Beautiful Book Quotes

Drawing children’s attention to beautiful books is all part of promoting a love of reading and is essential if you’re aiming to create a reading school. In this blog post we take some of those beautiful books and consider how to use some of the quotations within them to inspire children to read.

Use quotations as advertising soundbites

Consider collecting quotations that you love and display them in the classroom or library. Display the books from which the quotations come side-by-side. This way the quotations work as short adverts for the books.

Set a challenge and develop home-school links

Create a collection of great quotations by working as a staff team. You could also consider asking the children and their parents to offer their favourite book quotations. Set it as a challenge with book related prizes for the most quotations, or a particularly funny or poignant quotation.

Get visual with a rolling Powerpoint of beautiful book quotes

Create a rolling Powerpoint presentation of book quotes (or ask some children to make one). This can then be displayed in the library, as children enter the hall for assembly, or in classrooms as children arrive in the morning. You could share this one that I made if you’re able to access YouTube in your school.

Build vocabulary by collecting great words from great literature

Encourage children to collect interesting words that they find in book quotes. Provide them with notebooks to record the words they find and then ensure that they have time to use dictionaries to research the words so that they can go on to use them in their own writing.

Get grammatical by spotting grammar in practice

Look for examples of grammatical forms in different quotations. The Charlotte’s Web quotation in my video uses the perfect form. Other examples in my video make good use of question marks, inverted commas and apostrophes for contraction and possession.

Don’t forget poetry

There are many, many well-known and well-loved poetic quotes. Why not create a collection of poetic quotes to promote a love of poetry in your school?

These are just a few thoughts about how to use book quotes in your school. Let me know how you use book quotes in your school

Rachel Clarke – Director: Primary English

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Help! I’m addicted to hacking my teacher-life.

Primary Egnlish Teacher Hacks

My name is Rachel and I am addicted to hacking my teacher-life.

For as long as I can recall I’ve been saving the pedagogical pennies in the belief that the pounds will save themselves; I’ve attempted to draw other people into my world with my time-saving blog-posts; and now I’ve even started pushing my time saving highs with a Pinterest board dedicated to my pedagogical obsession.

I’ve noticed something though. I’m not alone. As I travel from school to school, I’ve realised that other teachers are also afflicted by an overwhelming need to hack. This blog post is dedicated to those teachers who no longer see ordinary everyday items for what they are, but for what they could become, and their potential pedagogical uses. And if you know a teacher hacker, you’ll know that if there’s one thing that both feeds and calms our addiction it’s the pleasure of sharing our hacks with anyone who will listen to us.

In this blog post I focus on the humble washing peg. Laundry-day essential it may be; but to teacher hackers it is a pedagogical philosopher’s stone.

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Planning a learning journey

Planning for learning – a road well travelled

Most schools have a long term plan of how the national curriculum will be delivered for each subject and in each year group. This could be cross-curricular topics, discrete subject teaching, specific teaching of specialised objectives in grammar and phonics or any combination of the above. When it comes to the unit of work, or weekly lesson planning stage, there is often less strategic direction; and with a new curriculum teachers can find themselves wondering how best to meet the needs of the children in their class.


When planning units of work for children it’s all too easy to lose focus on the purpose of the learning and slip into a planning frenzy led by fabulous activities and inspirational resources that you’ve found in a book/online/had in your cupboards for years. We’ve all done it, but does it really work? Grabbing the children’s attention is important, but when time is scarce and pressure is on us to reach attainment and progress targets we need to think carefully about the purposefulness of what we plan.  This is where planning through the metaphor of a journey can help focus our minds on the learning taking place and how each lesson works as a tiny step towards a final destination.Planning a learning journey


Map it out

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Where the Wild Things Are: 10 teaching ideas


Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is a modern classic. Much loved in KS1 classrooms, this text is also a great model of a voyage and return story,  which could be used alongside a longer text such as The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in KS2. There is also now a film version available but as it is quite dark (and younger children may find it frightening) think very carefully before using this is KS1.

Here are 10 teaching ideas for using Where the Wild Things Are in the classroom:

  1. Start with a trigger before reading the text If you were sent to bed with no dinner, what would you do?” or What might you have done to get sent to bed with no dinner?”

  2. Make an emotions chart or graph of Max’s feeling throughout the story.

  3. Look carefully at the pictures – what happens as you move through the book? They start small and they grow to become full page before reducing again. Does this signify Max’s world experience getting bigger?

  4. Due to the predominance of the illustrations the descriptive text in the book could be further enhanced; so can the children describe the Wild Things, or the setting?

