Monthly Archives: November 2017

Megan Shepherd, The Secret Horses of Briar Hill

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 10.04.20Set in the midst of WW2, this is a beautiful, mysterious, adventurous yet, mostly, very sad story which is full of imagery. Emmaline, a young evacuee from Nottingham, has been sent to Briar’s Hill hospital suffering from ‘the stillwaters’. The hardships of war and illness combine to create a rather grey world, but Emmaline has a secret: she can see winged horses in the mirrors of the old house where they are being treated. When she finds an injured winged horse in the garden and begins receiving letters from The Horse Lord setting her the mission of saving the horse, she becomes absorbed by the challenge which literally brings colour into her grey world.

As the story progresses, we gradually piece together more about Emmaline’s past and about the illness the children are afflicted with as she struggles to protect the horse before it is too late. There are many details in the narrative and descriptions which you may need to return to at as the story develops to be sure you have worked everything out fully…

Although  the large numbers of pictures may lead people to think this is a book for younger confident readers, it really isn’t. The illustrations are wonderful drawings that add to the mystery of the text and help to create a deeply imaginative and emotional story which is only likely to be understood or enjoyed by older readers.

If anyone does read this, it would be interesting hear what you think about it. The afterword from the author suggests that there is more than one interpretation of the ending to the story and she does not reveal which she intended, preferring instead to leave this to the reader’s own imagination.

Posted in Book Blog, Book reviews, pupils, Year 6 | Leave a comment

Colour blindness

Screen Shot 2017-11-23 at 22.36.47When we were trying to understand more about colour vision today, some people asked some really good questions about how people who are ‘colour blind’ see colours. This is very difficult to describe exactly as it is difficult to know exactly what someone sees compared to somebody else. However, this image may give you some idea of the effect that being ‘red-green’ colour-blind has on how somebody sees the spectrum of colours we looked at today. Looking at this image, you can see why, for some people, blues would become such an important colour.


Posted in pupils, Science, Year 6 | Leave a comment

The Legend of the Silver Galleon, a ghost story by Dolphin19

“Come on Mama! Grampa’s going to tell us the Silver Galleon story!” cried Jack.
“Now, I still think you’re too young for these ghost stories,” Mama said firmly.
“Lay off it Jess!” said Grampa, “And listen!”

I was a boy I was. No older than nine years of age. My father was a gifted sailor and had taken me down to the harbour to help prepare his ship (The Queen Mary) for his voyage to America that cold December morning. 1842 was a good year for sailing, my father had told me, because ships had recently undergone some industrial changes to make them faster and stronger.
“Papa! It’s too early! I’m extremely tired!” I moaned.
“Well you need to get used to it laddy. And anyway, Grandma and Grandpa can’t look after you forever! Your mother wouldn’t have wanted her only son to be lazy.” Papa advised in his thick Irish accent.
“Papa? What is that?” I asked but he didn’t reply.

He was transfixed: eyes staring in horror; mouth open hands rapidly shaking. It looked pure and solid like a silver goblet. At first, I thought Old Bob (a lively fisherman) was playing a little joke on me and Papa until I saw the name of the ship. Barely visible amongst decaying water reeds was the peeling silver-painted name of the ship – The Silver Galleon… I had never believed the legend about the galleon that haunted Belfast harbour from midnight to 5 am on the 6th day of every month on an even year. Until now.

I might not have believed the legend but I was terrified of it just in case it was true. The legend told how the Silver Galleon was sunk in a battle between the British and the Dutch in April 1670 with the loss of her entire crew. Since then, the captain and his doomed vessel had continued to sail these waters… The captain (John Silver) would lure children onto the ship and slowly (but brutally) murder them by taking their souls.

Papa turned on his heels to face me and grabbed my shoulders.
“Jeremy! Run! Far away from here and don’t ask questions either! Just run for your life and back home. NOW!” whispered Papa hurriedly. But it was too late. A hypnotising song pulled us onto the ship and locked us below the deck.

“Papa I’m scared. What are we to do?” I asked.
“We need to find a way out!” said Papa, “Follow me!”

For what seemed like hours, we walked until we came to a door Papa seemed to recognise. We went in and the door slammed shut behind us.
“Well, well, well! Look what we have here!” A booming voice echoed through the room, “After six years of toddlers, we have a boy and a man!”

A tall, silvery figure rose through the floor. He had a small silver beard and a long black coat with gold-stitched trims. We only saw him for a few seconds because father lunged for him and stepped on a loose plank.
“Papa!” I yelled as a razor-sharp axe catapulted towards him.

