Make room for more Emils this fall

Make room for more Emils this fall

entrance: How about starting the school year with Project Emile?

Emil from Lüneberget celebrates his birthday. This year marks 60 years since Astrid Lindgren published the first book about the blond boy from Katholt in Sweden. Over the generations, we have known the one who sticks his head in a soup pot, invites the entire poor house to Christmas dinner, locks his father in the bathroom, and hoists his sister up the flagpole.

Emil can be considered a good, curious boy with fleas in his blood, but he is often described by adults as ill-mannered and mischievous. There are not few times that Father Anton sends Emil to the carpentry shop where new wooden beams are installed while he gets plenty of time to think about his pranks.

Emil is a kind boy with a lot of energy and a strong sense of justice. For example, he doesn't lift his sister up the flagpole to be disgusting to her, but so she can see all of Catault. He always wants to help others, even if things go completely wrong sometimes. Filling Papa Anton's rubber boots full of water isn't a good idea either, even if Emil's intention was to check whether the boots are tight or not.

“You and me, Alfred.”

“Du och jag, Alfred” is a poignant line in literature that explains who the farm boy Alfred is to Emil. Alfred is a calm and calculating friend who accepts Emil as the one in control of life, and becomes an important appreciative support for Emil when no one seems to understand him. We all need an Alfred every now and then, don't we? How can we all try to be “Alfred” to each other? Are you “Alfred” to some kids?

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Starting the school year with an interdisciplinary “Emil Focus” in an individual school can be a great gateway to meeting the diversity of students who will soon enter the school arena. An important school mission is to build an inclusive community where a diverse group of children and adults are able and willing to take responsibility for everyone around them so that everyone can feel the good feeling associated with belonging and being themselves.

Stories about Emile are a good starting point for shared reflection among employees. From thinking “what kind of kid he was” to thinking more about how the active Emil boys and Emil girls met in school and after school education. How do we as adults deal with children who challenge us? Are we able to see beyond all the “challenges”?

It is about creating a school environment in which we adults become aware of our way of being by thinking through our own practices so that we act more consciously in our relationship with children. Are we more or less interested in what children can master rather than what they cannot? Or as Lindgren said: “Imagine if you knew that Emil would be president of the parish council when he grew up.”

Tips for activities

Here are some concrete tips for starting an interdisciplinary program around Emil in the classroom that, after implementation, can provide space for important reflections in the staff group:

  • Reading out loud: Read aloud from one of Emile's books to students. Give text excerpts as reading exercises. Emil related books are also available in a number of languages ​​with the aim of teaching both English and the mother tongue.
  • conversation: Think with students about books, friendship, strangers, and the importance of being able to understand and see each other. Feel free to use mind maps as students talk.
  • Drawing/coloring task: Ask students to draw or draw something from the book. Create an “Emil Gallery” with drawings hung in the classroom or elsewhere in the school.
  • Emil competition: Invite Emil's exciting experiences outdoors, for example by heading towards the stars or the nature trail.
  • Flag poleAssign students to figure out how to measure the height of a flagpole
  • Remove the animal's entrails: Have the students set up their wooden toy just as Emil does.
  • music: Inviting the children to a joint singing session in which Emil’s well-known songs are sung. It could be songs like “Du käre lille snickerbo”, “Hujedamej, sovje barn han var” and “Ida's sommervise”.
  • formation: Make Email Splash figures out of thread and fabric, for example. Or how about making fun Emil characters with beads?
  • Dramatic representation: Give students a group task to dramatize one or more of Emil's pranks.
  • Sand missionGive the students in groups the task of making a model of Catault in a sandbox. Get all the houses, carpenter's bow, livestock, flagpole, etc
  • Cinema: Invite students to the classroom cinema where one of Emile's films is being shown. Served with popcorn.
  • to cook: Make some Swedish goodies in the school kitchen, such as cinnamon buns, meatballs, pancakes, cabbage pudding, Swedish pea soup, etc.
  • Tasks workshop: Give students the task of finding facts about Sweden and/or Astrid Lindgren which they can then introduce to each other. Maybe you could do a podcast or wall newspaper?
  • Creators' workshop: Emil always gets a lot of strange ideas. Encourage children to create their own wacky inventions, individually or in groups.
  • Party supplies: Download for free beautiful Emil materials in Swedish in the genre jubilee poster puzzles, pig's tail, warts, bunting games, coloring tasks, etc. via
  • Emil game for computer: Allow students to design and program their own Emil computer games. The website can be very helpful here.
  • By highlighting the literary figure Emile in his jubilee year, the individual student will be taken seriously. The popular “Emil period” in the individual school could be the glue many schools need to promote inclusion, belonging and respect for difference.

    Because as Emil himself explains: “You don't invent hiccups, they just stay. This is a trick, and you won't find out until later.”

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Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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