Parents, Teachers & Speaking

Invite G.Rosemary to your School


As a former teacher I understand how important it is to have visiting speakers fit within the parameters set for the class. Before a visit I like to speak with the teacher to find out what will be most valuable for me to talk about?

What needs developing in the children’s writing? what excites them? how can I increase their enthusiasm for reading? In this way I can be sure that a maximum benefit will be achieved from my visit.


My visit to Larson Elementary.

Recently I had the opportunity to visit a school situated in North Vancouver. I was booked for four sessions with three classes attending each session. The librarian grouped the children by age so that I could tailor my talks to each learning level. I had so much fun.

I met with the librarian a week or so beforehand as I wanted to have a clear idea of expectations and also the layout of where I would be speaking. The overall purpose for having me visit was to foster in the children a love of reading, story, and learning. Of course, I spent plenty of time putting together a series of lesson plans and also some props for the talks.

Since this encounter with the children, I have given more thought to what I would like to accomplish in the future. I would like to do a lot more school visits. They’re wonderful and to experience the enthusiasm and vigor of the children is like a tonic. My books are deemed middle grade, but they resonate with older readers as well. I can see that I could speak to junior high students to good effect as well.

My visit to St. Joseph’s School, Kingswood

St. Joseph’s School, Kingswood invited me to speak to a
Classroom of grade 5 students (25). The teacher, S Frost asked me to speak about ways for the children to make their stories more interesting and the language more vibrant. We started by designing a character together.

The children saw how small  changes to clothing or age made a difference in how the character was perceived. Then we talked about the action. What was the character going to do? How could they do it in an interesting way? We rounded out the hour with a question and answer period.


I would like to see each book used as a jumping off point for more in-depth learning. Of course, this is just a beginning, I’m sure that your ideas and the enthusiasm of the children will lead into all sorts of other worthwhile activities.

Ideas for Teaching Activities


Time : 1860’s

Location : Canada – Atlantic Ocean – New York

Life Lessons : Learns she can help others & understands that she enjoys it.
Realizes that she should have faith in what she knows.

Maps: Where is Vancouver Island? How did it get that name? Find Nanaimo on a map. Why did sailing ships come into Nanaimo Harbour? What were they shipping out of there?
Find New York on a map.

Scurvy: (Chapter 11 Page 45 Stormy Weather) Susan takes Jason an orange because she’s learned in history class that sailors used to get scurvy.
o Symptoms of scurvy? o What caused it? o Why Oranges? o Rum as the cure. Navy culture.

Tea: (Chapter 15 Page 72) Loose leaf in 1860s.
o What does it look like.? o Why sold in tins? o Find pictures of tin examples o Difference between Green, Black, White, and Oolong? o Where would a Rajah Blend tea be from?

Art: (Chapter 13 Page 65) Draw the tin described in the book – Rajah Blend o Draw the Faraday tin (Chapter 25 Faraday’s Teas Page 143)

Tea: There is so much fun that could be had with the whole culture of tea.
o Make and serve tea in the classroom o Where is it grown now, how is it harvested? o How it is sold now?. Bags, leaves, powder, drinks (Snapple, iced tea etc.) o Japanese tea ceremony (if you have Japanese children in the class) o Different ways of brewing in various cultures – Samovar, British, different flavorings.

Sailing ships: (Chapter 13 At the Library, Page 66 & Chapter 17 Caught Page 87)
o Discuss the difference between the ship Jason is traveling on and the clipper ship which passes them. o Why were they different? Different purposes. Need for speed. o Clipper ships and the whole culture of the race to get the tea to market is a fascinating and exiting story. o What are belaying pins? What were they used for? (Chapter 15 The Value of Tea Page 76)

Sea Shanties: Singing or listening to them.
What were they for? They are work songs which kept everyone in step.

Immigration: ( Chapter 11 Stormy Weather Pages 50, 51)
o The conditions on an immigrant ship. Poor food, living conditions, lack of toilets, Differences in classes of passengers. o British enclosure of the commons. Briefly mentioned, but it was a huge disruption to society and led to a lot of the immigration. o Industrial Revolution. Also briefly mentioned. This was a time of huge changes in the lives of the population.

Orphans: ( Chapter 20, page104)
o What is a orphan? o How did society deal with them then & now?

Mrs. Horace Blackwood: (Chapter 23 Where to? Page 127)
o Does this woman have a man’s name? Why is she using a masculine name on the sign? It allowed Susan to find the name on the masthead of the newspaper

Growing Crystals: It is a fun activity to set up and grow crystals in the classroom.
Judy tells Susan how.

