Cloud Tea Monkeys is an accessible but literary story. The writers use figurative language, which may be unfamiliar to the children. Reading aloud will tune the ear to the rhythm of the text. By reading aloud, you can engage the children and help them to build a story schema. On first reading, they will absorb the general idea and can return to the text for a second or third reading to unravel the meaning of some of the finer details.
- Have available copies of Cloud Tea Monkeys, at least one copy between two.
Distribute copies of the book.
Read aloud to the children so they can experience the rhythm of the text.
Encourage them to follow the text as you read. The highly illustrated format of this book will be beneficial to those children who find it harder to access the meaning purely from the text.
Invite the children to share their first responses to the story.
- Is there anything that you find strange or puzzling about the story so far?
- Does the story remind you of any other stories that you have read or heard?
Talk in pairs before sharing thoughts with the class.
The following prompts allow you to explore three different levels of understanding (literal, inference, text to world, Tennent, 2014).
- What do you learn about Tashi’s life? (This question requires a literal response, taking information directly from the text. The children’s answers will help you ascertain if they can access the surface level of the text.)
- Do you learn different things from the text and the illustration? Supplementary prompts might include:
- what does the word ‘glowing’ mean here?
- What does the word ‘burden’ tell us about the tea pickers work?
- How does Tashi’s routine compare with your morning routine? Do you prefer your routine, or do you think you would prefer Tashi’s? (This text to world question invites the children to relate the story to their own experience.)
- What do the women think about the overseer? Ask the children to re-read the following sentence: ‘The women stood silently while he told them what they already knew, what they had always known; to pick only the young leaves and the buds from the tops of each bush.’ (p5) We are not explicitly told what they are thinking. Still, we can infer their thoughts from the clues in this sentence. We know that they do not challenge the overseer, so they are probably afraid of him. They are probably more knowledgeable about the tea picking process because we are told they have always known how to pick tea. Generations from their families may have been tea pickers.
Gather the class and ask them to predict:
- What do you think might happen next?
Re-read pages 1 – 10 in advance of the next session. Discourage the children from reading on. You could use paper clips as a reminder to stop reading on page 10.
Alternatively, read aloud to the class before the next session.
The Colour of Lemons’ would be a good follow on lesson.
English is a language which has many words with multiple meanings (polysemic). Words that are well-known to children in one context sometimes have less familiar meanings. Meeting familiar words in unfamiliar contexts can confound comprehension. This session makes this explicit to children and focuses on raising word awareness rather than straightforward individual word learning.
- Write the following on the IWB’ One by one the familiar sounds of the morning drew Tashi from her sleep’. Do not reveal the sentence at the beginning of the lesson.
- Download and print Matching Definitions sheet.
- Slide Voices and Laughter (optional).
Write the word ‘draw’ on the IWB. Working in pairs, ask:
- Tell me what this word means.
Share ideas. (The children are most likely to give a definition relating to drawing a picture. Some may mention ‘drawing the curtains’ or a sporting match that ends in a draw).
Ask if there are any further suggestions.
Reveal this sentence, ‘One by one the familiar sounds of the morning drew Tashi from her sleep.’.
- What does ‘drew’ mean in this context? Do any of our definitions fit the context?
In pairs, ask the children to re-read the first paragraph on page 1 and then talk about the sentence.
- Can you work out the meaning from the context?
- Can you make another sentence which uses ‘draw’ in this way? Support and clarify, as needed.
Can you think of other uses for the word ‘drew’, ‘drawn’ or present tense ‘draw’. For example:
- She drew the curtains.
- He drew a picture.
- The highwayman drew a pistol from his belt.
- Tashi’s mother was unwell and looked pale and drawn.
- The detective drew a blank. (idiomatic use)
Use more than one dictionary to look up definitions for the word, ‘draw’.
Distribute the matching definitions sheet.
Handout the list of definitions for ‘draw’, space has been left for children to add others that they might find in the dictionary.
- Which definition works for the sentence from Cloud Tea Monkeys?
- How does the word choice affect the sentence? For instance, would it make a difference if instead of ‘drew Tashi from her sleep’ the author had written ‘woke Tashi from her sleep’? They have the same meaning in this context, but the effect is different. ‘Drew’ sounds more forceful and implies effort. It is less neutral than ‘woke’. Consider how the word choice, ‘drew’ suits the passage.
