Let’s Explore


A broad and deep understanding of vocabulary is fundamental to reading comprehension. A blended approach to teaching vocabulary is multifaceted, choosing the strategies that best suit the context, the type of words and the children’s existing knowledge and understanding.


  • An explorer’s hat, available from fancy dress suppliers
  • Download the Explore slideshow, or images printed and laminated.
    • Side 1: a girl with a map
    • Slide 2: footprints in a snowy landscape
    • Slide 3: an underwater cave
    • Slide 4: an unknown planet
    • Slide 5: an underground cavern
    • Slide 6: a shipwreck
    • Slide 7: a tropical island
    • Slide 8: a snow cave
    • Slide 9: a forest
    • Slide 10: a forest in the autumn

  • A map of the school and set of clues distributed around the school (rhyming clues are always fun.) One clue should lead you to another clue
  • ‘Treasure’ hidden somewhere in the school. Gold chocolate coins would work well as they relate to the gold treasure that the characters in the book are seeking.


Wear the explorer’s hat.

Tell the children that you are going on an expedition and that you have been given a clue.

Ask for a volunteer to help you read the clue and take suggestions as to where it leads. If you have followed the clue correctly, you should be able to find a second clue hidden at the location. Repeat the process several times until you reach the ‘treasure’.

Back in the classroom, explain that you have been on an expedition together, exploring the school and looking for treasure. Clarify the vocabulary if needed.

Distribute laminated photos or show the slideshow. In pairs, or small groups ask the children to discuss the pictures using the following prompts:

  • What would it be like to explore this place?
  • How would you prepare for your expedition?
  • What equipment would you need to take with you?
  • What might you discover?
  • Would you like to go on an expedition to this place?

Final reflection

Gather the class together. Take feedback. (They could take it in turns to wear the explorer’s hat when they are talking.)

Use the key vocabulary in discussion and encourage the children to use it too.

  • What do you consider are the good qualities or characteristics of an explorer?
  • Do you think you would be a good explorer?
  • Where would you most like to explore?
  • In what sort of story would you expect the characters to go on an expedition or journey? (The children may not know, in which case tell them that adventure stories often have journeys, quests or expeditions. If they know any adventure stories, encourage them to share.)

Set up an ‘explore’ vocabulary wall where you can add images, related vocabulary, idioms, prompt questions and book jackets. Encourage the children to add associated images, sketches, writing. Refer to the wall periodically throughout teaching this sequence. You might, for instance, use it as a stimulus for a discussion using specific prompts. For example:

  • What vehicles could we travel in to explore these different places?
  • What dangers might we face?

How to Find Gold


This activity will encourage children to link what they have experienced already in stories they have read or heard. Making connections is an integral part of developing comprehension skills.


  • Print the How to Find Gold sheet, one per child.

Teacher’s note: if you are planning to use the visualisation lesson, do not show the book at this point.


Explain to the children that they are going to be reading a story called ‘How to Find Gold’. 

Display the title How to Find Gold in the centre of a sheet of paper. Around the title, there are three boxes: characters, setting and events. Ask the children to predict what they think this story may be about. Encourage them to consider stories they may have read before; this would be a good opportunity to refer to stories read during the immersive period.

What characters would you expect to see in this story?

  • Where is the story likely to be set?
  • What might happen in this story? (Answers may refer to the ‘How to find…’ part of the title; this implies that the story might be a quest or an instruction manual.)

Final reflection

Gather the class to share responses. Ask:

  • Can you explain why you made this prediction?

Searching for Gold


Immersion in a book-related theme or topic is a way of building background knowledge and stimulating questions. The ‘gold’ themed display makes connections with the book, but also broader social and historical contexts. Children are invited to think about where gold comes from and why so much value is placed on it.  The romantic view of gold as an object of aspiration in fairy tales is questioned. The introduction has a simple introduction to the impact of mining for gold.


Set up a corner in the classroom for a ‘gold themed display. Some of the things you might include:

Make a signpost Eldorado (the land of gold)

  • Foam board mounted images (see the selection in resources which you can use).
  • Fairy tales and other stories where gold is prized, e.g. Jack and the Beanstalk, Rumpelstiltskin
  • Popular idioms which feature gold. (These should be examples that the children are likely to encounter.)
    • heart of gold
    • as good as gold
    • all that glitters is not gold
  • Gold lame fabric – cheap online suppliers.
  • Treasure seeking artefacts such as an old compass, maps and telescope
  • Gold coins and a treasure chest.
  • A chalkboard for children to record thoughts and pose questions
  • Books about treasure.
  • Books about rocks and geology.
  • Prompts to encourage thinking, ‘ Who does the treasure belong to?’ ‘Where does gold come from?’  ‘Why is gold worth a lot of money?’
  • A large book for children to draw, write and create their treasure maps.

Teacher’s note: if you are planning to use the visualisation lesson, do not show the book at this point.


Make the display space available for different groups of children each day for a week before you introduce the new book,  How to Find Gold.

During this period, take the opportunity to share fairy stories and legends which feature gold, Possibilities:

  • Jack and the Beanstalk (The golden harp, the goose that laid the golden eggs, the giants gold coins).
  • Rumpelstiltskin (spinning straw into gold)
  • The Golden Goose (anyone who tries to steal the goose gets stuck to it)
  • The Golden Ball (or the Frog Prince). 
  • King Midas (everything he touches turns to gold)
  • Mother Holle (goodness is rewarded with gold)

Have a chalkboard available in the immersion area for children to write their thoughts and pose questions. You may want to offer a different prompt question each day to structure this.

At the end of each day, harvest the children’s ideas. Log ideas to be referred to in subsequent lessons.

Final reflection

gold, golden ore, treasure



Looking at the conditions required for plant growth will enable the children to understand some of the vocabulary used in the book. There is an ‘ailing’ plant at the beginning of the text and the words ‘sapling’, and ‘seeds’ are used.

Teacher’s Note: This activity can be revisited daily over a fortnight so that children benefit from watching seeds grow into a plant. The children may like to keep a seed diary which they complete each day, noting any changes that they observe.


  • You will need to buy some seeds, such as broad beans or cress.
  • Clear plastic bags, such as sandwich bags, or small clear pots for the plants to grow in (clear sandwich bags or clear pots enables children to see the growing process)
  • Cotton wool or kitchen roll to absorb and retain moisture.
  • A seed diary or a class observation chart may be useful for the children to note their observations.


Begin by taking the children on a walk around the school grounds, asking them to identify some common plants and trees that they can see. Ask:

  • What do you know about how plants and trees begin their lives?

After explaining how seeds grow into plants, search the grounds to identify some seeds, e.g. horse chestnut seeds, acorns.

Organise the children into pairs, or you may prefer for them to work individually. Explain that you are going to give them a seed to nurture over the next two weeks.

Provide the children with:

  • a seed
  • a clear plastic bag or container
  • some kitchen roll or cotton wool
  • a small amount of water.

Explain that the kitchen roll or cotton wool will need to remain damp (but not too wet!) as you watch your seed grow over the next two weeks. Allow the children time to place their damp kitchen roll or cotton wool into the plastic bag. The seed will need to rest on it.

Place all the containers where the children can access them daily. If you have used sandwich bags, you could hang them on a washing line.

Final reflection

Discuss the changes to the seed that the children observe on a daily basis. Use the key vocabulary where appropriate.