Let's open the window on the target language World

I love buildings and I love doors and windows.I like to imagine who may be behind the door etc.

With our more advanced learners at the start of the academic year it is a great opportunity to get them talking again! 

Let's give them a picture stimulus for this!

Here are  some photos I have taken this year in France and Spain that we are going to use to get our children using prior knowledge in the target language in a creative way!

All the pictures involve the children pretending to open a window or a door to reveal the person behind the door and create the character.

Just who is behind the door or the window?

This activity and the picture stimulus is a great device to focus on grammar from the previous year.

We can ask the children to use adjectives to describe the person behind a specific window or door.

We can ask the children to use verbs to allow the person behind the window or the door to explain what he/she is doing or whet he/she likes to do

We can use questions and answres to find out more in the first and secind person singular about the person behind the window or door.

All the children need to do is open the door or window of their choice and create the imaginary character behind the door or window! 

Let them stick the picture in their record books and ask them to cut round three sides of their chosen window or the frame of the door and add a drawn sketch of their imaginary person or creature behind the closed window or door.

This can be a spoken activity or it could be a written text ........

Great fun and creative use of language at the same time and an opportunity to revisit and re-use language and structure from prior learning.

When I grow up, I will be a .....

I spent last week in France and was delighted to meet five year old Sophie who had all her precious possessions in a most marvellous rucksack! (I saw the whole range of these rucksacks in a toy shop window in  Dijon last summer and was inspirec by them then!)
Thanks to Sophie though I now have a noun collector!

You see there is a whole range of rucksacks,pencil cases and bags sporting pictures such as:

The activities I now have in mind could be done in all languages!
  1. First of all ask the children to share their aspirations for the future in English
  2. Now ask them to look up in bilingual dictionaries their apsirational jobs and roles they would like to have in the future 
  3. Create an alphabetical list of the roles the children would like- in the target language.Ask the children to help you do this and to then sign their names against their aspirational jobs and roles on the list.How many doctors, nurses, farmers , dancers etc have you potentially got in your class?
  4. Engage the children with table or group games of charades to guess the professions
  5. Ask the children to create a a class display of characters (like those in the drawings above) conveying the roles/ professions.On each pucture ask the children to write the sentence in the target language "When I grow up I will be a ....".Ask them to omit the role or profession and to write this on a separate piece of paper or card
  6. Create a gap filler velcro or blu-tac display and invite children up to read the names of the roles and professions on the paper/ card and to place them at the end of the incomplete sentence under the correct drawing in your class art gallery
  7. Now it's time to design the rucksacks/pencil cases or bags to suit the aspirations of your class e.g the footballer/ prince/ doctor/ teacher/policeman etcetra. 
  8. Ask the children to design their container (it must be able to hold card strips with nouns written on the card strips). it could be a rucksack/pencil case or  bag.They must wirte the incomplete sentence on the container (without the noun for the role or profession)
  9. The children must then consider what objects  might be found in the  container etc if it belonged to a footballer/ prince etc. For example in Sophie's rucksack she had a crown,a dress and a ring- all for her role as "Princess Sophie"!
  10. Can the children use bilingual dictionaires to find the objects to put in their containers?
  11. And now we have our final game- display the containers and number them. Invite children to investigate the nouns in the containers - can they guess the role or profession from the objects in the bag?
  12. The children must write down the number of the container and the noun for the role or profession they have guessed.
  13. Invite the children to bring their containers to the front and to say the complete sentence with  the role or profession  .
  14. Which children have guessed the correct role or profession for each container?
  15. And finally we can take a photo of the container, insert the face of the child and load the picture on to Chatterpix or Yakit for Kids - now thew children can record for posterity their aspirational role or profession!  

Hats away! Fashion show descriptive sentences and creative records

I have just read this fabulous article about Alexander McQueen and his fashion designs here in the Guardian Fierce ,feathered and fragile

With our Year 5 at the moment we are working on fashion shows and looking carefully at adjectival position and agreement after the verb "to wear" and the conjugation of the verb- so we can describe fashion shows.
It was the picture I noticed first of all. Inspriational! Let's really make our fashion shows come to life this year! How well take a look below....

