Year 4

Each year, participating schools share the brilliant journeys that they take with Reading Gladiators

  • Runaway Robot

    We have loved reading this hilarious book over the last term and are excited to find out what our next book will be after half term. Our favourite part of the book was when Alfie first meets Eric and he sings ‘God save the king’ – it was so funny when we acted it out. Analysing the word ‘lost’ was really interesting for us, as we realised that people, robots and objects can all get lost, so maybe we aren’t all so different after all!


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 18th Oct 2021, 2:21pm
    Yes I think being 'unable to find your way' sums up elements of this story for both Alfie and Eric. Glad you enjoyed Frank's reading too! Humour is a vital ingredient in all his books for this age group.
  • Runaway Robot: Week 3

    Following from our previous session, the children had a go at designing their own robots as part of their weekly challenge. In the session itself, each child had a chance to showcase their robot and give a brief description of what it could do. I was amazed by the sheer amount of creativity shown through this activity. I especially like the candy making robot; such a sweet thought! We also started to look at a selection of other robot-themed books and decide on what RG rating we would give them. This is preparation for creating our Bookflix presentation to share with the rest of the school community. More is to come, so watch this space!


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 18th Oct 2021, 2:30pm
    Some more excellent robot creations from your group. We are looking forward to seeing your Bookflix.
  • Runaway Robot: Week 2

    After reading the beginning chapters of the book at home, we created a Role on the Wall for Alfie, identifying his thoughts and feelings while he was in the Lost Property area at the airport. Afterwards, we spent some time looking at the other robots that make an appearance in our story. We chose one to draw each and annotated our pictures with labels and quotations from the text. We all had a lovely time drawing our robots, myself included!


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 18th Oct 2021, 2:29pm
    Robots are indeed fascinating subjects. Some very creative designs here Gladiators.
  • Runaway Robot: Week 1

    The Year 4 Reading Gladiators team at Knockhall Primary School started their journey with ‘Runaway Robot’ the fantastically fun-filled novel by Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Before seeing the book, the children made a list of robots that they knew and drew a picture of their favourite robot to share with each other. They were then introduced to Eric through a draw along activity. I drew Eric on the whiteboard for the children to follow step-by-step with Steven Lenton’s video playing on the iPad. The final result was spectacular; the children’s drawings of Eric turned out brilliantly! To finish the session, the children listened to the Prologue with Alfie introducing the story.

  • Our Word of Mouse Wordrobe!

    This week, we explored some of Isaiah’s wonderfully creative vocabulary and displayed them on a ‘wordrobe’ so that we might explore their meanings and encourage others to think about some of their word choices.


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 12th Oct 2021, 4:01pm
    Wonderful wordy work Griffydam. Thank you for sharing.
  • Heathrow Women’s rights

    Heathrow Primary Gladiators have written stirring speeches championing Women’s Rights in the 19th century. Should women be allowed to vote? Do they deserve the same freedoms as men? Have a read of our persuasive speeches and let us know what you think.



    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 13th Jul 2021, 10:01pm
    Some powerful thoughts here Gladiators and some creative ways of presenting your thoughts regarding women's rights! You've convinced me! Well done! You have learned so much from this story.
  • ‘The Closest Thing to Flying’ – Weeks 3 & 4

    This book has really inspired us to think about issues that we feel strongly about and that we would be willing to protest about or stand up for. We decided that we would protest for women’s rights, animal rights, against slavery and for alcohol to be banned.

    We also talked a lot about the strong female characters in the book and how Kittie inspired both Hen & Semira to fight for their freedom from oppression. Their bikes symbolise freedom and power for both girls, as they give them the opportunity to get away from what it is that is keeping them prisoner. Semira’s bike even gives her the confidence to stand up to Robel in the park. Our whole group had a great time acting out this scene and really got into their characters with passion and flair.

    We have really enjoyed reading the book and are so close to the end now, we almost don’t want it to end despite the fact that we can’t wait to find out what happens.


