Shushing Year 3s as they file into class is rarely a productive activity, but today is different - the pupils are transfixed by a large cardboard box with the words "DANGER. DO NOT DISTURB" written in large red capitals on the side.
"That's right, children," I whisper. "If you promise not to even breathe there is a chance we might all get out alive."
Any lingering scepticism is extinguished when I invite one child to come and listen to the box. Can he hear the sound of gentle breathing? There is definitely something in there.and it's alive. But what could it be? Actually, it's the power of persuasion, so eat your heart out Derren Brown.
Cardboard boxes cost nothing and can be transformed into almost anything to support learning and creativity. Television sets, high-rise buildings, dinosaurs, robots, pinhole cameras, resources for practical maths activities - the list goes on.
This time I have created a simple "Thinking Inside the Box" activity for English. Having convinced the children that there may be something alive and dangerous in there we speculate on what it could be. We have just been reading Where the Wild Things Are. Could it be a Wild Thing, weary from its exertions during that notorious "wild rumpus"?
The arrival of a letter proves that our speculation is correct. Our box contains a dangerous Wild Thing. We are all in deadly peril. But there is a solution. According to the letter, Wild Things love nothing more than wild parties and some persuasive invitations to a wild rumpus might help to coax it out.
Armed with a model invite and shared examples of useful persuasive adjectives, adverbs, similes, metaphors, rhymes and alliteration, the children go off to write. It is worth reminding them at this point that they need to talk in whispers to avoid disturbing the creature.
Thirty minutes later I am sat on a chair gingerly holding the box. The children gather round and read out their invitations. As they do so the box lid appears to try to open and I am forced to hold it down. With each reading, however, the box lid gets more difficult to keep shut until - at the final reading when all the children are gathered as close as possible - the lid bursts open and the Wild Thing, with a mighty roar, leaps out to a crescendo of screams.
Incidentally, this works best if there is a hole cut in the back of the box and a monstrous glove puppet secreted inside.
Steve Eddison is a key stage 2 teacher at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield
For a creative exploration of Where the Wild Things Are try lisamay's school musical project.
Get pupils to come up with their own monster tales with knittedowl's descriptive writing task.
In the forums
The end of term is drawing near and teachers are discussing interesting key stage 3 projects that include fun but purposeful activities. Check out their ideas.