PDF additional Teaching Activities “A Rare Gift”


Ideas for Teaching Activities

Time: 1450 BC (that makes it over 3,500 years ago)

Locations: Canada – Ancient Egypt

Life Lessons: o Just crying doesn’t help the situation. Basically, it’s no good feeling sorry for yourself. You just need to do something.

Page 102 She realizes that she has six months to live in this world and she should make the most of the experience.

o Page 135 “You can’t spend the rest of your life being miserable. At some point you just have to accept what you can’t change and make the most of it”.  Only then are you in a position to work out how to get from where you are to where you want to be.

‘Magic Words’ (Page 29) Why did Susan say, people fly when they used those words?
o 747 and F18 are the numbers of planes o She was trying to impress Harsheer.
o What other words could she have used for the same effect?

Alabaster. (Page 57) o What is it? o Why did Egyptians use it? o Is it still available today?
o Find examples of Alabaster. o What is it used for today?

6 Months
To get a sense of how that amount of time would look to Susan, think back to all the things that have happened in the last 6 months. Depending on the age of the children, you could bring in current events from the world around them. Make a list. Then turn it personal. Make your own list. Birthdays, holidays, trips, visits.

Maps of tombs within the Valley of the Kings.
There are lots available. There are lots of examples and pictures. They have not found the tomb of Tuthmoses II up until this writing. They have his mummy though and it’s pretty gruesome.

Visit a local museum with an Egyptian Room.
Try to find examples of the things that Susan used and saw.
(This could also be conducted on the Web. There are hosts of sites and pictures there.) Have to watch the era though. The Egyptian culture spanned so many years.

Opet Festival——Art project. Collectively build a little boat like the one used to carry the god. Could also be an individual effort. Team building: Stage an Opet parade. Could be class or could be school. Some priests, some officials, vote on Pharaoh, others could be onlookers. All could have a part to play in preparations and decision making.

Australian Crawl. (Page 97) What is the Australian crawl? What is it called now? Why did the Egyptians swim differently? Where did the Australian crawl come from? It was Pacific Islanders who swam in that style. So when could it have become known to the rest of the world? Why did Djus wonder if she was from Greece (page 97)

Travel on the Nile. Sometimes they use oars and row on the river. Sometimes they use sails.What makes the difference ? Answer they row North Down river with the current.
They sail south against the current as there is a persistent wind that blows from north to south along the Nile.

Egyptian gods and their responsibilities. (Page 147) Could make an interesting discussion point. List of gods their animal likeness and their responsibilities.
Bring out the similarities between Greek, Roman and Norse pantheons where the gods were similarly given responsibilities over different aspects of life. It was a way of thought that helped people order their lives. Could bring up some interesting discussions.

Ma at: (Page 157) Art: Draw a depiction of her. Find pictures. For older grades a discussion on the art of the Egyptians, which was very distinctive.
Maybe make a pendant of Ma at for themselves.

Mummification: (Chapter 12) Description of mummification. There are myriad examples of mummies – wrapped and unwrapped. It seems a topic that most kids find totally fascinating.

Art Project: (Page 197) Take a small piece of soap stone and shape it, polish it and oil it. This should be an outside project as the dust from the shaping is talcum powder fine.
Files, and sandpaper are the best tools for small pieces.

Politics of the Time: (Page 223) Do the sentiments expressed by Ahmose have relevance in our own time? This could be so wide ranging – and very lively.

Hieroglyphics The difference between Hieroglyphics and Demotic ways of writing. Why would they need two forms? Look at the differences. Do we have two forms? Printing and cursive.It could also be useful here to point out that not every language forms their letters as we do. There’s the ones that are close like Greek and Russian, but then there are the Asian and Arabic ones where there are great differences.This could also lead to showing cuniform writing. This is a form which would have been in use during Susan’s time in Egypt. It is very different from the Egyptian.

Neferure There could be a very interesting discussion around this character. What are her motivations? What is her life like? Here’s my thoughts as I wrote her.
She is one of the most negative characters in the story. Why is she like that? What in her life has made her so unfriendly to a newcomer and willing to cause embarrassment even harm? She has a domineering, bossy mother who orders everyone around. Including her. Neferure projects this attitude onto her age group. She is the princess royal and so can get away with anything – as long as she doesn’t upset her mother. She does have power but has not learned to use it wisely. She knows that she will be the next queen, saddled with a much younger husband. Not a particularly happy prospect. Page 123: “You can’t swim better than me. I’m the Princess Royal.”

