Scatter Cat!


In this unit students explore movement and position using the popular Lynley Dodd character Hairy MacLary. Students explore the language of position in describing where an object is located and in giving and following sequences of movement instructions. They will move themselves and objects along paths and will describe the movement of others.

Achievement Objectives
GM1-3: Give and follow instructions for movement that involve distances, directions, and half or quarter turns.
GM1-4: Describe their position relative to a person or object.
Specific Learning Outcomes
  • Describes the position of an object.
  • Follow and give directions involving 1/2 and 1/4 turns.
  • Follow and give a sequence of instructions related to movement and position.
Description of Mathematics

This unit is about building up students' vocabulary relating to position. Hence the emphasis on ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘under’ and so on, as well as various turns and left and right. This is an important step before more complex geometry is introduced.  The words used in this lesson are important as much in every day life as in school.

Opportunities for Adaptation and Differentiation

The learning opportunities in this unit can be differentiated by providing or removing support to students and by varying the task requirements. Ways to support students include:

  • providing direct teacher support to some children while those able to work more independently work with a partner.

While the sessions in this unit are centred on the storyline of Scatter Cat the context for session 3 could be readily adapted to include two characters from a favourite story.  Session 4 could be adapted to take place outside in an area  surrounded by “landmarks” that the students are familiar with (e.g. the school office, the playground, a memorial, a tree, a feature of the landscape).

Required Resource Materials
  • "Hairy MacLary, Scatter Cat!" by Lynley Dodd, text or video
  • Pictures of Hairy MacLary drawn onto card
  • Cardboard cut out puppets of Hairy MacLary and the cats
  • Blocks

Session 1: Chasing Cats

In this session students use the story "Hairy MacLary, Scatter Cat"by Lynley Dodd, to provide a context in which to use the language of movement and position and to provide opportunities to move themselves as they act out parts of the story.

  1. Read the story to the students. Encourage discussion about the cats and Hairy MacLary.
    Can you describe where Butterball Brown is sitting?
    Where is Hairy MacLary hiding?
    Where does Slinky Malinky go when Hairy MacLary chases him?
    Can you describe where Mushroom Magee went?
  2. Get students in pairs to role-play with one as Hairy MacLary and the others as one of the other cats. Get the students to describe the position of the two characters to start with and where they end up. Encourage the students to describe the paths they take.
    Where is Scarface Claw hiding?
    Where is Hairy MacLary?
    Where will Scarface Claw chase him to?
    How will Hairy MacLary get there?
  3. Each student or pair draws a scene from the story and provides a caption about the position of the characters or a description of the movement. These will be used as a wall display or made into a big book to share as part of each maths session.

Session 2: Where is Hairy MacLary?

In this session we describe the position of ourselves and of objects. We follow and give instructions about where to place items in the classroom.

  1. Reread "Hairy MacLary, Scatter Cat!" or revisit the previous session’s work by reading the wall display or book made of the students' work.
    Talk about where we are sitting, trying to get students to be specific in the description they give.
    I am sitting on a chair, next to the teaching station, at the front of the mat.
    Where are you sitting?
    Can you tell me who is behind and in front of you?
    Are you near the front or the back of the mat?
    Is anyone sitting beside you?
  2. With a partner, students move to other parts of the room and describe their position to their partner.
    I am on a chair, at the art table, near the back of the room.
    I am under a table, beside a chair, in the middle of the room.
  3. Introduce cards with pictures of Hairy MacLary drawn on them. (These need to be colour-coded or made slightly different from one another so that you know who each card belongs to, to avoid arguments as students begin the activity.)
  4. Explain the ‘Where is Hairy MacLary?’ game. Students work in pairs. One student hides Hairy MacLary and gives the other student a description of where to find him. That student searches. The teacher roves to encourage the students to be specific in their descriptions.
    You said Hairy MacLary is on a chair.
    Is there anything next to the chair?
    Is the chair at a table?

Session 3: Look at Me Go!

In this session the students explore movement sequences by both explaining a path taken and by giving and following instructions for paths in the classroom and in the playground. They further explore the ideas using cut outs of the Hairy MacLary characters.

