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Donny Morrison

Senior Consultant

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Book status: The book for this planning sequence is currently reprinting or out of print and therefore not in stock at most booksellers. If you do not already own the book, we would recommend this planning sequence as an alternative:

Alternative sequence

A Spelling Seed for The Lion and the Unicorn


KS: Lower KS2

Year Group: Year 4

Literary Theme: Taking Courage

Author(s): Shirley Hughes


This is a three-session spelling seed for the book The Lion and the Unicorn by Shirley Hughes.  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

address, busy/business, difficult, experience, heart, history, potatoes, recent

Spelling Rules and Patterns

Words with the /k/sound spelt ch (Greek in origin)

Words with the /ʃ/ sound spelt ch (mostly French in origin)

Words with the /s/ sound spelt sc (Latin in origin)

A Writing Root is available for The Lion and the Unicorn.

Writing Root Overview:


Letters, diary entries, character and setting descriptions, non-chronological reports

Main Outcome:

Own version historical narrative


18 sessions, 3+ weeks

Overview and Outcomes:

This is a three-plus week Writing Root using The Lion and the Unicorn by Shirley Hughes, where children explore the text in its historical context and discuss the themes and imagery within, e.g. the Blitz and evacuees. They explore a range of grammatical concepts including dialogue to create inference about a character, a variety of noun phrases to create description, character comparisons using conjunctions, personification and prepositions to describe a setting. Children write a range of diary entries, letters, character comparisons, setting descriptions and finish by writing their own evacuation narrative. There is also an optional additional opportunity to write a non-chronological report about women in World War 2 (WW2), as well as two optional additional spelling sessions.

Synopsis of Text:

As Lenny's father goes off to fight in the second world war he gives his son a brass badge with a lion and a unicorn on it. Lenny keeps it with him when bombs are dropped on his street and when he has to be evacuated to a big house in the country. He misses his parents a great deal and the other children there and at school are spiteful in teasing him. But he finds a secret walled garden to escape to with a stone unicorn. Here he meets the wounded soldier Mick and learns again how hard it is to be brave. It is the unicorn who finally rescues him from his sadness and loneliness and proves itself to be his guardian angel by bringing his mother to him.

Text Rationale:

Written by beloved children’s author Shirley Hughes, this is a story filled with courage and compassion.  Set against the backdrop of World War Two, there are obvious links to the history curriculum with insights into measures such as evacuation and rationing in context.  This is a longer picture book which will help develop stamina for reading, complemented by heartfelt illustrations which will draw out many inferences from children.

Links and themes:

World War Two, WW2, the Blitz, evacuees, evacuation, London, courage, bravery

Date written: January 2017

View The Lion and the Unicorn Writing Root

Literary Leaves within the same Literary Theme

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