Sunday, 31 July 2011


Well, it's a good job I am not home schooling as we don't seem to be able to get into a holiday routine at all!! Oh well.

On thing Small Boy has done a lot of this holiday is read. He has read three library books, a book on my kindle and a book of his own today. I can't complain about that! He's now read 5 of the required 6 library books for his Circus Stars challenge. In 5 days. The books he is reading are a suitable reading level for him, but none of them are particularly long. We really need to work on that. One challenge is to write a book review, so that's a plan for tomorrow.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Free choice

Today's free choices have already included colouring his Big Top to take to the library later, cutting out and there is a pen out (although I've not seen him use it yet!). And it's only 9.10am.

Small Boy has requested a library visit later, there are more books he wants to read. One of the tasks from the library is to write a book review so maybe we will do that later on.

Oh... just realised he's drawn on the paper he's cutting up. This is quite amazing as Small Boy never chooses to draw or colour at home!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Circus Stars

This year's summer reading challenge at the library is called Circus Stars. We managed to catch the library open this afternoon and sign up. Small Boy chose 2 books, which I knew were probably too easy, and home we went. They were definitely too easy as he read them both on the way home! Oh well, it's got him going on it already and I suspect we might be going back again tomorrow - this time to choose something a little harder and a little longer!

He is quite happy sitting on the lounge floor tonight with his craft things and a variety of pens. He isn't doing any writing, but plenty of scribbling - it's all pencil control so I'm really not too bothered!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Session 6

Horn practice - 10 mins - Small boy can now play C D E F and sometimes G. He didn't want to try playing G F E D C.

1. 2 mins handwriting - d - this was really good

2. Return to alien story - problem and resolution - talked about Aliens Love Underpants and then ideas for what else the aliens could steal.

Attention poor this morning, too busy messing around and picking up anything that was possible to play with, all of which I removed and then he tried to make himself cry. Then he said he had too many ideas to choose from, which seems to relate to part of the problem at school - he says he can't decide on an idea and by the time he has decided, he's run out of writing time. So I set the timer for one minute and that was successful. I then gave him 5 minutes writing time to write down his problem. Handwriting was appalling today, large and scribbly with a lot of crossings out. Rewarded sounding out.

We really need to work on spelling high frequency words.

We talked about how to resolve the problem of aliens taking socks. He had some good ideas for this but they came out long and rambling and didn't actually solve the problem.

Reminded him of think it -say it - like it - write it - read it back.
He said his sentence and then wrote it down, he was much more focussed now and his handwriting was better. Good at reading work back and making corrections. He then said "I'm going to add a bit on!" and extended his sentence, using a comma! After I'd marked his work, and he was very proud of what he'd done, the timer went off and we realised he'd done it really quickly.

Very successful session!

Reading - Small Boy chose to read The Dragon Painter to himself.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Session 5

think it - say it - like it? - write it - read it back

add on - add in - reword - change it - special effects

Bit of a combination of him writing and me writing today, so he wasn't repeating himself all the time. He understood both the writing process and the editing process. We wrote about the summer holiday and what he would like to do, and then talked about the different types of special effects he could use when he was writing.

He really wasn't in the mood tonight so I didn't carry on into a longer piece of writing - we'll do that next time.


Am just pondering where this is all going. It's totally different teaching one to teaching a class, as to get the best out of Small Boy I need to follow his interests, but you can't go 30 ways with one class, and Small Boy can't go his own way within a class. So, a balance between something that inspires him and things I think he should do is probably the best way to go.

He was tired and grumpy last night, so I abandoned any plans for a writing session, and suggested he read instead. There were 4 chapters left in his book. He started by reading chapter 4 out loud, by chapter 5 he was reading to himself and when he got to chapter 6 he asked if he could finish the book! Lovely!

Just two days to go next week and then he's on holiday, so time to put in place some sort of routine that involves reading, horn practice and writing as well as having a relaxing holiday with lots of fun.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Meeting with Teacher

Small Boy's class  teacher is also the Deputy Head, and is currently Acting Head. His class is being covered by an excellent supply teacher. We met with his class teacher this morning. Just a few points from the meeting to remind me.

We explained we were surprised by Small Boy's report, thinking the writing issue had mostly been resolved, but that it appeared to be a big issue still. We said we thought it had started when he had to have weekly spelling tests in Letters and Sounds and that his maturity at the time, did not match his ability. Teacher agreed. Letters and Sounds in its current format will not continue next year, and Small Boy will be working within Phase 6 in the classroom.