Now distribute the sentences.
- Working in pairs, or small groups, can you match the sentences to definitions?
Work through the answers to the matching activity together.
Make explicit the point that many words in English have more than one meaning. Always think about whether the meaning you know works in the context. If not, it might be because there is another meaning for the word that you have not yet learnt. A dictionary can help you refine your choices.
Consider the writer’s word choice.
- How would the sentence have been different it Mal Peet had written, ‘Sounds of morning woke Tashi from her sleep.’?
Reading comprehension takes places at different levels simultaneously: the linguistic level (words) the micro-level (sentence and text cohesion) the macro-level (themes, text to world) (Walter Kinsch). In this lesson children’s understanding is supported at all levels by looking at what can be inferred from the word choices; predictions that can be made as to how this will impact on the characters lives; and making connections between the characters’ experiences and the reader’s lives. Opportunities are taken to broaden children’s vocabulary so that they can develop precise ways of describing the character’s situation, rather than using simple generic words like’ sad’ or ‘unhappy’.
- Copies of Cloud Tea Monkeys, at least one between two.
- Prepare the following passage for the interactive whiteboard.
‘The women stopped work when the sun was a blurred red globe, hanging just above the rows of tea bushes. There was less talk on the way home. The women’s tiredness was like a cloud around the. Tashi’s mother had bruised-looking eyes. Her cough was worse. Once or twice she stopped walking and pressed her hand to her chest.’ (p9)
Display the passage (the final paragraph on page 9) on the whiteboard.
Working in pairs, ask the children to read this passage aloud.
Ask an open question:
- What do we learn about Tashi’s mother in this passage?
The children should be able to tell you that Tashi’s mother is unwell. Ask them to locate evidence in the text that shows she is unwell:
- Bruised-looking eyes (Inference: she has dark circles under her eyes. People often have dark circles if they are very tired or ill).
- Her cough was worse. (Retrieval: this is explicit evidence that she is unwell)
- She pressed her hand to her chest. (Inference: this indicates that her chest is painful, especially when she is exerting herself by walking.)
- What information are we given in the illustration? With a partner, describe what you can see in the picture.
Gather the class and ask:
- What do you think Tashi is thinking?
- What makes you think that?
Text to world discussion
- Do you think Tashi’s mother will be able to continue working?
- What could happen if she is unable to work? (Allow children to share their thoughts, rather than expect a specific answer. They will discover more when you read on).
- What happens when people are too sick to work in the UK?
- Do people in Britain have to pay for primary medical care? (These questions provide an opportunity to tell the children some basic facts about the National Health Service and National Insurance. Some people take out voluntary private insurance.
- Do you think people should pay for their medical care?
Now read aloud pages 11 – 16
Take time to look at and discuss the pictures on each page. Invite first responses.
- Is there anything that needs clarifying?
- Do you have any questions at this stage of the story? (Write the children’s questions on the whiteboard to refer to later.)
Re-read the section, ‘Tashi ran to the dawn-lit road – Tashi was frightened by it’. (p11).
- How serious is Tashi’s mother’s illness? (Literal recall. If she is unwell, she cannot work, and if she cannot work, there is no money.)
Highlight the sentence ‘The problem went round and round. It was like a snake with its tail in its mouth, and Tashi was frightened by it.’ (p11)
- What picture do you have in your head when you read this? Share your thoughts with a partner.
- Why do you think Mal Peet might have chosen to describe the problem in this way? (They might mention the circular nature of the problem. It doesn’t seem to have a solution. Snakes are native to India and would therefore be something Tashi could be afraid of.)
Tashi’s situation seems bleak (without hope). She is desperate (she feels the situation is hopeless). Use the key vocabulary throughout the discussion and encourage the children to use it. You may want to show the Bleak slide. Visual representations of unfamiliar words can help secure understanding by making the abstract more concrete.
Draw attention to Tashi’s body language in the illustration on page 16.
- How would you describe Tashi’s body language? She is huddled up, and her head is in her hands. Her circumstances are bleak, and she looks despairing and desperate.
The text says, ‘She wept for her mother and for Aunt Sonam and for herself.’
- Why do you think Tashi weeps for Aunt Sonam?
Having discussed the seriousness of Tashi’s predicament, invite the children to predict what they think will happen next. Encourage them to draw on evidence from the text and their experience of other stories and life.
- Is there any hope for Tashi?
