The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
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The Phantom Tollbooth is one of my all-time favorite books. What makes this gem even more special is that it is a gift to the tutor. This book manages to make all learning both ridiculous and relevant in a way that the classroom is seldom able to achieve. Learning, at its worst, is abstract and boring but in these pages, Norton Juster perfectly illustrates that the way to relevance is to embrace the absurd - not just embrace it, but to slap its belly and give it a fat, wet kiss on either cheek.

In essence, what the book says most clearly to me is that silly is memorable, silly is instructive, and silly is fun. I want all my tutorials to be instructive, memorable and fun, so I have always hugged the stuffing out of anything silly!

This blog post contains:

A Maths Quiz on Time
A Vocabulary-building Worksheet
A Story Writing Dice Activity

The story sees Milo, who is easily bored, learn to see the interesting side to life by embarking on an epic journey in the Kingdom of Wisdom to save the princesses Rhyme and Reason. On the way he meets a host of unforgettable characters, from Tock the faithful watchdog, to the Spelling Bee, the Humbug, the Dodecahedron and the Mathemagician.

I could write 100 resources on The Phantom Tollbooth, in fact, they write themselves! This week I have selected:

Tock the watchdog's Time Quiz

download here

A good workout for a Year 5, 6 or 7 student containing most of the question types that students can expect to see in a test such as the 11+

The Word Market

download here

A trio of vocabulary activities and something I have used for years with various students of mine.

The Dodecahedron Game

download here

A fun writing game where student and tutor take it in turns rolling a 12-sided die and writing sentences based on the sentence types provided.

I really hope you enjoy these activities and that they persuade you to pick up a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth if you haven't already. It's an all-time classic in the USA, but still relatively underappreciated here in the UK.

As usual, please do email me at if you have any comments or suggestions.

Monday March 8th, 2021
Sunday February 28th, 2021