Once upon an ordinary school day

Once upon an ordinary a day an ordinary teacher was looking for an ordinary book to read with her ordinary children during their ordinary guided reading lesson, when..she stumbled across a quite extraordinary book indeed: Once Upon an Ordinary School Day by Colin McNaughton and Satoshi Kitamura.

The ordinary teacher sat down in her ordinary chair, put on her ordinary glasses and started to read the book. She liked it. In fact she loved it and she realised that it would make a perfect text for guided reading with Y2 children.

The first thing that the ordinary teacher did was to make a word cloud using the text from the book. As she expected the largest word was ordinary; and school was quite large too. She knew that this word cloud would make a really extraordinary pre-reading activity for her children and that it would allow them to make predictions about the text that they were going to explore.

The next thing that the ordinary teacher did was to find a way of turning her ordinary children into detectives. Like every good teacher she delved into her ‘bag of magic’, rummaged around for a while and pulled out her very ordinary looking ball of elastic bands. She peeled off elastic bands and wrapped them around her copies of Once Upon an Ordinary Boy so that the children would be unable to open them past the phrase,

Then, something quite out of the ordinary happened…”.

Well, that should get them thinking about texts they’ve read before and the clues that the author and artist have left,’ thought the ordinary teacher, ‘I think their answers will be quite extra-ordinary.’

The ordinary teacher was on a roll. Not so much of a roll that she didn’t need to pause for a restorative cup of tea and a custard-cream. This tea-break made her realise that she worked far too hard. She’d read a blog post by Primary English that said children should work harder than the teacher in guided reading, so she decided that the children needed to hot-seat the ordinary school boy and ask him about his life. She did just as those kind ladies at Primary English suggested and made some question stems based on Blooms Taxonomy.


By now the ordinary teacher was a heady mix of excited and tired. She really did wonder if the secretary of state for education would ever understand the pressures of planning lessons for 30 very ordinary children working at several very ordinary national curriculum levels. She pushed that thought to a side and savoured the excitement that was rising with each activity that she planned. ‘Yes,’ she thought, ‘I need the children to be able to recall the main parts of this story, to tell them in their own words and then be able to rewrite it  with a variety of sentence types, different openers and effective conjunctions.’ So she fired up her trusty laptop, dusted off her scanner and hastily tracked down sheets of A4 paper to stuff into her printer. She was ready to make sequencing cards using illustrations from the text.

The ordinary teacher was exhausted. She had though, the most extra-ordinary set of teaching resources imaginable and she knew that her guided reading lessons were going to be extra-ordinary too. Once again she rummaged in her ‘bag of magic’, she pulled out a lemon, a tall glass, ice-cubes and two bottles: one of tonic and one of gin. ‘That,’ she said, as she slipped back into her very ordinary but comfy armchair, ‘ has been quite an extra-ordinary day.’

Our pack of teaching resources for Once Upon an Ordinary School Day can be downloaded from our resources area.

 Rachel Clarke – Director, Primary English Education Consultancy Limited.




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