The book is primarily about focusing discussion around the importance of making mistakes when we are learning new things. However, there are a lot of activities that could be explored in class that deepen children’s connection with the ideas and extend their creativity. Here are some activities I have considered:
Here are some ideas that could be used with the book to focus on writing:
- Write a book review of ‘A Muddle of Mistakes’. (Report Writing)
- How to trap a mistake (imaginative instruction writing)
- Write a diary entry as if you are Fortitude at the end of the day of his adventure. (Diary Writing)
- Write a character description of Fortitude. (Character description writing)
- Imagine you are one of the mistakes and that in the story, Fortitude didn’t listen to the mistakes and just kept ignoring them. Write a letter to Fortitude to persuade him that he should listen to what they have to say. (Persuasive writing)
- Write a letter to the author to tell them what you think of the book with reasons. (Letter writing)
- Complete a piece of writing explaining the plot of the story. What happens and how does it end? What has Fortitude learnt along the way?
- Write a Haiku to explore the essence of the story. (3 lines following a 5,7,5 syllable pattern)
Mistakes bring bad thoughts
But we should fight that feeling
Mistakes help us learn (Poetry writing)
- Hot-seat Fortitude /Biggest Mistake of them All/ The RIDDLE with legs/ One of the mistakes of your choice/ Banoffee Bee. What questions would you ask these characters? Compose these questions and then hot-seat the characters. (Drama/Role-play)
- Create a conscience alley for Fortitude to walk down. The alley is made up of children representing the mistakes. They should think of a sentence to repeat to persuade him that he should listen to their feedback.
- Use the story to create your own play-script. (Play-script writing)
- Write a kenning inspired by the story
Design your own mistake character. What will they look like and why?
Use a cereal box and decorate it to look like the book (ie, the front shows the front cover, blurb on the back, sides decorated to show the spine and pages etc.) Reading Extension: Inside the box, insert slips of card that ask questions that someone who had read the book would be able to answer. Also put objects in the box that relate to the story somehow.
Promoting discussion around the importance of making mistakes
Pick 9 of the mistakes in the book. Write them onto 9 cards. In pairs/small group, create a Diamond 9 formation with the cards in order of the most serious down to least serious so that all the group members agree. Group members should discuss and reason their ideas with the group to agree on a final formation.
Create a physical line in the classroom/outdoors/hall (you could use string for this). One end of the line is Strongly Agree the other is Strongly Disagree. There is Agree and Disagree in the middle of the line, so there is a graded set of opinions:
Strongly Agree | Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree
Use the following statements and ask the children to position themselves on the line where they feel in relation to this statement. (You could get them to peg their name on the string if you prefer for them not to be standing).
- Mistakes are important in learning new things.
- Mistakes make people sad.
- This book makes me think about mistakes in a new way.
- I have changed my opinion about making mistakes.
- Fortitude is wise.
- Fortitude is right to ignore ‘The Biggest Mistake of them All’
There are a lot more statements you could come up with in relation to the text but the idea is that you want them to think about and express WHY they have positioned themselves in the place they have. This encourages them to process the message and why it is important. It also gives you and the other children chance to challenge any ideas that may need challenging.
- Why are the mistakes portrayed, mistakes? Explore. What could be learnt from making them?
- One of the mistakes is 100 – 67 = 43. Why is this a common mistake? What has happened? Can you think of other sums or mathematical ideas that could have been used because they are a mistake that could be made by lots of people?
- What mistakes can you think of that lots of people might make? Write these onto slips of paper/post-its/ speech bubbles and collect them in the box, just like Fortitude did at the beginning of the book! Have children come and pick out a mistake at random. Read it out to everyone and suggest why it is a mistake and how you would learn from it.
- What else could you collect like Fortitude collects mistakes? This could involve a discussion about the difference between nouns and abstract nouns as this is what mistakes are. How could you represent these abstract nouns to put in a box?
- ‘A Muddle of Mistakes’ is a made-up collective noun. Make up your own collective nouns for abstract nouns, (e.g, a sleep of dreams, a giggle of laughs, a gift of smiles)
This activity is inspired by Pie Corbett. It could be used as a warm-up to further English work with the book. It would be used to encourage understanding of different word types and different ways of structuring a sentence.
- Ask the children to write down a sentence with ‘Muddle of Mistakes’ as the inspiration.
Fortitude floated through the air. (Simple sentence)
- Now take out the verb (floated) -how does it sound?
Fortitude through the air.
- Now put the verb back in and add some adjectives or an adverb,
Fortitude floated thoughtfully through the crisp, fresh air.
- Now take out the nouns,
Floated thoughtfully through the crisp, fresh.
- Now extend the sentence using the word ‘because’,
Floated thoughtfully through the crisp, fresh because he was in the mood to think. (compound sentence)
- Shift the end to the beginning,
Because he was in the mood to think, floated thoughtfully through the crisp, fresh. (Complex sentence without nouns)
- Move the adverb,
Thoughtfully, because he was in the mood to think, floated through the crisp. (A different complex sentence without nouns)
- Now add back in the nouns, so the sentence makes sense,
Thoughtfully, because he was in the mood to think, Fortitude floated through the fresh, crisp air. (Complex sentence with nouns that makes complete sense.)