Developing writing while on school holidays

Recounts are great for developing oral and written language abilities. Holidays offer a great opportunity to practice development of recount skills. Help practice and develop your child's language and literacy skills by making use of the fun things you do as a family in the holidays!

Recounts are the retelling of an event; children will practice oral and written recounts at school. Written recounts are often a child's first experience at writing down their own ideas. Assisting your child to produce well-structured recounts can assist their oral language as well as their literacy development.

Why are recounts important?

  • Recounts offer the opportunity to talk about something that happened in another time and place and is important for higher level language and literacy development. This skill is referred to as ‘decontextualized language’ and focuses upon the sharing of information about a past event.
  • Recounts are a way for children to develop social skills. Children can do this by sharing experiences with others and learning about others perspectives and experiences.
  • Recounts develop the ability to develop and structure language. Talking about the past helps develop language skills such as using verb tenses as we recount our experiences using past tense. Telling about an event is complex and requires linking sentences together by using joining words known as "conjunctions".
  • Recounts develop the ability to sequence events. Sequencing is placing information into the correct order, with the use of time concepts such as first, next, last. This ability to link sentences is a building block for later skills such as story writing and writing essays.

Ways to assist your child with their recount skills:

  • Develop a habit of talking about your experiences and encouraging your child to do the same. You could do this by asking them to retell an experience you shared together, for example: "Tell grandma all about what we did at the beach" or "Tell Dad all about the movie that we saw"
  • Having some visuals or props can help to remind your child about their recount topic. This could include: items that you collect during your activity such as shells from the beach, photos or pictures your child has drawn of what happened
  • Looking for some ideas? Download the Talking Matters school holiday activity pack here!

Ways to help a child with recounts at school:

Children with communication and learning difficulties can often find oral and written recounts at school difficult. Some possible ways to assist their recount skills can include:

  • Developing a communication book between home and school. Parents can record information about events that the child has experienced and this can be used to help support the child in developing their recount.
  • Planning and rehearsing a recount. Ask your child's teacher when your child does their recount and what it is about. For example, if your child writes about their weekend each Monday morning you could plan this and practice it with your child the night before. They could then take their plan and any visuals with them to school to help them with their writing

Possible recount themes:

  • Outings such as a trip to the beach, the park or the zoo
  • Activities such as craft, cooking or gardening
  • A special event such as a birthday
  • A period of time such as what happened over the weekend or holidays

Planning a recount

  • Using a planner can help your child plan what to say or write. You can download a planner for a simple recount from our website. There are also planners for procedures to use for activities such as cooking and planners for retelling stories such as if you watch a movie. (Use the "action sequence" planner for younger children and the narrative planner for older ones).
  • A good way to plan a recount is to follow a structure of when + who + where + what. This structure prepares children for the structure used in story writing later on. An example is,"on the weekend" (when) Mum, Dad and I (who) went to the beach (where) for a swim (what).

Writing a Recount

  • When writing or saying your recount try including the following :action words in past tense "went, swam, walked, ate", describing words "hot, smooth, noisy, funny", joining words "and, then, because", time concepts "first, later, in the afternoon, last of all"
  • After you have finished your recount consider adding some extra words or ideas and rereading to edit any mistakes with grammar or spelling.
  • A collection of recounts can hold some great memories for your child as they get older. Children can make a diary or journal to collect their recounts.

Presenting a recount

Present your recount so you can share it with others. Get creative with the way you present your recount- some possible ways include:

  • video your child talking about the event
  • make a slide show of pictures and record your child's voice over them
  • write your child's recount down for them and ask them to draw a picture to go with it
  • share it with a family member or friend on by phone or on skype

Ways to share a written recount:

  • write or type out the recount and illustrate it with drawings, photos or clip art
  • do a slideshow or power point presentation
  • share it as an email to a family member or friend

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