Fiction

English Year 6 Autumn Historical Fiction

War Horse and War Game

Read powerful WWI fiction: War Horse and War Game. Revise clauses and use formal and informal register, including subjunctive form. Write stories inspired by reading.

We recommend that you start with the core unit, the heart of this English block of study. This introduces key textual material and sets the tone for any further units you wish to teach. These can be selected on the basis of the needs of your class – look at the green icons to identify the unit’s particular focus: SPAG, Composition or Comprehension. Whichever units you choose, we suggest teaching them in order, as there is a built-in progression indicated by the numbering.

‘UNIT PLAN’ gives you a text version of all parts of the unit to use in your school planning documentation. ‘DOWNLOAD ALL FILES’ gives you that unit plan plus all of the associated documents.

Core
Unit 1 Core: Introduction to War Horse and historical fiction
(suggested as 4 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
-- Listen and respond appropriately.
-- Articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions.
-- Consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others.
-- Select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.

Word Reading
-- Apply their growing knowledge of root words, prefixes and suffixes (morphology and
etymology), both to read aloud and to understand the meaning of new words that they meet.

Comprehension
-- Participate in discussions about books, building on their own and others’ ideas and challenging views courteously.
-- Explain and discuss their understanding of what they have read.
-- Continue to read and discuss an increasingly wide range of fiction.
-- Read for a range of purposes.

 


-- Check that the book makes sense to them, discussing their understanding and exploring the meaning of words in context.
-- Summarise the main ideas drawn from more than one paragraph, identifying key details.
-- Predict what might happen from details stated and implied.
-- Draw inferences such as inferring characters’ feelings, thoughts and motives from their actions.

Transcription
None for this unit

Composition
-- Identify the purpose of the writing, selecting the appropriate form and using other similar writing as models for their own.
-- Note and develop initial ideas, drawing on reading.
-- Consider how authors have developed characters and settings in what pupils have read.

Grammar
None for this unit

You Will Need

Texts
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Optional texts
War Games by Michael Foreman

Websites
Horses in World War 1

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Introduce War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, putting it in its historical context. Consider the challenges of historical fiction and then read chapter 1. Start a list of characters and then introduce today’s activity.
Activity
Distribute copies of chapter 2 to children in small groups and display the Discussion Prompt. Children read the chapter together and use the prompt to explore and discuss different elements of the novel opening.

Day 2 Teaching
Recap the story so far before reading chapter 4. Work together to write a brief chapter summary, starting with a list of notes before writing as a paragraph. Model how to do this, including checking the text for details.
Activity
In pairs, children read chapter 5 together. They discuss the key events and characters, recording these as notes. Then children write a brief paragraph, summarising the chapter.

Day 3 Teaching
Read the opening pages of chapter 6 to p.50, discussing some of the more striking elements of the chapter so far. Explain that today, children will continue to read from where you have stopped and answer questions about it, referring to the text.
Activity
Children read an extract of chapter 6 and answer the provided questions.
Easier: Distribute a simplified version with the reading abridged and broken up by the same questions to support children who are overwhelmed by lots of text.

Day 4 Teaching
Recap the story so far. What do children think the enemy will be like? Read the opening of chapter 9 and discuss. Remind children that the story is told through Joey’s eyes. How might it be different with a different narrator?
Activity
After rereading Day 3’s extract, children pick out the key details which they will recount. They rewrite the event from a new point of view. Encourage children to use their imaginations to empathise and to add details which are not already in the text.

SPAG
Unit 2 SPAG: Revise single and multi-clause sentences
(suggested as 3 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
None for this unit

Word Reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
None for this unit

Transcription
None for this unit

Composition
-- Select appropriate grammar and vocabulary, understanding how such choices can change and enhance meaning.

 


-- Describe characters.

Grammar
-- Use and understand the grammatical terminology in Appendix 2 accurately and appropriately in discussing their writing and reading [clauses and conjunctions].
-- Use commas to clarify meaning or avoid ambiguity in writing.

You Will Need

Texts
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Presentations
Grammar PowerPoint: Clauses and Conjunctions

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read the opening of chapter 11 of War Horse. Share slides 1-8 Grammar PowerPoint: Clauses and Conjunctions. Discuss the impact of single and multi-clause sentences. Introduce today’s activity
Activity
Children work through sections A-D of Conjunctions and Clauses in pairs, discussing and exploring the structure of the clauses and use of conjunctions.

Day 2 Teaching
Share slides 1-9 Grammar PowerPoint. Read the opening of chapter 12, looking at the sentence structure. Share slides 10-11, exploring the impact of the different sentence types. Model writing a character description using extended sentences.
Activity
Children choose a character from War Horse and write a description of them. They should think about both physical characteristics and personality traits to include, and use a range of conjunctions and multi-clause sentences to develop their descriptions.