  5. Speech punctuation features quite heavily at the start of the book. Use this as a model for teaching speech conventions.  Then with the later pictures write what characters may be saying to each other .

  6. Use the pattern of they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth etc’ as a model and rewrite the phrase using different words to create alternate effects…‘they whispered their twinkly squeals and licked their luscious lips’

  7. Challenge children to write a ‘Quick Write’ poem about Max: 1 Noun, 2 Verbs, 3 Adjectives/Adverbs, e.g

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Once upon an ordinary school day


Once upon an ordinary a day an ordinary teacher was looking for an ordinary book to read with her ordinary children during their ordinary guided reading lesson, when..she stumbled across a quite extraordinary book indeed: Once Upon an Ordinary School Day by Colin McNaughton and Satoshi Kitamura.

The ordinary teacher sat down in her ordinary chair, put on her ordinary glasses and started to read the book. She liked it. In fact she loved it and she realised that it would make a perfect text for guided reading with Y2 children..

The first thing that the ordinary teacher did was to make a word cloud using the text from the book. As she expected the largest word was ordinary; and school was quite large too. She knew that this word cloud would make a really extraordinary pre-reading activity for her children and that it would allow them to make predictions about the text that they were going to explore.

The next thing that the ordinary teacher did was to find a way of turning her ordinary children into detectives. Like every good teacher she delved into her ‘bag of magic’, rummaged around for a while and pulled out her very ordinary looking ball of elastic bands. She peeled off elastic bands and wrapped them around her copies of Once Upon an Ordinary Boy so that the children would be unable to open them past the phrase,

Then, something quite out of the ordinary happened…”.

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The Selfish Giant – Guided Reading Resource


Here at Primary English HQ we LOVE guided reading and if you read our posts regularly you’ll know that we write about it frequently.

What the national curriculum says

We’ve just finished a round of training and conference workshops where we looked at the place of guided reading in the new national curriculum. Yes, we know guided reading’s not a statutory requirement but when the national curriculum document itself recognises how ‘reading opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for young minds’  we know that guided reading needs to be central to your school provision. (Our blog post Guided Reading discusses the importance of quality and enjoyable texts for guided reading.)


Our literary heritage

In our recent work we’ve taken a particular look at the Y5 ad Y6 requirement for children to ‘read books from our literary heritage’. You may currently be reading books by significant children’s authors and older children’s literature with your children; and this new objective is not really so different – so long as you remember that it is about older children’s literature. We emphasis the children’s bit of that statement as on our travels we’ve unearthed a few ‘grown-up’ classic texts with some rather ‘adult‘ content finding their way into primary classrooms. By all means use the classics with children, but do make sure you know the texts well enough to avoid unsuitable themes. Even better still, use some of the fabulous abridged versions available from many of the educational publishers.


The Selfish Giant

By keeping one eye on accessibility and the other on engagement, the text that we’ve been using in our workshops is The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde – written in 1888. If you’re unfamiliar with this text it is a rich and evocative story of selfishness and rebirth. It is packed with figurative language and has sufficient challenge to engage the most demanding of Y6s. The version we’ve been using is the Puffin Picture version (illustrated by Michael Foreman and Freire Wright) as the illustrations add a useful scaffold for children who may otherwise struggle to access the syntactical and linguistic challenges of an older text.


Guided reading activities

Our conference delegates have enjoyed working on reading activities including: making predictions about the text from a word cloud; analysing the text using Aiden Chambers’ Tell me’ structure; and thinking about giants in a variety of children’s literature using our ‘same but different’ thinking frames. We linked each of these activities to the aims statements from the new national curriculum as a way of ensuring that not only were aims met, but they were done so in an engaging and creative manner.

The Selfish Giant is a wonderful text from our literary heritage that we’re certain your children will love reading as a guided group text. Our Selfish Giant – Guided Reading Resource CD is now available to buy. It features all of the activities described above and much more besides. The resource is priced at £6.00 (inc. VAT) + £2.00 postage and packaging in the UK and ROI. If you would like to order a copy please contact us

Rachel Clarke – Director, Primary English Education Consultancy Limited



Halloween Teaching Resources



Looking for Halloween teaching resources?

Look no further…love it or hate it, Halloween is nearly here and these days it’s becoming big business. Go to any supermarket and you will find all manner of spooky props, costumes and sweets! Actually, pop in just after Halloween and you can pick up some great thrifty props or Halloween teaching resources when they reduce them –  great for that spooky story writing unit you have coming up!

How can we help you?

Last year I wrote a blog post about some of my most favourite spooky stories  which are just great books, great story telling and great for all year round thrills and chills.