Time seemed to get slower as the axe flew through the air. All of my happy memories with him flashed before my eyes. The blade struck Papa’s head and he fell to his knees.
“Nooooooooo!” I cried, tears running down my face. I ran towards him just as he closed his eyes for the very last time…

Fifteen minutes later, I finally had the courage to get to my feet. My hands were covered in Papa’s blood. I screamed. A lot. Gradually, I bent down and eased the blood-covered axe from my father’s pale head. Lifting the axe above my head, I made my way towards the door and started trying to chop it down.

“Ha, ha, ha, ha! Are you trying to escape little boy? You’re going to have to try much harder than that!” sneered John Silver gliding through the wall and entering the room yet again. He had grey blood-shot eyes and a large gash covered most of his left cheek. His black boots hovered fine inches above the floor and a dark captain’s hat perched on his ghostly head.
“Grab him!”
I swung the axe one last time and the door came down. Running through the maze of corridors, I got extremely lost while dodging various ghosts from John Silver’s crew until I found a staircase going down… but what I saw there was something I would never unsee…

Terrified, I crept down the stairs. The bodies were piled untidily on top of each other. There were children, men and women. I saw, in a dark corner, the bodies of the crew had been shoved. Then I heard someone coming down the stairs. I looked around frantically but there was nowhere to hide.

“Jeremy? Wha’ ya doin’ down ‘ere?” asked the friendly voice of Old Bob, the fisherman.
“Bob! I’m so happy it’s you!” I cried.
“Where’s ya father?” Bob asked.
“Dead,” I replied, “They killed him…
“Wa’? No! I bet you’re playin’ a trick on me ya are! ‘E’ll jump out righ’ now ‘e will!” Bob said.
“No… I’m not.” I whispered.
“Well we really need to get out ‘er ‘ere we do,” Bob told me. “Follow me.

Bob led me back onto the deck and we were just about to leave the ship when John Silver and his crew leapt in front of us.
“I’m afraid I can’t let you leave!” John Silver cackled.
“Well then! We’ll make ya!” Old Bob said, fiercer than I had ever heard him before.

He grabbed the nearby sword of a crew member and started fighting John Silver.
Old Bob quickly swivelled his sword and sent John Silver’s flying.
“Well you may have won this battle but we have won the war!” cried John Silver, disappearing along with the rest of his crew.
“Come on Jeremy. We have much to discuss,” said old Bob. “Now, I know you have lost your father tonight, and this will be hard for you to get through, but your grandparents were also murdered…”

I remember crying and asking what I was to do. He told me that I could live with him. I agreed and I asked to go and pack my things. He told me that I could do what I wanted to do there and take as long as I wanted.

“And that is the story, or my story, of the Silver Galleon.” Grampa finished off.
“Wow! Grampa! That was a great story!” Jack gasped.

And to this day, the Silver Galleon continues to roam in Belfast harbour so you need to be careful… their next target might be you!

Posted in Ghost stories, Literacy, pupils, Year 6 | 1 Comment

The Legend of the Clorinda, a ghost story by Marmoset29

1st June 1785,1:04 am

The blue-green waves persistently hammered against the ship’s hull, hungry for revenge. Howling, the wind, which too was desperate for the death of these men, tore through the sails of Clorinda, leaving them ragged and of no use. Captain Andrew Tailor, notorious for his cruel leadership and lust for gold, banished people into the ravenous sea in an attempt to save his treasure.

Once he had started, he didn’t stop: the man, who was evidently wrong in the head, flung all sorts of things overboard — he even ruptured the galleon’s figurehead and thrust it into the sea below. But, if anything, this only made things worse: the ship had lost the majority of its weight, making it much more likely for it to capsize. Within five minutes, the ongoing screams of rage had come to an end: the boat had overturned.

30th April, 2006

“Finally! We’re here!” exclaimed Becca in her sing-song voice.
“From what you’ve been saying, it sounds like you’ve been here your whole life,” moaned Charlie.
“Says you!” snapped Becca and the two of them began to squabble bitterly.
“Oh! Shut up!” Ella complained but then too joined in the argument.

Charlie, a boy with glistening green eyes and chestnut brown hair, had six sisters and a brother yet his eldest five siblings were off at university leaving his stuck with Ella, Becca and his mum. Impatient, Charlie waited as the walkway was lowered onto the land. For five long hours he had been cooped up in his cabin and, finally, they had arrived in France. Seizing the opportunity to escape the clutches of his two elder sisters, the boy raced ahead. He was desperate to reach their holiday cottage first and excited to see the harbour: he had heard of the legend of Clorinda and was determined to prove it. Eventually slowing, he glimpsed the sea. Stretching out before him, the blue-green sea sparkled in the afternoon sun – it was breath-taking. However, he was not looking where he was going and the 11-year-old suddenly felt something holding him back. Confused and petrified, the terrified young boy soon realised what it was…
“H-h-hi … A-Andrew”, stuttered Charlie.