In this section of the story, The Royal-Tea Taster is introduced. He is a very grand and imposing character. His introduction suggests that he is someone to be feared and respected. This session has been structured to draw attention to the introduction of this character before the next section is read, using a picture reveal strategy and close reading of accompanying text.
- Download The Royal Tea-Taster slideshow with the picture reveal slide.
Show the slide with the colour purple:
- What does this colour make you think about? Harvest ideas from the children. Accept all suggestions. Tell them that the colour purple is often used as a royal colour.
Now display the picture reveal slide, inviting the children to tell you what they see, prompting them to think about the impression conveyed through gaze, body language, position, colour.
Introduce the words haughty and arrogant through discussion.
- Can you strike a haughty or arrogant pose? You could capture the body language and expression by taking photographs.
When the picture is fully revealed, ask:
- Who do you think this is?
- What role do you think he might play in the story?
Now read the text from page 22.
- Do we learn anything else about the character from this text?
- What does the author mean when he writes, ‘a man made of silver light like the moon.’?
- Is he really made of silver light?
- Does the description confirm your thoughts about who the man could be?
- Or does the new information prompt you to change your opinion? (The children may suggest that he is a king, in which case draw attention to the mode of transport. Would you expect a king to travel in a humble wooden carriage?)
- How do you think this character would speak? In pairs, practise speaking as you think this character would speak.
Now read aloud up to page 25
- What did you learn about the Royal Tea-Taster?
Why does he lift his nose ‘as if he had smelt a dead rat.’?
This is a typically haughty expression.
- Does the picture on page 26 tell us how the overseer feels in the presence of The Royal Tea-Taster?
- Why is he behaving like this?
- Are there any clues in the text that tell us about the overseer’s behaviour in the presence of the Royal-Tea Taster?
- ‘The overseer turned and made a creepy-crouching gesture towards the man who looked like the moon’(p23)
- ‘The overseer followed at a respectful distance.’ (p25
- The overseer moaned and bent almost double as if he had a great pain in his stomach.’ (p25)
- Why do you think the overseer behaves differently in the company of the Royal Tea-Taster to the way that he acts with the tea pickers?
Messages are communicated in art and in life through body language. Knowing how body language works can help us become more skilled at interpretation, as well as developing greater self-awareness of how we communicate messages to others. In this lesson, the children’s attention is drawn to different aspects of body language, and they learn new vocabulary to help them describe it more precisely.
- Copies of Cloud Tea Monkeys, at least one between two.
- Copies of the illustration on page 27 (Sonam, Tashi and the Royal Tea-Taster) or a large image projected using a visualiser.
- Download the Body Language slideshow (optional).
Start by showing the slideshow which introduces different body language.
Make sure the children understand the key vocabulary:
- Posture (the way someone stands).
- Gesture (the way the hands or head are moved to express something)
- Expression (the way the face conveys emotion)
- Gaze (where we look or who we are looking at)
Body language is a combination of all of these things.
If the vocabulary is unfamiliar, take some additional time to use physical demonstrations. You can ask for volunteers from the class. For example:
- Can you show me a slouching body posture?
- What does that tell us about how you could be feeling? Use the vocabulary throughout the lesson and encourage the children to use it too.
Share the illustration
Invite three volunteers to create a Freeze Frame at the front of the class. The Freeze-Frame should replicate the posture, gaze and expression of the three characters: Tashi, Sonam and the Royal Tea-Taster.
Discuss, posture, gesture and gaze in each of the images.
- How does body language convey thoughts and feelings?
- What do you imagine each character is thinking?
Invite other children from the class to stand behind one of the characters of their choice. As they do that, they voice aloud what they think the character is thinking. If this is a new idea to the children, model the process first. Take several volunteers. It is OK if more than one child wants to stand behind the same character.
Make explicit the point that the picture doesn’t tell us what the characters are thinking or feeling. We have to infer from the clues in the visual language, body language, gesture and gaze.
Recording: the children could annotate a copy of the image on page 27 using thought bubbles and labelling the body language, e.g. Sonam is frowning, which makes her look worried. The Tea-Taster is walking with his hands held behind his back, which makes him look distinguished.
Read aloud to the class from pp 29-31
Invite responses from the children.
- Has your impression of the Royal Tea-Taster changed in this section?
