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Pie Corbett From storytelling

to story
writing for
Year 3 &
Year 4 Teachers
Thursday 26th
February 2009


To develop as writers, children will need to walk through the
Wheatfield many times.
Simple overview.
Talk surrounds the process of writing.
1. Increase the amount you read to the children and the amount
they read/listen to poems, stories, information especially
reading as a writer.
2. Make transcription easy and automatic so the brain can
focus on composition.
3. Talk the text storytelling, debating, presenting, instructing,
explaining, etc.
4. Lots of Shared writing with the whole class and guided
writing targeted at specific groups to teach them what they
need. Teach children how to craft writing.
5. Use assessment to drive teaching. What happens on Monday
determines the focus on Tuesday. Use marking to provide
immediate feedback that is focused on improvement.

Spelling games.
systematic, daily phonics pushed into writing and reading
link spelling and handwriting
Daily from R to Y3 segment and blend.
Which one?
Picture it.
Muddles + Common words and patterns plurals, starts, middles and
ends ly, ing, ed.
Shannons game.
Rhyme it.
Try using train, wheel, bone, light, flies, soap, seed, snail, goat, cream,
face, five, bowl, cake, hook, car, sock, back, shout, wood, led, bad, toy,
day, gate, see, try, blow, true, game, gave, fine, moon, fool, boast, feet,
cap, ash, rat, day, best, ill, bit, line, ring, ink, ship, shot, stop, hump, poke,
Use their errors common words and patterns + words needed for the
text type.

Basic Craft of Writing games.

Daily written or oral;
In relation to text type and progress;
Begin by speaking/hearing sentences, using colour and
kinaesthetic methods words on cards, forming big
sentences, etc, before moving to whiteboards: Louisas connective game
Once upon a time one day first then next after that
after a while a moment later the next day meanwhile
soon at that moment suddenly unfortunately unluckily
luckily so although however as soon as now finally
Gita ran home because.
Sound & action sentences
? = ugh (scratch head)
, - raspberry

! = whee bang

. = bang

= eee, eee

- make a sentence
1 word - dog
2 words - shark jelly
3 words - zebra humbug because
- boring sentences/improve a paragraph
The cat went along the wall.

- sentence/paragraph doctor
He runned down the lain the men was behind him
A new boy wos comeing to our school, we were exsited when
Mrs Khan tolled us that he was extra speshul. In assembly she
said so were all going to make him feel welcome, arent we.
From How to win at football by Rachel Anderson.
- finish
The old king. . and laughed..

.across the lake because

- drop in
Pie drove in his car to Bradford.
Adjective, adverb. or clause
Pie, who was tired, drove in his car to Bradford.
Pie, chewing a toffee, drove in his car to Bradford.
Pie, disgusted by his family, drove in his car to Bradford.
- join
The cart stopped.
The hobbit got down.
- compare, e.g. strong/weak sentence
- Oral and written imitation, e.g. varying sentence
openings and sentence types.
Slowly, she crept into the room.
Angrily, he

Reminder Sheet.
1. Vary sentences to create effects: Short, simple sentences for drama and clarity: Tom ran.
Compound sentences for flow: Tom ran and Kitty walked.
Complex sentences to add in extra layers of information: As Tom ran,
Kitty ate the cake.
Questions to draw in the reader: What was that?
Exclamations for impact: Run for it!
Sentence of 3 for description: He wore a dark cloak, shiny shoes and
red trousers. The troll was tall, bony and very hairy.
Sentence of 3 for action: Tom ran down the lane, jumped over the
hedge and collapsed.
2. Vary sentence openings: Adverb opener (how):
Connective opener (when): Last thing at night, ..
Prepositional opener (where): On the other side of the road.
Adjective opener: Tall trees towered over the river.
Simile opener:
as quick as a flash. Like an eel.
One word opener:
Sad, ..
ing opener:
Running for home, Tim tripped.
ed opener:
Exhausted by the run, Tim fell over.
3. Drop in clauses: Who:
Tim, who was tired, ran home.
Which: The cat, which looked mean, ran home.
The car, that was made of metal, melted!
Tim, hoping for silence, crept into the staffroom.
Tim, frightened by class 4, ate another cream bun.
4. The ing clause.
Before: Laughing at the dog, Tim fell backwards.
During: Tim, laughing at the dog, fell backwards.
Tim fell backwards, laughing at the dog.
Stage direction for speech: Hi, muttered Tom, waving to Bill.

Practise sentences types that relate to the text type and that will help progress. Provide spellings and
sentence types on cards and mats, etc. and in display. List the key words and sentence features needed to
make progress in your plans.

Shortburst Creative Writing.

Poetry is the place to start because poetry is about words. Writers need to be
attentive to words and then the way they fit and flow together within

1. Internalising Poetic Language and Possibilities.

Perhaps, right at the start, we should state that poetry lies at the heart of
language and experience. It is where children learn to savour words, play
with language and use it to capture and celebrate their world. The poem is
central and so too should be the childs own pleasure in language for
writers love words. Nothing else much will follow without these conditions.
In the Primary Framework Progression for Poetry, it states:
Like many art forms, poetry could be said to have little purpose and yet
every culture has song, rhyme or poetry as an essential aspect of its cultural
inheritance because it goes to the heart of language, thought and who we
are as human beings. Usually poetry matters most to the writer and then the
reader. It may be written specifically to entertain but often will be written in
order to preserve and celebrate experience. Poetry helps us to create, or
recreate, imagined or real experiences that are deeply felt. Reading poems
and making our own poems challenges, surprises, enriches and comforts.
Early poetic utterance emerges with the discovery of the power of sounds
and words. Very young children play with sounds, rhythms and enjoy
inventing words. As they grow up, children enjoy rhymes, inventing new
combinations of words, riddles and other forms of word play. Such early
language playfulness lies at the heart of poetry.
Children also soon discover that language has the power to recreate
experience. For instance, a young child looking in awe at the moon on a
cold December night may find that ordinary language will not sufficiently
convey enough of the experience or what was felt - because it merely labels
or reports the experience (I saw the moon. It was fantastic). In order to
capture something of both the experience and what was felt, language has to
be used in a different manner (the moon hung in the dark,/like a bears silver
claw,/ and the stars speckled the night). So, poetry helps us to explain

ourselves to the world and the world to ourselves capturing something of

the essence of the experience as well as our response.
When looking at childrens poetic writing, the progression draws language
and experience and feeling together:
Children write most effectively about subjects that they have experienced
and that matter. It is the desire to capture and communicate to a reader or
listener real experience and genuine feeling or to play with language that
leads to the most powerful writing.
Poetic writing is enriched and deepened by attentive reading, listening to and
performing of poetry. Without reading, writing may become proficient but it
will never move beyond that. It is worth recalling that whilst at university
Ted Hughes rose at 6 every morning to read a Shakespeare play before his
tutorial. Hughes was a genius partly because he had the voice of
Shakespeare within him - as part of his living linguistic repertoire. T.S. Eliot
suggested to Hughes that when reading poetry, it should be read aloud so
that the mind both read and heard the poems.
Reading and performing helps us internalise language and possibilities it
increases our range of voices to call upon when writing. As teachers we need
to put into the minds of children the voices of many poets and poems for
them to draw upon when writing.
Children love reading, writing and performing poetry. It is essential to our
well-being because it focuses upon creativity - and creativity matters,
especially for those with chaotic lives because making beautiful things helps
children feel good about themselves and their world.
It would be worth working out which poets are going to become the main
focus for teaching over the four years in key stage 2, focusing upon a poet a
term. This means that the children become familiar with a range of poets
over time. Children could choose and read a poem a day with the teacher
reading once a week. This may only take up a few minutes a day but the
cumulative impact could be quite considerable.
It would be sad to think that children might miss out on Michael Rosen,
Charles Causley, Val Bloom, Judith Nichols, Kit Wright, William Blake,
Philip Gross, Walter de La mare, Shakespeare or Ted Hughes. Recent

research by publishers suggest that teachers worry about performance poetry

which is strange because almost any poem can be performed. Also,
teachers struggle to find poems from other cultures. Key anthologies
include: One River, Many Creeks: Poems from All Around the World,
edited by Valerie Bloom Macmillan Childrens Books); Around the World
in 80 Poems, edited by James Berry and Katherine Lucas (Macmillan
Childrens Books); Masala: Chosen by Debjani Chatterjee (Macmillan
Childrens Books).
Establish a Poetry Climate.
The original Writing Poetry flyer recognized the need for schools to
establish a positive climate for poetry by suggesting:

access to up-to-date collections of poetry so that there is enough for

browsing, taking home to read, reading a range in class
attractive displays that focus childrens interest, e.g. poetry posters
(including childrens own poems) on display
poem/poet of the week/month
relating poems to other curriculum areas
selecting poems to perform, or tape, for other classes poets on loan
inviting poets into the school
creating poet trees with branches for different types of poem plus leaves
with extracts
spreading enthusiasm for poems recommendations by pupils and
writing, reading and sharing poems as the teacher
celebrating National Poetry Day.

Digging deeper.
Poems are not like sums they do not always easily add up. Some are
straightforward enough but will trigger memories and responses nonetheless
(such as Michael Rosens Chocolate Cake). When reading poetry, it is
important to read aloud - for poems are as much about sound as meaning.
The full impact is often a combination of the words and the sound and
sometimes the layout as well. There are many poems that are easy to
understand and lightweight that will be fun to read and chant but for


teaching we need to be more interested in presenting poems with depth that

will actually influence the imagination.
The point about challenging poetry is that it does not have to be fully
understood it is there to be enjoyed and experienced. Children will not
have the critical language, let alone faculties, to be able to discuss
Shakespeare at any depth but they can experience it and often link into a
true sense of the poems intentions. What has to be avoided is strapping the
poem to a chair and trying to thrash a metaphor out of it! Too many poetry
lessons are about spotting verbs and similes rather than deepening
understanding and appreciation. Poems are not just to be understood
intellectually. They present language as a sensation to be heard and
experienced. And with some poems, it may be pointless to ask what does it
mean because it is more of an event that appeals to what T.S. Eliot described
as the auditory imagination.
The habit of reading and then talking about poems is one to be developed.
The phrase tell me being very handy as it invites extended thought. It is
worth saying that rather than just chucking an activity at a poem, the teacher
needs to think carefully about what activity might help to deepen childrens
understanding and appreciation.
Here are some activities that may help children dig under the skin of a poem.
It is worth increasingly asking the children to raise questions, make
statements, talk poems through, explain ideas and describe memories and
responses. Try to avoid putting children into the situation of guessing what
is in the teachers head. Especially with poetry, the interpretation is not just
in the teachers mind a good poem will work on the reader in different
ways. Sometimes it is just enough to know that you loved a poem. Choose
activities to match the poems demands:
Prepare a group reading of a poem. Thinking about how to use voices,
varying the pace, expression and volume to suit the meaning. Make
sure the words are clear add in percussive backing where relevant.
Read and discuss likes, dislikes, puzzles and patterns.
There may be specific questions that are worth asking as they help to
focus children on discussing aspects that may unlock a poems
Select the 5 most important words defend your choice.

