‘The life of a chair is a sad dismal tale, and when you hear of it, you’ll cry, oh, you’ll wail…’ Chairs get farted on, stood on, and left out in the rain, but is the life of a chair really the worst life there is? From Storytime Lane’s Emily S. Smith and Graham Davidson comes this hilarious and cheeky rhyming picture book which puts life into perspective.
Emily S. Smith- Author
Emily S. Smith is an Early Childhood Educator who has a degree (with Honours) in Teaching and Early Childhood Studies from the University of Newcastle, as well as 12 years’ experience in the Early Childhood industry.
She is an imaginative and fun-loving author, who is passionate about storytelling and all things literacy, and has a keen interest in helping young children to develop a love of reading.
Graham Davidson- Illustrator
Graham Davidson has nearly forty years’ experience as a creative professional in advertising, film and television. He has extensive experience as an animator (character and effects), illustrator, storyboard artist, script writer, and director.
In 2017, he placed second in the Creative Kids Tales illustration competition, was shortlisted in the Writers Unleashed picture book competition, and had a 10000 word fairy tale re-telling published in the YA anthology “Wish Upon a Southern Star.”
Extension Activities and Ideas for Classroom Discussion:
From the front and back cover what information can you learn about the book? What do you think this book is about?
How do you think the book will begin/end? What type of book is this and where would you expect to find it in your library?
Read the blurb for ‘Life Is Not Fair When You Are Just a Chair”. The first sentence rhymes. What does this sentence tell you about the book? Do you think this is going to be a serious book or a fun book?
Teachers- On the first reading, show the children the illustrations instead of reading aloud to them. Have them come up with their own ideas for the text. You can prompt their learning with questions such as, what do you think is happening in this picture?
On one of the later readings, don’t show the children the illustrations. Have the children close their eyes to visualise the pictures. Explain to the students that the word "visualisation" means to use all of our senses to help us imagine or picture something in our minds. Briefly review with students the five senses. When we use our imagination, we are visualising.
Explain to students that to practice visualising, we will be using all of our senses and our imagination. Read the story with the children’s eyes closed. After reading, re-read a few select pages and ask the children to tell you what they could see in their “mind’s eye”.
When you read the story, ask children to think about the pictorial elements. Prompt their discussion with questions like, what do we learn from this picture? How do you think the chair is feeling? Why do you think the chair has that expression on its face? Do chairs normally have faces? Why do you think the creators decided to represent chairs in this way?
K-2 Teacher Notes
K-2-Teachers Notes Download
Speaking and Listening:
Tell your teacher everything you can remember about the story so that he or she can write it on the board.
Place all the events on the board in the order they happened in the story.
Investigate the rhyming in the book. Which words rhyme? Can you think of other words that rhyme with the rhyming words in the book? Think of other words which rhyme with the words here, and then come up with your own rhyming sentences. Encourage students to make their sentences logical.
Discuss all the ways the children think they have “The Worst Life”-
“What makes your life ‘the worst’?” See if there are any similarities and differences among the group. Write a list documenting the suggestions. Look at the difficulties of children around the world using the internet or images from the internet- poverty, famine, disease, war, homelessness etc- discuss how their lives and their challenges compare to children around the world.
There is a mouse hidden on each page. Can you find the mouse in each illustration? Why do you think the creators did this?
There are a lot of synonyms for “horrible” in the story. Can you find them all? Can you think of more? Make a list and use these to create sentences based on the children’s own “horrible” experiences”
Introduce children to the comprehension strategies of making text-to-self and text-to-text connections. Explain that when there is something in a book or video that reminds them of something in their lives, it is called a text-to-self. Ask students to share text-to-self connections that they had with the story (these could be anything from, ‘I’ve had to eat food that I don’t like’, to ‘My mum and Dad boss me around,’ to ‘I’ve farted on a chair before’). Text-to-text connections are when a book or video has a similarity to another book. Help students think of examples of other books or videos that they have read or seen that can be connected to this video (for example ‘It’s not fair’ by Amy Krouse Rosenthal). Make lists on butcher or chart paper of the text-to-self and text-to-text connections that the students come up with. These can be hung in the classroom as reminders of good strategies that help students better understand books and videos.
