Category Archives: Teaching Ideas

Why do we have creative writing?

The imaginative use of words within a story goes back to the earliest days of humanity.  And it still serves a purpose today.

Humankind has always told stories.  Everything from cave pictures to monuments like Stonehenge, from tales told around the flickering fire to the greatest cathedrals tell us about events, locations, and people that we cannot see.

Indeed it appears to be fundamental to our human psyches to want to hear stories, and as a result there is every reason for all of us to want to tell them too. 

For the ability to appreciate and explore this basic human instinct comes from our own experiences of making up stories of our own.   Indeed such invention allows us to share our experiences and entertain others as we seek to make sense of the mysterious world around us.

But, of course, storytelling does not come naturally to us all, and many children – especially those with special needs – require additional support if the skill is to be nurtured and developed.

For the storyteller needs to consider key issues such as where the story takes place, who or what is in this place, are there animals here that have human characteristics.  Or could it be an object that has feelings?

And in worlds where everything is possible, how can we express ourselves?  What new words and expressions do we need?  How does the story evolve?  What is happening around our central event or person?  What happens next?

Most children – irrespective of their needs and abilities – only come to understand the exploration of such issues through being prompted via their own story writing, which is why the “Boost Creative Writing” series exists. 

The activities here provide the support and help that children of differing abilities need, and you can see how we achieve this through the examples from the series on our website where you will also find details of how to order.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, English, How children learn, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Primary school, Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), Teaching Ideas

Free activity materials from the Grammar and Punctuation Series Pack

Take advantage of these free activity materials from the Grammar and Punctuation Series Pack

Year 1: Nouns are names

Year 2: Noisy verbs

Year 3: Preposition opposites

Year 4: The Problem of ‘me’ or ‘I’

Year 5: Hyphens

Year 6 Words that help your writing

Request your free worksheets

The Grammar and Punctuation Series Pack contains six photocopiable books (one for each year group) and teaches grammatical and punctuation concepts in a fun and memorable way which will challenge and stimulate the whole class.

The sheets are designed for the practice, reinforcement and consolidation of grammar and punctuation skills and they address the requirements laid out in the Programmes of Study in the September 2014 National Curriculum.

The books will provide you with the tools you need to teach grammar effectively, including an assessment checklist, and will complement other language and literacy schemes of work.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, English, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, National Curriculum, Primary school, Teaching Ideas

“Can you see the wind?”

Free worksheet series from Brilliant Publications

On a windy day go outside with the children and watch streamers blowing. Ask the children whether they can see and feel the effects of the wind on their faces and clothes. Watch the trees and plants move in the wind. 

Can you see the wind?

This is just one of the activities that can be found in the series of worksheets that we are giving away, free of charge, from the popular volume “Science and Technology for the Early Years (2nd Edition)”. Other activities include:

  • Creating a tiny garden from the worksheet Look down
  • Creating an outdoor themed mobile and drawing or painting a picture of the sky from the worksheet Look up
  • Catching the wind in a plastic bag from the worksheet Can you see the wind?
  • Making a travel agency in the role-play area and making and writing postcards from the worksheet Where do you go for a holiday?
  • And much much more!

Request your copy of the free worksheet series.

Science and Technology for the Early Years (Edition 2) contains 120 science and technology activities for use in the Foundation stage, along with ideas for designing resource areas to stimulate purposeful play. The activities are clearly laid-out with the Purpose, Resources and Safety points given, as well as ‘Challenges’, which can be used to provide a focal point for each activity.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, Early years, How children learn, Key Stage, Key Stage 0, Nursery and Preschool, Science, Teaching Ideas

Can your pupils help us to solve some of our problems?

Urgent Appeal

We have an abundance of problems, so many in fact that we have three entire books full of them and desperately need your primary school pupils to help us to solve them!

Multiplication strategies

They are problems of a mathematical nature which is why we are contacting you as we think you will be the best person for the job. Your responsibilities will involve managing a young team of investigators, working out which pupils are best suited to solving each of the problems based on their level and ability.

We understand that you have a curriculum to teach, so we have only included the problems which are relevant to this and have left out problems regarding our fence that got blown down a couple of months ago by Storm Callum (a very inconsiderate man if you ask me) and how to get our rabbit to stop eating our shoes. I suppose we will have to solve these problems ourselves.

For more information on problems to challenge your pupils or to order the Maths Problems and Investigations Series for £45, simply visit: www.brilliantpublications.co.uk/book/maths-problems-and-investigations-for-primary-schools-428

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, Key Stage, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Mathematics, National Curriculum, Primary school, Teaching Ideas

The trouble with reading …

Reading incorporates two activities. But what is the most successful way of pulling these two elements together?

