English- Wednesday 3rd June
We have become experts in what makes an information and exciting DK Eye Witness non-fiction book page. We are now ready to start preparing to write our own. To do this, we need to make a plan and do some research.
First of all, you need to decide which natural disaster you are going to write about. You might choose to write about one you are really confident with and know lots about already (e.g. earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis) or you might see one you want to find out more about (e.g. tornados, avalanches or hurricanes).
Today we are going to make a plan. Think about the DK Eyewitness page layout you did on Monday. Here is my example to remind you.
It has an introduction, six main sections of writing, two labelled diagrams and two pictures with captions. I am going to use this as the basis for my planning, but you might want to add an extra section or only do five sections. Or you might want to do another labelled diagram and one less picture with a caption. It is totally up to you and will depend on the natural disaster you have chosen and how confident you feel with this piece of writing.
For the activities today, you need to do Activity 1 and then choose Activity 2 or Activity 3.
Start to think about the sections of writing you are going to do and the pictures/diagrams you are going to include. These do not have to be definite and can change after your research, but it is good to have a rough idea of the sort of things you want to include before researching. Here are some examples of things you might want to think about:
For each section you have chosen, start to think about what sort of information and facts you will want to find to put in that section. You could jot these down if you don’t want to forget your amazing ideas, or you could think about and discuss them ready for tomorrow.
Whether you choose to now do Activity 2 or Activity 3, think about these questions as you are doing it.
Have you got enough to fill the pages? If not, what could you add?
Have you got too much? If so, could you combine sections? Remember you have got your introduction that could include some of this detail.
Write each of your sections and pictures on a small piece of paper or post-it note. Experiment with different ways you could arrange them on a double page (or two pieces of A4 sheets of paper).
Design your layout by drawing the sections like we did for the example page. You could do this by hand or you might want to do it on the computer.
Tuesday June 2nd
Did you enjoy reading the information pages yesterday? Here are the answers to Activity 2 with reasons why.
Today we are going to look at some of the language used in DK Eyewitness information pages. We need to make sure we are using the same sort of language as them and to do that we need to know what the words mean and be able to use them ourselves.
Sophisticated, formal language is used throughout the book, even though it is for children. This is because it is not a personal piece of writing and is very factual. Have a look at the difference between formal and informal language in this picture.
When working out what a new piece of language means, a top tip is to read around the word. When reading around the word you can try to replace the unknown word with a word you do know. This will help work out what it means. Have a look at my example below working out what ‘precariously’ means.
If you are really not sure, you can use a dictionary.
Choose an activity below within Activity 1 to find out the meanings of the words then have a go at Activity 2 to practise using them for your own piece of writing later in the week.
Match the word from the Natural Disasters pages to its meaning. You could do this by drawing lines, writing them out in your own table of words and definitions or by chopping them up into cards and playing a pairs game.
1. Find the word in the text by skimming and scanning
2. Read around the word
3. Find the matching definition that would make sense in that context
The answers are there too so you can check before trying Activity 2
Choose 4 of the words you have learned the meaning of today and write your own sentence about a natural disaster of your choice using that word. For example, ‘precariously’ from earlier I could use in an earthquake information page. Although it is an adverb, I could change it to be just ‘precarious’ if I want to.
Building foundations stand precariously after an earthquake.
Monday 1st June
Before half term, you did a topic lesson each week on a different aspect of ‘The Moving Earth’ including volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis. The next two weeks for your English learning, you are going to write a non-chronological report (information text) for one of these features of your choice. Or you could choose to write about a moving earth topic we haven’t covered yet to find out more about it like hurricanes, tornados or avalanches. You don’t need to make a decision right now, but be thinking about it today and tomorrow ready to make your decision on Wednesday.
Have you ever read a DK Eyewitness information book? They are non-fiction books on a particular topic and have lots of information and pictures to help children understand that topic.
