compiled by Kay Hiatt
These notes to accompany The Fire Children provide suggestions for
classroom activities based on or linked to the book's text and illustrations
and highlight points for discussion. This is an enjoyable and beautifully illustrated
book which can be used to support the requirement to read stories from other
Teaching Objectives: Reading Comprehension
To apply their word skills
To make sense of what they read
To predict story endings
To discuss story settings
To identify and describe characters
To prepare and re-tell stories individually
To use story settings from own readings
To write character profiles
Sentence Level Work
To identify speech marks in reading, understand their purpose, use the terms
A globe; a large piece of paper with the words 'The Setting' written at the
top; Photocopy on to card Nyame's head from the 8th spread and the
Spirit People from the 9th spread. Fix each one on to a stick.
Whole Class Shared Reading
Read the title and subtitle.
Show the globe and point out West Africa
Say that a folk tale is a story that people know off by heart - before
writing was invented, people passed on stories like this one by just telling
them to their friends and families.
Tell them that Eric Maddern wrote the story down, and that Frané Lessac is
Ask why Eric Madderns has written this folk tale down and what the title might
Open this out, reminding the children
that this folk tale is set in West Africa.
Ask them to describe the setting
- write their descriptions on the chart as you work your way through the
Ask what where this scene is set. Is it inside or outside the cave?
First Double Page Spread
Give the pupils time to enjoy the wonderful illustration.
Read the text slowly, giving pupils time to digest the information
Ask if they have already noticed Nyame looking down at Earth (Title Page)
Give pupils time to look at Nyame's face, and to notice the two spirit
people looking out through his mouth.
Read the text and ask them to predict what will happen to the spirit people
as he sneezes.
Cover up the words 'down, down, down' on separate pieces of paper,
and ask the class to work out the words from the grammar of the sentence. Ask
if they think the layout of the words is appropriate.
Draw attention to the use of adjectives to help the description of the setting - tall,
hanging, dark, splashing, brilliant, falling.
Write these words down, and when you start the next session show them again
and ask if they can remember what these words were describing.
Read the text without saying which character is which.
Challenge the pupils to work it out for themselves through the use of the
pronouns 'she' and 'he'.
Ask them the correct name for the punctuation marks placed around the spoken
Read the text, and ask the pupils to think of another story where a lady makes
an edible boy!
Ask if they have made anything in clay themselves, and had it fired.
Ask them to predict what will happen to these 'clay' children
Cover up the whole text apart from the first two sentences. Read these in
a dramatic voice and get the pupils to work out what the Spirit People are
doing just before Nyame arrives.
In pairs, get them to discuss this, preferably a boy + girl pairing.
Choose several pairs to give an answer, then read the text to check.
Ask why the spirit people were so frightened by Nyame.
Cover up the replies of the Spirit People and see if the class can work out
the answers. Write the answers down, putting in the speech marks and talking
about their use as you do this.
Read the text, and then ask the pupils to role-play possible conversations
between the two characters after Nyame has gone.
Now ask the pupils to predict the next part of the story.
Read these pages, making links between the last double page spread and the
Explain that this folk tale is a way of explaining why the world is full of
people of different colours.
Writing Composition (Modelled, Shared and Independent)
followed by Plenary Session
Ask pupils in pairs to write the story as a play, giving different groups
different sections of the book.
The whole class can then perform the play to each other, using the stick puppets.
Give a group small copies of the book, and ask them to prepare a re-telling.
To help them with this, ask them to write down the order of events in a numbered
Write on the whiteboard the first sentence from the 4th spread
beginning 'They picked themselves up and...' Show pupils how
to substitute words to create a new sentence based on the original one, for
example, show the pupils a print of an oasis desert scene - 'They
picked themselves up and looked around at the tall palm trees and the spiky
plants, the blue pool and trickling water, the strolling camels.'
Now hand out some coloured photographs or prints of places, e.g. Antarctica,
mountains, beaches, etc
In pairs, ask the pupils to study their photograph/print really carefully
and come up with a sentence written in the same way. They must imagine that
each pair has just landed in this place, as the Spirit Children landed on Earth.
Ask pupils to prepare a description of each of the three characters on separate
At Plenary, pupils must guess which character the pupil is describing.
At Plenary Session, make sure that pupils describe their task, followed by
an example of what they actually did. Ask the other pupils to comment in some
way e.g. I liked the way you... Was this an easy task? What was difficult?
It would be useful if the children who are going to give a presentation at
the plenary, have time to practise this with a teaching assistant.