Day 3 Teaching
Display the opening of chapter 14. Discuss the use of conjunctions and subordinate clauses to build tension. Read chapter 14 to p.113. Introduce the activity: to write what happened next using single-clause sentences to portray fast-moving action.
Activity
Children continue the chapter, focusing on using single-clause sentences for fast action. They will only be writing a paragraph or two as the focus is on really selective use of sentences.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Clauses and Conjunctions PowerPoint
Revise how sentences can be made up of one clause or more and how these can be joined by co-ordinating and subordinating conjunctions. Consider the impact of difference sentence types when writing fiction.

SPAG
Unit 3 SPAG: Explore formal and informal language
(suggested as 3 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
-- Participate in role play and improvisations.
-- Select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.

Word Reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
None for this unit

Transcription
None for this unit

Composition
-- Propose changes to vocabulary, grammar and punctuation to enhance effects.

 


-- Select appropriate grammar and vocabulary, understanding how such choices can change and enhance meaning.

Grammar
-- Understand the difference between vocabulary typical of informal speech and vocabulary appropriate for formal speech and writing.
-- Understand the difference between structures typical of informal speech and structures appropriate for formal speech and writing.

You Will Need

Texts
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Presentations
Grammar PowerPoint: Formal and Informal Register

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Re-read the end of chapter 15 of War Horse asking children to listen carefully to the language used. Share slides 1-14 Grammar PowerPoint: Formal and Informal Register. Discuss the different techniques which create formal and informal register.
Activity
Children work through sections A-D of Formal & Informal Language in pairs, discussing, identifying and exploring elements which create different registers.

Day 2 Teaching
Read the opening pages of chapter 16, with children arranged as if in the trenches. Role play the scene as Joey criss-crosses no man’s land. Explore using formal and informal register, discussing the effect and impact of both.
Activity
In groups, children discuss and role play what the soldiers might say to beckon Joey to their side. They then record a short script, using authentic-sounding informal register for the dialogue.

Day 3 Teaching
Review slides 1-14 Grammar PowerPoint. Discuss what children thought of the soldiers’ method of resolving their disagreement. Read the opening of chapter 17 to p.137. Discuss contrasting reports (slides 15-16), linking audience to registers used.
Activity
Children continue the formal report from slide 15, using a formal register to recount Joey’s amazing appearance, in the role of an officer who witnessed the event.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Formal and Informal Register PowerPoint
Explore what is meant by formal and informal register and how it can be created through vocabulary choices, contractions, question tags, ellipsis and breaking grammar rules! Consider why novels use a range of registers for effect.

Comprehension
Unit 4 Comprehension: Explore versions of War Horse and dramatize a chapter
(suggested as 4 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
-- Listen and respond appropriately.
-- Articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions.
-- Consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others.
-- Select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.

Word Reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
-- Participate in discussions, building on their own and others’ ideas and challenging views courteously.
-- Draw inferences such as inferring characters’ feelings, thoughts and motives from their actions.
-- Explain and discuss their understanding of what they have read.
-- Identify how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning.
-- Identify and discuss themes and conventions in and across a wide range of writing.
-- Check that the book makes sense to them, discussing their understanding and exploring the meaning of words in context.
-- Predict what might happen from details stated and implied.

 


-- Summarise the main ideas drawn from more than one paragraph, identifying key details that support the main ideas.

Transcription
None for this unit

Composition
-- Identify the audience for and purpose of the writing, selecting the appropriate form and using other similar writing as models for their own.
-- Note and develop initial ideas, drawing on reading and research where necessary.
-- Select appropriate grammar and vocabulary, understanding how such choices can change and enhance meaning.
-- Describe settings, characters and atmosphere and integrate dialogue to convey character and advance the action.
-- Use further organisational and presentational devices to structure text and to guide the reader.

Grammar
-- Understand the difference between vocabulary typical of informal speech and vocabulary appropriate for formal speech and writing.
-- Understand the difference between structures typical of informal speech and structures appropriate for formal speech and writing.

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read chapter 19 of War Horse. Discuss events and make predictions for the ending. Discuss the idea of rounded characters. Can we predict what Morpurgo’s characters would say to argue that Joey belongs with them? Introduce the activity.
Activity
Distribute copies of the prompt resource to children working in partners or small groups. They choose two characters and prepare to debate their argument in role.

Day 2 Teaching
Discuss what children thought of the end of War Horse. Explain that it has been adapted into a film and a play. Discuss the advantages and challenges there might be to each type of storytelling. Watch film and play trailers and discuss.
Activity
In groups, children discuss what they think about the advantages and challenges of different methods of storytelling and record their ideas as notes. They then choose the version they like best, writing a paragraph to explain why.

Day 3 Teaching
Discuss how film adaptations can be quite different to the novel they are based on. Discuss and model how to read and dissect part of chapter 6 in preparation for writing a script. Produce a timeline and pick out useful dialogue and action.
Activity
Children work in pairs or small groups to read and prepare an extract of War Horse to convert into a script. They produce their own timeline and annotate the text to identify useful elements they will include in their scripts.

Day 4 Teaching
Revise play script conventions and model beginning a script version of the shared extract from last time. Discuss ways to make the spoken lines sound authentic, making links to informal language and register.
Activity
Children write scripts, using their notes, timeline and annotated text from last session. They use script layout conventions and aim to include some authentic sounding vocabulary and sentence structures.

