Kirsten Snook is an English Teaching and Learning Adviser for HfL

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What a treasure trove of writing opportunities unfurls from this book! The creator of the award-winning picture book ‘The Pirates Next Door’, weaves in so many print features and detailed artwork that there will be something to capture even the most reluctant readers, and to give them reasons to write. Narrated by the author but helped by the skeleton fiddler, there is definitely a Pirates of the Caribbean-esque feel to it, only with rhyming and fonts. If there is an overall theme or lesson within the book, it’s a simple one of greed and that if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. But with the mixture of rhyming, narration, some comic-strip style pages and clues hidden within the illustrations, it offers so much in terms of Book-Talk and comprehension. Absolutely heaps of opportunities for developing fluency, phrasing and expression too! And can the children work out what’s going on before it happens…?! What were the clues? It’s a must for doing the ‘shiver-me-timbers’ voices.

 

So, how would I use this book to develop writing? Well, composition-wise, I might base a KS1 ‘Take One Book’ week around it:

  • calligram (shape poem) about the sea or a monster
  • a report about a specific sea monster (moving from general to specific – there are fab illustrations in the pirates’ thought bubbles)
  • free verse poem of expanded noun phrases about a pirate ship or monster
  • instructions on ‘How to get comfy in a hammock’ or ‘How to hide your treasure’
  • an explanation of what life is like as a pirate, for someone new to the crew (e.g. putting on your scary outfit, washing the decks)
  • a (persuasive) letter to the monster asking for pirate number 5 back (intriguing, huh?), or to Captain Purplebeard asking to be excused from the trip

 

Another layer I would peel would be the transcription. It’s a gold-mine for KS1 spelling! Drawing on the vocabulary within the book, I would lift out a specific word, write it out slowly, drawing attention to the trickier phonic bits and then make links to other words that contain a similar letter string (analogy), or unit of meaning (morpheme). We would then put it back together, reading it again in context to increase fluent decoding and understanding, and having attended to the fine detail there is a good chance their spelling attempts will be improved. The children could help make word family posters, Working Wall collections, or interactive resources, building their vocabulary from one root, e.g. fiddle (see www.highlandliteracy.com for more ideas around building vocabulary).

 

board a/board board/ed
fiddle fiddl/ed fiddl/es fiddl/er
fright fright/en frighten/ed fright/en/ing
care care/ful care/ful/ly care/less care/less/ly

These strategies around word-breaking and building are particularly useful when shifting children from purely phonetically plausible to conventional or accurate spelling, as it helps add memory triggers, associations and connections to words and letter strings with an otherwise complex phonic code. They especially help children who are showing signs of spelling difficulties, and making links with spelling also helps with reading fluency. The book, or just these approaches, could be used with older struggling readers and writers as a guided learning text or in 1:1 support and intervention.

You’ll see I have suggested many ways of making connections between words and other areas of knowledge; this is so that children can see how if they know one thing they can get to another themselves, using a kind of knowledge capital – an especially powerful skill for effective learning and found to help disadvantaged learners and non-, alike. What is interesting is that most good quality picture books offer the same range of opportunities, it’s just a matter of selectively diving for the right pearls, using a book you treasure.

 

Convinced you yet? Then here be some nuggets of yer spelling treasure…

Teaching ideas – Pirate Cruncher

NB: Pages are not numbered in the actual book – they are notionally numbered here to help you find the words. A slash has been used to show where efficient ‘chunking’ might be used, e.g. to analyse morphemes, onset-rime etc. Also note, an ARE for spelling usually also forms the previous year group’s/phase’s ARE for reading, which can help with differentiation (see HfL’s ‘Guided Reading at YR-KS1’ booklet and spelling support folder for further guidance on this, on the PPA+ website).

Phonological learning ARE yr gp Example words to lift out of text & study Page no. Teaching ideas
One sound spelt different ways. 1

 

 

1

 

 

1-6

care(ful/ly), compare, there, share, scare, beware.