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 8th Jul 2021, 8:36pm
    I remember feeling the same. We get so close to the girls and their stories, it is hard to step away at the end - but that is testament to Gill Lewis's absorbing writing isn't it? We are looking forward to hearing your thoughts about the end of the story.
  • Week 5: The Umbrella Mouse

    For their Half Term challenge, the children worked on their short stories for our anthology. Here, you will see an extract from one of the children’s work along with his wonderful senses map. His story is about Rip, one of the many rescue dogs who saved many lives during the Blitz. In the session itself, as we were coming to the end of our journey with Pip, we chose a moment that stood out to us from the book and drew pictures of it, using the beautiful illustrations by Sam Usher to guide us. The children wrote key quotes relating to their chosen moment and gave their own descriptions to say what had happened and the significance of the event in relation to the story. They worked so hard in the session, and their drawings were amazing, really capturing Usher’s style🙂


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 8th Jul 2021, 8:32pm
    Goodness what a lot of writing! We are delighted to hear that your pupils have been inspired by Sam Usher's illustrations. Have you got his weather picture books in school?
  • Week 4: The Umbrella Mouse

    Inspired by the courageous animals who served during the Second World War, the Year 4 Reading Gladiators started to create a special book for the school library at Knockhall; an anthology of short stories about the brave rescue dogs and carrier pigeons who were later awarded the Dickin Medal. We were inspired by David Long’s beautiful book as well as ‘The Umbrella Mouse’, but we planned to write our stories in first person rather than third, as so to give the animals themselves a chance to tell their heroic tales from their perspective and giving them a voice. In our session, we started work on our anthology with a group story about Royal Blue, a pigeon who was owned by King George VI and was later given the Dickin Medal for being the first pigeon to deliver a message from an aircraft forced to land in enemy territory.


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 8th Jul 2021, 8:27pm
    Your research and anthology sound fascinating and it is excellent to hear that you have also been inspired by the further reading recommendations.
  • ‘The Closest Thing to Flying’ – Weeks One & Two

    We are really enjoying this book, especially the historical aspects and seeing the differences between Victorian times and now. We had so much to say when we were comparing the two different parts of the front cover and even noticed some things that our teacher hadn’t!. All of us agree that Robel is not a nice man at all and we want Semira and her Mum to be able to escape from him and be free. We cannot wait to find out what happens further on in the story…


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 8th Jul 2021, 3:36pm
    Gill Lewis certainly draws the reader in to this fascinating story in the opening chapters. Both girls have the reader cheering them on and wishing them well. I don't think your group will be disappointed.
    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 8th Jul 2021, 3:49pm
    I still spot details in the cover after looking at it for two years!
  • Camera, Lights, Action!

    Heathrow Primary School Gladiators enjoyed dramatising a scene from ‘The Umbrella Mouse’. The children had to think about using their body language, gestures and expression to bring this scene to life. They had great fun in performing this!


  • Week 3: The Umbrella Mouse

    The children continued to read about Pip’s quest and in the session, we discussed more about Pip as a character. We wrote adjectives to describe her personality within a circle map and included examples from the story so far around it. We also explored more about the incredible rescue dogs and brave carrier pigeons who served during the Second World War and were later awarded with the Dickin Medal.

  • Week 2: The Umbrella Mouse

    As part of their weekly challenge, the children looked at different pictures of the actual umbrella shop in London, James Smiths and Sons, along with an online video showing a tour of the place. Using these resources, they had a go at writing descriptions about the shop. One child wrote his description so vividly it was as if he had actually been there himself. During the session, we started to read about the Dickin Medal and its recipients, including GI Joe, who is featured in our book.

  • Week 1: The Umbrella Mouse

    Before reading their next book, the Year 4 Reading Gladiators created fact files about the Second World War as part of their weekly challenge. This helped the children to understand the setting of their book and the events that took place during this hard, dark time.

