The Vexatious Haunting of Lily Griffin is a huge read so Paula Hayes has created this huge post packed with classroom activities

The Vexatious Haunting of Lily Griffin is the whopper doorstop of never-ending educational resources and inspiration for students ages 8–13. Here some activities for the classroom.

Real-life issues/themes

The Vexatious Haunting of Lily Griffin is a supernatural fantasy of epic proportions, but wrapped up in all the haunting, high jinks and history lies an earnest and heartfelt examination of serious issues that impact on students of this age group (and beyond). These issues and themes in particular are bullying, identity, loneliness, dementia, adoption/heritage, and the good and not-so-good dynamics of family life.

Activity: Create a blooming lily plant (unleashed by the magic teak box) and record on each petal the sequence of events of an important event or time in your family’s journey together.

Creative writing/art

Lily is a supernatural magical treat – there is no end to her imagination! Get your class’s creative juices flow by inventing paranormal characters and conundrums.

Activity: Devise a poem of six words that captures the heart of your favourite character. Or turn pivotal dialogue and scenes into a script, then make it into a movie on an iPad. Make sure you have great costumes and on-trend music for the time. (Other Lily and Lucy love the Glenn Miller Orchestra and their song, In the Mood. It’sfabulous for shaking your backside!)

Australia – the way we were

I love history and I can’t help but get lost in research to make sure all my historical information is factual. So, a trip down memory lane of how we used to live in Australia versus how we live now is great for the classroom. So much has changed, in terms of diversity, technology, entertainment, lifestyle and sociology and the big book gently unfolds these changes. I pay particular interest to the 1890s, 1940s, 1950s and 1970s. Edgar, Aoife, Other Lily, and Lucy enjoyed and experienced the world before Google and portable devices. I call this time epoch B.G. (Before Google). I can remember it well, so I am vintage and old.

 Other Lily was impressed with the laptop and said it was like Lucy’s old typewriter and gramophone together with all her records, her mum Beryl’s entire newspaper hoard and top-secret recipe notepads, her dad Ken’s home projector, family slides PLUS her own entire book/encyclopedia collection and Kodak Brownie camera all rolled into one.

All of these things now fit into our hip pocket in the form of a smartphone!

Activity: Make a time capsule, research toys and how they have changed, or make a zoetrope (get some extra STEM in). Learn how to jitterbug to a bouncy beat (get some extra exercise in). Examine how we play and how we entertain ourselves has changed. What has stayed the same? Make two cakes – use an old cake recipe from the 1940s for one and a contemporary recipe for the other. Notice the difference in quantities, ingredients and measurements.


Lily keeps a journal. Writing stuff down is important to her. Students could sharpen their pacers or typing fingers and record a week in their life. There is no end to the benefits of journaling – psychological clarity, a keepsake of memories, thoughts and feelings, enhancing writing skills and strengths, and getting in touch with your inner voice. 

Activity: Write a few journal entries from the point of view of one of the characters (other than Lily,  maybe try using Linden or Edgar), then compare it to one of Lily’s journal entries. Or how about chronicling being stuck in a mirror for seventy years? Lots to reflect on (pun intended).

Persuasive and formal writing

Activity: Find the issues in Lily that resonate and write a Letter to the Editor. Agnes Pommeroy is a great writer and her words tell a lot about her character and the issues of the day that affect her life. Lily and her friends discover that women around this time may attend university, but not receive a degree.  A Letter to the Editor was needed!

Character that are as real as a book character friend can be

The very big book of Lily allows for in-depth character arcs, and for the characters to be fully developed. Just take Linden, he evolves from a ‘turd burger’ into a hero into a … shock … good friend. Now that’s some meaty character evolution.

Activity: Create a musical playlist for each character, particularly Linden! It would be diverse as he develops and changes. Share the playlist with a partner and discuss why you chose each song.

Stop me now! I could do on and on but as you can see, The Vexatious Haunting of Lily Griffin is jam packed with ideas for your classroom, suited from the younger to the older student

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