Under The Sand — a short story for English reading and speaking

Under The Sand blog cover


What is a metal detector?

Is metal detecting popular in your country?

What kind of people like metal detecting?

What kinds of things can metal detectors find?

Under The Sand

No one understood what he did.

No one really got it.

But Simon knew.

He knew the value of it.

He reached the end of the arc with his arm and then swung back the other way.

All the while, the steady rhythm to and fro. Moving the metal detector at just the right speed, just the right angle.

Simon had been doing this for years.

Other people couldn’t grasp why he did it. They just could not see the point in it.

When he first got into metal detecting, his mum and dad scoffed at him.

Anytime he came back with nothing in his hands, his dad would make a joke about it. But if he found anything — no matter what it was — his father totally ignored him.

Over the years, Simon had found rings, watches, some old coins. He had more than recouped the money he had spent on equipment.

His current detector — the MetalPro 3000 — had set him back a pretty penny. He had to order it from America.

But it was considered one of the best.

Simon had no friends. Just the people he knew in the metal detectorist chat forum online.

But he could feel their envy when he posted pictures of his new machine.

It could find anything.

And now, as usual, he was alone on a deserted beach.

Sweeping away with his MetalPro 3000.

He had already found the usual items. Some old fizzy pop cans (people had no respect for the environment), but he had also found five one-pound coins. And an old watch that looked totally damaged by the sea.

He pulled his scarf closer around his neck.

It was the middle of winter, but there was also a strong wind coming off the sea.

You had to bundle up if you wanted to find anything of value on a beach like this.

Then a loud beep filled the air.

Simon stopped in his tracks. That was not just an old Coke can. Nor was it a one-pound coin.

He slowly swept his machine back over the spot.

This time a long extended burping sound came from the detector.

Simon had only heard a sound like that once or twice in his metal-detecting life.

He placed the MetalPro 3000 on the sand beside him and took off his backpack.

Inside the pack, he pulled out a collapsible shovel. Then he started to dig in the sand.

It didn’t take him long to find something buried below. The shovel blade hit something hard and heavy.

He pulled the sand away with his hand and saw a chain. It didn’t look rusted up. It looked kind of new.

And it was wrapped around some tarpaulin.

Simon continued digging around the tarpaulin until he had uncovered most of it.

It was long. About six feet.

Simon pulled at the tarpaulin at one end.

But when he exposed what was underneath he staggered back in shock.

Staring back at him was a man’s face. A dead man.

His eyes were open and a milky colour. His mouth slightly agape.

Then Simon saw the man’s throat.

A huge gash cut open. Dried-up, congealed blood all around the man’s neck.

What had he just found?

Simon’s breath came from his mouth in short, sharp bursts.

He looked up and down the stretch of the beach around him. He was the only person around.

No one had seen him here. He hadn’t passed anyone while he had been on the beach.

The light was fading. The sun was dipping near the horizon out at sea.

Fear took a grip of Simon’s senses.

If he called the police, what would they think?

They would ask him what he was doing down there.

No one had any respect for metal detectorists. Everyone thought they were odd.

A bunch of weirdos, his dad had once said a few years back.

No, this wasn’t good at all.

Simon took hold of the shovel and started to dig again.

This time burying the body, covering it up completely.

He dug at the sand, piling it on top of the man’s face.

All the blue tarpaulin, the thick heavy chain, all buried safely under the sand again.

By the time he had finished, sweat poured down Simon’s face. He could feel the dampness of it beneath all the layers of his clothing.

He looked around again. No one. Not one single person on the beach apart from him.

Good. Now he could leave, go back to his car, and drive back home.

No one would ever know he had been there.

The tide would come in overnight and wash away his shoe prints.

There would be no evidence of him visiting the beach at all.

It was getting darker. The sun now just touching the line of sea out in the distance.

Simon packed up his gear.

He folded up his shovel and put it in his backpack. Turned the power off on his MetalPro 3000.

Then he marched back up to the headland.

As he approached the road that ran along the beach, he saw the car.

A police car.

Was it there before?

And in front of the car, a police officer stared down at him.

His colleague stood by the driver’s door, talking into a radio.

Simon froze.

The first officer called out.