Improvisation is used as an exploratory technique to allow children to consider the story from different perspectives and to invite speculation on the likelihood of Tashi sharing her secret.
- Slides of the illustrations from pages 34 and 36.
- Copies of the illustrations, one between two. Have the class work with page 34 and the other half with page 36.
If you taught the lesson, ‘What are we thinking?’ recap the different types of body language, which show how we are feeling and what we might be thinking (posture, expression, gaze and gesture).
Show the illustrations from the next section of the story and distribute the copies.
Working in pairs, ask the children to annotate the illustrations. Provide a key, or let the children work out their own:
- Thoughts – use a thought cloud
- Speech – use a speech bubble
- Body language – use arrows to label examples
Gather the class and share ideas.
Working in pairs, ask the children to take on the role of The Royal Tea-taster and Tashi. Have them improvise the conversation taking place in the two pictures.
Gather the class and ask for a volunteer to share their scene.
Now read pages 32 – 38
- What do you think the Royal Tea-Taster thinks when he says, ‘So I ask myself this: how could a small child have gathered this tea? Tell me are you able to fly?’
- Do you think he is being friendly or is he threatening Tashi? Why do you believe that? (It may be ambiguous. Some children may pick up that he appears to be joking with Tashi. On the previous page, we are told ‘His smile was like the sun rising out of the mountains as he beamed at Tashi.’, which suggests that he is friendly in contrast to the initial impression. Allow the children to express their views. Encourage them to respond to competing views respectfully.
- Will Tashi tell him her secret?
- What would you do if you were in Tashi’s position?
Teacher’s Note: This lesson could be followed by the writing dialogue lesson
Reading comprehension takes places at different levels simultaneously: the linguistic level (words) the micro-level (sentence and text cohesion) the macro-level (themes, text to world) (Walter Kinsch). In this lesson children’s understanding is supported by showing them how to make inferences across sentences. This is called bridging inference. They are also encouraged to relate this new story to their existing repertoire, making and explaining connections.
- Copies of Cloud Tea Monkeys at least one between two.
Recap the story so far and then read aloud to the end.
Recap what the children had said about The Royal Tea-Taster in the previous session.
- Were your thoughts confirmed or challenged?
After you have finished reading, ask the children to jot down their thoughts. Offer some prompts
- What did you like about the story?
- What did you dislike? (Note dislikes doesn’t necessarily mean you disliked the story. You could dislike the way that the overseer treats Tashi but still like the story)
- Was there anything that still puzzled you after the story was finished (For instance, they may be puzzled by the Royal Tea-Taster. Does he really know where the tea comes from? Or they might wonder why Tashi’s mother uses an umbrella even though it isn’t raining.)
In small groups, ask the children to share their thoughts. Set some ground rules for this literature circle style discussion:
- Take it in turns to give your feedback
- Listen, but don’t interrupt. Allow the person to say everything that they want to before moving on.
- When everyone has spoken, can you work out the answers to any of your puzzles?
While the children are talking, observe how well they work independently and gently remind groups of the ground rules, if needed to make sure everyone is listened to and has their turn.
Make some notes about any puzzles that the children mention, and how they resolve them.
Gather the class. Invite reflection on how well they worked as a group.
- Are there any puzzles that we can’t resolve?
Now revisit the list of questions from the first session. Check to see if they have been answered.
- Are there some questions that remain unanswered? Why?
- Do you think it will be possible to find answers?
Extend the discussion by considering the following questions (depending on what has already arisen from the children’s Booktalk).
- Why doesn’t Tashi’s mother return to the plantation even though she recovers from her illness? p 38 (This inference question requires the children to link evidence across sentences. We can infer that she doesn’t go back to work because she is rich now and doesn’t have to work).
- Does Cloud Tea Monkeys remind you of any other stories that you have read? (Allow open responses for this text to world question, allowing children to draw on their varied experiences, but challenge the children to say why they can see a connection – give reasons).
Use the key vocabulary, because, connection and similarity throughout the discussion and encourage the children to use it too.
Read the author’s note which explains the inspiration for the story.
- Does this answer any of our questions?
The opening of Cloud Tea Monkeys beautifully evokes the early morning in the Darjeeling region of foothills of the Himalayas. This lesson looks at the writer’s word choice and use of figurative language to paint a word picture. The focus is on aiding comprehension and to develop the children’s awareness of the craft of writing so that they can experiment with these techniques in their own writing.
