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Lynn Sear


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Donny Morrison

Senior Consultant

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A Writing Root for The Bear Under the Stairs


£5.00 (inc. VAT)

KS: R & KS1

Year Group: Year 2

Literary Theme: Bravery vs. Fear

Author(s): Helen Cooper


Letters, retellings, own version narratives

Main Outcome:

Information text


15 sessions, 3 weeks

Overview and Outcomes:

This is a three-week Writing Root in which children will look at the book The Bear Under the Stairs and use it as a model to discuss their fears and how they deal with them.  Children will write letters of advice to the main character and back before writing their own story of a child who is scared of something that might be in the house.  The sequence of learning finishes with children making comparisons between real bears and toy bears and using this as the basis for an information report about bears to give to William to help him feel less scared.

Synopsis of Text:

William is scared of the place under the stairs. He is absolutely sure there's a great big and probably hungry grizzly bear lurking there. He is utterly convinced that the bear will gobble him up if he doesn't feed it, so every day he carefully opens the door, throws in some food and slams it shut quickly - wham, bang, thump!

Find out what happens when a nastly smell pervades the house and Mum and William decide to investigate . . .

Text Rationale:

This gorgeous, lyrical text tells the story of a boy called William who is convinced that a bear is living under the stairs. As the story is told in rhyme and uses alliteration, it is a great way for children to review certain phonemes, particularly different ways to make the /a/ sound. The repetitive language ‘wham, bang, thump’ is also a fun way to encourage children to join in with the reading. It also has strong PSHE links, particularly around overcoming fears and speaking to a trusted adult. Helen Cooper is a significant and prolific author who won the Kate Greenaway award twice for two consecutive books.

Links and themes:

Fear, bravery, bears, phonics, family, speaking to a trusted adult, overcoming fears, the power of imagination, fact and fiction

Date written: September 2014

Updated: October 2023

A Spelling Seed is available for The Bear Under the Stairs.

Spelling Seed Overview:


This is a three-session spelling seed for the book The Bear Under the Stairs by Helen Cooper.  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.


Common Exception Words

any, bath, behind, children, door, pass, prove, steak, sugar, sure

Spelling Rules and Patterns

Homophones and other words that are often confused

The /ʌ/ sound spelt o

View The Bear Under the Stairs Spelling Seed

Literary Leaves within the same Literary Theme

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