If you had 1 and words cost 10p which words would you buy?
Jot down your initial ideas, memories, questions, thoughts, similar
experiences, feelings and share these in pairs.
What was the most powerful picture?
Annotate the poem make statements or raise questions.
Use a colour to identify powerful words or surprising images.
Explain the poem to a friend.
Give children a poem without the title what is it called?
Cut a poem up by verses, lines or words to be re-sequenced.
Omit key words and present a poem as a cloze procedure.
Write a poem out as prose the children have to decide what pattern
would look best upon the page.
Respond to the poem in another form, e.g. a letter, diary entry,
message, newspaper article.
Illustrate a poem and annotate with words and images.
Use two colours one for sound effects (alliteration, onomatopoeia,
rhymes, hard/soft sounds) and another colour for pictures (similes,
metaphors). Talk about their effect.
Paint the poem - set the poem to dance or music.
Act the poems story out.
Create a model of the poem or collect images and artifacts to create a
mini poetry museum where poems are matched with images and
objects on display.
Imitation reading game.
Read a short poem to the class. The game is for the children to listen
carefully and then as soon as you have finished, they should write down as
much as they can remember filling in gaps, if they need. In pairs, they can
compare results and then listen to the original again. This develops memory
but is also interesting because different people remember different sections
or everyone remembers the same piece why? Discuss the memorable
aspects was it rhythm, the image, the word combination, its impact?
Poetry Reading Interviews.
Children work in pairs - one in role as the poet (or poem) and the other is
about to interview them. Read a poem. The interviewers then ask questions
and role-play an interview. Hear some in front of the class. Questions can be
about the poem but also any other aspect that the interviewer deems

interesting! This game might be handy after several weeks of hearing

different daily poems by a poet.
Booktalk - Likes, dislikes, puzzles and patterns.
Put children into pairs to make a list about a poem of likes, dislikes, puzzles
and patterns. Or, each pair makes a list of 5 questions they are curious about.
Later on, list these as a class and see if other pairs can provide ideas or
Exploring feelings in a poem.
Choose a key image from a poem - that made you feel something (happy?
sad? bored?) and explore why:
The tyger made me feel sad because.
Miming Poems.
Mime a poem. Will the rest of the class be able to guess which poem? Again,
this would be good to use when the children have heard quite a few poems
by a poet and are building up a few favourites that have been performed a
number of times.
Thoughts in the head.
Draw a cartoon or thought bubble for a character in a story poem. Hot seat
the character or have them perform a monologue.
Writing about poems.
Model how to write about poetry and ask the children to use a simple pattern
for a written response, e.g.
What the poem is/seems to be about.
Why I have chosen it- likes, dislikes and
What the poem means to me.
What the poem reminds me of/makes me think
Poems pattern ,techniques and language used
and their impact.
Final comment most memorable aspect.


Building a writing repertoire from reading and enjoying poems.

When I first started teaching, I held a poetry session once a week. After a
while, I noticed that the children were building up a repertoire from their
reading and writing. Once we had met alliteration and had some fun with it
then it crept into other lessons, even when it was not mentioned. I realised
that the reading and writing was helping the children acquire a bank of
possibilities that they could use in their own writing. The original Writing
Poetry flyer recognized the importance of building a repertoire for
childrens own writing:
As writers, pupils should build up a repertoire of forms and stylistic devices
that they can call upon to create poetry. In many instances, pupils will be
focusing upon crafting language within a focused and manageable length
and in a known form.
But it is not only a matter of building up the more obvious techniques such
as alliteration or similes. I noticed that children began to pick up on other
ideas and re-visit them. For instance, we had a session writing about the
moon and weeks later on, we drew and then wrote descriptions of our hands.
A number of children recycled the moon image to describe their fingernails.
Obviously, through reading children may acquire basic writing techniques,
such as:
Words choosing the most powerful, expressive and appropriate
words to illuminate. Words have to earn their place avoid just
chucking in an adjective for the sake of bulk or prettifying a sentence.
Word combination being alert to the possibility of avoiding the
obvious (the big giant) and choosing words to surprise, perhaps a
shock of truth to arrest the reader, e.g. The cockerel lava.
Sound effects these can be produced by using alliteration (very
handy because it may force a more interesting choice, e.g. rather than
purple plum you might think of panicking plum!) Onomatopoeia
will happen naturally if children choose words with care so is not
really a technique to use. but something to comment upon. Rhyme
comes with a word of warning for young writers but can be used to
gain effects such as humour or emphasis if used sparingly and only
when it adds to meaning.
Creating pictures similes (like and as), personification and
metaphor are useful techniques to help the reader visualise, as well as
making connections between ideas.

This idea of cumulatively building a writing repertoire should lie at the heart
of any schools teaching of writing. The original Writing Poetry flyer
suggested to children:
The Poets Repertoire.
Over time you will learn different forms that you can select for different
occasions, e.g. raps for entertaining, haiku for memorable moments, free
verse for serious poems and capturing experiences and ballads for story
Being true to the experience that you are writing about is more important
than trying to squeeze words into a form.
To write in any form you need to spend
time reading good poems written in
that form.
Read like a writer notice how poets
achieve different effects.
Borrow simple repeating patterns from
poets and invent your own.
Invent your own forms and structures.
Be careful with rhyme. Forcing a rhyme
can lead to dishonest writing.
Go for the right word rather than a
forced rhyme.
Keep the writing concrete and detailed.
Use your own poetic voice. Try to
use natural language and invent
memorable speech listen for this
in everyday speech.
It is through attentive reading and plenty of performing poems by heart that
children begin to internalize patterns and possibilities. Much of this may happen
without a child knowing that a rhythm or turn of phrase has become memorable
and will influence their future writing. As children get older, their attention to
the detail and their savouring of the language may well become more explicit so
that approaches to writing and poetic inclinations become a more conscious part
of their repertoire. Writers need to develop curiosity about what other writers do.
How are poems created? How do they intrigue our imaginations?


Powerful poetic writing can occur in most schools, in most classes, given the
right conditions. The key factor is the teaching the children have the
talent, for childhood is a time where the world is fresh and new language is
there for experimentation. I remember one of my children seeing the cooling
towers by Nottingham and describing them as cloud factories. As we grow
older, our language increasingly fossilizes and the deadening hand of clich
makes our speech formulaic and predictable. But children are different. In a
sense, it is a special moment in time when language is used to bring oneself
and the world into being. Each new word is tasted and precious little ones
often just repeat words to hear and savour their sound. The difficulty comes
later on, as they learn the conventions of their culture. Perhaps our society
no longer values the apt phrase, the elegant argument, the beautifully crafted
anecdote? As teachers we should be the preservers and celebrators of the
well-chosen word.
One of the problems that the old literacy strategy faced was that the
objectives were too often seen as one-off events rather than something
cumulative that then needs plenty of practice. For instance, these objectives
from the old framework were essential for all young writers and not just for
the terms they appeared:
Year 3 term 1
T10 to collect suitable words and phrases, in order to write poems and
descriptions; design simple patterns with words, use repetitive phrases;
write imaginative comparisons.
Year 4 Term 3
T15 to produce polished poetry through revision, e.g. deleting words, adding
words, changing words, reorganising words and lines, experimenting with
figurative language.
This was an attempt to establish writing strategies. Ill return to these when
we move on to thinking about writing poems.
A Word of Caution - Poems as Models for Writing.
One of the effects of the original strategy was to create a focus upon
different poetic forms. Whilst children should read and experience a rich and
broad diet of poems, when it comes to writing this lead to some strange

outcomes such as children being asked to write classic poems because they
had been reading them! Many of the forms were fine for reading but too
demanding for writing. Where the form becomes dominant then it may
stultify the writing. For instance, haiku may have three lines and seventeen
syllables but because all the childs efforts have gone into the form may well
be lifeless. A well-chosen form should liberate writing and not interfere with
creativity. Some poems offer simple forms and have that magical quality that
acts like a catalyst to writing. They invite creativity. For instance, Kit
Wrights Magic Box never fails. I would also mention the following:
The Door Miroslav Holub
A boys head Miroslav Holub
Cat began Andrew Matthews
14 ways of touching the Peter - George MacBeth
The magical mouse Kenneth Patchen
I saw a peacock anon
A fistful of pacifists David Kitchen
My name is Pauline Clarke
You! traditional Igbo
Go inside Charles Simic
36 ways of looking at a blackbird Wallace Stevens
In a station of the metro Ezra Pound
Cat in the window Brian Morse
Clouds Teddy Corbett
This is just to say William Carlos Williams
The red wheelbarrow Wiliam Carlos Williams
The sound collector Roger McGough
A poem to be spoken quietly/Wings Pie Corbett
Listen- John Cotton
Body sounds Katya Haine
The oldest girl in the world Carol Ann Duffy
Things to do at Sandpoint 5th grade class, Sandpoint, Idaho
Wind Dionne Brand
For Francesca Helen Dunmore
Small dawn song Philip Gross
Not only Brian Patten
Fog Carl Sandburg
Leaves Ted Hughes
Amulet Ted Hughes
To make a Prairie Emily Dickinson

Mamma Dot Fred DAguiar

Yes - Adrian Mitchell
Our Street Les Baynton
Oath of Friendship Anon
Playing a dazzler James Berry
In the time of the wolf Gillian Clarke
Curious craft Philip Gross
The ideal list or collage poem provides a form for the children to tag on
their own ideas. The collage would make sure that each line was fresh,
adding something new to the cumulative picture. The poems might be very
I like the sound of bacon sizzling in the pan.
I like the sound of crisps being crunched.
Or quite challenging:
The lines that lead.
The door of disasters,
a daring deed.
The alley of agony,
an antique ache.
The passage of purity,
a peaceful palm.
The lane of loneliness,
a limping leash.
The window of wisdom,
a whisper of wanting.
The other key structure is completely open free verse. It is where the
children make a pattern upon the page with the words. The lines can be long,
short or both. Ideally, free verse should not sound like chopped up prose but
flow with the underlying rhythm of speech memorable speech. An over
clipped style may lack an inner regularity which a well-written poem usually

possesses even if the flow is broken for effect. Reading ones writing aloud
can help the child to hear whether it flows well.
The ploughed field.
The icy wind shreds leaves,
like a thousand broken sparrows wings,
scattered on the frosted fields.
Ridged ruts,
scratch lino cuts in parallel lines.
The earth ripples;
holly in the hedgerows is hard as iron.
A few berries speckle the green scarlet.
Other structures may be borrowed from poets, or invented, as long as they
liberate the writing and neither constrain nor dominate. The poetry
progression suggests that the key forms for childrens poetic writing are:

collage or list poem

free verse
shape poems (free verse in a shape)
short patterned poems, for example, haiku, cinquain, kennings
borrow or invent own pattern, for example, pairs of lines
simple rhyming form, for example, rap

It is worth noting that rhyme is too difficult for most children and generally
leads to doggerel. A few simple formats and rapping can be fun but usually it
is a skill that only the most gifted use effectively. Also, early attempts at
syllabic poetry such as haiku might be best attempted without worrying
about counting syllables so that the children can focus upon creating a
simple word-snapshot. The principle forms are free verse and collage poems.


