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The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch

Ronda and David Armitage
Age 5-7

First published 45 years ago, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch tells the story of Mr and Mrs Grinling and their ingenious plans to outfox a group of crafty seagulls determined to devour the splendid lunch Mrs Grinling prepares for her lighthouse keeper husband each day.

Although slightly dated in terms of gendered roles, Mrs Grinling is the mastermind who eventually outwits the gulls. A picturebook classic, this is a very amusing story likely to spark lots of discussion and interest in lighthouses and lighthouse keeper

Watch the story


Share the story

Read Aloud
Read the story aloud to your child pausing to talk about what is happening as you do so

Join in
Once familiar with the story, children can join in with the reading, the comments of the seagulls in particular would be great fun! It doesn’t matter if they are not reading word for word but rather getting the sense of the story.

Talk about the book
• Share your favourite parts of the story.
• Talk about what lighthouses are for.
• The book is full of challenging vocabulary, children will understand many of the words from the context, but they may want to talk to you about unfamiliar words such as ‘concocting’, ‘ingenious’ or ‘scavenging.’
• Talk about Hamish the cat’s feelings about being tied to the basket.
• Imagine what the seagulls were thinking at different points in the story?

Things to make and do

Design a menu for Mr Grinling
Look back together at the page with the lunch Mrs Grinling prepared ready to be packed in the basket. Your child could draw or list their own menu of yummy foods.

Be a master baker
Make some iced sea biscuits Best iced biscuits – BBC Food

Make a lighthouse.
Make your own junk model lighthouse. Here is a suggested method Paper Cup Lighthouse Light-up Craft | Kids Crafts | (

Devise a plan to foil the seagulls
Talk about the ways Mrs Grinling tried to outwit the seagulls – can you think of any more ideas?

Make an origami basket.
Have a go at making picnic baskets together from a piece of A4 paper. See here for an instruction video.  You could try making miniature food from modelling material to put inside.

Sing a sea shanty
You could sing a sea shanty together, here are two examples:
The Wellerman The Wellerman for Kids – A Twinkl Sea Shanty! – YouTube
What shall we do with the Drunken Sailor? Sing-along

Zoom on a zip wire
Have a go on a zipwire if there is one available in a nearby park or make a mini zip wire to transport a basket of food. See here for one possible way to do this.

Find out More

Read more books about Mr and Mrs Grinling by Ronda and David Armitag
Titles include:
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Catastrophe
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Rescue
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Picnic
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cat

Find out about lighthouses
Maddie explains how a lighthouse works – YouTube

For older children
How Do Lighthouses Work? | Summer School Week 14 | Twig Science Reporter – YouTube

Find out about female lighthouse keepers
Female Lighthouse Keepers – Bidston Lighthouse
Who was Grace Darling? – BBC Bitesize
Grace Darling Website 
Grace Darling – Topic pack (