Grandma Bird / During Reading / /

Safe at Last

Developing fluent and expressive reading with Readers Theatre

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from Grandma Bird series

Required reading: Whole book

Text potential

  • Language features: Dialogue: emotion


  • English
  • Reading

Strategies used

  • Readers Theatre


Reading aloud with expression is an important skill, which is not solely about performance. When a child reads aloud, they are developing an ear for phrasing and intonation in dialogue. Being able to hear what the text sounds like helps children with their independent reading. Readers Theatre is an excellent way to develop these skills and, at the same time, engage the children with the text.

The moment when Grandma rescues Noi is the only place where dialogue is employed in this story. It is a critical moment as it marks a new phase in the relationship between the two characters.


  • Print copies of the Grandma Bird Readers Theatre


Begin by reading the passage to the children, ensuring that they can follow the text. Instruct them to listen to your expression and phrasing. After reading, ask the question,

  • Did you notice anything about the way that I read that?

Now focus on the dialogue in the book.

  • How do you think Noi feels when he says, “Grandma!”? There could be a mixture of emotions, such as relief and happiness. Encourage the children to draw on their experience, but also the clues in the text and the illustration. The discussion and exploration of character are crucial to the success of Readers Theatre.

Refer back to the previous page to consider how Noi feels when he is standing on the rock, wondering if he will ever be saved. Read Noi’s line of dialogue. This can be done in unison to support children who feel self-conscious.

Repeat with Grandma’s lines.

Hand out the script. Work in groups of three, one narrator (who reads all the text which is not highlighted, including speech tags), Noi, and Grandma. Allow groups to read through the script and practise.

There is no need for the children to memorise the words, as they should have the script with them at all times.

Groups share their reading with the rest of the class.    

Final reflection

Look again at the illustration on this page. Ask:

  • Did Readers Theatre help you understand how Noi and Grandma might be feeling?
Teacher’s note: you may want to follow this lesson with The Rescue.

Key vocabulary

relief, relieved


Grandma Bird Exemplar Think Aloud

A example of a Think Aloud that supports this lesson. Adapt according to the needs of your pupils.

Think Aloud Grandma Bird Vocabulary (verbs)

Grandma Bird Readers Theatre

This short Readers Theatre is for use with this session. Use to explore the character’s emotions in this pivotal moment in the story.

Grandma Bird Reader’s 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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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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