Farm fun

16th March 2007 at 00:00
Literacy Ages 8 to 11

Young spellers struggling to tell you why you add an s to key or toy but change the y in baby to ies clearly need a helping hand - so why not enlist the help of Old MacDonald?

Pupils can have great fun setting nouns ending in y to the tune of "Old MacDonald had a farm".

A shop makes more sense than a farm - "And in that shop he had some toys", for example. The class then sing the question Y or I-E-S? instead of the chorus ee-ay-ee-ay-oh, and each time a different pupil completes the verse "with an A-Y-S" or "with an I-E-S", as appropriate.

Give them a couple of moments' thinking time to consider their options and remember the rule (vowel before the y, just add s; if there is a consonant before the y, change to ies).

Then on cue, each pupil should - hopefully - have reinforced the spelling rule and set it memorably to music for an increasingly varied and imaginative set of words John Gallagher is head of English at Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today