“Sir, hold up there, please. We need to talk to you.”

Simon looked left and right.

There must be another way out.

Maybe he could make a run for it.

The officer called out again.

“Don’t move! Stay there!”

Simon stared back up at the officer. Panic clawed at his brain.

Excuses and reasons flooded into his mind.

He was just doing some metal detecting.

With his MetalPro 3000.

He ordered it from America.

And the shovel? He used that for digging. For finding things.

He was a metal detectorist.

Not a murderer.

Reading Comprehension Questions

Who is the main character in this story?

Where does the story take place?

What is the main character doing at the beginning of the story?

What is Simon’s hobby?

Does he like this hobby?

What tools does he use for this hobby?

How long has he been doing this?

What do other people think about his interest?

What do his parents think about it?

In the past, what has Simon found while metal detecting?

What is the model name of his new metal-detecting machine?

Where did he have to order it from?

Does Simon have any real friends?

Who does he talk to about metal detecting?

In the story, what has Simon found so far on the beach?

How is the weather on the beach in the story?

What two sounds does Simon’s machine make that make him pay attention?

Are these sounds common?

What does he have in his backpack?

What does Simon find buried beneath the sand?

Is Simon shocked by what he sees there?

Is Simon alone on the beach? Or are there other people around?

What time of day is it? How do you know?

Does Simon call the police? Why/why not?

What does Simon do with the body under the sand?

What does Simon plan to do?

What does Simon think will happen to any evidence?

What does Simon see on the road?

How many people are there?

How does the story end?

Essential Vocabulary




to and fro

metal detector






set him back

a pretty penny

chat forum



fizzy pop


bundle up








staggered back



































Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.

Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.

For example:


Arcthe path of something in the shape of a curve.


Valuethe worth, importance or usefulness of something.


Then write a sentence of your own that uses the new word or phrase correctly.


I saw the arc of the sun as it crossed our garden throughout the day.


This book my grandfather gave me has a lot of personal value.


Do this with all the vocabulary and, over time, this will help improve all your English skills – reading, writing, speaking and listening.

True or False?

Look at all the statements below about the story.

Say if they are true or false.


Simon hates metal detecting.

Simon has been doing metal detecting for years.

Other people could not understand it.

His mum and dad encouraged him to do metal detecting.

Simon found rings, watches and some old coins.

He had lost a lot of money on metal detecting.

The name of his new machine is the MetalDro 3000.

He ordered this machine from Australia.

Simon has no friends.

He is a member of an online chat forum about metal detecting.

In the story, Simon is in a forest.

So far in the story, Simon has found a watch and some coins.

It is wintertime in the story.

Simon knows he has found something because his machine makes a loud noise.

Simon has heard this loud noise before.

Simon takes out a trowel from his backpack.

While digging, he finds a chain.

And below that, something wrapped in plastic.

He continues digging and finds a dead body.

Simon is shocked by what he has discovered.

The sun is rising.

His father referred to metal detectors as good people.

Simon covers the body with sand.

Simon plans to go and tell the police.

Simon believes the tide will make all the evidence disappear.

Simon sees an ambulance on the beach road.

A police officer tells Simon to be careful.

Simon is worried at the end of the story.


Now check your answers at the end of the lesson plan!

Words and Meanings

Look at the table below.

Match each of the words to the correct meaning.

The answers are at the end of the lesson plan.


to and fro

to make fun of or laugh at someone


able to fold up or made smaller for easier transportation


to look at for an extended period of time

bundle up

to move backwards and forwards in a regular motion


to put on lots of layers of clothes during cold weather


valuable information or facts that can prove something happened


to recover and gain back something that was lost. Usually money or time.


to lose brightness or strength gradually over time


Check your answers at the end of the lesson!

Match the Synonyms

Look at the table of synonyms below. Match the correct synonyms together.

The answers are at the end of the lesson plan.





stop dead














Check your answers at the end of the lesson!

Match the Antonyms

Look at the table of antonyms below. Match the correct antonyms together.

The answers are at the end of the lesson plan.



















Check your answers at the end of the lesson!

Discussion Questions

In your own words, give a summary of this story.

Is metal detecting popular in your country?

What kind of people like metal detecting?

