Greenling / During Reading / /

Stranger Becomings

Reading and discussing first responses to text and image.

Lesson length: 2 sessions

Lesson from Greenling teaching sequence

Required reading: Pages 1-18

A note about page numbers

This book does not have page numbers. For ease of reference, we have numbered the pages from 1 starting after the title page where the text reads 'What is this growing on Barleycorn land.'. You may like to pencil page numbers in a teacher copy for quick reference.

Text potential

  • Visual language: Body Language: (gesture, posture, gaze and expression)
  • Visual language: Colour, line, shape, position
  • Language features: Idiom


  • Read Aloud
  • Readers Theatre


This sequence is structured to provide an opportunity for reading, re-reading and closer reading of text and images, allowing the children to respond to details and build their understanding before dialogic teaching to extend their thinking.

Re-reading allows the story to build in the children’s minds and avoids fragmentation. 

Teacher’s note: You may want to follow this lesson with the Digging Deeper lesson exploring Mr and Mrs Barleycorn ‘s point of view. Alternatively, you can teach all of the First Encounters lessons first.


  • Copies of Greenling, at least one between two.
  • Download and print the Readers Theatre script enough for one each. This must be printed in colour, or the children must colour their copies following the example.


Continue reading the story. 

Read from the beginning of the book, repeating the text read previously, and then continue up to ‘Why now? Why here? Why me? 

Clarify any unfamiliar vocabulary e,g gripe (complaint)

Distribute the Readers Theatre script. Read through while the children follow. Encourage them to think about how you are reading the passage in particular to look at how the punctuation aids our expression and pacing.

Invite feedback on the Barleycorn’s responses.

  • What did you notice about the way I read that?
  • What do we learn about Mrs Barleycorn from the way that I read her part?
  • What do we learn about Mr Barleycorn from the way that I read his part?

Working in groups of three, have the children practise reading the Readers Theatre script, taking the parts of Mr Barleycorn, Mrs Barleycorn and the narrator.

Share one or two examples, giving feedback to help the children improve their fluency, for instance, by discussing stress patterns, emphasis, intonation as appropriate, etc.

Teacher’s note: The Readers Theatre can be returned to and practised for a few minutes in each session across the week, culminating in a Readers Theatre performance (see strategies for further information.)

Returning to the text.

Next, ask them to look at the illustrations and note one thing they found most interesting in each picture.

Gather the class together and share ideas. Use some of the supplementary prompts, if needed:

  • How do the colours compare to the colours on the previous pages?
  • How do the colours on the sunflowers page compare to the page with Mrs Barleycorn in bed?
  •  What emotions do you experience when you look at these images?

  • What do you notice about the light shining through the window in the picture of Mrs Barleycorn in bed? Does it remind you of an earlier page?
  • What is happening to the technology (television, car, microwave cooker, telephone)? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? 
  • What is meant by ‘the transport has taken to seed’? There is a literal meaning (plants are growing inside) and a figurative meaning (past its best, no longer useful)
  • What is Mrs Barleycorn concerned about?

  • How do the different characters, including the dog, react to Greenling?
  • What animals can you find in the pictures? 

You may want to show the slide show, ‘What can you find?’ Play find the animal. (All these animals pictured come from Australia, where the story is set.)

Final reflection

  • What effect does Greenling have on the Barleycorns? 
  • Do you have any thoughts about what Greenling is and where he has come from? 
  • What do you think will happen next?

Teacher’s note: This session could be followed by The Barleycorns – different viewpoints.


Key vocabulary


Subject-specific and technical vocabulary 
Academic process words

compare, contrast

Advanced vocabulary 
Morphological investigation 
Etymological investigation 

gone to seed



Readers Theatre script

Greenling Readers Theatre


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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