Tag: comprehension

Using Picture Books to Promote Primary 1 Progress in Reading at Bowhouse PS

Earlier this session, Yvonne McBlain, curriculum support teacher, Falkirk Children’s Services, met with Charlotte McManus, Acting Depute Head teacher at Bowhouse Primary School to discuss literacy. Charlotte shared literacy teaching and learning which was going well in Bowhouse, including their focus at early level on rhyme, repetition and being playful with words through songs and actions. Charlotte kindly shared some of the picture books which Bowhouse colleagues use with primary 1 learners to support their progression of reading skills. We hope this list (see below) is useful to you – but please note other texts which are helping your learners by commenting upon this post? Together we can build an engaging plethora (love that word) of suggestions! These skills are highlighted by the extract from our Falkirk Literacy & English Progression Pathway pictured above.

Early in Term 1 – Environmental sound book suggestions

1.        Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

2.        We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

3.        Farmyard Hullabaloo by Giles Andreae

4.        Peace At Last by Jill Murphy

5.       Quiet by Kate Alizadeh

6.       Rabbits Nap (Julia Donaldson)

7.       Lullaby Hullaballoo

Later in Term 1 – Authors who use rhyme

1.       Julia Donaldson

2.       Nick Sharrat ( Fairytales if focus is Fairyland)

3.       Kes Gray (oi Frog!)

4.       Jez Alborough

5.       Giles Andreae

6.       Quintin Blake

7.       Lynley Dodd

Term 2 – Books with repeated phrases

1.       Jack and the Flum Flum Tree

2.       Hairy McLary

3.       The very Hungry Caterpillar

4.       The Tiger who Came to Tea

5.       The Gruffalo

6.       Owl Babies

7.       Handa’s Surprise

8.       Mrs Mopple’s Washing Line

9.       The Day Louis Got Eaten

10.   Solomen Crocodile

11.   Brown Bear Brown Bear what do you see?

12.   Farmer Duck

13.   Don’t Talk to the Bus Driver

The Scottish Book Trust website also has resources which develop  similar literacy skills using Scots language and rhymes here – these may be useful for parents reading to their children at home too. Education Scotland National Improvement Hub resources point to this Words for Life section of the National Literacy Trust website. It offers guidance for parents on literacy activities and milestones in talking and reading which may also be helpful for family learning.

Reading Strategies in Action at Nethermains (P4)

nethermainsdCaroline Cane, Probationer teacher at Nethermains is really excited to share this story from her P4 class:

We were developing our understanding of a short text we watched online using our reading strategies.

First, we recorded everything we knew about treasure and put the word treasure into an extended sentence.

nethermainsaHere is an example from one of our pupils:

‘Pirate Pete was on a mission to find the hidden treasure when he arrived on a small island because he found an old treasure map in his ship’.


We then worked as visualisers and drew what we thought the story was going to be about based on the still image that Mrs Cane showed us.

Next we discussed who the character was and why they were looking for treasure. We created our own questions for our shoulder partner to answer.

One of our pupils independently wrote a fantastic summary of the text and used some interesting vocabulary.


Active Literacy at Ladeside Primary School


Here’s what’s going on at Ladeside:

Our Literacy RACI group has been focusing on reading for enjoyment. We have several classes involved in Paired Reading. Older pupils have been trained to buddy younger pupils. P7 been reading with LHS pupils at LHS Library. Calum Smith has been facilitating this. Yvonne Manning trained P6 pupils as storytellers. We have had a huge amount of input from the storytellers from Larbert community library and Falkirk Council’s Learning Resource Centre. We participated in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards by reading the novels and voting.

What do the pupils say about paired reading at Ladeside?

P.6 Big Buddy talking about EAL P.3 pupil:  “I feel that my Little Buddy’s expression and volume has improved since I started reading with him.”

P.6 Big Buddy: “I think that Paired Reading is important for the future because the younger pupils get help to understand reading better and then they will get a good job when they grow up.”

P.6 Big Buddy: “ Paired Reading helps with everyone’s confidence. At the beginning, my Little Buddy didn’t want to read and now she always wants to read by herself.”

