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A Real-life Hero

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By Kay Clifford— Early Years Leader and adult tutor

This poster describes the career of an Air Ambulance Pilot in East Anglia – a real-life hero. It contains a range of high frequency words and some multi-syllable words. Competent, confident Year 1 readers will be able to read this text, and less able Year 1 readers will enjoy sharing it with adult support.

A real-life hero

Shared learning and teaching

Before reading

  • Ask the children what their definition of a hero is. They may only think about superheroes, so encourage them to think of real-life heroes and ask them what makes that person a hero. Discuss the qualities of a real life hero – such as bravery, kindness, determination, generosity, setting a good example to others. Listen to each other’s opinions.
  • Ask the children to choose a real-life hero or heroine and discuss as a pair or small group why that person is a hero. They should then report back to the rest of the class, giving good reasons to support their argument.


Provide a topic box of other non-fiction texts relating to real-life heroes – eg, police, firefighters, paramedics, or famous people like Mary Seacole or Florence Nightingale.

Previous learning

Children should be able to: distinguish fiction and non-fiction texts and the different purposes for reading them; recognise automatically an increasing number of familiar HF words; apply phonic knowledge and skills as the prime approach to reading and spelling unfamiliar words that are not completely decodable.

Shared reading

  • Look at the poster together. Describe its features – photographs, bold print, captions, links to websites, heading, etc. What sort of text do they think this is?
  • Remind the children of strategies they have learned for reading, then read the text together, a paragraph at a time.
  • At the end of each paragraph ask the children to summarise what it was about. Use the words in bold to remind the children about the subject of each paragraph.
  • When you have completed the whole text, model how to find out specific information from it. Tell them to start with a question – for example, Who are the crew on board an air ambulance? Discuss where in the text they would find the information to answer that question. For example, point to the photograph of the air ambulance crew and the bold word crew. Read the relevant text together then decide if the information has fully answered the original question.

Key learning outcomes:

  • To interpret a text by reading aloud with pace/emphasis;
  • To read more challenging texts, decoding using phonic knowledge and automatic recognition of HF words;
  • To ask and answer questions about a text.

Further reading

Real or imaginary? On-screen resource 2 asks children to sort real-life heroes from fictional ones.

Interviews with a fireman and a midwife were among the four short films provided as examples of People who work at night. Subscribers can click here to download this fascinating resource.

People Who Help Us series, Rebecca Hunter (Cherrytree), includes: Firefighter, Police Officer, Doctor and Paramedic.

Tell Me About series, John Malam (Evans Brothers Ltd) includes: Florence Nightingale (978 02375 30648), Martin Luther-King (978 02375 28164), Mary Seacole (978 02375 28171).

Guided group and independent activities

  • Model turning some of the sentences from the text into questions. Give the questions to another group to answer.
  • Set up a small world scene in a large builder’s tray, or on a table top, of an imaginary air ambulance incident. Invite the children to report on the incident.
  • In the role-play area, create the air ambulance headquarters, where telephone messages of accidents are received and information relayed to the air ambulance crew. Allocate individuals to report the accident, write down information and draw maps of where to go, then work as a team to get the patient to hospital.
  • Using information the children already know, or finding information from non-fiction texts, create posters about real life heroes/heroines. Use the activity sheet below to scaffold the work. Some children may require two or three copies of the page, depending on how much information they want to write! The children could stick on pictures they have found or draw their own in the spaces provided.
  • Develop these ideas to create an information poster on screen, adding pictures and sounds if possible.
  • Download the text onto your interactive whiteboard and ask the children to highlight two-syllable, three-syllable and four-syllable words in different colours.


Share the posters made. Have the children made good use of headings, captions, bold text and pictures? Encourage the rest of the class to use the posters to answer questions.



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