I'm so delighted to be able to share more stories by one of my students Ava. She is now in Year 8 but has been coming to me since the beginning of Year 5. Since Lockdown March 2020, all of our lessons have been on Zoom.
Previously Ava was quite a reluctant writer but when she was given the freedom to write anything she wanted, rather than work within a strict format or asked to put in certain parts of speech at certain times, she felt able to spread her wings and find her voice. Which is surely what writing should be about!
Her most recent work is right at the bottom of the page.
This is the picture I first gave her as a prompt (from the website Pobble365). For a once 'reluctant writer' I think you'll agree Ava has no shortage of ideas!
And here is her story:
The house in the dark
We finally got to our holiday site but it looked different from the pictures on the website. It looked older and torn apart. Inside it was pitch black so we had to feel around for the light switch.
"Here we are," said mum and she turned on the light.
A shock came on to my face. There was a cat on the bunkbed. It was a tabby cat and I know this because I have been wanting one for ages. I run over to the cat but the cat wasn’t on its own. It had four kittens with it.
"Be careful Poppy".
"I’ll be fine mum".
"Ok" sighed mum.
I put my hand out to the cat so it could smell my hand and then I stroked it.
"This cat and its kittens must be wild and were looking for a safe place to be and that’s why they're here," said dad. "This cat must have had its babies here. Come on Ben do you want to see them?"
"Yes." said Ben in excitement.
Ben’s my younger brother. I’m four years older than him which means that I’m 12 and Ben’s 8. Now back to the actual story.
So there we were stroking these adorable kittens and their mum.
"Dad," I said, "I think we should take this family of kittens to the vets. They look poorly".
"I think that that’s a good idea. Let’s take them to the car and we can be on our way."
When we finally got there we took them into the vets. When the vet came out to see us he did a scan on their necks and then we found out that they had an owner but she had died a long time ago.
"So what will happen to the cat and its babies?"
"Well we will need to rehome them."
"Wait a minute," I said, "we should adopt this family."
Mum and dad grinned at me.
"Ok" they said.
So we got to take the kittens home and they grew up happy ever after.
Now if you wanted to know the names of the kittens they are: Willow, Elvis, Otis and Marvin.
What a happy ending! And I love the names of the kittens!! (By the way, I know that Ava actually DOES have a cat called Otis!!)
‘Twas the night before Christmas
‘Twas the night before Christmas when Santa would be on his way. He would glide across the sky going town to town. He would bring presents for the children stuffing their stockings with toys. Then he would whizz up the chimney in a flash and jump back into his sleigh flying through the night sky.
Then he would be gone. The sky would be plain so you go back to bed dreaming of Christmas Day. You would dream of the presents and the dinner and the snow that will fall outside. You would imagine yourself sitting by the Christmas Tree watching the twinkling lights shine.
Before you know it, it will be Christmas Day so go to sleep now and dream of the sweet day.
Ava's next story is called Shipwreck.
We focussed on speech marks in this one and the fact that with every new speaker you need a new line. We also got quite sophisticated with Zoom and Ava shared her writing on the computer so I was able to help out with the editing in our lesson. This story went over about 3 weeks and is her most ambitious yet.
“Alex, Rose, come and get your shoes on,’’ shouted mum.
“Why, where are we going?’’ asked Rose.
“For a night time walk,” exclaimed dad.
“Oh ok!” said Rose.
“Can I bring my toy pirate on the walk?’’ asked Alex.
“Sure, now come and get your shoes on,” sighed mum.
The two kids got their shoes on and ran out of the door. They walked along the cliff tops watching the sun go down.
‘’It’s so dark and cold out here,” said Rose.
“Don’t worry, we will head back soon,” replied mum.
“Guys look at that,” shouted Alex.
“Wow,” whispered dad “that’s an old shipwreck.”
“Let’s go down and see it,” Alex said excitedly.
“No Alex, it’s too dangerous,” said dad. “But we can do this walk tomorrow so you can have a better look at it when it is light.”