 

cause/s, haul, roar/ed, board/ed, more, before, shore.

 

bellow/ed, though.

1, 5, 5,

7, 13, 22.

 

4, 5, 5, 9,

6, 21, 22.

 

3, 13.

Create lists in sorting columns to identify the ‘Best Bet’ GPCs & draw out patterns/links.

 

Split digraphs (need to know letter names). 1

1

 

out/side, smile/d, like/s.

came, case, made, make/s.

bone/s, home.

3, 8, 11.

9, 26, 12, 20.

13, 18.

The final ‘e’ stretches the ‘i’ & makes it say its name (when two vowels go walking the first one often does the talking).
Try out using short and long vowel sounds (inc letter names). 1

1

2

2

wind.

treasure, spread, dread.

wild(est), behind, find.

old, hold, told, only (CEW), most.

2

blurb, 15, 15.

letter, 9, 9.

9, 19, 22, 18, 19.

Link: ‘win’, ‘window’.

Link: ‘head’, ‘bread’.

Link: ‘I’m’.

Link: ‘gold’.

Soft letters (these sound a bit like their letter names). 2

2

2

2

imagine, scourge, allergic.

trudge/ d

once (also a Y1 CEW)

danc /ing

5, 12, 14.

19

8

9

Soft ‘g’ as in ‘giant’.

Link: ‘edge’ (maths).

Soft ‘c’ as in ‘ice’.

Soft ‘c’ as in ‘ice’; show root has ‘ce’.

Spell the ‘o’ sound with ‘a’ after the letter ‘w’. 2

2

was (also a Y1 CEW)

what (also a Y1 CEW)

 

1

9

 

Investigate these known CEWs (cf analogy).
Ending ‘-le’ is most likely for ‘l’ sound at end of words. 2

2

2

2

2

trouble

candle(lit)

fiddle

twinkle(s)

terrible

blurb, 4

2

2

4

19

Make link with CEW ‘little’ (analogy).
Spell ‘s’ sounding like ‘z’. 2

2

3-4

treasure, measure

(un)usual(ly)

vision(s)

blurb, 11

1

15

Try ‘over-articulation’, pronouncing it as ‘ss’.
Silent letters. 2

5-6

5-6

wrong

island (Y3/4 word list)

doubt

25

9

26

Etymology: e.g. the ‘w’ in ‘wr’ was likely pronounced once, like ‘writing’, ‘wrap’ and ‘wreck’.
Vowel quadgraph ‘ough’. 5-6 enough (Y3/4 word list)

though (Y3/4 word list)

brought

7

13

26

Link: laugh p22 (Y2).

Contrast: through (Y2).

Link: ought.

 

Morphological learning ARE yr gp Example words to lift out of text & study Page no. Teaching ideas
Add suffix ‘-ed’ where no change is needed to root word. 1

1

1

1

listen/ed

appear/ed

bellow/ed

(un)furl/ed

 

1

3

3

7

 

Sounds like you add just ‘d’ but the morpheme ‘ed’ needs to stay as a unit to show past tense. Add manipulative variations to working wall: e.g. listen, listen/s, listen/ing, listen/ed.
Add suffix ‘-s’ where no change is needed to root word. 1 monster/s

 

map

 

Add just an ‘-s’ on end to pluralise.

Could link to other roles/jobs, e.g. someone who teaches is a teacher; someone who is monstrous is a monster.

Add suffix ‘-y’ where no change is needed to root word. 1

1

1

thirst/y

health/y

happy

3

22

22

Discuss having that quality; having some thirst/health.

Link to having ‘happiness’ > ‘-ness’ words.

