Alien Worlds and Short Burst Writing

In the first half of the summer term we were looking at space in the Y3-4 class. We did a variety of different exercises responding to texts I read aloud or we read together, e.g. The Girl who Drank the Moon (Kelly Barnhill); The Jamie Drake Equation (Christopher Edge); 100 Things to Know about Space. Usually we work on one story per half-term, and plan it in Week 4 of our classes. This time, to change things up a bit, I decided to do lots of different short bursts of writing (we did 3-4), and then plan a longer story in the second half of term. The results have been really good and we had a very enjoyable first half of term! I’m looking forward to the longer stories too, which might come out of ideas from the shorter bursts of writing we’ve already done. 





Touring Toy: Adventures of Ordinary

Touring Toy is a project I set up for my classes in Easter 2018. It was based on the idea from the film Amelie of taking something travelling around the world (in her case a gnome) and photographing it in different places. I came up with the idea of Adventures of Ordinary: making ordinary life into an adventure for a small toy. I realised this could be a really great stimulus and structure for art and story-writing. 

The project was really popular with the children (and with me!) and produced some great language and images, so we are now continuing it this June half-term. I have also set up a twitter account: touring_toy

These are the initial photos I took for Touring Toy to model and explain the project to my classes: 

I captioned these photos with short text phrases. These either were showing how the ordinary landscape had become a scene that might be in an adventure story, e.g. ‘The Boulders of Boot’; ‘The Valley of Vitamins”, or they showed the character’s feelings when faced with this adventure landscape. I wanted the language to be fun and accessible so in my examples I combined using alliteration / metaphor with everyday words that might appear in stories in the characters’ inner thoughts. Here are two examples: 


I gave the students each a ‘Touring Toy Diary’ and asked them to take their toys on adventures with them over Easter, and to take minimum 6 photos of their toys having adventures. The key for the project was for them to understand that the adventures didn’t have to be in ‘special’ places; the toys could go on adventures in their kitchens. It was all about making adventures within the ‘ordinary’. 

I then continued taking photos for Touring Toy and captioning with phrases such as: “Path of the Hero!” “Watching Metal Monsters” “Strengthening Tummy Muscles” “The Glowing Ring” (guess which applies to which photo…)

The results from the students’ touring toy diaries were phenomenal in terms of language, images and storytelling potential. 

A couple of students, without being told to, created continuous stories with their Touring Toy diaries: 

This is what I have asked them all to do this half-term! Can’t wait to see the results. 



This half of term with the 6-7 year olds we have been focusing on dragons. There were a few different stages to our work that is now culminating in some lovely writing: 

  1. We read some books about dragons together and talked about them (George and the Dragon, The Egg, Show me a Dragon, The Dragon Machine), roughly one a week
  2. We modelled dragons out of clay and painted them
  3. We made houses for our dragons 
  4. We wrote letters to our dragons to ask them to come back when they disappeared
  5. We talked a lot about how we met our dragons; why they went missing; how we got them back. We then made this into a story.
  6. We will edit and finish off our stories next week…

Here are some photos of the students’ hard work!

Choose Your Own Adventure Stories, November-December 2017

This half of term term we have been looking at quests where the reader gets to choose their own adventure (the stories have multiple endings based on choices the reader makes throughout the stories). 

For inspiration, we read a wide range of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ (CYOA) stories across the classes, as well as quest stories. Stories that we read include The Super Happy Magic Forest, Matty Long (all ages); Quest, Aaron Becker (all ages); the iHero books (9 years +); Meanwhile, Jason Shiga (all ages); Your Very Own Robot (R A Montgomery) (6-8 year olds). We also watched some short animated films on the theme of quests and learning: First Flight / Adventures Are The Pits and Soar. We talked a lot about what characters learn in the different stories. 

Alongside the reading, we started writing a very short practice ‘choose your own adventure’ story on cards, either based on the films or the books we had been reading.

We chose places where we wanted to base our own CYOA story, collecting pictures from magazines / newspaper cuttings / real life photographs, etc. We then made artwork of our story worlds in different styles of papier mache boxes, imagining ourselves jumping into them and what we could see / taste / hear / smell / touch in those worlds. We started our longer stories last week, which will be finished over Christmas at home. Here are some of the lovely results: 

Castles, September-October 2017

It’s been a great start to the school year. We have been inventing our own castles this term,  inspired by Colin Thompson’s book ‘Castles’. I have been amazed by the quantity and quality of ideas produced across the different groups I teach. We are now moving onto writing our quest stories (where the castles will obviously feature!). The castles are here:



The start of the quest stories are here:



Beautiful Underground Worlds, 23-25 August 2017

It’s the end of my summer classes for another year! I’ve had a lovely summer with such creative children. This week we were Under the Ground! These were the stages to our work:

1. Read and discuss The Street Beneath My Feet by Yuval Zommer
2. Make collaborative murals of underground worlds and start on our individual worlds
Gather things from home that could fit into our worlds
4. Read and discuss The Something by Rebecca Cobb and pictures of huge pits, holes etc.
5. Write personification poetry imagining we ARE the worlds 
6 Write stories for our worlds

Lovely work from Fantastical Creatures! 9-11 August 2017

Just had an amazing 3 days doing art and creative writing with the theme of Fantastical Creatures. Here is a snapshot of the lovely work below. Our 3 stages were:

  1. Create our fantastical creatures and their home, the “Wonder Garden” (inspired by Jenny Broom)
  2. Write simile poems for our creatures 
  3. Create word maps for the garden and write stories