Greenling / During Reading / /

The Barleycorns – differing viewpoints

Using role-play to explore the point of view of different characters.

Lesson length: 1 session

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

  • Inference opportunities: Character Emotions
  • Narrative features: Character emotions
  • Inference opportunities: Character Inference
  • Inference opportunities: Character Motivation
  • Inference opportunities: Character Thoughts
  • Inference opportunities: Inductive Inference
  • Narrative features: Narration: point of view


  • Drama Strategies: Improvisation
  • Discussion and Dialogue


This session enables children to draw on their own experiences and evidence in the text to present differing points of view. Through working in role, they present their arguments to try and persuade others to their point of view.

Teacher’s note: You may want to teach this lesson directly after the First Encounters lesson, Stranger Becomings, or you can return to this lesson after teaching all of the First Encounters lessons.


  • Blank T diagram for summarising main points.


First, working in groups of three, ask the children to look back at the pages that show Mr and Mrs Barleycorn arguing about what should be done with Greenling (pages 1- 18).

Ask them to consider what reasons each character might have for their opinions/points of view.

Working in pairs, ask the children to take on the roles of Mr and Mrs Barleycorn. The third person will be an interviewer. Explain the scenario. A local newspaper has heard about the arrival of a strange green baby at Mr and Mrs Barleycorn’s farm and has sent a journalist to investigate. The journalist wants to know everything, including how Mr and Mrs Barleycorn feel about their guest.

Have them improvise a discussion where each explains their thoughts about the situation with Greenling. The journalist will ensure all sides of the argument are heard by asking each character questions.

Introduce the term argumentation – using reasons to support your ideas.

 Make a distinction between argumentation and arguing (expressing different views but usually in an angry way).

  • What will Mr. Barleycorn say to try to persuade Mrs. Barleycorn to his point of view? 
  • What will Mrs Barleycorn say to try to persuade Mr Barleycorn to her point of view? 

Allow time for the children to improvise their interviews.

Final reflection

Gather the class together. Ask the journalists to report back on

  • ideas supporting Mr Barleycorn’s position.
  • ideas supporting Mrs Barleycorn’s position.

Use a T Diagram for summarising their points of view

Personal reflection: 

  • Do you have more sympathy with the views of Mr Barleycorn or Mrs Barleycorn? Would you be happy not to watch television, play internet games, listen to music?
  • Do you think Levi Pinfold has more sympathy with the view of Mr Barleycorn or Mrs Barleycorn? What makes you think that?

Teacher’s note: A writing activity could follow this session. The children could either write diary entries as Mr Barleycorn or Mrs Barleycorn. Or they could write a news report from the journalists point of view. They can choose which writing task they prefer and do not need to stick to their role in improvisation.


Key vocabulary

argumentation, persuasion, persuade, persuasive

Subject-specific and technical vocabulary 
Academic process words 
Advanced vocabulary 
Morphological investigation 
Etymological investigation 


T Diagram

T Diagram_TOB


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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