The Eruption


Mood is a literary element that the writer uses to evoke certain feelings in readers through words and descriptions. It is sometimes called the atmosphere.Text marking can support the comprehension of texts in different ways. In this lesson, it is used to identify areas where the author has created mood effectively. This extends into choral reading accompanied by sound effects created using vocal effects and body parts. 


  • Copies of Escape from Pompeii, at least one between two.
  • Prepared enlarged (A3) photocopy of page 20 for annotating, or the use of sticky notes.
  • Text marking is preferred for this process.


Text Marking

Start by asking the children to re-read page 20. 

Ask them to mark the text

  • by circling anything that they don’t understand
  • highlighting and annotating fragments of language (words, phrases and sentences) that they find particularly effective. The annotation should explain why they think their examples are effective.

Gather the class.

First of all consider any areas of puzzlement and clarify meaning.

Then share examples of effective language, evaluating  and in particular explaining its effect in use with close reference to the text. During the discussion, make a list of examples of descriptive language. Add any that are not picked up by the children. They can include:

  • And then, in one terrible endless moment, they heard mighty Vesuvius roar
  • Pompeii disappeared beneath a blanket of ash and stones. 
  • twisting and bubbling…
  • exploded in a scream…

Choral reading

Using the same copies of page 20 (or fresh copies if preferred). Ask:

  • Do you think each paragraph on this page should be read at the same pace and with the same expression? 

Read the page aloud, inviting the children to notice where you read with greater volume, pace and expression. On the second reading the class should join in. Once the children are familiar with reading the page aloud, organise them into groups of four. 

Adding sound effects

Explain that you will not be using instruments for this part but can use voices and bodies to create sounds to accompany a reading. Give time for experimentation before sharing ideas and agreeing on sound effects. One half of the class will read the page aloud while the other half accompany with the sound effects. 

Final reflection

  • Did adding sound help you understand this part of the story better?
  • How did you convey the mood through sound?
  • Are there any other parts of the story you think could work with sound effects?