2. Creative games.
Before we begin to look at creative games, I just want to return to the whole
business of establishing writing strategies that are essential to short burst
creative writing in a poetic mode. For instance, the ability to rapidly
generate words and ideas and then select what is powerful is essential to
writing effectively. This has to be practised and children can be trained to
become very skilled at generating ideas. The key writing abilities seem to
me to be:
Observing carefully learning how to look very carefully, especially
noticing the sensory details. Poets are observers of their world;
Brainstorming rapidly generating lots of possibilities and words jotting words and phrases independently. Poets are word hunters and
hoarders (this may need to be practiced as a class many times);
Memory search revisiting and visualising the details of experiences
trying to get to the heart of what happened; seeing it in your mind;
First word not always the best word double-checking each word that is
chosen being alert to the idea that the brain is likely to think of the most
obvious words and these may be clichs so learning to pause, think and
select carefully for maximum impact;
Word play having an eye and ear for unusual and striking combinations
that may create different effects;
Draft concentrate totally on the poem, drawing on the brainstorm and
returning to the original experience; writing swiftly and meditatively; seeing
it in the mind; sifting and experimenting; muttering it aloud as you write to
hear how it sounds;
Read aloud read aloud to a partner or group and listen/look to hear/see
where the poem works and where it needs polishing; shift from being the
writer into reading your own writing as a reader;
Polish learning how to improve by changing or adding words, deleting
over-written parts, trimming words or sentences, using poetic techniques
with caution and for impact, reorganising;
Publishing e.g. anthologies, posters, performing or recording onto a CD.
A creative positive classroom is one where everyone is excited about writing
trying for optimal performance, with activities that develop the whole
person where everyone has a passion and commitment to trying hard and
getting better at writing. Creative classrooms have space for playing with

language and ideas for risk taking and inventiveness. These sorts of
quickfire games are a useful basis for writing and brain development and
make great little warm-ups to tune children into a creative mode at the start
of a session. It is worth remembering that nothing of significance can be
written without using the imagination.

Creative Connections
Play this game often just give them a word and ask them to write down as
many words as they can think of that are associated with it. Time them a
minute only - and then see who has written the largest number of words.
Play this many times so that they get used to generating words and ideas
rapidly. This is a fundamental creative writing skill.
If the children find this difficult, then you need to play it as a whole class.
Provide a focus such as a picture, video clip, photo or object. Then, as a
class, brainstorm as many words and ideas as possible. Dont let them worry
about the words concentrate on letting the words flow.
Ink waster
To warm up the brain and get into a creative mood give the children a topic
and ask them to write as much as they can in, say, one minute. Time them
and ask them to count the number of words then try again with another
topic. They should write as rapidly as possible. This limbers up and frees up
the mind.
Noun and verb game
Ask for a list of nouns (engine, ruler, pencil, tree). Then make a list of verbs
(sipped, stole, rushed, wished). The game is to invent sentences that include
a noun and a verb from the lists. This can be fun if the nouns and verbs do
not match in any sensible way you will get some quite creative solutions!
The engine sipped
The ruler stole
The pencil rushed
The tree wished
Now complete the sentences, preferably choosing unusual ideas, e.g.


The engine sipped from a cup of silences.

The ruler stole a tongue of ideas.
The pencil rushed down the stairs and into the garden.
The tree wished it could turn over a new leaf.
Animal game
Make a list of animals. The children have to write a sentence about each one
as playful as possible. Put in certain criteria, e.g. use a simile, use two
adjectives, use an adverb, use after, use when, etc.
Use the animal list to create alliterative sentences one per animal, e.g. The
tiny tiger tickled the terrified terrapins two toes with torn tinsel.
The simile game.
List well-know similes. What are the stories that lie behind the similes. Here
are some to get you going.
As busy as a cat on a hot tin roof
As deaf as a post
As happy as a rat with a gold tooth
As hungry as a wolf
As innocent as a lamb
As poor as a church mouse
As proud as a peacock
As scarce as hen's teeth
As slippery as an eel
As slow as a tortoise
As stubborn as a mule
As tricky as a box of monkeys
As welcome as a skunk at a lawn party
Dish out poetry books and ask children to collect similes. Display these in
the classroom. Move on to creating new similes. Start with something
simple like a moon or sun shape.
The moon is like a fingernails edge.
The moon is like a a scimitars blade.

The sun is like an ogres angry eye.

The sun is like a golden frisbee.
Dead Metaphors.
A dead metaphors is a clichs our language is scattered with them, e.g.
Stone cold
A heart of stone
Apple of my eye
Boiling mad
Bear fruit
Hatch a plan
Play with dead metaphors by taking them literally, e.g.
I felt stone cold
my arms were rock
and my legs were granite.
She was the apple of my eye
but someone took a bite
out of my sight!
My teacher was boiling mad
steam came out of her mouth!
I hatched a plan
it is only just able to walk
and needs bottle feeding daily.
A Nuisance of Nouns.
Invent the stories behind common collective nouns. Then invent new ones.
A crush of rhinoceroses
A dose of doctors
An elephant of enormities
A glacier of fridges
A lottery of dice
A number of mathematicians

A quake of cowards
A wonder of stars
The Box of Stars.
Split the class in two. One half makes a list of places, e.g. room, town, city,
village, mountain, river, star, sun, kitchen, alleyway, box, etc. The other half
has to make a list of nouns and abstract nouns, e.g. memories, love, doom,
sparklers, curtains, sunsets, wisdom, jealousy, disasters, grass, stars, etc.
Then put children into pairs and they match the words listed exactly in the
order they wrote them down, e.g.
The room of memories.
The town or love.
The city of doom.
The village of sparklers.
The mountain of curtains.
The river of sunsets.
The star of wisdom.
The sun of jealousy.
The kitchen of disasters.
The alleyway of grass.
The box of stars
Crossing the River.
Invent creative ways to cross a river, e.g. make friends with a frost giant and
ask it to breathe onto the river, freezing it so that you can walk across.


3. Original Playfulness with Language

and Ideas.
The original Writing Poetry flyer stated: Poetry is included in the NLS
Framework in every term, as a central aspect of literacy. Its appeal lies in
the desire to play with language and ideas, as well as the recreation and
preservation of experiences that matter.
There is a strong vein of poetry that plays with language and ideas. This
would include the fanciful and fun, the surreal and ridiculous. It ranges from
playground rhymes to nonsense verse. The teacher can either work from a
model, write a model for the class or just work from a poetry idea so that the
shared writing becomes the model. Here is an example, I have often used:
If only I could catch a snowflake
and hang it
on the side of the Eiffel Tower.
If only I could trap a handful of sunlight
and store it
for wintry days when the air bites back.
If only I could grab a withered flower
and keep it safe
so that it can burst into blossom.
If only I could store a seed of truth
and protect it
behind the frozen doors of eternity.
If only I could hold on tight to laughter
and trap its body
to protect me when sadness smothers.
If only I could seize the passing days
and keep them tucked away
in the diary of my departing.


To scaffold writing this sort of poem, it is handy to make a list of possible

words to use instead of catch (grab, grip, grasp, seize, imprison, hold,
contain, capture, keep, store, trap, fossilize, paralyze). Then make a list of
things that might be captured (moonlight, stars, frost, clouds, ran, lightning,
thunder, silence, hope, a wish, dreams, disaster, war, thoughts, spring,
summer, winter, memories, buds, flames, mirrors, keys, windows, doors,
ocean). Finally, discuss what you would do with these things. This helps
provide a weaker class with ideas. When teaching writing, it is always worth
considering how much scaffolding will be required for success. Gradually,
scaffolding should be taken away so that the children move from
dependence to independence in their writing because they can scaffold their
own thinking.
The new poetry progression identifies the importance of encouraging
children to write playfully and inventively developing original playfulness
with language and ideas. List poems are a simple and effective way of
helping children develop confidence as writers when playing with language.
Provide a repeating pattern that acts like a coat hanger so that children can
focus upon using words effectively, creating new ideas, e.g.
I want to write a poem
made of slices of lemon light.
I want to write a poem
made of sneezes and breezes.
I want to write a poem
made of the shine from a cars bonnet.
Before we go any further, I should point out that there is no reason why even
the youngest should not be engaged in making up poetic ideas and
observations. Of course, the teacher will need to jot these down or record
them on a flip chart. Many teachers of young children overplay the
importance of rhyme in early poetic writing and rhyme is difficult to do
(though rhyme is important for developing an ear for sounds). Simple list
ideas provide an ideal opportunity for children from the Foundation Stage
onwards to be engaged in creating playful ideas.
One of the problems you may find is that some children may just write dull
lists that seem to go on forever! If this is the case, show them how to

elaborate and extend a few of their ideas and then ask them to select their
favourite lines and improve them in the same way. Lets say that a child has
With my magic eye
I saw a cat.
Adding in an adjective and then extending the idea by adding on what the
cat was doing might improve this:
With my magic eye
I saw a grey cat slinking along the sunlit path.
Of course, it would be even better if we knew what sort of snake it was
(naming it). And perhaps it might be more playful and surprising (less of a
dull clich) if we had the snake doing something impossible:
With my magic eye
I saw a Siamese cat
shopping at Tescos
for the finest salmon!
Many teachers might feel that is sort of writing is just silly. This arises out of
a lack of understanding of creativity. Innate creativity is impeded by socially
and culturally acquired habits of linguistic expression clichs. To some
extent therefore, education has to eliminate whatever stops children being
creative. As we grow older our language becomes frozen into a set routine of
linguistic patterns. If we are not careful so too does our thinking. If you take
a look at Shakespeare or any great writer, you will find many examples of
language play where the rules are broken and fresh word combinations
created in order to illuminate the truth of experience.
For some children the pressure to create can actually freeze their thinking.
This may be because of a desire to get it right, to be good, to create an
amazing story or poem with little effort right from the outset. This
misconception about creativity may stultify some young writers. And it is
playing with words and ideas that may help them loosen their approach to
accept the haphazard, the daft, the mistakes, the blind alleys and blunders all
as part of generating ideas, fishing for words and trying out new
combinations. For play lies at the heart of creative writing. As Ken Robinson

write in All Our Futures, imaginative activity is the process of generating

something original: providing an alternative to the expected, the
conventional or the routine. (Robinson, Kenneth All Our Futures (The
Arts Council, London, 1999).
Using the imagination involves being playful. It may be serious in intent. A
child creating may well be concentrating fiercely but it is still play. In recent
evaluations of my own teaching by year 5 children, many of them reported
that the poetry lessons had been fun. But I do not recall much laughter. In
fact most of the time we were working with serious intent. But of course,
much of the writing involved playing with words and ideas in order to create
something worthwhile rather than regurgitating what we already know. The
imagination is about generative thought bringing something new into
being. For this to happen, the mind has to abandon its dull routines and be
open to new connections, analogies and relationships between ideas and
language. This leads to the highest forms of expression. Without such
playfulness, writing will be merely imitative of what has happened before.
So too will thought.
Possible list of playful poem ideas.
In this magical bag I found.
I dreamed
In the clouds I saw
Listen, can you hear?
Come with me to an impossible world
Through the window I saw
In the crystal ball I saw
In a girls/boys head is.
Trapped inside the marble is.
I wish I was/could/had
It is a secret but I saw.
Through the door is.
On the journey, I heard.


