“A lesson hook provides teachers with an opportunity to inject energy into a new learning journey and to create an eagerness to find out more. Think of a rocket launch analogy; in order to reach the moon, an effective and impressive takeoff is critical.” Alison Smith (Lesson Hook Strategies to Launch Learning)
Approximately two years ago (nearly to the day of putting this together), I was fortunate to commence what I believe to be the greatest job in the world - I became a father.
This new role included a number of things I was anticipating, such as less-sleep, scheduling days around naps, and waiting on someone hand and foot, but it also included some things I wasn’t anticipating, one of which included becoming a Bluey enthusiast.
Through rainy days, bottle feeds, or simply to get a 7-minute window of opportunity, Bluey, Australias #1 favorite Blue heeler, has become a staple within our house.
However, as I dove further and further into the Bluey catalog with my daughter, the viewing became less-and-less about distracting her while getting jobs done, and more about wondering how Bluey could become a teacher within the classroom.
Something I loved about each episode, other than the hidden parent jokes or Bluey & Bingo bringing fun and enjoyment to all that they do, was the overall meaning behind each episode, or the small teacher-related moments that pop-up in each episode.
After questioning many times whether I should incorporate some Bluey within my Physical Education lessons, I eventually bit the bullet and gave it a try - and it did NOT disappoint!
As the introduction to a ‘throwing’ unit with Foundation - Year 2 students, I decided to utilize an Episode from Season Three, titled ‘Stickbird’. The episode see’s the family venture to the beach, and has a much bigger message than ‘throwing’, but there is a fantastic moment within the episode where Chilli (Bluey’s Mum) teaches her young children to throw. Through this, Chilli talks about ‘standing on a skateboard’, ‘aiming at the target’ and then ‘swooshing’ as you throw. It’s not the most technical description of throwing, but if you’re aiming to teach 5 - 8 year olds, it doesn’t get much better.
So at the commencement of a lesson with some foundation students, we had a quick throwing instant activity, before settling in front of the TV, ready to launch into Bluey. I explained to them all that we were going to watch a short clip of a character that they’ll all be familiar with, and that we wouldn’t be watching the full episode. I also challenged them to consider ‘why’ we were watching it and that I would be asking them for their thoughts when I paused it.
As soon as the music started, the students were engaged. Their faces lit up with smiles and some couldn’t help but dance along to the catchy theme music. Once the episode started, you could tell that some of the students had tuned into this episode before and already knew the 'why', and they struggled to keep their enthusiasm in-check. Others were glued to the TV, taking in this unique opportunity to keep up-to-date with Blueys adventures.
After 1 minute and 30 seconds, the clip stopped. I didn’t even need to pose a question and hands flew up into the air - “we are watching this because it’s teaching us throwing”.
It worked. Students were not only hooked on the episode, but they understood the rationale behind it. We discussed what Chilli had explained, we made our own little adaptations, and we stood up and we followed along.
And then we followed along again, and again, and said our steps out loud.
After a great chat about throwing, and using Bluey as arguably the greatest hook I had ever used, we went off to practice our throwing in some fun minor-games.
I honestly could not believe the results. Getting students to stand side-on, or having the ball in the throwing hand can make teachers heads-spin, but the simple nature of Chilli’s explanation certainly struck a chord with the students.
The results were fantastic, and had me buzzing, but I wondered if it was a flash in the pan type result, as in - would they remember the steps the following week?
As the following week rolled around, the students were able to share the steps and cues that we discussed the week before, with next to no prompting. Not only was this a great result, but their understanding of the cues was evident as they took turns in another throwing game.
While of course there were some students that still found confusion in how to physically stand or what hand to throw with, being able to offer feedback and revert back to the ‘Stickbird’ episode added a level of depth and reference for the students.
The level of success experienced confirmed that Bluey is not only a go-to resource at home, but there is just as much - if not more - value in using Bluey as a lesson hook with students.
It was the first time Bluey entered my classroom as a teacher, but it certainly won’t be the last.
Some other episodes that spring to mind that would offer value within a lesson include;
Shadowlands - Following rules of a game
Musical Statues - How movement and exercise can change our mood
Pass the Parcel - How we can be happy for others when we don’t win
Obstacle Course - Working hard to improve, and sportsmanship
TV Shop - Teamwork and non-verbal communication
Cricket - Sportsmanship and determination
And I am sure there are many more if you dive further into the Bluey catalogue - this is honestly off the top of my head, and probably says a bit about how much Bluey I have watched over the past 2 years, which definitely isn't a bad thing.
So with that, my experience with utilizing Bluey within the gym was an overwhelming success, and something that I intend to use moving forward, and something I would recommend to others. To get access to Bluey, simply register for an account through ABC iView and away you go!
Bluey, the winner of the 2022 Logie Award for Most Outstanding Children's Program, may very quickly become a go-to teaching resource.
If you have used other Bluey moments, or other hooks within your lesson, I would love to hear them.
As always, feel free to each out on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and share your golden hooks.