- Copies of pages 1 – 4 for text marking, enough for at least one between two.
- Or sticky notes for annotation (though marking the page directly allows more flexibility).
Re-read pages 1 – 4.
Hand out the copied pages. Ask the children to highlight any words or phrases they found particularly compelling. It may be a beautiful description or something that renders the scene clearly. Introduce the term quotation (actual words are taken from the text and repeated) and use it throughout the discussion so that children become familiar with its use.
Children can work in pairs or individually to complete the task.
Next, ask them to think about why they found their chosen quotations to be so effective. You could supply a table for them to complete. Explain that they don’t need to find lots of quotations. It is better to find one that you really like than fill the grid solely for the sake of completing a task.
Gather the class and share examples. Favourite quotations can be written on large sheets of paper and displayed in the classroom.
- Did you notice how the writer used the senses, especially sound, to create a sense of place?
- Did anyone choose a favourite quotation that was about sound?
Make a list
- Breathing life into the fire (may need some clarification).
- Hiss and crackle of the twigs (pause to think about these sounds and how they relate to the thing being described).
- Whispering of the soot-blackened kettle (children may not have heard a kettle that boils on the hob if they have an electric kettle at home)
- Cockerel crowed (indicates time of day)
- Mother coughed twice (first indication that Tashi’s mother is unwell)
- Voices and laughter (pleasant, friendly).
- Called her name
- Voices wobbly in the cold air (may need some clarification. Do things sound different in cold and warm wair? Yes, sound waves travel differently through cold and warm air. That’s why footsteps appear to ring in freezing weather).
- The women gossiped and made jokes.
This session focuses on the writer’s craft and the patterning of language, which is a feature of many literary texts.
- Copies of Cloud Tea Monkeys, at least one between two.
- Coloured pencils or acquarels (not coloured pens or crayons) and drawing paper
- Prepare the list of sun quotations below for display on the interactive whiteboard.
If you taught the lesson,‘The colour of lemons…’, refer back to the quotations that the children selected.
- Did any of your quotations reference the sun?
Ask the children to share any quotations that mention the sun and write them on the IWB. They are unlikely to identify all references, so provide a list of page numbers and ask them to find and record these references.
Alternatively, you could print out the quotations and ask the children to find them in the story. In pairs ask them to read aloud the paragraphs which contain these quotations.
- The sun had not yet found a way through the mountains, but it was coming; a light the colour of lemons was soaking in the sky and painting the stars. (p1)
- The sun was kind too, laying warm patches in the road that were good to walk into out of the cold shadows. (p3)
- Later the sun would turn cruel, burning down from a hazy sky. (p3)
- Within an hour, the sun had sucked the mist up out of the valleys and hung it like a great curtain over the tops of the mountains. (p5)
- The women stopped work when the sun was a blurred red globe, hanging just above the rows of tea bushes. (p9)
- Tashi’s mother grew strong again. But she did not go back to the plantation to work every day under the hot eye of the sun. (p 38)
Work together to highlight the verbs that show what the sun is doing (p 1, 3, 5) (shown in bold above).
- Does the sun have the intention to be kind or to be cruel?
- Why do you think the author describes the sun in this way?
- Can the sun actually suck up the mist?
- Why do you think the author describes the sun in this way?
Make the point that writers sometimes make it sound as though objects, places or animals have human qualities. This technique is called personification. Personification makes it sound as though the sun’s actions are intentional (it is doing it on purpose).
- Why do you think the author keeps mentioning the sun? (The children might suggest that he indicates the rhythm of the day, it signals the passing of time. The women have been out picking tea from first light until sunset, using every bit of available daylight to pick the tea.)
Re-read some of the descriptions and encourage the children to visualise the image in their mind’s eye. Ask them to choose one quotation which they can see clearly in their mind’s eye.
Distribute paper and pencils for drawing.
Ask the children to draw what they imagine when they read their quotation. Tell them that it should be clear to others which quotation they have chosen, but to keep it secret for the time being.
Gather the class Ask for volunteers to share their drawings. Ask the class
- Which quotation does this drawing show?
After the lesson, make a display by grouping the pictures with the accompanying illustration.
The best writers choose the perfect word at the perfect time. This isn’t necessarily the longest or the most unusual word. To be able to make choices, children need to extend their vocabulary but also make informed decisions about word choice.