4. Detailed Recreation of Closely

Observed Experience.
Noticing lies at the heart of good writing because concrete detail brings
writing alive and makes it sound real. Most children have to be trained to
look carefully at experiences, to notice details and respond with all their
senses and feelings. This sort of writing helps us see the world more clearly
and more appreciatively. The idea of closely observing experience is a key
writing strand in the poetry progression.
The words we use do not have to be fancy - but they have to be chosen
with care. The point is to make the experience actually happen for the reader.
The language recreates the experience so that the reader sees and hears what
is happening. This is what writers call show and not tell. As Ted Hughes
suggested, the words that we need are rooted in the senses. They are words
that have a sensual quality and bring the subject alive. Words which we feel
(greasy, oily), we hear (click, hiss) and see (freckled, veined) help to recreate
the experience. The conditions needed are for the writer to observe (or to
imagine), write with fierce concentration without stopping, not to worry
about the words (till after you have finished). In fact, many childrens shortburst poetic writing needs little revision. When they have been taught well,
the poems may arrive virtually complete almost as if they had already been
written! Revision has to be taught. It is a matter of readerly judgement
holding your writing up against the inner yardstick which is based on the
reading of good poems.
It is worth spending time seeking out objects or pieces of art or images that
can be used as starting points for writing. Here is a list of possibilities:
observing an experience - leaf skeletons, a spiders web, a pomegranate
sliced in half;
objects/collections tree bark, hands, candles, buttons, ties, photos,
locations old buildings, woods, alleyway, sea front, building site;
unusual objects back of a broken tv set, a ship-in-a-bottle;
art drawing before writing, postcards/posters of paintings, music,
sculptures, film clips, photos, dance;

seasons and weather thunder, storms, rain, snow, frost, dew;

relationships things mum says, my teacher is, friends, enemies;
memories secret places, details, strange events, old dreams, things I
used to do;
feelings anger, sadness, elation, memorable incidents;
a recalled common experience bonfire night, dark in my room.
Cross curriculum poems can be written in science, history, art,
geography to enhance and explore the world.
Young children need to have the experience right in front of them. This
involves bringing objects into the classroom or taking children out. The
teacher then draws their attention to the object under scrutiny, words and
ideas are discussed and generated that form the basis of writing.
Senses list poem.
Begin by writing simple list poems based on the senses. Generate a class
word bank together for the senses. Use headings for the senses and then list
ideas under each heading. What do you like to taste what tastes do you not
like, etc. Some of these ideas could be turned into simple poetic sentences,
I want to taste the sharp tang of lemon.
I want to taste the sizzle of bacon
Make sure that children use detail and name it in other words, use
Siamese rather than cat. Beware of lazy adjectives that tell the reader
nothing new (red letterbox) but use something new (rusty letterbox) or
Begin by looking closely and brainstorming words and ideas. Make a large
collection. Then work with the children to produce a simple piece of
descriptive free verse. A typical shared piece might look like this:
Like a crab,
My hand scuttles along.
Ridged like a stumble of hills,

it spreads out fingers

or clenches into a tight fist.
Etched with lines,
like a fan of veins,
my palm is the road map to my future.
Fingernails curve,
ready to scrape and scratch.
Thumbs up a hand shake
or a threat!
My hands speak for me.
When writing in this vein, we draw upon both the experience and our selves.
Once the teacher has helped the children learn how to look carefully at an
experience and use words to bring that experience alive (by using words that
touch and taste and smell, words that you can hear, that recreate the
experience) then the children can capture any experience they wish.
In the same way, Ted Hughes carried a notebook with him when working on
his farm in Devon, recording events as they happened, learning how to stare
intently in order to see the truth of what was happening, to make a fleeting
snapshotof a precious bit of my life. In the introduction to Moortown
Diary (Faber 1989) Hughes noted that if I wish to look closely I find I can
move closer, if I phrase my observations about it in rough lines. He notes
that this form of on the spot free verse that requires his watching eye also
helps him see quite clearly when trying to recall events; the process of
memory, the poetic process of transforming and preserving experience. He
refers to the poems as his surviving voice-track of one of my days, a
moment in my life that I did not want to lose. In this sense, the writing is
also about preserving and making more of our own history.
In the same way, Gerard Manley Hopkins notebooks show how he absorbed
experience, filtering through his mind a stream of words and images to
attempt to capture what he was looking at to get inside its skin, to know its
true self. In the classroom, the teacher may provide the focus (say a
candle), train children how to observe, calling on the senses but also must
train the children how to brainstorm words and ideas - how to generate
language rapidly firing out possibilities. And finally, there is process of
selecting what Coleridge described as, the best words in the best order
fishing for the right word. For that to work, the words have to be well

chosen. Here is Hopkins limbering up, an attempt to capture an essence,

staring at raindrops:
Drops of rain hanging on rails. Blunt buds of the ash. Pencil buds of the
beach. Lobes of the trees. Cups of the eyes. Gathering back the lightly
hinged eyeballs. Bows of the eyelids, pencil of eyelashes. Eyelids like
leaves, petals, caps, tufted hats, handkerchiefs, sleeves, gloves. Also of the
bones sleeved in flesh. Juices of the sunrise.
It is worth adding that when children are selecting words and ideas, it is their
reading that assists them. Their reading of poetry then becomes the yardstick
for knowing what works and what does not. As one child said, you have to
have something to hold it up against. The reading of good writing helps
them make a judgement when composing. Their reading becomes their
internal critic reading polices writing!
Writing on location.
Select one thing that makes a powerful focus and as a group brainstorm
draw their attention to detail and using the senses ask them what does it
look like what does it remind you of.?. When looking at something
(say, a cow), it can help to jot down the main things that you can see down
the centre of the page horns, eyes, tongue, jaws, teeth, saliva, flanks,
hooves, tail. Then begin to build your poem by adding words either side of
each thing adjectives/ verbs, etc
Then add in words:
Tasselled tail swishes
What does it look like:
Tasselled tail swishes like a bell pull
Then on a flip chart show them how to take the brainstorm ideas and craft
them into a simple, descriptive free verse poem, e.g.
The cow snorts and snuffles,

rubbing her heaving flanks against the railing.

Her horns jut out of her skull
like a Viking helmet,
like handle bars on a lunar monster.
Eyes bulge,
staring like glassy marbles.
Spittle drips from her jaws
as she grinds her teeth,
chewing over
the passing day..
Add powerful language and use a dash of poetic technique. Keep going back
to the experience revisiting it in your mind. Of course, location writing is
helped if you use a camera to capture key images that the class can use for
their writing.
Memory Boxes.
Michael Rosen is the key poet for writing about real family events and
memories he has the unnerving knack of remembering or noticing the
exact details that are particular to his experience but also generally true for
all of us. Memory is a primary source for many writers especially in
fiction. Of course, memory is based on observation. You have to have
noticed in the first place!
Ask children to bring in memory boxes. These could be real or imagined.
Discuss and list memories they do not have to be dramatic. Start talking
about memories around people, places and events. Show children how to
make notes and turn these into simple memory poems. Use a list poem
pattern, e.g.
I remember watching the bus wobble down King Street.
I remember watching the silver glint of fish in the stream.
I remember listening to the grumble of late night television.
I remember listening to early traffic complaining on the hill outside.


Children As Writers.
The Writing Poetry flyer offered children advice on the writing process
which suggests the sorts of classroom conditions in which writing flourishes:
Getting started
Keep a poetry-writing journal jot down ideas for poems, things you
notice, details, words, similes, things people say.
Listen to your feelings, thoughts and dreams.
Write inside or outside use your senses to listen, touch, smell, taste,
look and wonder.
Write about the following:

pictures, photos, posters, film, sculptures

intriguing objects, collections, places, creatures, people,

moments and events

secrets, wishes, lies and dreams

pretend to talk with and to people, places, objects, creatures

(Tyger, Tyger burning bright), both real and imaginary

write about your obsessions what you feel passionately about,

dream about, hate

use memories of special moments.

Write in different voices as yourself or something else.
Have a clear focus for writing. Do not be vague.
Begin with what you know. What is true, not true but might be and things
which could never be true.
Be outrageous, boast, plead, imagine, joke.
Before writing
Look carefully at your subject. Make notes of the details.
Become a word searcher. Before writing get used to brainstorming,
listing, jotting ideas and words, whispering ideas in your mind.
Writing your Poem.

Settle in a comfortable place to write.

Work from the brainstorm, selecting and discarding.


Use your writing journal, a thesaurus, a rhyming dictionary.

Write on every other line to give yourself space to add in new ideas and
make changes.
Sift words and select the best from your mind. The first choice is not
always the best choice.
When you write dont get distracted concentrate hard on your subject.
Write quickly so that the poem flows you can edit it later.
The first draft may look messy as you try out words and ideas.
Poems can be built up, adding a brick at a time, piling up images and
Poems can be like jigsaws moving pieces around to get the best fit.
Go for quality not quantity.
Avoid overwriting especially using too many adjectives or adverbs.
Keep re-reading as you write. Mutter different possibilities to yourself
and listen to how your poem sounds. Look at the poems shape.
Dont be afraid to take risks, try unusual ideas and words poetry is
about inventing.
Take a new line at a natural pause, or to give emphasis, or to maintain a
particular poetic form.
Create strong pictures by using similes, metaphors and personification.
Create memorable sounds by using repetition for effect, alliteration,
onomatopoeia, rhythm and rhyme.
Create powerful poems by choosing precise nouns. (Rottweiler not dog)
and powerful verbs (mutter not talk) and words that do not obviously go
together so that you surprise the reader, e.g. Not the old lady hobbled
down the road but try the old lady jogged!

After Writing

Read your poem aloud and listen to how it sounds. Often you will
immediately notice places where it might be improved.
Read your poem to a partner, poetry circle or the whole class listen to
their response and then take the time to work on it.
Be a good response partner read through, or listen to the writer, read
their poem. Always tell the writer what you liked first. Discuss any
concerns the writer may have. Make a few positive suggestions.

Poetry is about celebration and enjoyment. Here are some ways to spread
your poems around:
perform to the class, other classes, the school

make a poetry programme or video

e-mail or fax poems to other schools or put poems on the school website
publish in class anthologies, scrapbooks, homemade books, on poetry
display boards
hold a poetry party performance, or make picturebook poems, for a
younger class
illustrate and create poetry posters
hold a poem swap
send poems to magazines, newspapers, literary websites, radio and TV

Final words.
Over the years, I have constantly been trying to capture what leads to
helping children write powerfully. It is partly the richness of regular reading,
the modelling of writing, showing an interest and valuing the childrens
ideas, the relentless challenge, but also that creative ingredient that stops the
classroom from being an ordinary place and turns it into the most serious of
games; a time when we are no longer teacher and pupils but all briefly
suspended in a moment when our minds are liberated to enter a place beyond
fear of failing; a new world where words and images stalk out of nowhere
and we wander into a territory where we become truly intelligent and our
imaginations stalk the earth.
Perhaps it is that final ingredient that can never be described how the spell
is cast, how the mind enters a new zone and suddenly the writing flows..
that tension between discipline and creation where the reading meets the
writing and the writer. A poem is a journey which the reader and writer
share, where the reader peeks into part of the writers imagination and in
doing so part of their own inner world. And why should all this matter?
Well, in a poem you have to care for each word and words are so closely
linked to our thinking and being that when we care for the words, we care
for the child. A poem says hello world, this is me and this is my life and
my imagination and this is what I experienced. Poems are little distillations
of humanity and should be cherished.
The original Writing Poetry flyer listed a few principles to guide teaching:
Provide a clear focus usually based on first-hand experiences that


Teach skills of observing the details of experiences, brainstorming and

Before pupils write, read quality examples to inspire.
Demonstrate writing class poems.
Encourage surprising word combinations.
When responding, identify aspects to improve focus on word choices
and the poems impact.
Establish response partners read drafts aloud to hear the effect.
Value and respect creativity.
Provide audiences for the childrens writing, e.g. classroom scrapbooks,
taped performances.
Pie Corbett.


Moving into Narrative.

Imitate Sentences from good books display and use in
shared/own writing.
Look at my frog!said Avery, placing the frog on the drainboard
and holding out his hand for pie.
Whats unusual about the pig? asked Mrs Zuckerman, who
was beginning to recover from her scare.
What are you going to do with it? continued Templeton, his
little round beady eyes fixed on the goose.
He patted his stomach, grinned at the sheep and crept upstairs to
lie down.

b. Use Images:

Have regular practice sessions based on images.

