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Day 55 - The Garden (creative ideas for home schooling)

For anyone new to this blog, the idea is simple - each day my boys (Joshua - 9 and Archie - 8) choose a stimulus that drives the learning. We hope that you enjoy the blog and can take some inspiration from what we love doing - making learning as engaging as possible!


The Garden

One of the things I love about England is the stunning nature and countryside. I find it hard to be amazed by man-made structure but love taking in the world's natural beauty. Being in lockdown, I have learnt to appreciate the immediacy of this - the garden. Today's blog is about observing closely and describing with accuracy.



  • Settings description

  • Observing and describing

  • Using the senses

  • Sounds and imagery

It is ironic that the one day we decide to describe the garden, it is raining...pouring in fact.

However, this helped us tune into working with the Talk for Writing settings toolkit in a more creative manner. For those of you unfamiliar with these toolkits, they form part of a whole school progression document in the core areas of narrative. You can find them all in Creating Storytellers and Writers.

A truthful, accurate vision is so important when describing settings. It is important that we teach children to focus in and look at the detail. They need to observe and take note of what is all around them. This is why children write best about settings they have lived and breathed - the writing is more truthful and realistic.

To encourage the boys to put this into action, they began by staring out of the window, explaining what they could see.

We then brainstorming the words we would need for our short-burst writers. These included, prepositions, adjectives, nouns and verbs.

We then discussed the tools and I modelled how to create a short paragraph putting these in context. The tools were:

  • Show the setting through the character's eyes

  • Bring the setting to life, mirroring the mood of the setting (personification)

  • Show the MC's reaction to the setting

  • Develop the picture by layering the detail in a pattern of 3

Jack gazed through the window at the garden that rested outside. All around him, lush leafy trees swayed in the gentle breeze. He sighed. There was nothing to do inside and he longed to be amongst nature. Peaceful daffodils danced, the carpet of grass waited and a chorus of birdsong spiralled through the air.

Then the boys wrote about their own observations:

Archie peered through the window to see the amazing sights. On top of the Wendy house. a plump pigeon perched, waiting to attack. Archie's eyes widened. He couldn't believe what he was watching. All around him, spiky stinging nettles stretched, beautiful bird feeders swayed and greedy grass gulped the rain.

I looked through the window and saw the amazing sight. Surrounding the house, trees swayed in the gentle breeze. I let out a yawn. There was nothing to do, nothing to say. I wanted to go outside. An old, broken fence cracked, a rusty sprinkler screeched and shuddered, and a silver pigeon pranced along the patio.

Building the toolkits bit by bit ensures that children understand the purpose and effect that the tools have within the paragraph. Whilst this is highly scaffolded, it helps them to practise the skills in context, draw on the grammar and also develop confidence in sentence structure and using vocabulary.


If you are enjoying this blog, please do share it and spread the word. Thank you to all of you who have got in touch and shared some of the outcomes from what you have tried - we love to hear from you.

Do tune in tomorrow, where we exploring:

Ice Cream

My thanks to Pie Corbett, Julia Strong and the Talk for Writing team for inspiring many of the ideas explored in this blog.

This blog is copyright. All materials herein, texts and supporting resources are copyright to Jamie Thomas & Talk for Writing. They may be used to support children/staff/parents in home-learning ONLY and not for commercial gain or for training or sharing widely, in their original form or any variations. They must also not be shared online or on any social media platforms without prior permission.

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Nick Gerrish
Nick Gerrish
Jun 30, 2020

Love this one, J. Will definitely give this a go next year.

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