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Clued up

Game for geeing up learning? Take last week - I was due to visit Woodchester Mansion, a Victorian Gothic pile in Gloucestershire, with a group of primary children. The night before, I emailed the class to let them know that strange lights had been sighted and sounds heard at the mansion. Rumours flew around. What could it be - a ghost, robbers, a UFO?

The children arrived ready to work out the mystery. They witnessed a journalist interviewing a dog walker, a policewoman gave a statement and a bat expert told them about the rare bats that live there. Later, they interviewed three night fishermen and a pair of "dodgy" caretakers. Various clues had been hidden, including a lantern and a white sheet. The journalist provided extra clues in the form of a draft news page with adverts for "Frightnight parties" and an article on UFO and big cat sightings.

Now the children are putting together a portfolio of evidence - information, letters, diaries, maps, story snippets, descriptions - as well as role-play, improvisation and hot-seating. Great literacy, great engagement, great fun. Make learning memorable should be our motto.

Pie Corbett is a literacy consultant.

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