Big Writing teaches children the mechanics of writing through studying Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation (VCOP) which can be applied to any writing style or genre.
Openers - by varying the way you open sentences, writing becomes more engaging to read. Try opening your sentences with words beginning with 'ing' or 'ly'. For example, "Peering nervously around the corner, the burglar watched as the police car drove away." Or, "Anxiously, his heart pounding at his chest, the burglar watched as the police car drove away."
Punctuation - the ‘icing on the cake’, so to speak! Children are encouraged to use appropriate punctuation to lift their writing off the page and to enable the reader to make sense of the text. The punctuation pyramid in the picture above shows the hierarchy of punctuation that children are taught and encouraged to use.
Vocabulary - every child is encouraged to widen their use of language, in order to make their writing richer e.g. ‘The sirens filled the sky.’ - not that interesting! However, by developing vocabulary: ‘The screaming sirens were suffocating the silent night.’ is a far more interesting sentence to read. Children 'steal' WOW words that they come across as they read texts. They store these and use them again in their own writing. Encourage your children to look out for wonderful words that they can WOW their friends with. And most importantly, encourage your child to read widely and regularly. Take them to the library and immerse them in the wonderful world of books.
Connectives - or joining words, are really important for ensuring writing is cohesive and interesting. Using connectives automatically creates more interesting complex sentences, whether you use the most simple connectives such as and or but, or whether you use more sophisticated ones such as furthermore, nevertheless, consequently or however.
BIG TALKING - HOW YOU CAN HELP YOUR CHILDREN:
The night before 'Big Writing' the children should have Talk Homework to prepare (mentally) what they will write about the next day. This should mean that they may bring home a slip of paper that says, 'My homework tonight is to talk to you about _________. Please may we turn the television off for this?' Or they may tell you what the Big Writing task is for the following day. We suggest that as many family members as possible should be there for this and that it is most enjoyable when sitting round a table taking a meal together. There is no writing involved in this preparation.
The more preparation your child has done through talking with you, the better their writing will be. The most important reason for the talking homework is to develop their thought process...If they can’t discuss and verbalise their ideas, how can we expect them to write them down?
For information on resources we use to teach handwriting, including useful handwriting rhymes, please see our guidelines below.
A resource from Lesley Clarke for parents to learn all about phonics and find out how best to support your child to develop his/her phonics skills and become a better reader and writer.