Fiction

English Year 4 Autumn Fantasy

How to Train Your Dragon

Read the hilarious How to Train Your Dragon, exploring plot, character, setting & style. Study pronouns, dialogue punctuation and adverbials. Write a new chapter.

The planning and resource documents for each session in this English block are free to all users.

Core
Unit 1 Core: Introduction to Cressida Cowell’s setting, style and characters
(suggested as 4 days)

You Will Need

Text
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Optional texts
Incomplete Book of Dragons by Cressida Cowell
Tell Me a Dragon by Jackie Morris (Preparation Task)

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Introduce How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell. Discuss the fantasy Viking setting and the unusual inclusion of images within the fiction (maps, hand-drawn illustrations by the main character). Read Chapter 1.
Activity
Children discuss their first impressions of the chapter as a story opening using ‘Discussion Prompt’ (see resources).

Day 2 Teaching
Read the opening pages of Chapter 2. Children draw a character sketch of one or two characters as they listen. Discuss characterisation as a feature of the books in addition to the layers of meaning added by the extra texts within the story.
Activity
In groups, children read and discuss texts outside the fiction: maps, fact files, illustrations and a flier. Discussion is supported by ‘Building the world of How to Train Your Dragon’ (see resources).

Day 3 Teaching
Discuss the fact that Cowell uses a wide vocabulary in the book, often introducing words that may be unfamiliar to the class. Write ‘exile’, ‘hooligan’ and ‘perilous’ on a f/c and discuss ways to tackle unfamiliar words (context, etymology, dictionary).
Activity
Children read part of Chapter 3 in pairs/threes, identifying and defining unfamiliar words as they are encountered. See resources for optional recording sheet.
EASY: Adult led: Allocate words for children to define (see resources). Then read as a guided group, consulting the list when a word arises.

Day 4 Teaching
Discuss predictions about Hiccup’s dragon before reading the first four pages of Chapter 4. Discuss the irony of ‘My day just gets better and better’. Discuss Cowell’s characterisation, thinking about how she creates vivid and memorable characters.
Activity
In pairs, children read p.62-65 of Chapter 4. They then create a character profile of Snotlout (see resources), ensuring that they use examples from the text to support their ideas. Show how we write these in inverted commas to show we are quoting from a text.

SPAG
Unit 2 SPAG: Pronouns; descriptive writing
(suggested as 2 days)

You Will Need

Text
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Presentations
Grammar PowerPoint: Pronouns

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Share slides 1-6 of the Power Point: Pronouns (see resources). Discuss how pronouns create cohesion. Read the first page of Chapter 5, How to Train Your Dragon, noting that Cowell uses pronouns to avoid repetition.
Activity
Children read and improve a version of the same page (p.75) now without pronouns (see resources). They replace nouns and noun phrases with suitable pronouns.

Day 2 Teaching
Revise slides 1-6 of Power Point: Pronouns (see resources). Read the opening pages of Chapter 7, which introduce Toothless the dragon as troublesome. Children discuss ideas for the nuisance he could cause and imagine what a wanted poster might be like if he went ‘on the run’.
Activity
Children create wanted posters, using descriptive and cohesive language (pronouns) in order to describe Toothless and his imagined exploits (see resources for a poster frame).

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Pronouns PowerPoint
Children learn how pronouns can be used to stand in the place of nouns and noun phrases. They help to avoid repetition. Children explore the impact of pronouns.

SPAG
Unit 3 SPAG: Punctuating direct speech; roleplay
(suggested as 3 days)

You Will Need

Text
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Presentations
Grammar PowerPoint: Punctuating Direct Speech

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Share slides 1-5 of the Power Point: Punctuating Direct Speech (see resources), discussing dialogue writing conventions. Display slides 6-7, exploring the type of riddles Hiccup might have used to motivate Toothless and punctuating as dialogue.
Activity
MOST: Children use riddle exchanges which are already sorted into speech bubbles (see resources). They add reporting clauses and lay out as punctuated dialogue.
HARDER: Children use given riddles (see resources) which they break up and add interjections to create an extended punctuated exchange.

Day 2 Teaching
Read opening of Chapter 10, to ‘…sick with nerves.’, p.119. Display Thors’day Thursday Celebration flier (see resources) and discuss. Which event might be most fun to watch or read about? Children discuss ideas with a partner.
Activity
In groups, children develop one of the ideas a scene using role play, including dialogue. They then make notes to remind them of the narrative for use on Day 3.

Day 3 Teaching
Use slides 1-6 of the Power Point: Punctuating Direct Speech (see resources), to revise dialogue punctuation. Discuss Day 2’s role plays and model how to develop these ideas into short narratives, including punctuated dialogue.
Activity
Individually, children write narratives, based on their role play. They include direct speech, punctuating as they have been shown.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Punctuating Direct Speech PowerPoint
Children revise what they know about punctuating direct speech and extend knowledge further, including punctuation inside inverted commas and positioning at the end of direct speech.

