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Engage Children with These 5 English Tasks

15/03/18

Last week our primary teacher Jo presented 5 Emergency Maths Tasks. This week she shares 5 English Tasks to try in your class.

"Remember, find some whiteboards and pens, or scrap paper and felt tips. You will need something to write on that the children can see. Children love sharing their work, so particularly with 3,4 and 5, take breaks by asking volunteers to read out what they have done so far, or their favourite part, and asking other children to give positive comments." - Jo

1) Open the Box (SPaG)

Pick an age appropriate spelling sound, e.g. ‘ow’ (as in ‘now’). Ask for words with that sound in them (don’t write the sound). Record. Every time a new way of spelling the sound comes up, congratulate the child for ‘opening a new box’, and draw a new, open ended box to put the word in (leave room for more!). Write words as given in the appropriate box, leaving out ones that do not contain the requested sound (children will try to give you ones with similar spellings – you are only looking for the sound). For this sound you should end up with at least six boxes (ow, ough, o, ew, au, ou…), but there are more! You can repeat this with lots of sounds.

2) Word classes (SPaG)

Ask children to write the different word classes spread out on a whiteboard. Noun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition… Differentiate according to age, and ask the children for the ones they have learned about. Then give a word, e.g. ‘run’. Children circle (or point out, if no whiteboards) the appropriate word class and show you. They must be able to give a sentence to prove it. As you go along, ask questions such as ‘Can anyone use this word as a different word class?’, ‘Bill, why have you circled “adjective” here?’ Many words in English can be used in very different ways, and this is a fun way to get them thinking and talking about those. A written task could follow where they write sentences using the same words as a different word class. Good ones are row, set, go, take and stand.

3) Creative Writing (composition and structure)

Write a generic beginning on the board, (children can change the name/gender of the character), and ask them to continue it. However, every ten minutes or so, from the start, generate a random object or person by picking up a book and blindly putting your finger on a page. The children must incorporate it into their story.

4) Writing dialogue

Tell a favourite joke which relies heavily on dialogue. Ask children to share jokes they know that involve a conversation. Get volunteers to come and act out the jokes, saying the dialogue. Other children write down the words that each character says. Take these words on a whiteboard and model writing them with speech marks. If age - appropriate, add action between the dialogue. For their task, children must write out a joke as a conversation, with correct punctuation. Lower ability children could do this in pairs as a comic strip instead of using speech marks.

5) Letter of complaint

Children love complaining. But this time they must complain about themselves. Usually they find this funny. Discuss the normal things that they do at school or at home and imagine someone being annoyed by them. Give them verbal ideas of what a grumpy neighbour or shopkeeper might say (‘This unruly child’s behaviour is deplorable!’).They can make things up if they need to. Model a letter complaining about yourself, using formal language, paragraphs and letter structure in an age-appropriate way. Children then write their own letter, perhaps to their parent or teacher, borrowing language from yours and using a thesaurus if available, but creating their own scenarios.

 

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