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The Witches

By Mark Warner
Age Range: 5 to 11

Roald Dahl

Book Description:

"There is a secret society of Witches in every country," said my grandmother. "An English witch will know all the other witches in England. They swap deadly recipes. Goodness knows what else they talk about. I hate to think."

Unfortunately, there is no way of telling for sure whether a woman is a witch or not- but there are a number of little signals that you can look out for, as the hero of this story finds out. But can he foil the Grand High Witch and her gang before he is squelched forever?

The Witches

Buy This Book

Teaching Ideas and Resources:

Literacy Ideas

  • Investigate other stories that feature witches. How are they similar / different to the witches in this book?
  • The witches' motto is 'Squish them and squiggle them and make them disappear'. Can you find out any other mottos? Can you think of a motto for your family / school / town?
  • Listen to the audiobook version of the story. Could you record your own reading with music, expression and sound effects? Listen to this extract for some inspiration:

  • Make a 'missing person' poster for the children who went missing (as described in Chapter 2). What did they look like? Where were they last seen?
  • Watch this description of witches, as explained by Roald Dahl. Can you write your own description of a witch (or another nasty character)?

  • Read Chapter 2, which describes the disappearance of five children. Can you write another story about a child who disappears because of a witch?
  • Create a poster which teaches people how to recognise a witch (see Chapter 3).
  • Could you write a recipe for a new witches' potion?
  • Write a story about a witchophile who spends their time learning about witches and trying to find them.
  • Write the recipe for the Formula 86 Delayed Action Mouse-Maker potion.
  • Make a list of all the disgusting words used to describe The Grand High Witch in Chapter 7. Can you think of any more? Can you think of antonyms for these words?
  • Watch a scene from the movie version of the story. How does it compare to the book?
  • Look at the rhyming verses used by The Grand High Witch. Can you make up some more rhyming phrases that she might say?
  • Make up some names of sweets that might be sold in the witches' new sweet shops.
  • Chapter 12 begins 'I remember thinking to myself, There is no escape for me now!'. Can you use this as a starter for your own story?
  • Read and perform the play version of the story.
  • How would you feel if you were turned into a mouse (or another creature)? Could you write a story about an adventure that you might have?
  • Write a follow-up to this story in which the boy and his grandmother turn more witches into mice.
Maths Ideas
  • If a witch 'squelches' one child per week, how many children is that in a year... in two years... in ten years? How many would that be if she 'squelched' two children every week?
  • Investigate capacity and the different amounts of liquids required to make a special potion.
Science Ideas
  • Witches can find children using their amazing sense of smell. Find out about the different senses and how we use them.
  • Chapter 12 is called 'Metamorphosis'. Find out what this means… can you discover any examples of metamorphosis in nature?
  • Plan a healthy menu for the hotel restaurant.

Computing Ideas

  • Could you record a news report which describes the disappearance of the children in the story?
  • Use publishing software to create a sign / poster which warns people about witches and teaches them how to recognise a witch.
  • Make an animation which shows an ordinary woman transforming into a witch.
  • Make an animation which shows a child transforming into a tiny mouse!

Design Technology Ideas

  • Design a machine which could be used to catch witches.
  • Make a model of the boy's dream White Mouse Circus. What different acts would there be? What equipment would each one need?
  • The witches are told by The Grand High Witch to buy their own sweet shops. Can you design a sign for these shops? Could you make a poster to advertise the Great Gala Opening of each shop? Can you plan the layout of the different products?

Art Ideas

  • Paint the picture described in Chapter 2, in which the missing girl appears.
  • Draw pictures of different witches using the descriptions in Chapter 3.
Music Ideas
  • Compose a tune for The Grand High Witch's song in Chapter 8.
Geography Ideas
  • The boy's grandmother comes from Norway. Can you find this on a map? What do you know Boutnthe country? Could you write a report about the country and the people who live there?
  • Find a map of the world and think about how witches in different countries might deal with children in different ways.
  • Draw a map of the hotel, including the different rooms mentioned in Chapter 5.

Foreign Languages Ideas

  • Find out how to say some common words in Norwegian. Could you have a simple conversation with a friend using the language?

PSHE Ideas

  • Make a poster to teach other children about stranger danger.

Other Resources


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