YouTube clip of "I Had a Black Dog".

The Black Dog Institute states that People aged 18-24 years have the highest prevalence of 
mental disorders of any other age group and youth suicide is the leading cause of death in 
young people aged 15-24 years (ABS, 2012). 

One of my favourite books for working with students to change their "stinking thinking" and do "a check up from the neck up" (i.e. to work on their social and emotional well-being and resilience) is "Mind Your Mind".  Click on the link or image below for more information.  The graphics of the Head Hassler and Mind Master with the mind mastering thoughts are very powerful.  

Information for teachers to support students suffering from depression or to support students' social and emotional well-being is available from:
You can access a pdf about depression in young people here

Ideas to support the social and emotional well-being of students have also been pinned on my pinterest board here. 

I hope you have found some of these ideas useful in supporting this sensitive, but very important topic.  I would be very interested in hearing about any other resources or children's books you have found useful in supporting students' social and emotional well-being.

Kind regards

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