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A Spelling Seed for The Man Who Walked Between the Towers


KS: Upper KS2

Year Group: Year 5

Literary Theme: Ambition & Desire

Author(s): Mordicai Gerstein


This is a two-session spelling seed for the book The Man Who Walked Between the Towes by Mordicai Gerstein.  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

achieve, amateur, desperate, disastrous, embarrass (+ment), excellent, guarantee, marvellous

Spelling Rules and Patterns

Words ending in –able and –ible, ably and –ibly

A Writing Root is available for The Man Who Walked Between the Towers.

Writing Root Overview:


Fact files, journalistic writing, setting descriptions, letters of advice, persuasive speeches

Main Outcome:



15 sessions, 3 weeks

Overview and Outcomes:

In this 3+ week Writing Root using The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein, children explore how a real-life story has been portrayed as fiction. They consider a diary entry found written by Philippe Petit just before he leaves to walk between the towers and write letters of advice to him, considering the pros and cons. After reading up to the point of the act, children write a recount in the first person as the main character. As witnesses and reporters, they create news updates for The New York Times or write content for an American news programme. They also role play making a speech as Philippe Petit in court, defending himself and his actions. Finally, the children gather everything they have learnt about Philippe Petit and write a biographical account of his life, researching where needed to fill in gaps about childhood and events prior to this.

Synopsis of Text:

In 1974, French aerialist Philippe Petit threw a tightrope between the two towers of the World Trade Center and spent an hour walking, dancing, and performing high-wire tricks a quarter mile in the sky. This picture book captures the poetry and magic of the event with a poetry of its own: lyrical words and lovely paintings that present the detail, daring, and the vertiginous drama of Petit's feat.

Text rationale:

This tale of daring, written in lyrical prose by Mordecai Gerstein is based on the true exploits of daredevil Philippe Petit. Children will be enthralled by the poetic language used to portray this magical feat, as well as by the detailed illustrations – including two foldout spreads of the New York skyline.  The book was the winner of the 2004 Caldecott Medal and the Boston Globe-Horn Award for Picture Books.  Links can be made to the history and DT curriculums and used as a starting point to discuss themes of justice, recognition and following your dreams.  

Links and themes:

America, New York, figures from history, circus, famous people, daring, courage, following your dreams, justice, recognition

Date written: July 2014

Updated: September 2022

View The Man Who Walked Between the Towers Writing Root

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