His current writing level is 1a, which I totally agreed with. We discussed potential pressures for Year 2 (SAT's!) and how they will be dealt with. Also that Small Boy will write for a reason, but not if he can't see the point. Teacher said he should achieve 2a at the end of next year.

I explained what we had been doing at home, and that Small Boy was willing to write for me at the moment so I could help him. I said he was very negative about his work to start, but that already he was more positive and writing more, and that I would work on this writing fluency over the holidays. I also told her what Small Boy had said - that writing is easier at home because we talk about it more. We also expressed our surprise at how competitive Small Boy is at home, but not at school. Teacher said he is very comfortable in the class and knows he is one of the brightest, so doesn't feel the need to compete.

We requested more regular updates from school for next year.

I feel quite positive after that meeting, and will be interested to see how our summer goes and how his return to school in September goes!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Session 4

I had intended to carry on with the alien story but another opportunity came up, so I used that instead!

1. Small boy read "Dangerous Animals" to himself (Usborne Beginners Level 1)

2. He told me three things from inside the book, in rather rambling English.

3. I rephrased the sentences for him, so we ended up with:
A) Wolves use team work to catch their prey.
B) Tigers fight other tigers who come into their territory.
C) Crocodiles only show their heads when they are waiting for prey.

4. Small boy then wrote the three sentences down (while I did this!) - concentrating on finger spaces today.
He edited the sentences as he went along (although we did have to have a discussion about the point of writing was for the reader so it had to be interesting - not as short as possible!) and we ended up with "intruders" instead of "other tigers" in the second sentence.

Good points
* very little fuss, willing to write
* didn't waste time
* read work back
* tried hard to remember finger spaces
* sounded out well

Target - revisit "their" and "there"

He says writing is getting easier and easier the more he practises, and already he can see he is writing more in the same amount of time.

We are going to see his teacher in the morning. There will be a post about that!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Session 3

1. handwriting practice - letter g - how many in 2 minutes? done without any fuss

2. Talk about where an alien story would take place. Think of interesting descriptive words - rally robin

3. Use a dictionary to find spellings. - combined 2 and 3 and took it in turns to write a list of descriptive words, using a dictionary where necessary. Small boy knew how to use a dictionary without any trouble. He was definitely tempted to use the dictionary for every word though! Again, writing not an issue.

4. 10 minutes writing - write a description of the alien story setting.

He was a bit more reluctant to write now, so we talked through what he might write. Reminded him of finger spaces, capital letters, full stops, letter shapes and listening for sounds. Then he suddenly said "ding!" and decided to write! I think it's going to end up as a piece of non fiction work - have reminded him we're writing a setting for a story!

Rewarded good work with stickers as he went along
~ reading back his work to himself
~ using his word bank
~ sitting writing on the line
~ full stops and capital letters

Half way through he complained his shoulders hurt! He checked the time after about 7 and a half minutes. He asked how to spell area and I asked him to sound it out (he wrote aireea).

Daddy was home tonight and he read Small Boy's work cold - brilliant!

Afterwards, he was obviously pleased with his work. I asked how this compared to writing he does at school and he said this was better because he can talk about his ideas and he doesn't get chance to do that at school. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Session 3

1. handwriting practice - letter g - how many in 2 minutes?

2. Talk about where an alien story would take place. Think of interesting descriptive words - rally robin

3. Use a dictionary to find spellings.

4. 10 minutes writing - write a description of the alien story setting.

This probably won't happen until Friday as tonight he's come home exhausted and tomorrow he's at Beavers.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Tuesday 10's - ideas

Ideas for sets of 10 spellings:

Phase 2 tricky words
the  to   I   no   go   into

Phase 3 tricky words
he  she   we  me  be  was   you   they   all   are   my   her  one  two

Phase 4 tricky words
After, because, blue, could, don’t give, going, how, know, live, more, Mr, Mrs, now, only right, should, these, their, they want, when, which, who, would

Balloon, can’t, coming, didn’t door, knew, lady lived, love, money, often, place, school, sometimes, something, stopped, until, whole, write

said   have   like     so   do   some   come   were   there   little   one   when   out   what

Phase 5 tricky words
Before, four, head, once, only, their, two, were

Above, animals, brought, change, different, during, earth, eyes, friends, great, heard, important, laugh, people, suddenly, sure, swimming, tries, world, young

Oh   their   people   Mr   Mrs   looked   called   asked   could

numbers to twenty

tens numbers

Session 2

Only a quick one tonight in between swimming and band and reading and McDonalds!

Tuesday 10 - quick write of 10 high frequency words.

