The Non-Fiction Collection

Try a different approach with non-fiction – use one of these pictures as a stimulus. Much of it is ‘faction’, but we’ll allow it!


Credit: Erik Johansson

  • What has happened here?
  • Where did the diamond come from?
  • How long has it been here for?
  • Has anyone seen in it yet? Did anyone see where it came from?
  • Who might be the first person to discover it?
  • What do you think they will do?
  • What would you do if you discovered this?
  • Role play the reactions of different people:
    • Owner of the house in the background
    • Farmer who owns the field
    • Local policeman
    • Local journalist
    • Geologist from the nearest university
    • Local businessman
    • Buyer at Tiffany&Co.
  • What headline would you give this story in a newspaper?
  • Write the article to accompany it. Include quotes from eyewitnesses and/or experts.


  • News report (as above)
  • Recount: Write a recount from the perspective of one of the individuals listed above.


Credit: SnowSkadi

  • Why was this city built in a cave?
  • Who built it?
  • When was the city founded?
  • Who might live here? How large is the population? Are there many children and elderly people here?
  • What jobs do the citizens do?
  • Is this a good place to live? Is this city well-known for anything? Has anything bad ever happened here?
  • Would you like to live here? Why/why not?
  • How is this city similar/different to your nearest city?


  • Information/non-chronological report: Life in the City
  • Persuasion: The city needs a new mayor. Write your election campaign/speech.
  • News report: Subterranean city discovered!
  • Discussion: The Earth is overcrowded. Should humans move underground?


Credit: Jonny Lindner

  • Where did the UFO come from?
  • Who – or what – is controlling it?
  • Why are they taking the tricycle?
  • Who does the tricycle belong to?
  • Why was the child here alone?
  • How is the child feeling?
  • What will happen next?
  • Choose your writing:
    • First person account from the child’s perspective
    • First person account from someone/something else’s perspective
    • Newspaper article about this event
    • Tweets and/or text messages from several witnesses
    • Police report of the event
    • Government advice to parents about keeping their child safe in these dangerous times


  • Recount (as above – from the child’s perspective)
  • Newspaper report (as above)
  • Police report or interview transcript
  • Advice (information, persuasion)


Credit: Matt Dawson

  • What do you think is interesting about the octopus? What did you already know and what have you learnt? [Challenge children to recreate the image in a group relay.]
  • Why has Matt Dawson presented the facts in this way? What is the effect of the layout on the reader?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Why is the fact about camouflage written in a different coloured font?
  • Write an information page about The Rather Interesting Octopus. Consider the layout and use organisational features to help the reader.
  • Research a creature of your choice. Present the information in an interesting format.


  • Information (as above)
  • Explanation text: How an octopus works


Untitled 1986/The Headington Shark

  • How did the shark get there?
  • Where did it come from?
  • Was anyone in the house at the time?
  • Were there any eyewitnesses?
  • How did the residents of the street react?
  • What happened to the shark in the end?
  • Write a newspaper report about the arrival of The Headington Shark.
  • Write a transcript of a police interview with a witness or the person responsible.


  • Newspaper report (as above)
  • Police interview transcript (as above)


Credit: Jim Kay, Courtesy of Bloomsbury Children’s Books

  • Describe an egg and see if a partner can guess it.
  • Which dragon do you think is the most dangerous? Why?
  • Which dragon do you think will be the friendliest? Why?
  • Which species could survive in cold temperatures? How do you know?
  • Which dragon egg would you like to find?
  • What would you do if you came across a Norwegian Ridgeback egg?
  • Can you plot the origins of these species on a map?
  • Try drawing what you think each species will look like as a fully grown dragon; use details from the egg’s appearance and the species name to inform your choices.
  • Create ‘Top Trumps’ cards for each species. Decide on the categories and give them ratings, then do battle!

A list of species:
Hungarian Horntail
Ukranian Ironbelly
Antipodean Opaleye
Swedish Short-snout
Hebredian Black
Peruvian Vipertooth
Chinese Fireball
Romanian Longhorn
Norwegian Ridgeback
Common Welsh Green


  • Information/non-chronological report: Write an information page/booklet about a species of dragon. What would the reader want to know? How will you structure the information?
  • Discussion/debate: Should dragons be kept as pets?
  • Instructions: How to care for your baby dragon. [Link to ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ by Cressida Cowell, ‘Dragonology’ by Dugald Steer and ‘Tell Me A Dragon’ by Jackie Morris.]


Credit: Chris Dunn

  • Where is this?
  • What are the birds doing?
  • What is inside the bags?
  • Why are there mice riding the birds?
  • What time of day do you think it is? How do you know?


  • Explanation: How the postal service works.
  • Persuasion: Advert/presentation for a new postal service to rival all other services.
  • Discussion/debate: Should animals ‘work’ for humans?


Credit: Tim O’Brien

  • How does The Imaginator work? What goes in and what comes out? What’s creating the sparks? Does it need electricity to function? Write an explanation of how it works.
  • Who made The Imaginator?
  • Who does this one belong to? Why is it here?
  • Are there any others? Where are they sold?
  • Create an advert for The Imaginator. Who is the target market? Why would they need one? What are its best features?


  • Explanation (as above – How Does The Imaginator Work?)
  • Persuasion (as above – advert)


Credit: Shaun Tan, from ‘The Lost Thing’. Hodder Children’s Books

  • What can you see? What do you think? What do you wonder? Discuss and/or record your ideas here: See think wonder.
  • What is the man doing?
  • What is the red ‘thing’?
  • What would you name it? Why?
  • Why does it have machinery parts as well as tentacles?
  • Is it alive?
  • What is he feeding it? What’s in the box? Why did he choose those objects?
  • Does anyone else know about this ‘thing’?
  • Write some instructions – ‘How to care for your thing’ – that might help this man, or anyone else who discovers their own ‘thing’. Consider what it eats, what else it needs, where it sleeps/lives, how to communicate with it, what not to do…


  • Instructions (as above)
  • Discussion: Do robots need caring for? Do robots need feeding? Are robots capable of feeling?