  • Yakit for Kids Fashion Show

Last year Emilie Woodruffe shared with us non her blog how the children were able to create Yakit for Kids recorded designs of their outfits.Have a listen to one of theme here Je porte .......

  • Paradigm of porter

Last week Julie Prince took us through how we can create a physical paradigm of the verb porter.You can find out more in this Storify report of Julie Prince WTSA/JLN CPD

  • Hats Away!

And now what about Hats Away?
It's nearly Easter and this will make a final grand hurrah to our work on verbs and adjectives linked to clothes, colours and more detailed descriptions.Let's make our own " hat written and spoken records"
  • The hats can be fashion designer hats, sports hats, silly hats, Easter festival hats
  • All the hats can be 2D drawings or created as 3D hats in card (to be worn)
  • Each hat needs to contain a description of the hat, written into parts of the hat for example the butterfly hat in the picture could have the parts of full sentences written on individual butterflies which are colour coded so that you read all the blue butterflies for example to read  a full sentence: "je porte grand un chapeau multicolore (etc) 
  • Now let's take some talking photos- simplest form will be video or cam corder clips with the hat wearer speaking or Chatterpix if you can use APPS would be really effective.
  • One creative step further with Hats away!

Some of our schools have been looking at how to describe the characters of Alice in Wonderland.You can read the original blogpost Alice in Wonderland Describing People  and see the wonderful written results here in Progress in writing
So why not give your fashion show a theme : "A madhatters tea party .... and then it really will be "Hats away!"

  • Hat Links
Finally some of the links and photos in this blog post from February 2014 may be additional resources that you would like to add to your learning programme: Chapeau and carnival time

Alice in Wonderland and describing people in speaking and writing

What a gift these new commemorative stamps are to celebrate 150 years since Lewis Carroll told his first story about Alice in Wonderland!

In the new DfE POS we are asked at KS2 to offer children the opportunity to:

"speak in full sentences"

"ask and answer questions"

"engage in conversations"

"describe people in speaking and writing ""

The article on CBBC news about the stamps is clear and child friendly with brilliant pictures of the stamps.

Click here!

Here is a perfect way to engage our young learners in speaking,writing and creating descriptions... and as I write I am about 7 miles from Daresbury ,where the village celebrates its connections to Lewis Carroll. Indeed there is a strained glass window to celebrate Alice in wonderland in the church and our local town Warrington has a stone table statue celebrating "The Mad Hatter's tea party"

Thanks to Ana and Emilie here are some of the main characters' names in French and Spanish


Alice - Alice

Madhatter- le chapelier fou

Cheshire cat- le chat du Cheshire

The white rabbit - le lapin blanc


Alice- Alice

Madhatter- El sombrero loco

Cheshire Cat -- el gato de Cheshire

The white rabbit- el conejo blanco

So first of all let's have a tea party! 

Of  course we could act out what we see and hold a simple food, cafe or at table conversation.  

We can use all the language we have practised based on foods, likes, dislikes and if you follow our SOW table language from Year 6 to animate this picture of the table with speech bubbles and to create the perfect menu too.....  

Now let's create our own stained glass window

Let's investigate the series of stained glass windows in Daresbury church with characters from Alice in Wonderland.Take a look at

the stained glass window here


  • Let's change the speech bubbles and add our own questions and answers between the characters - as simple as necessary of course ( ranging from greetings,farewells, feelings, likes, dislikes, the time etc)  
  • Let's make it a piece opf Art with tissue [paper and clear glue and add our speech bubbles and writing
  • Let's bring the pictures to life by importing the pictures in to APPs such as Tiny Tap  and adding a recording of the children's voices as sound patches over the  the speech bubbles in character.Can they say the words in character too?

Let's explore the characters!