I chose to do colours as he wrote both blue and green in his description of an alien last night. He wrote all 10 words quickly and spelt the first 6 correctly (red, yellow, blue, green, black, brown). He willingly tried orange and grey, said he couldn't spell purple or white but sounded them out and wrote them down without worrying.

It took 3 minutes.

We then practised orange and grey orally (before running out of time to do purple and white!). I wonder if he'll still remember them tomorrow?

Monday, 11 July 2011

First Session!

Nothing like getting going quickly! I spoke to Small Boy's current supply teacher tonight and she let me look at his literacy book (with very little in it except for long comments by the teacher about how long it had taken him to do nothing.) and she said he often complains about the noise in the classroom and that he can't concentrate.

She didn't know what his last writing assessment piece had been levelled at but will find out for me.

So, we came home early tonight.

His current topic is fantasy stories and they have been looking at Aliens Love Underpants. Fortunately we have a copy of the book.

1. Handwriting practice - how much can we do in 2 minutes? letter a.

2. Discuss stories - who? where? when? what happened? -problem and resolution, the end.

3. Discuss other things we need to remember when writing - letter formation, capital letters, full stops, listening for sounds, finger spaces. (I recorded this in a book for him.)

4. Read Aliens Love Underpants. Identify who? where? when? what happened? -problem and resolution, the end. (I recorded this.)

5. Speaking and Listening - talked about the aliens on the front cover and what they look like, taking it in turns to say a sentence.

6. Writing Task - 10 minutes - Who? - describe a made up alien.

7. Mark work together. I was still finding positive points when he was asking how he could improve :( We looked at the writing assessments together and worked out this short piece was at Level 1b.

He asked how to spell "eyes". General concentration was good but it was quiet here. He finished with 1.30 mins left, read it back and realised it didn't all make sense, corrected his work. Uses a comma.

I need to be more prepared with stickers, and have rung A to get him to print out the level 1 and 2 writing assessment charts.

Generally, a really positive session lasting 45 mins altogether. He's now watching Clone Wars as a reward, and rang Daddy to tell him how well he'd done.

Next session:
1. handwriting practice - g (2 minutes)
2. Review story writing plan we wrote.
3. Talk about setting - describe setting using the pictures in Aliens Love Underpants.
4. Share ideas about a space setting.
5. 10 minutes writing to describe a setting for his story.
6. Mark work together.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


1. Check Small Boy can use a dictionary, and I mean a proper dictionary not a kiddy one. I suspect he probably can, and being allowed to use one to help his spelling with be a big novelty to start with, so he'll use it a lot. I am hoping he'll end up just using it for the really tricky words.

2. I am going to prepare prompt cards for the different styles of writing, so we can quickly review what is required, and don't have to spend forever thinking how to... rather than getting going.

3. Still pondering this one - using a variety of styles over the 5 weeks. I can't decide if I should do one style each week, or a random selection. Veering towards a random selection at the moment (maybe using a dice?) as I think he knows how to write in different styles. Will chat to him about what he knows.

4. Setting a timer - today we have x minutes. Tried this before and after a few false starts it's usually successful.

5. Bribery. Sticker charts for effort and achievement. Treat box (writing related). Mark work with 2 stars and a wish.

6. Target at the start of each piece of work.

7. Writing levels from so he can see how well he is progressing and where he needs to go next.

8. A variety of days out and activities so we actually have something to write about!!

9. For the week we're away, as many real reasons for writing as I can - postcard, shopping list, diary etc.

Where are we now?

Small Boy can:

~ form letters correctly
~ use phonics to sound out new words (Phase 5)
~ spell a large number of high frequency words

From conversation, he appears to understand the different styles of writing taught this year, and what makes them different - poetry, recount, story, instructions, labels, captions.

He just doesn't write in the time given, and usually rushes something onto paper during playtime or lunchtime.

He says he needs to spend a long time thinking as he doesn't know what to write, and doesn't like it when he can't spell a word correctly.

So, my aim this holiday is to get him to write more quickly and with less worry.


Small Boy has not had a good report this year.

No, that's not accurate.

He's had an excellent report for maths, reading, speaking and listening, and a standard report for all other areas of the curriculum.

Apart from writing.

Writing took up almost all of the literacy comment and the general comment. Mainly about how he doesn't write at all.

So, here's my chance. It's the end of the year I teach, the year I know extremely well. Particularly in literacy, which I plan. I've always fancied home schooling, so now's my summer to try. We're at home for most of it, and the week we're away we'll find a reason for writing.