P.6 Big Buddy: “The Paired Reading training will help me in the future not just when I read with someone but will help me to be a good learner and mini-teacher too.”

P.3 teacher: “Paired reading has been a great success with my Primary 3 class. The Primary 6 pupils were well organised, confident and excellent role models at reading. The Primary 3 pupils involved really looked forward to the days their Primary 6 buddies were coming. They read a variety of appropriate texts and were able to discuss them with their buddy and answer relevant questions.”

Parent of Big Buddy: “He’s having a really great year. We’ve heard all about the Reading Buddies. He was so happy to have been chosen.”

Active Literacy – A Probationer’s Story

farmer duckAlix Thomson, a P3 Probationer teacher at Victoria Primary is delighted to share her experiences implementing active reading in her class. Here is Alix’s story:

This term my P3 class, at Victoria Primary, have been working on developing their comprehension skills, with a particular focus on summarising. The lessons have been successful and the pupils have really developed their skills, so I thought that I would share them with you as you said to send on anything that was working well.

The class began developing their summarising skills by focussing on key words. They used key words in lots of different ways.

  • Picking out key words in reading books: choosing the most important word on each page and explaining why; covering up words to see if they were essential for understanding the sentence.
  • Using different forms of text to further our understanding of the importance of key words: using shop catalogues as their text, pupils had to pick key words to describe an item to a partner without using the name of the product – could their partner work out what they had chosen?; watching or listening to news stories and noting down the key words.
  • The class also started including key words in our Busy Starts: key words from a well known story or film were displayed on the smartboard and pupils had to work out which book or film it was; this then progressed into pupils setting challenges for classmates – what film were their key words describing?

Then pupils developed their understanding by using key words to help them to summarise texts.

  • Note taking: whilst watching a short video clip of our class book (Farmer Duck), we took notes on a whiteboard, trying only to note down key words; these notes helped us to create storyboards summarising the story.
  • One sentence summaries: pupils had to write a sentence to describe their reading book; this skill was then used throughout all curricular areas with pupils using one sentence summaries to describe any of our lessons, or to recap on learning during a lesson.

Thinking Reader at Bainsford Primary


Emma Cuthbert, Interim PT at Bainsford Primary School is delighted to share the wonderful work her P2/1 class has been carrying out in relation to higher order reading skills. 

The class have already studied Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers and completed a thinker reader booklet. The start of this session has been spent on Book Detective skills and roles and comprehension related to their reading books.

They have recently studied Pink – again by Oliver Jeffers and you can see some evidence of their hard work here.

Emma and her class are making an extremely valuable contribution to the Literacy Strategy and plans to go onto applying these skills to other texts. Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Officer is really impressed with the quality of reading here and has invited Emma to share this good practice at an authority CPD event.

Can you spot the 6 comprehension strategies in operation here?

1. Prior knowledge and understanding – what do you already know about penguins? What do you know about pink?

2. Metalinguistics – can you spot the tricky words or phrases? Can you find the word ‘penguin’ in the text?

3. Visualisers – can you draw of a picture of the story so far?

4. Inference – reading between the lines questions

5. Main ideas

6. Summarising

The children really enjoy the Thinking Reader approach and here are a few quotes to share:

“I really enjoyed ‘finding the evidence’ in the book” Ella

“Can we do these again for a different story? They are fun.” Jack

The Thinking Reader – What do the pupils think?


Pupils from St. Bernadette’s R.C.P.S. in Falkirk have demonstrated their knowledge and understanding of the six reading comprehension strategies at a recent C.P.D. event. The two P7 pupils eloquently described each of the strategies and treated the audience to both an i-movie trailer of a book they have been studying and a rap.

The audience included a range of teachers, including Education Scotland and the Literacy Development Officer from Highland Council who said “The two P7 children from the school were excellent. It highlighted to me that the years of training they’ve had in developing their Higher Order Thinking Skills has allowed them to apply their knowledge, understanding and skills across the curriculum – a real treasure.”

 The audience really enjoyed the presentation and later went onto Twitter to tweet:

Here are some extracts from the presentation, prepared by the pupils: