Salty Sam’s Fun Blog for Children

Number 262

Charles Dickens


Hello Everyone



Have you ever watched a story on television that has been serialised in parts, and when you got to the exciting end of a programme have been desperate to know what happened next?


The story just gets to a tense and gripping part – and the programme finishes!


This is what we call a cliff-hanger.


Before television was invented, writers used the same techniques in books.


They would draw their readers into a story – and then end the chapter.


When a story was serialised in a publication like a newspaper or magazine the reader had to wait until the next part of the story was released to see what happened next.  They couldn’t just turn the page to the next chapter.  They might have to wait a whole week!


One of the famous writers that wrote like this was called Charles Dickens.  You may have heard of him.  He was one of the most famous writers of the Victorian Era. 


That was the time, of course, when Queen Victoria was on the throne. 


ln fact, he is now thought of as one of the greatest novelists in the English language.


Many of the characters in his books were poor and struggling and often had many challenges to face.


He purposefully chose to write about these kinds of people rather than rich and successful people because he wanted to draw the attention of wealthy, educated people to a world of poverty that they would have no knowledge of otherwise.


lt was a clever ploy to create characters that the readers would have sympathy for and then take the readers on a journey of discovery through interesting stories.


This was a better way to get a message across, rather than just lecture these influential people telling them about the plight of the poor.


Who wouldn’t prefer to read an interesting story than be lectured to that not enough was being done to help poor people? 


When we read the stories now, it gives us an insight into how people lived over a hundred years ago.  They didn’t have television to entertain them or high speed trains to travel on.


Dickens went on many lecture tours after he became famous – but first he had to create an audience for himself and his message.


The influential people he met could do something about ending poverty and he wanted them to choose to do something rather than nothing. 


You may know the story called A Christmas Carol where Ebenezer Scrooge encounters four ghosts one night who change his outlook.  Afterwards he turns from being a mean miser who is cruel to everyone, to a generous employer and neighbour.  lt is one of Dickens’ most famous stories.


Charles Dickens was born in 1812 in Portsmouth. 


As a child he lived with his family in London where his father was an office clerk.


lt was a good job but unfortunately his father spent more money than he earned and so was often in debt.  There were eight children in the family and life was hard.


Charles was fortunate to go to school at nine, and his teachers thought that he was very clever.  But when he was just eleven years old his father was suddenly put in prison because of his debts.  He owed people a lot of money and they would not wait for it to be paid back anymore.


lt seems strange to us today, but in those days when a man was put in prison for debt, his whole family was put in there with him!


However, Charles was considered old enough to look after himself at this point and so he was not locked up with his father, mother and brothers and sisters.


He went to work in a factory where he washed bottles.  He worked for ten hours a day and earned six shillings an week (which is equal to 30 pence).  He needed this money to look after himself.


Every night after he had finished work, he walked four miles back to his lodgings.  He lived like this for three years before he could return to school.


Charles was having a very miserable time and never forgot these experiences of loneliness and despair.  Like a lot of writers, he used his knowledge of his own life in his writing and we can see children suffering similar experiences in his novels David Copperfield and Oliver Twist.


When Charles was sixteen, he started to work for a newspaper. He visited law courts and the Houses of Parliament to report on what happened there and soon he was one of The Morning Chronicle’s best journalists.


He also wrote short, often funny, stories for magazines based on the colourful characters that he met.


Later in his life, in 1846, he started a national newspaper based in London called The Daily News because he liked journalism as well as writing novels.  He was the paper’s first editor.  The paper was a rival to The Morning Chronicle.


Most of the characters in Dickens’ books were ‘larger than life’.  The good people were very good and the bad ones were thoroughly horrible.  The stories were epic.


His own life was a story of rags to riches.


His books became popular in many countries and he spent a lot of time travelling in America, ltaly and Switzerland.


Dickens had a large family like the one he had grown up in.


He had ten children; but his marriage was not a good one.  His wife eventually left him.


He never stopped writing and travelling and he died very suddenly in 1870.


Like a lot of famous English writers he was buried in Westminster Abbey.


lf you would like to read some of Dickens’ stories, there are children’s versions available to read.



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Thank you!


And see you again next Fun Friday!


Love and kisses



Salty Sam






Bill and Bob’s Joke of the Weekjokejoke


Bob: Did you hear that the Queen went on an informal walk about yesterday?


Bill: No, really?


Bob: Yes, she hit her thumb with a hammer.



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Picture Gallery


Charles Dickens


Oliver Twist characters









This is a picture of a Victorian dinner table.  In Victorian times, after dinner games included playing cards and leapfrog for adults – well the men anyway!

Of course some families play cards today as well.

If you don’t know any card games, here is an easy game for two players or more for you to learn.  You don’t need a lot of skill but you do need to be able to recognize numbers and count.

