Roald Dahl Fans.com

My Year – Classroom Activities

These exercises were sent in by Frankie Meehan, an ESL Teacher at United World College of SE Asia, Singapore. If you have any questions, please email him at [email protected]. Thanks Frankie!

NOTE: Any page numbers below refer to the Heinemann New Windmill Series 1997 edition of the book. You may need to change them to reflect the particular version you’re using.

Sections: February / March / May / June / July
August / September / October / November / Review


February

1. On the first page of this chapter, find three pleasant things that happen in February.

2. Why does Dahl not like magpies?

3. What adjectives does he use to describe them?

4. Why is it dangerous to keep a magpie as a pet? (P.10)

5. What adjectives does Dahl use to describe moles? (P.11)

6. Complete the following table with information about moles.

Class of Animal Moles are…
Habitat They live…
Food They eat…
Body Covering They have…
Feet They have…
Tunnels They dig tunnels about ….. below the surface. These are about ….. long. They can dig ….. per hour.

7. Why do gardeners dislike moles?

8. How do some people get rid of moles?

9. a) Draw a diagram of Roald Dahl’s method of scaring moles away from his garden. (Your diagram should be a cross-section. In other words, it should show what is above and below the surface.)
b) Write a short explanation beside your diagram.

10. Draw a web diagram of “bird words”. In the centre, place the word BIRDS. A line can lead from this to the names of different birds (e.g. blackbirds, magpies, sparrows); another line can lead to the parts of a bird (e.g. beak, wings); another line can lead to verbs (e.g. hatch out, chirp, hop); and so on.


March

1. What season is it?

2. List four colours that the author can see from his window.

3. How high above the ground is the blackbirds’ nest?

4. Read Page 18. The following sentences tell you how to remove the white and yolk from an egg. They are mixed up. Put them in the correct order.

  • Blow gently through the pipette.
  • Place the egg on some cotton wool in a safe place.
  • Drill a tiny hole in the shell.
  • (The white and yolk will come out of the hole.)
  • Insert the pipette into the hole.
  • Get a small drill.
  • Take a pipette with a thin, curved end.

5. Complete the following table:

Bird Colour of Egg Other Information
Nightingale
Guillemot
Different colours and speckles
Wren
The largest

6. Saffron is made from what?

7. What is it used for?

8. Listen carefully to the teacher and complete the following description of how a flower reproduces.

The anthers in a flower produce __________. Bees and other insects visit the flower to drink nectar. Some of the pollen sticks on their bodies and they carry it to other flowers. The pollen falls onto the ___________ of another flower. It grows down through the ___________into the _________. This makes the ovary produce ___________. Later, the ovary bursts and the seeds are carried away by __________________. When they fall on wet soil, they _____________ and grow into a new flower.

9. What nouns can we make from the following verbs?

VERB NOUN
reproduce reproduction
pollinate
germinate

10. Read a book about plants and find out how another plant reproduces. Write a short description of what happens.


May

1. Read the text and decide whether the statements below are TRUE or FALSE. (Tick a box.)

Statement True False
a) May is a summer month.
b) Roald Dahl knows a lot about sport for girls.
c) Dahl believes sport teaches us not to mind losing.
d) Dahl’s favourite sport is cricket.
e) Dahl taught himself golf with the help of a book.
f) Dahl enjoyed being bothered by monkeys when he played golf in Nigeria.

2. On page 29, what word is used for a bird that moves from one country to another?

A m_________

3. Why are cuckoos able to fly all the way from England to Africa?

They…

4. How are cuckoos different from most other birds?

They…

5. Where do cuckoos lay their eggs?

They…

6. Where do they leave their eggs?

They…

7. It is very surprising that hedge sparrows sit on cuckoo eggs along with their own. Why is this surprising?

It is surprising because cuckoo eggs…

8. What shocking thing do baby cuckoos do?

They…

9. How many eggs do cuckoos usually lay?

They…


June

1. a) Name one kind of seabird that migrates to warmer countries during the English winter.
_____________ p.37

b) Name one kind of seabird that remains in England during the winter.
_____________ p.37

2. What are baby swans called?
_____________ p.38

3. Gulls, terns, blackbirds, sparrows, parrots and hornbills are different s________ of birds. (p.37)

5. How are foxgloves useful to humans? (p.39)

6. How are frogs useful to humans? (p.39/40)?

7. When do honeysuckle flowers become orange-yellow?


July

1. What amazing fact do you discover about Roald Dahl when he was 16 years old?

He…

2. How far was Dahl’s school from his home? (Give the exact distance.)

3. What four things did Dahl wear when he rode his bike?
a)
b)
c)
d)

4. How did Dahl feel as he rode past the headmaster (page 44)?

He felt…

5. What would the headmaster have done if he had caught Dahl?

He would have…


August

1. If you want information about Dahl’s childhood holidays in Norway, what should you do?

You should read…

2. Why did Dahl not sleep on the train from Paris to Marseille?

He couldn’t sleep because…

3. What problem did Dahl have when he arrived back in England?

He…

4. A butterfly lays hundreds of eggs. Why do only a few of these hatch out?

Most of the eggs…

5. Complete the following vocabulary list:

baby caterpillars
older caterpillars (wrapped in a case) before they become butterflies
to sleep during the winter
an animal (or person) that travels to another country and lives there