Show them the film trailers in the target language! (Alice et les pays des Merveilles is French version and Alice en el pais de Maravillas is the Spanish version and the German version is Alice im Wunderland)

Show them the stamps and the images

A simple description:

Ask the children who are moving on learners (Year 4 /Year 5) to use bi-lingual dictionaries to write two simple sentences using the verb to be and two simple sentences using the verb to have about a character.We could record our spoken language on

Yakit for kids

. Here is an example......

Alice est jolie

Alice est petite

Alice a les cheveux blondes

Alice a les yeux bleus

Adding challenge to the description

Let's see if the more advanced young learners (Year 5/6) can complete some present tense sentence descriptions about the characters and add at least one independently written sentence of their own.Here is an example :

le lapin blanc est..............

le lapin blanc porte..........

Le lapin blanc n'aime pas .........


Now let's bring the characters to life with animation using 

Funny Movie Maker

 where you import your picture of the character and add spoken words (so the children's description).There is an android version of this too.


nd let's keep a written  record of the descriptions 

  • as posters in a class book of Alice in Wonderland or 
  • as our own commemorative A4 stamps with a picture of the character and the words and sentences around the character that the children have written in the target language.
  • as PicCollage posters with imported additional pictures of the book in the target language from the web!

Carnival conversations in speaking and writing with triaramas used as stage sets

I am getting ready for the first of several local network meetings where we will look at some of the new POS learning objectives and put these in to real language teaching and learning contexts.

Our theme is "Celebrating Carnival" and our learning objectives look at how a young learners develops the skills of communication in the target language.We are considering how we move from 

asking and answering questions
engaging in conversations
 describing people places and things orally and in writing

The activities described below will allow children who are moving on in their language learning - so in their late second,third or fourth year of learning to practise their use of questions and answers and to move on  to possibly develop conversations accurately.

We are basing these activities on our "Aliens at Carnival"  power point where we will investigated the language required to share some simple facts about a target language carnival -(the sounds , the sights,  the fun , the fancy dress etc).

We are going to create stage sets and put our "aliens on the stage" as puppets/ actors, which the teacher and the children can decide to make "live" ( spoken) performances between alien characters or "freeze frames" (written speech bubble) frozen conversations between two characters.

Here is a step by step guide top how I made my "stage set"

I printed off the stage set ,using a slide from our alien ppt.I think you just need to find a similar background colourful picture if you can't access the ppt

I cut the picture down to a square shape,folded the picture  to make the Triarama and inserted a cut from the bottom right hand corner to the centre of the square

With blu -tac(or with glue ) I crossed over the bottom left and right triangle to create the stage in my triarama.

I now printed off the ppt slide a second time, but this time on card and cut out two alien characters that I wanted to talk to each other on my stage set.I made sure that there was a small strip of empty card below their feet , so that I could fold this over and stand the characters upright on set and secure  the characters to the set with blu-tac.Blu-tac  so that I can change the characters and therefore move from questions and answers to a conversation and maybe introduce other characters too and asides and and additional opinions!

And now I thought of the text I wanted to write on two card speech bubbles.These are secured with blu-tac to the characters om the reverse of their heads so that I can change the questions and answers and again create a sequence of questions and answers that would in turn create a dialogue which could lead to a conversation .

Why do I like this and how might I take this further in KS2 learning?
  • Well this strikes me a s a learning device that can be used with children in KS2 who know basic questions and answers based around likes and dislikes.
  • It's a physical way of developing role plays that can be dynamic and can be changed and questions and answers altered,adapted  or given to other characters   
  • It can also be an opportunity to offer more independent speaking and writing opportunities to children to describe people,places and thing and to add opinions  
  • There is the opportunity here to set the scene, so one pair writes the speech bubbles and gives these to a second pair.The second pair reconstructs the dialogue using the  characters they have and creates the dynamic conversation using their characters and their triarama  stage set.

And in to KS3?
This could be an opportunity in Y7 to revisit the carnival and look again at the alien story of the carnival , but this time to write a past tense dialogues, asking what was seen, heard, eaten , likes, dislikes etc or a near future dialogue about what the characters are looking forward to seeing etc! 

