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Amazing Alfie Ashton

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By Bev Long — Educational Consultant

This story provides plenty of scope for prediction and discussion, raising issues around themes of winning and losing, friendship and sportsmanship. The story is told using a repetitive structure, which will support less confident readers. Alliteration is used to help descibe the characters effectively.


Before reading

  • Read the title to the children. Ask them to explain what amazing means and to suggest how Alfie might be amazing.
  • Briefly discuss what kinds of events the children look forward to and those they don’t. Ask them to describe the feelings associated with these.
  • Ask them to look out for how Alfie is feeling at different times in the story.
  • Remind them to try to blend all the way through words, even long words. Model blending some longer words. Recap vowel patterns (or, ar, er ai, ee, oa) and some of the common endings to support this.
  • Recap other appropriate strategies – eg, reading on or using context.
  • Write out and read together the word Olympic.

Reading the text

  • Ask the children to read the first page only. Ensure they understand the word glum. Predict:
    • Why Alfie is glum.
    • Why he might need his toast, milk and some luck.
    • Make a note of the children’s answers to refer back to later.
  • Support the children with blending as they continue to read the rest of the leaflet independently.

Previous learning

It would be helpful if the children have some prior knowledge of the Olympic Games to give them a context for this story. Children with a working knowledge of HF words and common grapheme choices for long vowel phonemes should be able to read the text.

Responding to the text

  • Give each child some specific praise in relation to their successful word recognition skills.
  • Compare the actual events that take place in the story to the children’s original predictions.
  • In pairs, ask the children to describe quickly how Alfie felt at the beginning of the story, before the races, during the races and at the end of the story.

Using the activity sheets

Key learning outcomes:

To explore familiar themes and characters through improvisation and role play;

To recognise HF words and alternative ways of pronouncing graphemes;

To identify main events/characters and make predictions;

To give some reasons why things happen or characters change.

Further reading

This issue had the theme of Sport and also featured:

  • a recount text, Family Fun Day, which is available to download from our website;
  • two games – Sentence Teams and Punctuation Race;
  • Football Philosophy and other funny football poems – a group reading leaflet.
  • Use the emotions graph activity sheet below to record how Alfie’s emotions changed during the story. The children can either draw happy and glum Alfie faces themselves, or use the full-colour illustrated faces provided online for you to download at
  • Hot seat Alfie at different points of the story, using the completed emotions grid to help. Encourage the children to describe his feelings.
  • Use the question sheet activity sheet below to help develop and assess the children’s inferential skills. Model how to answer one or two questions if necessary.
  • Use these questions as starting points for more general discussions. Consider some of the following:
    • Not being good at things other people can do;
    • Doing things you don’t want to;
    • If it’s important to win or to take part;
    • How your friends make you feel;
    • Sportsmanship.

Follow-up to guided reading

  • Freeze-frame different parts of the story and thought-track characters at each point.
  • Read other sports stories and compare themes.