There’s a lot to cover with English! We use workbooks and sheets I make to look at grammar. We have made our own parts of speech cards, and we play about with those. Both boys happen to be pretty good at spelling, so we don’t do much actual work there, but we play Scrabble and another game called Top Word.
For comprehension I picked up a game called ‘Bookworm: a game of reading and remembering’. One person reads an extract from a book and asks a question about the extract to the person on their left. If that person gets the answer right, they move forward a square, otherwise the next person gets a go. If nobody can answer the question then the questioner gets to move forward.
We write lots of letters, and are lucky enough to have family members who reply. This really helps the boys to believe that their writing has a purpose!
As well as these bitty things, I have done a project on poetry.
We focussed on ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’. First we read ‘The Jellicle Cats’ and made our own Jellicle cats from saltdough and acrylic paint.
Next I made copies of ‘Macavity the Mystery Cat’ with words missing. The boys took it in turns to think of words to fill in the gaps. Then I told them which words T. S. Eliot had used and we talked about why Eliot had chosen those words instead of others.
For our final task, we read ‘Mr Mistopheles’. The boys wrote down their favourite words from the poem.
Then they brainstormed their own words about a cat.
Next they went through all the words and ideas they had (their own and those inspired by Eliot) and underlined three. They wrote two lines of a poem, using those three underlined words.
We repeated the underlining and line writing process until each boy had a poem.
Then I wrote out their poems and cut them up so that the lines were all separate. We moved the slips of paper around, trying out different orders for the lines.
Then we looked for unnecessary repetition and changed some words.
Then we sat back and admired our poems!
At the moment, I have a simple format that I use to help the children reflect on their work. They write: ‘what was good about my work’. Then I write: ‘what Mummy thinks is good about my work’. They write: ‘what I think I could do better next time’. Then I write: ‘what Mummy thinks I could do next time’. As they start to get more thoughtful and incisive in their responses, I am hoping to introduce an element of criticising one another’s work. But, right now, I think that would be rather unhelpful!