Shared writing followed by independent writing. For instance, you could
have a character who is endlessly traveling through different landscapes!!
Google images ruined landscape and the web for derelict places

Talking the text - Learning a story communally

Daily retelling, using actions and a storymap to build a bank of
well-known stories that young writers can draw upon to create new
A few key warmup games:
1. Pass a story word by word in pairs or small groups.


2. Pass a story sentence by sentence in pairs or small groups.

3. Once upon a time. One day. Unfortunately..
luckily. Finally.
4. Play Unfortunately/ luckily in pairs.

Independent retelling confident

Once the children become reasonably confident, then they can move on to
stories that rely less on repetitive patterns. If children have sufficient
linguistic ability, they can listen to a story, draw a map and move straight
into retelling a version. In this case, they are not learning the story word for
1. Tell a new story to the class take reactions and responses likes,
dislikes, puzzles and patterns.
2. Explain that you are going to retell the same story but will not necessarily
use exactly the same words but it will be basically the same tale.
3. On your second retelling, ask the children to sketch a story map that
shows the main pattern of events. Explain that they should not try and get in
all the details just the key events.
4. Try walking the key steps of the story or boxing it up into its main
scenes. Do this as a class or set as a further task for the children.
5. In pairs, they now use their maps to retell the story. They could try this by
taking turns to tell the next bit. Explain how they may have to resay
sentences and go over bits of the story as they try to sort out the wording
and gain fluency.


6. They should then retell it again, trying to become more fluent. It is worth
moving partners around so that you form new pairs. They need to retell the
story not once, not twice but at least 3 times to begin to gain fluency less
experienced may well need to retell 6 times or more.
7. Have pairs retell to the class from the storytellers chair take feedback to
evaluate what works well? When coaching or responding, it is worth
focusing upon the positive and learning from others how we can improve.
8. Try story circles with each child saying a sentence or chunk and passing
the tale round the circle.
9. Eventually, tell it to another class which doesnt know it, one to one or
two to two.
10. When developing an oral story independently, the children will need
some private space to rehearse their story aloud. They can tell it to the wall
or even better is to go into the playground and tell it to a bush, bin, bench or
As children become more experienced, they should be able to select a short
story for themselves from a selection of written down tales, create a map or
board, pare it down to the bare bones and work in pairs to develop and refine
their own retelling.
Improving the telling of stories
Once the children have worked in a pair and reached the point where they
can retell a version in a reasonably confident and fluent manner, then they
are ready to work on their performance skills. They can perform to a partner,
in a three or four, small group and ultimately to the class or another class.
Remember that anyone who tells needs to be praised and clapped. Simple
pointers include:

Most importantly, can the story be heard?

Are the words spoken clearly?
Is the volume varied in relation to the meaning?
Are dramatic pauses used at the right moment?
Have any key words been emphasized?

Are the words spoken with expression?

Does the teller use facial, hand gestures or body movements to
reinforce meaning?
Does any movement detract from the telling?
Does the teller scan the audience, drawing everyone into the tale?
Use a Dictaphone or digital camera to capture retellings so that children can
listen to or see themselves in order to help them refine and improve their
Developing a story
When the children know the basic story and can retell it fluently then they
are able to develop the actual wording. Be careful that they do not embellish
a story so much that it becomes too wordy and the narrative is lost. A simple
story grid or flow chart can be drawn to provide a visual overview of each
scene or main event. Use this to focus on:

Description people, places, objects, creatures.

Characterisation and dialogue
Dilemma - suspense and action
Crafting the opening and ending

Dont work on everything at once just select a focus. Model ideas, to

influence the class version of a story. Then ask children to work in pairs or
individually. Some key points of writing knowledge might include:
A few descriptive details
How is the character feeling and why, e.g. angry or what type are
they, e.g. bossy or shy
Show this through what they say or do.
What is their desire/goal, e.g. she wants a pet
Develop and change character across the story
Think about how they feel

Use powerful speech verbs

Use said + adverb
Insert stage direction to show what a character is doing when
speaking, e.g. No, he hissed, shaking his head in disgust.
Use only a few exchanges
Description people, places, objects.
Use well-chosen adjectives
Use similes/metaphor
Use senses and concrete detail
Show things through the characters eyes, e.g. she stared at.
Describe key objects
Describe settings to create atmosphere
Describe the weather and time of day
Character Bill stared at the burger in disgust.
Setting A fly crawled up the window pane.
Action Jo ran.
Talk Put that down!
Use a hook Usually, John enjoyed walking to school but
Show characters feelings Bill grinned.
Comment on what has been learned They knew it had been stupid.
Dilemma - action and suspense.
* Think about the characters goal how will they try to achieve this and
what struggles will they meet on the way conflicts, obstacles and
problems. Dont have too many!
* How will the obstacles be overcome?
To build tension and excitement: *Balance short and long sentences.
* Use questions to draw reader in.
* Use exclamations for impact.
* Place character in lonely, dark place


* Introduce an ominous sound effect, e.g. something hissed.

* Show a glimpse of something, e.g. a hand appeared at the door.
* Use dramatic connectives, e.g. at that moment.
* Use empty words, e.g. something, somebody, it.
* Use powerful verbs, e.g. run, jump, grip, grab, struggle.
Innovating on known stories.
The next step is to take a well-known story and adapt it to make it your own.
There are various different changes that can be made. A simple substitution
might involve changing names, places or objects. Adding in new scenes or
extra detail is often a quite natural development. This might be simply a
matter of adding in a few adjectives or embellishing the tale considerably.
Alteration might be made to settings, character and key events. The story
could be retold from a different viewpoint or recast as a diary, letter or
news item. For instance, I once saw the Three Bears performed as a rap
and have also seen it rewritten as a break and entry thriller in which the
main character enters a house, steals something and is then caught by the
Only move on to innovation when the story is in the long-term working
memory otherwise, they will struggle to innovate. Each stage needs to be
modelled by the teacher so that there is a whole class innovation. This then
sets then scene for staging the children to gradually create their own
This seems to be the simplest form of innovation. Many children find it
simple enough to alter basic names of characters, places and objects.
This may make a second simple enough stage. The child keeps the same
basic pattern and sentences. However, extra sentences are added in,
embellishing on the original. These might include:
simple additions, e.g. one day = one sunny day;
adding in more description;
adding in more dialogue;
adding in new characters or events;
adding in extra detail to bring scenes alive.

An alteration is a significant change that has consequences, usually altering

the story is some fashion.
altering characters, e.g. so that a good character becomes greedy;
altering settings, e.g. so that a character journeys through a housing estate
rather than a forest;
altering events but sticking to the basic plot;
altering the plot structure, e.g. the way the story opens or ends.
Change of Viewpoint.
The story plot is used as a basis for a retelling from a new viewpoint: retelling in a different form (text type) as a letter, diary entry, etc.
retelling from a different characters view;
retelling in a totally new setting, e.g. Little Charlie in a city;
retelling in a different time, e.g. Three Bears in modern times;
retelling in a different genre or text type (e.g. as a letter).
Re-use the basic plot.
This involves unpicking the basic plot and recycling it in a new setting with
new characters and events.


In storymaking schools children are constantly in the process of either
learning a story or innovating. This is a daily ongoing process especially at
key stage 1. But they also need to get used to making stories up from
themselves, drawing on their bank of told stories as well as their lives. To do
this, hold regular weekly story inventing sessions. These should be:
- oral, guided by the teacher, reusing familiar characters, settings and
patterns, reusing story language, an opportunity for new ideas,
drawing on a range of stories and life.
It is worth bearing in mind the following advice:
keep the stories simple - build the end in early to avoid rambling!
Capturing the story


Of course, you may wish to just make the story up and leave it at that. It
might be captured in writing, with a Dictaphone or video. Or, just by
drawing: Story map - Story mountain - Story flow chart or Box it up.
Start from the basic Story Ingredients.
Begin by discussing the key questions:
Who build up a character;
Where does the story take place;
What will happen. Bearing in mind that you will need something to go
wrong a dilemma or problem or mystery or exciting event.
If you get stuck use a story trigger have something happen such as a
phone ringing, a new character enters, someone screams
Use a basic plot.
Many schools have identified key plots which the children meet every year
one per half term. In this way the children become familiar with a basic
pattern that may be reused in endless permutations: 1. Problem/resolution. 2. Warning. 3. Quest a to b, there and back
again. 4. Wishing. 5. Lost/found. 6. Defeating the monster, e.g.
(Gary had never believed in trolls or Gary had always been afraid
of being trapped in dark places). 7. Cinderella. 8. Character flaw
(tragedy). 9. Cumulative, e.g. The Hungry Caterpillar. 10. Traditional
(myths, fables, etc).
If children are building up to writing it is worth following this pattern.
Draw your story making decisions about what will happen;
Use the drawing to tell the story to a partner, by word of mouth;
Discuss the story with your partner, taking suggestions for improvement;
Retell the story with refinements;
The more you retell aloud or in your head, the better you get to know the
story, the more it can be improved;
Once the plot has developed, use story grids to work on characterization,
description, etc;
As you write the story, retell it again in your head, tweaking it where


2 Key Oral Story Games.

Build a character through questioning in pairs. One of the pair starts off
by saying the name of their character and a bit about them. The partner
helps to build the character through questioning - Tell me more about
or Now tell me about.. Make a list with the class of useful questions
to help someone bring a character alive. They must discover how the
character is feeling and why.
Play Paint the picture in pairs. This is a game to develop a setting based
on the old parlour game, in the city of Rome. One partner paints the
scene for the listener - you can see hear feel. now you can see
(something happens). First just fill the canvas then bring on an event.
Reading as a Writer.
We read firstly for the experience.
Then we deepen understanding and appreciation.
Then we read as a writer.


Adventure at Sandy Cove

Hurry up, shouted Joe as he climbed over the rocks. Carefully, Rahul
followed. The two boys stopped at a rock pool and began to search for
shells. Hey, whats this? shouted Joe to Rahul. In the rock pool was a
small, black box wrapped in plastic. The boys tugged it loose. What was
inside? Joe pressed the silver catch and the lid popped open. The box was
full of sparkling jewels!
At that moment, a scruffy old man shouted at the boys. His wolf-like
dog barked menacingly. Joe snapped the lid down, picked up the box and the
two boys began to scramble over the rocks. They slipped and struggled
towards the cliffs.
Quick! Lets hide in here, said Joe, rushing into a cave. It was dark
and damp inside and they could hear water dripping. They felt their way
further in and crouched behind a rock. Rahuls heart pounded like a drum.
All at once, the scruffy man appeared at the cave mouth. He shone a torch
around. The light cast shadows on the cave wall. The children ducked down
and kept as still as stone, but the dog could sense them. It padded closer and
closer, growling menacingly. Rahul gripped Joes arm. They could see its
white teeth, smell its damp hair and feel its hot meaty breath.
Suddenly there was a distant shout. Here Dog! hissed the man,
roughly grabbing its collar. Those boys have got away. Quick. After them!
Joe and Rahul held their breath until they could hear the sound of the man
and his dog stumbling back across the rocks. They waited for a long while
before creeping out. Even though the beach was empty, the boys ran home as
fast as they could.
At first Mum didnt believe them. It was only when Joe opened the
box that she decided to call the police. When the police arrived they told
Mum that the big house up the road had been burgled only the night before.
They had spent all day searching for a trace of the jewels. Their only clue
had been the footprints of a large dog. Joe shut his eyes. He could imagine
DETECTIVES. And there was a reward too!
From Treetops Storywriter CD Rom Oxford University Press.