  • Themes in ‘The Umbrella Mouse’ 2


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 24th May 2021, 11:26pm
    Brilliant comparisons with other texts. You will be theme detectives now...spotting all sorts of connections between the books you read.
  • Themes in ‘The Umbrella Mouse’

    We also examined major themes from the novel and had philosophical discussions about what they meant. It was brilliant to see the children making text to text links by finding similarities between ‘The Umbrella Mouse’ and ‘The Runaway Robot’, as well as linking their learning to our class text – Macbeth. Have a read of what the themes meant to them.


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 24th May 2021, 11:28pm
    Madame Fourcade and Pip are inspirational characters. It looks like they have taught you a lot about life.
  • Who to Trust 4


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 24th May 2021, 11:17pm
    These annotated illustrations show a brilliant understanding of the story so far. I can spot characterisation in the speech bubbles and some excellent observations about trust in a wider context. Well done Gladiators!
  • Who to Trust 3

  • Who to Trust 2

  • Who to trust? 

    The children encountered a few animals in ‘The Umbrella Mouse’ and had to think about who Pip could trust and why, and what we can learn from her experiences. They did this using a combination of illustrations and dialogue from the text, thinking carefully about where Pip’s trust was misplaced.

  • ‘The Runaway Robot’ – Week 5

    We have finished this wonderful story and thoroughly enjoyed it! Today, we made comparisons between ‘The Iron Man’ & ‘The Runaway Robot’ (which we did very well because we studied Ted Hughes’ book in Year 3). After that, we analysed the illustrations and decoded what impression they give of Alfie & Eric’s relationship. We also played Simon Says, which was a lot of fun! We chose to end our session with a choral read and a little bit of acting – recreating the frantic car journey of Dr Shilling & Alfie. We are really excited to find out what our next book will be after half term.


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 20th May 2021, 9:33am
    It looks like you had a lot of fun with this title and developed your deeper reading skills along the way too! Great work Gladiators...keep it up.
  • The Umbrella Mouse

    This term, the Year 4 children at Heathrow Primary are reading ‘The Umbrella Mouse’. This spellbinding tale of courage is about a mouse called Pip Hanway, who gets caught in the conflict of WW2. Residing in an umbrella shop, James Smith &Sons, her world is suddenly shattered when a bomb destroys everything that she holds dear. Now, Pip must venture forth bravely in search of a new home. The story explores the harshness of war through the eyes of a mouse, and the beautiful illustrations truly brings the story to life. In keeping with Sam Usher’s style of illustrations, Heathrow Primary Gladiators designed an umbrella to help the Secret Army fight against the Axis Powers. Have a look at the hidden mechanisms in our umbrellas and let us know what you think!






    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 13th May 2021, 5:23pm
    Super work Gladiators! What a brilliant collection of multi-functional umbrellas - all worthy of a place in the Gignese Museum! I expect to see the ingeniously named 'Protectella' on sale in shops before long too.
  • ‘The Runaway Robot’ – Week 4

    We began our session with a collaborative read of Steps 21-25. Every week, our expression when reading and use of the punctuation to guide us is improving more and more. After sharing the steps together, we used the definitions to identify the different characters in the book. We then had a great debate inspired by the statements about robots and humans. We have learnt that we have some very different opinions within our group! Our favourite part of the session was doing our walk acting – first we walked like a character from the story and the rest of the group had to guess who we were being. Then, we walked like we were in a certain mood and they had to guess how we were feeling. It was great fun! We are so close to the end of the book now and can’t wait to find out how it ends.


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 13th May 2021, 3:55pm
    I am so glad you are enjoying The Runaway Robot. We are so lucky to have talented writers such as Frank Cottrell-Boyce to give us stories that inspire debate and fun in equal measure. I hope your Gladiators like the ending. The Author's note makes for very interesting reading too.
  • Week 4: Chalk Eagle

    At Knockhall Primary School, the Year 4 Reading Gladiators have been exploring ‘Chalk Eagle’. In response to the mini challenge, the children have been writing their own retellings of the story before parts of their work were stringed together to form a group narration. We created an audio performance of our narration for the challenge.

