Tag Archives: Makaton

Instructions… Talk for Writing Style

Contributed by Miss Marriott

To complement Year Two’s topic ‘Superheroes’, I decided to look for a Superhero book that would be suitable for my intervention group. Luckily for me, ‘How to be a Superhero’ By Rachel Yu was suggested by the Deputy Head Teacher to use as an extended instructional text. From beginning to end, this book ignited the children’s enthusiasm and provided the children with enrichment of language and vocabulary – providing plenty of opportunity for the children to ‘Magpie’.

To ‘Tune into the Text’, the children labelled different features from a set of instructions. Once the children identified key features, I displayed the labelled instructions (below) for the children to refer back to.

Instructions 1

To consolidate instructional features, again, I followed Pie Corbett and Julia Strong’s ‘Imitation, Innovation and Independent Application’. I provided the children with an instructional text map – How to Cook a Magical, Flying Ointment. I taught the children actions to the text maps, allowing them to internalise the language.

Instructions 2

To consolidate instructional language further, using a ‘Boxed up’ planning method, I displayed ‘What a good one looks like’ on the washing line in the study area.

Instructions 3

From here, the children innovated their own set of instructions and applied independent application.

‘Makaton in Talk for Writing’ – By Fiona McGonagle

I first came across Fiona McGonagle on Twitter when following the hashtag for #TMDenton. After discovering that Fiona planned to do a presentation on Makaton and Talk for Writing, and being disappointed that I was unable to attend myself, I stalked Fiona on Twitter in order to find out as much as possible about this concept.

Fiona McGonagle

Fiona is a bunde of energy and enthusiasm (and a huge asset to her school). She very generously created a video to inspire Leamore staff and also wrote the following post:

I am very pleased to share with you our school’s journey with Makaton and how it is used in my class to support Talk for Writing. Our journey began in January 2013 when some staff members (including myself) went on some Makaton training. Since then, we could not be silenced! Soon, all members of staff went on the training and Makaton is now used throughout the school to aid communication for our more vulnerable learners.

One experience (that will forever touch my heart) is when a little girl came to my class in year 4 and I realised that she could not read. She had one-to-one support with an amazing teaching assistant and had intervention after intervention, still nothing seemed to connect. We then introduced Makaton with her and taught her some signs for key words. After that, she flourished. After a matter of weeks, she could read her first book containing 12 key words. After 6 months she had read her 7th book meaning she could read over 80 key words. Now she is in year 5 and continues to progress. That alone told me that Makaton works.

Our children love learning new signs which help them to learn internal structures of texts as well as helping them understand what the words mean to them. I have included a short video of how Makaton is used in my class and in our singing assemblies which take place weekly. I hope it will inspire you to use Makaton as much it has inspired our school!

Please visit our schools website where you can also access our class blogs! http://www.westmorlandprimary.co.uk/

Fiona McGonagle

Twitter: @missmcgonagle

Thank you very much for sharing your experiences with us Fiona!

(Y2) Traction Man Meets Turbo Dog

By Miss Marriott

Developing language is currently a main focus – so using ‘Traction Man Meets Turbodog’ By Mini Grey, has been an effective, engaging book – full of brilliant vocabulary.


To internalise the text, I taught the children how to retell the story using Makaton signs. I have recently received Makaton training  and this is something I thoroughly enjoyed  – so why not learn to retell stories using it? Additionally, I used Makaton symbols for my Storyboard and Story Map. Using the same signing system and drawing the same symbols throughout school, I believe, will increase consistency.

As you will see I’m developing my knowledge of Makaton symbols so not every picture is a Makaton symbol.



Here I am retelling the story of Traction Man and Turbo Dog using Makaton:

This video shows a group of Year two children retelling the story using Makaton:

Check out these Story Maps created by the children to ‘Immerse’ the story.

Story Map 1

Story Map 2

Story Map 4

Knowing the objectives were speech and synonyms for the word ‘said’, I stumbled upon this fantastic activity by clairelotriet.com – using www.ifaketext.com to create a Text Message dialogue. Bringing a familiar messaging system into the classroom, instantly grabbed their attention. I told the children Traction Man had text me, asked if we had seen Scrubbing Brush, having a two way conversation. I challenged the children to think about different words for ‘said’ – which they linked to the speech bubbles. Later using the vocabulary for independent writing.

Here is the two way conversation!

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 21.21.19

Here is some of the work the children produced:

Text 1

Text 2

Silhouette 1

Silhouette 2

Story 3