TEACHING IDEAS

My books are probably best suited to students from Years 4 up to and including Years 7/8 – depending on ability. Below are a few suggestions for how you might use them in the classroom.

FROST HOLLOW HALL

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ACTIVITIES:

  1. Draw a map of all the places Tilly visits during the novel.
  2. Imagine Tilly writes back to Eliza at the end of the story- what would she say?
  3. What happens when Tilly returns the ring to Lady Barrington? Write this next chapter.
  4. Imagine Kit Barrington or Ada Jessop also kept a diary- write an entry on a day before Ada gets ill.
  5. If Will Potter also had dreams of Tilly falling through the ice, how would his experience be different? Write a ‘Dreaming’ chapter from Will’s point of view.

RESEARCH:

  1. Find out which winters in the last 100 years were really cold in the UK. Include facts such as temperatures and snow depths in your research.
  2. How long did it take to sail to America? How much was a ticket? Who went + why? What were conditions like on board a ship?
  3. There are lots of odd Victorian customs in ‘Frost Hollow Hall’. Find five more of your own.
  4. What was an ice house? How did they work? Find pictures if you can.
  5. What was it like to be ‘in service’ as Tilly is? See what you can find out about working in a big house like Frost Hollow Hall. Who was in charge? What was an average day like? What sort of work would a housemaid have to do?

 

OTHER WINTRY STORIES:

  1. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
  3. Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson
  4. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aitken
  5. The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

 

THE GIRL WHO WALKED ON AIR

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ACTIVITIES:

  1. Design new costumes for the members of Chipchase’s Travelling Circus.
  2. Design a programme for Chipchase’s or Wellbeloved’s circuses. Think about how different the two circuses will be.
  3. Imagine Louie writes back to her mother as soon as she reads her letter. At this point in the story, what would she be feeling?
  4. Describe the night Jasper finds Louie on his doorstep from his point of view.
  5. Come up with another circus act for Louie and Pip to try performing. What happens? Are they any good?

 

RESEARCH:

  1. Find out what you can about the acts that were popular in Victorian circuses, including animals.
  2. Research Charles Blondin, the famous tightrope walker. What amazing feats did he perform?
  3. What other famous Victorian daredevils were there? Houdini is an interesting one…
  4. Find out about the history of Niagara Falls- who was the last person to cross it on a tightrope? Why do people no longer do it?
  5. What amazing thing did Frenchman Philippe Petit do in 1974? Find out his story- its incredible!

 

OTHER ADVENTURE STORIES:

  1. Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones
  2. Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
  3. The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone
  4. The Dangerous Discoveries of Gully Potchard by Julia Lee
  5. The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine.

 

IN DARKLING WOOD

In Darkling Wood

ACTIVITIES:

  1. Imagine Alfred Waterhouse’s last letter home to his family-what would he tell them about life in the army? What bits might he gloss over? What message might he have for Florence?
  2. Design your own ‘Save Darkling Wood’ posters to go with the badges Ella makes. What other ideas do you have for a protest campaign?
  3. Suppose Theo’s donor family get in touch with Alice’s mum. How might they do this- email, phone call, letter, face to face? What might they have to say? What might we find out about the donor? How does this make Alice and her family feel? You could discuss this or write about it.
  4. Describe the time Jacob sees fairies in the wood.
  5. When Alice and Theo go back to Darkling Cottage for the summer holidays- as is suggested at the end- what happens? Does Alice see Max? Does she meet Flo again? Are there more encounters with fairies?

 

RESEARCH:

  1. Find out about the Cottingley Fairies pictures, on which the story is based.
  2. Who was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? What was he most famous for and why did he believe in fairies?
  3. Find five myths/superstitions about fairies.
  4. When was the end of WW1 announced? How did people celebrate? In the years that followed what new difficulties did people face?
  5. Do some research into organ donation. What is it? How does it work? Why are transplants important? Think about new types of transplants too- face transplants, animal organs, body parts grown in laboratories etc.

 

OTHER RELEVANT BOOKS:

  1. Five Children On the Western Front by Kate Saunders
  2. Pig Heart Boy by Malorie Blackman
  3. The Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison
  4. Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
  5. The Windville Sprites by Mackenzie Crook

 

THE SNOW SISTER

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ACTIVITIES

  1. Design your own snow person- the only rule is that they must wear/ be made of 5 things that give a clue to your personality and interests.
  2. If you only had £5, what festive dish would you make for your family? What ingredients would you need and how would you make it?
  3. Design an advent calendar for your class: think about what will be behind each door + who will open them.
  4. In the story, Pearl gets stuck in a snowstorm and can’t make it home. Imagine you are stuck in snow and can’t get home for Christmas. What’s your mode of transport? Who are you with? How do you celebrate Christmas instead?
  5. Write an account of a typical Christmas Eve or Christmas day at your house- think about the bits you like best and the bits you like least.

 

RESEARCH

  1. Find out about Christmas trees as a festive tradition. Who made them popular in our country? When was this? What did early Christmas Trees look like? How do they compare to yours?
  2. Write a menu for a typical Victorian Christmas Dinner- what would they eat? what would they drink? How many courses would there be?
  3. Where does the tradition of building snow men come from? See if you can find examples from different cultures.
  4. Find 5 facts about the writer Charles Dickens, who made snowy Christmas stories  popular in the nineteenth century.
  5. Find out 5 more Christmas traditions that the Victorians ‘invented’ and we still follow today.

 

OTHER CHRISTMASSY STORIES

  1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  2. Lucy’s Secret Reindeer and Lucy’s Secret Snowglobe – both by Anne Booth
  3. A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig
  4. Lily And the Christmas Wish by Keris Stainton
  5. The Christmas Cracker by Jacqueline Wilson

 

STRANGE STAR

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ACTIVITIES

  1. Design your own gothic monster using body parts from different (famous?) people. Remember your monster should have: superhuman strength, be able to run fast, be intelligent, capable of being cruel and aggressive, very tall, frightening to look at, so choose body parts from people who’ll fit these criteria.
  2. Find two photos- one  of a creepy castle, one of a wild landscape (mountains, woods, snow for example). You now need to draw a map to get us through the wild landscape to the creepy castle. Remember to make the journey as challenging as possible- lots of rivers, wolves, narrow mountain passes etc- and to give places eerie names.
  3. Try reading or writing for 20 mins in a dark room using only candlelight. How does it feel? Does it effect what you read or write?
  4. If you could bring an extinct animal/famous person back to life, what/who would it be? How would you do it? Plan the experiment in note form or write an account of it.
  5. At the end of Strange Star Lizzie lives in the city, whereas Mercy remains in Sweepfield. Write a letter from either Mercy or Lizzie detailing what life is like for them now their best friend lives hundreds of miles away.

 

RESEARCH

  1. Read ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley- the original if you can, or a few chapters of it. Or try a shorter, modern version- there are also some great playscript versions out there.
  2. Find out ten facts about Mary Shelley’s life.
  3. What was it like to be a person of colour at the beginning of the C19th? Find pictures and accounts of newly freed slaves like Felix.
  4. Find facts and statistics about the Year Without Summer. What caused it? How did it alter the weather? What impact did it have on people’s lives?
  5. Research the effect of lightning strikes on buildings, trees, people. How common are they? Why does it happen? What happens when lightning hits something? What measures can we take to protect ourselves in a storm?

 

OTHER GOTHIC STORIES

  1. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aitken
  2. The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge
  3. The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
  4. My Swordhand Is Singing by Marcus Sedgewick
  5. The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Lockwood
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