Holiday recounts

Holidays are a great time for practicing developing recounts and recounts are great for developing oral and written language skills. Why not make use of those fun things you do together in the holidays to boost your child's language and literacy skills?

Recounts are a retelling an event. At school children practice oral and written recounts. Written recounts are often a child's first experience at writing down their own ideas. Helping children to produce well structured recounts can help their oral language and literacy development.

Why are recounts important?

Sharing information about a past event develops "decontextualised language". This is the ability to talk about something that happened in another time and place and is important for higher level language and literacy development. It also develops social skills as children practice sharing their experiences with others and learn about others perspectives and experiences.

Recounts develop the ability to 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 also develop sequencing skills, the ability to put information in order; and time concepts such as first, next, last. This ability to link sentences is important for later skills such as story writing and writing essays.

Recounts can be about:

  • 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

Looking for some ideas? Download the Talking Matters school holiday activity pack here!

To help your child with oral recounts develop a habit of talking about your experiences and encouraging your child to do the same. "Tell grandma all about what we did at the beach". "Tell Dad all about the movie that we saw"

Having some visuals or props can help. Visuals can include:

  • items that you collect during your activity such as shells from the beach, leaves from the park
  • photos or video that you take during your event
  • pictures your child has drawn of what happened

You can use a planner to help your child plan what to say or write. You can download a planner for a simple recount from Our website. There are are also planners for procedures to use for activities such as cooking or craft and planners for retelling stories such as if you read a book or watch a movie. Use the "action sequence" planner for younger children and the narrative planner for older ones.

When planning a recount try to follow a structure of when + who + where + what. Such as "on the weekend" (when) Mum, Dad and I (who) went to the beach (where) for a swim (what). This structure prepares children for the structure used in story writing later on.

Once you have planned your recount, tell or write it. 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"

Next edit and expand on your recount. Add some extra words or ideas. Fix up any mistakes with grammar or spelling.

Present your recount so you can share it with others.

To share an oral recount you could:

  • 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

To share a written recount you could:

  • 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

Children with communication and learning difficulties can find oral and written recounts at school difficult. To help a child with recounts at school you can try:

  • 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 the 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.

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.

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