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A Mighty Fine Time Machine

This week and next week’s learning will be based on the story ‘A Mighty Fine Time Machine’ by Suzanne Bloom. Click here to watch the video in the ‘Story Time’ section of the Year One pages.

Day One

Allow your child to watch the video through without stopping. Ask your child what they liked/disliked/were confused by in the story and discuss their answers with them. Then watch the video again, pause to discuss the meaning of potential new words such as bamboozled, trove, miscalculated, minor adjustments, location, etc.

As you go through, check your child’s understanding by asking them:

  • Why does Sam think Grant and Antoine have been tricked at the beginning of the story?
  • What do you think Sam thinks a time machine should look like?
  • What do you think ‘hoozie-doozies’ are?
  • Do you think they are pleased with their finished time machine?
  • Is there a particular word which makes you think that?
  • Did the time machine work in the end?
  • How did the characters travel to different times and places?
  • What places and times have you been to in stories recently?

Your child may wish to watch the video again and now they will be able to take in the plot of the story with increased understanding.

Your child could record their response to the text using a ‘Tell Me’ grid (using the link below). They are familiar with this format but may need support to discuss what to write in each section. The ‘puzzles’ section is for them to record any questions they have about the text, or anything the text makes them wonder about the world. The ‘connections’ section is for them to record any links they can think of with other texts they know. This is often the trickiest section. Try asking your child if they can think of another story where the main characters are animals/where the characters go on a journey/make something etc. To dig deeper into the message of the story, a good text to make connections with is ‘Little Red Reading Hood’. Click here for a video or go to the ‘Story Time’ section of the Year One pages.

Your child does not need to record their answers in complete sentences. One word is often fine. If you would like to challenge your child further, ask them to explain why they like and dislike aspects of the story. We encourage them to spell the word ‘because’ correctly by using the mnemonic ‘big elephants can always understand small elephants’.

Day Two


Day Three

Now your child has made their time machine, tell them that you need some help finding out how it works. Chat to them about what we use to find out about how to operate a new gadget. Get them to look around the house for examples of instructions. They may find them in board games, recipe books, lego booklets, toys, etc. If they are struggling to find any, you can use this website for examples. Read the instructions to/with your child and chat about the different sized text, fonts, layout etc. What are the different sections? How do the pictures help? Explain to them that they are going to be writing some instructions for their time machine. Often giving the writing a purpose helps to motivate children to write. You could tell your child that the instructions are for a relative to use. Encourage your child to play with their time machine and think about their instructions. You could introduce the idea of using sequencing words such as ‘first, second, next, finally’ verbally at this stage.

Day Four and Five

Read the instructions below with your child and discuss them.

How are they laid out?

Can they spot differences in the way the words are written (bold/italics)?

Why do they think this is?

Do the instructions help them to know how to use the time machine?

What ideas would they like to take from the instructions to use in their own writing?


Allow your child to write their own set of instructions for their time machine. They can use the example to help them with ideas. Splitting this into two shorter focussed sessions is often a good approach.  They will need to give their time machine a name. It is perfectly fine for them to call it ‘Mighty Fine Time Machine’ if they wish. They do not need to write in as much detail as the example text. Don’t forget to use sound and word mats from the Key skills and Resources section of the Year One pages. You will also find hints on how to support your child during the writing process there.