Tom Gates Takeover at Hilton Primary School

At Hilton Primary in Inverness both of the P6 classes have been taking part in a project inspired by the books and videos of Liz Pichon, author of the hugely popular Tom Gates series. Here Lesley Glasgow, class teacher at Hilton Primary, shares the brilliant activities which she ran in her classroom to celebrate the wonderful world of Tom Gates. 

Getting started

We started off by watching the Authors Live Event with Liz Pichon. This introduced all of the children to the world of Tom Gates. The session was extremely engaging and interactive as the children had clipboards and paper to follow Liz’s doodling instructions in the classroom.

During the next session we watched the short animation ‘The Brilliant World of Tom Gates’ to introduce pupils to the characters and as a lead into reading the book.

We decided to follow the very natural progression of the book and focus on the main themes of doodling, music and comics.


The children developed their doodling techniques and built up their ideas in their own Comic Capers books. They spent 10-15 minutes each day noting ideas and practising doodles in their Comic Capers jotters. Comic Capers have proved so popular that the children have asked to carry on with the daily doodling even though the project has finished.

We made string doodles using a piece of string to make a shape, maybe a snail or a monster, and then adding doodles.

We created a Tom Gates style wall on frieze paper in the classroom. Once pupils were expert doodlers they drew themselves as a Tom Gates character and annotated the drawings as Liz does with the characters in her books. The pictures were then added to the Tom Gates wall to create a gallery. 


The class listened to, learned and performed Dog Zombie’s version of Delia’s a Weirdo.

Pupils formed rock bands, using their doodling skills to create a band identity and design Tom Gates style t-shirts and posters for their rock band. They then produced, learned and performed their own song in their band.

The children investigated the layout and information in music magazines like Rocksound and Kerrang and enjoyed creating their own reviews about their band as part of a class rock magazine.


Once pupils had developed their ideas and doodling experience in their Comic Capers books we set out to create our own comics.

We watched this video clip about producing comics where Liz Pichon explains how she writes and plans a comic style story. This video where Liz Pichon shows you how to doodle like Tom Gates is also really helpful in getting pupils started with drawing.

We spent time in class looking at comic strip formats either from The Dandy and The Beano, or Oor Wullie. We had planned to have each learner select an incident from Tom Gates and adapt it to comic strip form, but unfortunately we ran out of time. The idea was to create a class comic and come up with new ideas for Tom and make comic pages for these. We planned to try to emulate Liz’s drawing style in this activity.

The Tom Gates series is written in the epistolary style which can include letters, other documents and often diary entries. An additional activity could be to compare and contrast Tom Gates with The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Look for any similarities in the style: first person, irreverence, friendships and rivalries, etc. What is different? Can you tell they are written by different authors and if so, how? What are the clues? Which do they prefer and why? Encourage debate and split the learners into two groups each advocating the superiority of one or other of the novels. 

Tom Gates Day

Tom Gates Day brought together all of the activities covered by the children and was a celebration of the project.

A highlight for many children was the Pizza Party. We used pages 98-104 from A Tiny Bit Lucky about pizza toppings as a stimulus for making our own Granny Mavis style recipes.

In preparation for making the pizzas and recipe cards we watched this cooking verbs video clip where Liz Pichon shows you how to doodle different cooking verbs.

Then we had a go at creating unusual – yet palatable – pizzas. We wrote the pizzas up as recipe cards using ‘cooking verbs’ and displayed them (or you could make a pizza compilation book). On Tom Gates Day we used the recipe cards to cook our pizzas, they were, on the whole, delicious!

As well as cooking and eating our pizzas the day comprised of;

  • Songs being performed
  • Comics and music magazines to view
  • Competition winners announced
  • An excerpt read from latest Liz Pichon book, Top of the Class (Nearly)
  • Children dressed up in their doodled t-shirts and Tom Gates character masks
  • Doodle activities and games from the Scholastic fun stuff website
  • A Tom Gates quiz

As a result of the Authors Live broadcast and the follow up activities, the children have gone on to become huge fans of the Tom Gates series. Many of the children have now got their own copies of the series of books and we have been asked to add collections of books to the school’s reading resources.


Watch Liz Pichon's Authors Live event and download learning resources packed with cross-curricular activity ideas inspired by the Tom Gates series 

Check out the gallery below for some more photos from the Tom Gates-tastic celebrations at Hilton Primary School.





Lesley Glasgow

Lesley Glasgow is a class teacher at Hilton Primary School in Inverness.