Hansel and Gretel 1

Hansel & Gretal

This is a hall display rather than a classroom one and was done by yr5 last year as part of their work for the Telling into Writing project. I think it’s real strength is that it is so clearly the children’s own work.

Telling into Writing project.

Six quite varied primary schools in a northern English city joined together to form a Network Learning Community with a focus on improving literacy. This project formed one strand of several that were worked on over a 3 year period.

Although standards varied across the schools there was a shared perception that many of the children were reluctant to write fiction and when they did their work lacked structure. They seemed to find it hard to grasp the idea of plot and sometimes even sequencing. They were using very limited language and little or no character development. In some of the schools it was clear that children had little or no pre-school experience of traditional tales and nursery rhymes.

An effective strategy had been employed experimentally in Year 1 in one of the schools. The Year 1 children were orally taught a story with gestures and visual prompts.In conjunction with an LEA literacy advisor, a small group of low achieving Year 6 children worked with the younger group to support their learning. The children then followed a two week block of literacy work which eventually led to writing their own versions of the story. This approach was based on the work of Pye Corbett and became known as ‘Telling into Writing’.

How It Works
First the children are taught a story or poem, with a range of actions & visual cues. Then when they know the story off by heart, teachers use it as a starting point for a two week block of work. Each school has produced a range of resources for teachers of a year group to use in a two week block in the Summer term. Each of these units of work links to the targets for that term.
I was focussing on the story of Handsel & Gretel for Yr5 The story is fairly simple to learn but the work of the two week block is more complex with the children having to tell the story from another point of view.
(First in letters to and from the characters, then in a magazine interview format, before finally moving on to a piece of extended writing.) I have prepared a pack of resources to be used to support this, including web sites.
My current favourites are:
SurLaLune and
Eurotales This is the second year I have been involved in using this pack. This year’s children also worked together on illustrations for the story in their art topic on fabric collage for 3 weeks before the start of the work.

One of the most impressive aspects of the work this year was the hotseating.

One of the girls was chosen to dress up and be Gretal and she was stunning. She showed a level of sophistication and subtlety in her answers to her classmates’ questions far beyond anything we’d thought possible. She gave us a Gretal with a real dark side, a hidden personality, who knew that her father and brother were essentially too weak to cope with her as the killer of the witch. Her questioners totally suspended their disbelief and accepted that she really was Gretal, questions grew in their depth and emotional range and it really was quite magical. It was hard to remember that this child was only nine years old and made me realise that we often seriously underestimate our charges based on their written work
See the collage and slideshow that they made here The story of Hansel and Gretal:
(Art teacher K. Costley, illustrations by Year 5T Ridge Community Primary School, Lancaster, UK. )

Leave me a comment here if you want the free resource pack.


About Linda Hartley

Hi, I enjoy helping teachers to make their classrooms into interesting visual learning environments. I write most of this site and I also run the Classroom Displays online course which you can find out more about in the sidebar.

One thought on “Hansel and Gretel

  • Aisha Lorgat

    hi, I’d be interested to see which writing opportunities you used for your sequence of lessons.thanks

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