Im just going down to the shops, snapped Mrs Robertson, as she closed the front door.
Dont do anything daft while Im out! It was silly really but she always said the same
thing. As far as she was concerned, her Steves second name was Trouble. Steve stood
at the window, watching his mother. As soon as she had turned the corner, he glanced at
Lets go down to the rope swing, he said, tugging on his hoodie.
But Mum said we werent to muck about, muttered Sam, staring at the t.v. without
Youre scared! Besides, well be back well before Mum.
Ten minutes later they were down by the old canal. The rope swing had been there for
years. Invitingly, it dangled over the water. Your go first, said Steve, handing Sam the
rope. But Sam hesitated. The canal smelt of drains and they had seen water rats
swimming there. The odd bubble rose to the surface, matching his fear. Things floated.
Reluctantly, Sam took a few steps back and prepared to launch himself out across the
water. He didnt want to look like a coward in front of his older brother but his heart was
beating madly. He ran and leapt out, clinging onto the rope as if his life depended upon it.
He sailed across the canal and swung back. Relieved, he landed with a thump. Now it
was Steves turn.
Steve pulled his hoodie off, took a run up and leapt out. He whooped like a mad thing.
But half way back, the rope snapped. Steve smashed into the surface of the water and
disappeared under.
Sam froze. He stared in horror. Steve couldnt swim! Almost without thinking, Sam took
a deep breath and leapt straight in. Desperately, he searched the water but it was too thick
and dark to see anything. His eyes stung and his nose was clogged with scum. He kicked
for the surface. Then red! It was Steves Iron Maiden tee shirt. Grabbing it, Sam
tugged his brother to the side. They lay there for a while, spluttering and spitting out
canal water.
Twenty minutes later, the two boys were walking back up Peasland Road. They were
soaking wet. Steve grinned at Sam. Thanks, he said. Sam grinned back. For the first
time, he thought that perhaps his brother might not be so ready to call him a coward

From Treetops Storywriter CD Rom Oxford University Press.


The Little Red Hen.

Once upon a time there was a little red hen who lived on a farm.
Early one morning she woke up and went outside. There she found some corn.
Who will help me plant the corn? said the little red hen.
Not I, said the bull.
Not I, said the cat.
Not I, said the rat.
Oh very well, Ill do it myself, said the little red hen
and so she did!
Who will help me water the corn? said the little red hen.
Not I, said the bull.
Not I, said the cat.
Not I, said the rat.
Oh very well, Ill do it myself, said the little red hen
and so she did!
Who will help me cut the corn? said the little red hen.
Not I, said the bull.
Not I, said the cat.
Not I, said the rat.
Oh very well, Ill do it myself, said the little red hen
and so she did!
Who will help me carry the corn to the mill? said the little red hen.
Not I, said the bull.
Not I, said the cat.
Not I, said the rat.
Oh very well, Ill do it myself, said the little red hen
and so she did!
Who will help me grind the corn? said the little red hen.
Not I, said the bull.
Not I, said the cat.
Not I, said the rat.
Oh very well, Ill do it myself, said the little red hen
and so she did!
Who will help me knead the bread? said the little red hen.
Not I, said the bull.
Not I, said the cat.
Not I, said the rat.
Oh very well, Ill do it myself, said the little red hen
and so she did!
Who will help me bake the bread? said the little red hen.
Not I, said the bull.
Not I, said the cat.
Not I, said the rat.
Oh very well, Ill do it myself, said the little red hen
and so she did!
Who will help me eat the bread? said the little red hen.
I will, said the bull.
I will, said the cat.
I will, said the rat.
Oh no you wont, said the little red hen, Ill eat it myself and so she did!


Once upon a time there was a little boy called Charlie who lived on the
edge of a big city.
Early one morning he woke up and his Mumma said, Take this bag of
goodies to your Grandmas. Into the bag she put a slice of cheese, a loaf
of bread and a square of chocolate.
Next he walked, and he walked and he walked till he came to a bridge.
There he met a cat a lean cat, a mean cat.
Im hungry, said the cat. What have you got in your bag?
Ive got a slice of cheese, a loaf of bread but he kept the chocolate
Ill have the cheese please, said the cat. So Charlie gave the cheese to the
cat and it ate it all up.
Next he walked, and he walked and he walked till he came to a pond. There
he met a duck a snowy white duck.
Im hungry, said the duck. What have you got in your bag?
Ive got a loaf of bread but he kept the chocolate hidden!
Ill have the bread please, said the cat. So Charlie gave the bread to the
duck and it ate it all up.
Next he walked, and he walked and he walked till he came to a tall town
clock tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. There he met not one, not two but
three scruffy pigeons.
Were hungry, said the pigeons. What have you got in your bag?
Unfortunately, there was only the chocolate Luckily, Charlie found some
crumbs. So he scattered them on the ground and the pigeons ate them all up.
Next he walked, and he walked and he walked till he came to a crossroads.
There he met a . Nobody.
Mmmm, Im hungry , said Charlie. What have I got in my bag?
Mmmmmm, chocolate! So, he ate it all up!
Next he walked, and he walked and he walked till he came to Grandmas
house. There he Grandma.
Im hungry , said the Grandma. What have you got in your bag?
Unfortunately, there was only the chocolate wrapper Luckily, grandma
had pizza and chips for tea.


The Papaya that spoke.

Once upon a time there was farmer who lived in a village. One day he felt
hungry so he went out to pick a papaya. To his amazement, the papaya
spoke, Hands off!
The farmer looked at his dog. Did you say that? said the farmer.
No, said the dog, it was the papaya!
Aaaaargh! screamed the farmer. As fast as his legs could carry him, he ran
and he ran and he ran till he came to a market where he met a fisherman
selling fish.
Why are you running so fast when the sun is shining so bright? asked the
First a papaya spoke to me and next my dog! replied the farmer.
Thats impossible, said the fisherman.
Oh no it isnt, said one of the fish.
Aaaaargh! screamed the farmer. As fast as his legs could carry him, he ran
and he ran and he ran till he came to a field where he met a shepherd with
his goats.
Why are you running so fast when the sun is shining so bright? asked the
First a papaya spoke to me, next my dog and after that a fish! replied the
Thats impossible, said the fisherman.
Oh no it isnt, bleated one of the goats.
Aaaaargh! screamed the farmer. As fast as his legs could carry him, he ran
and he ran and he ran till he came to the village where he met the King
sitting on his old wooden rocking chair.
Why are you running so fast when the sun is shining so bright? asked the
First a papaya spoke to me, next my dog, after that a fish and finally a
Thats impossible, said the King. Get out of here you foolish man. So
the poor farmer walked home with his head hung down. The King rocked
back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. How silly of him to imagine
that things could talk. There was a long silence and then suddenly the
chair spoke! Quite so whoever heard of a talking papaya?


How the world was made.

Once upon a time there was no sun, no moon, no stars. There was only darkness.
On the first day of the week the piper began to bang his great bass drum like thunder
beating and the mountains appeared, one by one.
On the second day of the week the piper began to play his flute like songbirds singing
and the rivers flowed down the hills and into the sea.
On the third day of the week the piper began to bang his silver cymbals like storm waves
clashing and the forests appeared, flowing like water over the land.
On the fourth day of the week the piper began to play his violin like the wind singing in
the trees and the grasses grew and swept like waves across the earth.
On the fifth day of the week the piper began to strum his guitar like the rhythm of the rain
and with each note a new creature appeared.
On the sixth day of the week the piper began to click his castanets like bony fingers
snapping and man and woman grew in the forest.
On the last day of the week the piper began to sing like a thousand choirs and as the piper
sang the sun, the moon and finally the stars appeared one by one in the great open skies.
So the world began.


Cat, Bramble and Heron.

Once upon a time there were three friends Cat, Bramble and Heron who lived by a lake.
Early one morning they went out to seek their fortune.
First Bramble slithered through the grass but all that he found was a rusty old pot.
Next Cat sneaked along by the wall but all that he found was an old fishbone.
Finally, Heron flew down the road where he spied a pile of gold.
So Heron, Cat and Bramble divided the gold into not one, not two but three bags. Then
they decided to hide their gold.
First, Heron spread out his wings, took the bag in his beak and flew high over the lake.
Unfortunately, he saw his reflection in the water below. He thought that it was his brother
so he called out, Hello, and as soon as he opened his beak, the gold scattered down like
Next, Cat crept along the wall and paused by a small hole. Unfortunately, Mr Mouse
sneaked out and stole Cats gold.
Finally, Bramble slithered along the hedgerows. Unfortunately, a thief sneaked by and
stole Brambles bag of gold.
And that is why to this very day, Cat is still waiting outside Mr Mouses hole.
And that is why to this very day; Bramble snatches and grabs at your legs as you pass by.
And that is why to this very day, Heron is standing still in the water forever staring, still
looking, looking, looking for his lost bag of gold.


Greedy Fox.
Early one morning Mr Fox woke up. He picked up his bag and went out to visit his lady
He walked and walked and he walked till he came to the town pond. There he saw a frog.
Mmmm, he thought, that would make a nice present. So, he grabbed the frog and
popped it into his bag.
He walked and he walked and walked and he walked till he came to the candlestick
makers. He knocked on the door and went straight in.
He said to the candlestick maker, May I leave my bag here while I visit my Uncle?
Of course you can, said the candlestick maker.
Very well, said Mr Fox, but there is one thing while I am gone, mind you dont look
in my bag. Then he walked down the path, turned the corner and disappeared out of
However, the candlestick maker grew curious. He opened the bag and out hopped the
frog! A large brown rat pounced onto the frog and ate it up in one huge gulp.
Unfortunately, at that moment back came Mr Fox. Where is my frog?
Im sorry, said the candlestick maker, I opened up your bag and it hopped out and that
large brown rat ate it up!
Right, said the Fox. Ill have the rat instead. So he grabbed the rat, shoved it into the
bag and off he went.
He walked and he walked and he walked till he came to the bakers. He knocked on the
door and went straight in.
He said to the baker, May I leave my bag here while I visit my Uncle? There is one thing
while I am gone, mind you dont look in my bag. Then he walked down the path, turned
the corner and disappeared out of sight.
However, the baker grew curious. He opened the bag and out shot the rat! It shot out into
the backyard and was chased off by the bakers puppy!
Unfortunately, at that moment back came Mr Fox. Where is my rat?
Im sorry, said the baker, I opened up your bag and it ran out into the backyard. My
puppys chased it off!


Right, said the Fox. Ill have your puppy instead. So he grabbed the puppy, shoved it
into the bag and off he went.
He walked and he walked and he walked till he came to the butchers. He knocked on the
door and went straight in.
He said to the butcher, May I leave my bag here while I visit my Uncle? There is one
thing while I am gone, mind you dont look in my bag. Then he walked down the path,
turned the corner and disappeared out of sight.
However, the butcher grew curious. He opened the bag and out shot the puppy! It ran into
the farmyard and was chased off by a little boy whack, whack!
Unfortunately, at that moment back came Mr Fox. Where is my puppy?
Im sorry, said the little butcher, I opened the bag and it ran out into the farmyard and
my boy chased it off!
Right, said the fox. Ill have . some meat instead. So he grabbed a leg of lamb
that was on the table, shoved it into the bag and off he went.
He walked and he walked and he walked. Before long, one by one the dogs of the town
began to follow him. They could smell the fresh meat in the bag. Soon he had twenty
dogs following him, then thirty dogs, then forty. They began barking at his heels so he ran
and he ran and he ran,
Out of the town, out of the town,
Over the down, over the down,
Across the lea, across the lea,
Down to the sea, down to the sea
And as far as I know Mr Fox is still running to this day,
still chased by that pack of dogs.