A year ago, Charlie had visited France on holiday and Andrew, the harbour master, and Charlie hadn’t got off to the best start. Andrew, an intimidating old man, had caught Charlie on several occasions sneaking around the harbour and, for some reason, especially at night, he was rather protective of it. Each time Charlie was caught, he would be threatened. If he disobeyed, he would be thrust into the sea, receiving a mouthful of salty water.

With a self-satisfied smirk spreading across his snow-white face, the ageing man gloated,‘Well, well, well. Look who it is ‘ere: Charlie Adams of England.”
His smirk as broad as ever, he continued, “In many ways I like an elephant I…”
“Don’t you mean I’m like an elephant?” Charlie noted.
“Dat’s what I said. Anyways, I’m like an elephant ‘cause I’m wrinkly AND I have a memory dat’s good AND I sink that I told you to stay away!” he said, emphasising the I’ms.
“You did,” the young boy replied, giggling nervously.
“So why ye’ ‘ere?” Andrew shouted after the boy as he scampered away.

Although he had been gone for what seemed like hours, no one had noticed his absence. Maybe it was just him but the clock read 1:50 and the boy could have sworn that he had departed from the ferry at that exact time. Had he imagined his conversation with Andrew? Surely not but, if so, something weird was going on here; something VERY weird. Confused by his own thoughts, he decided to get some rest: after all, it had been a long, tiresome journey.

Waking abruptly, Charlie rubbed his eyes. He had just had the most frightful nightmare and was bewildered by what it could mean. During the horrific dream, he had been somewhere – a boat perhaps. Someone was coming: their heavy footsteps thundering down the corridor and then… nothing. Racking his brain for any memory of what had happened next, the boy found nothing of interest. However, the clock had just struck 12-midnight. Thinking on his feet, Charlie had a sudden urge to visit the harbour: Andrew would surely be in bed, fast asleep, by now.

Avoiding the creaky floorboards, Charlie crept downstairs. The light was on. In two minds, the boy went upstairs as quickly as he dared. ‘If it’s Mum, she’ll be a while but Ella?’ he pondered. Suddenly, an idea clicked. ‘Of course! Why didn’t I think of it before?’ he thought to himself as he began to pick at the lock on the window.

After a few minutes, Charlie was stood in front of his house. Climbing down from his window, he had caught a scab and his knee was bleeding badly. Ignoring the pain throbbing through his left leg, he walked on, heading for the harbour.

As he reached the docks, he saw that he had obviously been mistaken — Andrew was there. It was almost as if he had been waiting for him. Startled, he ran and ran and ran. He continued running until he couldn’t run any more. Unaware of his whereabouts, the boy looked around. Wherever he was, it hadn’t been lived in in a while: wooden doors were rotting away; shop signs were torn; there was an eerie mist hanging around the houses. Troubled, the boy felt himself hastily rooted to the ground — unable to move.

Out of nowhere, Andrew appeared with a sinister grin on his face.
“Ever since I met you, I’ve wanted to do this and now I can,” he said with great satisfaction. Suddenly, he withdrew something from his pocket and, in an instant, Charlie fell, lifeless, to the floor.

No one knew what happened to Andrew after that. No trace was found.

Posted in Ghost stories, Literacy, pupils, Year 6 | 1 Comment

Alex’s last birthday, a (scary!) ghost story by Zebra3

Every day, Alex would escape from the bullying and block out his constant muttering to sit by the spot where he’d last seen his father. He would hope to see Father’s plump face reflected in the water as he thought about him but memories faded just like Father had.

Alex’s frustration and anger delved deep into his lonely heart and showed him his last day with Father. Precious memories like this were ruined by his overreacting emotions. The psychiatrist had said that he should go to a place where he felt special every day. Well, this was it — the harbour.

On Alex’s birthday, he would venture there, waiting for Father to take him home. No matter how much he longed for this, he knew he’d never see him again. He always stayed until a recognisable high moon lingered in the sky — which was usually about 12 o’clock. This time he didn’t go back as he felt the need to stay. His brain didn’t fight the urge: it was like something was tugging him towards the water for some peculiar reason. He closed his eyes. A vision lit up his mind: a ship; a letter; moaning souls — as well as his father. He opened them. The ship — the one from the vision — appeared. As soon as he saw it, he fainted onto the cold, hard concrete.