What’s new?

This year we have re-developed our spooky stories Pinterest board to become the ‘Spooky Stories and Resources’ board so that as well as spooky books you will now also find spooky images, art and craft ideas too.

If you don’t observe Halloween as a school, worry not. Our Halloween teacher resources are still for you as they fit into adventure stories, spooky stories and stories with a twist in the tale.

So, if you want to spook up your teaching this Autumn, look no further, our Halloween teacher resources are here to help!

Charlotte Reed – Primary English Consultant


10 ways to use word clouds in the classroom


Word clouds are a popular way of representing information and they can be seen everywhere. But how can we use them in the classroom? Here’s a list of ten easy tried and tested ways to use them to support teaching and learning.

Whilst wordle is probably the most well-known word cloud generator, we’ve included a simple word cloud app suitable for use with the youngest children, one that allows you to filter the settings to various levels and another that links the key vocabulary to a Google search. They’re all free, most can be embedded into a blog or webpage and, unlike wordle, they can all be saved as a picture file.

Reading Comprehension

Take a section from a text and drop it into a word cloud generator. We like to choose one that omits the high frequency words (all those the, they , an, a’s…) such as and give it to the children. Ask them to think about the questions they would like to ask about the text and what they think the text may be about. This is a great way to teach and assess their abilities to: decode text (AF1), retrieve information (AF2) and when they start making connections between the words and what the text is about (AF3). If they can identify whether it is a fiction or non-fiction text, based on the evidence in the word cloud,  the task then also enables them to cover AF7.

As a story stimulus

Provide a word cloud (perhaps one that you have used for reading comprehension) as the stimulus to story writing. Children could start by telling each other oral stories using the word cloud and then write these up. Children could annotate the word cloud to identify descriptive vocabulary and then use this in their own writing.

To practise grammatical knowledge

Give children highlighters and ask them to highlight the nouns, verb adjectives and adverbs. Children could then use this vocabulary to generate sentences where they use the vocabulary accurately.

To practise reading

Drop word lists into a word cloud generator to give to children who need to improve decoding and sight vocabulary. The non-linear presentation of the words adds variety to what can become a burdensome task for some children. Enlarging the word cloud onto A3 paper and giving it to a small group means that children can twist it and turn it and work collaboratively to read the words.

To recall well-known stories or texts studied in class

Can children identify which text has been used to generate the word cloud? Which clues did they use? Which part of the text has been used to make the word cloud? You could differentiate this by choosing high points in the narrative or parts that are more difficult to recall.

To set spellings

Use word clouds as a non-linear and colourful way to set children’s spellings. You could also take a child’s regular miss-spellings and present them as a word cloud. They could annotate them, practise the words and then create their own word cloud – hopefully with the correct spellings this time!

For assessing the next steps in learning

Take a child’s text and drop it into a word cloud generator which allows you to set filters to keep in high-frequency vocabulary ( is particularly good for this). Ask children to look at the word cloud and think about what the writer may need to do to improve. If they are over-reliant on particular words such as ‘then’ or ‘so’ it will be clearly visible. By getting children to annotate what the writer needs to improve you should also get assessment information about their understanding of what makes a good writer.

To establish success criteria

Create two word clouds from the same written task. One should be from a good example, the other from a less good example. Display them side by side. Can children identify which one comes from the better composition? They may choose the word cloud with greater variety of vocabulary, better spelling, smaller words – they could then use this as the success criteria for their writing.

To show progress

Create word clouds from children’s writing at the beginning of the year and stick them in children’s books. Use the word cloud to discuss next steps in learning with the child. Next term repeat the process with another piece of writing. Is there a discernible difference? Can the new ‘next steps’ be identified?

To springboard a new topic

Assess children’s knowledge at the beginning of a topic by showing them a word cloud. What do they think we will be learning about? Which words do they know? Which words don’t they know? If you use you could then allow children to double-click on the words they don’t know. This will take them to Google where they can then research that topic word. This particular idea is better suited to non-fiction than fiction. At the end of the topic return to the word cloud to assess children’s new knowledge.

How have you used word clouds in the classroom? Please add your teaching ideas here.

Rachel Clarke, Primary English Consultant

To see further similar ideas see our Inspiring Literacy with Technology Pinterest board and our popular blog about using Pinterest in the classroom.


10 ways to use Pinterest in the classroom


Pinterest is a social networking site sweeping all sectors, and it’s really very useful, probably one of the most useful things we have found on the internet in some time.  Plus it’s free, and we are a thrifty team who like to save the pennies!  So here are a few ways you can use it to help you as a teacher, and help your children in the classroom. Of course, you can also come and follow our boards, and take the hard work out of planning!

