Greenling / During Reading / /

‘What will be growing on Barleycorn land?’

Interrogating the text and asking questions.

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from Greenling teaching sequence

Required reading: Whole book

Text potential

  • Literary features: Figurative Language: personification


  • Read Aloud
  • Comprehension: Questioning
  • Vocabulary: Blended Approach


This session completes the read-through of the story, followed by a discussion focussing on the changes that have taken place in the story.  There is also an opportunity to review initial questions, confusions and predictions.


  • Copies of Greenling, at least one between two.


Re-read the story from the beginning to the end. Ask an open question:

  • Do you think this story has a message? (You will be returning to this in a future lesson so just briefly share and record initial ideas)

After reading, share responses. Use the following prompts if needed:

  • Why does Greenling leave the Barleycorns?
  • Do you think things will return to how they were before Greenling came?
  • Has Mr Barleycorn changed?
  • Has Mrs Barleycorn changed? (Notice the proximity of the characters at the end of the story. In the early parts of the story, they are shown far apart rather than close together.)
  • We can’t see the expressions on their faces. Can you imagine what they look like?

Compare the final spread with the title page. 

  • They are almost the same, but what changes can you see? 
  • Why do you think those changes have been made?

Look again at the spread ‘so a long summer began.’ In the second stanza which begins ‘But all summer things must come to an end,’ draw attention to the line

When summer has grown a beard.’

  • What do you think this means?
  • Can summer literally grow a beard? (ensure the children understand the divergence between a literal meaning and a metaphorical meaning)
  • Introduce the term personification or revise if it is already familiar to the children.

Final reflection

  • Now that you have finished the story, have any of the things you found puzzling initially been resolved?

Review the notes that you made with the children in previous sessions.

  • Do you have any further questions? (For example, children may wonder where Greenling has gone?)

Make the point that sometimes, when we read, we are left with new questions and that not all of our questions will be answered. 

  • Is this the case with this story?

If you have time, allow the children to look back through the book independently, in pairs or in small groups as they choose and to talk informally about it.


Key vocabulary

literally, literal

Subject-specific and technical vocabulary


Academic process words 
Advanced vocabulary 
Morphological investigation 
Etymological investigation 


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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