Page 127: How much credence should we put in Dauuf’s explanation of why Neferure has it in for Susan? Neferure’s hostility towards Susan began before Susan and Djus had even spoken. Neferure bullies Susan at the outset. Susan rises above it. Susan never falls under Neferure’s influence, which would unsettle her. Is Neferure jealous of Susan because she and Djus are friends? Very possibly. Djus has moved outside Neferure’s sphere of power. Is Susan jealous of Neferure? Not at all, in fact, she finds that she sympathizes with her plight later in the book. Neferure is the actual name of Hapshepsut and Tuthmoses II daughter. However she is never listed as married to Tuthmoses III. Why not? What happened to her?
Might make an interesting story for the children to write.

PDF additional Teaching Activities
“Pharaohs Tomb”


Ideas for Teaching Activities


Time: 1212 BC

Locations: Holy Roman Empire

Life Lessons:Trust your instincts : P 132. decides she must trust her instincts. o What’s in a name? Susan, Merit-Amen, Eric.I am all of these.I am me, whatever I’m called. How many more will I have? o Laughter is good:  P 232 realizes laughter is good for easing tension. o Family and True Friends are always of value .P 246. Susan learns that no matter what time or culture she finds herself in, the sharing of food and companionship with a group of people you trust & are comfortable with always leaves you with the same warm feeling. Family, friendship, and trust are important in every time.

Susan thinks about food arriving in front of you, and realizes that her Mother does that every day. She resolves to thank  her Mother when she gets home.

What is a shepherds crook? What is it used for? Are they still used today? Where might they still be used. How are sheep herded now? Different in different countries.
Slingshot: Are they dangerous? Why would the shepherd have needed one?
Why wouldn’t he have had a sword or a bow and arrow? David & Goliath
is the classic story of the deadly use of a slingshot.

Comparison of cultures.
Medieval Europe against others. (If Pharaoh’s Tomb has also been read
then the Egyptian culture would make an interesting comparison)

Grefin’s Story. Gives the Christian attitudes of the time. Could require some handling with the Islamic children in the classroom. Interesting discussion. What was the Islamic attitude towards Christianity at the time? Were the Crusades successful in any way?

The importance of market day to the life of a community. Susan compares it to farmers’ markets of her experience and also flea markets. How did people get the things they needed before there were supermarkets and stores. Also the social aspects of the market days. Could stage a market.

Try making a bag from a length of cloth. (I plan to make a video of this)

Discuss the tradition of fostering. Why were children fostered around? Where? Why? Who? Also how was it different from foster care in our time.

Because they elect their emperor, Susan thinks it might be democracy. Watt doesn’t know what that is. Who got to vote. Overall look at feudalism. b. There are some signs of aspects of the rise of the middle class in the story. The town has a blacksmith. Grefin was apprenticed to a cobbler.

How come Jason learned to ride at Christmas time? Brings up the seasonal differences between North and South hemispheres.

An art project. Find pictures of a bunyip. What are some other creatures that fit into this category? Ogopogo, Loch Ness Monster, Sasquatch, dragons. Could be a fun discussion or an art project. It’s a cryptid. Could lead to a discussion of the cultures of native peoples. Similarities and differences.

Thatch a problem? When Katerina looked at the roof they had to climb across she was pleased that it was slate and not thatch. Why would thatch have been a problem? What is it? Why was it used? Is it still used today? Where?

Escape route. Katerina points out that every family needs an escape route. Why would the nobility have needed escape plans? The story shows
partly why. Raids and assassinations were a lot more common among the nobility than other classes. But no-one was immune to dangers. Could begin a worthy discussion on then and now. Safety issues. What dangers do our families face. a. Go bag in case of earthquake or flood or fire. b. In other parts of the world add, famine, war, disease.

Australian slang. There is a little bit strewn through the story. a. Lying Doggo – means keeping quiet. Pretending to be asleep. Used in Australia but originally English.b. The Australian on the phone says G’Day. c. Bunyip – Aboriginal mythology swamp monster  I didn’t want to get too into slang. Might be fun to rewrite some of Jason’s dialogue in heavy Australian slang. Read it out to the class. Could be funny.

River Travel. Hazards of traveling on the Rhine in 1212.d. Shifting sand bars.e. Rapids.f. Smugglers and Pirates. Tolls. Lords would block the river and charge tolls for passing their castle.Enforced with soldiers and with chains pulled across the river.

