Using a high-quality text to teach a range of reading and writing objectives

Many thanks to Maddy Barnes (@moonmaddy) for the fantastic lesson ideas using Hugless Douglas and the Great Cake Bake  by David Melling.You can get your copy here

After the launch of this year’s Great British Bake Off, it seems timely to share David Melling’s latest Hugless Douglas classic, ‘Hugless Douglas and the Great Cake Bake.’ This resource demonstrates how a high-quality text can be used to teach a range of NC objectives spanning across both key stages.

Hugless Douglas and the Great Cake Bake
‘Hugless Douglas loves yummy honey cakes. Can he be tempted to try something new?’ A beautiful and fun tale about friends and a bake off! Also includes two recipes at the back of the book.


Year 1 Reading Objectives- Comprehension

  • Discussing the significance of the title and events
  • Making inferences on the basis of what is being said and done
  • Predicting what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far
  • Participating in a discussion about what is read to them, taking turns and listening to what others say
  • Explaining clearly their understanding of what is read to them.

Year 1 pupils need to be read to regularly. This book provides many opportunities for prediction. A double spread at the beginning of the text informs children that Douglas is following honey-flavoured footprints to find where his honey has gone. ‘If only I could find a clue to help me,’ he sighed - this will leave children shouting advice for him to use the illustrations. The illustrations are full of detail and a perfect spring board for prediction questions for the teacher to pose, for example, 'Will the cake be a success?'; 'Which sheep is in charge?';  'What job would you like to do?';  'Will Douglas like the cake?';  'What would you throw in a food fight?';  'Who will clean up all of the mess?' and 'What will Douglas eat now?'

Year 1 Writing Objectives – Composition & GPS

  • Sequencing sentences to form short narratives
  • Re-reading what they have written to check that it makes sense
  • Joining words and joining clauses using and
  • Beginning to punctuate sentences using a capital letter and a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark
  • Using a capital letter for names of people


There is a double spread in the book where the sheep and Douglas have a food fight. The only text on the page is 'FOOD FIGHT'. There is a wealth of activity in the images and children could write a number of sentences about the food fight using ‘and.’ After discussing in partners all of the action, teachers could make notes of the verbs children use and challenge them to write sentences. 'The sheep threw berries and carrots.' 'The sheep threw nuts and honey.' 'Douglas shook his head and hid behind the tree.' 'One sheep swung on the branches and fell on the grass.'

Year 2 Reading Objectives – Comprehension

  • Making inferences on the basis of what is being said and done
  • Answering and asking questions
  • Predicting what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far


Year 2 children need to be summarising what they are reading independently. They should be able to compose questions about a text whilst it is being read to them for example, ‘Why is a pencil chewed up on his desk?'; 'Where is all of the honey?'; 'Why is one sheep green?';  'What will they do whilst the cakes are cooking?';  'Did you think they would have a food fight?';  'Did you think Douglas would eat the carrot?';  'Will he eat something else?';  'What did you think of the ending?' If children do not do this fluently, teachers may need to model and demonstrate this skill, almost like a voice over so that children learn the skills to think about questions whilst listening to a text or whilst reading themselves.

Year 2 Writing Objectives – Composition and GPS

  • Planning or saying out loud what they are going to write about
  • Writing down ideas and/or key words, including new vocabulary
  • Encapsulating what they want to say, sentence by sentence
  • Forming sentences with different forms: statement, question, exclamation, command
  • Expanded noun phrases to describe and specify (for example, the blue butterfly)


This book could be used to teach all four sentences forms to children – statements, questions, commands and exclamations (although the book includes many exclamatory sentences, children need to be taught that exclamations begin with how or what and include a verb).  After sharing the first page, teachers could ask pupils to work in groups to write an example of each sentence form. An example of this could be:


Douglas found honey footprints in his bed.


Where has that honey come from?


Find my honey!


What a lot of honey there is!