The Magic Brush

Long, long ago in China there lived a poor boy called Chang.
Although he loved drawing, Chang was too poor to have a paintbrush so he used a stick.
He would draw in the sand or scratch marks on walls.
Early one morning Chang saw a large, silver fish trapped in the reeds by the riverbank.
The fish was struggling to get free. Because Chang felt sorry for the fish, he helped to
release it.
Later that day Chang was sleeping. In his dream a man dressed in a silver cloak spoke to
him. You are a kind boy Chang. I am giving you a magic brush. Use it to help the poor.
Chang woke with a start and lying beside him was a paintbrush.
So Chang painted the shape of a butterfly and it changed into a real butterfly and flew
away. Chang was amazed with his gift and ran straight back to the village to see how he
could help the poor people.
First, he painted a donkey for the young mother to help her carry her goods. Next he
painted an ox to help the farmer pull his plough. After that he painted a hoe for the old
lady to weed her garden. Everyday he found a new use for the paintbrush.
Unluckily, the emperor heard of Chang and his magic brush. He sent for Chang and
ordered him to paint a field of gold. Chang didnt want to obey the greedy emperor so he
drew a sea with a tiny island in the distance.
Where is my field of gold? shouted the emperor, angrily.
Just here, replied Chang drawing a tiny field on the island.
Paint me a boat so that I can travel to the island, snarled the emperor. So Chang painted
a boat. The emperor climbed onto the boat. Chang drew the north wind blowing towards
the island.
Im going too slowly, roared the emperor. Paint stronger wind.
So Chang drew a storm. Suddenly, the waves grew rougher until the boat capsized and
the emperor disappeared. The Chang drew a white horse so that he could ride home and
tell his friends what had happened to the emperor who wanted too much for himself.


How tortoise got his shell.

Once upon a time the birds did not know how to fly. But one day
crow discovered that if he flapped his wings, he soared high above
the trees.
First he told tiger but tiger just roared!
Next he told elephant but elephant just blew his trumpet!
After that he told giraffe but giraffe just laughed!
Finally he told his friend tortoise who believed him.
So the two friends decided to climb to the top of the mountain to
show all the birds how to fly.
So they climbed and they climbed and they climbed till they came
to the top of the mountain.
First crow jumped off the top and spread his wings so that he
soared high above the clouds.
All the birds cheered noisily!
Then silly old tortoise decided to help his friend so he too jumped
off the top.
At that moment, he realised that he did not have any wings. He
tumbled down and down and down. until he smashed on the
rocks below.
Immediately, all the birds of the air flew down to help tortoise.
And so it is to this very day that you can still see where all the
birds of the air put tortoises shell back together again, piece by

Now once upon a time in the land where icicles grow all summer
there lived a silly miller who boasted to the King that his daughter
Rosalind could spin straw into gold.
So the King put Rosalind into a room at the top of a tall tower and
told her to spin one bale of straw into gold by morning or she
would never see the light of day again.
Sadly, Rosalind cried and cried because she knew that she could
not spin straw into gold.
As soon as she started to cry a little old man appeared who said,
Wipe away your tears, put away your fears, if you give me your
necklace, I will spin the straw into gold.
By next morning the straw was gold.
But the King just gave her not one but two bales of straw to spin
into gold.
Sadly, Rosalind cried and cried because she knew that she could
not spin straw into gold.
As soon as she started to cry a little old man appeared who said,
Wipe away your tears, put away your fears, if you give me your
ring, I will spin the straw into gold.
By next morning the straw was gold.
But the King just gave her not one not two but three bales of straw
to spin into gold.


Sadly, Rosalind cried and cried because she knew that she could
not spin straw into gold.
As soon as she started to cry a little old man appeared who said,
Wipe away your tears, put away your fears if you give me your
first baby I will spin the straw into gold.
By next morning the straw was gold.
Luckily, the King was so pleased with all the gold that he married
After a year a baby boy was born.
That night the little old man appeared to take away the baby.
Rosalind cried and cried because she did not want to lose the baby.
To keep the child, you must guess my name, said the little old
One night later, he appeared but Rosalind could not guess his
Two nights later, he appeared but Rosalind could not guess his
On the third day a woodcutter overheard the little old man singing,
Rosalind will loose this game,
for Rumplestiltskin is my name!
and he told Rosalind.
That night the little old man appeared.
Is your name Zambola?

Never! screamed the little old man.

Is you name Gambobambo?
Never! screamed the little old man.
Then it must be Rumplestiltskin!
Angrily, the little old man stamped and he stamped and he stamped
his foot so hard that he shot through the floor right into the middle
of the earth and was never seen again!
But Rosalind and the King and the baby lived happily ever after.


How Frog became King.

This is the story of how frog became king and this is the way that I
tell it.
In ancient times there was a King who had two sons, a frog and a
Now the king was very old and the time had come to decide who
should become the next king.
His sons were out in the bush
so the king said that whoever arrived home first
would be chosen as the next king.
Im far faster than frog,, said lizard. Hes just a slow coach.
Nobody will want a king who is so slow. So he ran and he ran and
he ran.
Meanwhile frog had a plan. He knew that lizards like hot weather
but frogs like the rain. So he took a branch from the yatkot tree and
croaked a song for the rain.
Rain rain
On little feet pitter patter
Rain rain
On little feet pitter patter
First the thunder rumbled.
Then the wind blew.
Finally the rain poured down.
So, lizard hid in a hole under a rock.
While Lizard was hiding from the rain,
Frog hopped and he hopped and he hopped

all the way to the kings court.

The Kings soldiers blew their trumpets
to welcome the frog who would be king.
As soon as the sun crept out,
Lizard scurried along
as fast as his little legs could carry him.
But it was too late.
That is why to this day
the people of Alur say,
When the frogs are blowing their trumpets,
soon it will rain.


The Magic Drum.

This is a story that the Yoruba people tell in Southern Nigeria and
this is the way that we tell it.
Once upon a time there was a King who owned a magic drum.
Whenever he beat upon the drum it would provide food and drink.
At the first beat enough meat.
At the second beat enough bread.
At the third beat enough fruit.
At the fourth beat enough vegetables.
At the fifth beat enough to drink.
The king used the drum to keep peace.
If anyone was arguing,
he would invite them round,
make them sit right down
and then bang his drum.
At the first beat enough meat.
At the second beat enough bread.
At the third beat enough fruit.
At the fourth beat enough vegetables.
At the fifth beat enough to drink.
Soon everyone forgot about arguing because they were too busy
Now the magic drum had a secret.
If the owner of the drum stepped over a fallen branch
then 300 warriors would appear
and beat everyone in sight!


One day the kings daughter went down to the river.

Tortoise was in a palm tree gathering nuts.
Unfortunately, he dropped a nut onto the ground.
The kings daughter was hungry so she picked up the nut and ate it.
Tortoise was so angry that he went to see the King.
Im sorry, said the King, what can I give you in return?
The King offered Tortoise money, clothes, a goat, some chicken
and even more palm nuts.
But tortoise only wanted one thing. The magic drum.
The king had to agree but he did not tell Tortoise the drums secret.
At first everything went well.
Tortoise invited all his friends round
and they had a party for three days.
I wish you had been there it was WILD!
It was so WILD that tortoise
invited everyone to another party.
Only the King refused the invitation,
saying that he had to tend to his goats.
Unfortunately, Tortoise went for a walk just before the party
and stepped over a fallen branch.
As soon as he banged the drum,
300 warriors appeared
who began to beat everyone.
Everyone ran away.
They all thought that Tortoise had tricked them

into a beating
so he was very unpopular.
In the end, Tortoise gave the drum
back to the King,
back to the rightful owner.


Jack and the Beanstalk.

Once, not twice, but once upon a time there lived a poor widow
who had a son called Jack.
One day she told Jack to sell their cow, Milky-white, at the market.
So Jack walked and he walked and he walked until he met a little
old man.
If you sell me your cow, Ill give you not one, not two but three
magic beans, said the old man.
But when Jack got back home, his mother was furious and she
threw those beans right out of the window.
Early next morning, Jack woke up to find that the beans had grown
into beanstalks, higher than the clouds.
So, he climbed and he climbed and he climbed till at last he
reached the sky. There he found a road and at the end of the road
was a giants castle.
Inside was the giants wife, ugly as a trolls doll.
Quick, hide in the oven. My husband is coming! she whispered,
opening the greasy oven door.
Sure enough, along came the giant with three bags of gold,
thumping, thumping, thumping.
Whats that I smell? he roared.
Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he alive or be he dead,
Ill use his bones to grind my bread!
Luckily, the giant fell asleep,
Snoring like thunder.

Hoping the giant would not catch him,

Jack grabbed the gold,
climbed down the beanstalk and escaped.
Oh, his mother was mightily pleased.
But in the end, the gold ran out so Jack climbed and he climbed
and he climbed till at last he reached the giants castle.
Inside was the giants wife, ugly as a trolls doll.
Quick, hide in the oven. My husband is coming! she whispered,
opening the greasy oven door.
Sure enough, along came the giant with his hen that laid golden
eggs, thumping, thumping, thumping.
Whats that I smell? he roared.
Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he alive or be he dead,
Ill use his bones to grind my bread!
Luckily, the giant fell asleep,
snoring like thunder.
Hoping the giant would not catch him,
Jack grabbed the hen,
climbed down the beanstalk and escaped.
Oh, his mother was mightily pleased.
But in the end, Jack was not content so he climbed and he climbed
and he climbed till at last he reached the giants castle.
Inside was the giants wife, ugly as a trolls doll.
Quick, hide in the oven. My husband is coming! she whispered,
opening the greasy oven door.
Sure enough, along came the giant with his golden harp, thumping,
thumping, thumping.

Whats that I smell? he roared.

Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he alive or be he dead,
Ill use his bones to grind my bread!
Luckily, the giant fell asleep,
snoring like thunder.
Hoping the giant would not catch him,
Jack grabbed the golden harp and began to run.
But the harp called out, Master! Master!
Jack climbed down and down and down
but the ogre followed him.
As soon as Jack reached the bottom,
he called out. Mother, bring me an axe!
As soon as he had the axe in his hands,
Jack chopped the beanstalk not once, not twice but three times.
The ogre felt the stalk shake and quiver
till he began to topple down, down, down to the earth
and the beanstalk came toppling after!
So the ogre broke his crown
and Jack why, he married a princess
and they all lived happily ever after.
Or so they say!
Cric crac
Put that story back
In the old mans sack!


