Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Educating your child at home

Give your child the chance to read each day (10 minutes is fine)
Read stories to your child (three short stories before bedtime goes down a treat)
Cook with your child (preparing a meal, operating the microwave or weighing and measuring are great opportunities for learning mathematics)
Buy bread and milk (or other basics) on the way home from school. Doing this in person at the shop using loose change is great ‘real life’ mathematics
Have fun. Playing games, taking turns, watching TV together and dressing up are great ways to support your child
Write shopping lists, keep diaries, write letters and invitations to inspire you child to write.

There are lots of ideas on this 50 Ways to Learn poster that you could also use at home.

Anson Primary school has a great range of resources. Check their website:

Maths at home – Support for busy parents (

Becoming Word Aware at Osmani Primary School

Linda Hall and Tracey Grant from the Language, Literacy and Communication Team led training on Word Aware, a structured whole school approach to promote the vocabulary development of all children. Focused on whole class learning, the resource is of particular value for those who start at a disadvantage – including children with Developmental Language Disorder, Special Educational Needs and those who speak English as an additional language, but it will extend the word learning of all students.

Practical, inspiring and fun ideas were explored that can be easily applied by busy classroom practitioners to develop both spoken and written vocabulary.

Remi Atoyebi (Headteacher), Helen Vail and Tracey Grant (Language, Literacy and Communication Team Learning Advisory Service Advisory teacher for inclusion).

Contact for further information if you are interested in booking this training for your school.

Educating your child at home

Climate change and Environmental Science

Enjoy a light-hearted illustrated children’s book about climate change and caring for our animals that is perfect for inspiring the next Greta Thunberg or David Attenborough.

Listen to the author read it aloud-

Climate Change resources

Climate change resources for schools | WWF

Climate Change for Kids – Science Experiments for Kids (

17 Weather Science Projects and Lessons | Science Buddies Blog

Dyslexia Awareness Week 2021 – navigating this blog

Welcome to the Blog of the Language and Literacy Team from the new Learning Advisory Service. Below, you will find posts containing a YouTube video on Seeing Dyslexia Differently, Dyslexia Friendly Classrooms and information on how to use Busy Things from LGFL to develop phonics and phonological skills.

Click on the Specific Learning Difficulties heading in the blue bar above and you will find a range pages to support parents and teachers with study skills, reading, spelling and handwriting

  1. Helping primary pupils with reading at home
  2. Supporting secondary students with reading
  3. Tips for helping your child with their homework (primary)
  4. Helping secondary students with study skills and homework
  5. Helping to learn spellings
  6. Learn to read and spell Common Exception  (High Frequency) Words
  7. Help your child with phonics
  8. Tips for improving your child’s handwriting
  9. Using games for literacy learning
  10. FAQ about supporting literacy

See Dyslexia Differently- video from BDA

Click the image  above to see this short YouTube video from the British Dyslexia Association. It explores the possible difficulties and strengths of young people with dyslexia. It is three minutes long.

The video could be used pupils, parents, teachers and teaching assistants.

Dyslexia Awareness Week is:

October 4th-8th October 2021

Using Busy Things to develop phonological awareness skills

Using Busy Things to develop phonological awareness skills

Almost all schools now offer a literacy curriculum based on systematic synthetic phonics which most children respond really well to. But, there is a small group of pupils that don’t make the progress that we expect.

The building blocks to good phonic skills include really strong phonological awareness skills (the ability to identify and manipulate sounds in spoken language e.g. syllables, rhyme etc.) and phoneme awareness  (manipulating individual sounds).  Research shows that the majority of pupils that go on to struggle with spelling, reading and writing have a relative difficulty with their phoneme awareness and other phonological skills.  This group need extra time and attention.

Early Years settings are brilliant at developing phonological awareness skills, but as children move up into Key Stage 1 and beyond, it becomes harder for class teachers to find time to spend time on this.

One useful resource, available to all schools with access to the London Grid for Learning is Busy Things.  We found their phonic games very helpful when supporting children during lockdown, as they develop phonological awareness as well as phonics.

They updated a lot of the materials in May 2021.  We like the way you can customize the games to concentrate on specific grapheme phoneme correspondences.


Our pupils loved the games. There are games to support rhyming skills such as Topple the Tower and Robert Robot:

As well as games like Feed the Monster and Build the Word which focus on oral blending and segmenting:

The software allows you to choose which scheme you want to follow, as well as your regional accent preference (north or south of England):

Once pupils are confident at using the games online, you can also produce pdf’s of specific patterns to reinforce areas that they are working on. This was useful to set as targeted homework.

Busy things does not replace the work we need to do to help strengthen phonological awareness skills but it is a really useful tool. Children can independently use the game on laptops during class reading time or other pockets of the school day.

Teachers can set up class profiles and monitor how their pupils are doing.

For more information, there are youtube videos on how to get started, as well as tutorials online. Alternatively, do contact us for more information. While not experts,  we are  happy to share what we have learnt!

Tower Hamlets Language, Literacy and Communication Team

September 2021






The link between touch-typing and spelling

Motor-memory can often be overlooked when we are thinking of helping children and young people to spell accurately. We will work on visual activities directly intended to embed words in their memories – such as ‘look, cover, write, check,’ where pupils memorise a word, cover it up, write it out and then check their spelling – and ask questions such as, “Does it look right?” But we don’t often ask if it ‘feels’ right.