“Ok,” sighed Alex.
The family started to walk back to where they were staying. Alex took one last look at the shipwreck but then he saw a figure walking along the ship. The figure had only one leg with a pirate looking hat. It also looked like he had a parrot on his shoulder. It looked like a pirate . . .
“Come on Alex,” called mum.
So, Alex ran back to his family. Looking back, he wondered if he had seen a pirate or not . . .
That night Alex couldn’t sleep no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t stop thinking of that figure he saw on the shipwreck.
“Rose,” whispered Alex.
“Do you think that that shipwreck was a pirate ship? “
“A pirate ship, there’s no such thing as a pirate or their ships.”
Rose frowned. “Why do you think that that was a pirate ship?”
“Well when you guys started to walk back I saw a figure walking along the ship,” replied Alex.
“But it could have just been people walking along the shore and went to have a look at it.”
“But the figure also had a pirate looking hat and one leg with a pirate on his shoulder.”
“It wouldn’t have been a pirate,” exclaimed Rose. “Now can we please go to sleep I’m exhausted.”
“Fine,” sighed Alex.
The next morning Rose and Alex got out of bed and went to have breakfast.
“Yes,” they both shouted.
Dad walked into the kitchen.
“What’s the racket?”
“We get to have coco pops today,” Rose said excitedly.
Dad yawned. “So that’s what you were shouting about!”
“Yes,” replied Alex.
“Why don’t you two go and put the tv on and I will get your coco pops ready.”
“Yippee,” they both shouted while running into the tv room. Soon after, Dad came in with the coco pops.
“Dad,” said Alex.
“Yes,” replied Dad.
Are we going to go and See that pirate ship?”
“If you want to,” replied Dad.
“Yes, I would,” Alex said excitedly.
“What makes you think that the ship wreck was a pirate ship?” asked dad.
“No reason,” replied Alex.
Later on, the family got ready for the walk and headed out of the door. When they eventually got to the place where they saw the shipwreck they were confused.
“Where’s the ship wreck gone?” questioned Alex.
“I don’t know,” replied dad.
“Maybe it was our eyes tricking us,” suggested mum.
“It must have been,” agreed dad.
“Maybe you were right” said Rose nervously.
“I told you,” replied Alex.
“It was a pirate ship with a pirate on board I told you,” Alex said while grinning.
“This place is strange,” said Rose.
“Can we go home,” asked Rose.
“Sure,” replied Dad.
“Why don’t we go to the beach for a swim?” suggested mum.
“Yes please,” they both shouted while jumping in the air.
So, this is how the story ends - with a pirate or with no pirate . . .
Ava's family got a new kitten during our sessions - her name is Willow. She's so cute! Her older (step) brother Otis seems to be keeping an eye on her and showing her how to be a grown up cat. This is a poem inspired by the lovely book, The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig.
We’re so happy that you came to live with us.
You have your ups and downs getting used to us all.
You have played with toys, some big and some small.
You have jumped over Otis,
While following a bright pink ball.
You have started climbing up trees, some tall and some small.
You will find Otis even if he is in a brick wall.
As you can see you have had lots of adventures, but there are more to come.
When you are outside you can hear the birds hum but you’re not sure what it is because you’re still so young
You hide in the grass among all the flowers
But we’re so happy because you’re still ours.
When you are asleep you look so cute.
For you there is no substitute.
You are curled up in a ball.
And I can hear you snore.
Willow, I could not wish for anything more.
In the final weeks of Year 6, Ava went on a residential trip with her school. This is her account of the time she spent there.
On Sunday 13th of June 2021 I went on a three-day residential with my school. I did lots of fun activities like abseiling, which is where you have a tall tower normally made of wood. There are a lot of stairs that you have to climb up and then you get harnessed up and you abseil down.
My second favourite activity is called crate stacking. It is where you have thirty crates and you’ve got to stack them up in the shape of stairs. There are going to be two people that will be climbing the crate stairs. When the crates fall over you don’t just fall over on to your bottom because you are wearing a harness. A piece of rope is hooked onto the back of the harness so when you fall you will just be floating in the air, which is great fun!