Over the next two weeks, you are going to write and create your own double page to go into the ‘natural disasters’ book. Today, you are going to have a look at and read some example pages to find out what a good information page in one of these books looks like, how it is organised and what sort of information it includes.
Activity 1 – read examples
Have a read of some of the double page entries in the Natural Disasters book using the link below. We recommend at least two so you can get an idea of the things that are consistent in this non-fiction book. Two have been saved as word documents if you would prefer to print and read them.
Activity 2 – genre specific
After reading at least one of the double page entries in the Natural Disasters book, answer the following true or false questions to work out what a good double page entry is going to need.
True or false, an information page for the natural disasters book:
Can you prove it by finding evidence? You could highlight the evidence on your example if you are able to. Look out for the answers tomorrow.
Activity 3 - layout
Draw a rough copy of what a double page looks like and label the key features including: title, subheading, picture, diagram, caption, label, paragraph of text, etc.
Here is my example:
Friday 22nd May
We have finished our Alma story now and we are really proud of how hard you worked on it. The Alma film leaves me with lots of unanswered questions – who owned that shop? Why did they open it? Who are the other dolls and how did they get there? Who will be next? Will this ever end? This is what makes it such a great film clip.
So, today we are going to use our imagination to answer one of those questions – who are the other dolls and how did they get there? To do this you need to choose one of the dolls. This could be the Alma doll if you would like to make it easier.
You may even want to think about the doll on the bike who was trying to escape through the door before it slammed shut.
You are then going to create a missing poster for this ‘child’ who has turned into a doll. Have a look at this template.
You can use your imagination to fill most of this in but it needs to be detailed. You want to find that missing child!
Description: here you need to describe in detail what the ‘doll’ looks like as that is an identical version of the child. Think carefully about using expanded noun phrases (like earlier in the week) to describe the child. This mind map gives you some ideas to think about.
Last seen: here you need to describe what the child was doing before they disappeared. Remember, Alma was skipping along the street and wrote her name on the whiteboard? Your doll might have done something similar if you think that’s how she ended up in the shop. Or you might think of your own story for the doll. Whatever you decide, you need to describe in detail what they were doing. Think carefully about your verb choices.
You can create your own missing poster design or use the template below. We look forward to seeing some of your missing posters and the stories you think are behind the characters/dolls!
Thursday 21st May
How did you get on with trying to include lots of description yesterday? I found it hard to think of an appropriate simile so left that out in the end but the personification and onomatopoeia are good examples, so do not worry if you haven’t included a simile yet either, we can try today!
Today is our last day writing our Alma story. We have spent a long time on this piece of writing because it is such a good video for you to experiment with creating an atmosphere using effective language choices.
The actual Alma video ends with a new doll appearing at the window, but I am going to finish my story on a cliff hanger so am only going to write up to the part where she becomes a doll. You can do this too, or you can carry on the story for a bit longer, it is up to you.
Have a watch of the video from the minute she touches the nose (3:46) to her becoming the doll (3:52) or longer if you want to go to the very end - https://www.literacyshed.com/alma.html
To get that sense of panic when she is turning into the doll, we are going to look at short sentences along with our other techniques for creating suspense. Can you remember what they are?
Did you think about rhetorical questions, repetition, building up to the main event?
What one or two word sentences could we use to show the freeze in time or the shock and confusion Alma is feeling?
Here are my notes:
Have a look at my video for how I have tried to include all these writing techniques for our final paragraph.
Here is our final Alma story. Make sure you read through your Alma story to check you are happy with the atmosphere you have created throughout. We would love to read some of your final pieces, so if you can, please email them to us.
As the sky brightened, the crisp white snowflakes tumbled towards the earth. Joyfully, Alma tried her best to dart and dodge in between each flake as she hopped along the street. Leaving a trail of footprints behind her, her pale pink gilet was the colour of her rosy cheeks and her small button nose. This young girl did not have a care in the world as she continued to skip playfully through the glistening snow.
