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Day 11 - Waterfalls (creative ideas for teaching English and maths at home)

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

For anyone new to this blog, the idea is simple - each day my boys (Joshua - 9 and Archie - 7) choose a stimulus that drives the learning. We hope that you enjoy the blog and can take some inspiration from what we love doing.


Waterfalls are one of nature's absolute triumphs. Today's sessions explore both their geographical stature and power, as well as their poetic brilliance.

For me, natural beauty will always be up there as the richest form of stimulus. It allows us to look closely, imagine deeply and wonder. Encouraging children to engage in their surroundings, as well as exploring the wider world should be at the heart of any great curriculum.



  • Word class (determiner, adjective, noun, verb, adverb, preposition)

  • Poetry

  • Exploring metaphor

  • Alliteration

Grammar game: Consequences

We began the session by playing this great grammar game, taken from Pie Corbett and Julia Strong's book: Jumpstart! Grammar.

  • Each player has a piece of paper.

  • As instructed, each player writes down a predetermined type of word (see below).

  • Each player then folds the paper to hide the word and passes the paper to the left.

  • By the end, you have created some new wacky sentences, but have also hd fun revisiting all of the different word classes and their jobs.

Here is a the pattern we used and some of the outcomes (please note that the definitions are for how the words are being used in the context of this activity).

  1. Determiner (specifies a noun): e.g. a, the, this, that, one, his, etc.

  2. Adjective (describes a noun): e.g. fluffy, brown, enormous, orange, etc.

  3. Noun (person, place or thing): e.g. giraffe, London, penguin, boy, etc.

  4. Verb (to be, to do, to have): e.g. jumped, ate, ran, skipped, etc.

  5. Adverb (describes when, where or how): e.g. quickly, slowly, cautiously, etc.

  6. Preposition (show relation in time or place): e.g. under, above, on top of, etc.

  7. Determiner (specifies a noun): e.g. a, the, this, that, one, his, etc.

  8. Adjective (describes a noun): e.g. fluffy, brown, enormous, orange, etc.

  9. Noun (person, place or thing): e.g. giraffe, London, penguin, boy, etc.

Here is a fantastic resource, supplied by 'A Talk4Writing fan':

9 card sentence game
Download PDF • 757KB

Some of our silly sentences:

  • That gruesome London swims slowly on top of the smelly America.

  • His crazy giraffe ran weirdly under that happy snake.

  • That sneaky hippogriff jumped energetically on your smelly trampoline.

  • Five live lollipops farted naughtily below my graceful waterfall.


To warm the boys up, we began by playing with an idea I read in Pie Corbett's book, Jumpstart! Poetry. To think creatively and encourage children to break cliche, we need to open their eyes to the world of possibility. Inspired by Dave Horner's poem, 13 things to do with a rainbow, we created our own shared poem:

13 things to do with a waterfall

  1. Use it as Joe Wick's new hairstyle.

  2. Make a wicked waterslide.

  3. Break through solid brick walls.

  4. Knock down the tallest trees.

  5. Scribble weird words in water.

  6. Create a shivering shower for giants.

  7. Fill up ginormous jugs of water.

  8. Wash a giggly giraffe.

  9. Surf down the tallest waves.

  10. Water the driest desert.

  11. Turn it upside down and water the sky.

  12. Turn it sideways and use it as a sprinkler.

  13. Grow Poseidon a new beard.

© Jamie Thomas, Joshua and Archie 2020

With a bank of fresh, new ideas at our fingertips, we then discussed how we could turn some of these into a waterfall metaphor poem. To begin, you need the line:

A waterfall is...

Then let the imagination run free. Remember, each word needs to earn its place, so careful reading and re-reading is essential. Here are the poems we crafted in the session.


A waterfall is...

a river of tears,

tumbling in turmoil;

a wicked waterslide,

plunging great depths;

a stone giant's shower,

drenching the world;

Poseidon's beard,

white, wispy and wise;

a chorus of angels,

united in song;

the sound of storms,

raging upon earth;

ivory stallions,

striding for serenity;

bleached wishes,

cascading into

pools of promise.

© Jamie Thomas 2020


A waterfall is...

a bewitched bath, burning with bubbles;

a giant blueberry, falling with fear;

a secret sea, swaying seductively;

a wicked waterslide, wishing well;

a shower for a giant, giggling gracefully.

by Archie, 7


A waterfall is...

Mr Grumpy's tears, crying loudly;

a giant's bath, perfect for playing;

Joe Wicks' new hairstyle, curled and cool;

a Viking's hammer, breaking solid walls;

an animals' drinking fountain in the driest desert.

by Joshua, 9


Maths / Geography

  • Reading and comparing numbers

  • Ordering and sequencing numbers

  • Converting measures of length (cm/m/km)

  • Reading maps

Waterfalls are an amazing source of data. You can research how tall, how wide, how fast, the angle of their pitch, their run... the list is vast.

Today's sessions is all about investigating waterfalls. To help us, we used this website:

  • We began by exploring the site and finding out which was the tallest, smallest, widest, etc. We then explored a world map to locate some of the waterfalls, developing their world understanding.

  • We then decided what feature we wanted to explore, i.e. the 10 tallest /smallest /widest /fastest /etc. waterfalls.

  • We wrote down the measurements in metres - not missing the opportunity to discuss the difference between imperial (feet) and metric units of measure (metres).

  • With our list of date, we now set to creating a challenge.

  1. Mix the numbers up so that they are not in order.

  2. Choose 6 of the 10 to alter.

  3. Change 3 values from metres into km (divide by 1000)

  4. Change the other 3 values from metres into cm (multiply by 100)

  5. Swap sets of values and order, from smallest to largest.

This activity is going back over how to convert measures of length; multiplying and dividing by 10, 100 and 1000; and sequencing numbers. The boys would then have to convert the measurements back into metres and sequence to solve.

Here is the outcome of the investigation:


If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please do follow us. Alternatively, you may like to follow me on Twitter: @JamieWTSA.

My thanks to Pie Corbett and Talk for Writing for inspiring many of the ideas explored in this blog.

Do tune in tomorrow for Joshua's choice of stimulus... Pigs

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