- Download the slide showing the illustration from page 20.
- Download a Zone of Relevance chart. One per child, or an enlarged version to model with the class.
- Optional: a basket (perhaps a laundry basket) similar to the one used for collecting tea, for the miming activity.
Re-read the paragraph beginning ‘She was awakened…’
Now display the slide.
Set a challenge for the children to write as many synonyms as they can for the word ‘looked’ in 30 seconds. They can do this task individually or in pairs. Suggestions might include:
Discuss the differences in meaning between the ideas. Ask children to mime to demonstrate the differences. If you have one, use the basket to link the mime to the story.
Use a Zone of Relevance to decide which words would best fit the gap in the sentence:
She went to it and………in.
Make the point that there are many different words that could have been chosen Good writing is about finding the right word, the word that fits. Sometimes this will be a simple word like ‘looked’ which is the word Mal Peet chose on this occasion.
Children need to hear fluent readers to understand how a text should sound when they read independently (Miller and Veatch, 2011). Most children in year three will have made the transition to fluent reading. However, less familiar constructions may still prove challenging. In this lesson, the focus is on the fronted adverbial construction. Attention is drawn to the construction, including the demarcating commas, which indicate where the pauses should be. This part of the lesson is primarily concerned with developing reading fluency.
Although fronted adverbials may not be explicitly taught for writing until year 4, some children will benefit from the additional challenge of experimenting with this sentence structure in their writing.
- Write the following sentence on the interactive whiteboard: ‘And in the chair, in the purple shadow of the purple silk, sat a man made of silver light like the moon.’‘
- Download and print a set of adverbial cards, enough for small groups
- Download and print a set of verb cards, enough for small groups.
Write ‘I sat’ on the interactive whiteboard. Ask the children where you might be sat. They might suggest ‘In the classroom’. Add this to the sentence,
In the classroom, I sat.
I sat in the classroom.
- Can you say it both ways?
- Which do you prefer?
Take suggestions for other places that you could be sat and repeat the process of adding before and after ‘I sat’
Distribute a set of verb cards, or the children can generate their own. Ask the children to make different sentences orally by saying where the action is taking place. There is no need to write the sentences at this stage. This is tuning children’s ear to the construction.
Variation: Children who need additional support could also use adverbial cards, matching verbs and adverbials to make sentences.
Now reread the final paragraph on page 21
Show the sentence on the slideshow. Read the sentence aloud to the class. Ask them to listen carefully to your expression.
- What do you notice about the way I read that? (They should detect your pauses for expression at each of the commas). Explicitly draw attention to the commas as markers to guide the reader and aid expression.
Now reread the sentence. This time the children echo read (read after you imitating your expression) pausing appropriately and with expression.
Look again at the sentence written down. Ask
- Can you locate the verb in the sentence? (sat). If necessary, clarify what a verb does (in this case, action)
- Can you locate the noun? (a man) If necessary, clarify what a noun is.
- What part of the sentence describes the man? (made of silver light like the moon)
When we add this to the noun, we have an expanded noun phrase (a man made of silver light like the moon).
Explain that the bit at the beginning of the sentence before the verb tells us more about the verb (specifically it tells us where the man is sitting). The part of the sentence that tells us more about the verb is called an adverbial. And because it is at the beginning of the sentence, it is called a fronted adverbial.
Delete the fronted adverbial and ask the children to write their own to replace it. Remember It should say where the man is sat.
………. sat a man made of silver light like the moon.’
Alternatively, for children who need more support, cut out the cards from the Is it a Fronted Adverbial? sheet.
- Can you work out which are fronted adverbials and which are not by trying them out at the beginning of the sentence?
- Which could make sense? Which do not make sense?
Using the Verb Cards, challenge the children to write a sentence of their own using the same structure as the one from the story.
Alternatively, for children who need more support have them generate sentences using the fronted adverbial, verb and expanded noun phrase cards.
Gather the class. Display the sentence
‘And in the chair, in the purple shadow of the purple silk, sat a man made of silver light like the moon.’
Invite the children to close their eyes and imagine the scene in their mind’s eye.
Now reorder the sentence: A man made of silver light like the moon sat in the chair in the purple shadow of the silk.
Again read the sentence and invite the children to close their eyes and imagine the scene in their minds-eye.
