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Language and Communication understand and use words left and right on own body  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


The pupil will understand and use the terms "left" and "right" appropriately when referring to themselves

Early years skill:not specified
Early years typical range:not specified
P-scales/Curriculum skill:Maths Shape Space and Measures
P-scales/Curriculum level:L2a
TAP skill:Language (old categories)
TAP level:TAP72
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section: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
Prompt poster

Sheet of paper (A4 size or larger)

Pens/ pencils/ crayons etc.

1. Explain that it can be difficult to tell which is your left hand and which is your right, but that there are some things we can do to help us.

2. Encourage the child to put out their hands palms downwards, with the fingers together and the thumbs extended at right angles.

3. Encourage the child to look for a capital "L" formed by the index finger and thumb. This will be on the left hand. Explain that the one on the right is backwards.

4. Help the child to draw round each hand with their thumb extended, with both hands on the same piece of paper. Help the child to write the words "left" and "right" on the correct hand shape.

5. Help the child to write a large capital L shape on the left hand following the index finger and thumb. Use a contrasting colour to do this.

6. Ask the child to draw a pen or pencil beside the hand they write with. If the child is right handed, you can remind them that "your right hand is the hand you write with; your left hand is the one that is left". This does not work for left-handed children.

7. If possible, ask the child to identify something visual to help tell their left or right hand and draw it on their poster. This could be their watch or a freckle, for example.

When it's finished, put the poster in a visible place to act as a prompt for the child. You may need several copies if the child works in different locations.

Remind the child to use their strategy to tell which is left and which is right when they get stuck.

Following instructions

Object with a distinctive look and feel (I use a painted wooden egg)

Blindfold (optional)

1. Explain to the child that you are going to give him/her some instructions and they will need to follow them to find the object.

2. If possible have the child do this activity wearing a blindfold. If this makes the child uncomfortable, it can be done without.

3. Have the child put on the blindfold/close their eyes/turn their back/leave the room while you hide the object somewhere in the room.

4. Give the child directions such as "turn left, walk forward, stop, bend down, put out your right hand"

5. This activity can also be done with one child giving instructions to another, but you will need to help the child giving the instructions to use terms suitable for someone who can't see (i.e., saying "it's over there" doesn't help). See comments column (on the right).

You can give tactile feed back if the child is struggling to tell right and left. Touch them gently, but firmly on the right arm and say, "this is right". Touch them gently, but firmly on the left arm and say, "this is left".

Understanding "left" and "right" on someone else is more difficult. To make it easier, make sure the child giving the instructions is following the child to whom they are giving instructions so that "left" and "right" for both children is the same.

If the child giving instructions stays still then this is a much harder task - this equates to working at Level 3 (8 to 9 year old typical development).

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