Playing with cards can really help you to learn numbers well.

Shuffle the cards really well to begin with.

Beggar my Neighbour

First of all, divide a pack of cards roughly into half.  You can count them out if your really want to.

Each player holds their half face down.

The players take turns to turn over their top card and play it face up in the centre of the table, thus forming a pile.

There are two kinds of card – the ace, king, queen and jack are pay cards and the cards from 2-10 are ordinary cards.

Players turn over cards alternately until a pay card appears.

The opponent of the person who played the pay card must pay for it by playing several times in succession. The payment rates are:

4 ordinary cards for an ace

3 ordinary cards for a king

2 ordinary cards for a queen

1 ordinary card for a jack

When the payment is complete (e.g. one player has played a queen and the other has played two ordinary cards on it), the person who played the pay card (the queen in this case) takes the whole face up pile and puts it face down underneath their own cards.

It often happens that while paying for a card, you turn over a pay card yourself. When this happens, the previous pay card is cancelled and your opponent now has to pay for your new pay card.

The player who first runs out of cards loses.

It is possible for more than two people to play. The cards are dealt as equally as possible (with three players one player will have an extra card) and players take turns to play.

When a pay card is played, the following player plays the required number of cards, stopping if another pay card is played, which the next person must pay for.

You can play clockwise or anti-clockwise.









Quick Quiz


Do you know these literary terms?

Knowing them will help you in your English lessons:-


  1. Anecdote
  2. Anthropomorphism
  3. Connotation
  4. Epilogue
  5. Euphemism
  6. Foil
  7. Metaphor
  8. Onomatopoeia
  9. Oxymoron
  10. Plot
  11. Pun
  12. Simile






lt’s the Weekend!




These skittles are really cute.

You will need a little ball to knock them down.

If you are playing with them inside, don’t break anything left on the table – clear a space to play before you start rolling balls.

You can embroider faces and arms onto the skittles to make them into little characters or you could embroider numbers onto circles or squares of felt and then sew these onto the front of the skittles to keep a score.

You can knit as many skittles as you want to and make them in lots of different colours – they could even have stripes on them.

They are really easy to knit and can be made of odd left over scraps of yarn you might have after making larger garments.



Using 4mm knitting needles and dk yarn cast on 25 stitches

Cast off

Curl the knitting into a disc and sew strands of yarn across using a knitter’s needle to make into a firm base


Using 4mm knitting needles and dk yarn cast on 20 stitches

Knit 2 rows of garter stitch

Knit 14 rows of stocking stitch

Change colour

Knit 6 rows of stocking stitch

Don’t cast off – instead take a 30cm/12” length of yarn left over at the end of the knitting to thread through your stitches



  1. Sew up the back seam with right sides together using over-sew stitching
  2. Turn the knitting the right way out and sew onto the base.
  3. Stuff the skittle.
  4. Pull the top of the head in and pull a length of yarn in tightly to make a neck at the colour change.
  5. Embroider on eyes using French knots.
  6. Embroider on arms and hands.




Please note that the material on this blog is for personal use and for use in classrooms only.

It is a copyright infringement and, therefore, illegal under international law to sell items made with these patterns.

Use of the toys and projects is at your own risk.

©Christina Sinclair Designs 2015sand



Quick Quiz Answers


  1. Anecdote – a short story, often funny
  2. Anthropomorphism – giving human characteristics to animals or things like the animals in Beatrix Potter stories
  3. Connotation – the meanings or feelings we associate with certain words – think about the difference between the words ‘winter’ and ‘summer’ for example
  4. Epilogue – a short speech spoken at the end of a play
  5. Euphemism – a soft way of saying something – like ‘passed on’ instead of ‘died’
  6. Foil – an opposite type of personality of one character compared to another – like an opposite reflection to highlight the qualities of a personality – for example, a really bad person will make a really good person, by comparison, look even better
  7. Metaphor – to talk about how one thing resembles another – for example ‘the storm clouds were menacing monsters gathering on the horizon’
  8. Onomatopoeia – to use a word that sounds like the sound it is describing – like ‘creak’ and ‘splash’
  9. Oxymoron – a phrase that contradicts itself but can still make sense – like ‘ he waited for what seemed like an endless minute’
  10. Plot – a story line
  11. Pun – a play on words to make a joke – using words with more than one meaning.  For example, ‘The high price of this will really pound your wallet!’
  12. Simile – to say something is ‘like’ something else – as white as a swan, as light as a feather, as black as coal


Note that a metaphor ‘is something’ and a simile ‘is like something’. 


Metaphors are usually made up by a writer and similes are in common usage – that means everyone uses them.




For an Embroidery Stitches Chart

Check out Blog Post 3

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