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Flying creatures

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By Judith Masoneducational consultant

This non-fiction text contains interesting facts about real and imaginary flying creatures. It also includes labelled pictures. Page 1 has a simple contents table and on page 4 there is an alphabetical index.

These teachers’ notes accompany the PRINT ONLY guided reading leaflet in Literacy Time PLUS Ages 5 to 7, March 2009.


Before reading

  • Ask the children if they know of any creatures that fly. Encourage them to think about those they have seen in their garden, at the park or in the zoo. Talk about the creatures’ size, shape, colour, and any other facts that they know about them. Which of the creatures did they particularly like or dislike? Why?
  • If you have read any stories with imaginary flying creatures in them, you could talk about these and make the distinction between real and imagined creatures.
  • Give each child in the group one of the leaflets to look at. Let them scan the pages to find any pictures of creatures they have seen and to name them, either from memory or by reading the labels. Ask the children which of the creatures they would most like to read about and why.

Previous learning

Children should be familiar with: extending their vocabulary, exploring the meaning/sounds of new words; using non-fiction texts to answer where, who, why, what questions; writing for different purposes.

Reading the text

  • Read aloud the introductory paragraph on page 1 of the leaflet, while the children follow the text. Ask them to find the Contents and decide which page they would like to read independently.
  • Remind them of recently learned phonemes that occur in the text, and practise blending these to read different words that you have provided for them. Find one or two examples in words from the text to read together. Practise splitting longer words, including those with suffixes, into syllables to support reading.
  • Ask the children to read the page of their choice and to find an interesting fact that they didn’t already know, to share with the rest of the group after reading.
  • Support each of the children as they read independently, encouraging them to blend phonemes and identify syllables. Some of the sentences are quite long and they may need some support to maintain the sense of these as they read.

Responding to the text

  • Comment on the way the children read and the strategies they used.
  • Ask each child to share the interesting fact they found out.
  • Look together at the alphabetical index. Model for the children how to find one of the creatures in the list on the relevant page. Repeat with the children joining in, then challenge them to find another creature.
  • Look together at pages 2 and 3 of the leaflet. Note how the information is spread across both pages. Read about one of the imaginary creatures. Ask how they can tell that they are imaginary. Can they find the real creature on these pages? (the komodo dragon)
  • Ask some simple questions about the creatures. Encourage them to explain where the answers are in the text. Eg:
    • Why are birds so light?
    • Give two ways in which moths differ from butterflies.
    • What two animals make up a griffin?
    • What type of creature was Pegasus?
    • What do dragons symbolise in China?

Key learning outcomes:

  • To use phonic knowledge to decode more challenging texts;
  • To know how to tackle unfamiliar words that are not completely decodable;
  • To recognise the main elements that shape different texts;
  • To draw together information from across a text, using simple signposts;
  • To explain organisational features;
  • To convey information in simple non-narrative forms.

Follow-up to guided reading

  • Allow the children to read the other pages in the leaflet and invite them to tell someone in the group another interesting fact.
  • Practise using the index. Provide cards printed with the creatures’ names and ask where information can be found about each one. Now arrange them into alphabetical order.
  • Make a simple index for an information book the children have made individually or as a group in guided writing.
  • Sort the creatures in the leaflet into ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’ sets, using the activity sheet below.
  • Make up questions about the creatures to ask someone else.