Awoken by an alarming thudding sound, Alex sat up, taking in the change of scenery. Cautiously, he turned around to see the rest of what appeared to be… the sea-bed! Questions, thoughts all filled his mind… as well as the vision.

Nervously, he closed his eyes to re-watch the puzzling images. Watching it again didn’t calm his mind; in fact, it made his head throb persistently and his eyes water. He looked down, trying to set his mind straight and answer his questions scientifically. But we all know there were no scientific answers! In the palm of his hand, he realised there was a sopping wet letter. It was addressed to Alex. Opening it carefully so as not to tear the fragile paper, he discovered the words, “…the ship, go!” It was from Father! Even more puzzled, he fainted again.

Almost drowning, he wisely decided to float to the top of the water. Where had the letter come from? Why was he down there? What did the vision mean? Enough! He realised he had to listen to the brief letter even if it wasn’t from Father as his life couldn’t get any worse… or could it?

Above the water, he gasped for fresh air then wondered how he’d stayed under water longer than one minute as he’d never been an excellent swimmer. Something strange had obviously happened that night but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

He looked around for something that might help him understand this weird phenomenon. To the right, he saw many people leaning over the barrier gaping at a vast cargo ship from the 1850s. As Alex looked at the immense crowd, he was struck to see that none of them were taken aback by this sight. The ship was clearly haunted: glowing rusted port-holes that every now and then revealed ghostly figures; the torn sails that imaged a haunting face; sudden bangs that shook the boat like a tsunami. Deciding to ignore these facts, he ventured towards the ladder that led to the rotting poop-deck.

The ship swayed and the pitter-patter of footsteps didn’t help when he reached the top. Like a radar, Alex picked up all the movement around him: spirits brushed against his sallow cheeks and phantoms shoved him as if to say, “Leave, you intruder!” Something about these eerie presences unsettled Alex, as it would anybody. Realising this was a bad idea, he ran to the ladder which he’d made his earlier entrance on. However, the ship thrust forward sending Alex sliding into what appeared to be a run-down storage room encasing a dark figure. Horror overtook his face as he tried to reach for the door.

“Alex!” called out the figure. “I thought I’d never see you again!” Alex didn’t recognise the man yet his voice comforted him. Uncovering his face from the dark hood freaked Alex out; it was Father!!! Alex spiralled onto his knees crying happy tears. Before he could recover…whoosh! Without warning, ‘Dad’ lunged forwards and inserted an odd-looking dagger in the heart of Alex! This was all so confusing. Alex cried out in horror and fell. He was dead. As this happened, a weird-looking glow flew out of his body. A soul. ‘Dad’ gulped it down and then stepped into Alex’s body like a suit. The squelching noises would make any unfortunate soul heave. He walked out of the room in his new skin…

Two moons later, ‘Alex’ sat grinning on his father’s bench with stitches running through the middle of his face and with one of his eyes gouged out. He was alive…

Posted in Ghost stories, Literacy, pupils, Year 6 | 1 Comment

Clive Gifford, Eye Benders, The Science of Seeing and Believing

Screen Shot 2017-11-23 at 21.36.14If you are interested in optical illusions and the science of how we see, this little non-fiction book may be a fun way to find out more.  Using clear diagrams to support the text, it will help you to understand what is going on in our eyes and our brains when we look at things. There are also some  interesting optical illusions in the book which you can try out. You will recognise some of the illusions and images we discussed when we looked at optical illusions in art earlier this term (including, for example, the cafe wall.)

One of my favourites is Beuchet’s chair. There are also some funny Screen Shot 2017-11-23 at 21.50.23photographs of a ‘man-eating lady’ and someone ‘carrying the moon’ in a wheelbarrow which use perspective to create trick photos. If you think it might be fun to create your own ‘trick’ photos, this could be a good book to get you started.


Posted in Book Blog, Book reviews, pupils, Science, Year 6 | Leave a comment

Our updated colour investigation.

We worked together today to ask and answer questions about colour. Our updated message board can be accessed by clicking on the image below.

Screen Shot 2017-11-23 at 21.32.31

Posted in pupils, Science, Year 6 | Leave a comment


View post

Posted in Book Blog, Book reviews, pupils, Year 6 | 1 Comment

Investigating colour and how we see it…

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 22.18.19Add to our class padlet investigating how we see colour. Click on the link and then click on the padlet to add a comment. Once your comment is approved, it will appear on the padlet.

Posted in pupils, Science, Year 6 | Leave a comment

Find out more about your eyes…

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 21.08.20Clicking on this image will take you to the National Geographic website where you can find out some interesting facts about our eyes and how we see.

Posted in pupils, Science, Year 6 | Leave a comment