Expression. Going off half cocked. Refers back to the old-style flintlock and caplock firearms. The half-cocked position was for loading and also acted as a safety of sorts. So, if the firearm was fired with the hammer in that position it would result in a misfire or a less powerful shot. So any time you are going to do something without full preparation became a time of going off half-cocked.

Differences.Page 157. Susan wonders what the river and countryside would look like in her own time. This could make a very interesting point for discussion. Have any of the children or their parents travelled along the Rhine. Do they have pictures, experiences. Even in their heads children should be able to discuss differences between how it was in 1212 and what would be there now. Type of boats. Infrastructure on the banks. Types of agriculture. Modes of travel.

Duties of a chatelaine.Page 160.Katerina talks about what she would have to do. What her responsibilities would be. It’s a different take on this than the often shown idea of the noble woman of total leisure. Everyone works.

The Red Stag: Why did the Inn’s sign have a picture rather than words for the name of the inn? There’s art possibilities here. Make up the name for an Inn and draw the sign. Class has to guess what the name of the Inn is.

St. George: Patron Saint of England. His story of slaying the dragon. Also his cross on the Union Jack. (Medallion on Robert’s harness) Note: There is a huge stained glass window depicting St George.It situated in the Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. UK

Warming Pan. Lady Beatrice swings out at Susan with a long-handled pan full of burning coals. What was that used for? Why did she have it there?

Frederick II. He was a real person. A quick study of his life. Where he was born. Why he reached the throne at such an early age. Who kept him there there. How did the Pope come into it.

Where Lady Knight touches actual history.a. There was an assassination attempt on Frederick when he visited the French Prince. It’s a mystery how he knew about it in advance.b. He marched into Constanz just ahead of the Welf army & the town stood for him. It was a big surprise.c. Timing of the story is about right for his crowning etc.d. King John of England was the Uncle of Otto IV. John’s sister was Otto mother. Otto was brought up in the English court.e. The pilgrim children did meet Nicholas in Cologne in August of that year.f. The pilgrim children were offered places in Genoa if they wished to stay.

Window glass: It’s described in detail at the window of the sitting room.This is the richest room that Jason and Susan have been in where there has been an opportunity to notice such a thing. The window is made up of small panes. Why? Not perfect. Bumpy and giving a distorted view. A look at how glass is made would quickly lead kids to see why in 1212 each little piece could have been less than perfect and why it was made in small pieces & fitted together.

Proof Reading opportunity: There is a chance here to set an exercise for the class. Find the typo in Chapter 49 Refreshment Surprises. The typo is on the first page where the word scone appears. It should be sconce. Once found this could lead to an conversation about what a sconce is. Find some contemporary ones.

King John. This is the king of Robin Hood fame. He was very unpopular. He’s been slagged throughout history, but apparently he was quite an able administrator. However, his elder brother Richard the Lionheart, (who obviously had much better PR), went off to the crusades. He left John in charge in England and then continued to demand great sums of money from him to keep his army in the field. John was forced to raise taxes again and again to cover the costs of Richard’s wars. This is what made him very unpopular. Then Richard got himself captured and held for ransom so John had to tax everyone even further to get the money to ransom his brother. King John was the one forced to sign the Magna Carta. And there’s another whole subject right there.

Damask: Find some examples of this. It’s very common now, but back then it would have just been arriving in Europe from the middle east.

Clothing: Tied on. Jason’s leggings are held up with ties. Susan has to unlace Katerinas dress to get her out of it. Why not elastic? Well where did elastic come from? Needed rubber to begin with. Rubber comes from South America originally. Inca and Maya culture had rubber balls to play with.

Jason of Adelaide: Where is Adelaide? Why would that be what they call him. Lots of people have surnames which originally were places. Even the author named Ludlow. This is a city in England and now, in several other places as well. Who in the class has a name that is a place. This could even lead into the discussion of trades. Smiths and Clarks, etc. Even children from other cultures, may have surnames which mean something. Schmidt for instance.

Apprenticeships: Grefin mentions that he was an apprentice. We still have apprenticeships now, but they are very different. How are the different and how are they the same?

Videos to Come 1. Making a bag from a piece of cloth. 2. Double tight shoe laces.

PDF additional Teaching Activities “Lady Knight”





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About the author

G. Rosemary Ludlow grew up in Adelaide, Australia, where she taught school for many years. She loved teaching children to read and her favorite thing to do was to tell them stories. History stories, geography stories, stories about spelling, or arithmetic - it is all stories.

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