    Here’s hoping that you and the RG team enjoy our take on such a beautiful tale.

    Knockhall Reading Gladiators retelling of Chalk Eagle

    Chalk Eagle Retelling Y4 RG


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 7th May 2021, 10:13am
    This is just brilliant. The narration, the vocabulary, the emotion - all superb. You have a wonderful cast of voice artists and such professional production too. I am so glad you connected with this book so well.
  • Week 3: Chalk Eagle

    In the lead up to the session, I read through the different versions of ‘Chalk Eagle’ and chose elements from each one to create a group retelling of the story. Then, during the session itself, the children created a special audio performance of the story to share with the school. Here, you will see the first half of our story, along with more beautiful chalk eagles that were created by the children during the second part of our session.


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 7th May 2021, 11:32am
    Brilliant art work Gladiators! Chalk is such an expressive medium - ideal for translating images in your imagination to the page.
  • Week 2: Chalk Eagle

    During the Easter holidays, we each wrote our own retelling of this mesmerising picture book. When we came back to school, some of the children read their stories to the group. It was delightful to hear them bring their tales to life. Some of the children continued to work on their stories during the session whilst others had a go at creating their own chalk eagles, creating beautiful pieces of art.


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 7th May 2021, 10:19am
    A wordless text brings so much creativity. Brilliant work Gladiators.
  • ‘Runaway Robot’ – Week 3

    We began our session by sharing chapters 14 and 15 reading together. After that, we added to our ‘Role on the Wall’ diagram of Alfie – it’s interesting to see how Alfie’s character evolves throughout the story. Our favourite activity of this week was ‘Readers’ Theatre’ though. We really got into character (especially ERIC) and even got to perform our scene on our playground stage! It made us feel like real actors.

  • ‘The Runaway Robot’ – Weeks One & Two

    Our Yr 4 RG have really got stuck into reading ‘The Runaway Robot’ over the last two weeks. They had some great ideas in the first session about what ERIC might be like and why Alfie had a metal hand. After reading to the end of Step 8 at home, we reconvened today and had a hugely effervescent second session. They are all so excited about the book and loved re-reading part of Step 3 together. After that, we looked at the word ‘lost’ and analysed its origin, as well as thinking about what we would all like to learn about robots. They were extremely excited by the History of Robots presentation, especially the YouTube clips and were intrigued by the old black & white video footage of the original ERIC. We cannot wait to meet next week and discuss the next section of the story!


    Caroline Bradley
    Caroline Bradley 7th May 2021, 11:00am
    I am glad you are making full use of the resources provided. The history of robots really is fascinating and gives so much more meaning to the story.
  • Week 1: Chalk Eagle

    Illustrations on their own can be powerful in telling a story. The Year 4 team explored this concept before looking at ‘Chalk Eagle’. They were given pictures from Tom Percival’s book ‘The Sea Saw’ and retold the story in their own words. They weren’t even given a title or a list of the characters’ names. So what you see here is their own tale, which they came up from looking at the Illustrations alone. I was amazed by their team effort as well as their choice of vocabulary. I hope this session has helped them with coming up with their retelling of ‘Chalk Eagle’, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with 🙂

  • Week 5: Runaway Robot

    For the mini challenge, the Year 4 children each chose a robot to research and created fact files about them at home, following in Alfie’s footsteps. They were surprised to find that there was an actual robot called Eric, possibly the inspiration for our book. These fact files will later form a display about robots for everyone in the school to see. During our last session of ‘Runaway Robot’, the children wrote short stories using an illustration by Chris Riddell as a prompt. The Year 4 team have worked really hard this term and to see their enthusiasm for this great book blossom has been wonderful.