Explorer Launch Day!

A few months ago I came across the most wonderful book called Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy. The minute I read it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and how wonderful it would be to use it to inspire the children. For those unfamiliar with the book, we follow the turbulent adventures of two brave children (Arthur and Maudie) as they set sail on a perilous airship adventure to find their missing father; lost on an expedition to the South Polaris. It is full of excitement, action and colourful characters that fly off the page; precisely the sort of book that would allow a creative approach to our explorers topic. I wasn’t exactly sure where to start but knew the character of Harriet Culpepper would be my inspiration, so began by raiding my craft box to make a hat. As soon as I put it on, I felt one with the character and knew the day would benefit from role play, with the children dressing as explorers.

The ideas started to fall into place after that (as the book makes it easy to plan exciting ideas) and I soon had a format for the day. Key to the day would be lots of planned opportunities just to sit and read and discuss the wonderful vocabulary and plot development.

We started the morning with an explorers parade and photo shoot outside. The children had all thought really carefully about who they had come as and were keen to share. There was a mix of historical explorers, such as Amelia Earhart and Christopher Columbus, and characters from fiction and film. I particularly liked how one child dressed as her big sister, who is an Adventure Scout.

The first activity involved making predictions about the book based solely on the front cover. I decided to use the inference grid previously used in our Flotsam work as it had worked really well. Here are a couple of examples of the writing produced.

Vashti Hardy’s website is fantastic and contains lots of resources to help teachers and children explore the book. We had a look at some of the character from the book on it and were ready to start reading chapter one. The children were instantly hooked.


The second session was a carousel of activities with an explorer/Brightstorm link. Activities included:

1) Making a compass by magnetising a needle.

2) Map reading using the story map, The Great Wide. I really enjoyed making these and the children treated them like precious artefacts so they are all carefully put away ready to use again one day.

3) Origami Aurora airships (taken from Vashti Hardy’s website). 4) Researching historical explorers to make a fact file. 5) Free Art

The session was full of excitement and fun, with learning through role play at the centre. We finished by reading another chapter of the book before dinner time.

The afternoon began with reading another chapter from the book and then was dedicated to creating artwork of the dangerous beasts we learn about in chapter two. The children really enjoyed sketching their own wolves and produced some wonderful work. We finished the day by reading one more chapter and the excitement of the arrival of Parthena was a great moment to end the day on. I recommend this book fully to KS2 teachers, as the sparkly eyes and smiles in eyes of 57 children is a site to behold.

2 thoughts on “Explorer Launch Day!

  1. Hi there,

    I have stumbled upon your amazing blog using the wonderful book Brightstorm and I’m keen to use your ideas with my Y4 class in January. You make the book and the explorer topic come alive.
    Do you sell your resources by any chance? Thanks in advance.


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