The Cats of Trefranck

tibbsAbout the Cats of Trefranck
Trefranck farm is in the small remote village of St.Clether on Bodmin Moor. The farm is home to Gemma Kempthorne and her family, as well as a family of cats. On the farm is Rosehip Barn; a large old barn with lots of History. This barn was once the busiest place on the farm, and most of the farm work was done in and around it. Like many farm buildings, as farming changed, the barn was being used for farming less and less. To keep the barn in use Gemma and her family have recently converted it into a community space to dance and make Art. In this story we hear from Mrs.Tibbs, the farm cat, who talks about the history of the barn and all the animals that used to live there.

What to look for…

  • See if you can remember what animals used to live in the barn and in which order they left.
  • Try and remember why these animals left and some of the changes that have happened in farming.

Alternatively, watch this digital story on YouTube here.

Ideas for discussion…

  • Can you remember who left the barn first (second, third etc)? Why did they leave the barn? Where did they go? Do you remember their name?
  • (To any pupils that live on a farm) Do you have any old farm buildings on your farm? Do you know what they were once used for?
  • What generations of cats did we see? Do you remember their names and how could we tell the difference between each one?
  • What do you think it was like for Gemma growing up on the farm?

Ask a local farmer…

  • What farm buildings do/did you have on your farm?
  • Do you know about the history of these buildings and how they were used in the past? Did any animals live in the buildings? When did these leave and where did they go?
  • Do you have any memories of using the farm buildings?
  • What are these buildings used for now?
  • What do these changes tell us about how farming has changed?



Split the class into pairs or threes and encourage children to strike up verbal conversations, acting as characters from the story.
Get children to develop their characters. Consider names, accents, sound effects, past experiences and family history etc.

Share some of these conversations as a class.

Get children to write short stories featuring these conversations.
Encourage children to set the scene in which the conversation takes place and enhance the characteristics of each character with descriptions. Children may choose to bring other characters/elements from the film into their story.

Facilitate the use of speech marks, grammar and paragraphs.

Get hands on…

Split the class into groups to make some of the characters from the story.

One of the cats and Alan the barn owl

One of the cats and Alan the barn o

Cut out large cardboard templates of each animal and decorate with collage materials.


  • Cheston the horse
  • Chickens
  • Cows
  • Sheep
  • Loveday the lamb
  • Jep
  • Tinsel/Tanja
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Alan the barn owl
  • Bats
  • Spiders
  • The cats of Trefranck- Mrs.Tibbs, Great Grandfather Tibbs, Grandfather Tibbs, Talon Tibbs, Misfit, Fatty & Po.

Display the characters along a wall or backdrop in the order that they left the barn
You might choose to make a collaged barn to put at the beginning of this.

Referring back to the previous conversations, take extracts from the stories and create speech/thought bubbles to add to the characters on the wall
For example, Loveday the lamb might say, “You’ll never guess where I have spent the night!”

Cut out the speech/thought bubbles from white card and use dark pens to write.

Use this line of characters as the basis of a timeline and carry out research on the changes to farming that coincide with the departure of the animals
For example the introduction of tractors and the departure of Cheston.

Information can be stuck to the wall, surrounding and enhancing the character timeline.

barn2Here is a larger scale barn that we made with South Petherwin Primary School in one of our workshops in 2013. On it you will see models of some of the characters from the story, as well as views that children saw on a farm visit to Trefranck Farm.

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