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Start with the senses

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By Bev Longeducational consultant

An interactive resource using the senses as a starting point for story and poetry writing.

This on-screen resource uses the senses as a starting point for story and poetry writing. It will support vocabulary development and also enable children to develop simple ICT skills as they search for hidden hot spots with their mouse, drag and drop illustrations, type sentences and open and close pop-up text panels.

Using the resource

Introductory screen

On the introductory screen are labelled pictures of three scenes. Click on any of the pictures to go to a new screen offering a variety of interactive approaches to support children’s use of language. Children could choose a scene themselves, or you could direct them to a screen to link to other work or topics.


Before using this resource, allow the children to explore the body senses in a practical way, through games and activities (including On-screen resource 1).

At the beach

  • This screen presents a seaside scene and the poem ‘Listen’ by Brenda Williams. The scene includes a range of familiar seaside sights. Some are clickable sound buttons – eg, click on the waves to hear the sound of the sea.
  • The poem can be read by the children or they can listen to the poem as it is read to them.
  • Some sound words in the poem are in a different colour. Click on these to display a range of similar words which could be substituted in the original poem. These pop up next to a relevant item in the picture. Try out the different words, saying them aloud. Discuss how they can change the meaning or alter the image created. Give opinions and preferences.
  • Use the picture as a prompt to identify other sounds and write additional verses for the poem. Record readings of the new poems.

Party time!

  • This scene shows a table of party food and can be used to develop children’s vocabulary and sentence construction skills, using interesting verbs and adjectives.
  • Next to the picture are a list of adjectives and a list of verbs. Click on a word to hear it spoken.
  • Let the children pick an item of food from the table and compose a phrase or sentence, choosing appropriate words from the two lists – eg, ‘He slurped a fizzy drink.’ Type the sentence into the box below. Try out different words in the sentence and choose those that sound best.
  • When typing sentences, the children can open up a dictionary containing labelled pictures of the food in the main scene, in alphabetical order. Use this dictionary to check spellings or names.

Under the sea

  • Here children can build up an underwater scene by dragging and dropping items from the side of the screen. You may wish to limit the number of items they can choose.
  • At the bottom of the screen is a box of interesting words to use to describe the scene orally. Encourage the children to use more than one of these words in each sentence. They can choose from the whole list or drag and drop appropriate words into the scene. Discuss the meanings of some of the more ambitious choices and model their use in a sentence.
  • Print off your completed scenes to support creative writing, or to use as a backdrop for an activity with puppets or small world figures.

Guided writing

Using the activity sheet

Work with the children to add more words to each group on the sheet below. Enlarge it to A3 and laminate for use as a writing mat. Place the child’s writing book or sheet in the centre of the mat so they can choose from the surrounding words and use them in their writing. Before they write anything down, explore with each child what is being described (in a practical way, if possible), and practise orally constructing sentences.