It was brilliant to learn from so many familiar voices and the #WritingforPleasure discussion was certainly enriched by some new bodies taking part during and after the chat. BIG thanks to @OtherWiseEdu @one_to_read @lit4pleasure @WritingRocks_17 @JohnPP @sam_creighton @mazmitchell @therroneill @jotregenza @njphennah @the9to5teacher @thisteacher 

AND @MichaelRosenYes himself!

You can read the responses to each question by clicking on the hyperlink below each image.

Question 1

  • Tell you a family that loved a made-up word… Dictionaries tell you what an alligator is, or how to spell balloon but they won’t explain the difference between a ‘ringbeller’& a ‘trogglehumper’, or say why witches need ‘gruntles’ eggs’ or suggest a word for the shape of a’Knid’

  • I love word puns and enjoying sharing these with the class. Jokes are good (I seem to highlight ones which play on homophones/puns too) and I bought a book of tongue twisters recently which is hilarious. Old rhymes and sayings don’t get enough of a look in I’m sad to say.

  • In my family, we have our own verb ‘nanning’ – it means you’re fiddling about, fussing and unable to settle. Will you stop your nanning about?! Stop being a nanny and sit down!

  • You should write a dictionary of them.

  • I assumed everyone else has similar things with their families? Words, phrases that have a particular meaning within the family context? I’m thinking of Peep Show too – when Mark’s family say they’ve ‘Jez’ed’ something – meaning they’ve made a hash of something.

  • We all call the neighbourhood cats by the names I’ve given them.

  • I like making up names for the local cats too. I don’t know where the words come from but they sound funny. I notice that @Alex_T_Smith creates similar sounding names for animals too…

  • It’s fun to explore family phrases and long-running in jokes. After hearing a child say it at Twycross zoo when we were about 8 and 6, my brother and I still sometimes greet each other now by saying ‘Hey! Why is the monkey eatin’ jass? (Grass)”

  • Making up words always goes down a treat but doing so deliberately. Analysing words like ‘grickle grass’ from Dr Suess & how everyone has same image. Trying to recreate similar impact. Or Compound words like Gobbleknoll from Garner, which contain their own meaning

  • Sam, please don’t use this as an opportunity to resurrect the gulpmound.

  • Resurrect makes it sounds like it at some point went away…

  • Including nonsense poetry in our reading for pleasure. Playing word games such as consequences, Exquisite Corpse etc for the fun of creating silly sentences. Allowing children freedom to be silly in their own creative writing work…

  • Word association is great for word fun too. When a word like ‘bat’ comes up and half the group think of cricket and the other half vampires. Whichever one gets chosen the other group are always mind blown

  • The more we talk about how we react to a piece of writing, the easier it is to validate and encourage playful writing – lots of the pleasure of a playful and well-expressed idea is in the knowledge that it will amuse the reader.

  • I find this guidance from ‘Did I Hear You Write?’ really useful:

  • One of the very best books on writing I’ve ever read. I’m lucky enough to have a copy. Will this be reprinted one day? Can we start a campaign!?!

  • I think @FiveLeavesBooks still have a few copies.

  • I love sharing tongue twisters, poetry and idioms orally with the children. The work of Iona and Peter Opie is epic in this respect:


  • Word Top Trumps…. who can find the best word for …

Question 2

  • I love the ‘Make writing a way of having a conversation.’ I have said to my class this year, “I am lucky to get to know you through the stories you tell me about yourself in your writing”. We’ve done two great pieces already and I love how THEIR voice comes through.

  • We must really value this. I’ve seen how strong it is to unlock children’s voices, to give them credibility and strength. It’s important we cultivate THIER voice, not a Frankenstein’s monster of bits of every-teacher-they’ve-had’s-voice.

  • I need to do this more. So much of the writing my kids do, particularly extended pieces, is narratively quite structured, so their linguistic voice comes through but their personality is restrained. Our lit coordinator is working hard to change that across school

  • That’s a great professional goal to have set yourself. Admirable for sure. I’d love to hear how it develops over the course of the year?

