Fiction

English Year 4 Spring Stories that Raise Issues

Rainforest Stories

Using rainforest stories, explore the issues confronting indigenous peoples and the environment. Create own stories and learn to correctly use the perfect form and paragraphs.

Start with the core unit to introduce key texts. Then select from comprehension, SPAG and composition units.

Core
Unit 1 Core: Reading and discussing The Great Kapok Tree
(suggested as 4 days)

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Introduce the theme of rainforests, find out children’s current knowledge and watch a short introductory video. Use the map from the start of The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry to locate rainforests and to begin to learn about the structure of a rainforest.
Activity
Read the introduction of the book and draw an illustration that includes as much detail possible about the animals and plants mentioned in the text. Read the first half of the story and make predictions about what will happen next.

Day 2 Teaching
Read a non-fiction article about the Kapok Tree. Speculate about why Lynne Cherry chose to write a fiction book about the tree. Look at the voices of the animals and how their speech is described.
Activity
Practise reading and learn by heart the speech of one of the animals from the book. Create speech for a new animal and share this with others. Think about the arguments that the logging company might use to persuade the man to continue.

Day 3 Teaching
Focus in on one page of the book and analyse how Lynne Cherry makes the writing so descriptive. Identify adverbs, adverbials, adjectives and comparisons.
Activity
Read and improve sentences about the rainforest using some of these techniques. Compose a sentence as a class and use this as a dictation. Make more predictions about what the man will do next in the story.

Day 4 Teaching
Use a ‘conscience’ alley to think of arguments that might be put to the man to persuade him to cut down the tree or to leave it standing. Read the end of the book and Lynne Cherry’s letter to find out what he did.
Activity
Write a letter in role as the man to the logging company explaining why he should not cut down the Kapok tree. Try to use some of the descriptive language explored on Day 3.

SPAG
Unit 2 SPaG: Identifying and using paragraphs
(suggested as 2 days)

You Will Need

Essential Text
The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry

Grammar Presentation: Paragraphs

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read sentences from a report about rainforests. Sort these sentences into sections, making paragraphs. Use the presentation to teach about using paragraphs in non-fiction.
Activity
Use cut-up sentences from a report about Kapok Trees. Group these into sections and compare decisions with other groups. Make decisions about illustrations that could accompany each paragraph.

Day 2 Teaching
Read an extract from The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry. Talk about what makes this hard to read (it is not organised in paragraphs, just one block of text). Teach children the proof-reading mark for paragraphs and use this to split the story into paragraphs.
Activity
Work together to divide another extract from The Great Kapok Tree into paragraphs. Compare decisions made with other pairs of children. Talk together about the decisions involved in making paragraph divisions in fiction.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Grammar Presentation: Paragraphs
Revise how paragraphs are used including when to start a new paragraph and how to lay out writing to show different paragraphs.

Comprehension
Unit 3 Comprehension: Reading and discussing ‘The Shaman’s Apprentice’
(suggested as 4 days)

You Will Need

Essential Text
The Shaman’s Apprentice by Lynne Cherry

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Explore the Endpapers from The Shaman’s Apprentice by Lynne Cherry, playing a partner game to look closely at the plants. Use the front cover of the book to introduce the idea of a shaman and then read the first part of the book together.
Activity
Look carefully at the illustration of the village and write a hundred-word paragraph describing village life. Talk about whether children would like to live in Kwamala and their reasons why and why not.

Day 2 Teaching
Recap the first part of the story and read the rest of the book together. Explain the idea of ‘missionaries’. Speculate about Lynne Cherry’s reasons for writing this book and make an emotions graph to show the way that feelings change as the story progresses.
Activity
With a small group, practise reading one page of the book. Use Book-Talk starters to talk about the whole book and write answers in sentences. Perform a reading of the whole book, with each group reading their part in turn.

Day 3 Teaching
Look in detail at one page of the book, where the Shaman’s ritual is described. Notice the verbs, prepositional phrases and adverbials that have been used to make this writing descriptive.
Activity
Add adverbials to given clauses, making new whole sentences punctuated with a comma. Annotate another page from the book to show how the language is made descriptive. Read an article about Mark Plotkin, the co-author of the book.

Day 4 Teaching
Discuss the whole of the book and identify the key ‘turning-point’ in the story. Act out the scene when the ill man arrives in the village, improvising dialogue and action.
Activity
Assign and act-out further scenes in small groups. Present these as a whole class to make a performance of the story. Reflect on learning from The Shaman’s Apprentice and find out about the real-life job of ethnobiologist.

SPAG
Unit 4 SPaG: Identifying and using present perfect
(suggested as 3 days)

You Will Need

Essential Text
The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry

Grammar Presentation: Perfect Form

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read the verbs from the first page of The Great Kapok Tree. Discuss their meaning and think of synonyms. Read a version of the first page changed to present tense and talk together about the differences. Use the presentation to revise verbs and tenses.
Activity
Identify the verbs in a present tense version of an extract from The Great Kapok Tree. Find synonyms for these verbs and then write sentences using them in the past and the present tense.

Day 2 Teaching
Read examples of the present perfect form from The Great Kapok Tree and notice the use of a helper verb. Use the presentation to introduce the present perfect form. Talk together about what the visitors might have been doing before they came to the man.
Activity
Write sentences in the present perfect form that imagine what the visitors may have been doing before they came to see the man. Read these sentences with the text from the book and listen to the effect of the present perfect form.

Day 3 Teaching
Discuss the final image in The Great Kapok Tree. Use a list of verbs to talk about what has happened to the man before this point in the story.
Activity
Write sentences or complete a cloze activity using the present perfect form to talk about what has happened to the man through the story. Make a sentence together that could be used at the end of the book.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Grammar Presentation: Perfect Form
Revise and consolidate understanding of verbs and the present and past tense before learning about the present perfect form.

Composition
Unit 5 Composition: Writing fiction based on ‘The Shaman’s Apprentice’
(suggested as 4 days)

You Will Need

Essential Text
The Shaman’s Apprentice by Lynne Cherry

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Re-visit the story of The Shaman’s Apprentice. Explain that we shall be creating accounts by a grown-up Kamanya. Explore a structure for your stories based on the book. Role-play Kamanya and use hot-seat to explore his story.
Activity
Use a set of Story Prompts to make decisions and plan an innovated story. Share these together, with partners and with the whole class.

Day 2 Teaching
Complete a model Story Prompt plan together. Look at the first page of the book and choose words and phrases that might be useful. Model writing a first sentence and discuss its form and how it could be made more interesting.
Activity
Write the first part of the story, introducing Kamanya, explaining how he became a Shaman and writing about a time when he healed someone. Share this writing with a partner and make immediate improvements based on their suggestions.

Day 3 Teaching
Model reading through and editing the opening paragraph of your story. Model writing the second part of the story, when the visitors arrive in the village. Read the book to find useful words and phrases and link the use of paragraphs to the Story Prompts.
Activity
Continue to write stories using Story Prompts to aid with telling the story and with structuring the paragraphs. Highlight the descriptive language and memorable phrases that children are using as they write.

Day 4 Teaching
Address an issue with the children’s writing by preparing a few sentences to edit and correct together. Work with a partner to check for improvements and proof-read writing. Set your expectations for presentation and the plans you have to share the finished stories.
Activity
Complete stories. Read them through and share with a partner, acting on their suggestions about improvements. Present stories and share them with your chosen audience.