Updated: Jan 3, 2021
This blog is designed to offer creative ideas that you can take back and try at home or in the classroom. It was born out of the time I spent educating my own boys over lockdown and aims to make the teaching and learning of English as engaging as possible!
One of my favourite memories of lockdown was the daily blog I got to create with my three boys. Seeing them ignite with enthusiasm and a passion for writing was an absolute dream. I would be lying to say that I do not miss it.
Each day through lockdown, my boys challenged me with a new exciting stimulus to inspire our writing. You can look back at all 67 of the stimuli we explored in previous blog posts. The idea was not only to support them in developing their own creativity, but also to support teachers and parents to generate ideas for home learning. The response was amazing and we were overwhelmed by the generous comments and followers across the world.
One teacher who really engaged with the blog was Miss Twaite from William Cobbett Primary School in Surrey. I therefore felt honoured to help her with some new and creative ideas around her topic 'Mighty Metals', linked to her class story The Iron Man. Earlier today, Miss Twaite wrote to me to share all of her children's outcomes. I would like to thank her and the children for their amazing work - it is such a joy to read and an even bigger joy to share. I hope that this may be a great portal for us to continue to develop innovative ideas to fuel the information and help children fall in love with writing.
The brief was relatively straight forward - to create some innovative short-burst writing lessons that explore language and extend simple sentence construction for a Y3 class. Never has short-burst writing been such an essential tool to help build confidence in children. The very premise is that it allows us to contextualise grammar, punctuation and spelling in a short, purposeful piece of writing. I have always found that children love it and the outcomes are always fantastic. Where stamina may be lacking at the moment, this style of writing helps motivate and develop the core writing skills.
Lesson 1: Using a Word Waiter to bring inanimate objects to life (personification)
A Word Waiter is a co-constructed list, determined by category. The idea is to co-construct lists to help activate dormant vocabulary and bring it to the forefront of the children's mind. These lists can then be served up like a menu, offering choice and possibility. The joy is that this promotes creativity and imagination - it breaks cliché.
What to do:
First, make a list of things in the world that are metal, e.g. bridges, scissors, swords, etc.
Then make a list of verbs (actions) that humans do, e.g. skip, tiptoe, sleep, etc.
After that, combine the ideas into simple sentences and make fun poetical lists.
The World of Metal
The bridge lets out a deep sigh.
The telegraph poles shiver.
Electricity cables hum in harmony.
Streetlights wink and blink.
A park bench huddles on the grass.
A muddy spade lazes out in the sunshine.
Door handles bow.
Scissors tiptoe and tango.
Staples scuttle across a crowded desk.
Here is Miss Twaite's shared writing, followed by the children's outcomes:
A silver sword sat in the comfy chair.
The shiny tin cans slept in their cosy bed.
The drawing pins hopped across the hard floor.
The lamppost stood to attention at the side of the road.
The Golden Gate Bridge lay breathing over the water.
The alarm clock ran into the classroom.
My hair clips shivered in my bedroom.
The fridge shouted in the dark kitchen.
The board shouted across the tables.
My microwave sighed between the drawers.
The blue bike rolled down the mountain.
The silver scooter hopped in the playground.
The cutlery shouted across the table.
The oven screamed through the tunnel.
The fan whistled in the house.
The metal stool jumped in the sky.
Freya and Jayden
The Golden Gate Bridge stood over the big, wide river.
The Space Needle stood tall nearly into space.
The silver sword sat on the super, comfortable sofa.
The Eiffel Tower stood like a soldier standing straight.
Harriet and Lily
The drawing pin stood up like toy soldier.
The chair leg is as strong as a metal bar.
The whiteboard lazed across the bed.
The table leg shivered in the cold wind.
Ella and Amelie
The fridge stood in the dark waiting for a light.
The bike flashed in the blue sky.
The watch laughed in the corner of the cupboard.
The zip giggled across the town.
Evelyn and Jackson
A metal water bottle stood on the long, shiny table,
A metal plate was lying down beside me
A metal zip laughed on a pencil case
A metal tag stared at the blue dolphin
Tara and Sophia
My microwave waved at me across the road.
My hair clip sang in the playground.
The drawing pins tiptoed across the path.
The silver sword slept on the rug.
Harry and Lewis
The Golden Gate Bridge lay across the shiny blue water.
The zip of my bag shouted across the room at me.
The silver, shiny sword sat in the arm of a brave knight.
The black tall chair stood under my feet.
Lesson 2: Riddles
Riddles are great fun and are a great way to practise simple sentence construction. We sometimes forget the importance of hammering in the 'non-negotiables' in writing. Short-burst writing not only allows us to develop rich tools around language, it also allows us to focus in on key elements of transcription and grammatical accuracy.
What to do:
First, choose something that is metal, e.g. the Eiffel Tower
Then make a list of all of its properties, e.g. tall, strong, iconic, adored, French, etc.
Finally, craft a list of cryptic clues, slowly hinting at what the object is but being careful not to give it away too early.
I am extremely tall.
I am strong and mighty.
I look over the world below.
I have four legs.
I have many supports and stanchions.
I can be climbed or ascended.
I am looked upon with adoration.
People come from miles to see me.
What am I?
I am the Eiffel Tower
Here are some of the shared writing creations from Miss Twaite's class:
I am extremely sharp.
I am strong and pointy.
I hold things to walls.
I have a flat, smooth top.
I can be brightly coloured or silver.
I make people cry when they stand on me!
I am a drawing pin.
I am the shape of a packet of biscuits.
I have little ridges all down my tummy.
I have a hole at one end.
A can opener is my friend.
I can be sharp.
I hold yummy food inside of me.
I am a tin can.
I twist like a fidget spinner.
I turn like the clock hands.
I open doors into magical worlds.
I am golden yellow.
A key is a close friend of mine.
I am a door handle.
I am noisy when I get stuck.
I squeak like a shopping trolley’s wheel.
I am bright like the shining sun.
I open and close pencil cases.
I get stuck in your pocket…sometimes.
I am a zip.
My thanks to Miss Twaite and the Year 3 children at William Cobbett Primary School for their wonderful writing, passion and enthusiasm.
I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading this blog. If you have a great idea you would like to share, or would like inspiration for a short-burst writing idea that could become a new blog, please do not hesitate to get in touch. As my 4 year old constantly reminds me - sharing is caring.
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.