SPAG
Unit 5 SPAG: Explore the subjunctive form
(suggested as 3 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
None for this unit

Word Reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
None for this unit

Transcription
None for this unit

Composition
-- Propose changes to vocabulary, grammar and punctuation to enhance effects.

 


-- Select appropriate grammar and vocabulary, understanding how such choices can change and enhance meaning.

Grammar
-- Understand the difference between structures typical of informal speech and structures appropriate for formal speech and writing, including subjunctive forms.

You Will Need

Texts
War Game by Michael Foreman

Optional text
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Presentations
Grammar PowerPoint: Subjunctive Form

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Introduce War Game by Michael Foreman, explaining that this WWI story has fictional elements but includes real historical events. Read pages 5-19, sharing the illustrations. Share slides 1-6 Grammar PowerPoint: Subjunctive Form.
Activity
Children work through sections A-C of Subjunctive Form for Wishes and Hypotheticals in pairs, identifying, inserting and using the subjunctive form.

Day 2 Teaching
Review slides 1-6 Grammar PowerPoint and then discuss slides 7-10 to explore the structure of requests and demands, using the subjunctive form. Ask children to frame new requests: record underlining that and highlighting verbs in base form.
Activity
Children work through sections A-C of Requests and Commands in pairs, identifying, inserting and using the subjunctive form.

Day 3 Teaching
Explain that the Christmas Truce of 1914 really happened. Can the children predict what will happen next in War Game? Read pp. 48-55. Introduce today’s activity: to write a letter in the subjunctive form, in the role of one of the footballers to the Prime Minister.
Activity
Children write letters in role as a member of Will’s troop, using formal register, including the subjunctive form. When children finish, ask them to re-read their writing, checking that they have used the subjunctive form.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Subjunctive Form PowerPoint
Explore the very formal register which is created by the subjunctive form. Identify and use the form for hypotheticals and demands, understanding how to apply the sentence structure and select the correct verb forms.

Composition
Unit 6 Composition: Write a story with a historical setting
(suggested as 4 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
None for this unit

Word Reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
-- Retrieve, record and present information from non-fiction.
-- Read for a range of purposes.
-- Check that the book makes sense to them, discussing their understanding and exploring the meaning of words in context.
-- Summarise the main ideas drawn from more than one paragraph, identifying key details.
-- Ask questions to improve their understanding.
-- Predict what might happen from details stated and implied.

Transcription
-- Use dictionaries to check the spelling of words.
-- Use the first three or four letters of a word to check spelling.
-- Use a thesaurus.

Composition
-- Identify audience for and purpose of writing, selecting the appropriate form and using other similar writing as models for own.
-- Note and develop initial ideas, drawing on reading and research where necessary.

 


-- Consider how authors have developed characters and settings in what pupils have read.
-- Select appropriate grammar and vocabulary, understanding how such choices can change and enhance meaning.
-- Assess the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing.
-- Propose changes to vocabulary, grammar and punctuation to enhance effects and clarify meaning.
-- Distinguish between the language of speech and writing and choosing the appropriate register.
-- Proof-read for spelling and punctuation errors.
-- In narratives, describe settings, characters and atmosphere and integrate dialogue to convey character and advance the action.

Grammar
-- Use and understand the grammatical terminology in English Appendix 2 accurately and appropriately in discussing their writing and reading.
-- Understand the difference between structures typical of informal speech and structures appropriate for formal speech and writing, including subjunctive forms.
-- Understand the difference between vocabulary typical of informal speech and vocabulary appropriate for formal speech and writing.

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Discuss what children have learnt about WWI from War Horse and/or War Game. Consider what sort of research writers of historical fiction must do, and come up with a list of research questions. Children will be researching the answers today.
Activity
Allocate research questions/areas to each pair or group. Children use a range of sources to research facts to present as tips for writers of WWI fiction. They make notes, ready to share at the end of the session.

Day 2 Teaching
Agree that War Horse and/or War Game create vivid worlds in which we can use our imaginations to create new stories, either with existing or new characters. Discuss some ideas, including some which include a greater number of female characters.
Activity
Children plan a story inspired by War Horse or War Game. They can use a planning format of their choice. Remind them to ensure that they have planned for a satisfying story with a beginning, middle and end.

Day 3 Teaching
Children review their plans. Check that they are ready to write and address any issues which might slow writing. Remind children to use classroom displays, resources, their notes and plans. Get writing!
Activity
Children use an extended writing session to write the majority of their stories. They aim to make their writing feel historically authentic and to include any grammar focuses.

Day 4 Teaching
Draw children’s attention to elements that worked well in Day 3’s writing and things to focus on today. Agree and list a checklist for editing and improving the historical stories, once they are finished.
Activity
Children complete their stories and then work to proofread and improve them. They then find a writing partner and work together to improve their writing further.

Easier: Support a focus group identified after reading Day 3’s writing.