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Language and Communication Leaves spaces between words in own writing  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


Spaces between words - identify words as separate units.

Early years skill:Writing
Early years typical range:40-60+m
P-scales/Curriculum skill:English Writing
P-scales/Curriculum level:P8
TAP skill:Writing
TAP level:TAP48
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
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
Counting the number of spoken words

Packet of counters

Board with six square boxes - in a horizontal grid

Lists of short phrases and sentences

e.g. from 'Sound Linkage' (P. Hatcher, available from ) p.21

help me (2)

she shouted (2)

I can't get down (4)

1. Place the counters and board on the table.

2. Ask the child to tell you a word (any word at all) then together add more examples of single words

3. Tell the child that you will now say two or more words in a row, which they will have to repeat and count the number of words.

4. Ask child to repeat what you say. They push a counter into a box as they say each word.

Model this as much as necessary - and give as much help as needed to begin with.

This can be done 1-1, in a pair or very small group.


Give the correct number of counters for each phrase or sentence to start with - then try giving more counters than necessary (harder).

Speak slowly to begin with then progress towards normal speaking speed.

The child could begin to use fingers to count rather than the counters.

This activity also helps children to improve their auditory memory as they have to remember and repeat the phrases.

Point to separate words in reading, noticing the spaces between the words

A suitable text

Optional - 'Magic finger' puppet or a small stick or ruler

During daily reading activities either in the group or 1 to 1:

1. Model pointing to each word as you read and point out the spaces between the words.

2. Ask the child to point using their index finger to each word as the adult reads - slowly at first.

3. Next ask them to count the number of words read in a sentence as they point, noticing the spaces between the words.

Repeat the steps (1-3) above when the child reads the words.

Before this activity:

If working 1 to 1 or with a small group, a link can be made with the activity ("counting the number of spoken words") above. As the adult reads the text aloud, the child can move a counter over each word on the page as it is spoken.

This activity could be done while using a big book with the whole class and the 'target' child is asked to help the teacher by using a stick or ruler to point at each word as it is read aloud.

Instead of using their finger the child could use a finger puppet, ruler or stick to help focus their attention on pointing. Older children could have a small sticker placed on their index finger nail.

Write words as separate units

Flat ice-lolly sticks - painted ice-lolly sticks (can be bought in supermarkets) - using a stick ensures that the spaces between the words are even.


If a child has smaller writing try using a smaller tool than an ice-lolly stick to place between words.

During writing tasks:

1. Model writing each spoken word then placing a lollipop stick on the page before writing the next word.

2. Child says the sentence to be written orally first and counts the number of words (see above).

3. Child writes the first word and uses the lollipop stick to make the space before writing the next word.

Also links to: "EW L1b write simple sentences" on - (the daily sentence /cut up sentences).

The cut up sentences could be done before this activity where the words as separate units are on separate pieces of card.

The ice-lolly stick could be placed in between each card to emphasise the space.

Keep the sentences short - and don't worry about the spelling - the teaching point is about the spaces between the words as the words are separate units.

Follow-up activity - using ICT:

Type the child's sentences into Word without spaces between the words. Ask the child to read their work and press the space bar in between the words to make the spaces. Print out the best copy.

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