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By Roger Smitheducation writer and former headteacher

Teachers’ Notes by Mim BarnesLiteracy subject leader, Long Stratton

This interactive resource gives the same information about the festivals of six world religions three times, but groups it differently each time to help children understand that there are different ways of organising factual information.

It will encourage children to focus on different aspects of one subject, and to see how research can be directed from several angles. Before you begin using the resource, collect a range of books and websites about religious festivals.


Shared teaching and learning

Before reading

  • Ask the children to think about information texts they have used recently. (eg, a telephone directory, television schedule, magazine or website.) Work in talk partners to explain how they used the resource, and how it was organised to make it easy to use. Share feedback.
  • Discuss what we mean by ‘organisation’ with reference to information texts. Talk about contents pages and indexes, and establish how alphabetical ordering and subject grouping enables us to find specific words and facts quickly.
  • Choose a well-known religious festival in the context of your class. Ask children to jot down as many facts as they can about the festival before collating all the information. Taking different facts, work backwards from the fact to a question that it would answer – eg, When does the festival take place? To which religion does it belong?
  • Generalise from the specific example to show that someone may want to know about festivals from one of a number of different starting points. Generate some more general questions about religious festivals and write them up. (Refer back to these later.)

Shared reading

  • Look at the resource’s title screen and introduction. Consider how this, too, has organisational features – an introductory paragraph, bullet points, active buttons – that help the reader navigate quickly.
  • Begin to read through Text A. Notice how the main headings and subheadings work to group the information. Children will notice that the religions are grouped alphabetically. Ask them to consider whether the festivals within each religion are ordered in any way.
  • As you read the text, collect technical words generic to the topic of religion – meditate, monastery, celebrate, enlightenment, temple and so on. Use contextual clues, syntax and word structure to establish meaning. Make a separate list of words specific to a religion, such as the names of holy places, texts, sacred objects and people.

More resources

Kids Around the World Celebrate!: The Best Feasts and Festivals from Many Lands Lynda Jones (Jossey Bass, 978 04713 45275). Festivals Around the World M Doney (Franklin Watts Discover Other Cultures series, 978 07496 45458). A Year of Religious Festivals series (Wayland, various ISBNs). Includes _My Buddhist Year, My Christian Year, My Hindu Year, My Jewish Year, My Muslim Year_ and My Sikh Year.

  • Notice any underlying structure in the organisation of each entry. Ask children to describe the patterns in paragraph content, discussing why information is presented in the same order in this way.
  • Look at Texts B and C. Establish the criteria used to organise the same information in each case.
  • Discuss the kinds of questions that could be asked about festivals, considering which of the three texts would be best suited to answering them.
  • Look at the six character descriptions and model how to use the description to choose one of the three texts.

Group activities

  • Working individually or in groups, match each character with the most appropriate text for their research, and complete the recommendation forms.
  • Discuss further ways of grouping the festival information, perhaps by looking at common elements or themes, such as food or light.
  • Challenge children to pose specific questions for other groups. Compare the time it takes to find the answer using different texts.
  • Study a range of other books about festivals and discuss what criteria have been chosen to organise them.

Ideas for writing

  • Use the activity sheet below to study the texts more deeply, choosing the most appropriate version to help answer each question.
  • Use the structure of each festival entry to create further entries giving similar information on additional festivals.
  • Collect information on one aspect of festivals – food, location, birthdays – and write a report, comparing this aspect in different festivals.

Literacy Framework

See the Using this issue chart here to identify the Learning Objectives covered by these activities, to track progression from Year 2 through to Year 5, and to identify links with Year 3 and 4 Literacy Planning Units.


  • Share the recommendation forms and discuss any differences of opinion.
  • Overall, which text was most useful? Why? Consider why alphabetical order is so frequently used as a way of organising information.