Kitchen sink drama

5th October 2007 at 01:00

Ages 7 to 11

Newspaper articles can often be a good source of stories for literacy. In April, The Times ran a story about a hamster called Henry who had become stuck behind the kitchen sink.

First a neighbour tried tying hamster ladders together, then two community wardens used a wire with cord spiralled around it for him to climb up. Finally, they cut the base from a yogurt pot and lowered it on wire to scoop him out.

But nothing worked until the vacuum cleaner was called for and put on its lowest setting. Henry was sucked on to the end of the nozzle without going into the bag.

What a wonderful gift to a literacy teacher. It had all the elements of a story characters, setting, problem and a resolution.

I produced an annotated copy for teacher use, highlighting unfamiliar vocabulary and noting adverbial clauses and a mind map of all the directions we could take this story.

The poem structure was to select a preposition under, over, above, next to or across then pair it with a noun such as sofa, curtains or toy box. Finally, add an exciting or powerful verb. The result was lines such as: "Under the sofa Henry scuttled. Up the curtains Henry scrabbled. Inside the toy box Henry nibbled."

Michelle Gregory is AST literacy leader at Oakfield First School in Windsor, Berkshire

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