‘It’s Not Fair’- written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
How can you tell when a character is speaking? Discuss the use and purpose of speech or quotation marks. Read the book again, clapping each time a speech mark is used.
Some stories have a moral, which means the story is trying to teach the reader a lesson. What is the moral of this story? Is there more than one? Do you know any other stories that have a moral?
Watch the storytelling video for “Life Is Not Fair When You Are Just a Chair”. Pay attention to the lady using Auslan to sign the story for children who are hearing impaired. Can you learn some of the signs to the words being spoken? For example how does the lady sign ‘crazy” or “despair”?
At the end of the book, speech bubbles are used within the illustrations. Write some speech bubbles for other illustrations shown in the book to demonstrate what the characters are thinking or might be saying.
The blurb on the back of the book often tells the reader what the story is about or makes people want to find out more. Write a new blurb for ‘Life Is Not Fair When You Are Just a Chair’ that will encourage others to read it.
The chair narrator thinks that chairs have the worst lives of all, and has a lot of evidence to back it up. Can you think of other objects that could claim to have the “worst life”?
The toilet wins the title of “Worst Life” in the story. Write an argument for one of the object’s on the “The Worst Life” giving evidence for why it has the “Worst Life”- Read out your argument to the class and have a “Worst Life Contest” (you could even make a trophy). Illustrate your object, giving it human features (like eyes and a mouth etc) while engaging in a horrible experiencing.
This story (like every story) opens with a ‘hook’ which is suggested in the title. Write a new story beginning with ‘Life is not fair when you are just a ’ For example: ‘Life is not fair when you are just a bear’ Or choose another word and rhyme it. E.g. ‘Life is not great when you are just a plate’, ‘Life is not great when you are just a gate”, “life is not sweet when you are a bed sheet”.
‘Life is not grand’
‘Life is not cool’
‘Life is not fine’
‘Life is not jolly’
Write your own rhyming story based on this idea, drawing on your own experiences and using your imagination to imagine the horrible situations inanimate objects experience.
Write a letter to Emily S. Smith and Graham Davidson giving your thoughts on the book. What did you like about it? What did it teach you? Email your letter to Storytime Lane (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Write a review of ‘Life Is Not Fair When You Are Just a Chair”. Include what you liked and disliked about it and compare it to similar books. Recommend who would enjoy the book the most.
Look at the illustrations of the book. What do you like about these illustrations? What do you dislike? What do you notice especially about them? How is the action of the story shown?
Using your “Review”, create a “Video Review” like “The Movie Show” for the book “Life Is Not Fair When You Are Just a Chair”.
Create another page for the book, on which a chair encounters another horrible experience- write the text and draw the illustration for this.
Watch the storytelling video of “Life Is Not Fair When You Are Just A Chair”- can you hear sound effects? When are they used? Using a selection of musical instruments, ask students to find sounds that best reflect the sounds of the book (fart noises, pouring rain, birds pooping, dragging noises, toilet flushing). Create a “soundscape” for the story. Have children play the instruments as an accompaniment to the reading of the book.
Create paddle-pop stick puppets of the different characters in the story and use these to act out/retell the story in small groups.
In the story, chairs are given human characteristics and feelings. Are chairs actually alive? What is the difference between a living thing and an inanimate object?
Use painting software to draw your own version of a picture from the story ‘Life Is Not Fair When You Are Just a Chair”, or create your own picture that fits with the story
National Curriculum Focus
New South Wales Curriculum- English
Early Stage 1
ENe-1a- communicates with peers and known adults in informal and guided activities demonstrating emerging skills of group interaction
ENe-2A- composes simple texts to convey an idea or message
ENe- 3A- produces most lower case and upper case letters and uses digital technologies to construct texts
ENe-4A- demonstrates developing skills and strategies to read, view and comprehend short, predictable texts on familiar topics in different media and technologies
ENe-6B- recognises that there are different kinds of spoken texts with specific language features and shows an emerging awareness of some purposes for spoken language
ENe-7B- recognises some different purposes for writing and that own texts differ in various ways
ENe-8B- demonstrates emerging skills and knowledge of texts to read and view, and shows developing awareness of purpose, audience and subject matter
ENe-11D- responds to and composes simple texts about familiar aspects of the world and their own experiences
ENe-12E- demonstrates awareness of how to reflect on aspects of their own and others’ learning
Early Stage 1
VAES1.1 Makes simple pictures and other kinds of artworks about things and experiences
VAES1.2 Experiments with a range of media in selected forms
VAES1.3 Recognises some of the qualities of different artworks and begins to realise that artists make artwork
VAES1.4 Communicates their ideas about pictures and other kinds of artworks
MUES1.2 Creates own rhymes, games, songs and simple compositions.
DRAES1.1 Uses imagination and the elements of drama in imaginative play and dramatic situations.
DRAES1.3 Dramatises personal experiences using movement, space and objects
STe-8NE- develop knowledge of the Natural Environment through understanding about the Physical World, Earth and Space, and Living World
EN1.1A- communicates with a range of people in informal and guided activities demonstrating interaction skills and considers how own communication is adjusted in different situations
EN1.2A- plans, composes and reviews a small range of simple texts for a variety of purposes on familiar topics for known readers and viewers
EN1.3A- composes texts using letters of consistent size and slope and uses digital technologies
EN1-.4A- draws on an increasing range of skills and strategies to fluently read, view and comprehend a range of texts on less familiar topics in different media and technologies
EN1.6B- recognises a range of purposes and audiences for spoken language and recognises organisational patterns and features of predictable spoken texts
En1.7B-identifies how language use in their own writing differs according to their purpose, audience and subject matter
EN1.8B- recognises that there are different kinds of texts when reading and viewing and shows an awareness of purpose, audience and subject matter
EN1.9B- uses basic grammatical features, punctuation conventions and vocabulary appropriate to the type of text when responding to and composing texts
EN1.10C thinks imaginatively and creatively about familiar topics, ideas and texts when responding to and composing texts
EN1.11D- responds to and composes a range of texts about familiar aspects of the world and their own experiences
VAS1.1 Makes artworks in a particular way about experiences of real and imaginary things.
VAS1.3 Realises what artists do, who they are and what they make
VAS1.4 Begins to interpret the meaning of artworks, acknowledging the roles of artist and audience.
MUS1.2 Explores, creates, selects and organises sound in simple structures
DRAS1.1 Takes on roles in drama to explore familiar and imagined situations.
DRAS1.2 Conveys story, depicts events and expresses feelings by using the elements of drama and the expressive skills of movement and voice.
DRAS1.3 Interacts collaboratively to communicate the action of the drama with others.
EN2.1A- communicates in a range of informal and formal contexts by adopting a range of roles in group, classroom, school and community contexts
EN2.2A- plans, composes and reviews a range of texts that are more demanding in terms of topic, audience and language
EN2.3A- uses effective handwriting and publishes texts using digital technologies
EN2.4A- uses an increasing range of skills, strategies and knowledge to fluently read, view and comprehend a range of texts on increasingly challenging topics in different media and technologies
EN2.5A- uses a range of strategies, including knowledge of letter–sound correspondences and common letter patterns, to spell familiar and some unfamiliar words
EN2.6B- identifies the effect of purpose and audience on spoken texts, distinguishes between different forms of English and identifies organisational patterns and features
EN2.7B- identifies and uses language forms and features in their own writing appropriate to a range of purposes, audiences and contexts
EN2.8B- identifies and compares different kinds of texts when reading and viewing and shows an understanding of purpose, audience and subject matter
EN2.9B- uses effective and accurate sentence structure, grammatical features, punctuation conventions and vocabulary relevant to the type of text when responding to and composing texts
EN2.10C- thinks imaginatively, creatively and interpretively about information, ideas and texts when responding to and composing texts
MUS2.2 Improvises musical phrases, organises sounds and explains reasons for choices
DRAS2.1 Takes on and sustains roles in a variety of drama forms to express meaning in a wide range of imagined situations
DRAS2.2 Builds the action of the drama by using the elements of drama, movement and voice skills.
DRAS2.3 Sequences the action of the drama to create meaning for an audience.