- Are there any differences in the picture that is created in your minds-eye? (They may not be able to articulate a response at this stage, which is fine. Some might be able to tell you that there is an order that you see things. By leaving it to the end of the sentence to reveal the man, there is a greater build of suspense).
- Which do you prefer?
Direct speech is punctuated to help the reader understand who is speaking and to support understanding. The approach adopted in this lesson allows children to derive the rules for punctuating speech from the language in use. This makes them active in the process and also serves to encourage them to attend to detail. After an initial investigation, the rules are clarified and extended, if needed. The children then apply their knowledge in writing.
- Copies of Cloud Tea Monkeys, at least one between two.
- Alternatively, copies of page 33, at least enough for one between two.
This lesson is a good follow on from the improvised conversation.
In pairs, ask the children to reread page 33 and 34 aloud. Then ask them to look at the direct speech (the words that are spoken by the characters).
- Can you locate some examples of direct speech?
Next, ask them to work in pairs to see if they can identify any rules for writing direct speech.
Gather the class and take suggestions.
Construct ‘Rules for writing direct speech’ with the class. Clarify if there are any misunderstandings. Draw attention to any points that have been overlooked by the children.
- Each new character’s speech starts on a new line (notice switch between Tashi and The Royal Tea-Maker on page 35).
- Direct speech is opened with inverted commas (speech marks) and closed with inverted commas (speech marks)
- Each line of speech starts with a capital letter.
- The line of speech ends with a comma, full-stop, exclamation mark or question mark.
- A reporting clause (speech tag) is used at the end, in the middle or even at the beginning of the direct speech (she said, Tashi said)
- Sometimes speech has no reporting clause (speech tag)
- A full stop goes after the reporting clause.
Write a couple of examples from the story to confirm and reinforce the rules.
“No, sir,” she said. “I cannot fly.”
Write a couple of examples without the punctuation for the children to correct. (The examples below have been simplified for teaching purposes). They can work on whiteboards.
- Are you able to fly he said
- Tashi said I cannot fly
- I have my secrets too he whispered
Ask for volunteers to demonstrate. Clarify and reinforce the rules as appropriate.
Working independently, ask the children to write their improvised scenes from the previous lesson, using what they have learnt about writing direct speech.
Share the writing.
Clarify and reinforce how dialogue is written.
Display the class rules for writing speech as a prompt.
A story can be told from different points of view. Cloud Tea Monkeys is a third-person story, which is mainly limited to Tashi’s point of view. There are, however, scenes in the pictures which Tashi does not see (the monkeys taking away the basket). This is so that the reader knows more than Tashi about what is happening at this point in the story (dramatic irony).
In this lesson, the children use the colour illustrations which appear on almost every page as a prompt for retelling the story from Tashi’s point of view, thus transposing the story from a third person to a first-person narrative. The children are invited to consider how telling the story in the first person changes it, i.e. has a different effect.
- Copies of Cloud Tea Monkeys, at least one between two
- Or copies of the full-colour illustrations. You will only use one illustration between two, and they are not going to be written on, so it may be worth laminating a set for future use.
- Number the illustrations so that the children know which order they are in.
Distribute the illustrations, a different illustration per pair.
Ask the children to use their allocated illustration to retell that part of the story. Explain that they are going to tell the story from Tashi’s point of view. That means they will use the pronoun ‘I’. Check that they understand and model if needed.
Allow time for the children to practise telling their section of the story.
Organise a class retelling. Make sure the children know which pair comes before them in the sequence, to aid a smooth transition from one section of the story to the next.
Remind the children to speak audibly, if necessary.
- How do you imagine the story would be different if it were the overseer telling the story or Aunt Sonam?
- Are there parts of the story that they wouldn’t be able to tell?
- Which part of the story did you most enjoy?
- Did you learn anything new from reading this story?
This session uses the story as a starting point for developing children’s knowledge about tea production and trading. It can be extended into a wider topic about the importance of the trading links and the Silk Road.
Optional: set some homework before this lesson:
- Can you find out how much Cloud Tea costs How much does the same quantity of basic black tea cost in the supermarket?
- What is the most expensive tea in the world? How much does it cost? (China’s ancient bushes in Da Hong Pao produce one of the most expensive teas in the world. It costs more than 30 times the price of gold.
- For this lesson, you will need a selection of teas, if possible teas with distinctive flavours. Some good contrasting flavours would be Assam (strong black tea) Early Grey (delicate with bergamot) Green Tea, Lapsang Souchong (peaty Chinese black tea) Gunpowder (smoky flavour). The teas will be tasted without milk.