Are these people strange? Why/why not?

What is the appeal of metal detecting? Why do people do it?

What kinds of things can people find by metal detecting?

Do people find very valuable things do you think? What kinds of things?

What are the most common things that people can find?

If a metal detectorist found a valuable but ancient object, would they have to hand it over to the authorities? Or keep it?

Where are the best places to go metal detecting? Why?

Are metal detectorists a danger to the environment?

In the story, Simon finds a dead body. What do you think he should have done upon discovering it?

What would you have done?

Why did he react the way he did?

At the end of the story, the police tell him to not move. Do you think they would think that Simon killed the person under the sand?

What story could Simon tell them?

Do you think this story could end well or bad for Simon?

Role Play

This is a role play activity.


There are three people in this role play.


Simon from the main story.

Detective 1 — investigating the murder of the body found under the sand.

Detective 2 — investigating the murder of the body found under the sand.


The Situation

Simon has been arrested for the possible murder of the person found buried on the beach.

He is now in the police station and two detectives on the murder case wish to talk to him.

They have many questions to ask him to try to see if he is guilty or not.

If they have enough evidence or ideas to suggest that Simon is guilty then they will charge him with murder.

If not they will let him go.

Of course, Simon knows he is innocent. So he has to try to prove that.

He gives his version of events as best he can so that he can walk free from the police station.


In groups of three prepare your role play.

When you are ready, show the class!


This is a debate activity.


There are two teams in the debate activity. These two teams must have the same number of people.

Choose one person in the class to act as chairperson. The chairperson should ensure there is order during the debate and allow every person in the two groups to speak.


The Situation

Many metal detectorists come to Hidden Beach.

It used to be a reasonably quiet place but now every weekend; it is filled with people metal detecting.

It has got to a point that by Sunday evening, the entire beach is filled full of potholes left behind by the metal detectorists.

Some people in the town have had enough and want this to stop.

But others say that the metal detectorists add a lot of economic value to the local area.

The debate continues…


Group A

You have really had enough of the metal detectorists. You don’t want them to come to the beach anymore.

In fact, you want them banned.

They ruin the beach for other visitors.

They dig up big holes which affects the natural environment of the beach.

And if they find anything of little to no value, they leave it on the beach.

They provide no real value to Hidden Beach and we should therefore ban them!


Group B

The metal detectorists come to Hidden Beach all year round.

They come during the very quiet winter months.

This is a time when the economy of the town is very low. So we should welcome them with open arms at this time.

They are usually very quiet.

They are not rowdy or loud like other visitors.

The metal detectorists provide much-needed economic value to the town and so we should encourage them to come.


In your groups, prepare the things you want to say.

Think about your lines of argument, and what you want to say during the debate.

Then, when you are ready, begin the debate!

Look What I Found!

This is a show-and-tell activity.


In the class, you should have the following items.

  • a coat hanger
  • a plastic doll
  • a key ring
  • an old USB memory stick
  • a disposable lighter
  • a sock


You can also bring in any other ordinary, day-to-day items.


Metal Detecting on The Beach

All of you have been to the beach. You went there with your metal detectors and you all found some very strange and wonderful artefacts.

Now you want to present these incredible found objects to the class.


The Process


Step 1

All the students look at all the items. Each student should pick the items up and hold them.

Step 2

The students sit down and, using a pen and paper, write down an introduction of the object they wish to talk about.

You must create the illusion that the object in your hands is ancient and extremely valuable.

Step 3

Each student stands up to make a short presentation.

The other students ask questions.


Now take your time to prepare your presentations for the class.

Your teacher could give you an example of what to talk about in your presentation.

When you are ready, show the class!


This is a writing exercise.


You are a metal detectorist. You are going on a field trip with some other metal detectorists.

Maybe you go to a beach or a forest or a field in the countryside.

While searching for anything of value, you come across an item that looks very old. It could be a coin, an old sword, or some other artefact.


Describe the events that take place. From being on the train or bus as you are on your way to the chosen place for metal detecting to finding the ancient artefact and your feelings once you find it.


Write a page as if it is an entry in your journal or diary.

When you have finished, read your story out to the class!

You can download the full lesson plan by clicking the link below!

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