Teachers could also list the ingredients used in this book and challenge children to write expanded noun phrases for the berries, carrots, nuts and honey. They could use alliteration, for example: beautiful berries, crunchy carrots, nutritious nuts and heavenly honey. Or teachers could demonstrate some longer expanded noun phrases, for example: a handful of fresh carrots, five or six juicy berries, a small bowl of delicious nuts and half a cup of runny honey.

Year 3 Reading Objectives – Comprehension

  • Drawing inferences such as inferring characters’ feelings, thoughts and motives from their actions, and justifying inferences with evidence


Although this is a picture book, there are many opportunities to really ‘pull the text apart and interrogate what the author is trying to tell the reader’. Children in Year 3 may need some ‘hand holding’ to develop this skill. Here are some examples:

Quotation from text

How to pull the text apart

‘Where’s my honey?’ Douglas gasped.

What does the verb ’gasped’ suggest about his mood?

‘Then Douglas twitched his nose.’

Is the verb ‘twitched’ more effective than ‘moved?’

‘…the sheep put dollops of the mixture.’

How does the word ‘dollops’ imply how careful the sheep worked?

‘… they scrambled towards the delicious smell.’

How does the verb ‘scrambled ‘ imply the way the sheep moved?

‘Douglas wasn’t used to…’

Why do you think the author used ‘wasn’t rather than ‘was not?’

Year 3 Writing Objectives – Composition and GAPS

  • Expressing time, place and cause using conjunctions (for example: when, before, after, while, so, because), adverbs (for example, then, next, soon, therefore), or prepositions (for example, before, after, during, in, because of)


Teachers will need to explicitly teach conjunctions, adverbs and prepositions to Year 3 children. The plot in this book could be used to teach children how to express time, place and cause. Teachers could share a range of conjunctions with children after reading the text and challenge them to use the plot to create some sentences using when, before, after, while, so and because. Children may need to be shown/reminded that some of these conjunctions can be used to start the sentence as well as be placed in the middle, for example: ‘Because he couldn’t find his honey, Douglas followed the footprints' or 'Douglas followed the footprints because he couldn’t find his honey.' 'Douglas was surprised when he tasted the carrot' or 'When he tasted the carrot, Douglas was surprised.' 

Engaging Readers and Inspiring Writers – some ideas for writing activities linked to this text

Writing activities linked to this text - genre

Brief outline of activity


Children could write a recount of the plot, from the point of view of Douglas, Flossie or another sheep. This could be written in the form of a traditional recount or take the form of a diary entry (older pupils could really get into the role and use informal language) or a letter/email (where the conventions of these forms could be taught).

Instructions /Recipes

Use the double spread in the middle of the book where Flossie instructs the other characters through images how to make the cake. Children could add verbs and use the pictures to sequence this recipe. There are also two alternative recipes at the back of the book for children to read and respond to. Children could write a traditional recipe or create their own inspired by Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes or The Disgusting Sandwich, by Gareth Edwards.

Poetry/Song lyrics

Children could imagine that the sheep and Douglas sang a song as they baked their cakes. This could be written to the tune of a well-known song or nursery rhyme. Teachers could also model list poetry where the title could be ‘The Great Cake Bake’ and children could list expanded noun phrases. This could also follow the form of five juicy berries, four delicious nuts, three tasty carrots, two spoons of sugar and one full pot of honey!

TV voice over

Teachers could show the children a clip from The Great British Bake Off and listen to the commentary and the feed back from the judges. Children could imagine that six sheep made a different cake and Douglas tasted each one and gave feedback. This may support Year 3 children as they develop how to punctuate direct speech.

- Maddy Barnes, @moonmaddy

Maddy Barnes is an experienced teacher both in the UK and overseas and is a Specialist Leader of Education in the North West pilot scheme. She is an English SATS marker and a QCDA Single Level Tests Marker. She has also moderated the Level 6 English tests and is an international schools marker. Maddy is a published author and has written the Skills Builders Grammar and Punctuation series for Rising Stars.


English, English and Literacy, Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation, KS1, ks2, literacy, primary, Reading, Reading and Ebooks, Skills Builders, Teaching

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