6. Use a dictionary to find the meanings of the following words/phrases. (They are all found in “August”.) Write them in your Vocabulary book. You must write the meaning and an example.

a) vague (p.47)
b) fumes (p.48)
c) scorched (p.48)
d) famished (p.48)
e) crisp (p.50)
f) beneficial (p.50
g) vast quantities (p.50)
h) a snag (p.51)
i) emerge from (p.52)

Find out how each of these words is pronounced!

7. Write about an enjoyable holiday you had. (You may write about the whole holiday or just about one interesting incident during the holiday.)

a) Start by explaining where and when you went on holiday. Say who you were with.
b) Use the Simple Past tense.
c) Use paragraphs.
d) Do not write: “… and … and … and …”!
e) Do not write: “Then we … Then we … Then we …”!
f) Write at least 150 words. (Do this in your English exercise book.)


September

Before reading

a) What is a “conker”?
b) What game can you play with it?
c) In your country, are any games played with the seeds or fruits of plants? Describe them.

While reading

1. Mark each statement T (true), F (false) or DK (don’t know).

Conkers turn brown in August.
Brown conkers are good for fighting.
Dahl wrote a letter saying that not enough children were playing Conkers.
One thousand people wrote letters to Dahl.
People play Conkers in the autumn and winter.
The game of Conkers is only played in England.
The toughest conkers have been stored for a year or more.
Dahl thinks it is a good idea to soak conkers in vinegar.
Some people bake conkers and eat them.
The best shape for a fighting conker is big and round.
The best shape for a fighting conker is flat with a sharp edge.
You need to be calm in order to play Conkers well.
Dahl’s best conker was smashed in the school playground.
Dahl’s best conker was 109 years old.
Dahl felt exhausted when his conker was beaten.

2. What does Dahl call the curved top of the mushroom?

3. What does he call the lines underneath this?

4. Why is it alright to take mushrooms from somebody else’s field?

5. Which trees are the last to change colour?

6. Complete the table:

Berries/Nuts Colour When Ripe
black
Elderberries purple
Honeysuckle berries
scarlet
Rowan berries
brown
Acorns green
Horse chestnuts

After reading

Describe a traditional game that is played in your country. Follow this pattern:

a) Title

b) Where is it played? Who plays it?
c) What do you need (e.g. equipment) to play the game?
d) How do you play the game? What are the rules?
e) Is the game popular? Do you play it yourself?

Look at the example below.

CONKERS

Conkers is a traditional game in Britain and Ireland. It is played by children during the autumn and winter. Both boys and girls play the game.

First, you need a nut from the horse-chestnut tree. The nut is called a “conker”. You must store the conker in a dry place for as long as possible. This hardens it. You can also harden a conker by baking it very slowly in an oven or microwave. Some people also like to soak the conker in vinegar. Next, you must drill a hole in your conker. You can use a nail to do this. Then you need to push a string or shoelace through the hole and tie a knot at one end.

To play Conkers, you hold the end of the string in one hand and your conker in the other. Then you swing the conker, hitting your opponent’s conker as hard as possible. You take turns to do this. The person who breaks their opponent’s conker is the winner. Every time a conker breaks another, it gains a number. For example, a Conker 25 is one that has smashed 25 other conkers.

Although most children today play computer games and watch a lot of television, Conkers is still a very popular game.


October

1. What kind of trees does Dahl have in his orchard?

2. How many trees does he have?

3. What two types of apples does he mention?

4. What disappoints Dahl about children today?

5. According to Dahl, what is the best place to watch birds migrating from Scandinavia to Britain?

6. What do wood pigeons eat?

7. Why is the lane near Dahl’s house so low?

8. Find a word on Page 62 which means “people who study plants”.


November

1. How does Dahl feel about the winter? (Which word tells you what he thinks?)

2. How old is Dahl as he writes this book?

3. Roald Dahl is a very successful writer. Young people all around the world have bought millions of copies of books like “The Witches”, “Matilda”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” etc. What surprising fact do we learn about his schooldays?

4. What is shocking about Guy Fawkes Night (5th November) at Dahl’s school?

5. Why does Dahl say that children should be allowed to do dangerous things?

6. How does a badger keep its home warm in winter?

7. Find a word on Page 68 which means “to sleep during the winter”.


Review

Look back through “My Year” and answer these questions:

1. What is your favourite part of the book?

My favourite part is where Dahl tells us how … / remembers how … / describes …

2. What do we learn about Roald Dahl’s character (his personality, interests, opinions etc.) by reading this book?

3. If you lived in England, which month do you think you would like best? Why?

4. If you lived in England, which month do you think you would like least? Why?