Herts Primary English teaching & learning resources for KS1 & KS2: weekly digest, vol 7

    Published: 03 June 2020
    Girl reading book


    Welcome to June and the 7th edition of our weekly roundup of primary English teaching and learning suggestions. This series of weekly blogs is made up of contributions from across our team in an effort to share a selection of ideas and resources that have a degree of looseness, allowing for adaptation for the classroom or for use in home learning. We are keen to respect and acknowledge the critical, irreplaceable role of the teacher in selecting and shaping the content that is best placed to meet the particular needs of their children.  

    We would love to hear any feedback that might help us to develop or adapt our own output here. Please do feel free to send in your comments or suggestions – you can use the email at the bottom of this blog or via Twitter (@HertsEnglish). Happy reading!


    Love That Book


    Across this series, we aim to offer up a number of whole school reading and writing opportunities for you to use with the children currently at school, or to pass on for exploration at home. These ideas can be delivered in class or adapted for use in the home setting. Enjoy!

    This week’s whole-school book recommendation is:


    By Libby Walden

    Illustrated by Richard Jones

    Published by Little Tiger Press, 2016




    You can read more about Feelings and the work of illustrator Richard Jones.

    What a timely text, which explores a range of emotions and could help normalise everyone’s own responses to life’s ups and downs. The peep-through format follows a single character through the book and through all sorts of feeling. Colour and layout offer so much opportunity for rich discussion, and looking at recognising what each emotion looks like in differing contexts and for different characters. This book will be extremely useful for children, especially those with difficulties in understanding feelings, expressions and themselves, or simply to unite your classes in acceptance and empathy.

    We feel that the book’s blurb sums it up rather nicely: ”What you feel is who you are…”,




    Suggested activities include:

    • Add speech bubbles to the characters and animals throughout the book. What might they be saying to each other? What might they be thinking?
    • Write some ‘friendship’ instructions: How to ask someone to play with you; How to be a really good friend; etc
    • Write some free verse using a sentence starter such as: “I feel happy when…”
    • Write a structured poem using opposite emotions, e.g. “I feel lonely when…I feel I belong when…”. These could be linked by the conjunction ‘but’.
    • Create an acrostic poem stemming from a single emotion, e.g.:






    • Explore associations for different feelings: does a particular feeling make you think of a particular time?  Or a place?  Do you think of certain colours when you think of certain emotions? Which colours match which emotions? Why? 
    • Explore other available picture books: what feelings do the characters seem to have?  How do you know? How can you tell by looking at the character?  What other clues are there in the picture?  Explore both the situation and the emotions and consider writing in role as the chosen character in the form of a diary or a letter to a friend.
    • Using the emotions cards in the Caterpillar Books resource below, sort these first  into positive and negative feelings. Explore synonyms for some of the emotions and explore the degree of intensity of each word, for example: what is stronger in feeling, being scared or being terrified?  Generate word lists and then put them in order of intensity. Explore different scenarios that might lead you to feel the different strengths represented by the words.  These can be turned into sentences  I might feel happy when I am eating a lovely ice cream in the sun, but I feel joyful when I am on a rollercoaster!

    The publishers have kindly provided this lovely additional resource sheet.




    If you want to further explore emotions in picture books, you might want to look at Happy by Mies Van Hout.  This is a deceptively simple book.


    Fish Book


    On a black background, various fish, exemplifying various feelings, are depicted in such a way as to give clues to their emotional states. The publishers have produced teaching notes containing a range of follow up activities.


    Keeping Creative


    The following offer a range of suggestions for engaging activities that children can enjoy, with some opportunities for speaking, reading and writing to be part of children’s imaginative play. Our intention is for these ideas to support teachers and parents whilst many children are at home or in mixed-age classes at school during this difficult time. We hope that these activities provide some much needed fun, as well as opportunities for speaking, reading and writing to be developed through children’s imaginative play.

    Cardboard houses (Always watch out for cardboard cuts - wow, do they hurt!)


    Cardboard House


    • Explore, by deconstructing, a range of cardboard packages: how they are made, stuck together and shaped, etcetera.
    • Talk about the kinds of 2 dimensional shapes needed to make the 3D shapes, for example rectangle, triangle
    • Look carefully at where the tabs are sticking out, or flaps are over-lapping, to enable parts to be stuck together
    • Open out a large cereal box and use the plain inside face to draw out your own ‘house net’, remembering to allow for tabs for sticking the sides together
    • Have fun creating a street of houses, a tower-block of flats, an overhanging Tudor house, a village…
    • Write some instructions for how to make one.  Remember to plan so that all of the steps are in a sensible, easy-to-follow order. Have you made your instructions clear enough?  Why not test them on a friend or family member?

    You can find more ideas relating to nets and 3D shapes on the Maths Salamanders website


    Paper Models


    Making natural dyes




    • Explore different things that can be mixed with water to make ‘paint’: instant coffee granules, red onion skin, tea, brown onion, carrot, beetroot, lemon, spinach, bark, roots, flower heads, (yellow middles of daisies), soil, etc. Read about these through researching on the internet.
    • Experiment with making shades of the same pigment – how much is needed to make it darker/lighter? Keep a record of trials and quantities.
    • Try combining colours to make new colours – are there any that you cannot make?
    • Film your own version of a children’s programme for how to make these.  You will need to write a script with directions.  How are you going to encourage your audience to give your ideas a go?  Do you need to warn them of the potential for making a mess, and how to avoid this?  Don’t be afraid to be very enthusiastic in talking about your favourite concoctions!
    • Create your own artwork with the results of your experiments in colour creation.
    • More instructions here

    Newscaster ‘on the box’




    • Find a large cardboard box and take some time to make into a ‘TV’ (if no cardboard box is available, try using sheets draped around a dining chair as a ‘frame’)
    • Write a script for news of the day around the house. Try to keep this light-hearted, e.g. in Breaking News someone picked up the wet towel from the bathroom floor today, etc
    • How about expanding your role as a TV network controller.  Create a dream TV schedule, with timings and brief ‘blurbs’
    • Turn your home-made TV into a puppet theatre/stage using own dolls, teddies, animals etc.