The Poor Boy and the Magical Bird

Once upon a time there was a King and a Queen and their child.
One day the child fell ill.
Everyone was sad
because the doctors could not cure the child.
Why they did not even know
what was wrong!
Now at that time,
there lived a poor shepherd boy.
Why he was so poor that he lived in the hills
with only the sky as a roof,
with only the grass as a bed,
with only his goats for company.
All day he played his flute
and the goats they would dance for him!
One day he was sitting by the waterfall
when a beautiful creature appeared
it was like a small, shimmering ball of light.
He stared at its flickering wings of silver.
Then it spoke.
Shepherd, in a distant valley,
in the farthermost corner of the kingdom
there is a garden
and in that garden
is a tree where the golden blossom never dies
and in that tree there is a magical bird

and to hear that bird sing just one song

would cure anyone.
So the boy and the tiny creature with shimmering wings set out to
walk to the farthermost corner of the kingdom.
They walked and they walked.
They climbed and they climbed.
They crossed the great rivers
and they climbed the great mountains
till in the end, they found the garden
where the tree with golden blossom grew.
But coiled round the tree was a huge dragon.
If the dragon has open eyes
it is asleep so do not be afraid.
But if its eyes are shut then flee,
whispered the creature.
The boy climbed the garden wall
and crept closer, and closer and closer.
The dragon stared at him
with eyes of black glass
that seemed to see right
into his heart.
The boy shivered.
But as its eyes were open,
the boy bit back his fear
and climbed the tree.
hidden amongst the golden blossom

was the magical bird

with feathers of the rainbow.
It tilted its head on one side
and watched the boy.
He put out his hand
and the bird hopped onto his finger.
Then he placed it on his shoulder
and climbed down.
When he reached the bottom,
he let out a sigh of relief.
He glanced at the dragon
and saw that its eyes were closing
- slowly, like windows being pulled down.
So without looking back,
the boy and the bird and the creature
ran and they ran and they ran
they crossed the great rivers
and they climbed the great mountains
till in the end, they came
to the Kings Palace.
Quick, said the King.
Quick, said the Queen.
And the boy placed the bird on the end
of the childs bed
where it ruffled its rainbow feathers
and sang.
How sweetly the bird sang!
Everyone in the city paused
as they heard its song

the butchers, the bakers,

the candlestick makers,
the teacher, the traveller
and even the vagabond
locked in the dungeon.
All heard the song
and felt their hearts lift.
So it was that the child was cured.
The King and the Queen and The child
Lived happily ever after.
And so it was that the shepherd kept the bird
and together they travelled
throughout the land
singing their song.


Monkey see monkey do!

Once upon a time there was a hat seller. My, he had a hat for every occasion
- fancy hats for weddings and broad-brimmed hats to keep the sun from your
One day he was travelling through the forest when his cart hit a stone in the
Unfortunately, all the hats tipped onto the road. As soon as the monkeys in
the trees saw the hats, they swung down and picked them up them as quick
as a click.
First the hat seller yelled at the monkeys but all that the monkeys did was to
jabber back because - what a monkey sees, then a monkey does! That made
the hat seller really cross!
Next the hat seller shook his fist at the monkeys but all that the monkeys did
was to shake their fists back because - what a monkey sees, then a monkey
does! That made the hat seller even crosser!
After that the hat seller picked up a branch and threw it at the monkeys but
all that the monkeys did was to throw sticks back because - what a monkey
sees, then a monkey does! The hat seller realised that he would never get his
hats back!
Sadly, he rubbed his eyes and began to cry but all that the monkeys did was
to rub their eyes and cry because - what a monkey sees, then a monkey does!
Eventually, The hat seller was so fed up that he threw his own hat onto the
ground and stamped on it!
Then he began to push his cart back towards the city - but as he disappeared
up the track, all that the monkeys did was to throw their hats onto the ground
because - what a monkey sees, then a monkey does!
Luckily, the hat seller looked behind him and to his amazement all his hats
were scattered back on the ground.
He looked up into the trees but there was not a monkey to be seen.

Shared Writing.
If teachers are not doing shared writing on a regular basis then
they are not teaching writing.
Many teachers: show a pre-written piece for children to analyse and do no shared
just write openings;
only write a few lines;
work slowly so that the flow of composition dies;
do not focus on what will make the difference;
find it hard to articulate decisions, generate interest or build up a
creative atmosphere;
find it hard to challenge and shape pupils contributions;
find it hard to refer back to the reading model, targets or what will
help children make progress.

Shared Writing
Teachers who struggle with shared writing are not really teaching
writing. It is rather like saying, well I want you to learn how to play
tennis but Im not going to show you or help you. They probably need:
to develop pleasure and confidence in their own ability to write up to
level 5 (key stage 2) or level 3 (key stage 1);
to develop subject knowledge of different text types, how they are
organised and written;
to develop different writerly approaches to use when teaching
different types of writing;
to develop the skills involved in modelling writing , teacher scribing,
supported composition and guided writing;


Shared writing involves teaching whole writing process from reading

as a writer through to teaching gathering ideas, planning, drafting and
Remember that during shared writing, older pupils should use writing
journals to collect words that are not used - and that they can
magpie any interesting ideas or words from other children.
What is Modelling writing?
Modelling writing is sometimes called Demonstration writing.
It is the Blue Peter approach - Ill show you how to write something,
accompanied by a running commentary that explains what is happening
and why.
It should be used for hard things, new things and to show progress.
The teacher:
- demonstrates how to write;
- explains decisions talking like a writer;
- may refer back to any model;
- shows how to move from the plan or brainstorm into writing;
- models thinking, rehearsing sentences, writing and re-reading;
- models polishing sentences or texts;
- keeps up the pace pauses and explains on key points;
- demonstrates specific targets and what makes progress;
- involves the children as critical partners.

What is Teacher Scribing?

Involves the children by drawing on their contributions for writing
words, sentences, ideas.
Shared writing is the next step on from modelling it is now well have
a go together.
The teacher
- scribes on a board in front of the children;
- focuses children on thinking about what needs to be done next check
plan, re-read, use target, refer to model;
- helps children generate lots of ideas and then select the most


sifts contributions challenges if contributions are weak;

maintains pace so that there is a creative buzz;
sets progress challenges, e.g. now to show how he feels, lets try
using an adverb starter;
balances demonstration and childrens contributions.

What is Supported Composition?

Generally children compose on mini whiteboards;

The teacher controls and provides a challenge;
Sentences or mini paragraphs may be demonstrated and then imitated;
Contributions are used to make teaching points about impact;
The focus is usually upon a specific aspect that will help children make
Often what is composed can be shared with a response partner and
polished to be used in a future piece of writing;
This practice is the bridge from the teacher writing into the children
writing but is still focused and controlled by the teacher so that the
children are imitating or rehearsing an aspect of writing.

What is Guided Writing?

Involves a small group who are at the same level.

Children are taught what they need to make progress.
Teacher or TA can secure and ensure that children make progress.

Adult guides children into thinking for themselves what they need to
do in order to plan, write, or revise and make progress.
May involve modelling or teacher scribing by adult followed by
children trying for themselves with the adult overseeing that
progress is being made.
With younger children there may be occasions when the pen is shared
and they help with the transcribing.
With mature writing the focus is on developing composition.

Teachers should remember not to become invisible and trapped with a

group the occasional dash round the room can help to keep the pot


Independent writing.
Set very clear expectations/ targets.
Re-read good models just before children start writing.
Pause for progress check, reminders, hear examples that you have
Ask children to identify strengths/areas for improvement, where
targets have been used, progress made.
Response partnering has to be taught and developed;
Discuss what makes effective writing with the whole class in pairs
before individual polishing for publishing.
There are many underlying writerly skills that have to be made explicit
during shared writing of any sort, e.g.

First thought not always the best thought;

Generate lots of ideas and then choose;
Try ideas out in your head or mutter aloud and choose the best;
Never waste a good word always try and fit it in;

Make word lists, jot down ideas and save them up to use in your
Keep re-reading to check for accuracy;

Keep re-reading to check youve not used a weak word or clumsy

phrasing be your own critic;
Re-read a sentence to help you make the next one up;

Try to see what you are writing about in your head;

Keep checking the plan + any targets or checklists;
Put in the challenge to demonstrate progress;
Look back at the model be ready to imitate patterns;

Think about the effect you want to create and then how to achieve
Draw upon ideas from your reading;

Write reasonably quickly and concentrate to get into a writing flow;

If you get stuck leave that bit leave a space and move onto another
part or go back to the plan.

Always read your writing aloud to see and hear how it sounds;
Be ready to polish and improve.
Year 3/4 Story Making Language Bank
Once upon a time
One day
Early one morning
After/a while
At that moment

Soon/as soon as
.. until/till
In the end

without warning

.. who ..
.. while ..
.. when ..
.. that ..
.. to ..
.. or ..

Run (he walked and he walked ..)

Description, eg a lean, grey cat
How starter, eg Slowly,
Where starter, eg At the end of the lane ..
Alliteration and similes
sentence of 3 for description, e.g. He wore a red cloak, shiny shoes and a tall hat.

ing clause starter, eg Running along, Tim tripped over.
drop in ing clause, eg Tim, running along, tripped over.
drop in who clause, eg Tim, who was late, tripped over.
short sentences, questions, exclamations
plus speech verb/adverb


Year 5/6/7 Story Making Language Bank

Once upon a
One day
Early one
After/a while
At that

Without warning
As/Soon/as soon as
.. until/till
Eventually/Finally/In the end

eg Early
one frosty

.. who .. .. while ..
.. when .. .. that ..
.. to .... or ..

Run (he walked and he walked ..)

Description, eg a lean, grey cat
How starter, eg Slowly,
Where starter, eg At the end of the lane ..
ing clause starter, eg Running along, Tim tripped over.
drop in ing clause, eg Tim, running along, tripped over.
drop in who clause, eg Tim, who was late, tripped over.
short sentences, questions, exclamations, sentence of 3 for description.
plus speech verb/adverb
Alliteration and similes

* ed clause starter, eg Exhausted, Tom ran home.
*drop in ed clause, eg Tim, exhausted by so much effort, ran home.
*sentence of 3 for action, eg Tim ran home, sat down and drank his tea.
*speech plus stage direction ing clause, Stop, he whispered, picking up his tea.


Adventure at Sandy Cove - possible process.

1. Get to know the story well.
Listen to news bulletin about robbery Bring in the box!
Read model through and box it up into 5 basic scenes + draw map.
Comprehension discussion, questions, etc.
Listen to and reread story as many times as possible.
Hot seat characters.
Interview on t.v. writing in role newspaper report
Characters writing in role diary entry, letter..
In pairs - retell.
2. Box it up and make a toolkit.
Create writing toolkit section by section text marking and annotation.
3. Prepare to write.
Photo local place where adventure could take place annotate.
Use the toolkit to model planning simple story mountain or map.
Tell and retell own story.
Shared writing - section by section over a week + independent writing section by
section taking note of teachers feedback.
1. Polish, publish or perform.
Demonstrate how to improve writing response partnering.
Make little story books or video story telling/reading
Underpinning: Daily practice of spelling and sentence work on mini whiteboards.
Checklist for an Adventure based on Adventure at Sandy Cove.


a. Basic Plot Pattern.

Build up

Finding something precious.

Chased by a villain.
Hiding from the villain.

b. Paragraph Toolkit.
Story Opening

Open with one character speaking

Two friends in a setting
They find something precious
Adverb starter, e.g. Anxiously,.
Question, e.g. what was it?
Exclamation it was full of money!

Build up.

Dramatic connective, e.g. Just then, at that moment

Bring on a villain
In chase use powerful verbs, e.g. rushed, leaped, dashed, pounded, thudded


Hide your characters

Show how they feel, e.g. she froze!
Use dramatic connectives, e.g. unfortunately, suddenly
Use powerful verbs for hiding, e.g. crouch, duck down, squeeze into


Dramatic connectives at that moment, all at once

Get rid of villain
Escape use powerful verbs, e.g. rushed, leaped, dashed, pounded, thudded


Ending connective, e.g. finally, in the end, later on

Show how the characters feel.