Looking for activities for NSS 2024? Head to our new blog.

It’s that time again – the year just speeds by, doesn’t it? Almost as fast as a … sloth? In 2023, we’re joining Spike the sloth in her big race for National Simultaneous Storytime!

Readers all across Australia will come together on Wednesday 24 May at 11:00 am to read The Speedy Sloth, written by Rebecca Young and illustrated by Heath McKenzie.

This event is run each year by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) to promote the value of reading and literacy. Schools, libraries, childcare centres and other children’s facilities will read this year’s picture book simultaneously all over the country. It’s a campaign that we truly value so join us in celebrating this day!

The Speedy Sloth cover art

It was finally time for the event of the year,
Spike couldn’t believe it—
THE GREAT RACE was here!
The other sloths said it couldn’t be done,
but Spike didn’t care, she was ready to run!

The Speedy Sloth

The Speedy Sloth follows Spike on her big day as she competes against all the other animals in The Great Race. With a fun rhyming scheme and a deeper message about winning and what that means, it’s an enjoyable story for all ages.

In anticipation of this fantastic event, here’s three fun sloth-themed resources for your classroom. Use them to inspire great writing!

3 writing activities for National Simultaneous Storytime

1. The Speedy Sloth on the Narrative Story Graph

STEP Step 1: Plan for Success
PURPOSE Teach
RESOURCE TYPE Story graphs
YEAR F–6

We’ve plotted The Speedy Sloth on the Narrative Story Graph for you. Use it to demonstrate how this picture book follows the basic narrative structure. Does it have a Sizzling Start and an Exciting Ending?

Challenge more advanced students to plot The Speedy Sloth on the blank Narrative Story Graph template and compare it with the version above.

Want more story graphs?
Teacher Hub members, there are lots of other story graph collections and lists of exemplars on Teacher Hub.
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2. Writing Prompt – A Letter from the Jungle

As part of the event, the organisers of National Simultaneous Storytime have teamed up with The Sloth Conservation Foundation and adopted a sloth called Nacho who lives in Costa Rica.

Read about Nacho and his daily life in this report.

Then use the new writing prompt below to inspire students to write a Sizzling Start to a persuasive text from a sloth’s perspective.

STEP Step 2: Sizzling Starts
PURPOSE Apply
RESOURCE TYPE Writing Prompt
YEAR F–6

Get students to imagine they are a sloth whose home is being destroyed by urban development. Then ask them to write the introduction for a letter to persuade humans to protect their jungle home.

Have students read their Sizzling Starts to each other, maybe even using a sloooow sloth voice!

For a powerful example of this format to show your students, see our Oaks the orangutan student writing sample from our Persuasive Writing manual.

3. Writing Prompt – The Big Race

STEP Step 7: Exciting Endings
PURPOSE Apply
RESOURCE TYPE Writing Prompt
YEAR F–10

The Speedy Sloth shows how an ending can be exciting without being predictable. Even though Spike comes last, she still feels like a winner because she’s achieved so much.

If you’re a Teacher Hub Essentials member, you can use this prompt to get students writing their own Exciting Ending to a narrative text about a big race.

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We have lots more free visual writing prompts here:
Narrative Writing Prompts | Informative Writing Prompts | Persuasive Writing Prompts