Learning Branch Back to List

Resource Preview

Book status: The book for this planning sequence is currently reprinting or out of print and therefore not in stock at most booksellers. If you do not already own the book, we would recommend this planning sequence as an alternative:

Alternative sequence

A Home Learning Branch for The Mysteries of Harris Burdick


KS: Lower KS2

Year Group: Year 3

Author(s): Chris Van Allsburg

This is a Home Learning Branch for The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.  These branches are designed to support home learners to access literature-based learning using a selection of books we love from the Literary Curriculum.  They include purposeful writing suggestions, links to the wider curriculum so that texts can be used across other subjects, key questions as well as spelling or phonics investigations.

A Planning Sequence is available for The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

Planning Sequence Overview:


Diary entries, dialogue, setting description (atmospheric description), captions and titles

Main Outcome:

Own version mystery narrative


15 sessions, 3 weeks

Overview and Outcomes:

This is a three-week planning sequence that uses The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. Children begin by exploring the illustrations – left in a mysterious suitcase in the classroom – and creating mystery setting descriptions, using a variety of grammatical and authorial tools, going on to creating action, character and dialogue in their middle-sections and endings. Children will explore many of the illustrations in this text. In the final part of the sequence, children write their own fantasy stories, based upon the illustration Mr. Linden’s Library. They will finally edit and publish their stories in a class collection for others to read. Afterward, children will receive a letter from a mysterious H.B. thanking them for creating stories for these illustrations. 

Synopsis of Text:

Who is Harris Burdick? Where did he disappear to? And how was he going to finish his stories?

Chris Van Allsburg presents a series of loosely related drawings each accompanied by a title and a caption which the reader may use to make up his or her own story.


Mysteries, wordless

View The Mysteries of Harris Burdick Planning Sequence

A Spelling Seed is available for The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

Spelling Seed Overview:


This is a three-session spelling seed for the book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsberg.  Below is the coverage from Appendix 1 of the National Curriculum 2014.

Spelling Seeds have been designed to complement the Literary Curriculum by providing weekly, contextualised sequences of sessions for the teaching of spelling that include open-ended investigations and opportunities to practise and apply within meaningful and purposeful contexts, linked (where relevant) to other areas of the curriculum and a suggestion of how to extend the investigation into home learning.

Spelling Seeds work alongside the texts within the Literary Curriculum and, as such, will also reflect the suggested number of weeks spent on a text, as well.


Word List Words

answer, certain, difficult, height, notice, possess(ion), reign

Spelling Rules and Patterns

Words with the /ʃ/ sound spelt ch (mostly French in origin)

Words with endings sounding like /ʒə/ or /tʃə/

View The Mysteries of Harris Burdick Spelling Seed

A Learning Log is available for The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

View The Mysteries of Harris Burdick Learning Log
The Literacy Tree™, Literary Leaves™, Spelling Seeds™, Home Learning Branches™ and #TeachThroughaText™ are all Registered Trademarks of The Literacy Tree Ltd.
The Literacy Tree CS.301, lerkenwell Workshops, Clerkenwell Close, London, EC1R 0AT | Company Registered no: 07951913