Suddenly she skidded to a halt as her eyes were drawn towards a wall of names. The wall was illustrated with the names of boys and girls; each carefully scribed in white chalk – some large, some small, some straight, some crooked. As she stared at the wall, taking in each and every signature, Alma smiled. Slowly and carefully she bent down and picked up a little stump of chalk that rested on the stone floor below the wall. Without thinking, she etched her own name ‘Alma’ on the grey canvas. Stepping back, she gazed up at her name adoringly.
But, at that moment, an eerie metallic creak pierced the silence of the winter’s day. Alma no longer felt alone, she felt compelled to turn around….. Hesitating, she stepped towards the dark window uneasily. A frosty chill shot down her spine as she approached. She shivered.
There it stood. The doll. Not just any doll, no. Alma loved dolls. But this doll….. this doll was something very different. It was an identical image of herself: the pale pink gilet, the rosy cheeks, the small button nose, the grey bobble hat sat upon its head. It stood proudly behind the dusty window in an old run-down shop, of which Alma was sure had been empty a few minutes ago.
Alma took in every inch of the identical doll’s body and face; her eyes wide and her mouth forged open. Why did she look the same as her? She looked down at her own clothes, in disbelief, taking her eyes off the doll for a split second. When she looked up towards the window once again, the doll was gone….
Frantically, Alma pressed her face up against the grubby window, searching desperately for another glance at the doll. ‘Where did it go?’ she wondered, her heart pounding violently inside her chest. After just a few seconds of searching, Alma spotted the doll, stood on the table. But how did it move? Could it be alive? Without a second thought, Alma – anxious and confused - tugged at the bronze door handle, desperate to unlock it so that she could investigate the strange doll more closely. After many failed attempts, the door remained locked and with a large exhale she let go. Just at that moment, the door creaked open with ease, as though it had not been locked at all. ‘I am sure that it had been locked,’ thought Alma, bemused. Despite her bewilderment, Alma pushed the door fully open and began to amble cautiously into the shop.
A smile spread slowly across Alma’s face. All around her, in each and every corner of the tight room, high and low, were shelves lined with dolls – some large, some small, some smiling, some frowning, dolls of little boys and dolls of little girls. And right there, in the centre of the room, stood Alma’s doll. Alma stretched her hand out to take the doll, but as she did,
she suddenly tripped and knocked over a tiny figurine, dressed all in black, that must have been circling the floor on a tiny wind-up bicycle. She knelt down to pick the small doll up and returned it to its original position, and as she did, its mechanisms caused it to drive straight into the shop door and slam it shut. This made Alma smile. What an interesting shop!
Remembering why she had entered the shop, Alma sprung back up from the floor to try to take the doll, only to find out that it had disappeared…again. Alma gasped and began to search the shelves frantically with her eyes. “How did that happen? How is this doll moving?” she speculated, as she was sure that she was alone. Alma searched the floor. She searched the walls. She spun and spun and searched all around. Until suddenly she saw it – right at the top of the highest shelf.
Alma felt a wave of relief surge through her body. She could not explain what was happening but knew that she just had to have that special doll. Climbing on the nearest obstacle in front of her (an old, withered sofa), Alma began to reach up towards the doll, tearing off her woollen mitten as she did so to give herself more grip. Desperate and determined, she stretched and stretched, standing tall on her tiptoes and gripping on to the shelf below with her other hand.
Finally, her finger touched the tip of the identical doll’s small button nose, when…
Alma felt her entire body melt away, as though devoured by an unknown black abyss. Each one of her limbs bent and curled and snapped and shrunk while her mind erupted like a volcano.
Then, silence. Still.
Alma knew that she was still alive. However, as she wrestled with her eyes to drag them open, she found herself gazing down from the top shelf of the shop through a pair of still, shiny eyes. All she could hear was her muffled, desperate breaths. She could not move. She could not speak. She could not even scream. She was trapped.
The young girl, with not a care in the world, was no longer a girl. She was a doll…