  1. Recap the situation, describing where we are sitting and being specific about our positions.
    Are you sitting in the same place on the mat as you were yesterday?
    Who is sitting next to you?
    Who could describe where one of their friends is sitting today?
  2. Place "Hairy MacLary, Scatter Cat!" somewhere in the classroom.
    I need someone to get me the Scatter Cat! book.
    Choose a student to get it.
    You will need to listen very carefully to the instructions I am going to give you to find it.
    Give a sequence of instructions to get the book. For example,
    Turn to face the back of the classroom.
    Walk forwards until you get to a table.
    Go underneath the table, the book is on the chair in front of you.
  3. Students work with a partner to give and follow sequences of instructions. Students could give instructions of how to get from their chair to their bag, how to get from the classroom door to the sink, how to get from the board to their browsing box, etc.
  4. If it is fine, take the class outside to explore sequences of instructions further. Set up an obstacle course or describe a path for students to take over the playground equipment. Again they can explore giving and following instructions with a partner in a specified area of the playground.
  5. Move-it Hairy MacLary! Back in the classroom introduce cards showing Hairy MacLary and indicating him moving around the classroom e.g. a picture showing him going under a table or over a chair. Give a set of cards to each pair of students along with a Hairy MacLary cut out from the previous session. One partner holds the instruction cards and describes where Hairy MacLary needs to go. The other student moves Hairy MacLary according to the instructions. Encourage the students to shuffle the cards around and create lots of different paths for Hairy MacLary to follow.

Session 4: Turning, Turning, Turning

In this session we explore half and quarter turns using points of reference in the classroom to indicate the direction for turning. Some students may already be familiar with left and right and they will be given the opportunity to explore this.

  1. Gather the students on the mat and get them to stand in their own space. If there isn’t room in the mat area get the students to spread around the room. Get the students to describe where they are and what they are facing.
    Where are you standing?
    What can you see straight in front of you?
  2. Get the students to turn around once.
    Slowly turn around until you can see the same as you can see now.
    How far have you turned?
  3. Talk about turning half way and get the students to think about what they might see when they have turned half way.
    Where will you be facing if you turn half way?
    Will you still be looking at me?
    What part of you will I be able to see?

    Get the students to turn half way.
  4. Get the students to turn to face the front again. Talk about making a quarter turn or turning sideways.
    When we turned a full turn or a half turn everyone ended up facing the same way.
    Do you think that will happen if we turn sideways (make a quarter turn)?
    Turn to one side. (Make a quarter turn.)

    Some students will have turned one way and some the other. If this doesn’t happen and everyone is facing the same way then, as the teacher, model having turned the other way.
    We need to be more specific about where we are turning.
    What could we add to the instructions to make them easier to follow and to make sure we end up facing the same way around?

    Gather students' suggestions, which may include:
    • you have to say which way to turn;
    • you need to say what to face when you are finished;
    • you have to say turn to the door or turn to the library corner;
    • you need to say left or right.

Get the students to make quarter turns. This time include specific instructions about the direction in which they should turn. Include left and right in these instructions and take note of those who are able to move accordingly.

  1. Students work in pairs to give instructions for turning. The teacher roves to encourage students to talk about whole, half and quarter or sideways turns and to encourage specific appropriate directions.
    How far round did you turn?
    Did your partner end up facing where you thought he would?
    What other instruction do you need to give to make sure he does?
  2. Gather the students back and talk about giving instructions for how to get to different parts of the classroom or school (recap. from Session 3). Talk about including instructions about turning. Give as an example:
    Start at the board facing the back of the classroom.
    Walk forward until you get to the edge of the mat.
    Turn to face the sink (or make a right turn).
    Walk forward until you get to the sink.
    Pick up a paintbrush.
    Make a half turn.
    Walk forward until you get to the mat.
    Turn to face the easel board (or make a left turn).
    Walk forward to give me the paintbrush.
  3. In pairs the students give and follow sequences of instructions including turning. They could also use the Hairy MacLary cut outs for this.

Session 5: Keep on Moving

We wrap up the unit with independent exploration of the ideas presented. The students will work in pairs to role-play from the story and to give and follow instructions for paths around the classroom. The teacher will rove and question and encourage specific language and careful instructions.

  1. Hairy MacLary Puppet show
    In pairs or small groups, the students use the "Hairy MacLary, Scatter Cat!" book and cardboard cut out puppets to retell the story.
  2. Block Buildings
    Provide students with plans of buildings to make with the classroom blocks. These can be drawn onto cards and could use about 5 blocks per building.
    In pairs, one student holds a plan card and explains how to make the building, while the other student follows the instructions. (The second student should not be able to see the card.)
    Cut outs of Hairy MacLary can then be placed in different positions on the buildings.
  3. Where is Hairy MacLary?
    Students in pairs, play the game presented in Session 2.
  4. Move-it Hairy MacLary!
    In pairs, students play the game presented in Session 3.
  5. Big Book Reading
    Students read the big book or wall display made in Session 1.
  6. How Can I Get to There?
    In pairs, students give and follow instructions to move around the classroom as in Session 3. Encourage students to use turns and right and left if they are able to.
  7. You Be Hairy MacLary and I’ll be Scarface Claw
    Students role-play from the story as in Session 1.
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Level One