Grandma Bird / During Reading / /

What is Grandma Bird Thinking?

Using the Role on the Wall strategy to help infer character thoughts and feelings.

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from Grandma Bird series

Required reading: Whole book

Text potential

  • Inference opportunities: Character Inference


  • English
  • Reading

Strategies used

  • Role on the Wall
  • Comprehension: Inference Skills


‘Role on the Wall’ is a technique that allows pupils to explore the inner feelings of a character, as well as outward appearances. This can help children develop character inferences based on the information provided in the text and illustration.


  • Draw a large (lifesize) outline of Grandma Bird of a roll of paper.


Tell the children that you are going to be thinking a little more deeply about Grandma Bird in this lesson.

Begin by adding visual details to the outline that you have prepared.


What does Grandma Bird wear? As they make suggestions add these items to the drawing (e.g., headscarf, cardigan). Add labels. Make the point that we know what to add because we can see these things in the pictures.

Next, add annotations of Grandma’s behaviour.

  • Things that she does with her hands can be written close to her hands.
  • Things that she does with her feet can be added close to her feet.
  • Things that she says can be added as speech bubbles.

Explain that completing these points requires a literal understanding of the story: the information can be retrieved from the text and illustrations.  

Inside the outline represent Grandma’s thoughts and feelings.

  • Use thought bubbles to show what Grandma might be thinking at crucial moments in the story.
  • Draw a big heart shape on Grandma’s body. Make notes about what she might be feeling.

To complete this task, the children are required to make inferences from the text and illustrations. Make this point explicit. You have to infer because the text doesn’t tell you.

  • What information did we use to make the inferences about Grandma’s thoughts and feelings?

Final reflection

  • Did you agree with each other about Grandma’s thoughts and feelings, or did you have different ideas?

Make explicit that it is possible to think differently, as long as you have good evidence.

Key vocabulary

evidence, interpretation


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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