Dennis the Menace concertina characters

Simplest of ideas to share target language learning and  Dennis the Menace on World Book day, (which is one of the World Book Day freebies!) with your more advanced orimary target language learners.
Make your own concertina Dennis the Menace characters and practise the new DfE POS learning objective.

Describing people in writing
Broadening vocabulary and developing ability to understand new words!

Here is a simple example in the third person singular- the description sentences make up the red and black stripes of his jumper!
I would suggest you support children with either key sentence prompts : name,personality,pets,likes .....or that for some children you provide writing frames with gapped sentences

And now we are ready for some spoken activities based on the sentences we have written on our concertina characters.
Here they are written in the third person singular - but the challenge could have been less by writing in the first person singular.
Ask the children to swap their characters with a partner- can the partner think of the questions they might need to ask to find out the information on the concertina character? Take the key sentence prompt words : name, pets, likes, personality and ask the children to think of core questions you can ask to find out this information.
Now your class are working on two more DfE POS learning objectives : 

asking and answering questions 
engaging in conversation 
and all the time they are 
describing people orally .

Flights of imagination with language learning

I really love to think out of the box and hope that some of the activities I create allow children tom explore the world of their imagination in another language and learning arena. It works for me because it helps me to allow learners to make the link that language is language and is a vehicle to explore the World! 

Over the last year I have posted the following blog posts  which demand that language learners explore their own imaginations through target language learning with a practical language learning purpose. Hope that the list below helps somebody out there to do something similar with their learners! 

les coquelicots et les bleuets

It's 100 years since the start of the First World War and many of you will be thinking of ways to commemorate the event.
This is a real opportunity to combine target language learning and cultural understanding.Thanks to the language coordinator at St Philips CE in Warrington , Sam Snodgrass and her very simple an effective idea to generate class displays of poppies as word art (there is an example below)

I have taken this idea and created some other simple language learning opportunities.

La valse des coquelicots  is a music and picture clip of fields of poppies- just beautiful to watch and share with your classes and explain the significance of fields of poppies.An opportunity to create a dance performance too.You will be able to use this clip as a creative backdrop to some of the activities below too.......

Les coquelicots et les bleuets

In France ,people remember the 11 November with both poppies (les coquelicots) and also cornflowers (les bleuets).
Why not create both word art poppies and word art cornflowers ( blue petals and yellow centres) for a mixed display- just simple flowers likes Sam's flowers above?

And here is also an opportunity to look at the people behind the flowers and the remembrance too and to create a display that thinks about the people and what happened to the people during the first world War. How?
Well let's create a display of people represented each time by a flower either one of les coquelicots et one of les bleuets
  • Talk with your class about the families and the impact on families during the First World War.
  • Share with the children pictures of people from the period- children,women,men,soldiers.The pictures in this video below gives children the sense of life for the soldiers and the women and children of Paris during the first World War .You could use the clip and pause the clip on a specific picture from which the children can then take their inspiration and select a person to write about. Each table is responsible to create a family unot of people

  • Ask the children to work in pairs and to create the character of the person behind the picture. Can they give the person an age, a role in the family (e.g mum,dad etc), a profession if the person is an adult and can they decide if the person is a soldier.) 
  • Give each child a flower to create either a poppy or a cornflower. For each flower ask the children to generate a face of the member of the family,drawn as a free sketch from the photo of the person   from which they have created their character.This is the centre of the flower
  • Around the centre they must draw four flower petals and in each petal in the link colour (so poppies read and cornflowers blue pen) ask the children to write a fact about the face - name/ age / profession/ role in the family.  
  • Why not take the music from la valse des coquelicots and play this as gentle background music whilst the children share their flowers and the personalities they have created with other members of the class.They simply walk around and quietly share their target language information whilst the music plays in the background.
  • And now you have your display- just add the photos of the people as a background and over the top add the flowers your children have created as a mixture of the poppies and the cornflowers in a field of remembrance!