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A Home Learning Branch for Flotsam


KS: Lower KS2

Year Group: Year 3

Author(s): David Wiesner

This is a Home Learning Branch for Flotsam.  These branches are designed to support home learners to access literature-based learning using a selection of books we love from Writing Roots.  They include purposeful writing suggestions, links to the wider curriculum so that texts can be used across other subjects, key questions as well as spelling or phonics investigations.

A Writing Root is available for Flotsam.

Writing Root Overview:


Postcards, setting descriptions, non- chronological reports, message in a bottle letters

Main Outcome:

Sequel (mystery narrative)


15 sessions, 3 weeks

Overview and Outcomes:

This is a three-week Writing Root for Flotsam by David Wiesner in which children dicsover a range of ‘Flotsam’ items (either after a visit to the seaside, or that have appeared in the classroom). One item is a camera that contains mysterious photographs that the children must investigate. These photos come from the book Flotsam by David Wiesner. Children go on to read and reflect on the book, making predictions and retelling orally and in writing. Later in the sequence of learning, the children have the opportunity to create their own sequel to the story, called Jetsam, where they write the story of the child who next finds the camera. As an optional additional study, this could also link to a study of the history of cameras and report writing about this and could include a historical link about the way cameras have changed the way history is recorded.

Synopsis of Text:

A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam-anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there's no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share . . . and to keep.

Text Rationale:

Flotsam is a great example of a wordless picture book that creates engagement through its detailed sequence of images, rather than its text and, as such, requires a high level of inference.  The author and illustrator, David Wiesner, is famous for creating other wordless texts, such as Tuesday and Free Fall.  Flotsam won the Caldecott Medal in 2007 as well as being recognised by several other awards, and was chosen as the New York Times best illustrated children’s book that year. At heart it is a humorous fantasy story that also looks closely at the cyclical nature of life, as well as the ultimate power of nature.  

Links and themes:

Wordless, seasides, adventures, mystery, cameras, oceans, under the sea, life cycles, human connection

Date written: July 2014

Updated: April 2023

View Flotsam Writing Root

A Spelling Seed is available for Flotsam.

Spelling Seed Overview:


This is a three-session spelling seed for the book Flotsam by David Wiesner.  Below is the coverage from Appendix 1 of the National Curriculum 2014.

Spelling Seeds have been designed to complement Writing Roots by providing weekly, contextualised sequences of sessions for the teaching of spelling that include open-ended investigations and opportunities to practise and apply within meaningful and purposeful contexts, linked (where relevant) to other areas of the curriculum and a suggestion of how to extend the investigation into home learning.

There is a Spelling Seed session for every week of the associated Writing Root.


Word List Words

bicycle, material, occasion(ally), recent, separate, strange, various

Spelling Rules and Patterns

More prefixes: sub–, auto– and re– and their effect on a word

Words with endings sounding like /ʒə/ or /tʃə/

View Flotsam Spelling Seed
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