Jack and Beanstalk – T4W and continuous provision go hand in hand!

I love this time of year as it’s our Fairytale topic and that naughty boy Jack makes an appearance. We start the topic by using a book called The Great Fairy Tale Disaster by David Conway. In this book, the wolf from the 3 Little pigs tries out some other fairy tales for a quieter life. It’s a great hook for the topic as you get to look at lots of different stories. The children create the classic wanted poster and lots of hot-seating the characters. We then move onto the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. We follow the Talk 4 Writing approach by Pie Corbett, creating story maps, retelling the story with actions and eventually innovating the story. I have started a new area of the blog where you can find resources to help you. I’ve included some planning and activities you can take to adapt for your own school. Click here to go to my resources page.

 Enhancements and challenges – Where the real learning happens…

The girls setting up their learning activity.

The information above will be familiar to most Year 1 practitioners however where the real learning in this topic happens is when the children take control.  Last week I had two children come to me and ask if they could design their own learning activity for the class. I, of course, was delighted and asked them to write me a list of the resources they needed. That afternoon they produced a list and a prototype of the activity. It was to make a Gingerbread man puppet.


Making the beanstalk!

They decided on this as we had read the story the day before. What was especially exciting about this was both children are part of a  target group of children who are not quite meeting the Year 1 expectations in English. One of them also has English as an additional language. However there they were writing lists of equipment using phonics to sound out the words. Talking to their peers and explaining the activity in detail. They were the experts and you could see the pride on their faces as children flocked to take part. They even had a class list to check off who had had a go- more stealth reading practice!


Also during this Wednesday afternoon session, some more children approached me to make a giant beanstalk. Not the sort you see on Pinterest all glossy and printed but made by the children! They worked in teams to problem solve and choose the material they wanted to use. Again a child who has EAL wanted to make Jack to go on the stalk. She then asked if she could write speech bubbles for him. Then we had Jack’s mother made and the Giant all with speech. I was able to explain speech marks to the children and how they are used. They also supported each other in sounding out their words. All of this initiated by them. Obviously, I was available to make the most of the teachable moment but without space in the curriculum for free play and exploration, none of this deep memorable learning would have happened.

The class finding Jack.

Go on give it a go you will never look back! Under resources I have uploaded an example of the planning so you can see how it works in practice.


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