Grandma Bird / During Reading / /

‘Snoring Like a Walrus’

Thinking about the images created by figurative language.

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from Grandma Bird series

Required reading: Whole book

Text potential

  • Language features: Idiom


  • English
  • Reading

Strategies used

  • Vocabulary: Blended Approach


Some of the language in Grandma Bird is likely to be unfamiliar and a potential barrier to comprehension. Although the visual context will support understanding, focusing on idiomatic phrases and figurative language will extend children’s linguistic repertoires. Idiomatic expressions may be especially challenging for additional language learners, so take time to explain the meaning. Use drama and visual approaches to develop understanding.


Have available:

  • Copies of the book or an enlarged image of Noi and Grandma in bed.
  • Whiteboards and marker pens for writing sentences.


Read the first sentence, ‘At night they had to sleep top to tail.’

  • What does ‘top to tail’ mean?
  • Can the children use the picture clues to work it out?
  • Give a clear child-friendly explanation, using gestures to show your ‘top’ and your ‘tail’ (in this case feet). Top to tail is another way of saying top to bottom.
  • Has anyone in the class ever slept like this? Perhaps at a party or sleepover?

Now read the second sentence focusing onsnored like an old walrus’.

  • What is a walrus? Show a picture.
  • So how do you think Grandma was snoring? Was it quiet or loud?
  • Introduce the term ‘simile‘ if appropriate. Highlight the words ‘like a’, which indicates that this is a simile.
  • Can you use similes to describe how Noi would snore?
  • How would Grandma laugh? How would Noi laugh?


Final reflection

In pairs or individually, ask the children to write their own sentences to describe Noi’s snores or Grandma’s laugh using a simile.  

Key vocabulary



Nikki Gamble

Nikki Gamble
Director, Just Imagine
Nikki has worked extensively in schools across the UK and internationally. She is the author of Exploring Children’s Literature (4th edit) (2019) and co-author of Guiding Readers (2016) which was awarded the UKLA Academic Book of the Year Award 2017. Nikki is KS2 reading advisor and series consultant for Oxford University Press and content creator for the Oxford School Improvement and Oxford Owl websites. Nikki is Associate Consultant at the University of London, Institute of Education and Honorary Fellow at the University of Winchester

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Sam Keeley

Formerly a teacher and local authority advisory teacher, Sam now works with Just Imagine as an English consultant and manager of the year 6 Reading Gladiators programme.

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