Getting started:

First off, you may want to join Pinterest. Do you work as a team? You could get a team email and password and join as one, so that you can all contribute ideas to boards, making it less time consuming.  Once you have joined you get instructions on how to download the pinmarklet that allows you to begin pinning images and creating boards.

You don’t need to join though, you can simply browse boards that others have created – like ours – with no login, by clicking on the site and using the search facility.

Using Pinterest as a teacher

1) Create collections based around a book

2) Create collections based around a theme

3) Create collections of books on a given theme

4) Search for ideas to enhance your classroom environment, indoor or outdoor

Using Pinterest in the classroom
5) Create 
story mood boards to support the children in writing their story settings and creating the right atmosphere.

6) Use Pinterest with the children to help them to box up stories. You could use photographs from drama activities and make ‘secret’ boards so the pictures are kept private.

7) Let the children use Pinterest to support their planning process when researching non-narrative topics – ask the children to pin pictures for each paragraph rather than copy and pasting endless text from websites!  The pictures can then serve as a reminder of what they have found out and help to scaffold writing in sections or paragraphs.

8) Make stories using story generator boards. When beginning a story children could select characterssettingsprops and events from boards that you have created – or borrow ours!

9) Use it as a starter for a lesson or the start of a topic. Show a prepared board and ask the children to discuss what the theme or topic might be, what they know already and what they might want to find out.

Using Pinterest as homework and to link with parents
10) Make boards of books to recommend to your class that they read at home; this Y6 board is a starting point.  Give them challenges – can you read 5 of the books, can you review one book on the board in the comments area etc.

Finally, you may want to follow us and our board. We also think it’s worth following those from Springboard Stories, the TES and the British Library.

If you are already up and running on Pinterest, then do leave a link in the comments so we can come and follow your boards. Following each other is a great way to develop resources and split the work load!  Do tell us if there are other boards you would like to see, and we’ll get busy.

Charlotte Reed – Primary English Consultant and self-confessed pinaddict

Liked this post? Try these: more about Pinterest and this post about Word Clouds


Looking for a big resource in a small book…?


Hands up who remembers Child Ed. How about Junior Ed? You know, those magazines kept on the shelf in the staffroom, jealously guarded by the teacher in charge of resources, tea money and organising the Christmas do. If, after promising faithfully to put them back in the correct magazine file in strict month order, you were lucky enough to be able to read them, they were always full of good stuff – teaching ideas, posters, advice and resource suggestions. No doubt some of you still have a pile of them somewhere…

So good news! This month saw the launch of a new bi-monthly magazine, Springboard Stories, which aims to fill the gap where Child Ed was. We were asked to contribute to the first edition by suggesting some of our favourite and most useful resources, in less than 50 words. Cue lots of discussion. We came up with the following:

  • Looking for a big resource in a small book? Pie Corbett’s Jumpstart books for 7 – 11 years are essential for every teachers’ toolkit. Packed with ideas, they cover learning-led word, sentence and text activities; and can be used for warm-ups or main lessons, They’re interactive, fun and adaptable for FS and KS1.

  • Sue Palmer’s Skeleton’s for Writing are indispensable for non-fiction across the curriculum. Relevant from YR-Y6 these visual aids for writing support children in creating non-fiction texts which meet the needs of their audience.

  • Social bookmarking site Pinterest is a tool enabling teachers to curate their own online resource collections. Fast to create, these visual collections save web pages for sharing with others or for supporting children with topic research. Check out our collections on Pinterest.

  • Looking to add breadth to your Guided Reading resources?  Look no further than Collins Big Cat! These books are lovely – written by top authors, with attractive illustrations and photographs, suggestions for Guided Reading sessions and reader response activities. Ready book-banded, the range contains 50% non-fiction and 50% fiction.

  • The Harris Burdick Mysteries, an intriguing book with a mystery at the start. We won’t spoil it! The book contains 12 pictures, titles and captions which inspire children to write their own tales. Great for KS2. It’s interesting to see the different directions the same start can take when giving children choice within a structure.

What would your 50 word suggestion be? Let us know and we could add it to our Resources for Teachers Pinterest board.

Rachel Clarke – Director, Primary English Education Consultancy Limited

Originally published on LoveToReadToMyClass.Wordpress.Com 13th September 2012.


Video from Primary English

Clips from two guided reading sessions in John Shelton Primary School in Coventry. Rachel is using two of the titles from The Mini Tales Pack with a year 5 and year 6 group of children whilst addressing some key reading objectives.

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