The last activity is called snow tubing (see picture) which is where you have an inflatable donut with a plastic bottom. You get pushed down a steep hill and the material on the bottom of the donut has a slippery carpet feel but either way it works very well!
I loved my residential experience.
It was lots of FUN!!!
Near the beginning of Year 7, Ava started a 'short' story which was going to last a few weeks. In the end it continued over many weeks. She did it all in the lesson because homework had increased at Secondary School and she preferred to keep it contained to our lessons.
It's a magnificent story set around this picture from Pobble 365 of the Ice Palace. Well done Ava! What an amazing story and achievement!
I entered my sister Sophie’s room to see if she wanted to go for a trail ride on the horses with me. She said yes and we put our shoes on. Just as we were about to leave, our mum called and asked where we were going. I told her that we were going for a trail ride through the countryside. She said to us, “Nell and Sophie, you need to wear coats and to get blankets for the horses as there is going to be a snowstorm later and it is already very cold out there”.
We set off. As we tracked further and further through the trail, I could feel the wind whipping against my face as the winds got harder and harder. My hands started to feel numb like they were ice cubes in a bucket of snow. Gradually the wind turned into a snowstorm so we went looking for shelter. Then I spotted a run-down palace surrounded by snowy mountains. We quickly rode to the building and took shelter away from the storm.
As we opened the heavy wooden door, I could hear the icicles dripping from the broken ceiling. We walked around the large room. I could hear the horses’ hooves as they stepped. We tied the horses up on an old broken candle holder that was stuck on the wall and then we put blankets on the horses to keep them warm.
As I looked up at the broken ceiling I saw an old tatty staircase leading up to a door. I tapped Sophie on the shoulder and she turned around. As we walked up the staircase I could hear the floorboards creaking as we stepped. Once we had got to the top of the stairs I turned the handle and opened the door…
As I stared around the room I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was the most stunning ice rink in the world. It had glass seats and a beautiful chandelier hanging in the middle of the rink. As we walked around I saw two pairs of ice-skates. I picked them up and showed Sophie. They were plain white apart from one of them had a blue stripe and the other had a purple stripe.
As I slipped my foot into the skate it was the perfect size. We glided onto the ice. As I started to skate the ice felt so smooth under my feet. I grabbed Sophie’s hand and we started to skate together. It felt like we were flying!
When I turned around there was a lady sitting and watching us as we were skating. We stopped and froze. It was like the world had halted. The lady stood up. She looked about 50 years old. I also noticed that she had a walking stick by her side. It looked like she had been in an accident. Then the silence broke. “Wow that was amazing,” she said.
Then she told us to follow her into the kitchen. It was a very simple kitchen with a stove and an old looking kettle. We sat down and she gave us a nice warm cup of tea. Then she said to us that our skating was amazing and asked if we had done any skating before. I could only think of the time when mum took us skating on a lake. I said no not really and had some tea. Then I asked her what her name was she said her name was Belle.
The room was silent and calm for a long time. Then Belle came and sat on a chair next to me. She had a box with her that was decorated with little gems and sequins. When she opened the box there was a ton of photos in it. She picked them up and showed it to us. In it was a picture of a beautiful ice skater. I asked if it was her in the photo and Belle nodded. She said that it was one of the biggest competitions that she had ever been to. Then Sophie asked what had happened. Belle said that there had been an accident on stage and she had injured herself badly.
After that I felt really bad for her. I mean if I had to stop doing something that I really loved to do I would find it so hard to give it up. I saw how sad Belle was getting so I said that if she wanted to she could teach me and Sophie some cool moves because the storm was not over yet. Belle smiled at me and so we headed to the ice rink.
