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Top tips for practicing sentence formation over the hols?

(16 Posts)
NumptyNu Tue 23-Jul-13 10:32:10

DD is coming to the end of R year, but apparently her writing isn't up to scratch. Her letter formation is good, but she writes in one long line, with very few spaces between words. She seems to struggle to 'map' the sentence. She's a left-hander (not sure if that's relevant, but thought I would mention it, as she sometimes writes from the right hand part of the page across to the left).

Do you have any suggestions for activities over the summer that might help? We're going to write a little holiday journal, but I'm looking for any useful exercises that might specifically help her with mapping out the individual words.

Hope that makes sense!

Tiggles Tue 23-Jul-13 13:26:37

not sure whether this is what you are looking for, but with the DSs sometimes when they are writing their journals I leave them to it, other times I would ask them to tell me the sentence they want to write. Then each word that they write I remind them to put in a finger space etc, then if they can't remember what their next word was going to be I Can remind them (Depends how long it took to actually remember their capital letter, how to spell their first word, work out where the next one would start). So they can concentrate on making the sentence look right, whilst not having to remember an 'interesting long sentence'.

Periwinkle007 Tue 23-Jul-13 16:00:35

I would probably suggest she tells you what she wants to write and how to spell the words, you write it out and she copies it underneath. then she can see where the spaces are. my daughter has improved drastically with finger spaces since Easter and is starting to remember full stops (sometimes), not great with capital letters but an expert on apostrophes! (always gets them right for some reason!)

mrz Tue 23-Jul-13 17:43:42

I would suggest rather than you writing for her and asking her to copy that you draw a line (appropriate length so that she will be able to fit each word on the line) for each word in the sentence and ask her to write the words on each line.

mrz Tue 23-Jul-13 17:44:55

I would also suggest using a lollipop stick to show finger spaces as her writing hand covers the words she has just written.

NumptyNu Wed 24-Jul-13 22:33:47

Thankyou, that's a great help. We were already naturally doing sons of those things, so great to get some back-up and reassurance that this isn't rocket science! Great lollipop tip too!

freetrait Wed 24-Jul-13 23:53:36

Get her to write postcards when you are on holiday if you're going away.

NumptyNu Thu 25-Jul-13 21:19:18

Thanks freetrait - good idea!

zebedeee Thu 25-Jul-13 23:57:29

My suggestion would be to initially work on v. short sentences that she composes. Eg. start by asking what you did that day, and take a short part of her reply e.g. 'You said 'We went for a walk' - that would be an excellent thing to write. Then repeat, putting up a finger for each word. You model this, they copy. Then repeat again using the fingers (Brilliant! That's five words). Before starting to write ask them where they are going to start (and which way they will go), putting a dot on the place if necessary. Have a spare piece of paper above to use as a practice page, where they can have a go at writing words by sounding them out/seeing if they do know them or you can model slowly sounding out and write them, so they can be copied - depending on word/ability/flow. So all writing in the journal is correctly spelt. After first word written say 'Read what you've written, think what you need to write next'. Get them doing the work. Post-it notes are also good to use as a finger/s space - and depending on size of writing/how spacey you want the spaces (wide when you are teaching about them). As they become more automatic and realise how a space is used (and appropriate to size of the writing) cut the post-it into half/thinner strips. Keep them re-reading and thinking about the next word. When get to the end add full stop/exclamation or question mark as appropriate. Re-read according to punctuation. Use one post-it which gets moved along between each word - they move it i.e. they are in control of the space (praise them when they remember to move it, remind them only at the last minute, occasionally let them make a mistake and see if they spot it on the re-read - We went fora.

If the sentence is long/big writing and spaces, and they need to go on the next line ask them where they think they need to write next, if unsure ask them what happens in a book. Get them thinking about what they need to do.

Next day, re-read's entry, and then compose a new one.

Progression would be to make the sentence longer - We went for a walk to the shops/Today we went for a very long walk to the big shopping centre, or adding another sentence to expand on the 'story', dropping the post it note ('make a space with your eyes') and the reminder of where to start/direction. Composing/remembering the sentence, writing (with spaces) and re-reading will become under their control. If they are writing in pen and make a mistake in their journal a white sticker can cover it and they correct over the top.

Instead of fingers, counters can be used and placed on table above as visual reminder; get the sentence composed, use fingers, five words, give them five counters, they repeat the sentence placing down a counter down as they say each word with big space between each word/counter.

V. V. wordy/laborious/non-grammatical explanation but should sort out the spaces/direction - and is quicker to do than to write about! Keep it pacey and it shouldn't take long to write a short sentence and as the sentences become longer/more sentences, they are more competent and practiced as they are doing the job by themselves.

(To really reinforce the spaces/direction, rewrite the sentence on a strip of paper. Cut it up between each word, and child puts 'puzzle' back together with space between each word. Ask them to lay it out on a piece of A4 paper, landscape, then portrait, then fold to A5, they lay it out again so they can see the 'return sweeps' work and how the full stop has to go next to to a word. nb make sure they always start top left hand of the page as if they are writing.)

Ferguson Fri 26-Jul-13 23:42:15

Retired TA (male) here -

Yes, as Zebedeee says, those ideas should help (though I didn't read the whole lot, but got the gist!).

However, in my twenty years in schools I haven't come across many Reception children who CAN write much in the way of proper sentences. As long as she 'has a go' and some of the words start with the correct sound, or there is some phonic content in words, I would be pretty happy.

We were frequently still trying to get kids to use finger spaces, capital letters and full stops in Yr2, and many were still poor at it in Yr3.

(Enjoy the hols, and don't work TOO hard.)

Lizziegeorge Sat 27-Jul-13 07:03:37

Get her to jump her sentences as she says them. Stand up tall for the capital letter then jump for every space before curling up in a ball to finish with a full stop.

NumptyNu Sat 27-Jul-13 21:31:53

Great suggestions, and thanks for the reassurance Ferguson. My instinct is that she is doing fine - you're right, she also needs to have some fun in the hols!

morethanpotatoprints Sun 28-Jul-13 00:06:13

My dd has always kept a Diary and now also a journal. It obviously started with a broken sentence progressing to a single sentence, then onto a few lines and now half A4 daily.
Its great practice over the holiday and doesn't seem like work.

NumptyNu Mon 29-Jul-13 07:26:44

Yes, we've just started our holiday journal - one or two short lines plus a pic. She seems to enjoy it an will have something to show at the end. Also, hopefully we might see an improvement over time.

Gumps Mon 29-Jul-13 07:38:43

We are using the sainsburys summer journals. My 2 ds 4 and 6 are really enjoying it. Ds1 struggles with pace so I am trying to get him to write quicker. My dsis who is a teacher suggested pen instead of pencil as it flows more easily. Ds2 is desperate to learn to read/write so he is writing over the top of my writing.
I think as long as its fun any practice is good and they will just get better and better.
Other ideas I have heard are writing invites to toys for tea parties, lists (ds1 did a lot of this in reception). I found some really nice phonics and writing books in pound land which are very colourful and have stickers too.

NumptyNu Wed 31-Jul-13 13:46:18

Thanks Gumps. I love those suggestions. I think mine would love the tea-party one especially! What do the Sainbury's journals involve?

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