‘The Darkness Out There’ Penelope Lively
Sandra and Kerry are part of their school’s ‘Good Neighbour’s Club’; they are sent to help Mrs Rutter, ‘a cottage-loaf of a woman’. However, she isn’t what she seems and Sandra and Kerry are horrified by what she tells them. Both of them grow up and learn something of the real ‘darkness out there’.
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'The Darkness Out There' by Penelope Lively
A copy of the story.
Group these quotations according to which character is being referred to. Includes teaching notes with some suggestions for extension activities. Created for Foundation Tier students.
A series of suggestions for exploring 'The Darkness Out There' with your students.
All about Kerry
Map the ways in which Kerry grows up in the course of the story and explore his role and character. Created with Higher Tier students in mind. The html file is an on-screen version of the task on p.2, exploring Kerry's role in the story.
How does Lively play upon stereotypes and pre-conceived ideas?
Place and character
Students focus on how the setting of 'The Darkness Out There' influences the reader's views on character. Two differentiated versions are included: pages 1-2 are aimed at Higher Tier students and pages 3-4 are aimed at Foundation Tier students.
Whistle-stop language tour
A peer teaching activity in which students get to grips with aspects of the story's language and style.
Investigate and explore the 'rights' and 'wrongs' of the story by putting Mrs Rutter on trial. Includes role-play instructions for all characters and a guide to effective questioning for those putting the 'villain' on the stand.
A series of drama-based approaches to help students explore this short story.
Put the events of the story in order in this on-screen activity.
Design double-sided masks to explore the contrasts in how Kerry Stevens and Mrs Rutter seem at the beginning of the story and how they appear by the end.
How does it end?
Focus on the ending of the short story with a 'collapsed' version of the extract, a series of questions and an extension task. The first activity is suitable for either Higher or Foundation Tier students but the questions that follow have been differentiated.
Social and historical context
Background information about Penelope Lively and 'The Darkness Out There'. This information is also available as a web page in the 'Social and historical' section.