    Really Saying Something


    Each week we will celebrate and support the power of the spoken word through carefully chosen prompts to support children’s language development through discussion – offering opportunities for listening, contemplation, turn-taking, forming thoughts and putting these into words, or simply having fun with language.


    Speech Bubble


    Amazing times…amazing people

    These truly are amazing times and there are plenty of amazing people. Why not try a different talking prompt for each day of the week:

    • If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
    • Who should be given a prize and why?
    • What is the world’s best invention? What might have happened without it?
    • If any object could be made shrinkable so it could fit in your pocket, what would it be and why?
    • If you could persuade anyone to take you anywhere, who would they be and where would you go? Why? 

    To support further discussion, you may wish to explore and talk about some  books that provide links to themes that are likely to emerge. The following list :

    • ‘Ada Twist, Scientist’ by Andrea Beaty (if you haven’t already, you may wish to read this earlier blog in the series that offers further ideas for this invigorating book)
    • ‘Rosie Revere, Engineer’ by Andrea Beaty
    • ‘Supertato’ by Sue Hendra
    • ‘When I Grow Up’ by Jon Hales
    • ‘Insect Superpowers: 18 Real Bugs that Smash, Zap, Hypnotize, Sting, and Devour!’ by Kate Messner


    What's in a Word


    This week’s suggestions to power up our ways with words.

    Word ladder

    Can you find your way from ‘mess’ to ‘pack’ by changing just one letter at a time, using the clues given? The first one has been done for you.



    Word ladder




    How many words can you make from the letters given in the grid below? You can only use each letter once in each new word.

    Can you find a secret 9-letter word? There is more than one!


    Word grid


    Answer to 9-letter word:



    Food for thought


    Each week, we recommend our favourite books, podcasts and blogs for continuous professional development. Most of our recommendations focus on developing subject knowledge for English but we will recommend material that relates to teaching and learning on a wider basis as and when we are awe-struck by the pearls of wisdom on offer.

    This week’s recommended blogs/podcast





    Follow the link to access literacy podcasts from ground-breaking researchers from around the world on hot topics such as decoding, vocabulary, fluency and prosody…amongst many others. Strangely accessible despite the depth of subject matter, there is a wealth of material to sit back and listen to.  This podcast offers a level of insight into specific aspects of English that makes it an essential site to subscribe to or bookmark.





    This link will take you to a fabulous treasure trove of resources, ideas and even micro CPD film clips on Early Years oracy development. Try out the ‘Bumps to Bairns’ (EY) section, ‘Equality & Diversity picture books’ teaching ideas, early reading and phonics section and fluency resources…to name but a few.   There is so much here to help our youngest learners make a flying start to their literacy journey. Very highly recommended.


    Other news


    Science and reading

    We are going back in time a little to April (remember April?) in order to share this brief article that you may well have missed. Looking at the appeal of causality in children’s books,Little scientists: Children prefer storybooks that explain why and how things happen (Frontiers, 15.04.20) shares some tentative findings relating to the role that children’s interests in causality might have in reading choices:

    “Children have a never-ending curiosity about the world around them and frequently question how and why it works the way it does. Researchers have previously demonstrated that children are interested in causal information, but had not yet linked this to a real-world activity, such as reading. A new study finds that children prefer causally-rich storybooks, suggesting that such content may be more engaging and could help to increase children's interest in reading.”

    Trauma-informed teaching

    We might have placed this entry in amongst our recommended CPD selections, but we felt that this was more of a timely recommendation. A crash course on trauma-informed teaching, with Angela Watson offers quick-to-access guidance on this most sensitive and important topic. Here you will hear more along the following lines:

    “Trauma-informed teaching is not a curriculum, set of prescribed strategies, or something you need to “add to your plate.” It’s more like a lens through which you choose to view your students which will help you build better relationships, prevent conflict, and teach them effectively.”

    Drawing things to a close…




    Our final share of this week’s edition is the Book Trust’s hometime page a site offering even more wonderful book-based activities to carry out at home (or perhaps during wet play as seems to be on the cards).  What drew (pardon the pun) our attention here?  A firm favourite illustrator, Emily Gravett, sharing some of those winning illustrative skills and enabling us all to make a decent stab at drawing wolves. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading some of Emily’s very fine books, watch the video, be persuaded, and then perhaps seek out the various pleasures of Tidy, Monkey and Me, or the classics Meerkat Mai, and The Rabbit Problem.  There is plenty more to explore within the Book Trust site.  Once you have mastered Gravett’s wolves, perhaps you might turn your hand to Ed Vere’s Grumpy Frog.

    That’s all for this week. Welcome to June and the joys of summer book-sharing.

    Thank you for reading. Keep safe; stay well read.

    Primary English

    Herts for Learning Primary English team


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