top of page

Day 17 - Incredible Pets (creative ideas for teaching English and maths at home)

Updated: Apr 30, 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 - making learning as engaging as possible!


When the boys asked if they could ask our subscribers what themes they would like, I thought that this was a wonderful idea. And it has not failed to live up to expectations! We have been inundated with your ideas and now have a list accumulating on the office wall to choose from. We will do our best to cover as many as we can with the time we have.

Incredible pets is a theme that really does have endless possibilities. I have thought long and hard about how we may explore this fun theme, and hope you like what we came up with. Enjoy!



  • Newspaper articles

  • Headlines

  • Topic sentences / orientation sentences

  • Speech / inverted commas

Pets are all incredible! Some are incredible for the way they look. Some are incredible for the things they can do. And some are incredible for the way they behave. Today's writing is all about capturing the event when one of these much-loved pets carried out something truly incredible.

We began the session by reading a model that I wrote for the boys:


Daring Dachshund Defies Destiny

Yesterday afternoon, Denny the miniature dachshund, defied the odds as he swam across the River Stour and rescued a small toddler that had toppled into the water.

At around 3pm, quick-witted Denny was walking along the river bank at Minster Field when he heard a distant splash and an almighty scream. Looking across the river, he saw the commotion and had to act.

Denny told us, "I didn't have time to think. Seeing the little one struggling in the water, I knew that he needed me. Without thinking, I jumped in and swam as fast as my legs could take me." Fortunately, Denny is a dedicated member of the Doggy Paw Paddlers, a local group of avid swimmers, and defied the odds, rescuing the little one just in time.

With tragedy adverted, Denny has returned to his daily walks along the river bank. However, he hopes lessons have be learned from this terrifying ordeal.

© Jamie Thomas 2020


What we did:

  • The first thing we did was to re-read it together so that the boys could get a feeling for the way it sounded and flowed. I think that this is really important as this is not a style of writing that naturally falls off the tongue.

  • We then highlighted and annotated all the features we could find, creating a little journalistic toolkit together. This would provide us with the tools and scaffold to write our own mini news articles.

Here are the annotated texts and the toolkit:

  • With the tools established, we set to planning our own articles. The first challenge was to help the boys get their own stories established. To do this, we looked at some fun pictures (below) and brainstormed:

  • When?

  • Who?

  • What?

  • Why?

  • Where?

Then, in true Talk for Writing style, we tackled writing our own news reports bit by bit, with me writing a shared version and the boys then writing their own. The initial model and my new text was there to support them with their sentence construction, vocabulary choice and punctuation.

Here is the shared piece we created about Ollie the Owl:

H-ow-l did he do that?

Last night, Ollie the barn owl delivered a new Firebolt to Harry Potter, who was locked in the cupboard under the stairs, due to Uncle Vernon having snapped his broom.

At around 10pm, just as everyone was going to sleep, daring Ollie was on his rounds, delivering parcels, when he spotted the owl trap on 3 Privet Drive. Quickly assessing the situation, he hatched a cunning plan.

Ollie told us, "I'd never seen a house with so many traps and gadgets set to catch me; it reminded me of that time I saw the birds stuck on the Twit's roof. But that meanie was not match for my cunning." Fortunately, Ollie had been attending apparation classes and was able to teleport himself under the stairs, avoiding the traps.

Having outwitted Uncle Vernon's wicked plan, Ollie returned to his regular delivery service. However, he did leave a little trap of his own balancing precariously on the bathroom door.

© Jamie Thomas 2020

Here are the boys' articles:

We hope you have fun writing articles about the amazing things your incredible pets get up to!



  • Drawing bar graphs

  • Data handling

  • Interpreting data

Our request for 'Incredible Animals' also came with an activity recommendation: drawing bar graphs for the life expectancy of animals - thanks Miss Farmer for the ideas!

Fortunately, I found a website jam-packed with all the information we needed to gather the data:

We also downloaded and printed some graph paper from:

Having chosen 15 incredible pets, I set about teaching the boys how to accurately draw a bar graph, including how to calculate the scales and label the axes. My favourite quote from the session was from Archie, who said, "At first I thought this would be really easy but it is actually quite tricky."

Here are the boys plotting and drawing their bar graphs.


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

We are so thankful to those of you who have inundated us with stimulus requests. We have made a list and will do our best to explore as many as we can. Do tune in tomorrow, when our stimulus is:


Our thanks to Roslyn, Laura and Hannah from Australia for the theme.

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

1,040 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page