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Exploring Context in 'Climbing My Grandfather'

In the worksheet, students will learn to explore the context in 'Climbing My Grandfather' in order to understand a little bit about Waterhouse's background and the nature of the poem.

'Exploring Context in 'Climbing My Grandfather'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA

Curriculum topic:   Poetry

Curriculum subtopic:   Love and Relationships: 'Climbing My Grandfather'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Always wanted to practise your understanding of context in 'Climbing My Grandfather?

 

Thought bubble

 

Well, you've come to the right place! 

 

This activity is quite simple. We're going to be looking at the background of the poem, the themes that Waterhouse uses and how they link to the context of his life and background. Waterhouse (1958-2001) grew up in North-East England and was very passionate about the environment. He struggled with depression for most of his life and, sadly, took his own life in 2001. Waterhouse, alongside poetry, was a musician, teacher and wrote for environmental journals.

 

As you do this activity, jot down some important facts that you notice along the way. It'll be really helpful for your exam, and your general knowledge.

 

 

 

 

Just a reminder: context is the background, environment and setting of a poem. 

 

Tick the one quote below which proves that Andrew Waterhouse was a nature enthusiast.

 

 

"The wrinkles well-spaced and easy"

"I can only lie, watching clouds and birds..."

"I cross the screed cheek, to stare into brown eyes"

Waterhouse wrote a lot of poetry which reflected the relationship between parent and child. How does 'Climbing My Grandfather' fit into this?

 

 

Pick the one correct number.

 

1. The poem is about the relationship between parent and child.

2. The poem is about love and romance.

3. The poem is about the developing relationship between grandchild and grandfather.

What can we infer about the overall meaning of the poem?

 

Tick the three answers that you think are the most logical.

The poem is about the developing relationship between grandchild and grandfather

The poem is in iambic pentameter

The poem is a sonnet which reflects the love between speaker and grandfather

The poem uses a lot of natural imagery to reflect a developing relationship and intimacy

The poem uses the extended metaphor of a climb to show that relationships require effort and development

Why is it important for us to know that Waterhouse was an environmental campaigner. How does it add to the poem?

 

Pick one number out of the options below:

 

1. Because the poem is more relatable.

2. Because Waterhouse placed a lot of importance in the environment and loved it more than he loved human beings.

3. Because Waterhouse's love for the environment could be reflected in the close relationship between nature and the relationship in the poem.

After his death, a review was written about Waterhouse. It stated that his imagination was "both vivid and uncluttered".

 

Tick one box from below which backs up the statement in this review.

 

The relationship is presented as simple, with vivid imagery of mountain climbing

The relationship is presented as conflicted and scary

The relationship is presented as sad and mournful, with no vivid imagery

What one quote illustrates Waterhouse's sense of awe over nature? 

 

"At his still firm shoulder..."

"On his arm, I discover the glassy ridge..."

"Reaching for the summit where, gasping for breath, I can only lie..."

Match each contextual idea with a quote from the poem.

Column A

Column B

Love
"At his still firm shoulder, I rest..."
Fascination with nature
"Watching clouds and birds circle"
Security/comfort
"Knowing the slow pulse of his good heart"

Once more! Match each contextual idea with a quote from the poem.

Column A

Column B

Discovery
"For climbing has its dangers"
Danger/adventure
"To drink among teeth..."
Closeness/unity
"On his arm I discover the glassy ridge..."

Tick one theme that's not in the poem.

 

Love

Separation

Adventure

What idea from the options below seems to be the most important one in the poem?

 

 

That relationships are complicated

That love is difficult, like mountain climbing

That love is a good thing and requires overcoming fear

That love is simple - just like climbing a mountain, it is hard, but rewarding

That nature must be embraced

  • Question 1

Tick the one quote below which proves that Andrew Waterhouse was a nature enthusiast.

