Tag Archives: Speaking & Listening

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.

(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

Conversation Station

We first came across the idea of a ‘Conversation Station’ when several of us attended  Communication and Language training delivered by Eileen Swan. In this post, Sarah Johnson (our Nursery teacher) shares how she has implemented a conversation station in her classroom.Conversation Station

In Nursery, we have developed our very own Conversation Station. We implemented the Conversation Station in order to ensure that high quality, meaningful, consistent conversations would occur within Nursery. The Conversation Station ensures that the children have the opportunity to talk, get feedback on their language, and have appropriate language modelled for them by an adult.

Our conversation consists of a tent, with two comfortable beanbags and key vocabulary from current and previous topics. The vocabulary cards are regularly used to stimulate discussion when children find it difficult to think of a topic to talk about.

The conversation station provides a ‘private’ space within the classroom, in which a child and adult can have a conversation without any interruptions. The Nursery environment doesn’t always provide the opportunity for children to have time talking one on one with adults about a topic of their choice, something that the Conversation Station now provides. It is also beneficial for those children that lack confidence when speaking in front of small groups as they are provided with this much needed one on one contact time.

When in the conversation station with an adult, the children are encouraged to demonstrate their speaking and listening skills. It also provides the platform for adults to model effective conversation skills. The adult can also take this opportunity to introduce new vocabulary and ask questions to extend responses. The language rich environment, achieved from the key vocabulary cards, also provides the children with the chance to demonstrate their knowledge of letters and sounds. Once the conversation has finished, the adult records a quick note of who they were talking with, the topic and any other relevant information e.g. the child used a range of vocabulary relating to the farm. This record is then used to inform planning and assessment.

In Nursery we have noticed a significant improvement in the children’s conversation skills since implementing the Conversation Station. We have also noticed that the children are very keen and eager to visit the Conversation Station, and often ask adults to spend time in there with them. It is a fantastic addition to our classroom that encourages progress in the areas of: communication and language; literacy; and personal, social and emotional development. 

By Sarah Johnson, Nursery Teacher

The following ‘Conversation Record’  has been adapted from a resource created by Eileen Swan.

Eileen shared the following background reading.