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Great Castles of the World

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By Kay Cliffordpart-time teacher, Ipswich

This leaflet provides information about a variety of castles worldwide, presenting facts about each castle, naming the country in which it can be found, the family who lived there and approximately when it was built. The castles are presented in alphabetical order and there is a fact summary chart on p4.


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

Before reading

  • Discuss with the children any castles they know of already. How did they find out about these castles? Have they visited them? Read about them? Looked on the internet?
  • Scan the leaflet together. Ask whether it is a fiction or non-fiction leaflet. Make links with other non-fiction texts recently read.
  • What do the children notice about the organisation of the leaflet and the order in which the castles are presented? (Alphabetically by castle name.)
  • Remind the children that non-fiction texts do not necessarily have to be read in sequence. Ask them to decide which castle they would like to read about first.
  • Before they start to read, discuss reading strategies. Pick a few words from the text that you think the children will find difficult to read and model how to work them out.

Previous learning

Children should be able to: use talk to clarify ideas; extend their vocabulary, exploring the meaning of new words; read some HF words and use phonic knowledge to attempt more complex words; know that information can be found in non-fiction texts to answer where, who, why, how questions; write for various purposes.

Reading the text

  • Ask each child in the group to find out about two or three castles in the leaflet. You could let them choose, or you could share out the castle names to ensure that all the castles are covered. If you are specifying which castles to read about, discuss where in the leaflet they might be, considering the alphabetical structure. As they read about their castles, ask the children to try to remember facts that they can share later with the rest of the group.
  • As they read, listen to individual children. Remind them of the strategies they could use when they are working out unfamiliar words.
  • When they have finished reading, ask the children to choose one of the castles they have read about and look at the table on the back page of the leaflet. Can they see how the information has been extracted from the paragraph they have read and put into the table?

Responding to the text

  • Ask about words the children found difficult to read or understand. How did they work them out?

Key learning outcomes:

  • To ask/answer questions, make relevant contributions, offer suggestions, take turns;
  • To recognise automatically HF words;
  • To apply phonic knowledge to reading/spelling of unfamiliar words that are not completely decodable;
  • To read more challenging texts using phonic knowledge/skills and recognition of HF words;
  • To read/spell phonically decodable two- and three-syllable words.

Further reading

See Inside Castles by Katie Daynes (Usborne Flap Book, 978 07460 64467). Innovative lift-the-flap, hardcover book for ages 3 to 8. The World of Castles by Philip Steele (Kingfisher, 978 07534 58349). Hot Topics: Castles by Peter Riley (Scholastic, 978 04399 45103). Eighty pages of exciting castle activities. 2009 Education Resource Award Finalist.

  • Ask them to share with the group information about one castle.
  • Talk about how the table is useful for extracting and recording a few facts about each castle. Would it be useful to have another column added to the table to help them summarise information about the castle they have read about? What heading would they give it?

Follow-up to guided reading

  • Allow the children time to read the rest of the leaflet to find out information about other castles.
  • Look at other books about castles, or find out about a particular castle using the internet – perhaps a castle near to your town.

Using the activity sheets

  • Use the activity sheet below to write a fact sheet about a castle. The pages can be used for a display, or put together to make a class book.
  • The SAT-style activity sheet below can be used to check the children’s understanding of what they have read, and their ability to find information from the text.