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That special something;Books

SPECIAL NEEDS ESSENTIALS FOR ENGLISH SERIES:Skills for Writing Reading with Understanding Skills for Reading By Norma Gaunt and Jane Whitwell. Scholastic pound;5.99 each. In every class there are children who will need extra support. With large class sizes and an increasing workload, it is hard for teachers to produce quality materials to meet their needs. Scholastic recognise this with the Special Needs Essentials for English series.

The activities in the three books for Years 3 to 6 are devised to help children having difficulties with spelling, writing and reading.

Skills for Writing has sections on handwriting, spelling, grammar and writing activities. The activities can be used independently or collaboratively. My pupils enjoyed the riddle game, where children had to write three sentences describing an animal for another child to guess. They went on to make up riddles related to their topic work. Skills for Reading has sections on recognising sight words, phonological awareness and reading in context. The activities, accompanied by illustrations, are in a clear format with large text.

A third book, Reading with Understanding, offers a sympathetic, useful approach to reading text for different purposes, helping pupils to extract information from a variety of sources. It includes activities to improve dictionary skills. Many of the tasks are based on familiar topics like the Tudors and Egypt.

The activities also encourage the use of practical equipment such as rulers and scissors - important skills for pupils with poor motor ability.

This is the kind of material that any good teacher would prepare for children with learning difficulties, if they had the time. However, as the introduction warns, they should be used with thought. To use them as "time-fillers" would undermine their value.

Nicola Jones is a special needs and English teacher

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