Before I knew it, me and Sophie had learned so many new and cool moves. It was so fun. It made me feel like I could do anything. Just as we were finishing up a man came stomping though the door. He had a piece of paper in his hand and he looked very serious. Then the saddest words came out of his mouth. He said that unless the Ice Palace got more money coming in Belle would have to sell it.
As he walked out of the door me and Sophie looked at each other. I could tell that she wanted to do something about it just like I did. But there was nothing that we could do. As we got the horses ready to head back home I saw this old poster that said ice skating competition every year on the 20th of April. Anyone can enter, and if you win you will get thirty thousand pounds. This was the chance for us to get the money for the Ice Palace. I took the poster off the wall. I then put it in my bag because I needed to study it more before I told Sophie and Belle. I didn’t want something to go wrong and disappoint them.
Once me and Sophie got home I went straight to my computer to research the competition. I spent an hour making sure that everything was right. Then I called up the company to tell them that me and Sophie were going to enter. I knew it was risky but we had to do it for the Ice Palace. We had to do it for Belle.
The next morning, I went into Sophie’s room to tell her about the ice skating competition. I wasn’t sure what she would say but I had to tell her either way. As I explained to her I couldn’t tell if she was happy or mad. Once I had finished telling her I felt quite nervous about what she was going to say. Luckily, she was happy about it - in fact she was probably even more excited about it than I was. But the job was still not done. I still had to get Belle to agree with what we were doing.
The next morning, I woke up early because me and Sophie were going to see Belle to talk to her about the competition. As we went downstairs our mum was already up. We told her that we were going to see Belle to talk to her about the competition. As we rode along the track the sun was just coming up and I could feel it as it shone on my face. I could feel the leaves as they fell on my shoulders and then onto the ground. As we arrived at Belle’s I felt nervous again. What would she say?
Once we had finished the first day of training, I was already feeling like we were ready for the competition. But I knew that I was wrong as it was only the first day. Gradually me and Sophie improved more and more until we were ready. And before I knew it, it was two days until the competition and we were getting our last training session done. As we were finishing up a man came in with a box. Belle said thank you and then he left. Sophie asked what it was and Belle told us to come and see. They were beautiful. She had got us the most amazing dresses I had ever seen. They were white with a coloured line around the waist - I had a blue line and Sophie had a purple line and they also matched our ice skates. They were perfect.
The big day arrived. I could tell that Sophie was anxious just like I was. As I watched the people perform I got very nervous as they were so good. Me, Sophie and Belle headed to our changing room where our costumes were. We got changed and warmed ourselves up. Then Belle came in and wished us good luck. She also told us that no matter what happened in the competition she would always be proud of us. This gave me and Sophie a big boost of confidence and determination to win the competition.
It went so well. As we watched the last skaters perform I had my fingers crossed. Once everyone had performed, they read out the final three names that had the chance of winning the competition. Me and Sophie had got in the top three. But they still had to make the final decision on who had won the whole competition. As we waited to see if we had won, I was feeling so nervous. Then the results came in. The head judge stood up with the papers of who had won. “The winner is … Nell and Sophie”. WE HAD WON!
The next morning me and Sophie headed to Belle’s to see her after the big win. Just as we were arriving, a man left. He had brought the competition money. Once Belle had seen us she gave us a huge hug and said thank you for saving the ice palace. Soon after that on a Saturday morning there were lots of people coming to skate at the Ice Palace. It meant that Belle could get money coming in to keep the Ice Palace running. And on the rest of the days Belle continued to train us so we could get ready for the bigger and better competitions. But the most important thing was that the Ice Palace was saved.
What a journey this had been!
The engine of the boat roared as we set off out to sea. The water was glistening from the sun’s rays and the sky was a bright blue with no clouds in sight. It was the perfect day to go out to sea. As the boat whizzed along, I brushed the tips of my fingers through the water. I felt so free.
I’ve lived here in the Cayman Islands my whole life but this boat trip never gets boring. And the sunset never gets old and the views never get dull. I’m certainly living the life!
The best part of living here and doing this boat ride is when I see the dolphins. And getting to watch them zoom along and seeing them play and jump around with each other. It’s my favourite thing about this island.