Teacher’s Note The usual checks for food allergies and intolerances need to be carried out before this session.
- Download and print copies of the Taster’s Checklist
- Download and print a copy of the Tea-Taster’s edict.
Re-read pages 29 – 31 and discuss the pictures. Tea tasting is a serious business.
Now read the proclamation that you have ‘received’ from the Royal Tea-Taster requesting information about the best teas in the land. You have been ordered to taste the teas in your regions and submit your reports. You will be rewarded for careful descriptions and honest opinions.
Make a selection of three teas with distinctly different flavours. They do not have to be hot for tasting, so allow them to cool down before trying them. Do this as a class activity. Take three volunteers for each tea so that you have a range of comments to record.
Here is a simplified version of the characteristics of tea tasting.
Complete the Tea Taster’s chart with your comments.
|What to look for||My notes.|
|Look at the dry leaves.
Colour – describe the colour of the leaves are they green, brown or another colour?
|Now try the infused tea.|
Writing a report
Briefly explain how you might set out the report
First paragraph – a description of the dried leaves
The second paragraph describing the aroma
The third paragraph describing the colour and hue
A fourth paragraph describing the taste and finish
Final paragraph – recommendation
The paragraphs will be short.
Share writing and evaluate for clarity.
Children may not be familiar with the idea of receiving a letter through the post as informal letter writing is no longer a common activity. This lesson is partly a provocation to consider what might be special about receiving a handwritten letter or card as opposed to receiving an email or text. It also provides examples of letter writing and allows children to write a thank you letter from Tashi to the Royal Tea-Taster.
- Collection of books which feature letters (optional) (see additional resources) We suggest that children are given some time to browse these resources before this lesson is taught.
- A collection of letters for sorting (optional)
- If you have any personal collections of letters, that you feel comfortable sharing with the children, it would add a personal dimension and reinforce the point that special letters are often kept and that they hold memories.
- Selection of stationery for children to write their thank you letters Cheap but decorative station from bargain shops could add additional interest and authenticity, if available to you.
Start by ascertaining children’s personal experience
- Have you ever received a letter or card through the post?
- How did it make you feel to receive a letter?
- Did you share it with anyone? Did you write back?
Introduce the term correspondence, which is used when people exchange letters.
Have you ever sent a thank you letter?
- Are there times when a handwritten letter could be better than sending an email?
- Letters take time to write. Someone has sat down to deliberately write to you.
- They may have chosen special stationery.
- You can keep a letter.
If you have gathered a collection of letters distribute them to the class and ask them to sort into friendly or informal letters and official or formal letters. Briefly discuss some of the features of different letters.
Explain that they are going to write a thank you letter in the role of Tashi to the Royal Tea-Taster to thank him for his generosity and to tell him how life has changed.
Some of the features to include:
- Tashi’s on the top right-hand corner of the page.
- Greeting — Several variations can be used depending on how well you know the person: Dear Royal Tea-Taster, Hi Royal Tea-Taster, Greetings (which would be best in this instance and why?)
- Complimentary close — short comment, for example, Love, Lots of love, With thanks, See you soon (again consider what might be the best way of closing this letter
Ask for volunteers to share their letters.
- What is the most exciting thing that you have learnt about writing letters?
Optional: write back to the children in the role of the Royal Tea-Taster. You could write on purple paper and post the letter in a purple envelope, perhaps writing with a gold or silver pen. Maybe the class can guess who the letter is from? You can tell them that the class has received some correspondence from the Royal Tea-Taster.
This book could be used as a stimulus for developing broader knowledge and debate about Fairtrade and child labour. The sources below have resources, case studies and lesson plans that can be adapted.
- The Fairtrade Foundation provides a range of resources and plans for primary schools (see resources).
- Fair Trade Wales also has a teachers resource which could be adapted for use with this book (see resources).
To investigate and identify design features of tea packaging including the use of persuasive language.
Make a collection of interesting tea packaging. Ask children to bring in from home.
Distribute the tea packets
Make a collective list of the information that can be found on a tea packet.
- What is factual?
- Can you find examples of persuasive language?
Provide a simple cuboid net. You can make one by unfolding a packet.
Display and evaluate the packets against criteria agreed with the children.