Add suffix ‘-ing’ where no change is needed to root word. 1 float/ing 2 Make family: float, float/s, float/er, float/ing, float/ed.
Add suffix ‘-er’ where no change is needed to root word. 1 crunch/er

 

title

 

Look at how we make a verb into a noun when someone who does that thing IS that person (noun).
Add suffix ‘-est’ where no change is needed to root word. 1 wild/est

 

letter List comparatives: wild, wilder, wildest. Link to Maths language of measurement.
Add prefix ‘un-’. 1

1

un/usual

un/furl

 

1

7

 

Play prefix dominoes as a class, making a chain of words that ‘undo’.
Add suffix ‘-ful’ where no change is needed to root word. 2 care/ful(ly)

 

 

1

 

Discuss being ‘full of care’ – what else can we be ‘full of’?
Add suffix ‘-ly’. 2-4

1-2

2

2

2

2

2

monstrous/ly

unusual/ly

careful/ly

dastard/ly

personal/ly

actual/ly

coward/ly

blurb

1

1

3

4

17

18

Walk/freeze-frame in the manner of the word; children write adverb on mini w/b’s; say ‘321 Show Me’.
Add ‘-es’ to a noun where change is needed to root word. 2

 

ruby > rubies

 

letter

 

Change ‘y’ to ‘i’ and add ‘-es’.

 

Add ‘-ed’ to a verb where change is needed to root word. 2

2

2

2

2

reply > replied

try > tried

worry > worried

fiddle > fiddled

scribble > scribbled

5

9

21

3

5

Change ‘y’ to ‘I’ & add ‘-ed’.

Change ‘y’ to ‘I’ & add ‘-ed’.

Change ‘y’ to ‘I’ & add ‘-ed’.

Drop the ‘e’ before adding ‘ed’.

Drop the ‘e’ before adding ‘ed’.

Add ‘-er’ to a word where change is needed to root word. 2 fiddle > fiddl/er

safe > saf/er

 

3

22

Drop the ‘e’ before adding ‘er’.

 

Add suffix ‘-ing’ where change is needed to root word. 2, 2

2, 2

 

putt/ing, forgett/ing

wip/ing, com/ing

 

 

3, 24

3, 9

 

Double the consonant.

Drop the ‘e’ before adding ‘ing’.

 

Choose between similar suffixes. 5-6

3-4

partial

dangerous

4

26

Look at root word’s last consonant.

 

 

Other ARE yr gp Example words to lift out of text & study Page no. Teaching ideas
Homophones or near homophones 2

 

hear

there

our

their

you’re

know

sure, shore

brought

2

5

8

9

22

22

21, 22

26

Link to meaning via ‘ear’.

Link to ‘here’ and ‘where’.

Link to meaning via ‘your’.

Link to ‘her’ & poss ‘your’.

Separate out into 2 words.

Etymology: cnawan (Old Eng).

Link ‘sure’ to ‘treasure’.

Link to ‘bring’ & note the ‘r’.

Homographs 1 wind 2 Try out long and short vowel pronunciations (homograph – looks the same, sounds different).
Contractions 1-2 I’ll, there’ll, you’ll, he’ll, we’ll.

couldn’t, doesn’t, don’t.

who’ve.

there’s, he’s, it’s.

let’s

I’ve, I’m.

you’re, we’re.

7, 7, 9, 15, 17.

21, 13, 17.

9

11, 13, 17.

15

17, 17.

22, 22.

Expand to two words, e.g. showing future tense of modal verb ‘I will [show]’, ‘there will [be]’. Magnetic letters are useful, to physically knock out letters with an apostrophe.
Analogy: onset & rime (long vowels become mostly consistent) 2

3-4

 

could

caught

[be]h/ind > f/ind

b/east, f/east

2

3

9, 9

13, 14

Link to ‘w/ould’ & ‘sh/ould’.

Link to ‘t/aught’.

 

Possessive apostrophe (singular) 2 the Captain’s delight

fiddler’s last song

the Parrot’s Point picnic

5

25

17

Expand to ‘the x belonging to the y’ (singular noun).