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September: Picture this

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Use our new picture series to boost thinking and creative skills


Image © bond138/

Begin by showing the children the poster of the door. A particularly effective way to introduce the image is to display the poster full size on your interactive whiteboard as soon as the children enter the classroom without giving any initial explanation. The children will inevitably start talking among themselves about the meaning of the image. After a short time, invite the children’s initial thoughts. Encourage one-word responses – the first thing that pops into their heads – and make clear from the start that there are no right or wrong answers.

Use the questions and ideas below to help you explore the image further. You could start by posing the questions: What is a door? Why is it a door and not a window? If it didn’t have a handle, would it still be a door?

1. Who lives behind this door?

Tell the children to imagine that they have just knocked on this mysterious door. Who might come to answer? Ask for the children’s suggestions and encourage them to think of both fictional and real characters, for example, one of the seven dwarves, a magician or perhaps a vicar. Make a knocking sound with a suitable percussion instrument or by tapping your fist on a hard surface, then invite small groups of children to role play knocking on the door when they hear your audio cue. Ask other children to role play one of the characters ‘opening’ the door. Encourage them to think in character with their voice and gestures. The children ‘knocking’ on the door should think of a reason why they might want to speak to the owner of the mysterious house. Are they lost? Have they come for help?

2. What’s that rat-a-tat-tat?

As a whole class, thought shower words that could be used describe a noise at a door. These could include: bang, beat, thud, hammer, scrape, scratch, rustle, and so on. Point out that some of these words sound a bit like their meanings (onomatopoeia) and help the children to recognise words linked by alliteration. Using the class word bank, invite the children to work in groups to create a piece of performance poetry about what someone might hear on one or both sides of the mysterious door. You could use a writing frame to support children, encouraging them to fill in missing words. Allow time afterwards for the children to perform their poems, perhaps using percussion instruments to accompany the poems for extra effect.

3. Where does it go?

As well as thinking who might live on the other side of the door (see activity 1), ask the children to think what else might lie behind it? What kind of place might the door lead to – somewhere magical, spooky, peaceful? Do the children know any stories featuring a magical door (or entrance)? Using a selection of art materials, invite the children to either recreate the world behind the door or create their own door based on the world they think it leads to. For example, a furry door with hidden googly eyes might lead to a world of monsters, whereas a sparkly, star-covered entrance might lead to a magical world of pixies and wizards. Afterwards, the children’s artwork could be used to inspire their own storytelling.

4. Sizing it up

Get the children to look again at the image of the door and ask them: How big is the door? How do you know? The children might suggest that the door is ‘normal’ size, but can they tell from just looking at the picture? How do they know the door isn’t for giants or tiny people? If they could stand in front of the real door, could they guess how tall it was based on their own height? (‘I think that the door is approximately 200cm tall because I measure 100cm and I think the door measures two of me.’) What equipment/units would they use to measure the height of the door? The children could also investigate the shapes in the door image (square bricks, rectangular panels, round door knocker). Are there any right angles?