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Language and Communication Be aware that writing can convey meaning  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


To become aware that writing can convey meaning.

Early years skill:Writing
Early years typical range:40-60+m
P-scales/Nat. Curriculum skill:English Writing
P-scales/Nat. Curriculum level:P8
TAP skill:Writing
TAP level:TAP48
Section:Early Years (0-5yrs) info; Primary (5-11yrs) info

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Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Writing a list to go shopping and pretending to use money

Stories that involve going shopping, e.g. The Shopping Basket by John Burningham.

Real food/plastic food/pictures of food.

A clear label for each piece of food.

Notebooks and pencils.

Pretend toy till and money if easily available but not essential (optional).

Hats/dressing up clothes and bags for shopping (optional).

1. Read stories about children who are going shopping.

2. Explain that when we put the hats/dressing up clothes on we will be pretending to be getting ready to go shopping/be the shop keeper.

3. Model what you want the child/children to do. Put a hat or other dressing up clothes on. Ask the child/children to help you to choose 2 of the foods you are going to buy from the shop.

4. Tell the children you are going to write a shopping list to help you to remember. As you write the objects down, say the name of the item then exaggerate the sounds within the words e.g.

r-i-ce, ch-ee-se.

5. Show the children your list and read it back to them.

6. Choose a child to be the shopkeeper. Go to the shop and 'buy' your 2 things. Pretend you have forgotten what to buy so you need to read your list to remind you.

7. Take off your hat/dressing up clothes. The child/children dress up and write down at least 2 of the things they want to buy from the shop in their notebook. They can copy from the labels.

8. Child/children go to the 'shop' and 'read' what they want from their notebook to the shopkeeper and then 'buy' it using plastic or pretend money.

This could be at the beginning of the session or you could make sure that you have read stories on the days preceding the session so the children are familiar with the idea of shopping lists. The activity is designed for pupils who may have missed early play/writing experiences and may work better in a group.

You will need to be comfortable with the room you are working in. It could be a classroom or a group room, depending on the circumstances.

Don't worry if the words you are writing are too 'difficult' for them to write at this stage. The important thing is for the children to have a go.

This activity links reading and writing activities for the children.

You can use toy or pretend money and just 'exchange' the coins for the shopping or you could involve some basic maths (each item costing 1p or 2p) depending on the ability of the pupil or group.

Encourage the child/children to say the word and write down any sounds they hear in it. Don't worry about correcting their spelling at this stage. Make the activity fun.

Next time you do this activity you can ask them to choose something that is not labelled and have a go at writing it.

See 'Writing simple sentences using key words' (below).

Write simple sentences using the key words 'I' and 'like'

2 white cards with the words 'I' and 'like' written on them and 1 piece of card with 'I like' written on it.

Whiteboard or individual books made with 2 sheets of A4 paper folded in half.



Pictures of food that can be cut up e.g. from magazines.

It would help the child if you had made a little book in advance to show.

This activity could be used in a 1-1 or in a small group setting.

Encourage them to take care as they will be reading these books to others when they are finished.

Emphasise using finger spaces between words if necessary.

Some children may have underdeveloped motor skills and may need adapted scissors or assistance in cutting.

Use prewritten labels for words and encourage the children to say the whole word and listen for the sounds in it when writing.

This project could take one or several sessions to complete depending on the needs of the group. It could be followed up with another book, e.g. about animals or games.

See also Clicker for sentence construction activities.


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