Like always, the dolphins come alongside the boat to say hello. And like I always do I give them a stroke on the head to say hello back. But today I felt a particular pull towards the dolphins – different to how I normally feel.
I grabbed my flippers and snorkel and dived into the luminous water. As I was swimming along with my head under the water I could see so much because it was crystal clear. As I popped my head up my friends jumped in creating a big splash.
Me and my friends always come to this part of the ocean every day. We love to look at the coral and the fish but we especially like to see the dolphins.
As the dolphins came swimming around us I noticed that they were particularly friendly. While I was swimming along looking at the different types of fish I noticed that one of the dolphins had come to swim alongside me. I realised that it was the young dolphin that was born about two months ago.
While I was swimming beside him I put my hand out towards his head, then he started to make squealing noises of happiness. As we swam along with each other it was like time had slowed down. This was the best feeling!
For the next month I went to visit the baby dolphin and each day we got closer and closer and built a better bond. I named him Billy.
On one particular morning I was just playing with Billy teaching him a trick when all of a sudden, the whole pod came around me and Billy. It was like they wanted to join in. It was the nicest feeling ever, one that I would never forget.
The next day I set out with my friends. I was very excited because today me and Billy were going to show them all the tricks that we could do. It went amazingly well and they all worked perfectly especially the big leap that I wasn’t sure if Billy could do but he did it!
Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. And before I knew it five years had passed.
I am now working as a marine biologist and one of my favourite things is when I get to work with the dolphins. And like I always used to do I visit Billy every morning. Now he has his own family inside the pod and I have started working with them. I am so lucky!
Ava absolutely loves cats and since I was thinking about getting one, I thought she'd be a fantastic person to quiz! This informative piece of work came out of our discussion at the end of a session.
We are still working online using Zoom. I give Ava permission to share the screen and she uses Microsoft Word. She sets the font size to 20 with 125% magnification. It spell checks as she goes along. Sometimes there are homophones (there/their) which the spell checker lets through - and so we discuss these. I can watch as she types - it works very well.
Having a cat or kitten is one of life’s greatest joys.
What you need to have when getting a kitten
Kitten meets older cat
When you introduce your kitten to your older cat it is one of the most important things to get right to have a successful bond between the two of them.
The first thing that you will do is go downstairs and feed your cat/cats. After they have eaten they will then go around the whole house. The reason they do this is because your house is also what the cat knows as their territory. So, if they have not been around the house for the night they need to check that nothing has changed and that everything is fine and just how they left it. Then they will go and find a cosy spot and sleep there till around mid-afternoon.
At this time, they will probably go outside to go to the toilet and play. Then they will come back in around their food time and you can feed them. Once they have eaten, they will find a nice spot to sleep for the rest of the evening. But they might also go outside again for a while and come back in later. Then when you go to bed you can put them in their room with the cat flap so they can run in and out as much as they want through the night. This will vary each day but won’t change too much.
Thanks Ava for this great information! I think your two cats are really lucky to be living with you. Or are you living with them??
This is the last piece by Ava before she stopped her lessons. I had taught her for four happy years but we came to face the bittersweet reality that she didn't need me anymore! And that was the best outcome we could all have hoped for.
I wish her every good luck and success in her school career and beyond! What a great student - what a great family :-)
The air was crisp and the wake of dawn lit up the sky. The temperature dropped as we went up in the hot air balloon.
Below you could see blankets of snow on top of the houses. Only a few lights from the streets could be seen. Ahead of us were huge pointy mountains that leaned over us like giants.
All you could hear were the birds singing and the sound of the flames as they whooshed up into the sky.
As the wild wind whipped past, it gave us a shiver from head to toe. I pulled my hat over my ears and waited to land. Then thud. It slowly dragged along the ground before it came to a halt.
As I stepped out of the balloon, I felt a slight dizziness as I touched the ground. It had been a great experience.
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Created and written by Hilary Burt.
All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.