Most of us working in primary schools will have witnessed children who have the ability to decode texts at an appropriate level for their age, but who find it hard to grasp and hold the meaning of that text at the same time.

As a result they cannot engage in activities that build upon their reading, because they simply don’t have enough of an immediate understanding of what they have read.

In such cases what is happening is that the brain is working to translate each pattern of letters into a word, but because so much effort is put into this activity the brain does not then take the words of a phrase or sentence and convert those words into something meaningful.

As a result there is little ability for the child to answer any questions about what has been read and (more worrying in the long term) there can be no enjoyment in reading.  Reading is a chore to be got through, not something to be enjoyed.

Unfortunately, many resources that exist to help primary school children read, focus on helping children read the text, but don’t simultaneously focus on giving them something that is enjoyable to read.

And so it was to provide this additional vital element in primary school literacy that we have produced the new edition of Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension – Years 1 – 6

The books in this series contain a variety of types of comprehension passages ranging from newspaper articles and dialogues to plays, stories and poems.  Each is followed by a series of enjoyable tasks for the children to undertake which test and stimulate their understanding of what they have read.

There is a lot more information about these books and their content on our website.

The books can be ordered either as a PDF for £13.99 or as a hardcopy book for £19.99. There is also the option to buy the hardcopy and PDF together at a discounted price.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, English, How children learn, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, National Curriculum, Poems and poetry, Primary school, Teaching Ideas

Faster French with more understanding

What are the two activities that develop pupils’ ability with French far more effectively than any other?

The answer is, as you may already know, through the use of stories and through singing.

Because both stories and songs put the French the children hear and vocalise into a full context, the words become much more meaningful and become learned as part of sets of phrases which are a part of everyday experience.

As a result, the more you can encourage the children in your class to speak French sentences and to sing in French, the more rapidly they will progress.

Which in turn is why Learn French with Luc et Sophie is such a successful approach to the teaching of the language at KS2.

Each part of the course incorporates no fewer than 14 French storybooks written at the appropriate level along with creative teaching ideas to maximise the pupils’ ability to learn to speak the language.

Each story is topic-based using simple sentences based around key vocabulary and language structures.

And then, in addition, each unit contains an original song to reinforce vocabulary.  Because the children will be happy to sing the songs over and over, the vocabulary and grammar becomes more deeply embedded within their consciousness.

Indeed, if you have ever noticed how children can pick up the lyrics of everything from nursery rhymes to popular songs you will appreciate just how incredibly powerful the rhyme and song element can be – especially when, as in this case, the songs are written to fit exactly with the vocabulary being learned.

The Learn French with Luc et Sophie course follows the Foreign Language Programmes of Study in the September 2014 National Curriculum for KS2 and is written with non-specialists in mind.  

Full details of the Years 3 and 4 course can be found here while the Years 5 and 6 part of the course is explored here.  In each case there are sample audio files of the songs and sample materials.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, French, How children learn, Key Stage 2, lesson plans, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), Primary school, Teaching Ideas

Multi-Sensory English Literature

What is the most effective way of helping reluctant readers to study a set text?

Over the past 100 years the multi-sensory learning approach pioneered by Maria Montessori has been shown to be a highly effective way of teaching – especially for students who do not respond strongly to single-sense learning.

Unfortunately, the range of multi-sensory resources available for teaching and learning involving set texts in English has been limited.  But it is growing with the use of graphic revision guides.

These have been shown not only to benefit a wide range of students, including reluctant readers, disaffected students and those with dyslexia, but also those students who find the study of a full-length novel difficult to undertake.

It is for all these students that we have produced our Graphic Revision Guide for A Christmas Carol.

This volume develops the student’s understanding of the plot, the key themes and the characters, so that when the student then returns to the full text she or he is able at once to focus on the unfolding story as Dickens created it. 

What’s more, those students who find it hard to picture what literary characters look and act like now find it much easier to understand motives and actions. Those who struggle to follow the plot, now know its direction of travel.

In short, the classic text is no longer hard work for these students, but instead becomes an enjoyable read.  Meanwhile the activities provided in terms of, for example, matching quotes to pictures and drawing character maps, are entered upon with enthusiasm and will help students bring to mind the ideal quote when they sit their exam.

Better still, the resources are printed in black and white for easy photocopying and enlarging.

There is more information on this volume on our website along with other books from the same series of graphic novels.

The book can be ordered as a printed copy for £16.50 or as a PDF download for £10.99. There is also an option to buy the printed copy and the PDF together as a discounted price. Just choose what you want on our website.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, English, How children learn, Key Stage 3, Secondary school, Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), Teaching Ideas