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"I can only lie, watching clouds and birds..."
EDDIE SAYS
Waterhouse uses nature at the end of the poem, to really show the speaker's positive attitudes towards his grandfather. We can say, knowing that Waterhouse was a nature lover himself, that the use of nature is a positive and uplifting way of representing the relationship between speaker and grandfather.
  • Question 2

Waterhouse wrote a lot of poetry which reflected the relationship between parent and child. How does 'Climbing My Grandfather' fit into this?

 

 

Pick the one correct number.

 

1. The poem is about the relationship between parent and child.

2. The poem is about love and romance.

3. The poem is about the developing relationship between grandchild and grandfather.

CORRECT ANSWER
3
EDDIE SAYS
Good work if you chose option three! The poem is about the developing relationship between grandchild and grandfather. The key word here is developing!
  • Question 3

What can we infer about the overall meaning of the poem?

 

Tick the three answers that you think are the most logical.

CORRECT ANSWER
The poem is about the developing relationship between grandchild and grandfather
The poem uses a lot of natural imagery to reflect a developing relationship and intimacy
The poem uses the extended metaphor of a climb to show that relationships require effort and development
EDDIE SAYS
Waterhouse writes this poem as a climb - reflecting the nature of relationships in general, how they require time and effort. It seems, also, that the beginning of the poem reflects the speaker's childhood, the end reflects his adulthood. There's a real idea of development and effort.
  • Question 4

Why is it important for us to know that Waterhouse was an environmental campaigner. How does it add to the poem?

 

Pick one number out of the options below:

 

1. Because the poem is more relatable.

2. Because Waterhouse placed a lot of importance in the environment and loved it more than he loved human beings.

3. Because Waterhouse's love for the environment could be reflected in the close relationship between nature and the relationship in the poem.

CORRECT ANSWER
3
EDDIE SAYS
This connection between environment, nature and the relationship in the poem could be Waterhouse's way of linking his love for the environment with the way the relationship is laid out.
  • Question 5

After his death, a review was written about Waterhouse. It stated that his imagination was "both vivid and uncluttered".

 

Tick one box from below which backs up the statement in this review.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The relationship is presented as simple, with vivid imagery of mountain climbing
EDDIE SAYS
The vivid imagery of mountain climbing is assisted by the quite simple, loving relationship presented between the speaker and grandfather. Think about it: the relationship itself is quite natural, normal and sweet. But the way that the relationship is presented, through extended metaphor, symbolism and imagery, is certainly vivid and full of depth and emotion!
  • Question 6

What one quote illustrates Waterhouse's sense of awe over nature? 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"Reaching for the summit where, gasping for breath, I can only lie..."
EDDIE SAYS
Slightly tricky, but look at the last quote - it really reflects the effort and the awe that the speaker feels (to the point where his breath has been stolen from him!) at the act of climbing. The way that nature and natural relationship and love play upon the speaker's emotions is awe-inspiring.
  • Question 7

Match each contextual idea with a quote from the poem.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Love
"Knowing the slow pulse of his go...
Fascination with nature
"Watching clouds and birds circle...
Security/comfort
"At his still firm shoulder, I re...
EDDIE SAYS
Think about the overall meaning of the poem and what tone you think it conveys about Waterhouse himself. What do you think he's trying to convey about relationships, maybe a specific relationship, and human nature?
  • Question 8

Once more! Match each contextual idea with a quote from the poem.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Discovery
"On his arm I discover the glassy...
Danger/adventure
"For climbing has its dangers"
Closeness/unity
"To drink among teeth..."
EDDIE SAYS
Is this getting easier? This idea of linking meaning to quote really enhances our understanding of contextual ideas.
  • Question 9

Tick one theme that's not in the poem.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Separation
EDDIE SAYS
Separation isn't a part of the poem! In fact, it's the opposite- unity and connection.
  • Question 10

What idea from the options below seems to be the most important one in the poem?

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
That love is simple - just like climbing a mountain, it is hard, but rewarding
EDDIE SAYS
Thinking about overall themes gives us a sense of context and understanding the simple - from there, we can understand the more complicated way that these themes are shown. You've completed another activity - well done!
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