When children are first learning to read we focus on phonics for decoding, isolating the separate sounds that make up a word. We then reverse that approach to build words, often sounding out the segments and asking them how we will express that on the page. The word ‘Church,’ for instance, will become, ‘Chu, er, chu.’

So we have approaches that focus on the visual memory, and others on  the aural memory, but we often neglect to focus on the motor-memory. How a word feels as we inscribe it. It is one of the reasons for encouraging those who are struggling with spelling to use cursive – ‘joined up’ – handwriting. The theory is that instead of the word being a series of separate letters the brain needs to recollect and reproduce, it becomes one, fluent, movement. For instance, ‘heavy,’ is no longer, ‘H, E, A, V, Y’ – five elements to remember how to scribe, but ‘heavy’ one, continuous, sweep along the line.

This theory has been built in to programs that teach touch-typing, so that by employing the frequent repetition necessary to learn to use the keyboard without looking at it, learners begin to put down words on the screen without having to think about the letters in them. They spell by using the memory in their movements.

One of the earliest resources to use this was Touch, Type, Read and Spell (TTRS). Originally it was a standard touch-typing course involving copying from books that differed from offerings such as those from City and Guilds, by using real words in its exercises instead of drills focused on letter groupings on the keyboard.

Then along came personal computers and approaches like Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. Whilst it took its time, TTRS eventually went online to become . Now available for individuals to use at home, or for whole tranches of pupils to use at school, it still uses as its core vocabulary list the ever influential ‘Alpha to Omega’ spelling course, originally devised to teach dyslexic learners in the 1980s.

It is not the only program to do this. Kaz (  is a system structured i   n a similar way. Although originally targeted at general learners, it has adapted to include more specialist elements, with features such as the ability to change the font and its size, and or to select a colour scheme that a user might find easier to read on screen.

The important element of this approach to spelling, however, is keyboard fluency. As Kaz point out on their website, “Typing with 2 fingers uses the conscious mind but when you touch type with all your fingers and thumbs, the skill is transferred to the subconscious – leaving the conscious mind free for creative writing and the task at hand.”

There are compelling arguments for all children and young people to learn to touch-type. Removing barriers to their creativity, and helping them too become more productive, is just one more.

Words and Pictures. oh…and Sounds & Videos!

Multimedia Authoring

Where once they just did writing, pupils in EYFS and KS1 can use all sorts of tools to express themselves and to publish work. Computers make it possible to publish work, quickly and easily, that combines text with images, sound and video.

For schools that subscribe to Purplemash, 2CreateAStory is very popular with its easy-to-use interface, recognisable tools and not too much text. Children make talking stories in minutes and publish them almost anywhere.

2Create a Story allows children to create their own multimedia digital storybooks. They can combine words, pictures, sounds and animation in a storybook format to publish literacy, science, history, RE and other work. This program allows them to animate their drawings, include pre-recorded or their own noises and sound files, and save their work, and share it by email, with a QR or embed code, on a display board or blog for parents and others to see.  These can also be printed out as a fold up storybook.

There are three modes of 2Create a Story: My Simple Story, My Story and My Adventure Story. My Simple Story has a simplified user interface with fewer drawing tools, fewer animations and sounds and no background button. This is to make creating books easier for younger children. My Story includes added features such as backgrounds and sound recording. My Adventure Story, probably more suited to KS2, includes the functionality to create non-sequential links between pages and animate characters

This icon displays the story planner view which shows how the story flows. In a Simple story or My Story this will be sequential. In an Adventure story it may not be. This assists children in planning their story. You can click on any page to go to that page. You can zoom in if you have a mouse with a zoom roller on it or if using a touch screen. When in play mode, the overview will still work to take you straight to a page of a story. This is very useful in Adventure stories when testing whether all the routes through a story work correctly as you do not have to go through the whole story each time. Great Fun!!

If you don’t have PurpleMash,  PowerPoint can also be used to combine text, photos, sounds and video files; and hyperlinks can be used to link between items and slides to make non-consecutive stories. This is particularly useful for doing a presentation at, for instance, an annual review. A photograph of the child achieving a target can be inserted with a sound file or text explaining what is happening. But also pupils can get their message across in almost every curriculum area, using sound, video and images as well as text boxes.

An iPad app called “Our Story” is free from the Open University and allows children to combine a photo or short video with text and sound files. This can be printed out but obviously, as with all these solutions, you lose the dynamic aspects of the work, the sound, video and animations. Another excellent tool for annual reviews.

Book Creator is another app that allows the pupils to combine text and drawing, sound and video and gives different shaped books or comic templates. This iPad app costs £4.99 at the time of writing (2019) and you can also buy the app for Chromebook and Windows. After choosing your template you can change the colour of the pages, the text and add videos, sound files, drawing and text to create your own stories. Books can be loaded on the internet and the URL sent to whoever wants or needs to see the finished product. Here’s one I made earlier 🙂


Puppet Edu is an iPad app that allows you to search online libraries for the images you need for your humanities or science work and then add text and sound files as well as a music sound track to your work.

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