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Pippa McGeoch

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A Spelling Seed for Black Dog


KS: Lower KS2

Year Group: Year 3

Literary Theme: Overcoming Adversity

Author(s): Levi Pinfold


This is a three-session spelling seed for the book Black Dog by Levi Pinfold.  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

breath, breathe, consider, continue, decide, forward(s), through

Spelling Rules and Patterns

The suffix -ous and -ly

Adding suffixes beginning with vowel letters to words of more than one syllable

A Writing Root is available for Black Dog.

Writing Root Overview:


Postcard, dialogue, retelling, description

Main Outcome:

Own version ‘suspense’ narrative


15 sessions, 3 weeks

Overview and Outcomes:

In this Writing Root children will be reading the book Black Dog by Levi Pinfold and identifying the structure of the text. They will look at the issue of the size of the dog and how it relates to fear and worry.  Children will write their own suspenseful story based on a fear they might have using the structure of Black Dog. This will provide opportunities to embed speech, and adverbials for how, where and when, which they will apply within their own writing.

Synopsis of Text:

A black dog appears outside the Hope family's home. As each member of the household sees it and hides, the dog grows bigger and bigger. Only Small, the youngest Hope, has the courage to face the Black Dog. When it chases her through the forest she shows no fear, so it grows smaller and smaller. Finally, back to the size of a normal hound, the Black Dog is welcomed into the Hope household as their newest addition.

Text Rationale: 

This poignant story by author-illustrator Levi Pinfold won the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal and provides the perfect springboard for discussing children’s fears and how to confront them.  Told as a metaphor and using repetition and rhyme, it lends itself well to the study of literary language. The visually stunning illustrations which accompany the text also help reinforce the metaphor and invite high levels of inference from the children. Strong PSHE links can be made throughout.

Links and themes:

Dogs, fear, bravery, hope, emotions, family

Date written: February 2014         Updated: December 2020

View Black Dog Writing Root

A Home Learning Branch is available for Black Dog.

Home Learning Branch Overview:

This is a Home Learning Branch for Black Dog.  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.

View Black Dog Home Learning Branch

Literary Leaves within the same Literary Theme

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