3 writing skills to start nurturing from Primary 2

Writing skills - Word of the day

Hi, everyone! I hope that I have piqued your interest in my post with a word of the day. I’m Ms. Quek and this is my very first post on Lil’ but Mighty’s blog. Expect to learn a new word each time with my blog posts, as well as useful tips for English learning!  In my inaugural blog post today, I will be touching on writing at the Primary Two level. 

Format of continuous writing in Primary Two

At the end of Primary One, students have been exposed to writing a story based on a single picture with helping words provided. They will also have learnt the basic structure of a story (Beginning, Middle, End) and that a story usually requires a story problem. 

In Primary Two, most students are exposed to using to the format of using 4 linked pictures together to form a story. The final picture may be left blank intentionally so that students may come up with a unique ending. 

 Example of a Primary Two composition topic. Source: Google

Example of a Primary Two composition topic. Source: Google

Three writing skills to develop from Primary Two

Based on the pictures, students are expected to narrate a logical and coherent story that is vividly described. As such, planning out what will be written is important so that students have a plot in mind before they start writing. Similarly, literary techniques are essential so that students do not end up writing discrete and boring sentences that merely tell what they see in the pictures. 

Hence, in this blog post, I will be talking about 3 writing skills—planning a story, crafting detailed sentences, and 5-senses description—that students can start developing from Primary Two. Mastering these skills from young will give students a head start in writing at the upper levels!

Three writing skills to develop from Primary 2

1. Effective planning skills

Before planning, students should know that a good story always has the following aspects:

Effecting Planning Writing Skills

When teaching a student to plan a story based on the given pictures, it is good to help them understand how the pictures form the story by using a plot rollercoaster (or a story mountain as some of you may know it as) :

Writing Skills Plot Rollercoaster

In each part of the story, students have to know what they need to describe so that the story starts, develops and ends properly. 

Beginning

When starting the story, it is important to orientate the reader to the story. This means that the basic details, such as the 5W1H, should be provided so that readers have a clear understanding as to what is happening. Students should make use of Picture 1 to help them describe:

  • Who was in the story? Name of the main character?
  • Where did it take place?
  • What could be seen/heard/ felt/ smelled in the place?
  • When did it take place?
  • What was happening?
  • Why was it happening?
  • How did the characters feel?

Take note that for some pictures, you may even start your story before Picture 1! For example, if the first picture shows a group of children playing hopscotch in school, you may start with a paragraph like:

“Remember to complete your homework!” The long-awaited recess bell rang shrilly right after the teacher’s words, signalling a break for the pupils. Once their teacher had dismissed them, Alice and Brenda made a beeline to the fitness corner. A hopscotch competition was going to be held during their Physical Education class that week and they were determined to seize any opportunity to practise their skills. With a wide grin on her face, Alice announced, “Last one there is a tortoise!”. The two best friends had always been competitive with each other in all areas and neither of them liked to lose.

This helps to provide more details to your story although you should make sure that the details are relevant and push your story forward.

Middle 

As for the middle part of the story, this is where the most exciting and important events take place. Typically, Pictures 2 and 3 would make up this part. Students should make use of the two pictures to help them describe:

  • What happened next?
  • Characters’ TAMED
    • Thoughts
    • Actions
    • Manner
    • Emotions
    • Dialogue

Find out more about Mrs Chew's post on using TAMED (Thoughts, Action, Manner, Emotions) to describe your characters in writing

Ending 

As for the ending, if Picture 4 is provided, students should describe what is shown. If Picture 4 is not shown, then they have to craft their own conclusion. Some pointers to write a conclusion that is meaningful and yet relevant to the story are as follows:

  • What happened in the end?
  • Thoughts or feelings of characters?
  • Link to topic?
  • Lesson learnt?

Find out more about how to write a conclusion by reading our blog post on 4 Ways to End Your Story.

Look at the story mountain below for points that students should be thinking about when planning the beginning, middle and end of their story:

Writing Skills TAMED

 2. Adding detail to a sentence…and therefore to the story

Planning a story is the first step and writing it is the second. A good story may be written with a sound plot and accurate language, but a superb story may be crafted if students know how to add details to their narration. 

One basic way to help a Primary Two student to add more detail into their stories is to work on their sentences. Oftentimes, students may not know how to do so. Here, I’ll be teaching how to lengthen a sentence with more details through the addition of adjectives and adverbs.

Example sentence:

The dog ran.

Boring sentences lead to boring stories. To lengthen a sentence meaningfully, use the following template to guide you:

 Adapted from: Layers of Learning

Adapted from: Layers of Learning

For example:

The (article) greedy (adjective) dog (noun) ran (verb) quickly (adverb of manner) to the table of food (adverb of place).

OR

The (article) chocolate-coloured (adjective) Shih Tzu (noun) licked its paws (verb) tiredly (adverb of manner) after an hour of play (adverb of time).

Use the template above to craft sentences of varying lengths and with different types of information! Take note that not every sentence needs to be lengthened in the same way. Sometimes, we may add an adjective; sometimes we may add an adverb of manner instead of an adverb of place. The key is to know what kind of details you can add, the sequence they appear in, and add them as necessary. 

To make your language in writing even better, widen your range of vocabulary so that you know more nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs to use to describe a certain event in your story!

3. Writing technique: 5-senses description

Writing a story requires an ability to vividly describe a person, thing, or place so that readers may imagine what is happening in the story. A writing technique called 5-senses description can help students to achieve this!

Imagine that you have been given a story with pictures depicting a class party. A basic way to talk about the pictures goes like this:

There was going to be a class party. The classroom had already been decorated.

When readers see the word ‘party’, what will likely pop into their minds would be a scene where there are balloons, banners, streamers, and tables laden with goodies and presents. They might also imagine upbeat music playing in the background and hear the chatter of partygoers.  To support this mental image, writers should describe such details in words. 

The details may be broken down into what the 5 senses can sense: what can be seen? What can be heard? What can be smelled? What can be felt? What can be tasted

 Images' source: Google (licensed for reuse)

Images' source: Google (licensed for reuse)

In a story, students should describe the place where the story takes place: the setting. Similarly, if a new and important character is brought into the story, his or her physical appearance also needs to be described . An important item that plays a big role in the story should also be detailed out. 5-senses description can help you to do so!  Of course, not all 5 senses need to be described at once for a certain noun; use what is needed! 

Some tips for using 5-senses description:

1. Expand your vocabulary so that you know more adjectives and nouns to help you describe what can be seen, heard, smelled, felt or tasted. 

2. For those who are new to this technique, start off with the 2 simplest senses: sense of sight and sense of hearing. Ask yourself: What can I see (in this place / about this person or thing?) What can I hear (in this place / from this person or thing?)

Try applying the 5 senses by leaving a comment below!

If you were to describe a hawker centre, which senses would you use to describe it?

If you were to describe a bully, which senses would you use to describe him?

If you were to describe a special gift, which senses would you use to describe it?

To summarise, the 3 writing skills that I have emphasised today are: story planning, crafting detailed sentences, and 5-senses description technique. These skills are very useful for writing, so start learning and practising them from young! 

 

Ms. Quek is an English Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. She is dedicated to helping her students do well in the language through a focus on the learning process. As an educator, she believes in creating a nurturing and stimulating environment for students to learn.