Comprehension
Unit 4 Comprehension: Text analysis; plot-mapping; writing in response to reading
(suggested as 3 days)

You Will Need

Text
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Explain that today, children will be reading text extracts which follow on from Thor’sday Thursday, and thinking carefully about the characters, plot and how Cowell uses language for impact. Display ‘Questions to Talk About’ (see resources). Discuss each question and model how you would like children to answer.
Activity
Children read extracts and answer questions. See resources for differentiated questions (Readings A-C) which can be worked through in order or allocated according to ability.

Day 2 Teaching
Read on from where Day 1’s comprehension left off (end of p.147 to p.151). Discuss the typical pattern of stories: introduction, build-up, climax/problem, resolution and how, in a chapter book, this can happen within a chapter. Map out the chapter so far together (see resources for example).
Activity
Children read the rest of the chapter and create a story map.
EASIER: Provide children with partial map (see resources) to complete.
EASY: Support reading, in an adult-led group.

Day 3 Teaching
Read the opening pages of Chapter 13, to p.175. Discuss how the novices’ opinions differ as to whether Hiccup should be their leader. What would Snotlout and Fishlegs say? How can we ‘sound’ like them in the language we use? Discuss and record ideas.
Activity
Children take on the role of Snotlout or Fishlegs in partners, rehearsing verbal arguments why they should/should not follow Hiccup. After developing ideas, children write in role, giving reasons for their views and aiming to sound like their character.

SPAG
Unit 5 SPAG: Fronted adverbials; building tension
(suggested as 2 days)

You Will Need

Text
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Presentations
Grammar PowerPoint: Adverbials

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read or recap Chapter 14, to p.186 of How to Train Your Dragon. Discuss how tension can be built by the way a sentence is structured. Use Power Point: Adverbials to explore adverbials, including fronted adverbials and their punctuation.
Activity
Introduce the ‘Operation Sneeze Attack’ resource (see resources). Children read and physically order the main clauses, and add adverbials from a selection. They experiment with position and read aloud to assess impact. Finally, children record their sentences with correct punctuation.

Day 2 Teaching
Use Power Point: Adverbials slides 1-9 (see resources) to revise adverbials and explain how this can be applied in suspenseful writing (slides 1-13). Model writing the opening of a battle scene between the two Sea Dragons, including adverbials.
Activity
Children write an action-packed account of a battle between the two dragons, discussing ideas with a partner before writing a short but powerful piece of writing, extending and building tension through the use of adverbials.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Adverbials PowerPoint
Children learn how adverbials modify verbs, how they can be positioned and the punctuation of fronted adverbials. They explore their impact on creating a scene and building tension.

Composition
Unit 6 Composition: Extended writing: a new chapter for How to Train Your Dragon
(suggested as 5 days)

You Will Need

Text
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Discuss How to Train Your Dragon. Have children enjoyed the story so far? Is there anything missing or something they would like to have seen? We could write a new chapter with a new character. Display ‘Story Ideas’ (see resources) and discuss some ideas.
Activity
Children discuss and plan their new story chapter using a story map, or any planning method you prefer. There is an optional blank story map available in resources (see resources).

Day 2 Teaching
Read the first page of How to Train Your Dragon, p.16. How does this function as a story opening/introduction? Recap dialogue punctuation and include in success criteria for writing an opening.
Activity
Referring to the shared criteria and story plans from Day 1, children write the opening to their story. They should include one or two pieces of revealing dialogue.

Day 3 Teaching
Read pp.31-33 of How to Train Your Dragon. How does this function as a story build-up? Discuss what tension means when talking about plot and how writers create tension. Recap fronted adverbials and include in success criteria for writing a build-up.
Activity
Referring to the shared criteria and story plans from Day 1, children write the build-up to their story. They should include some fronted adverbials for tension building and detail.

Day 4 Teaching
Read pp. 37-43 of How to Train Your Dragon. How does this function as a story climax/problem? Children review their story plans from Day 1 and then look at their writing so far. Discuss ideas for exciting, vivid writing and include today’s success criteria.
Activity
Referring to the shared criteria and story plans from Day 1, children write the climax/problem to their story. They should include powerful verbs and adjectives. They might include one or two pieces of exciting dialogue.

Day 5 Teaching
Ask children what should happen at the end of a story. Record ideas as brief success criteria. Explain that once children have completed their writing, they should read them through and make improvements. Display or distribute an editing list.
Activity
Referring to the shared criteria and story plans from Day 1, children write the ending to their story. They read and improve their writing, individually at first and then with an editing partner. Encourage reading aloud to help with assessing writing for impact and accuracy.