  • I’ve noticed a child dictating their story to me is a liberating experience for them and produces writing far beyond what they produce with a pencil in their own hand. Whether it’s me writing their words on a flip chart or typing their story into our writing blog

  • The bit in the Rosen book (I think it is) where the teacher is best placed to transcribe *the child’s* actual words…every sentence…”shall I write that? Yes? No?” It’s NEVER, EVER failed to help a child to write. NEVER.

  • I love watching them smile as their words appear on the PC screen in front of their eyes like magic.

  • Yes. The magic!

  • Last year, a whole school project was kids interviewing relatives & writing down family stories. It wasn’t their own experience but was connected. We had everything from Marie Curie to pogroms to Thai tsunami. There was such a buzz around writing & sharing stories

  • Wow this would be amazing for our School! My daughter loves listening to her great Nan about her life during the Liverpool blitz & being an evacuee . 1st hand experience which can’t be replicated & we use images from google of the places to help bring her story to life!

  • Do it! We did it with our class a couple of years ago – the whole community loved it. So many fascinating stories out there waiting to be told, written and read.

  • I’ve loved writing my autobiography alongside my class. We’ve got to know each other and enjoyed writing together, I think it’ll now be my go-to for the start of the year. Children are experts on themselves, so loads of content to reap!

  • Oh yes! DO! Such a great prospect.

  • My son just did this at school, he ‘hates English’ of course, but really enjoyed doing it!

  • Whether listening to stories or writing them feeling it is vitally important

  • I love this.  Both the idea of a “pushover theme” and the sequence of probing questions to elicit individual recollections from children; ‘lines’ ‘constructed out of oral structures’:

Question 3

  • My motivation for posting this question is personal. It’s one of the reasons I teach, one of the reasons I created #TheWritingWeb, one of the reasons I share the insights I continue to learn from being a writer-teacher with children. In 1989 I was the child who copied.

  • This reminds me of our example of practice ‘Everyone’s An Expert’ You can read about it and give it a go yourselves here!

  • I wholly agree here. I’d like to read more children’s versions of science experiments to take one curriculum area – what they tried, what was wrong and silly, what was tricky and failed, what the solution was. I’d love to read that more. ‘A web of THEIR ideas’.

  • The crux is finding writing topics that children care about enough to affect them in this way. For that we (teachers) have to get to know our pupils as people and what excites them. Sometimes if the teacher cares enough about a topic, they can inspire it in them.

  • Or maybe sometimes we can flip it, so we don’t find the writing topics on their behalf but instead we teach children idea generation techniques so that they can find their own topics?

  • Yes and we can try to grasp any organic opportunity to write when it arises. That would be a great idea for a story / poem…shall we write it? Maybe we should talk to the headteacher / local MP etc. about that – shall we send her a letter?

  • That’s the message I put over in every one of my performances in schools. I show the children how the poems or stories I’m telling started out from an oral phrase or trigger.

  • I think the crucial thing is to attempt as best we can to discover what childhood *is* and what it means to a child. The Opies did this. They catalogued a whole world of childhood which adults could easily use to help children write/communicate/read etc.

  • Been an absolute pleasure discussing with and learning from you this evening.

  • And from you! Thanks! I hope you’ll join again next month!

Question 4

  • This does remind me of our example of practice: ‘Can We Do Some Dabbling? Reading & Writing Connecting’

  • I’m doing exactly this at the moment. Drawing exact parallels between (generally character-based) events in a book and children’s own lives. They aren’t any different from the girl in the book we’re reading. They are all children with the same thoughts and feelings.

  • Am I understanding the term Oral Writing correctly? Writing in a verbal style? Like a letter to a friend or a diary entry?

  • Most of my writing for children is made up of either a spoken story-telling voice, montages of things people say, or a mixture of these. That’s why I call it ‘oral writing’.

  • It is incredibly powerful. It substantiates proof of the innate, natural, individual voice in every child.