Learning a story in Year 1. Splash! Anna Hibiscus. 


Today I introduced my Year 1 class to this story without sharing the book. Well, without sharing the book to start with. 

Our school have a real push on writing at the moment, although I can’t think of a single school who hasn’t.  We are giving the Talk for Writing strategy a go in every class and sharing good practice regularly. Working walls are becoming busier and used more effectively. We are working hard on writing and know that the reading phase is a huge part of making good progress. 

Today I shared a number of images that represented the plot, setting and characters within the story. Using “magic” microphones (laminated images) they worked with a talk partner to discuss what they thought might happen in the story, who the characters might be, where the story is set or what the ending could be. We ended up creating some really interesting verbal stories using the images given. None that were the same as the real story of Anna Hibiscus though. 

Then we moved to questions. Using a question hand I modelled verbal and written questions building up a verbal success criteria as we went along. The children worked in threes to come up with a range of questions they wanted to ask about each image from the story. This activity focused the children on the images that represented parts of the plot without it being a dull sequencing lesson. In Year 1 it is hard to find lots of different ways to sequence a story without resorting to strategies you’ve taught many times before. This was a new strategy for me, inspired by one of our literacy consultants.  The visualiser was used to encourage the children to self-correct their spellings, choose different question words, consider adjectives to use and remind them about punctuation. In essence it was a verbal reminder of the success criteria which worked well to teach the children about making choices in their writing.

Following this we read the story and the children were extremely keen to find out whether their ideas were right. They were surprised that the bucket and spade was used to bury one of the characters on the beach, as no one had come up with that idea. It made them realise that their first idea isn’t always their best and that authors have different ways of using objects within their stories.

They then used coloured pencils to answer their own questions. 

I hope that by having a solid knowledge of the images that were linked to the plot of the story, this class will be able to recall the story more effectively next lesson so watch this space! I absolutely loved seeing them work so independently. Year 1 children grow so much in this school year and they made me ever so proud today. 


Year 1 challenge themselves

Differentiation. Challenge for all. Same thing, different wording. Something I’m trying very hard to consider when planning for Year 1 at the moment. Especially ways to ensure the children are fully challenged when working independently in their continuous provision areas. The children sign a sheet in each area so that I can see that they’ve completed that activity (or wandered past and signed it quickly so they can work outside!!) but I wanted to enable them to challenge themselves.

We had a practical maths twilight a few years ago so I raided the network to remind myself of the good ideas that were shared with us by the Lancashire maths team.  Number square jigsaws were one of their suggestions.


Envelopes labelled tricky, trickier and trickiest with a corresponding star rating contained number squares that had been “jigsawed” if that is a word.  Each envelope was also labelled with the colour of the number square jigsaw, this was because I am a fan of colour and so that they could put them all back in the right place!  I’ve done this sort of activity before but this time I included a “completed” sheet.  This showed clearly the hierarchy of challenge and could only be signed by the children if they completed a particular jigsaw.  I think this extra sheet gave the activity that extra lift that I have been looking for.  The children were determined to challenge themselves and were excited to show me which level of challenge they had aimed for.  They even went home and told their parents, I received a tweet saying “J tells me he tried trickiest.  Glad he’s aiming high #mathsteachermother”.  This child had also helped other children to complete their challenges.

Have you any examples of ways to encourage challenge in your continuous provision areas?  Please share them via the comments.